Thursday, 15 December 2016

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 71 ...... colder inside than out

The continuing story of the house Joe and Mary Ann Scott lived in for over 50 years and the families that have lived here since.*

The house in 1974
Now apart from a couple of days when we had a hard frost this year like the last few has been very mild.

All of which is good news for our heating bills, but it is hardly likely to put me in a pre Christmas mood.

I feel it should be much colder ....... the sort of cold which is bone deep and sends you out for the catalogues advertising holidays in the sun.

But that isn’t to be and yet not that long ago by December in the absence of central heating the house resembled an ice box.

Joe and Mary Ann will have been running coal fires from early October, but John who bought the house in 1974 ripped the fireplaces out and installed just one gas fire in the front room.

And so as the temperatures tumbled life beyond the immediate zone of that gas fire was miserable.

From the side in 1974
We argued over whose turn it was to make the coffee and despite the fire hazard the four gas jets on the cooker would be lit while the kettle boiled.

Not that any of that compared to waking up and discovering ice on the inside of the windows.

This will be familiar to anyone of a certain age as will the hot water bottle and the wild winter draughts from under the front door.

Of course Joe and Mary Ann will have had all the means to combat the worst excesses of this cold onslaught.

Unlike us they will have had carpets throughout and would not understand the idea of stripping varnishing and exposing the floor boards.

Only those in deepest poverty neglected to cover them in carpet or lino.

And it followed that as summer moved into winter the light curtains would be replaced by heavy duty ones which were lined and the curtain rail behind the front door would get its own thick curtain.

I can’t be sure if Joe and Mary Ann ever had a kitchen range.  The house certainly dates from a time when they will still have been installed, but Joe was quite progressive and may have opted in 1915 for a gas cooker which could be bought or rented from the Corporation.

The rear in 1974
But if they did this will have been on pretty much continuously.  It will have heated the water and been used to cook on.

And at least one of the downstairs fires will have been lit in the morning and maintained through the day.

At home this was the first thing dad did in the old house while in Derby the task fell to my grandmother who made sure that by 7 in the morning the front room fire was established, which in a small two up two down helped heat the whole house.

None of this will have stopped those bone aching cold mornings but I suspect Joe and Mary Ann were a lot warmer than us when I first came to live her.

Pictures; the house in the 1970s from the collections of Andrew Simpson and Lois Elsden

*The story of house,

No comments:

Post a Comment