attended Ross Place County Primary School ( Ross College my uncle
George used to call it ), The school was almost opposite the house so
we didn't have far to go. My earliest memory , and one which has stayed
with me always, is of the smell of hyacinths in the corridors of the
infant school. The other smell I remember is the pink carbolic soap
from the mobile showers which used to call at the school regularly. The
head teacher I recall was Mr Thorpe, he is featured on one of my
photographs. He seemed a giant of a man with a booming voice but he had
a heart of gold and was an excellent teacher.
Class 1951 at
Ross Place County Primary School, Ardwick.
Taken in the playground which bordered onto Ross Street.
Class 1952 Ross
Place County Primary School, Ardwick.
Class 1954 Ross
Place County Primary school, Ardwick.
week we would walk crocodile style to High Street Baths for swimming
lessons. I didn't actually learn to swim until I was about seven or
eight but then I passed my life saving test and got a free pass - they
couldn't keep me away after that! During the holidays we would go to
the baths in the morning - the attendants would check your fingers for
wrinkles or call out your colour band and send you out. We would get
dressed, go out and come straight back in again! On the way back from
the baths we used to call at the bakers for stale cakes and a cup of
It's funny how you only remember the hot summers, they seemed to go on
forever. The pitch would bubble up - just right for a lolly stick to
make a pitch bomb. The corner gas lamp made a great swing with a rope
and perhaps an old tyre. Whips and tops were popular especially with
different colours chalked on top. My favourite toy was a matchstick gun
made from a piece of firewood, hair clips and the thick red elastic
from a fizzy pop bottle. Pea shooters, diabolo's and alleys were also
firm favourites. They seemed to come and go out of fashion. Conkers
were great fun, with all kinds of weird mixtures and treatments in an
effort to make them harder. Didn't they make your eyes water when you
George who lived next door , bought me a bike but would not give it to
me until I could deck on from both sides without falling over. I sweat
blood learning to do that. I used to keep it in the back yard opposite
the toilet which, incidentally, had a cracked wooden seat for a long as
I remember and it used to hurt like hell if you pinched your bum in it.
Like everybody else we had newspaper on a string and a candle on the
cistern box in winter to stop it freezing. It was so annoying to read a
story and not find the ending on another piece or the candle ran out!
Saturdays were busy. Papers followed by a regular trip with an old pram
to Kirkhams coal yard in Ross Place for coal bricks and deliver the
radio battery to the shop on Hyde Road next door to Joe's lolly shop (
the vimto were best ). My Gran lived in Slack Street off Tiverton
Street so I used to call in there sometimes. The minors at the Appollo
was a must on saturday mornings. I recall Fess Parker coming on stage
when Davy Crockett was all the rage. A neghbour of mine had won a
competition and was presented with a coonskin cap by Fess - we were all
green with envy.
The cinema organist used to play a song and we all joined in:-
Di dah di dah dah dah
dah dah dah
We're minors of the ABC
And every Saturday we line up
To see the films we like and shout aloud with glee
We like to laugh and have our singsong
Such a happy crowd are we
We're all pals together
We're minors of the ABC
the tune but who remembers all the words ?
Other popular picture houses with saturday shows for kids were the
Kings, Queens and Shaftsbury on Stockport Road. Flash Gordon, Three
Stoogies, Laurel and Hardy, Bowery Boys, Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Roy
Rodgers, Chaplin and my favourites Laurel and Hardy. What great
entertainment it was. At the Ardwick Hippodrome there were some great
shows and Pantomimes at Christmas.
Like a lot of youngsters I used to do a paper round in the morning and
at night and weekends. I worked for two different shops -both on Grey
Street. One was near the Sand Park and was run by an Irishman and the
other on the corner of Rose Grove. After getting out of bed in all
weathers to do that job, getting up for work was never difficult.
As I got
older we used to venture further afield. Ardwick Green Park, Gorton
Park, Debdale, Crowcroft, Reynolds clay pits for fishing, train
spotting at Longsight station and fishing in the pond at the back.
Ray on Holiday
The Sand Park was our main place when it was wet. The covered area was
ideal for football but you had to get there early to get picked ! The
parky, Joe as I recall, was a right old sod who was so big and fat he
couldn't chase you more than 5 yards. We made his life hell. I used to
like the umberella ride. Every year , a fair used to set up in the play
area of the park - remember the swing boats. Bonfire night was
brilliant. In the weeks leading up to the 5th each gang would raid one
another's bonny wood usually stored in somebody's back yard. There
seemed to be fires in every entry and on every croft which lasted from
tea time until well into the night. The lads would stuff their pockets
with penny bangers and rip-raps , do a tour of the area and chuck them
at the girls or rival gangs. I suppose it was really dangerous but
nobody seemed to bother in those days. I recall a few times when I
didn't part with a lighted banger quickly enough - it numbed the
fingers for quite a while! We used to sit round the fires on old sofas
and chairs eating parkin and spuds until some wag put a banger under it
or set fire to it.
I can't remember what age I was, probably 11, when I joined the Sea
Cadets, but it was in a hall on Grey Street. I still have my cap band -
T.S. Trafalgar. We used to march around the area and go to the T.A.
Barracks at the back of Ardwick Green park for rifle shooting practice
- my favourite. Does anyone remember the big fire at Kiaora drinks
factory on the Green. The big occasion of the year was Remembrance
Sunday when we marched into Manchester to take our part in the big
My father, John who was at different times a plumber and bricklayer,
died suddenly in June 1954 aged 32 ( he had contracted a fever in India
on army service and it had left him with a weak heart ) . Up to his
death we used to go on Holiday every year to Middleton Towers Holiday
Camp in Morecambe - I still have the pin badges. At that time there
were top acts on at the camp. In particular I remember Norman Evans and
at Middleton Towers Holiday Camp
with parents John and Margaret .
credit of Mr Thorpe, somehow I passed my 11 plus and elected to go to
Central Grammar School . The new school had been built in Kirkmanshulme
Lane and my year were the first, first years to occupy the building.
The playing fields at the back were not ready so we went to Parrs Wood
by bus every week for sports. Those changing rooms and showers were so
cold it's a wonder we survived, and the playing fields were so far away
, you were shattered by the time you got to the pitch!
1960 form 4c
Manchester Central Grammar School,
Kirkmanshulme Lane, Longsight.