Tuesday, 2 September 2008


Soon the spring of 1945 was upon us, and with the spring came VE (Victory over Europe) day. The war with Germany, at least, was over and at last we could think of going home. Three months later, the world’s mightiest and most devastating weapon of all time, the Atom bomb, was dropped by the Americans on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, ending the war with Japan. The two wars that had ravaged so many people’s lives had spanned six long years.
It was strange being back at Oakfield Road after what seemed like a lifetime away. But soon evacuation was all behind us and life returned to an even keel.
Dougie and I went back to Stroud Green Secondary School. I had been in the youngest class of the Senior School when I left, and was now in the top class with only a year to go before leaving school forever.
One of the first things I remember about returning to school was all my classmates asking me why I ‘talked funny’, and my spending snatched moments here and there teaching them Yorkshire-speak! For instance to be ‘starved’ in Bradford meant that you were cold, whereas in London you were hungry. A Yorkshire mother might ‘play pot’ with you (give you a good telling off) and anything good was ‘gradely’.
Now I was back in London, I realised how biased my education had been in Yorkshire. In Bradford my geography and history lessons had been primarily concerned with the north of England. We were taught all about the mills and the cotton industry. I knew all about the spinning Jenny and Watt Tyler and wafts and weaves and mill girls and clogs. I had been completely unaware of these parts of our heritage until living in Grange-over-Sands and Bradford.
What in London was called Domestic Science had been Housewifery in Bradford. These lessons in Bradford were out of this world! On Housewifery days the girls would board a school bus and ride off into the wilds of Yorkshire, to attend a special school that only taught that subject. The school was a one storey, stone building surrounded, as you might imagine, with dry-stone walling and fields. The inside of the school comprised of one large room that was very bleak and Spartan. There were deep Butler sinks and black, iron gas stoves that stood on curly, metal legs. The tables we worked at were wooden and scrubbed white. Here we were taught how to make our own soap and how to wash clothes using a dolly in a tub. A dolly was shaped like a four-legged stool with a long pole coming up from the centre, with a crosspiece at the top, all made of wood. The washtub was placed on the floor and filled with hot soapy water and dirty clothes. The idea being, that you stood the dolly in the tub on top of the dirty clothing and pounded it, lifting and turning the dolly by the crosspiece: obviously the forerunner of the automatic washing machine!

We learned how to iron, using fluting irons. These were like curling tongs that put ruffles around the frills on pillowcases and doilies. Everything we touched was like something out of the Victoria and Albert Museum!

How different it was from our domestic Science lesson at Stroud green School. True, we still has to travel to another school, but when we got there the facilities were better than home! We had a purpose-built, fully furnished flat that we learned to clean and maintain. There was running hot water, modern ovens, and we learned how to cook nourishing meals and wholesome food using rationed produce. These were, as the teacher used to say, ‘Meals fit to welcome your fathers home from the war with’.
When the Americans dropped the atom bomb on Japan and ended the Second World War, I had just three months to go to my fourteenth birthday. The war had started so many years ago, when I was such a little girl of eight, and here I was, almost ready to go out in the world and earn my living.


Croom said...

Six years of bombing and death, it must have seemed like 60!

Was being back at Oakfield Road peaceful? I bet you had fun looking at all the bomb sights, I remember playing on them, although it was forbidden lol. Isn’t it strange the way you pick up accents so readily, did you loose your ‘Yorkshire-speak’ quickly once back?

Once you learnt how to do washing and ironing I hope you helped poor Mum :O)

A lovely blog again Leeta

weechuff said...

I can't tell you how much I am enjoying these blogs. I think I must have gone to Stroud Green School for a very short time, because I remember seperate playgrounds, railings, and red brick walls. I also remember the babies classroom. I think it had a huge fireplace surround with lots of our toys on it. There was a sand pit as well. I remember my most favourite toy was a block of wood with different shaped holes in it, and I used to hammer, (using a wooden hammer of course)pieces of wood that fitted the shaped holes. It was painted in bright glossy colours. I was mesmerised with this toy. As we were such a large family, we were a bit short on these sort of toys. I wasn't there very long before I was moved to St. Adians School.

GoldAnne said...


granny grimble said...


Six years was a long time, but in a way it became a way of life!Yes we loved roaming around looking at all the bomb sites and collecting bits of rubbish!
I grew up helping Mum look after the house and you lot of terrors! I was baking cakes at ten, and making clothes for you on the machine at 13!


I am really glad that you are enjoying these blogs. It makes it all worth while. You should read the book again as these are all abridged
I don't remember you going to Stroud Green School, but I was probably at work then. It was as you described it though. I didn't know you went to St Aiden's though. That was Lynne's first school!
___________________________________ GOLDANNE

I bet those dollies were quite effective you know. The movement of them was exactly the same as the first washing machines! Haven't things moved on in out lifetimes?

weechuff said...

St Aidens School was the place where I tasted my first ever pineapple! We tiny ones had a teacher from Australia, and she bought one in and cut it up for us. I had never seen anything like it before, and loved it! It was a lovely little school, and I remember it more as a very large house that had been turned into a school.

Babs (Beetle) said...

Tina, I'm surprised that you don't remember Leeta being our second mum! She helped mum out a lot with us young ones. I remember sobbing when I realized she was moving house when she got married ;O)

It's a great pity that kids don't learn all those things at school anymore.

Swubird said...


An excellent article. I love reading your tales about how it was in the 40's and 50'. It's interesting to read about the lives of Europeans during and after the war. For myself, I was born during the war, so, obviously, I can't report the detail that I read in your stories. I also love the vocabulary lesson.

Great job. It sounds like you are working on a book.

Happy trails.

granny grimble said...


Thank you so much for yor kind comments. You almost got it right about the book. I actually wrote my book, a family history, ten years ago. I have been revisiting it and posting blogs taken from chapters that I thought might be of general interest to others.