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  • Bampton and District Local History Society

    Burnbanks project

    Interview with Tom Moore

    24th February 2005

    BD:Asks, can you tell me your name please.
    TM:My name is Tom Moore.
    BD:And where were you born and when?
    TM:I was born in Stockbridge, on the 21st of May, 1926.
    BD:When did you first move to Burnbanks?
    TM:I was about six months old.
    BD:Why did you come to Burnbanks?
    TM:My father got a job working in the power station.
    BD:Did you have any brothers and sisters?
    TM:I had two brothers and two sisters, Gordon and Dennis, Audrey and Aletha.
    BD:What was it like, during the recession of the thirties?
    TM:That was about 1930-1932. I was only about 4 or 5 years old. I really didn't know a lot about it. My dad was still working in the power station. He used to work until about 11 o'clock at night, then they would switch the electricity off, during that period, so we didn't take any harm, in the recession.
    BD:Can you remember the first house you lived in?
    TM:The first house we lived in was number 2. I don't know how long we lived in it, but the Birds lived in number 1, and they had a fire which spread to our house, and I remember Mam and Dad telling us that Jim Fountain, who lived behind us, came down to our house when it was on fire and picked the three of us up in his arms all at once. Then carried us up to his house; he more or less saved us from the fire. After that we all moved up to number 54, and stayed there until 1944, then we moved into Penrith.
    BD:Did anyone get badly burned or hurt in the fire?
    TM:No, they had a volunteer fireman up there, they had a stand pipe and a hose, and that's about all they had, very basic.
    BD:What was the cause of the fire, did they find out what it was?
    TM:I couldn't really tell you now, what it would have been. No, I was that young, I wouldn't remember much, just what I had been told.
    BD:Can you remember the layout of the house you lived in at number 2?
    TM:I can't remember number 2, but I can remember number 54. We had a living room; it had a free standing range that heated the water. It had an oven at the side - you could boil pans on the top of it. That's where we sat of an evening. It had three bedrooms, a bathroom, pantry, coal house, a water toilet, and all inside. In the back kitchen there was a boiler for washing the clothes. We had hot and cold running water, electricity. I'm going back to 1929: they were quite modern for their day. I mean, people living in Bampton and places like that, and even Penrith, hadn't any electricity. Some had gas lamps, but most people had paraffin lamps or candles, the lavatories, well, they were just a building outside at the bottom of the garden, and the people had to empty them themselves, so really we were quite modern, we really had no hardships.
    BD:In our conversation earlier today, you mentioned a story about some cakes. Could you repeat the story?
    TM:A lady was baking Christmas cake one day, and they hadn't just turned out as she would like and they had sunk in the middle a bit, so she said to my mother, would you like them, could you do anything with them, so my mother said 'Yes I'll take them, possibly do some thing with them'. After Christmas the lady said to my mother, 'What did you do with those cakes I gave you?' 'Oh,' she said, 'I steamed them and we had them as Christmas puddings with plum sauce on'. Laughter, laughter, laughter, she said, 'well I never thought about doing that'.
    BD:Which Christmas would that be?
    TM:It would be during the war some time, you know, when things were short. They didn't really waste anything in them days, you know, we never took any harm during the war. Our butcher McCormick lived in Bampton Grange. They killed all their own cattle and sheep and that, and so we never really went short, we always had plenty. You could go to the farms, every farm killed a pig, they had plenty of ham and bacon, they made their own butter, there were eggs, so you know, and we never went short.
    BD:Could you tell me what the working life was like in the power station, the working conditions.
    TM:They worked shifts, I don't know what hours exactly, early morning until the afternoon and early afternoon until 11 o'clock at night, I think? Then the electricity plant was shut down for the night. It was a hard life for the workmen, and the navvies, because the only tools they had were picks and shovels. There was very little mechanical equipment in them days. There were a lot of tradesmen, joiners, fitters, blacksmiths, electricians, they needed all those.
    BD:Did you work in the power station for a short while?
    TM:No, it was about 1940 when I got a job in the fitting shop. I was more or less a tea boy. I was on that for about six months till it closed down, then I was put on the wagon as a second man, with Arthur Robinson for about 18 months. Then I left there to serve my time as a fitter at Altham's in Penrith. I started there in 1942.
