St Paul’s School during late 1930s until 1945 (inlcuding the war years)
Empire Cinema – Railway St.
Richardson’s Shop – 19 Crow Lane
Shops on Bridge St
Factory St – with stables & New Jerusalem Church
Playing as a child
Crow Lane houses
Tipplers and Bungalow Ranges
Donkey Stoning the front steps
People who lived in Crow Lane including the Whittakers (now of Peel Holdings)
Interviewee – Jack Isherwood
Interview by North West Sound Archive
I start please by asking you your name?
I was born at 28 King Street which is near where the Co-op is now
1932, 11th November, Armistice Day.
I had three sisters all older than me. I have just one left living now,
Alice the next to me. I had Bessie, my eldest one and Jennie the next one. They
both died and I’ve just got our Alice left and myself now but we all came to
going back then, what are your earliest recollections of Crow Lane?
There were two twins I think, Jeffrey Blain and Alan,
they were across the road there and Mr Hibbert who would be Doris’s father in
law, I should think. He used to be the caretaker here.
At the school, yes, and at the Church you know. And
on Friday nights we used to help him after school. They used to have dances and
we used to help him pushing the partitions back, you know.
In the school. He used to give us 5d. and I can
remember we used to go from there across to what is now the chip shop on the
corner, Wayward Tyke as they call it. It was a fellow called Billie Avery had it
then. I can remember him. My mother used to work in it at night and all, in the
chip shop. He used to give us 5d
and we used to get three pennorth of chips and a rice cake.
A rice cake they used to have, yes.
It was like a rice with potato and done in batter. Lovely, Aye
Every Friday night we used to help him with pushing
the partitions back, a few of us. Frank Grimes and all these, all used to come
to this school
There was an upstairs. There was a classroom upstairs
that we were in. A lady called Mrs Cook used to teach us and we used to have to
go upstairs to it. In the corner upstairs. And there was a stage, there was a
big stage there. We had plays I can remember playing in. My one recollection of
that was we had the Merchant of Venice. I remember playing, I was blacked up. I
was the Prince of Morocco.
So who would be putting the plays on, would it be the school children?
the schoolchildren, and the teachers. There
was all the scenery and that and there was an upstairs to it behind the stage
where the lighting was and all this.
So how many classrooms were there in the school at that time?
were about three or four, that’s all. There
was Mr Lindley, he was the headmaster, Mrs Cook.
There was Miss Hassel and Mrs Whittaker. Those are the ones I can
remember. Mrs Whittaker, she was nice. Oh Miss Hassel. Miss Hassel, she was more
than…, I think she was turned 90 when she died. She lived not far from me when
she died, Miss Hassel. Mrs
Whittaker. They used to have what was the tripe shop in Bridge Street then. The
daughter Eileen (I had a little photograph you know, I should have brought it
with me – it was a party in one of these classrooms here, someone’s birthday
party and I picked one or two out but there was a girl who lived round here
called Doreen Bowers, she is now called Doreen Bardsley and Fred her husband,
they came here, Fred and his brother Harry – they all came here.
And Fred, he’s a wonderful memory has Fred for all these things.
And he picked them all out and Doreen, you know. It is really good you
So can you describe the classrooms as they used to be?
were just all partitioned off and little desks in.
little wooden desks, yes, and all partitioned off. It was excellent yes.
So what were the desks like?. Were they ones that you could open a lid
you could open a lid and put your things in and little ink wells on and all
And what would you be sitting on?
a little chair, you know. It’s great to go back to these things you know.
So how many children would there be in the classes, can you remember?
was quite a fair amount. There must have been 20 or so. Yes there were quite a
lot in our class.
And were the teachers fairly strict?
Well Mr Linley was. He was quite stern looking.
I can remember the headmaster slightly before him, a fellow called Harry
Price. I can see him, grey hair. Mr Linley was quite a thin face, dark and iron
grey hair and pretty stern looking but he was all right you know. Mrs Cook was a
bit of an ogre. But Miss Hassel and Mrs Whittaker were very nice.
So what sort of punishments would they meter out?
