Retrospective Chapter 1
Richard (Brick) Wall

I was born on 25th September 1947.

We lived at 17, Estate Street, Hathershaw, in a prefab. I remember they were all metal construction, probably the outside from aluminium but the inside all sheet metal. They were extremely cold and the place was overrun with mice - even running across the floor in broad daylight. My dad used to catch them using a very sticky glue like substance, spread on a piece of brown paper with a piece of cheese in the middle, placed under the cooker, catching them six at a time.

I first went to Hathershaw Infant school on Hadfield Street, in 1952, where we were first taught to read and write. I remeber that we had to hold our pencils in such a way that it pointed over our right shoulder to the top right hand corner of the classroom. That was ok unless, like me, you were left handed. So I encountered my first concession in that mine could point over my left shoulder to the top left hand corner of the classroom.
I also remember the bannister on the stairs which unfortunately was fitted with brass studs so we couldnít slide down it. My other vivid memory was when we celebrated Empire Day (May 24th - Queen Victoria's birthday). That day we were allowed to go to school on our bikes (three wheelers) all dressed up with crepe paper - similarly the girls had their prams dressed up. We used to go out of the school gates and up Ashton Road, then cross to the other side (could you imagine being allowed to do that today?) and return to the school, crossing Ashton Road again. So far as I can remember, all the teachers were ladies and the headmistress was called Mrs. Brooks.
I think we did 3 years in infants and then moved to Hathershaw juniors in 1955, which was in the same grounds as the infants but on the other side of the playground. (My assumptions of dates are calculated by working backwards from 1959, the year we all remember!). It was here that we really got down to some serious learning like English, arithmetic, or sums as they were probably called, and PE.
English lessons consisted the basics of grammar and spelling, arithmetic being mainly the times tables, like, one one is one, two ones are two, three ones are three, all the way up to twelve twelves are one hundred and forty four.

PE included ďrounders ď in the playground, cricket and learning to swim at Hathershaw Baths, which was just across the street from the school.
We learned to swim with a gallon can fixed to our backs with rubber bands and didnít those rubber bands make red marks on your back and shoulders?

It was during my time at Hathershaw juniors that we left the prefab on Estate Street and moved to First Avenue, Limeside. I remember moving on the back of a small flat open back lorry belonging to a mate of my dad's. I think we also got the council house on First Avenue through a councillor friend of the family (some things don't change).
We had three bedrooms, quite useful when we had by this time acquired two siblings, one of each sex. We had a bathroom but without a toilet, this was outside in a porch, quite daunting when it was dark. We also had a front garden and a back garden. No central heating and I remember, like Vinnie, hopping on bits of carpet to keep my feet off the freezing lino in the winter whilst getting into bed.

First Avenue opened up a whole new world, we lived directly opposite Limeside Park, brilliant, I hadnít seen so much open space in my life. Great for climbing trees and riding our bikes. Apart from these we made 'bogies'. We would scrounge four pram wheels from somewhere, some old wood and a piece of rope to steer it or pull it, burn a hole with a red hot poker and fit a nut and bolt to hold the front steering wheels. They were great fun and our mums use to shout at us for ruining our shoes by dragging them along the floor as a brake.

Although we had moved out of the catchment area we were still allowed to attend Hathershaw Juniors, after all thatís what your legs are for arenít they? After four years the time had arrived for the Eleven Plus and we sat it in early 1959. Thankfully I passed and put Hathershaw Technical High School as my first choice.

It was a great day that following September, when fully kitted out in my blazer, cap, tie, grey shirt (or was it white?), grey trousers, grey socks and black shoes. I stood in the playground with all the other new blazers and wondered what the next five years would hold.

To be continued.