Alan Crosby's blog: Joan's Lancashire childhood

By Jon Bauckham, 14 January 2016 - 11:20am

Yesterday, Alan Crosby listened to an elderly friend recall her memories of growing up in 1930s Lancashire – a window into a vanished world

Dr Alan Crosby is the editor of the Local Historian and a columnist for WDYTYA? MagazineThursday 14 January 2016
Alan Crosby
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Great Eccleston 1900s Alamy

Alan's friend Joan grew up in the Lancashire village of Great Eccleston, seen here in the early years of the 20th century (Photo: Alamy)

I spent yesterday afternoon in a care home, talking to a lady in her 90s about life in the past. It was fascinating.

Joan’s quite a formidable character (a former high school headmistress, legendary among her ex-pupils for her ‘no nonsense’ approach!) but we chatted about her childhood in the rural Lancashire village of Great Eccleston.

She recounted many stories, and then read out some sections from the autobiographical memoirs, which she’s writing down in notebooks, recalling events, conversations and people from over 80 years ago. It was a different world, of course.

Some of the stories were about cycling – Joan used to cycle around the district, in the mid-1930s, sometimes with her mother’s brother, who was the agent for a farm insurance company. They’d go to farms that had hardly changed for centuries – no electricity, no running water, no gas – and as she told me, her uncle and the farmer would ‘talk in dialect’ while Joan had a glass of milk and a piece of cake.

At other times she would go out on her bike with her mother, the two of them cycling around the farms and cottages because her mother was a volunteer for the Preston Nursing Association. This was a charity – a family would pay in a penny a week and after they’d completed a year’s payments (a total of four shillings and fourpence) they were eligible to be visited by the district nurse if any of the family fell sick.

Listening to Joan was like looking through a window into a vanished world. I can’t wait to read her memoirs!
 

Alan Crosby lives in Lancashire and is editor of The Local Historian. He is an honorary research fellow at Lancashire and Liverpool universities.

 

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