    BD:When you were young living in Burnbanks, what sort of things did you get up to? Were there amenities there, what was it like socially?
    TM:We had a football team, and a bowling green, a recreation hall, where there were concerts, dances, where men could go and play dominos and darts. As for us as children, we just made our own fun - we had bikes without any pedals, just two wheels and a frame. We had a tyre which we bowled along with a stick, or Dad would make us a bogie to play with, to run about on, somebody pushing you, it was very enjoyable. We knew no better, we weren't bored, life was very enjoyable. I think we were lucky that we had good parents that did a lot for us, looked after us. Most of our clothes, my mother did a lot of knitting and sewing, and it was not unusual to see us going to school with patches on yer britches and that, and she darned yer socks, they do nothing like that today. Everybody was the same, it was during the war time, the stuff wasn't in the shops to buy. People had to make and mend.
    BD:Did you go to school in the area?
    TM:Yes, in Bampton. It was a mile and a half from Burnbanks - we walked there every day and walked back. There was a bus but it cost a penny each and there were five of us, and the wages in them days was only between two and three pounds a week which wasn't a lot of money. We took our sandwiches to school, and we put a kettle on the fire to have a cup of cocoa every day.
    BD:What happened when the weather was bad, did you still walk? You talked earlier about having deep snow.
    TM:In winter the snow was level with the wall tops - there was no school. All we did was go out into the snow and make tunnels inside and snow houses, that was great fun. I can remember getting up in a morning, and drawing the bedroom curtains and the deer would be looking in at yer window, they were only looking for something to eat. Ah, they were happy days. I really enjoyed them.
    BD:What about the family, did you all sit down together for meals?
    TM:We all sat down together for meals, everything was home made, it was great.
    BD:Was there enough food for everyone?
    TM:Yes there was enough food. A man used to come round from the Co-op and take your orders. It was delivered by wagon. Once a fortnight he came round. We would get flour in one and two stone bags, so when the snows came, you always had plenty to last for two or three weeks. And in summer, I can remember my mother buying three or four dozen eggs when they were cheap, and putting them into an earthen jar with isinglass and water and that used to keep them fresh until she used them mainly for baking.
    BD:Can you remember what it was like inside some of the buildings, like the recreation hall, the mission and the shop?
    TM:Yes, they were quite big and were all made of wood, with wooden floors. There was the canteen that had a bar, you got alcoholic drinks and things like that. The mission hall, where we went every Sunday, I can only remember it had rows and rows of chairs.
    BD:Did you and the family ever take part in any of the plays?
    TM:Yes I think we would have been, but I cannot really remember what. I remember we used to go down to the Bampton Grange church, we were all confirmed there.
    BD:Did you all go to church every Sunday?
    TM:I wouldn't say we went every Sunday, but we went quite a few of them.
    BD:What made you become interested in the eel trap? Was it something shown to you by a member of the family?
    TM:It was just something we used to play with really. We often used to go down to the waterfall - it was just above the waterfall at Naddle, and we used to climb on top of it. I can remember the trap door and remember opening it and looking inside. We were always full of mischief.
    BD:Did any of you have eels to eat?
    TM:Not from there, but I remember my Dad bringing some home one day. He got them from the bottom of the dam. There was a weir at the bottom of the dam, and where that weir overflowed, under the neck of the weir, it's as if the eels collected there, and my Dad got some out of there, but I don't think we were very keen on 'em. I don't think we had any more...
    BD:What about the men working on the dam, did they enjoy their work? It must have been hard of course. What sort of conditions did they have?
    TM:The work was hard. The men stayed in what we called the bigger huts - they all had a single room each. At one end of the huts there was a fire, a stove, where they could dry their clothes and sit in of an evening. Otherwise there wasn't a lot more to do, apart from the canteen, where they could go of a night. They could go down to Bampton to the Jerry or to Bampton Grange to the Crown and Mitre. There would be no late buses through the week, just of a weekend to Penrith. A treat to us was a trip to Penrith for the day, and have fish and chips, those were a real treat. There used to be someone with a big van, who used to come round once in a while selling fish and chips, and that was all right for a while.
