Marjorie Marston was born in Highfields in 1942.
Recording an interview with Marjorie Marston on 27 October 1994.
Marjorie can you tell me your age and your place of birth'?
I am 52 years old and I was born here in Leicester at number 3 Twycross Street in the Highfields area.
Were you actually born there?
I was actually born there, yes.
Can you tell me about the house that you lived in?
It was just a terraced house, it's still standing, I have been to see it several times, it's opposite the school on the corner of Twycross Street and it had just three rooms downstairs; living room, dining room and a kitchen. Upstairs we had three bedrooms, no bathroom, we used to have our bath in the kitchen in a tin bath.
Did you have a toilet inside?
The toilet was outside.
Was that a problem for you during the nights?
Not really, no I don't think so, we managed perfectly all right
Can you tell me a bit about your family background?
I come from quite a large family really. My father was in the army. My father's first wife was killed in the war and I have an adopted sister, an older sister, an older stepbrother and sister. I am the eldest of my mother's children and I have two younger brothers.
So how many of you were there in the house?
There would have been about seven of us wouldn't there?
So seven of you in the house?
We managed quite well, it was only a small house and as I say, my adopted sister was eleven years older than me, so she was well on the way to moving out by the time everybody else was growing up. We had a lot of fun, we enjoyed ourselves.
Tell me a bit about your childhood then. Do you remember anything in particular?
My earliest memories were coming back from an air raid shelter and I do remember sadly that a budgie of ours had died in a cage. I don't know quite what had happened but I remember that vividly. Then I don't remember anything else about the war, I just remember when I went to school.
I remember when I first started to school I caught whooping cough so I ended up with bronchitis and double pneumonia. I didn't go back to school again for another year but I used to love school. I went to St Peter's Junior School, St Peter's Infants first then Junior. I made a lot of friends there and we had a really happy time.
At school at Christmas we used to have fancy dress parties which I remember quite well. I remember going one year as Little Bo Peep with all the crinolines and everything. We didn't have a lot of money, obviously we didn't have television then, we used to listen to the radio a lot, listen to records, it sounds ancient doesn't it? But it was that far back. We just made a lot of our own entertainment , we played cards, played darts. My father used to like playing darts, we generally had quite a happy childhood I think.
Did you visit the cinemas?
Yes, our local cinema was the Evington cinema where its now an elderly people's home and also the Melbourne cinema across here.
Do you remember the price of the tickets?
Yes, at the Melbourne cinema it used to be nine pence we used to go in there. Nine pence downstairs and a shilling upstairs. And at the Evington I think it was sixpence, I'm not really sure but we used to queue to get in there every week and they used to be pretty good shows, we used to enjoy that.
Coming back to when you were talking about the air raids, can you remember where you used to go?
No, because I was only very young,
I was only three when the war ended, so I don't really remember an awful lot about the war at all. I remember afterwards having ration books still and going to the local shops to buy sweets with the ration books. I also remember masks you know the oxygen masks they used to wear sort of thing, I remember those we had them in the house.
Were you terrified because there was some sort of sound?
I don't remember a thing, I don't remember a thing about that I'm afraid.
It must have been a frightening feeling?
With the mask on you mean. Well, my earliest memories are trying it on and I didn't like it, no, because I don't like things over my face anyway so I really didn't like it. I don't remember anything that happened with it, as I say that's all I can remember really about the war.
Can you tell me where your mother and father worked then?
My mother wasn't employed my father was employed with British Telecom, well it was GPO then. As I say he was in the army for most of the war but then he was employed with the GPO.
You wouldn't remember his wages at that time?
I don't remember his wages, no, I don't but
I remember mine because when I was older and I went out to work I started on two pounds ten shillings a week, that was at the GPO. I went to work in the Drawing Office there.
And that was fairly adequate?
That was good and when I left work to have my son about eight years later I was on thirteen pounds something and that was a very good wage for a lady at the time.
Can you tell me about your school, can you describe the building or about your first day at school?
I don't remember my first day I'm afraid. The building is still there now, St Peter's Infants and Juniors. Just a very old fashioned sort of building with a small yard that we played in, no green grass or anything around it and, as I say, it was opposite my home anyway so I didn't have far to go. There was an upstairs and downstairs, the infants were downstairs the juniors were upstairs and we used to do PE out in the yard. I remember that, little rush mats, and little hoops and things and skipping. I don't know whether they still do that these days or not.
