Gilpin Grove, Edmonton - Feedback2

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Feedback (continued)

Jan 2014 - Albert Sanders (Shotbolt):

It was a bit of a shock for me to be told that someone in New Zealand had been in touch with another in Canada and I had been mentioned several times! My informant was one of my three sons who has encouraged me to contact you.

I changed my name from Albert Shotbolt to Albert Sanders many years ago - it’s a long story! And I used to live at 36 Gilpin Grove, so it was me who grassed you up as the guilty party who knocked me off my new bike all that time ago.

I was born in Hertfordshire in 1944 and soon after was moved with my parents into number 36 Gilpin Grove, next door but one to my mum's family at number 32. We had the whole house: there was a wide front door with a hole under the lock so you could use a finger to pull the string attached to the lock and open the door; there were two large rooms: a kitchen and a scullery were on the ground floor; up the stairs were the three rooms we occupied; a second flight accessed a further really large room and a box room.

Christmases were great for me, as we went next door where I met all my cousins (my mum had seven brothers and seven sisters) and there was a nonstop party for the entire holiday.

It was a rough area but not as bad as Gilpin Crescent where most families were gypsy types who used to be quite lawless.

I was particularly nostalgic after reading about the wall separating Gilpin Grove from College Gardens: how well I recall climbing to the top in the corner using the hand and finger holds; but that was nothing to the feeling of elation I had the day I managed to get to the top in the middle of the wall!

I cannot add much to what you have written about the games we used to play. However there was one called “Donkey” involving someone who had to hurl a ball at the wall (usually the wall of number 36) and then jump over the rebound, catch it, and throw it at one of the other kids - but that's all I can remember. “Gobs” was also called “5-Stones”; and there was a lot of skipping going on, with kids joining individual ropes together.

In winter we all used to polish the ice in the square to make long slides, taking it in turns to perform fast-moving feats of balance on the slippery surface: "Little Man" was sliding along the ice bent over clutching your legs.

You have covered all the other sporting bases except Guy Fawkes night, when a large pile of wood and combustibles was collected on the square to be ignited on the night, when lots of fireworks, especially squibs, were let off.

Thanks, Albert. It’s good to hear from you again. I don’t remember having a bonfire in the square on Guy Fawkes night but I do remember the “penny bangers” and “twopenny bangers”; we would put them in milk bottles or in cracks in a wall to try to enhance the bang (if anything, it deadened it!). And I remember the fun of throwing a lighted “jumping crackerjack” (was that what we called them?), at someone’s feet. I remember making a Guy by stuffing old clothes, putting him in a cart, and pushing him along Fore Street saying “Penny for the guy?”, money that was converted to penny and twopenny bangers! The guy would get burnt on a bonfire in our backyard (number 56) where we had the family fireworks: rockets, Catherine wheels, roman candles. etc.

Feb 2014 - Barry Knight

Jeff, I came across your site whilst browsing and I thought I might get in touch. I lived in No.18 Gilpin Grove from 1945 until 1954 with my parents George and Pat. We lived on the ground floor which consisted of a “front room” used as a bedroom, a small second bedroom and a kitchen with a small scullery at the back with an earth floor. It had a gas stove and a boiler in the corner which was heated by a small fire which heated the water in which clothes were washed. We had a mixture of gas lighting and some electric. No central heating obviously. Outside was a small yard with a mangle and a lavatory with newspaper cut up into squares. The lavatory was used by the whole house which meant the “po’s” (chamber pots) were brought through our kitchen to be discarded outside.

Beyond the yard was a small garden, part of which was used as for vegetables with a shed and a garden rubbish heap where we grew rhubarb. At the back was a high (6-metre?) wall that separated us from a factory (which burnt down in about 1951/2).

Upstairs lived my father's elder brother Charlie and his wife Rose and their son Roger. They shared the 2nd and attic floors with the third brother Wally (unmarried at that time) and our grandfather. I think the family had been renting the property for many years.

My mother was Welsh and she met my father when she was a barmaid at The Bell pub at the bottom of Gilpin Grove. My mother was constantly ill with various problems and it was thought it better for her to return to Wales which we did in 1954. That marked the end of my time in Gilpin Grove but I did return most years to stay with my cousin.

The bottom of Gilpin Grove (the Fore Street end) seemed to have a few “problem” families. One of the older boys, I think from No.3, fired an air gun at me as I was standing outside my house – I would have been about 6 or 7 years old – and I heard it pass my face and break the window of No.20. The resident, whom I remember as Mrs Mustoe, came out and looked accusingly at me but I pointed at No.3 where I saw the boy going into his house with the rifle. Nos. 4 and 6 had large families and there was always commotions going on. I remember on one occasion the lady of the house coming round and begging for money because her husband had apparently lost his pay packet on the way home from work.

Having said that, the majority seemed to be respectable and quiet neighbours. I remember the Chamberlains (No.22), the Bullens (also at No.22), the Piggotts (No.16) and the Prices (No.13) and I went to school with Peter Bull and Albert Shotbolt. I think one of the Piggott girls married a Canadian serviceman (WW2) and had a boy called Gerald who went to live in Canada about 1952 or thereabouts.

I might have played with you in your house because I have a memory of being invited to someone’s house on that side of the square and the boy had a train set and we played in the room overlooking the square on the 1st floor - could it have been you?

Regards, Barry Knight

Thanks, Barry.

Regarding the "Po's", I think the adults made the trip outside but we kids had them. I remember one day some boy visiting me when I was ill in bed and he made a step too close to the bed and got a wet foot! Some things were so primitive in those days - but I expect each generation says the same thing.

Our outside toilet had a wooden bench seat with no lid. Being outside, the water in the cistern, which was high up with a pull chain, would tend to freeze in the winter and so we had a small kerosine lamp on the seat to stop that from happening. The plank door had an air gap top and bottom and there was a lean-to roof to keep the weather off. I remember our mangle being under the roof, too.

Yes, it was very likely me that you played with since I had a Hornby OO train set that I sometimes set up in the front room of the 1st floor (North American 2nd floor). I wonder what happened to that train set.

Jeff, a couple of other points. The Shotbolts had a car and I remember the colour as a weak limey green and it was an Austin something or other. They garaged it at the back of the house on the Gilpin Crescent site.

Do you remember the disabled chap that lived in No. 30 downstairs in the Hutchens’ house (the girl our age was called Kay). He had a twisted body and either no legs or legs that were malformed and he supported himself on his arms just above the floor. Occasionally you would catch sight of him in the passageway of the house at the bottom of the stairs where there was a dogleg. He would be looking out and looking very sad and scared and if he saw you he would move away out of sight. How terribly sad.


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