Sunday, 18 December 2016

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 72 ...... noises, smells and redundant fixtures

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 M.C.E.W box only replaced in the 1980s
Now there are plenty of old fixtures around the house which Joe and Mary would recognise but which long ago ceased to serve a purpose.

Some like the M.C.E.W box have been replaced with state of the art equipment and now sit on a shelf as a testament to my inability to get rid of all things old.

Added to that is the copper in the cellar used for washing clothes when the house was built a century and a bit ago.

I can’t be sure whether Mary Ann used the thing or whether she relied on a laundry of which there were plenty in Chorlton.

And given the fact that they had a telephone by 1925 and bought a telly in the mid 1950s I rather they would have gone in for a washing machine at some point.

Leaving aside these objects there will be the sounds the house makes.

Of these it will be that early morning noise as the old fire embers are racked through and the ash left to cool before a new fire is laid.

In countless homes across the country and across the last two centuries it will be the sound that many woke up to.

I remember I did, and still think there is something reassuring about the noise.  It is partly that it is a familiar routine which says all is well and all is as it should be, which was more so because I was still in bed and knew that there be another hour before I had to get up.

The copper in the cellar
It was also I suppose a marker that you belonged to a respectable family which took pride in being up and about at the crack of dawn, ready to clean the step, start the laundry on wash day and send the children out clean and ready for school.

And in the small mean terraced houses with their rows of two up and two downs you could hear the fires being racked out in the neighbouring properties.

So woe betide any household where that noise was not well and truly underway by eight at the very latest.

All of which leaves the smells which were another thing.

In the days when most houses had a slope stone and no pipe with a u bend there were those more unpleasant smells, which might vie with those from the moth balls and Flit disinfectant.

Of course Joe and Mary Ann’s house was not one of these and as Joe proudly announced in all his adverts for the houses he built he had embraced all the mod cons, including electric lighting in the garages he built.

But there would be that powerful set of medical smells of which Germalin and TCP were required for all cuts and grazes.

Empty tin of National Dried Milk used for storage
These I could accept and have never lost a liking for but iodine which was yellow and despite it stinging was applied with vigour by Nana, my mother and the school nurse for all non serious accidents.

The yellow arm or leg became a badge of bravery and warning not to be so silly next time.

So as I search through the dark recesses of the cellars I remain amazed at what secrets the house still has to offer.

Joe and Mary Ann did not have that struggle faced by many at the lower end of society where no matter how much soap and  effort were applied a home could not be kept clean or free from infestations and is a salutary thought that in the early 1960s there were still homes where you turned on a light before entering an upstairs room to allow the more horrible things to slide away.

But that wasn't this house and is more properly another story.

Coming soon; mice and the dead bird

Location; Chorlton

Pictures from the collection of Andrew Simpson, and the tin of National Dried milk by Oxfordian Kissuth, Photographer and columnist, Germany and England. And available at WIKIMEDIA Commons,

*The story of house,

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