I think you used to get a few lines and things like this. I can remember things
when they had the evacuees came from Salford and round there, you know, and they
used to come to school with us and there was a family called Flitcroft. I always
remember they were rough and ready but they were all right you know. They were
always getting in trouble.
Did you all mix together OK. The children?
yes, there was a family came up from London called Robinson.
I can remember them. Gwen and two brothers, Ernest and there was another
lad in between – I can’t remember his name now.
So how long did you stay at the school for?
came when I was between 4 and 5 and I was there until I was 13.
Which was 1945. I went to Peel Brow then for about twelve months and then
I left at 14 and started work then.
Do you remember the lessons that you used to have here at the school?
we used to do our sums as they used to call them then, you know. and your
English. They didn’t call them maths. You did your sums and English. I can
remember when I started at the beginning, I was a real nipperby.
In the classroom where we have just come out of they used to go into the
back; there was a back place there as well and I can remember they had a couple
of wooden rocking horses in and sandpit and some of them used to have a sleep in
the afternoon, some of the very younger ones.
So they had beds in there as well?
They used to put them down for a sleep in the
afternoon, yes, in Miss Hassel’s class.
What would you do at lunchtime?
played in the yard but we used to go home for dinner because as I say we only
lived in King Street there so we used to go home.
So most of the children would go home at lunch time?
Aye they were all more or less from round here. I mean Richardson they had the
shop round the corner. Barbara and Bill. Talked
with Bill last night actually, in our Club, Bill Richardson.
And Alan his brother, he’s on those photographs, he lives near me. But Bill is a bit younger than me, Alan is a bit older than
You were at the school during the war years. Were you aware that the war
affected the school at all in equipment.?
not really no because I was only like…., I was born in 1932, so I wasn’t
very old. It was in 1939/45 wasn’t it. So I was only seven to twelve. You
didn’t take a lot of notice of the war. I can remember having our gas masks
and all this sort of stuff. We used
to have to carry our gas masks to school on our back in a box.
I was wondering if you were given any special instructions at school?
not that I can recall, no. My sister likes to recall more of them than me.
Thinking about Crow Lane now, itself, can you remember that from your
oh yes, the old houses, aye
What was there on the street in those days?
not a lot really, just the houses, and I can remember the old Police Station you
Where was that?
was where the Funeral Home is now. That was the old Police Station that was
built there. They knocked it down. Then they moved. They moved to the other side
of the level crossing and the Police station was there for a long time
So when the old Police Station was there can you remember the policemen
I can remember seeing the policemen there, aye.
We were always a bit frightened of the policemen about, you know.
Yes they were always round about.
I can remember after we left school going to the Empire Cinema on
Railway Street which is where they do patterns and all this sort of stuff,
crafts. That was the Empire Cinema there, we used to go there Saturday
afternoon, “2d rush” as they called it. 2d to go in. And even in King Street they’d a couple of shops
there. The fellow who had one of the shops was a fellow called Hughie Cosgrove
and his wife had another shop at Lytham and at weekend he used to go there and
my mum used to look after the shop while he was away at weekend. Little toffee
shop. All those sorts of stuff you know
What were the
shops on Crow Lane in those days?
There was Richardsons, yes (
No. 19 – editor)
Did you used to
go in there?
Oh aye, yes. There was
another one and all
How do you
remember it? What was it like
I can remember the old bacon slicer on the counter. Aye
remember any more about it?. Just describe it for me.
Well…trying to think now. You
used to go up some steps to go in and the counter was on the right. And boxes
and stuff all round the walls, you know. And potatoes and stuff on the floor. I
can remember the bacon slicer was there.
So when you
wanted bacon it would be sliced
Oh yes, sliced up, it was sliced as you wanted
What was on the
It was just the old wooden floor, I think. I can remember more in Bridge
Street, just ….what’s there now …. where the toffee shop is, teddies and
toffees, that one there, that was a shop called Perrys (spelling not certain –
editor) . I can remember Mr Perry having that, toffee shop. Next door was
butchers, pork butchers, Cotterills and they had sawdust on the floor there and
the old spitoons they had. I can remember them as plain as anything
In the shop?
