The Carroll Family of Earl Street

The Carroll's moved to Earl Street, Longsight towards the end of the war after living at Ramsbottom since just after the blitz on Manchester in 1940. The house we lived in was three doors down from, Grey Street towards Hyde Road. On the opposite corner was Grey Street park. We were a big family, my dad Jack was in the army and somewhere on the continent, (he later went to India after VE Day). My mother had a never ending job feeding and cleaning the tribe consisting of John, Bernard, Peter, Kathleen, Mary, Patricia, Anne and Veronica. (Later after the war Josephine was born.) Around the corner in Wycliffe Street lived my Aunty Lizzie (Lizzie Faulkner) and my cousin Alma. Down the street was Joe Black as SP bookie who I used to do a bit of running for at 5%.

Football Mad

It was not long before the Carroll lads, John, Bernard and Peter were joining in the fifty a side football games which seemed to be ongoing in the park, all under the watchful eye of old Yakka the park attendant. If there wasn't a game in progress there was always a game of kicking in with every player fully convinced they were destined for the Goslings and from there, to United or City. When Yakka closed the gates at the end of the day everybody recommenced the game on the street alongside the park and the factory on Earl Street until Yakka was out of sight on his way home, then it was, over the fence and on with the game until dark. After dark it was back to the street under the street lights. Most of our games were played with tennis balls and it was red letter day when somebody turned up with a real ball. Our big games were played at Platt Fields and we would walk there, play the game, walk home and eat the house out, as most times we would watch other games after we had finished our game and have nothing to eat until we arrived home, then it was into the bread and jam. Even now when people ask me where I come from, I say, "the place with the best football team in the world" and they would say, "Manchester United" and I would say, "No, Grey Street Rovers".

High Street Baths

We didn't only play football although that was the great passion, we used to go to High Street Baths and spend hours diving for pennies at the deep end. When we went to the baths the attendant's job was to make sure you had a good wash in the tubs before you went into the plunge and when the weather was cold it was hard to find a spot in the tubs. It would be full of scrawny young buggers whose only chance of a real bath was when they came to the baths. The attendant would drag kids from the tubs if he thought they were clean enough and order them out of the pool if he thought they were not clean enough. The only problem with the baths was the cost of entry and to beat this sometimes we would take off for the water hole at Reynolds Chains and even though it was considered dangerous, we spent many a day diving off the old crane and getting sunburned. All this without having to worry about an attendant chucking you out.


For a penny on the tram, (when we had one) we travelled to Stockport and then walked to Marple and on to other places such as Buxton and all places in between. We did this all on a couple of slices of bread and jam which at the time didn't bother us because every body was in the same boat and it you had any money you always shared it with your pals. We supplemented the bread and jam with turnips picked alive from farmers' fields as we were walking. To provide some kind of variety we caught the tram up Hyde Road to Hyde or Denton, these places to us at the time were the end of the earth. Other times we went camping, back to the old haunts at Ramsbottom and Summerseat in the woods. Once we walked to Ramsbottom and got caught in a pea soup fog on the way home and finished up in a police station overnight until the fog had lifted enough for us to see our way home.

The Pictures

As we got older we went to the pictures at the Shafts and the Kings on Stockport Road or the Corona in Gorton. If you were really adventurous you went to the Apollo, the Colleseum or the Hippodrome on Ardwich Green. When we were young we kept to the cheaper houses and only developed to the more expensive places as we left school and got jobs. I can remember the attendant at the Corona pushing kids along the form seats with their feet to make room for one more. We all had our own pals and you were never short of a penny if your pal had one. Yank Davis, Harry Fleming and Jack Marr often come to mind as the days go by. I remember going with them on the way back from the Corona, to Fenians Arch after the water main had burst and hearing an old lady saying it was an act of god because of the way the police had dealt with the Manchester Martyrs, even though the event was a hundred years before. All the kids in the area knew the story and on occasions went to Moston Cemetery to see the memorial to them.


