Jack Isherwood - reminiscences



St Paul’s School   during late 1930s until 1945 (inlcuding the war years)

Police Station

Empire Cinema – Railway St.

Richardson’s Shop – 19 Crow Lane

Shops on Bridge St

Drill Hall

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                 Born 1932

                        Interview by North West Sound Archive          Taped May 10th 2003



Can I start please by asking you your name?

            Jack Isherwood

And where were you actually born?

            I was born at 28 King Street which is near where the Co-op is now

And could I ask you when?

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 this school.

So 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? (St Paul’s School)

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?

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?

A rice cake they used to have, yes.  It was like a rice with potato and done in batter. Lovely, Aye

That was different

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

Tell me what the school was like in those days, because obviously it has changed a lot?

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?

            Yes, 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?

            There 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 know.

So can you describe the classrooms as they used to be?

            They were just all partitioned off and little desks in.


            Yes, 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 up?

            Yes you could open a lid and put your things in and little ink wells on and all this.

And what would you be sitting on?

            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?

            There 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?

            Well 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?

            Oh 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?

            I 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?

            Yes, 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?    

            Just 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?

            Yes. 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 me.

You were at the school during the war years. Were you aware that the war affected the school at all in equipment.?

            Well 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?

            Well 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 childhood?

            Yes, oh yes, the old houses, aye

What was there on the street in those days?

            Well not a lot really, just the houses, and I can remember the old Police Station you know

Where was that?

            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 there?

            Yes I can remember seeing the policemen there, aye.  We were always a bit frightened of the policemen about, you know.

Would they be out on the beat round Ramsbottom?

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 inside?

            I can remember the old bacon slicer on the counter. Aye

Can you 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 it.

What was on the floor?

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 in that?

            Aye, we used to go in there

What was that like?

            Well it was just a big open building and that, you know.

And what would you go in there for:

They 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

Looking back 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 bungalow range?

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 have one?

            Oh aye, yes.

How did they work?

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.

That’s great, 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 Lane?

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.

Selling from the cart?

            Yea, aye, I can see Jack now.

Can you 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 clean.

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

Wonderful, well thank you very much for sharing them with me

            Your welcome