Memories of Stoke-on-Trent people - Keith Hackney

   

Keith Hackney

   

I was born on 3rd June 1936 at 19 Sefton Avenue, Sneyd Green, Stoke on Trent. The midwife was Nurse Bryan, whose eldest son Arthur was eventually to become the Managing Director of Josiah Wedgwood Ltd, and a knight. Nurse Bryan remained a family friend for many years until her passing, the last time I saw her was in 1959. I was christened on 5 July 1936 at Christ Church, Cobridge, just 6 days before my mother's 21st birthday.

19 Sefton Avenue (Sneyd Green)
19 Sefton Avenue (Sneyd Green)
photo taken: 1996

 

  We moved to 21 Kelvin Avenue, Sneyd Green, a house that had been built by my father in the course of his work as a bricklayer, and it was here that my brother was born on 18th March 1940, their second and last child. My parents were paying the house off at 2s 6d (2 shillings and 6 pence) per week. 
One of my memories of living here was that there was a corrugated iron Anderson air-raid shelter in the garden. My only memory of ever using this was only once, when there were inches of water in the bottom of it! Barrage balloons were also visible on many occasions from the house. There was a recreation ground behind the house, where I used to play. Our neighbours at 19 were the Fowler family.

  21 Kelvin Avenue (Sneyd Green)
21 Kelvin Avenue (Sneyd Green)  
photo taken: 1996

My first memory of attending school was at Hamilton Road Infants, where we were made to have a sleep in the afternoons!

 As a child, I was a shy person, and did not mix easily. At one stage while still at Kelvin Avenue, because I would not eat, I was admitted to a Sanatorium at Bagnall for several weeks. While there I developed a small growth in my throat, and was transferred to the North Staffs Infirmary for its removal. Tonsils & adenoids were also removed. At some stage, my appendix was removed. 
During this period while I was in Bagnall for a second time, the family moved to 3 Norton Avenue, High Lane, and Tunstall. I recall that while in Bagnall I had my first banana; Mum brought half a banana for me, my brother had the other half!  We also saw the wreck of a German plane, which had crashed quite close to the Sanatorium.  We had seen the pilot baling out a couple of days previous. I also recall painting a windowsill at Bagnall with a toothbrush and toothpaste!

   

At this time, I turned 5 and attended Jackfield Street School for a while, and then transferred to Chell County Primary (Boys) School. I often wondered why I was sent there, as all the other kids in the street went to Moorland Road in Burslem. Chell was a bus ride from home, one penny fare, and often I would walk home and spend the bus fare on half a malt-loaf, or an apple, a carrot, or the like. The route passed the rubbish tip, and the rubbish trucks would go very slowly up the hill, so the kids used to jump on the back platform and get a ride up the hill. A visit to the site of Chell School in 1996 revealed that the school had been demolished, and replaced by a Retirement Home.

At one stage, while my mother was in hospital, I lived with my Aunt & Uncle at 19 Sefton Avenue, and attended Sneyd Street Primary School with my cousin. This was not a very happy time in my life, as I had never been away from home and my parents before, although it probably only lasted for a few weeks. 
The only things I remember are walking past Granny's house, where my brother was staying,  on the way to and from school, and having to act as a rabbit coming out of a rabbit-hole, which was a chalk circle on the ground. I thought that was pretty silly! I seem to recall that I came out of a door at the front of the school, while my cousin came out of a door at the side, possibly round the corner.

  Sneyd Street Primary School
Sneyd Street Primary School 
photo taken: 1996

 

While living in Norton Ave, I unwillingly had piano lessons for a while, from a Mr. S. Hall, who lived on High Lane. The house at Norton Avenue adjoined the old Sanatorium. We lived there till 1945 when we moved to Rhyl. I remember the shop at the top of what was Cooper Street, having ice creams   which were circular, and wrapped in paper, and were fitted into a cornet.  For a while I had piano lessons from a Mr S Hall who lived in a terraced house on High Lane. At that time I went to Chell County Boys School, which is now demolished and replaced by a Rest Home. I think there used to be a garage at the top of Greenbank Road where the electricity substation is now. Our neighbour at No 5 was Mrs Vernon, who I recall gave me a Dickens book, which I have just passed on to my grandson.

 

The bungalow at Norton Avenue had a nice garden, with a heated greenhouse, and several large trees, also a cellar with an air-raid shelter. One time, I fell from a tree and hurt my knee. My mother took me to a nearby Hospital to have my knee checked, but as they said that it was O K I was made to walk home! On another occasion my trike ran backwards down three steps, and I ended up on my back under the trike. While living there one of my Motherís sisters came to live with us as her husband had been called up, and they had rented their house out for the duration. I recall that they had trouble getting it back after the war. My aunty took her husbands job at the Co-op to keep it for him after the war.

My uncle, Clarence Lowndes kept the Raven Hotel at Cobridge for many years, and I recall spending one Christmas Day with the family there, and visiting on many occasions.

  Raven Hotel, Cobridge
Raven Hotel, Cobridge

photo taken: 2001 

My parents, brother and I went on holiday to Rhyl for a week in 1945. Because my brother, who was not a well child, was so much better, we stayed another two weeks, and in August moved there permanently. Our address was 37 Brynhedydd Road, Rhyl. A visit in 1996 revealed that sadly the house appeared empty, and looked derelict. However, in 2002 it had been restored and looked much better.

 

The time that I spent living in the Potteries was only a small part of my life, but it left a great impression. We have been back on several occasions to visit family, and to do some family research, and I always feel sad at leaving the area where I consider my roots to be.

 

Keith Hackney
July 2002