BRIAN FAULKNER'S MEMOIRS
EMAIL :- firstname.lastname@example.org
I was born at 108 Derby Road, near the Race Course in 1936. My father was a motor mechanic and as a baby we moved to Ivy Road
where he worked for Eric Parker at his garage just inside Ivy Road. Later Eric Parker moved his garage into Abington Avenue.
By this time, 1941, we had moved to 16 Bective Road in Kingsthorpe and my father was maintaining vehicles for Pooles
in Abington Square. This later became Palmer & Harvey, tobacco wholesalers, supplying the county.
My grandfather Sydney Woodward at 32 Inkerman Terrace was employed as a "clicker" in the boot and shoe industry and
as a child during the war he took me to the factory in St Michaels Road when he was "fire watching"
I attended Bective Infants, Bective Junior and later Bective Secondary Modern, (now demolished)
When my mother died in 1949 my father and I moved to my grandmothers house in St Peters Street, next to the church.
That house didn't have a bathroom, so every week I walked along St Andrews Road to the Public Slipper Baths at the
bottom of Grafton Street and paid 3d for a hot bath, emerging pink like a lobster.
When I left school I had a job as a trainee motor mechanic at Westonia Garage in Weston Favell.
Within that period my father re-married and I lived with him and the new Mrs Faulkner at 61 Masefield Way, Kingsley.
However after domestic problems I was sent back to St Peters Street and within a few months I was sent to my other grandmother
at 32 Inkerman Terrace (now demolished)
Within a few months in 1952 my father took me to the Army Recruiting Office in Bailiff Street, and I was signed up for the
Army at 16 and given a railway warrant from Northampton Castle Station to Aldershot.
The endless summer school holidays during my days in Bective Road, Kingsthorpe were punctuated by my mothers
daily warning as I left No.16, "Don't go down the mill"
Obviously my friends and I went down the mill, wending our way across Harborough Road, down the High Street,
past the Five Bells pub, across Welford Road past the little post office on the corner, past the dairy on the left and down to
The Green by the church, pausing at the horse trough before taking the footpath into Mill Lane and to the river which wended
its way through. During the summer months we plunged in to the water dressed in whatever we had that resembled a "cossie" and
came out with a leech or two stuck to us. At that point there was an old abandoned swimming pool behind a wall of corrugated sheets.
We never went in the water there as it seemed to be permanently inhabited by hibernating frogs or toads.
In the event that we didn't go in the water we took another route across the fields past the water mill upstream, through a farmer's
stock yard and on to Harlestone Firs, pausing to climb onto a haystack on the way. Why we went to Harlestone Firs I cannot imagine as it
was full of ant hills, so we never stayed long.
When I arrived home my mother always asked, "Did you go down the mill?"
"No of course not Mum, you told me not too"
In the piece on Castle Station I mentioned the chocolate machines which were still bolted to the walls on the platforms during the war,
but because of rationing, they were empty. One of my childhood dreams was to see them filled up again after the war was over.
In the meantime the ration book contained sweet coupons, D's and E's on a page at the back. Each month the value changed. D's were 2 ounces,
and E's were 4 ounces, perhaps.
Each month my mother took the 3 ration books for my father, me, and herself into a shop in Sheep Street called Hamps, which was
run by two ladies. My mother always bought their fudge. It came in delicious cubes which she carefully shared out between the three of us.
My father wasn't very sweet toothed and his portion was usually left enticingly in a bag on the mantlepiece until he usually gave it to my
mother and me.
Finding alternative sweet sources when the coupons had been used needed some ingenuity. In Grafton Street was an unusual little shop
run by Mrs Bridie. On Sunday mornings she sold "home mades", which were a sort of humbug. The best thing about "home mades" was,
they didn't need coupons. So there was always a queue outside. Inside I remember there was a huge cast iron and glass bowled "still lemon"
Another source of "sweets" was the chemists shop where they sold "licorice wood". You could chew it all day until the inside of your mouth
was all yellow. They also sold tins of Horlicks Tablets, another substitute.
