Sea Legs | 2

I think we must have moved to Egremont at the beginning of the long school holidays, as I don’t remember starting school immediately. We lived on a long cul-de -sac called Windrigg Close. At the top end there were prefabs, temporary housing, built after the war, and at the bottom end were new houses, some of them still being constructed. Between the two types of houses were open, grassy spaces on each side of the road. Beyond the grass on one side was a high fence, behind which was a chocolate factory, and beyond the grass on the other side was a field and a farm.

For the first few months we lived in a prefab, then when our new house was completed, we moved the short distance down the road. I am sure this house came with my father’s job, as all the fathers who lived in those houses worked at Sellafield. A lot of them were, like us, new to the area and had moved for work.

It was actually an ideal place to live for a five year old. From the day we moved in there were children knocking at the door asking could I come out to play. We would sometimes have a dog or two with us. All day, every day, there were groups of children of various ages engaged in different activities about the street: ball games, skipping, hopscotch, sitting on someone’s step with pads, crayons and pencils. Sometimes we would be in somebody’s garden playing on a swing or in a home- made tent. Off to one side was a large concrete area surrounded by garages, one for each of the new houses. This was a perfect area for riding scooters, tricycles and bikes and roller skating, but out of bounds around tea time when people were coming home from work in their cars. There was a communal outside tap, for washing cars, which we were not supposed to touch. In reality, I remember a lot of messing about with water pistols and similar, particularly in the hot weather.

No family had more than one car, and many of the women could not drive. The majority of them were housewives, although a few did have part time jobs. Only Mrs Ryder, opposite us, worked full time and she was a teacher. I think it was slightly frowned upon at the time for married women to work.

At the bottom of my friend’s garden was a high wire netting fence and over the fence was the chocolate factory. We used to go to the fence in the hope that her uncle who worked there would see us and come out. If he did, we knew that he would bring us some bags of chocolate mis- shapes. I don’t think he was actually her uncle, probably a family friend, but in those days the children never called the adults by their first names. It was always Mr or Mrs Whatever, or in the case of someone you knew well, Aunty or Uncle. So, for example, I knew our next door neighbour as Aunty Jean, even though she was no relation to us.

I don’t think at that time, being only just five, I was allowed to go any further than the end of the street, but later on, when I was probably seven or eight, we used to climb over the fence and go to play on the farm. There was a girl a bit older than myself, a boy a bit younger, and another little boy who lived there. The farm with all its outbuildings was a great place for hide and seek and there were trees to climb. There was always a flock of geese wandering round, which most of us avoided whenever possible as we were scared of the gander who used to hiss and chase anyone who didn’t live on the farm.

Growing up in the sixties, particularly in a rural area, we had a lot of freedom.

Female, Born in 1954, North England
July 2021