I've copied this photograph into my Archives in the Who Are These People section because I really like the photo but don't have any idea who the people are.
Except that the other day I was looking at the photo again under a strong light and happened to turn it over and saw that someone had written in faint pencil Mrs Smith in the top right corner.
My great grandmother was Mrs Eliza Anne Smith. Was she one of the two older women?
She was born in 1856 in the village of Clayton West in Yorkshire. She had married Joseph Smith in 1877 when she was twenty one years old. Her father was George Henry Hall and her mother was Elizabeth Hall (Buckley) and she had three siblings. Was I actually really looking at a photograph of her?
This is my favourite photograph although I don't know for certain who anyone is. I've spent ages studying it and comparing it to other photos and speculating who the individuals might be.
Now I am certain that the older woman on the front row is Eliza Ann Smith. She looks so like the woman on the right in the other photo.
Yes, definitely, this is Eliza Anne Smith.
And I would say with 100% certainty therefore that the man she is sitting next to is her husband, Joseph Smith. He was born in 1849 in Wintersett, Yorkshire and his parents were John Smith and Eliza Smith (Crowley). He was one of eight children and had six children of his own including my grandmother, Elsie Smith.
I'm no nearer knowing what the occasion is. It's clearly a celebration and I've always thought it looked like a wedding celebration. Now I know it's Joseph and Eliza on the front row, I can go through all the data again and make a fresh attempt to tell the story in the photograph.
During the 1870s, Mark W. Starling (1827 - 1894) was employed as a Coal Whipper.
The job of the coal whippers was to get the coal off the ships when it was delivered to the London Docks.
Coal was brought to the capital from the coal fields of the north and by the end of the nineteenth century over three million tons of coal were being transported by ship each year. It was the job of the coal whippers to get the coal out of the hold of the collier (ship used for transporting coal), into sacks and shifted on their backs onto the coal merchants' lighters (smaller vessels) for onward transport. It was hard, heavy, labour-intensive work which took its toll on the life expectancy of those involved.
There is a truly fascinating account of the life of a coal whipper in The Mysteries of London by G.W.M. Reynolds. This was published in 1846 in weekly episodes. It was a "penny blood": one of the mass produced, cheap, sensationalist serials that were so popular in that era.
One of the characters in the story is a coal whipper and here he is describing his life to other drinkers in a pub The Dark House.
He explains that the coal whipper works for a local publican who acts as middle-man between the captain of the collier and the coal merchant. The publican contracts to move the coal and hires the whippers and pays them directly; what is extra shocking is the fact that out of his meagre wages the coal whipper had to pay substantial amounts to the publican for beer in order to be sure of getting a job!!!
This is what he said:
"My father was a coal whipper, and had three sons. He brought us all up to be coal whippers also. My eldest brother was drownded in the pool (Pool of London) one night when he was drunk, after only drinking about two pots of the publicans' beer: my other brother died of hunger in Cold-Bath Fields prison, where he was sent for three months for taking home a bit of coal one night to his family when he couldn't get his wages paid him by the publican that hired the gang in which he worked. My father died when he was forty - and any one to have seen him would have fancied he was sixty-five at least - so broke down was he with hard work and drinking. But no coal whipper lives to an old age: they all die off at about forty-old men in the wery prime of life….
….He doesn't get paid for his labour in a proper way. Wapping swarms with low public-houses, the landlords of which act as middle-men between the owners of the colliers and the men that a hired to unload 'em. A coal whipper can't get employment direct from the captain of the collier: the working of the collier is farmed by them landlords I speak of; and the whipper must apply at their houses. Those whippers as drinks the most always gets employment first; and whether a whipper chooses to drink beer or not, it's always sent three times a-day on board the colliers for the gangs. And, my eye! what stuff it is! Often and often have we throwed it away, 'cos we could'nt possibly drink it - and it must be queer liquor that a coal whipper won't drink!
Well, I used to earn from fifteen to eighteen shillings a-week; and out of that, eight was always stopped for the beer; and if I didn't spend another or two on Saturday night when I received the balance, the landlord set me down as a stingy feller and put a cross agin my name in his book….
….not give me any more work till he was either forced to do so for want of hands, or I made it up with him by standing a crown bowl of punch. So what with one thing and another, I had to keep myself, my wife, and three children, on about seven or eight shillings a-week - after working from light to dark."
There are some interesting images of life in the London Docks on a website shared by the Museum at Greenwich
and you can read more of The Mysteries of London by G.W.M. Reynolds on a marvellous website about lots of aspects of Victorian London.
As I reported the other day, Mark Starling stopped being a coal whipper and lived until he was in his seventies although it does rather look like he died in the workhouse.
If you enjoyed reading this post, you might like this mention (towards the end of the blogpost) about Daniel Smith who was a Thames Policeman in the 1870s.
Mark W. Starling married Mary Ann Heyson on 24th January 1852 at the parish church of St Leonard, Beaumont cum Moze, Essex. Mark was 25 years old and Mary Ann was a year younger.
