Posts Tagged ‘history’

Just for perspective.

My Grandma (mum’s mum) was born on February 10th, 1900.

Imagine the life she led.

She was named for a distant relative who was wounded in the Boer War11, which ended when she was only two years old.  She was still a toddler when the Wright Brothers made their first controlled, powered flight1; but before she died, Concorde had made supersonic passenger flights possible2 and Neil Armstrong had walked on the moon3.


Born in a grimy mill town, she would have been forced into work just as ‘The Great War’ began and all the young men went off to the trenches. By the time that war ended, she was eighteen and had then to survive the Spanish Flu pandemic4.

Edwardian-1905-Market-Square-Huddersfield-PostcardShe was married and had borne two children by the time the Great Depression hit the U.K. in 1929/305. Unemployment in some parts of the north reached up to 70% and I can only assume that she and her young family survived because mills were (presumably) less affected than heavy industry and mining.

Next came the second World War, which saw her son enlisted in the Royal Navy; he served in the Far East. Once again, she will have had to work in the filthy, noisy mills to survive. I never really knew what my grandad did, other than ‘work with horses’. He died while I was still very young. Then, along with a variety of international conflicts which involved young British conscripts6, and two other significant wars in the far east, she saw the Iron Curtain come down and lived the rest of her life under threat of nuclear annihilation. She didn’t live to see the Berlin Wall come down, but she did read of its erection in those early days of the cold war.


She witnessed the final throes of the British Empire7, the birth of the NHS8, colour T.V., mini-skirts9, Teddy Boys10 and fighting on the south coast12. During the 1960’s she even experienced and enjoyed holidays in Spain – having (I seem to remember) been driven there with my uncle’s family. I’d love to have seen Spain then, or even when my own parents flew there with my younger brothers in the 1970s.

I think my grandma (mam) had a remarkable life, living through most of a century of change and turmoil.

She died in 1973.

1 – http://firstflight.open.ac.uk/index.php

2 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concorde

3 – https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/first-person-on-moon.html

4 – https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-pandemic-h1n1.html

5 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression_in_the_United_Kingdom

6 – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/20/national-service-consctiption-britain-richard-vinen-review

7 – https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/india-and-pakistan-win-independence

8 – https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/health-and-social-care-explained/the-history-of-the-nhs/

9 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1960s_in_fashion

10 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teddy_Boy

11 – https://www.britannica.com/event/South-African-War

12 – https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20140515-when-two-tribes-went-to-war?ocid=global_culture_rss&referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

Thanks to all original owners of photographs – none are my own.

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Given this year’s unseasonable March weather, I decided a couple of weeks ago not to sit at my desk hoping that new work would come in (I’m currently waiting for feedback on work already done before wading back in to it) and to spend the time doing other things.

So far I’ve started to work on the garden: potatoes are chitting (and the soil is turned and waiting for them), tomato plants and courgette plants have been potted-on and their tubs are full of riddled compost ready to go; I’ve been to stay with Karen and Dave and ‘done’ Llangollen and I’ve taken my parents for a day out in Blackpool, which was fun.

When I was a child Blackpool was our yearly holiday destination. Huddersfield’s ‘textile’ weeks always seemed to follow the holiday week then taken by Glaswegians. The first time I remember being taken away was by train but all I remember is being frightened to death by the enormous smoke (steam) breathing, scarily noisy monster coming out of the tunnel at Huddersfield railway station. After that and every year until I was 10½ we went by coach (Hanson’s), via Todmordon, Whalley, and Preston – a trip of about three hours (including a stop at the ‘Half Way House’ for pop and crisps). The coaches used to line up in Sparrow Park (now gone) and take hundreds of factory and mill workers and their family’s en convoy for a week (sometimes two) in Blackpool.

We often stayed in ‘digs’ up around the north shore, above the north pier, in between Gynn Square and Uncle Tom’s Cabin and that’s where I headed with my parents this week. They were delighted to have a day out in such fine weather and, like me, were amazed by the changes made to Blackpool’s ‘front’ and promenade. We parked for free, alongside the Savoy Hotel and set off looking for somewhere to eat and I have to say that I’ve never seen two stick-wielding pensioners scurry around so fast. They loved it.

When we used to go as a family group in the 50’s and early 60’s walking in Blackpool was never so easy. There were so many people bustling around that walking in a straight line was so very very hard. It was even difficult to find space on the beach to pitch your deckchairs.

They’ve done a good job with the redevelopment of the Blackpool seafront, which hopefully will help to make the town feel less seedy – it used to be (and may well still be, for those who stay over and visit the town itself) SO seedy, smelly and downright unkempt. New trams start running on April 4th – so good luck Blackpool, I’ll be back. I may even manage to bring my parents along and, if you’re lucky – Sharon may even take my word for it!

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