There was also a sweet shop in Bective Road, but as I moved to No.16 in 1941 when the rationing had started I never saw any sweets
in the window. However, the owner, Mrs Robinson never changed the window display and throughout the war there were boxes
of Dairy Box, containing dummy chocolates, gradually fading with the sunlight. They looked very real, but by the end of the war not
When I was a child in Northampton there were many cinemas. After all there was no TV yet, so a trip to the cinema was one of our
escapist journeys out of a drab life. My mother Gladys and her sister Betty were great fans of Deanna Durbin, and on frequent occasions
when I wasn't at school they took me to The Exchange on Market Square. At 2 in the afternoon I found myself sandwiched between them
and told to be quiet while they enjoyed their film.
The Exchange had a Childrens Cinema Club, and during the war Tommy Handley of the radio show ITMA arrived one day to enrol
us youngsters. The queue was amazing. It stretched all the way down the stairs at the entrance past the Emporium Arcade and past the
offices of the Chronicle & Echo and up Newland. I had nearly arrived at the point where I could meet Tommy when an attendant came down
the line telling us to have our Identity Cards ready. I didn't have mine and I had to leave the queue and run all the way back to Inkerman
Terrace to get it from my mum. When I get back to the cinema, the queue had gone and so had Tommy Handley. I was devastated,
but I still listened to ITMA each week on the radio.
[Above] Emporium Arcade, Market Square
In Kingsthorpe we had the Ritz Cinema in Welford Road and on Saturday mornings there was a childrens film show where I
was introduced to Flash Gordon and his Trip To Mars. Exciting stuff as each episode ended on a "cliffhanger" and we had to go back
each week for the next instalment. Every week we emerged, blinking into the light of day with our raincoats worn like cloaks with just
the top button fastened, swashbuckling our imaginations as we fought with forefingers pointing like guns as we "shot" each other.
On rare occasions I was taken to the Savoy. This was luxury indeed. The cinema building still exists at the junction of York Road,
Abington Street and The Mounts, but the glory of its cinema days have long past. The concealed lighting in the auditorium which changed
colour before the show began added an air of opulence to a visit, and if on rare occasions we were treated to the "British Compton"
organ rising from the depths at the front of the screen with all of the glass panels lit with changing coloured lights and the white
suited Harold Nash playing his way through a miscellany of popular tunes of the day, we were in heaven.
A trip to the pictures, was graded, depending on the occasion. As a child we went closer to the screen for 6 pence (old pence)
or 9 pence. A shilling would get you a seat above the cross isle and as you got older and perhaps took a girl to the cinema you
splashed out on the one and nine's, maybe even the back row if you were lucky.
MORE ON 'THE SAVOY' BY TOM WHAPPLES
Situated on Abington Square the 1954 seat cinema opened for business on May 04th 1936 and was equipped with a second-hand theatre organ manufactured by John Compton & Co Acton London. Built in 1932, the instrument comprised 3 manuals and 7 ranks of pipes and was first installed in the Princess cinema Dagenham. It was later removed and refurbished by Compton and they added a Melotone unit (set of electrostatic voices). This improved organ was placed on public display in the window of Frazer Son & Mackenzie’s music shop Northampton awaiting installation in the Savoy.
Harold Nash was the last resident organist from 1945 to ’56. In 1960 the organ was removed to make additional space for pop shows and both the two pipe chambers were cleared to provide extra dressing rooms. Local organ builder/tuner Alfred Davis & Sons removed the instrument and dismantled it for spare parts, but left its lift in situ in the orchestra pit.
In 1986 and to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the ABC Northampton, a 3 manual 10 rank (1937) Compton organ removed from the Ritz cinema Cleethorpes was transferred to the ABC (Savoy) Northampton. Reinstallation of this organ took three months and the original Compton lift was restored to working order. For authenticity, the (Ritz) illuminated console surrounds were changed to the style of the original Savoy Compton. Organists Ron Curtis and Michael Wooldridge gave the inaugural concert on May 04th 1986.
In 1986 the cinema was taken over by Cannon and renamed Cannon until it finally closed for business in April 1995. The organ remained there until 1993 (Paul Bland Oct 08 2005). It was recorded by the Cinema Organ Society to be stored in Melksham and later moved to the Paignton area.