    BD:Do you remember people like the policeman, the nurse, anyone connected with Burnbanks?
    TM:Yes, the policeman, they called him Ostle, he lived in the staff huts. I think he was employed by the Manchester Corporation. He kept things in order. He made himself a deer out of wood and it stood in his garden. It was stood there for years, I don't know what happened to that. The doctor, he came from Shap, Doctor Prentice. We had a nurse, Nurse McCormick, she came from Bampton Grange. The Manchester Corporation had an ambulance on the dam in case anybody had to go to hospital - they would take them in that.
    BD:Were there any accidents?
    TM:There would be. I think the biggest accident was in the tunnel when there was an explosion. I think there was one man killed. I don't remember a lot about it, it was early on, in the 1930's I think.
    BD:Did your parents enjoy their life?
    TM:Yes, we were a happy family. We all loved our parents, I don't think we could have had better parents, I mean they did everything for us, no complaints at all. I think we have been a very lucky family really.
    BD:And where are your brothers and sisters today?
    TM:I have one brother in Carlisle, our Gordon, that's my eldest brother. My younger brother Dennis, he lives in Penrith, my oldest sister Audrey lives in Ulverston, and my youngest sister lives in Bowness-on-Windermere.
    BD:Do you see them now, is it only occasionally?
    TM:Not very often, no. I do ring my sister, Audrey once a fortnight, and she rings me once a fortnight. We also keep in touch with Dennis and Gordon, but we don't see a lot of Aletha.
    BD:Did you do any fishing?
    TM:When I was younger we used to fish in the lake, and we had to get a licence to fish the lake. We had to write to Rutland, Oakham in Rutland, one of the Lowthers lived there at the time.
    BD:Did you catch any fish?
    TM:Yes, mainly perch, but I didn't like skinning them, they were very prickly, but they were nice sweet fish to eat. During the war it was great to have fish. We used to catch rabbits - rabbits were beautiful, I really enjoyed them, you could eat rabbit pie hot or cold. I couldn't fancy one now with them having that myxomatosis.
    BD:What about deer, was anyone allowed to shoot deer?
    TM:No, no, we never had deer.
    BD:Do you remember any of your friends, where they are? Who were your best friends?
    TM:I remember their names. There were the Jewells, they lived in one of the big huts, and the Thompsons had a big family, Jimmy Thompson, the Crabtrees, there was quite a big family of them, Sandhams, the Twiggs, the Mowpouses. A lot of people moved away and we lost touch,
    BD:Did you ever have any holidays?
    TM:The only holidays we had were when we went to relations. We had relations in Barrow, in Yorkshire, and we would go to stay with them during the summer.
    BD:Do you remember any of the teachers at school, their names, what they were like?
    TM:Dougie Thornton, he was the headmaster at Bampton when I was at school. He was very strict, but he was a good teacher. I had a lot of respect for him. He was very keen on sport - he played cricket, golf, bowls, I think mainly for Appleby. He was keen on gardening. We had our own allotment at school where we spent a lot of time, and we also spent as much time on the football and cricket field. I think I enjoyed those better than school.
    BD:When did you leave school?
    TM:That would be in 1940 at the age of fourteen. Then I went to work for Manchester Corporation. My father was called up in 1939, so my mother brought us up during the war - she had five of us to look after. All the women did a marvellous job really at looking after their families.
    BD:Are there any other stories you remember of your childhood days when growing up in Burnbanks?
    TM:Not really, I don't think we were angels. If there was any trouble to get into, we did our fair share. I remember when it was bed time, we had to be home for 7 o'clock and that was it. Your parents could let you out without the fear of anybody, not like someone putting a knife into you, like there is today, it was much safer back then.
    BD:What was the surrounding countryside like in and around Burnbanks back then?
    TM:On a Sunday Dad and Mam would take us out for walks, and depending on the time of year we would pick wild raspberries and brambles, nuts. I remember Dad putting a sheet round the bottom of a nut tree when they were ripe, he would shake the tree and the nuts would drop down, then we would pick them up, put them into a tin and take them home, to have at Christmas. We would also go out mushrooming. There was always plenty to do, it was all very interesting for us.

    Interviewer: Bob Dickman

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