Friday, 9 December 2016

One hundred years of one house in Chorlton part 70 ...... who made the fires?

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.*

Now I wonder who laid the coal fires back when Joe and Mary Ann lived here.

In our old house it was my dad who saw to the big kitchen stove and the downstairs fires before he went to work.

In the case of the kitchen stove that was very important because it heated the hot water.  All of which just left mum to keep an eye on them all during the day.

I rather think dad even got all the coal we would need for the day up from the cellar before he left.

Like everyone else on the street we had ours delivered and coal day was one of those that came round regularly.

Even now I can remember the sound of the coal as it thundered down into the cellar followed by that much quieter sound as it settled which seemed to last much longer.

After which there was just that smell of coal which made its way up from below and lingered for the morning.

I would like to reinstate the coal cellar here which John bricked up in 1974 along with the down stairs fire places.

A decade and a bit later and we opened them up again although I haven’t yet convinced the family of the advantages of a coal cellar.

But in time I may.  For now I collect it form the coal bunker in the back from where once a fortnight ours is delivered by our coal man.**  He has been bringing the different varieties of smokeless fuel kindling and Christmas logs for almost thirty years.

And for even longer it is my job to clean out the ash, lay the new fire and sometime in the early afternoon set the thing going.

There will be those who see it as a chore, but not me.

It stars at six when the fire is raked allowing the coals to cool, and an hour or so later the grate is emptied.

The bigger bits of unburnt coal can be used again and over these you lay some paper, a bit of kindling and firelighters followed by the coal.

The traditionalist will pour scorn on my use of firelighters, pointing out as dad once did that I should make “paper bricks” from the old newspapers, which he and countless others will have been expected to make as one of their childhood tasks.

I have tried but they never worked.  More successful was the sheet of newspaper over the fireguard which adds to the draw when the fire is first going.

Nana I am convinced didn’t use the guard and on occasions the paper went up the chimney which always frightened to me especially given that ever present fear of a chimney fire.

But then we have our chimneys swept each year which is another of those events that I keep too.  The sweep comes at the end of spring which has that double advantage of ensuring we are not at the end of a long waiting list and the flues are clean of soot as the warmer weather approaches.

All of which makes me wish I could talk to Joe and Mary Ann if only to establish if they ever ran a fire upstairs.

Location; Chorlton

Pictures; fireplaces in the house, from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The story of house,

**Paul Rogers,

No comments:

Post a Comment