There are two area's in Kingsthorpe you could call parks. Thorntons Park which runs alongside Harborough Road with a back
entry onto Mill Lane.This is what I would call a park for adults. Kingsthorpe Hall is in Thorntons Park but there is no play area for
children. The recreation ground though is a different kettle of fish. We called it, The Rec. It runs between Harborough Road and
Welford Road and as a child it seemed huge. There was an area we called "the swings" and it had been placed as far away from the
entrance as possible so it seemed to take ages to get there. It had all the usual things. Roundabout, big slide, small slide, big swings,
small swings, seesaw and sandpit. I used to think the park keeper was very unfair when he locked up everything at night with chains.
On Sunday they remained locked all day. How times have changed.
The Rec also had a putting green, tennis courts and bowling greens. We frequently had a game on the putting green but we never even
thought about the tennis courts, as we had no racquets. The bowling green was always immaculate and it was a pleasure to just watch
the groundsman mow it with his petrol machine. The grass cuttings were so fine in the box behind they looked like a green dust.
My first experience of a bowling green was not a happy one. It happened when I was three and my grandad, Sydney Woodward was in a
bowling team which played on the Race Course in Kettering Road. My mother took me to watch grandad play. I thought this was very
exciting and I wanted to play as well. Before anyone could stop me I'd run onto the edge of the green, picked up a wood, from the pebble
trough and hurled it down the green. Pandemonium set in. I was never taken to see grandad play again.
As a small child living in Ivy Road with my mother and father, I was frequently taken for a walk down Abington Avenue
to Kettering Road. I didn't mind that because there was a green painted double fronted shop called Jenkins. Basically it was
a cycle shop, but my interest centred on the front window by the entrance door because they sold german tin plate cars. As far
as I remember they cost sixpence, and every time we passed the shop, either my mother, my grandmother or my Aunt Betty
bought me one. I suppose I must have destroyed them in the course of playing with them, but I can imagine what they would have
been worth now, in their boxes of course.
A trip into town always meant a visit to Coldhams, on the corner of St Giles Terrace and Abington Street. There toy display was awesome
to a small boy and pleading for something in Coldhams usually elicited a reply, wait until Christmas.
Wartime of course meant toys were scarce and I remember one year I was given a wooden aerodrome complete with hanger
which my father and my uncle had made in secret which was augmented by a metal Spitfire and Hurricane.
As I grew older I caught the No.5 bus from Kingsthorpe to The Drapery, purely to pay a visit to Marks in The Drapery. Marks sold,
among many other things, Dinky Toys. Their window display always showed the latest models in stock and for the princely sum of
about two shillings you could buy a brand new boxed model car. The mind boggles at the value today of those boxed two shilling
The School Clinic was in King Street and I can remember one unhappy day when I had to go there to have a tooth out.
I've hated dentists ever since. One of my aunts also lived in a strange shaped little house. The family name was Saberton and they
originally came from the East Coast area. Aunty Gladys had three daughters, Joan, Gladys(junior) and Margaret. The house seemed v
ery Dickensian to me. There was a stone slabbed hall which sloped down to an open courtyard with a washhouse beyond. There was
a narrow winding staircase to the upper two floors which I never saw. The living room on the left of the front door was triangular.
In the pointed end was a little narrow cast iron fireplace. Aunty Gladys headed what could only be described as a cosmopolitan
international family. Joan the eldest daughter met and married a GI from America and went off to "the States". Young Gladys met a
German POW, Horst, got married and went to live in Germany after the war. Sadly Margaret, the youngest, a dark haired beauty,
died in her teens. She was my age. I was very sad about that. Eventually Aunt Gladys and her husband moved out of the curious
King Street house to a council house in Kingsthorpe
When I was 5 and I lived in Bective Road, Kingsthorpe, our daily milk delivery came by pony and trap from the dairy in the
High Street which ran from Welford Road to Kingsthorpe Green. Every day the milking herd ambled from the field to the milking parlour and every day
the pony and trap delivered from a big churn into the jug that my mother left on the step. Frequently it went sour before the end of the day,
particularly in Summer.
