Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Friday, 6 July 2012

Happy Days...The Area called Kingston

There is an old expression which says "A picture paints a thousand words", but I think the opposite is also true that a thousand words paints a very good picture, particular in the case of Elsie Hawkins's description of what life was like in the Kingston area of Hyde back in the 1930's. The following was written in the 1990's (I think).

I was born in Frances Street, Hyde. We were bounded by the canal, gas works, Arley Mill, Millwood, sewage works, Smiths bone yard and the River Tame. Just over the bridge at the river Tame you come to Haughton Green and there we have Dan's Wood, Glass House Fold, Denton tip and Haughton Dale Rocks.
There were lots of children in our street so we were never at a loss for a playmate: what games we played, skipping, rounders, whip and top, bowl and hoop, statues, hop scotch, tick and ghosts. A favourite game was shop. We got some clay and made pies, cakes, sweets and even little coffins with a little clay baby inside. We had broken pot for money; if you had a piece with lovely colours or a nice pattern on , it was worth a shilling or sixpence depending on size. We also had concerts in our back yard. We were all budding ballet dancers. Admission was a piece of pot. It seems that we had glorious summers, and as we grew older we wandered further afield.
I will start at the area known as Kingston. At the canal where we fished for tiddlers, the bluebell wood near the cinder walk and the Bowker Brook, we took jam jars there to collect frog spawn, which we later took to school. Then there was the gas works where we could take a little barrow to buy some coke. It was put on the weigh bridge, then it was filled with coke and weighed again. We paid threepence or sixpence for it. We also went picking for coke. The Gas works were on Raglan Street and the carters always lost some of their load due to the cobbled roads. Arley Mill, off Raglan St and Alfred St was a cotton mill, and I can remember a big fire there. I think it was around 1930. Also in that area I remember a big chimney being demolished. Near by is Read St. Facing the terraced houses was a field called "Bob's field". This was a lovely romping ground and later it became a football pitch. It was the home ground for our local football team the "Kingston Star". Between Frances St West and Read St west was and still is the Bone works, it has now grown into a big concern. It never seemed to smell so much in those days, but the older people still remember all the bluebottles.
The sewage works on Mill Lane, I don't think caused many problems, but the crabapples from the trees gave you quite a tummy ache. Across the way we had Hyde Hall Farm, a nice little spot on the banks of the river. We used to watch the cowman or boy driving the cows to the shippon for milking and sometimes we could seethem being milked. I used to take a jug and get the milk straight from the dairy, and it was often warm.
Crossing Mill Lane Bridge over the Tame we came to the little hamlet called Glass House Fold or "Fowt". It's name comes from the the Flmish glass blowers who settled and worked there in the early 17th century. A Mr Burley Key from Haughton Green, local historian, was convinced that the fold was indeed a place for glass making. At the start of the council housing estate, Mr key was watching a new sewer being laid along the river valley. One morning he found a mass of glass and crucible fragments that had been deposited by the diggers. He informed Pilkington Glass Museum. They sent their curator who recognised the fragments as similar types to those found in the first glass house sites in the late 16th & 17th centuries. In august 1969 they made the first excavation. and in June 1970 they returned forthe second. A booklet was published by North West Museums and can be seen in Hyde Library.
In Dans Wood close by by Glass House Fold were some old mine shafts, a young boy and girl from the fold were playing in the wood when they fell down one of the mine shafts. From Middleton's "History of Hyde", the girl said " I put my pinny on the ground and we said our prayers. "I put my arms around Jacky and we went to sleep". They were found the next day and I think were brought up in a washing basket. I don't recall the date but the boy was called Jack Bowker (or Mason), he was brought up by his grandparents Mr & Mrs Bowker. The girl was called Sarah Leech.
Then there was Denton tip also on Mill Lane, but on the right hand side. We had to go through a May flower field and we came out with our feet wet through. It was on this tip that we found our "pot" money. I remenber the noise of the crickets on this tip. What a place to play, but we were happy panning for pottery. We must have got filthy, maybe thats why my friend Tarmar and I went swimming in the River Tame. Our swimming costumes were filthy with black oil, and we were a dreadful sight. We only did this once.
On we go up Mill Lane into the little village of Haughton Green. At the far end of the village there was a little common called Tommy Todd, complete with swings. The Francis Street gang would swoop on the common, enjoying ourselves, and then like a tribe of Indians, and noise enough to wake the dead in St Mary's churchyard, the kids from the green would charge, and if you knew what was good for you, you went, and we did.
Our next stop was Haughton Vale rocks, we would sit down and eat our jam butties and drink Woodhead pop, and have a lovely time. We made our way home via Ivy cottages and the Gibraltar Mill, along the side of the canal to Captain Clarke's bridge. Under the bridge the tow path switches from the left side to the right side of the Peak Forest canal, because the Lord of the Manor, George Hyde Clarke wanted to keep his estate free from intruders. We then would walk onto the canal bridge at Manchester Road, under the bridge where the towpath goes back to the left hand side. We passed the place where we fished for tiddlers, down the path known as Cinder Walk, where there was another brook, which I think came from Godley, it would sometimes be coloured so it must have come past the CPA and got some of the dyes in it. As we pass it, we would chant...