We went to school at St. Aloysius in Ardwick and walked down Hyde Road every morning passing Bennett St., the tram depot on Devonshire St., past a large building full of Canadian Soldiers who overnight turned into Polish Soldiers, and on past the cemetery. The school was wedged between a chemical factory and a warehouse and around the corner was the church where we lined up every Sunday morning for Mass. John the eldest went to St. Gregories located on the corner of Ardwick Green until he started work at Manchester University as a Laboratory Assistant and continued studying at The Institute of Technology. Before going to school, I delivered newspapers in the area around the fire station at Levenshulme, Each morning at 7am I would take off around the park, passed the chip shop on the corner of South Street, down Ducie Street to Stockport Road and up to the paper shop where I picked up my papers. My week's pay was 7shillings and sixpence. During the school holidays I got a casual job at Belle Vue in the amusement park opening and closing the exit gate on the octopus ride at the end of each ride or acting as a counter weight on the ride when custom was a bit slow. For this I received the princely sum of 25 shillings, plus my share of the coins at the end of the day, which were picked up shaken from the pockets of the riders. I left St. Aloysius and went to Mill Street School of Building at Ancoats until I started work for the LMS at Oldham Road Goods Yard, later I worked at Huntsbank

Some of my school mates from this time were Vincent Carroll, Tony O'Brien and Joe Benson. Vinnie was a pretty good amatuer boxer and won lots of trophies, boxing for St. Augustines boys club on Brunswich Street.


At the top end of Earl Street and South Street there was an old church which had been turned into a boxing gymnasium. It was run by Charlie Hirst the son of Norman Hirst a sports correspondent for the Manchester Evening News and a brother of Tom Hirst a well known boxing manager at that time. His trainer was Billy Tansey from Oldham, a highly rated fighter in the bantam division in his time. I walked into the gym one day and from then on I wanted to be a boxer. I trained for six months with fighters preparing for fights at Belle Vue and on my 16th birthday obtained a license from the Boxing Board of Control. Charlie's attitude was, you might as well get your block knocked off for a few quid as get it knocked off for a tin cup. Each morning I got up and went off to do my road work. My run took me up Earl Street to Kirkamsulme Lane, around Belle Vue and down Hyde Road where I did my floor work, had breakfast , then went off to work. To complement this we did three nights per week consisting of three hour sessions in the gym and a further four hour session on Sunday afternoon. In the year that followed Charlie organized fights for me at Morcombe in the Wintergardens, the first time I ever saw the sea, Birkenhead and Ardwick Stadium.

I will never forget the Ardwick Stadium fight with quite a number of local supporters making a lot of noise. My opponent was Bert Brown from Stockport and I won a very close contest, but next day I had quite a few changes to my face to remember the occasion. This resulted in trips to the Infirmary and a lay off for a few weeks. The only other times I had been in Ardwick Stadium was to watch the wrestling on Sunday afternoon, where Jack Pye and Jimmy Hussey would regularly battle it out amidst the yells of the crowd.

 Goodbye To All That

Well VJ day came, we took part in the street celebrations and saw soldiers returning. My dad came home, the air raid shelters were demolished and people settled down without the stress of the war hanging over them. The Carrolls thought they had seen it all. We spent a number of years growing up, working playing and developing when one day we were told we were going to Australia. We left Manchester on the day the last tram ran and as we went through Piccadilly in a taxi there was bunting flying and the band playing and we joked, it was because the Carrolls were going away. It was a sad day because we were leaving behind all our friends and the things we grew up with. It was also a time of great anticipation because we didn't know much about Australia except it was on the other side of the world. True to form the Carrolls survived and lived a good life Down-Under. I never continued with my boxing career opting instead for a life in the union movement and politics. In 1968 I contested a State seat for the Labour Party as their endorsed candidate, narrowly missing election. I was unable to front up at the next election because of illness when the seat was won for Labour. Ah Well, I wonder what became of the Pollitts, the O'Sullivans, the Davis's, the Flemings and all the others.

What Became of Them

The family eventually settled down in a little town south of Sydney named Picton and all the family grew up there. My dad John (Jack) died 1967 and my mother died in 1988. John became the Chief Chemist For Blue Circle Australia and died in 1997. Bernard (Barney) retired recently as Occupational Health and Safety Officer at Sydney University and lives at Wollongong south of Sydney.

Peter retired and lives in Wollongong. In earlier days he worked on the construction of the Sydney Opera House. Kathleen lives at Wollongong having raised a family. Mary is now semi-retired, and lives at Bulli NSW. Patricia retired from her teaching career and lives at Wyoming NSW. Anne who became a Carmellite nun died 1995. Veronica died after a confinement 1980. Josephine the youngest of the family is still going strong and lives at Wollongong.

Bernard Carroll 27/8/99