About this time I was admitted to Mansfield Hospital to have an operation on my legs. I was pin toed. While I recovered in the hospital,
each early morning I saw a milk maid pass by the window. It is the only time I have ever seen a milk maid with a yoke across her shoulders with
buckets of milk on each end. A rare sight which I still remember.
Some years later during an unauthorised absence from school (truancy) I helped a milkman do his delivery. He had a van and the milk was now in bottles
that clattered in the carrier as he moved from house to house. He worked for Seaby's Dairy near Abington Avenue and they made ice cream in little
rectangular boxes. He always gave me a pint of milk for helping and a sixpenny piece on Friday. He never knew I was "playing truant". I told him I wasn't well.
My other experience of milk was when at school we had our daily third of a pint and I was the "milk monitor", carrying the crates to each classroom.
I particularly remember the very cold Winter of 1947 when the milk froze in the bottles and pushed the caps off like an ice lolly.
That Winter seemed endless and the snow stayed for months, or so it seemed.
As children we were always inventing new games to play and in the absence of cigarette cards we collected the cardboard milk bottle tops
to skim against the wall, trying to cover a previously skimmed top and win the round.
I was seven when the King and Queen visited Northampton. It was 1943 and I was at Bective Infants School at the top of Bective Road.
I don't remember any special arrangements or instructions to parents on the "special day". All of the classes marched in "crocodile pairs" with our
teachers out of the back gate into Nursery Lane, to St Davids Road and on into Kingsthorpe Grove, our little aching legs going hell for leather as we
marched with our gas mask boxes on our backs,to the Race Course, to stand on Kettering Road near the Kingsley Park Hotel, known as the White Elephant.
The thought of walking that distance without any arrangements for food or drink these days would never be considered. However, there we all stood with
our little paper flags at the ready for what seemed like ages, before a line of cars drove past at quite a fast pace. It was only because of the fluttering of the
royal standard on one of the cars that we realised that the two waving people in the back of the misted windows were King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth.
Then they were gone and our little legs carried us back to Kingsthorpe at the end of a tiring day.
[ABOVE] Kingsley Park Hotel
Years later when I had my first job at Westonia Garage I was standing by the stores counter. The radio was on as the announcer told us that "The King is dead"
At that moment I remembered waving my flag.
Although I have seen many pictures of Northampton trams, I am obviously not old enough to remember them. In fact I think they had been consigned to
history before I was born in 1936. My first memory as a child was boarding a number 5 bus on Regents Square with my mother, returning
home to Kingsthorpe. The No.5 was labelled Five Bells, which was the terminus, where all the buses turned round. It was many years later that services
carried on up Harborough Road to Chalcombe Avenue. At the bottom of Bective Road, three bus services began. No.5 to Town Centre. No 8 via
Kingsthorpe Grove, Abington Park and then Town Centre via Billing Road. Then it became a No 9 going through (Jimmy's End)St James's End past the bus
garages and through Spencer Bridge Road through Semilong Road joining up with Harborough Road at Kingsthorpe Hollow before returning to Kingsthorpe,
Five Bells. The third bus service was the No.9 which did the No 8 service in reverse.
To us schoolchildren the conductor's ticket machine was a marvel of technology. The paper roll concealed inside had to be changed as it ran out when it
indicated a pink stripe on the final ticket. Then the conductor produced a new roll and discarded the old roll, usually under the stair well, where we scrambled
to retrieve it, for reasons that escape me now years later. All of the buses had serial numbers and I noticed if the licence plate was AVV152, the bus serial number
would be 152. These red buses were run by Northampton Corporation Transport with a town coat of arms on the sides.
Then there were the green buses run by United Counties, departing and arriving at the Derngate Bus Station and transporting passengers to all parts of the
county and beyond. Occasionally I visited two aunts who lived in Irthlingborough and it was at this time that I noticed the strange layout of the upper deck
of the green buses. The aisle went all the way along the bus on the right and the rows of seats were like long benches seating four or five passengers in each row.
I imagined someone sitting in a window seat on the left and on arrival at their destination, having to disturb four other passengers to get off.
A strange design feature.
There were two other bus company's in the town, although they operated coaches for special occasions. York Bros who garaged their fleet at the
bottom of Bridge Street, Cotton End. I called them a fleet because each royal blue coach was named after a ship with the prefix HMS emblazened across
the back window in gold lettering.