Yes, you had a good circle of friends.
Yes, I really enjoyed school.
What about your teenage years what did you used to do for leisure?
For leisure, dancing mostly, we used to go out to the local Palais de Dance which is now The Zoots on Humberstone Gate, yes, that used to be quite an outing on a Wednesday. I thinkWednesday was the best night to go. As I say we used to go to the cinema and we also used to go to youth clubs. I used to belong to St Peter's Church and we used to go to the youth club there.
What sort of activities did you have there?
Oh, sport, tennis, we used to go out probably to visit the theatre occasionally odd little outings. It used to be attached to St Hilda's on the Melbourne Road. It's not St Hilda's now, it was attached to a sort of Methodist thing anyway, and we used to have Girls' Guildrey. I used to belong to Girls' Guildrey and I used to be in pantomime sometimes and so we had quite a good social life.
What about the community around here, was it a mixed community or was it a mainly white community?
It was quite mixed I would think, how do you mean by mixed anyway?
When I was younger we had no immigrants here, if you will excuse me saying this, the first time I ever saw a coloured person was when I was at grammar school, and we had one girl in the whole school. So all the immigrants have all come in since after I got married really and I was twenty. So you know it has come in more or less since then in the last thirty years or so.
Can you remember how people sort of reacted to all this, was there anything in the papers or did people just accept this?
I think mainly people accepted it, I can't say there was any reaction from me I accepted it and I think most other people accepted it. Obviously I think there were problems with some people, they didn't really like the idea of immigrants coming in all that much, but there weren't any real riots or anything like, not that I remember anyway. No, not while I was here.
Do you remember which countries they came from?
The girl we had in our school I think she was from Africa, yes she was from Africa and then slowly Asian people started to come in mainly I think.
Was it fairly safe to travel?
Oh much safer, these days you can't let your children out very far can you? But I mean I remember from quite an early age going on to Spinney Hill Park.
Well, with myself and friends whatever. From the age of eleven I used to take other people's children up there to play, I used to take them with me, mind you it was a lot safer. I think there was one incident once when there was a slight pervert on Spinney Hill Park but there is nothing else that I can think of. It was a lot safer and we used to be able to walk around at night time go out look at the shops in the town. There were not real problems as there are today. I mean there must have been some problems because there always are, but nothing like there are today, no.
How would you say it is today?
I would say that most people are afraid to go out after dark, you know if they do they think they are going to be mugged or even worse, raped or anything like that you know they are just afraid to go out.
But there was nothing like that during your childhood?
No, there was nothing, well not that I can remember anyway. As I say
I used to go out and just window shop in the town and then walk back home. Also we used to walk back from the dancing, we had to if we missed the last bus or whatever. But now I would be quite worried if my daughter was on her own and she had to walk back from anything like that
, my son either really.
Were there a lot of burglaries?
I don't remember any at all. We used to leave our doors open if we popped to the corner shop or whatever, the front door could be left open and we wouldn't come back and find everything gone whereas you might do today!
Did you have a local bobby on the beat?
There was always a local bobby walking around. I didn't really know them that well but you used to see policemen on the beat, as you might say. Not riding around in cars because really there weren't that many cars around anyway.
I remember coal being delivered by horse and cart, yes the old type you know with the big old shire horses.
So you used to have coal fires then?
We used to have coal fires until I was much older and then we had a gas fire but mainly coal ones, yes.
What about clothing and shopping where did you go? Do you remember your local grocery?
Yes, just up the road a few doors away, we used to have a grocery shop. I can't remember the first names. I think they were called Warners and then it went over to Clewloes. I think further on there were about three shops in the lower half of the street, and you could get more or less anything you wanted from there in the food line. But for clothes of course you had to go a little bit further. There used to be clothes shops further down Sparkenhoe and Conduit Street, I don't know whether that is still here or not. All around there, there used to be clothes shops that you could go down and have a look at, or we used to go into town.
Can you tell me, did you say you had younger sisters?
I have got two younger brothers.
Do you remember them being born?
And were they born at home as well?
Yes, I remember one brother. I don't remember my brother Brian being born because he is only fifteen months younger than I am. But I do remember David, he is five years younger than me. I remember I woke up and I heard this baby crying and I rushed across and I was the first one to hold him, that was lovely you know.
