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The Coventry you will never know

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Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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76 of 94  Sun 9th Dec 2018 11:26am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2956

When I was laying in a hospital bed a few days ago, thinking of the fantastic array of 'tools' they had, I got to thinking "Wonder what my Granny would have thought of them?" Granny had thirteen children, raised them all above childhood, never knew her to be ill in twenty years. Then I smiled and thought "I have never bought a tube of toothpaste in my life. Tins of powder." In Granny's back kitchen room she had about half a dozen shelves stretching from wall to wall, filled with paste, medicines, tonics etc, all home made, from plants and flowers. I believe in my early days I used what Granny had in a tin on the shelf - yes, it was home-made tooth powder. Soot, chalk, I think camphor (laurel bush) and possibly fish bones and charcoal, not sure, but what ever it was, all ground into a fine powder, I know the odd times I've had to use modern toothpaste,it fills your mouth with a strong tasting froth. Despite soot sounding horrible it is the softest abrasive, it moves tartar without irritating the gums or teeth and rinses away easy. I think Granny called it dountafri? My house and Granny's was one building, surrounded by a blue-brick narrow pathway called a caurs'y. Our back/kitchen door was at the back, but Granny's was at the side at the back corner. Around 1936 time Granddad had a toilet built on the side of his house, its door being at right-angles to the kitchen door. In 1939, with food needed, he had a pig sty built. Now the three doors were in a box, just the width of the doors, with the caurs'y the fourth side - when you came out of the toilet you walked between the kitchen door and the pig sty door, that you could touch with your hands at the same time, with your back touching the toilet door.
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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77 of 94  Sat 22nd Dec 2018 12:26pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2956

In the heyday in the 19th century rope trade, I believe Coventry had 4 rope walks of about 75 yards long. They 'spun' bell ropes, boat ropes, public hanging ropes, cord, twine, coir matting and sacks. A wooden spinning wheel with spokes was broadside on to the walk. A spinner would tie about 40lb of hemp around his waist, paying it out with his left hand while walking backwards. A wisp of hemp was fastened to the wheel, turned by a spinner boy, and the spinner made the thread with his right hand. At intervals hurdles (like sports hurdles only much stronger) were placed under the rope to prevent it from touching the ground. They would then take the rope by wheelbarrow to the warehouse to get paid, they would then collect the raw material for the next lot. When it rained, work stopped, making the spinners income 'dodgy'.
The Coventry you will never know
Roger T
Torksey
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78 of 94  Sat 22nd Dec 2018 10:07pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2019  Total posts:569

Thanks for that graphic explanation, Kaga, I had heard of Coventry`s rope walk many years ago, but never really considered how they were made. I wonder how long it was before this skilled trade died out and was overtaken by machinery? I do know that rope making was not unique to Coventry as I presently live near Gainsborough in Lincolnshire (big inland port at one time) and I have also stayed in Dundee and there was a rope walk there (another big port). If you think of the rigging of ships they must have been pretty busy and a vital industry both in times of war and as we were an island trading nation with a vast mercantile marine there would have been plenty of peace time work.
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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79 of 94  Tue 25th Dec 2018 11:02am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2956

Now on this day of festive occasion, and eat and drink and be merry, I feel I can remind you that two hundred years ago there was a chairhouse in Coventry, so if you had a little too much port, or ate too much turkey, then you could send someone to the chairhouse, or if you could stagger there, then you could hire a sedan, and be taken home or wherever you wished, much as you can hire a taxi today.
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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80 of 94  Wed 24th Apr 2019 1:03pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2956

I remember Coventry when the soundtrack of life was not the sustained grumble of engines, but the murmur of the wind, the howling of dogs, the clatter of hooves, the scolding of mother, the laughter. You were born at home, often you would die at home, and often winter killed family members. The occasional traveller might walk away from the neighbourhood, but hardly anyone else ever left, practically everything about your life was determined by your father's trade and wages. The birds that perched on the clothesline would have seen more of the country than you could hope to see. There were words you did not utter (sex, abortion), there was superstition, and they strongly believed tales that were handed down. Then war comes and tears the past to shreds.
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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81 of 94  Sun 28th Apr 2019 10:28am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2956

The 'pig swill bin' had been known for ever out in the country, but wartime brought it into the city. About the beginning 1941 we began to see and feel the real signs of food queues. Almost everyone knew someone in the Navy and the dangers they faced to bring us food. This was not a squabble, this was real life and death that few people had known. The effect of short supplies of food, and the need for dig for victory, people in the city were encouraged to keep hens and pigs, and so the swill bins appeared. Believe me, kids no longer left crusts or were fussy, you either ate what was available or went without, and that soon cured being fussy. By 1942 we were in this queue for anything, no matter what. Then the yanks came, with any amount of canned goods and chocs, and that was a thorn in the side of we 'Brits'; small things, that were giant at the time.
The Coventry you will never know
Old Lincolnian
Coventry
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82 of 94  Sun 28th Apr 2019 5:12pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2012  Total posts:498

In the area of Lincoln where I grew up most houses still had a pigsty although very few kept a pig in it, The exception being a friend of mine whose father kept a pig in the back garden until the mid sixties. He lived opposite a school and they put all the leftover dinner food into a large bin which he collected every day. I'm not sure how good the diet was for the pig but I believe he was stiil using school waste when he got a smallholder
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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83 of 94  Mon 29th Apr 2019 3:03pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2956

Old Lincolnian, Shades of the past, the first world war began the Dig for Victory, and the pigsty in the city, but we can look further back, mid 19th century, when a hairdresser from Cross Cheaping had a large number of fowl in a cellar. He would let them roam round Cross Cheaping and the centre of the city, even down the High Street, and they would come flying at his shrill whistle at feeding time. No motor-horns or car alarms, just lovely people, everyone slow and calm.
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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84 of 94  Thu 9th May 2019 4:31pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2956