The other company was Knights Coaches. I have no idea where their base was, but their livery was a bright orange.
As a boy I liked the idea of travelling on a York Bros. HMS Invincible, in just the same way that when I boarded a train at Castle Station the big steaming
monster should be named Thunderer.
BAKER STREET, SEMILONG
One of my weekly tasks when we lived in Bective Road, Kingsthorpe, was to walk to Baker Street in Semilong and collect the weekly groceries.
Everyone had to be registered with a grocer and take in the Ration Books and list. Even to this day I can remember my mothers notebook in which she wrote,
in this order, Sugar, Tea, Butter, Margarine, Lard, Cheese, Eggs,Bacon, Matches. Anything extra was at the largesse of Mrs Whitehead who ran the shop.
Every item was carefully weighed to correspond with our meagre allowances. We were lucky indeed if Mrs Whitehead was able to add something extra
like a tin of corned beef or a tin of peaches. My mum gave me a ten shilling note to pay for everything. It usually amounted to about 8 shillings (40p)
Actually the street name Baker Street, was most appropriate as apart from the shop, her husband George ran the bakery behind the shop and there was
an alleyway through the yard from Stanley Street which was very useful on Sunday, and very busy, as the local residents carefully carried their joints of
beef in baking tins to the bakehouse to be cooked in the bread oven for 2 pence. The skewer prodded into each joint had a label to identify the owner,
and the aroma when the joints were ready was as good as an alarm clock to bring the clientele scurrying back to collect the delicious roasts.
[ABOVE] Baker Street
BECTIVE ROAD, KINGSTHORPE
Our house in Kingsthorpe, 16 Bective Road had 4 fireplaces. One small cast iron in each of the two bedrooms. A cast iron surround in the front
room and a tiled surround in the living room. The living room fire was the only one that was ever lit, when we had any coal, it was rationed like
most things during the war. My mother particularly felt the cold and her only solution to the very cold house was to light the gas oven in the kitchen and
stick her feet into the open door. It was where I usually found her when I arrived home from school. She was frequently confined to bed with flu during
the cold weather and 1947 was a particularly cold and snowy winter. It seemed as though the snow would never go.
The only room downstairs which was furnished was the living room, and in keeping with most houses of the time had lino on the floor and a mat in front
of the fireplace with a square dining table, four dining chairs and two armchairs, and a sideboard. The front room had nothing but bare floorboards and
no furniture. Upstairs both bedrooms had lino on the floor with a wardrobe and chest of drawers. My parents bedroom had a dressing table in front of the window.
At least we had a bathroom at the back. I suppose this was originally a third bedroom but it now had a cast iron bath with a gas geyser which almost e
xploded with a "whoosh" when the pilot light was applied to the main jets. A frightening experience. There was no heating in the bathroom and just bare
floorboards to stand on, so the winter bath experience was a fast one, retiring to the relative warmth of my bed at high speed.
The toilet was outside, so each bedroom was equipped with the obligatory pot under the bed often referred to as "the jerry" or "the guzunder".
Central heating in the average home was a long way in the future, just a dream, to be warm.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR
The second world war had started when we moved house from Ivy Road to Bective Road in Kingsthorpe and the road now looked different from peace time.
There were concrete air raid shelters standing in the road. At the top of the hill were underground shelters for use by the pupils and staff of Bective schools.
In Bective Road itself was a shoe factory and as all of the houses had been supplied with corrugated Anderson shelters, the street shelters could provide a
refuge for the workers in the factory in the event of an air raid. The air raid never happened, but in the interim years as children we played our street games.
On one particular day I was holding on to a rope as it was pulled by a friend running down the road with arms akimbo and as we swung around into Newington Road
my left hand hit the corner of the shelter which had been erected there. My forefinger hit the corner with such force the finger nail came off and there
was blood everywhere. Eventually the nail grew back in a tapered way which is still evident today. It must have been 1943, I was seven, with a war wound.