So you didn't really know when the midwife came in?
No, no I didn't know that. Well she was there, I mean she was there with my mum and I just rushed in. At five years old you don't really take that much notice anyway but I remember I was the first one to hold him, yes.
And were the nurses and midwives fairly co-operative at that time?
Oh I think so yes, the midwife used to be like a real friend. They used to come around and the mums used to know the midwifes and the doctors too, they used to be real friends.
Our doctors used to be on the corner of Highfields Street.
Can you remember his name?
Dr Casey or Dr Shein, Dr Shein came later. Dr Casey was the older one and I think he moved down to Sparkenhoe Street eventually.
Now does that differ from today, the midwifes visiting the new mothers and has it all changed?
Midwifes go in and I'm sure they probably do try to be very, very friendly but at that time, you saw one doctor and one midwife all the way through, but nowadays of course you go to hospitals and you see lots of different people. Even when you come to the doctors although you try to see the same one, it isn't always possible. I don't know whether you get the same close relationship or not. I mean when I was pregnant we had a similar sort of pattern, you saw the same doctor practically all the time and the midwife used to come home and I saw her all the time and that's quite a nice pattern I think, yes, you get quite friendly.
How did you used to travel to work?
By foot? You didn't use the local transport?
No, because I lived in Twycross Street and the GPO where I worked, was in Telephone House, on London Road so it wasn't very far and I used to walk. The same as when I went to Grammar School because that was in College Street I used to walk there as well.
So can you tell me about your grammar school then?
Yes, it is now a music school I think in College Street and the Collegiate, it was the Collegiate Girl's School. That has joined up with the Wyggeston I understand but then it was lovely, it was an old house. Have you ever been to the music school? Well it's in grounds and it is like old houses and we were all separate departments and we used to enjoy it there.
In our domestic science classes, we used to clean a flat in the grounds which one of the teachers used to occupy, so she had all her cleaning done for her quite regularly, every week. It taught us how to clean and how to polish and all sorts of things but it was quite enjoyable. We did French, the basics but enough.
Can you tell me about your marriage now, I mean did you get married in Highfields?
I did, at St Peter's Church yes. Got married on 29th September, I have to think about the date, it was thirty two years ago, so that was 1962 wasn't it? Yes 1962. Then I moved out of Highfields to live in Halewood Street, then off the Humberstone Road and from there to Catherine Street and then to Norwich. We went to live in Norwich for a while then we came back here and now I live on Wintersdale Road. It was just a sort of local marriage like anybody else's . We had our reception at St James's Church Hall. It didn't cost as much as it would these days, it would cost quite a lot these days I think.
What sort of transport did you have to get to the church and back?
Cars, we had wedding cars obviously, the way they do now just one car there and back. I mean there were cars as I was growing up. My father had one eventually, when I was about fourteen I think.
we didn't have a television until I was about fourteen.
Did you go anywhere else to watch the television?
Yes, our Reverend had one, so he used to invite part of the Youth Club, (or as many as wanted) to go to his house and we used to go occasionally to watch it. It used to be fun but there again you see, we could walk back home from there and there was no problem. It was a lot safer than today definitely.
Can you tell me about any deaths in the family?
Yes, the biggest death of all which really was a very bad trauma in my life was my mother's death when I was eleven. It was totally unexpected because obviously people had been telling me that she was getting better. Then one morning I just woke up and I had been dreaming that she had died, I just went running across to her, you know, but she had, I'm afraid. That actually happened on the day I was supposed to go to grammar school, so obviously it was a really big trauma in my life, and I don't think you ever really get over these things. You just accept them and it gets a little better as time goes on. My mum had a normal burial. She was buried at Groby Road Cemetery. I remember going to her funeral. A lot of people went to her funeral because she was quite well liked where we lived and she was a lovely lady. I was very sorry to lose her. We went everywhere together, you know, I was one of those that went everywhere with mum. It was very sad. My youngest brother was only five at the time but he still remembers as well. Although obviously with him being five, he probably adapted a little bit more than I did at the time, I think, but it was bad for all of us.
Can you tell me about your work, your job title?