In the shop, yes. Sawdust all over the floor
Were there any
other shops on Crow Lane apart from the Richardsons?
I can’t remember any more. The old Drill
Hall was still there
Did you ever go
Aye, we used to go in there
What was that
Well it was just a big open building and that,
And what would
you go in there for:
used to have some of the cadets in and stuff, you know.
And then when you got further round at the bottom of Crow Lane and on to
Factory Street there were some stables there with horses. And the New Jerusalem
Church was on there and all the school buildings. We used to go all round there.
Where would you
play as a child, where would you go to play?
Round there and mainly we used to go to the park. I mean there was never
any danger in Nuttall Park, you know. And on the railway bottom, we used to call
it the railway bottom because there were sidings for the railways and that all
down there and where the station is now there was a luggage place and all this.
We used to play all round there
through childhood eyes, what’s your impression of Crow Lane as it was in those
days. Has it changed very much over the years?
It doesn’t look to have, no. Maybe inside the houses. I mean I
haven’t been inside any of these houses for years. For quite a long time.
So going back
what did they used to be like?
Well we used to have the old… They
were like we had in King Street and Union Street with the old tippler toilets
out the back. Well you shared, your dustbins were in a communal area, where
everybody threw ashes in and all this sort of business, you know. And your old
big tin baths hung on the wall outside. I saw in there on one of the photographs
where there was a bungalow range. And we had these sort of things.
What is a
A bungalow range. It was for
your fire with an oven in. We had these great big fire places and you had a
boiler for hot water. You got your hot water from there at the side of your fire
and oven. It was what they called the old bungalow ranges. With the old tippler
toilets out back.
Did you used to
Oh aye, yes.
How did they
They used to tip over. The water used to come down and there was a big
bucket, if you will, on a swivel and then it tipped it over with the force of
the water and away it went down the drain. It used to smell awful. In fact I
live now in Garnet Street and I moved up there in 1964 and we had one, there was
one there then and we had it taken out pretty quick and we had a toilet put
upstairs in the back bedroom.
It would be an
antique collector’s piece now
I bet it would, aye.
We had it taken out and covered over.
unless you can think of anything else that springs to mind about the school and
Crow Lane.. Can you remember any of the characters or people who lived on Crow
Well as I say I can remember Doreen, Doreen Bowers, and I remember Bill
Richardson and their Barbara and Alan, and the two lads, Jeffrey Blain and his
brother, Alan Blain. As I say Mr Hibbert and them. Jack Topping. These are
characters who have died. Jack Topping was a right character. He was a big lad,
I remember, Jack. He was a lot
bigger than us and when he left he worked for Whittakers. You know Whittakers
who own the Trafford Centre, You know Whittakers, the Peel Investments. Well
Whittakers they come from Edenfield. I am going back a long while. And they
started off and they used to have horse and carts doing a lot of the carting
round Ramsbottom because the trains used to come in, the goods trains and that,
and they used to unload fruit and veg and all this and Jack, I can remember
Jack, he loved that sort of job. He was a big lad and he was going along with
his horse you know.
Yea, aye, I can see Jack now.
remember the sort of things they used to call out, the street traders?
Oh rag and bone men used to come round and had donkey stone. “Rag
bone, donkey stone” they used to shout, yes. And you used to get a donkey
stone. Everybody, me mum and everybody. Their steps and their window ledges were
always nicely done up with these donkey stones in different colours, all yellow
and white, you know. They were lovely. Everybody mopped the flags outside. All
the people, all the mums, all mopped the flags outside and they were nice and
So Crow Lane
would be a very spick and span street?
Yes it was, yes, aye.
I can remember going into the Church. We used to have to go to the
Church from school. The vicar there was a fella, as far back as I can remember,
was a fella called Wilson. He was a bit of mm .. liked a drink, you know. Then
he left and the next one I remember after him was a fellow called Mr Cowpe. He
was nice, quite tall fella, aye, Mr. Cowpe. I know Geoff, the vicar who is there
now. I know him slightly.
Aye a lot of memories
thank you very much for sharing them with me