32 Inkerman Terrace was a hive of activity. Neighbours were always dropping in and yelling from the front door, "It's only me" and sharing a few minutes
gossip with my Nanny who held court in the living room. The front room was home to her daughter Betty and her husband Wally (Son) plus the two
children Julie (now living in Nether Heyford) and Peter (who emigrated to Australia). For a time Betty, my mums sister, was an outworker. So apart from the
four people living in the front room, there was also a large industrial sewing machine. At the height of activity the room smelled of what we called "solution",
a strong glue used in the shoe construction. Aunty Betty made the heel upper and at the height of production the noise of the sewing machine and the
smell of the glue almost made the house shake and smell. I doubt that it would be allowed today, but it provided some, much needed extra money for the
growing family. Later, Aunty Betty was employed as an outworker by the printers in Inkerman Terrace. They delivered large printed sheets of cardboard
with press out shapes which had to be made up into ice cream cartons. Much quieter and certainly less smelly. However nobody got rich at outworking.
FIRST PART TIME JOB
On Abington Square there was a newsagents called Pooles. In fact the Pooles brothers were very strong on Abington Square. Opposite the newsagents
they ran a tobacconists next door to their baby shop, selling prams. I got my first part time job delivering newspapers from the newsagent branch of the family.
It needed a bike, even though I only had 28 Chronicle & Echo's to deliver on a route which meandered through the back streets of Kettering Road,
Wellingborough Road, and finally to the most important address of all, Mr Pooles house on the corner, opposite the main gate to Abington Park. When the
weather was cold and the evening roads iced up, Kettering Road became an ice rink. I don't think they had thought about gritting in those days and applying
the brakes was always a dicey affair. I had to use the shops carrier bike on one occasion in the winter and as I was returning it, I braked on the black
icy surface of Kettering Road. The bike went one way and I went the other. Bruised and shaky, I walked the rest of the way back to the shop. My weekly
wage for the six days deliveries was 6 shillings (30p). Unfortunately for a hungry schoolboy there was a cake shop next door to the newsagents where they
sold a cake called a "nelson" which consisted of a pastry top and bottom with a rich cake filling. It was about three inches square and an inch thick and was c
omfortingly heavy. In addition they also sold coconut ice. Both of these confections were equally delicious, so perhaps you can guess where my wages were spent.
Although I was born at 108 Derby Road in 1936 my father and mother soon moved to Eric Parkers Garage in Ivy Road where my father was the foreman
and we lived behind the adjoining showroom next door which was effectively a three bedroom house. It must have been in the early days of the war that I
discovered, as a three year old something quite extraordinary. I remember wandering next into the open doors of the garage where my father worked and
gazing down in wonder into the "pit", over which customers cars were driven to examine the undersides. On this occasion there wasn't a car over the pit and
all I could see was this gleaming sheet of oil, which to my young mind, could have been bottomless. Obviously some clumsy mechanic had done an oil change
without making sure there was something to catch the drainings from the sump. To me it was my first oil well?
In these days of fast food outlets everywhere, I am reminded of my childhood in the wartime when the only snack available was a packet of crisps.
At one stage my Aunty Betty had a job in Abington Street at The Black and White milk bar, where they sold frothy coffee. Woolworths, opposite also
had a sort of tea bar with a long line of stools along a counter which had a huge chromium plated water boiler issuing steam through the top. At the
bottom of Abington Street in the entrance to the Market Square at night, a man sold jacket potatoes and chestnuts from a black oven on wheels. This
was the target of those people emerging from the Repertory Theatre. However if you felt rich, you could always go into The Clipper in the basement of
the bakers Oliver Adams on the corner of Wood Hill, until it was reduced to ashes when it caught fire. On reflection it was a total fire hazard as you could
only escape up one spiral stairway, which was also the way in. It was styled like the interior of an aeroplane. Other than that, there was College Street.
If you said you were going to College Street, everyone knew you were going to the best fish and chip shop in town. It is still there of course, modernised
and with many changes from the basic "piece and six with mushy peas". Feeling hungry?
To read more from Brian, click here and here
Father: Randerson William Faulkner
Mother: Gladys Esther Nancy Faulkner (nee Woodward)
Grandmother: Annie Woodward (nee Peach)
Grandfather: Sydney Woodward
Stepmother: Marjory Faulkner (nee Panting)