Think of it - a Coventry in Grandad's day. Before all the plumbing, every time you had a wash, every time you washed a shirt, sheet, or the kids, you had to go to a fountain or water pump. Think how often you met friends, enemies or a girl you fancied. Think of the trickle of gossip, the rumours, the news. Someone starts to sing and you have a neighbourly choir. Houses cling together without uniform shape, and here are the alleyways, eyes peep at you from shadowed doorways, a dozen or more puffing chimneys, birds swirling around them, the wind blows through your hair. A stone stairway leads down to a basement, forgotten cellars, so many. For a moment I try to understand how this city became the city I know. Beating the bounds Defining the parishes of Coventry was a very special day once a year. A parish is the circuit of ground committed to one parson, vicar or other minister having the cure of souls therein. From the 14th to 16th centuries the bounds of Midland parishes were conducted by the local clergy and inhabitants with much ceremony, and a special day was set apart. Children wore costumes, tramped and stomped, banners flapped from balconies, bells were rung, clapping of hands, horses strung with coloured ribbons, all on this day for the observance. Trees, stones and marks gave the parish a clear and well defined parish boundary. The boundary of St Michael's was larger than Trinity.
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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85 of 94  Thu 13th Jun 2019 10:27am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2956

Les Allen went to Foxford School. So did I. We had an argument, after school we met at the corner of Jackers Road allotments next to the school tuckshop. One hell of a fight for about 5/6 minutes. I was older, heavier, taller - we both ran out of steam, battered and bruised, declared a draw. We bought a bottle of pop and shared it, became friends, joined a boxing gym together. Retired, Les ran an off licence, I ran a guesthouse. Approx one hundred years before. Townsend v Browning, in a close at Coundon opposite Golden Green Wood, in front of 8,000 people, 122 rounds, in the space of three hours fifty minutes - declared a draw, they went for a pint. There was 'Hellfire Nan', kept a lodging house near Much Park Street and the Horse and Jockey. The angle post that supported the overhanging beams in there was called Hell Fire Nan's scratching post. Many shady deeds concocted there. There was the Russian Bear, kept the Bear Inn before it became the Craven - he would not let anyone poke the fire but himself, anyone who did he would bundle them out neck and crop into the street. There was 'Sandy Nannie' who carried sand on her head from the Stoke pits, until Mr South of the New Inn in Gosford Street presented her with a donkey. She was said to be a witch. In Trinity Churchyard lived Mr Downes, who was called 'Old Seven Sides'. There was 'Peg Leg Rollason' and 'Peg Leg Crofts' - they used to fight in the Bull Ring. Can you imagine that? Other fighting men in Coventry were Randle that kept the Woolpack Inn in St John Street, 'Fatty' Adrian who kept the Windmill in Spon Street, 'Gamun' Shilton, 'Ginger' Berry, and a host of others. Adrian and Randle fought on Kenilworth Common for a prize of £100.
The Coventry you will never know
scrutiny
coventry
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86 of 94  Thu 13th Jun 2019 7:31pm  
Member: Joined Feb 2010  Total posts:680

Kaga. You are far more than we will ever know. Edited by member, 13th Jun 2019 7:32 pm
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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87 of 94  Fri 14th Jun 2019 2:37pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2956

Scrutiny, is that good or bad? It's got to the stage wherever I go I'm the oldest, I feel I'm older than 'walk about creek'. I gave a boy off 8f 50s for his place on a Tiger Moth flight. It was my third time up. I asked the instructor to pull out the stops, something I could really remember. He did just that - indescribable!
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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88 of 94  Fri 14th Jun 2019 3:01pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2956

But the Coventry people I knew were something else. Working a twelve hour shift in a factory as machine operator, then as ambulance driver at night, on call from 8pm to 5am next day, and teaching first aid to Home Guard and ARP at weekends. How they did it no one knows, but they did, and that's what being a Coventry kid means to me.
The Coventry you will never know
scrutiny
coventry
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89 of 94  Sat 15th Jun 2019 12:00am  
Member: Joined Feb 2010  Total posts:680

Kaga, it was meant to be good. I can relate to your last post. I've done an 11hr night shift for 4 nights in a factory then 8hrs as a labourer on a building site on Monday and Friday but only 6 hrs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. At the weekend I built my own house which took 3yrs 9mths. I had to learn all the trades for that but it was worth it. Thumbs up
The Coventry you will never know
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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90 of 94  Sat 13th Jul 2019 3:09pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2956

The hardest thing is to try and describe my childhood, the way things looked and smelled. The carts had iron bands around the wheels, so going over cobbled roads they were terribly noisy, and the smells of the horses were always around. Fighting for space in the narrow roads, there were street vendors shouting their heads off, bands of musicians with squeeze boxes. Girls and boys would dance around and make fools of themselves but nobody minded in those days. There was often a hurdy-gurdy man in Broadgate. Then there was the barrel organ man with his monkey on a silver chain, dressed in boy's clothes, the box of polished wood balanced on some sort of pole - the man would turn the handle that played tunes. It meant the streets were bright and busy, and not as drab as the photo's make out on this forum. But there is nothing left these days, it's as if it never existed. If any man or boy had walked down the street with hair dyed blue or blonde in those days, they wouldn't have got far before they would have been involved in a fight. Fights were always breaking out, crowds gathered and egged them on, laughing. And it wasn't just men, women fought just as well. It had to be seen to be believed.
The Coventry you will never know

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