I was Drawing Office Assistant first of all. I was what they call a Tracer. Then we were sent on a course to Bletchley in Buckinghamshire and when we passed that,
we became Drawing Office Assistants, we helped the draughtsmen draw diagrams and underground cable diagrams for the telephones. We used to have quite a nice crowd together, you know. A lot of girls there, and men, the men were draughtsmen and we were Drawing Office Assistants but basically a lot of the jobs we did were very much the same, we just had a different title. The wages, as I said, started at 2 pounds and 8 shillings and after eight years I was on to 13 pounds something, which was considered quite good. We had quite a good time at in our work, we were what they called Civil Servants at the time, which meant that you were in a job for life if you where in it then, not now I'm afraid.
So, after eight years I left to have my son and then I stayed at home from there onwards looking after them. I did lots of home jobs, making things like dice, you know the play dice, I made those. I've made gloves, I've made slippers, I've knitted, I've done an awful lot of childminding that was my last home job before I came here.
Was that in Halewood Street?
That was in Wintersdale Road when I did childminding and I used to enjoy that. But I thought the time had come to go back to work. Otherwise I would never get back. So, then I came here and I became a Receptionist and in the last year I became Deputy Manager so I have enjoyed being here.
How many years have you been here then?
Seven years now.
What about your children?
I have two, a son and a daughter, Andrew is nearly 29 and Angie is 22. They were both educated at the City of Leicester School on Downing Drive. Andrew wasn't very old when we went to Norwich, he was about nine I think, he spent two years there at school then he came back here and he went to the city of Leicester. He was quite a clever boy so he went on to Cambridge but now he is back at home with us for a while. Angela went to the same school as Andrew, she is at the De Montfort University and works part time at Next, the clothing place. She is engaged, she isn't getting married yet but I love them both and they're very good to me. I have been very lucky.
Do you remember anything of the Carnival?
Oh yes, we have been to see it, we try to see it every year. Actually we think it is very good. We like all the music, steel bands, I particularly like those. This year I think it really excelled itself with all the costumes, bird costumes all brightly coloured, they were really nice.
When you were growing up do you remember anything about the postman or the milkman, did he deliver milk to the door?
Yes, when I was growing up it was always delivered to the door, we had the Co-op. The post always came to the door, it was horse drawn to begin with, yes.
What about the park, did you used to visit the park often?
Spinney Hill Park? Quite a lot, that was the local park, yes.
Did they have any events there at all?
Not that I know of. Being in the Girl's Brigade we used to go out there sometimes and play games, you know ball games or whatever .
You made your own entertainment, you took balls, bats or whatever and played around. We also used to play whip and top a lot, spinning top and hop scotch. When I was younger we used to have a lot of rummage areas or whatever you call them, we used to go on there, set up little camps and play what they call 'mothers and fathers' and that kind of thing. Also on Swain Street, you know Swain Street Bridge? We used to stand there and watch the trains go by, that was a regular place for train spotting.
Lots of entertainment you know, I think sometimes today's children have too much made for them, sitting at a computer all the time , they don't use their imagination as much, it's a shame.
So can you tell me anything about Highfields, anything that caught your attention that you can't forget? Something that is stuck in your mind, anything at all?
Around St Peters Road area where a lot of fairly rich people lived, my mother used to go and clean for someone in Highfield Street and I used to go along with her sometimes, elderly 1adies perhaps on their own. Not quite the same around there today I'm afraid.
Were they well paid, you know, people who used to go and clean?
I doubt if they were very well paid, I really don't know how much my mother used to get.
It was quite a rich area?
St Peters Road around there it used to be, yes.
Was there any prostitution at that time?
Not that I know of no. It has never been brought to my notice at all, so I wouldn't know really.
You think it is fairly recent?
This is something that has happened in the last year or so, yes. As I say it was a very different place really, you felt safer. It was a happy place. You could go practically anywhere you wanted to, at least these are my memories. I had no inhibitions whatsoever about walking anywhere, that is a bit of a failing these days as well because I still feel I can and obviously people say well you must be careful.
Is there anything else you can tell me?
Bonfire Night, we used to have bonfires in the middle of the roads. Do you know where St Peter's Junior School is in Twycross Street? Well, in Gopsall Street, there used to be one right outside the school, a great big one and as we lived just over the road, it used to be really handy. We used to be out there probably until twelve at night with this bonfire going and there used to one at the other end of the street as well, because there weren't a lot of cars, it wasn't a problem.
So who used to organise these?
We used to organise them ourselves. We all used to collect some wood and plonk it on the bonfire and everyone used to get their fireworks and start them up and people used to come out, stand on their doorsteps and watch.
