INKERMAN TERRACE, NORTHAMPTON

MEMORIES OF INKERMAN TERRACE by Brian Faulkner brian.faulkner@talktalk.net

I will now move on to Inkerman Terrace. The picture you have is of the street lamp and bollards at the inner corner.

These features made Inkerman Terrace the perfect play street for children. It was L shaped and not a through route for vehicles.

In the picture, the house to the left was the home of Mr & Mrs Cockerill. I never saw Mr Cockerill, but Mrs Cockerill (Hilda) could

be seen regularly walking along to the Jug & Bottle department of The Firemans Arms on the corner of Inkerman and Newland to refill her

husbands beer jug. She was also the lady to call on when there was a death in the family as she did the "laying out" of the body. At the

far left of the picture is the workshop of one of the town's leading music shops, Fraser Son & Mackenzie. In  Church Lane facing the end of

"the terrace", as we called it, was Blacks, a woodworking firm who supplied the boot making factories with "lasts" for the bespoke shoe trade.

My grandmother at No.32 was the regular grateful recipient of the lumpy wooden offcuts which provided firewood for the living room fire.

The house had the largest door key I've ever seen. It could have secured a church door. Usually though the door was unlocked, and even

when my "Nanny" went shopping and she locked the door, she lifted the front sash window and left it just inside "in case anyone came". Later I

asked her if she was afraid of burglars. She just laughed and said she didn't have anything worth "pinching". On reflection she was right.

The living room had a table, four chairs, two old armchairs and a sideboard. Lino on the floor and a mat in front of the fireplace.

There was a speaker by the window which piped in two radio channels from Radio Relay by wires from their premises in Horsemarket.

In the shop window you could see the big blue glowing radio valves about 12" tall.

 

At least Inkerman Terrace had electricity and gas. I mention electricity because I remember that the ironing was done by plugging the

electric iron into the light socket over the table, which amazes me now. There was no earth wire. This was in the 1940's.

It was a two bedroom terrace and at the height of occupation there were six living there. On odd occasions there were eight when

my mother and I stayed overnight during the war when there was a "pea souper fog" throughout the town.

 

The kitchen had a built-in brick copper in the corner to do the washing. A fire needed to be lit under it to heat the water in the

copper water container and the household washing was all done on Monday, of course. As the washing was bubbling away in the  

soapy water it was agitated by a stick like a broom handle in a very steamy kitchen. Heavy soiled items were rubbed on a washboard.

Not yet being used as a musical instrument. Skiffle was yet to be invented. The washing powders of choice were Rinso, Oxydol or Lux,

although large blocks of green Fairy Soap and Reckitts Blue formed part of the washing armoury. In the back yard was the tin bath, hung

on the wall and in the covered outhouse was.....the mangle. Two big wooden rollers linked by gears and a winding handle which we children

turned as Nanny fed the wet washing through before she hung it on the lines. If it rained, wash day was not a happy day.

Also in the kitchen was "the coal hole". Whenever there was a delivery by the coalman, he had to carry it through the house in sacks on

his back, one hundredweight at a time. So a half ton of coal meant ten journeys along the hall passage, through the living room into the

kitchen where it was deposited in the coal hole, with much coal dust in evidence. No deliveries on wash day please.

 

This view of Inkerman Terrace shows my grandmothers house on the extreme left. No.32. Next door to her lived Percy Amos,

who you would now call "a mild eccentric". Percy was an enthusiastic campanologist (bellringer) and was in charge of the bells

at St Sepulchre's Church. He also travelled by bicycle to all parts of the county to ring other bells. His bike was the only motorised

example I had ever seen. Mounted over the back wheel was a small two stroke petrol engine which helped him pedal up hills apparently.

The exhaust was very noisy. His other activity was the raising of "day old chicks" in his front room. There were incubators everywhere

with loud tweeting sounds from the little inhabitants. It was also where he kept his piles of bell ringing "change sheets"

Unfortunately there are no pictures of the street party which was held in "the terrace" at the end of the second world war in 1945,

but it was a very happy event.

Even happier was the arrival home from the Royal Navy of my uncle Walter Smith who was married to my Aunt Betty and they lived

at No.32 until they eventually moved to the newly created Kings Heath with their newly created children Julie and Peter.

Wally was known as "Son" by everyone and survived four sinkings on the "Malta Convoys" during the war. Each time he was sent home

with just a blanket. He never talked about his experiences and when he was demobbed he arrived home in his new suit and his old

naval uniform. I was just 9 and I asked him for his hat. He laughed and said "you can have the bl**dy lot". He was stationed at Chatham

and every time arrived there he said he felt sick about what was to come. In civilian life he had worked in the boot and shoe trade to

which he returned for a short time before moving on to the GPO telephones.

My grandad Sydney Woodward and Wally (Son) frequently shared a pint (or three) at the Firemans Arms on the other end of Inkerman

Terrace in Newland. Many times as a child I would be outside the pub with a bottle of "pop" and a packet of Smiths Crisps with the twisted

blue paper of salt inside.

At that time the film star Errol Flynn was appearing at the Rep. (Northampton Repertory Theatre) and the Firemans Arms was his retreat

from fans. My grandad loved to tell the story of sharing a pint with "my mate Errol Flynn". Whether it ever happened I don't know, but

it pleased him. Grandad died in 1949 and six weeks later my mother, his daughter Gladys, was also dead. They occupy the same grave.

[Above] Errol Flynn

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.

 

By Brian Faulkner.  Click here to read Brian's memoirs.

  

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