Jinny Jinny Greenteeth coming with a knife, run lads, run lads, run for your lives...

I really don't know why we did this. We came out near Manchester Road near the Wellington Inn on Kingston Brow.
Edward Clarke married the daughter of Phillip Haughton of Kingston in Jamaica, and the area reminded him of Jamaica, hence the name. Also a lot of the streets around the Market Place were called after members of the Hyde Clarke family. Frances St., Anne St., Edward St., Rochfort St., Mary St., Tanner St., Clarendon St., Hamnet St., John St etc etc.

Apart from a few houses, Frances St and Read St have been demolished and just a few houses exist on the left hand side of Mill Lane. Hyde Hall Farm has gone, as well as Glass House Fold. Along with those may flower field and Denton Tip.
As the song says " The song has ended but the memory's linger on" and what memories of a lovely, happy carefree and delightful childhood.

By Elsie Hawkins


ceecee said...

what a nice story to read on a dull & damp morning.although i'm not familiar with that area i could just picture the games and walks they went on.My friend and i were only saying yesterday about when we were kids and had proper summers in the school holidays we would have our breakfast then get our jam buttys and woodhead pop and head out for the day - over the low , along the canal, in bears wood or through the deep cutting with no thoughts about anything happening to us - yes them were the days.

Tom said...

Thank you for posting this Paul..
I'd never read this before and never realised Elsie had wrote anything like this.
Elsie Hawkins was my Aunty... my dads sister and a lovely lady. Many readers will recall her husband who was the metal work teacher at Greenfield Street.. famous for making all the lads chant "Rough File, Draw File, Smooth File.... Both have now passed away... but are often thought of.

Hydonian said...

What a lovely post,Paul. Just what I needed on such a rainy day ! Thank you :)

Susan Jaleel said...

I echo what the others have said. Thank you for this post. I know very little about Kingston so I've learned a lot from your story.

Anonymous said...

I loved this page. I was brought up in Frances Street West until I was 14, when we went to live in a large house in Read Street West. I played mainly with others who lived in these two streets. My friend Janet was mad on horses, we would go to feed the horse at Hyde Hall Farm. I had to stand for what seemed like hours as she stroked and brushed it. We would pretend our bikes were horses and after laying planks across the street we would bump over them for jumps.
Smith Brothers has gone now and in its place are some very nice looking town houses. Read St West is still there apart from the two big houses, also part of Frances St West.
I liked playing on Bob's field, we did roly polys down the hill near the gas works in Summer and sledged in Winter. I loved seeing how many different wild flowers I could find when the grass was left to grow.
There were railings at the top of the field facing the houses on Read St, when we were young teenagers we would gather there to chase and chat and couldn't resist having a tipple over on the railings.
Happy days!!

Beryl Williams

John Taylor said...

Wonderful story, thanks.

Anonymous said...

What a great account.
Thanks to Elsie for sharing it with everyone :)

Col said...

Great story Paul. My Mum was born in 1911 and along with her family lived on Mill Lane
My Dad played football for Kingston Star in the early 1930s along with two of my Uncles
It brought back memories of Sunday morning visits along the Cinder walk to my Grandmas on Mill lane.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Frances Street West for many years
When Smiths trucks brought their animal carcasses
on open sided trucks along the unmade road bits would often drop off end it wasn't unusual to find
a string of intestine on your front door in the morning
1n 1953 we were going to have the kids Coronation party in the street but weather was bad and it was moved inside the Smiths main shed.. they gave it a bit of a scrub first

Trevor Leech