(1) Letters to my grandchildren – time and place I was born

Version 1

I don’t remember the details about my birth, but I can pass on what my dad and mum, your greatgrandad and greatgrannny, told me.

I was born on the 9th of April 1947. This was two years after the Second World War which was very expensive. So expensive that many of the things we think are normal today were only available in small amounts. Things like eggs, butter, chocolate and clothing. It was called rationing and we have a book to prove it. My mum and dad had to go without a lot and make do. For example mum always darned or repaired my socks when they got a hole in them.

Mum gave birth to me in The Maternity Hospital near Greenhead Park. After a few days, she brought me home to Willow Lane in Newtown. These places are close to Huddersfield Town centre. Huddersfield was, and still is, famous for making the best woollen cloth in the world and many of our family worked in the mills. I’ll tell you more later. For example, my mum’s grandad (your greatgreatgrandad) worked in a dye factory, where the yarn from sheep was coloured. The names of local places like Shearing Cross and Sheepridge are about where wool comes from and the haircut that sheep need to produce a fleece which then gets turned into yarn for weaving.

The stories greatgrandad and greatgranny told me about not having many luxuries encouraged me to work hard and make a living for myself and granny and our family which included your mum.

Whilst I worked hard at my studies and eventually became a doctor who could afford luxuries, I was never totally comfortable with it. It was only as an older man, in my forties and fifties, that I realised our family’s strong association with making woollen cloth. I am almost as proud of this connection as I was being a doctor.

A final story that I was told from my time as a baby. My Mum would take me out in a push chair into town, along a road called Bradford Road. It went under the viaduct that takes the railway from the station down to Hillhouse sidings where engines went when they were not working. A small railway ran under the viaduct to deliver coal to the gas works. It was the Beaumont Street Flyer. A man walked in front of the engine holding a red flag to stop the horses and cars. Mum had to run sometimes to reach it before it disappeared.

I don’t remember the details surrounding my birth, but I can pass on what my dad (your greatgrandad) and mum (your greatgrannny) told me. This may seem a little out of order, but it’s the best place I think.

  I was born on the 9th of April 1947. This was two years after the Second World War which was very expensive. So expensive that many of the things we think are normal today were only available in small amounts. Things like eggs, butter, chocolate and clothing. It was called rationing and we have a book to prove it. My mum and dad had to go without a lot and make do. For example mum always darned or repaired my socks when they got a hole in them. It was also the time that dads came home from the war. My dad, your greatgrandad was a corporal in the Royal Army Pay Corps. He served in India and came home after 1945.

  Mum gave birth to me in The Princess Royal Maternity Hospital near Greenhead Park, just outside Huddersfield town centre. After a few days, she brought me home to Willow Lane in Hillhouse. The Princess Royal lasted from 1940 to 1974. The Huddersfield Royal Infirmary was then available to take over. 

  The names of local places near Hillhouse like Shearing Cross and Sheepridge are about where wool comes from and the haircut that sheep need to produce a fleece which then gets turned into yarn for weaving cloth. Huddersfield was, and still is, famous for making the best woollen cloth in the world and many of our family worked in the mills. I’ll tell you more later. For example, my mum’s grandad (your greatgreatgrandad) worked in a dye factory, where the chemicals that coloured yarn were made.

  I have only recently become aware that Princess Elizabeth married Phillip in 1947.

  Not having many luxuries has been normal for us and a strong influence on who we are. In later life, when all the excitement of work and building a family made way for retirement, I researched our textile history (it is summarised in family history from 1815 to 1900 or so). Not just textiles, but honest working people on the land, in homesteads and factories. It is also a strong influence and has helped me think about who I am. It makes some sense in a world where not a lot does.

  The next section moves to things I think I remember, after the age of 4, in Hillhouse. There is an argument as to whether memories are real or not. Mark Kermode in his book It’s Only a Movie is doubtful. He seems to remember most things as film shoots, perhaps based on ‘real events’.   

Version 2

I don’t remember the details surrounding my birth, but I can pass on what my dad (your greatgrandad) and mum (your greatgrannny) told me. This may seem a little out of order, but it’s the best place I think.

  I was born on the 9th of April 1947. This was two years after the Second World War which was very expensive. So expensive that many of the things we think are normal today were only available in small amounts. Things like eggs, butter, chocolate and clothing. It was called rationing and we have a book to prove it. My mum and dad had to go without a lot and make do. For example mum always darned or repaired my socks when they got a hole in them. It was also the time that dads came home from the war. My dad, your greatgrandad was a corporal in the Royal Army Pay Corps. He served in India and came home after 1945.

  Mum gave birth to me in The Princess Royal Maternity Hospital near Greenhead Park, just outside Huddersfield town centre. After a few days, she brought me home to Willow Lane in Hillhouse. The Princess Royal lasted from 1940 to 1974. The Huddersfield Royal Infirmary was then available to take over. 

  The names of local places near Hillhouse like Shearing Cross and Sheepridge are about where wool comes from and the haircut that sheep need to produce a fleece which then gets turned into yarn for weaving cloth. Huddersfield was, and still is, famous for making the best woollen cloth in the world and many of our family worked in the mills. I’ll tell you more later. For example, my mum’s grandad (your greatgreatgrandad) worked in a dye factory, where the chemicals that coloured yarn were made.

  I have only recently become aware that Princess Elizabeth married Phillip in 1947.

  Not having many luxuries has been normal for us and a strong influence on who we are. In later life, when all the excitement of work and building a family made way for retirement, I researched our textile history (it is summarised in family history from 1815 to 1900 or so). Not just textiles, but honest working people on the land, in homesteads and factories. It is also a strong influence and has helped me think about who I am. It makes some sense in a world where not a lot does.

  The next section moves to things I think I remember, after the age of 4, in Hillhouse. There is an argument as to whether memories are real or not. Mark Kermode in his book It’s Only a Movie is doubtful. He seems to remember most things as film shoots, perhaps based on ‘real events’.