Did you used to make the Guy Fawkes dummy?
Yes, we did. We had the Guy Fawkes to put on the top and roast potatoes and treacle toffee and things all sorts of things. You don't see a lot of that these days. Dancing round bonfires sort of thing you know even that seemed to be safer then
There are so many accidents.
That's right, so many people act so silly with them you know, but I don't remember anyone having accidents.
Probably in those days the adults used to be more careful as well?
They would insist on lighting up the fireworks, whereas now, fourteen or fifteen year olds think they can do it.
Yes, I don't think the children were as tough as they are today.
I remember being in Hospital, the Leicester General Hospital. I must have been about five I think. My mother and father used to come and look at me through the oxygen tent. I took a blue rag doll and I thought this was wonderful but they wouldn't let me bring it out with me and that really upset me. They said it was something to do with germs. Of course they might have had a policy then of not bringing toys out of hospital then, I don't know, but I seem to remember it was left behind for some reason or another. I didn't go back to school for a year then.
So what did you do in the year, did you do any work at home?
I really don't remember, I'm sorry, I don't remember anything about that. I remember the Hospital obviously. I missed a whole year at school and then went back into the Juniors. I used to hate going to the doctors. It's amazing that I end up working for one.
You work in a doctors?
Yes, I used to. I used to scream, I hated going to the doctors..
Why is that, is it the thought of injections that sort of thing?
I don't know really why, I was shy I suppose, I just used to hate going to the doctors, it might have been tied up with going to hospital perhaps, I just didn't like them.
Can you remember anything about Christmas, how did you celebrate Christmas?
We used to have a nice Christmas, we didn't have much, you know, we used to have a stocking with an orange, an apple, a few coins, some chocolate not a lot of toys the way they have them today. We used to have one toy or one item that we really wanted and that used to be it but we used to enjoy ourselves. The whole family used to get together on Boxing Day; my mum used to make trifles etc. Before she married she used to be Assistant Head Cook at Groby Road Hospital so she could cook, and she passed it on to me
Did you have a Christmas Tree?
Oh yes, we always had a Christmas tree and decorations. We used to have streamers I seem to remember that we had a lot more white Christmas's as well, you know, a lot more snow at Christmas times.
So you don't see a lot of snow?
No, no hardly ever really; but it seemed to snow a lot more and it seemed to be a lot sunnier in the summer then.
Can you remember having to stay off work because of the snow?
No, it wasn't far to go to work.
What about Halloweens?
I don't remember much about Halloween, I don't think they probably made as much of Halloween, not where I lived anyway.
We always used to have a new dress for Whitsuntide you know, usually a cream one. I don't know why that was, with nice cream shoes and white socks etc., that always happened.
Our birthdays, of course, we always used to have a present or whatever. My birthday is near to Christmas anyway.
Did you used to go to the church quite often?
We did, I always went to Sunday School, and we went on a few outings, things like that. Sunday School outings used to be out to Bradgate Park and we used to go and climb over the rocks and everything.
You had quite a happy childhood?
Is there anything else you would like to tell me?
Can you remember where the Moat Community Centre is, what was there before then?
Moat Community Centre now which one is that?
That was a girl's secondary school, that was where most of the children around this area seemed to go. Actually there were only really a few of us who managed to get to Grammar School and we considered ourselves lucky. A lot of children did go to the Dale or to Moat School which was down over East Park Road way.
And where the St Peter's Clinic is, can you remember what that was?
Yes, it used to be further down, there used to be a Workhouse there, it was called Hillcrest Elderly People's home. There is a school there now I think.
Do you know anything about Hillcrest?
Only that it was a very drab place. You looked at it from the outside and it really looked very drab. I went in there once to a relative of my husbands and I didn't really like it, it was like a workhouse really dark and drab.
So where was the local clinic then?
Where would mothers go for injections, you know?
To their doctor; we didn't have health centres, everything was to your doctor, that's why I say
the doctor was really like a family friend. They knew everything about you, I mean my doctor delivered me he was just like a family friend. You could go to him, talk to him and I remember when my mum was ill we used to ring him up at all sorts of times and he would be there, they were really good. There were no receptionists, you used to go in and sit in the waiting room and he used to come out and call you.
