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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 84  Sun 9th Dec 2018 11:26am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2781

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 84  Sat 22nd Dec 2018 12:26pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2781

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 Turner
Torksey
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78 of 84  Sat 22nd Dec 2018 10:07pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2014  Total posts:572

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 84  Tue 25th Dec 2018 11:02am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2781

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 84  Wed 24th Apr 2019 1:03pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2781

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 84  Sun 28th Apr 2019 10:28am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2781

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 84  Sun 28th Apr 2019 5:12pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2012  Total posts:506

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 84  Mon 29th Apr 2019 3:03pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2781

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 84  Thu 9th May 2019 4:31pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:2781

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

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