And the Fairs. I notice you have got something down here about Fairs. We used to have a big Fair on Lee Street Circle, where we have built all the shops now. I remember going down to that one year with my father and my two younger brothers and getting lost, I remember that very well. I think my brother was about two so I must have been about seven or something like that. I remember seeing someone, and this is how safe it was then, I remember seeing someone who reminded me of my next door neighbour and I followed him all the way home. I managed to get home, yes, I just walked behind him because I knew it was somebody I knew. My father was frantically going round the fair looking for me and I was safely at home.
We didn't have telephones of course either not in the house.
So if anybody had a burglary or some sort of emergency how did they get in touch with the police and the hospital?
Well I mean there were phones elsewhere but not many people had them in their homes, so you would go to a call box to get in touch with them. They were the big red phone boxes, the ones that have gone.
You were talking about the Fairs, was this at a certain time of the year?
I don't remember exactly, it really was a big fair not like the little ones we have these days, you could go around and really enjoy yourself at the fair.
When you were a teenager, can you remember the sort of fashion that was around?
Yes, I used to love it, it was the big bouffant skirts, you know, with the stiff underneath skirts with all the ribbons on and things, and the big wide belts and tight fitting bodices. I suppose blouses and high heeled shoes, winkle pickers, you know with the pointed toes. I don't think that did my feet much good, but anyway I used to have those. I wonder how I walked in some of those high heels but I think girls used to look feminine, they used to look very nice. Especially in those skirts I used to love them, we had stockings of course we had stockings and suspenders. I didn't like them so much, tights are much better
So did you used to buy these or did you have them made?
We used to buy them in the shops. C&As used to be there , Lewis's, we used to have a Woolworth and that used to be very good, very reasonable. More expensive shops across the road, Morgan Squires places like that aren't there now. The British Home Stores used to be where Woolworths are now, they sort of did a swap. Yes, and in the High Street we used to have a Co-op, that used to be a good place to go to shop. Obviously there weren't as many shops as there are now. Those that were, were quite satisfactory. It is a shame to see Lewis's come down.
It is sad to see one of the landmarks come down.
Well it is, and also you could buy practically anything under that roof, whereas you have to go to lots of different places now and still not find what you really want.
So, if you were ever going out in the evening say to a party or something and say you were dressed up what transport did you use?
If there were parties or whatever they were local so we used to walk but to go into town we used to use buses. There used to be a bus stop on St Peters Road that I used to use that would take you down Swain Street bridge, straight into town. That's about all really, buses or your feet, you know, we didn't very often have taxis or anything until my father had a car and of course then he used to give us lifts.
What about the library, did you used to use the library?
Yes, I can't remember the road that it was in though Garrendon Street, that's the one, we used to go down to that one.
Can you describe that for me at all?
Just like any other library it was small obviously smaller than the one in the town now. It had lots of books I remember it as being a very nice quiet relaxing place to be in. There used to be a counter as you walked in, just like any other library really.
Did you used to go there on school visits?
No, not really, not that I can remember.
Was there a lot of unemployment around?
I don't remember a lot of unemployment no, I mean
when I left school I went straight into a job where as a lot of them don't these days; if there was unemployment it was probably because the person was sick or ill. Mostly you could find a job of some kind or another.
There was the local Dunlop factory wasn't there?
There was Dunlop, there was Imperial Typewriters on East Park Road, there was a lot of factories around. Wadkins of course, it's still there now on Green Lane Road.
Not a lot of people went to university after school unless you had some money, you know money helps a lot to go there, so mostly you left school at 16 and went out and found a job and it was a lot easier than it is today.
I think although people say that they were tough times but I think it was a lot easier for young people because we didn't have the drugs around, there was nothing like that.
So the children were fairly well disciplined?
They were a lot better behaved I think than they are today. I mean obviously in every generation you'd get a few tearaways, but much better I think. I can remember when I was growing up, we never had to be given advice on drugs because there was nothing going on, there was nothing about. I don't remember the riots too well because as I say I was living in Wintersdale Road at the time, I just remember it being on the news and I didn't come down to this area that much then because my father had died by then
He lived in that house. He remarried and he moved down to Sparkenhoe Street somewhere on Sparkenhoe Street.
Well, getting back to the war, do you have any memories?
No, the problem is as I say I was only three when it finished. I remember my older sister taking me around the town in a pushchair. At that time I think she was interested in the GIs. I remember the GIs being there vaguely and I know they always told me that I used to roll my eyes at them. So in other words I used to flirt with the GIs even as little as that. I can remember seeing some around, but I really don't remember an awful lot about the war at all, it's a shame. You need somebody who was a bit older to remember the war. I remember ration books, gas masks and my poor little budgie. I think we used to have air raid shelters outside the houses. We used to have a concrete thing outside the house, yes that would be an air raid shelter. We used to have cellars in the houses, whether they went down into the cellars or not, I don't know. But we did have concrete buildings outside the house.
So you used to run into them and wait until its clear to come out again?
Well that's what we must have done, I really don't remember too much. I only remember what I have been told. I know my father's first wife, they used to live on Cavendish Road, off Saffron Lane and they were the first ones to be bombed and unfortunately she was bombed then and she died.
Can you tell me about the local fish and chip shop?
Yes, I can't remember where it was now; we just went down the road along Oxendon Street and down another road. It wouldn't be there now but it wasn't very far away. It was on the corner of a hill and we used to go in there and get sixpenny worth of chips, quite a lot of them you know, and take them back home. There used to be always a queue for them.
I remember we used to go to the local shops and get things called locus beans; they were long brown things that we used to chew on instead of sweets because obviously, sweets were short and we could only have a certain amount on a ration book.
I used to go up to Yorkshire quite a lot because my mum came from Yorkshire. We used to get a penny worth of spice, and we used to be able to buy penny sweets at local shops. Or go and take a halfpenny with you and get quite a lot of sweets, it sounds a terribly long time ago but it isn't really. It's amazing, its all changed so much. Oh and
we used to have street parties every so often on big occasions, like the Coronation. We had a street party, or on anybody's big national birthdays. They used to be great fun because you used to get the big tables and everybody used to gather and bring food, and there used to be fancy dress parties and competitions.
So can you remember anything about the Queen's Coronation, that sort of time when you had parties and that?
Yes, we had parties then and
I do remember the Coronation, I didn't see it on television, just read about it in the papers and listened to it on the radio. Most of that day, I spent out marching in the rain in the street but I remember her getting married as well. Actually thinking about it, my mum took me to see her wedding dress in the Newarke Museum, they had it on exhibition there and we queued for ages to get in. That was the original wedding dress, it was doing a tour of the country, but it was lovely, it was worth seeing.
Of course we used to go to the museums as well. The New Walk Museum that was there then.
Was that from school or from home?
Oh home. I used to do a lot of things I suppose on my own.
I used to play tennis a lot on the parks on Victoria Park. I used to go swimming quite a lot either at Spence Street or Vestry Street.
Did you visit the local pub at all?
I've never been one for pubs, so I didn't usually.
I used to go to the Working Men's Club sometimes because my father used to belong in the Working Men's Club, that was in Oxendon Street I think. They used to put on shows there, we used to sit down and have a drink, a bit like the working clubs are now, children used to sit and have their crisps and their soft drinks that used to be a regular treat every week.
And also I used to go to the Palace Theatre with my mum and dad that used to be where the Canon cinema is now. They used to have celebrities there, I remember going there quite often. There also used to be a theatre where the TSB Bank is in Horsefair Street that used to be quite good to go to as well.
So you had quite a varied and interesting life?
Well I think so, looking back on it. It was certainly varied anyway, it wasn't a just sit at home and do nothing sort of life.
We used to do quite a lot really. We didn't go on holidays very often because obviously we couldn't afford it and if I did go away I used to go to Yorkshire with my mum to visit my grandad, that's about all really. We used to have day trips out to Skegness mainly because that's where everybody from Leicester went to Skegness. But that wasn't until later but just the countryside round about really Bradgate Park and places like that. I mean, people in those days just didn't travel the way they do today, they couldn't afford it anyway, but obviously there were not the planes to take them to places and everywhere you wanted to go took a little bit longer than it does today.
Did you travel on a train?
Yes, we went on the train to several places, we went to Wicksteed Park on the train. I remember going down to London once with my mum and dad and going to London Zoo, nowhere else I don't think, no, not till I was older.
Is there anything else about Highfields itself that has changed?
Only as I say it was a lot safer then, a happier place I think. I think generally people were a more communicative to each other you know, probably looked out for each other a little bit more.
So I don't really remember anything any more memorable than that. I hope I have been able to help a little bit.