[Photograph of St. Leonard's Church © Copyright PAUL FARMER and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.]
Mark was accompanied at the wedding by his father Robert Starling, an agricultural labourer, and Mary Ann's father was William Heyson, a Dealer (although what he was dealing in is not known).
Mark himself was employed as an agricultural labourer and Mary Ann was a dressmaker.
Mark had lived with his grandmother, Susan Starling, since he was a child as both his parents had died before he was four years old. His brother Robert lived with other relatives until old enough to go to work as an agricultural labourer and take lodgings. He died in 1853 shortly after Mark and Mary Ann were married.
Susan Starling died in 1858 reputedly aged 96 years and I think it's a safe bet that Mark and Mary Ann started their married life living with Nan.
Their first child, Robert, was born in 1852 followed by Stephen in 1855.
What happened next is a mystery but a few years later the family had left rural Essex and were living in the docks area of London's East End. ***
Maybe increasing mechanisation and the growth of imports resulting in less work for the labourers prompted Mark and May Ann to move off. Maybe they just fancied a change after living in the same place for so long.
Whatever the reason, by 1871, the family lived at 36, Morris Street in Shadwell and Mark was working as a coal whipper; Robert was working as a docks labourer and Stephen had become a book binder.
Coal Whippers were the men who had the job of getting the coal off the ships and on their way to the customer.
Coal was brought to the capital from the coal fields of the north and by the last quarter of the nineteenth century over three million tons of coal was being transported by sea each year. It was the job of the coal whippers to get the coal out of the hold of the collier (ship used for transporting coal), into sacks and carried on their backs onto the coal merchants' lighters (smaller vessels) for onward transport. It was hard, heavy, labour-intensive work which took its toll on the life expectancy of those involved.
In 1881 Mark and Mary Ann had moved to 40, Morris Street, with their son Stephen. Mark was still working as a labourer but no longer, apparently, with the coal whippers. Stephen continued to live at home and work as a bookbinder and Robert, married and with children of his own, had moved out and gone to work as a coal porter.
By 1891 Mark and Mary Ann had moved round the corner to 35, Upper Chapman Road. Unfortunately Stephen had died in 1885. Although he continued to work as a general labourer up to the 1890s, Mark died in 1894 aged seventy four years. Clearly his decision to stop being a coal whipper was the right one.
Mary Ann died three years later. Both Mark and Mary Ann ended their days being supported by the parish union, hopefully in the infirmary and not the workhouse and they were buried privately although exactly where isn't known.
Mark and Mary Ann Starling were my husband's great great grandparents.
*** Dis-used Quay at Beaumont cum Moze
© Copyright Peter L Herring and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
This abandoned Thames Sailing Barge at the disused quay at Beaumont cum Moze might offer a clue as to how the Starlings got to London. Barges regularly took hay and other produce from the farms of Essex to London and this might have been the prompt to Mark and Mary Ann to start a new life.
Whether it was or not, I think it's a beautiful image, don't you?
In those cold, difficult first months of 1947 my mum (Doreen Buckle) wrote in a diary (more details here) and on 22nd January she noted that she went with her brother Jack to the "B.R." for lunch.
At first I thought this was something to do with British Rail (if you read this post you'll understand why) but of course that didn’t get started until the following year.
What she was actually referring to was the British Restaurant.
The British Restaurant or "communal feeding station" had been introduced at the start of WW2 as a way of providing meals for displaced persons after bombing raids and had expanded as a way of providing food for workers.
Restaurant food was not rationed but in order to ensure some degree of fairness there were severe limitations on how much food could be served and what could be charged.
The British Restaurants were organised and run by local councils often utilising the facilities in schools. However they were phased out in 1947 although they were still popular with many people. Remember that in 1947 there was still rationing of petrol, potatoes, bread and just about everything else.
There's an interesting account of a British Restaurant in Burton Latimer (near Kettering in Northamptonshire) on this website.
In many ways the British Restaurant was like school dinners for grown-ups as this wonderful image demonstrates.
There are some memories of British Restaurants at WW2 Talk.
I explained in my previous blogpost how The Smith family liked going to Blackpool for their holidays.
This photograph is my dad (Norman Buckle) with his father (Sidney Henry Buckle) on holiday. There are two tiny photos with it in the photo book captioned Cowes, Isle of Wight so I'm guessing that's where they went. I estimate that it would have been the later 1930s when this photo was taken as Norman looks as though he's still a schoolboy. Looks like it's typical British summer weather too.
Norman left school (Normanton Grammar School) in 1940 and went to work in an office. In his school magazine for the Summer Term 1940 there's a contribution from him:
Few of us will be going away for holidays this year for we carry out the "Go to It" slogan. We shall smell the Chemical Works rather than that "honest, seafaring smell compounded of tar, rope and fish, known to the educated as ozone" - (W.W. Jacobs)
We all know that intense feeling of satisfaction we have when we walk along the sea-front for the first time after twelve months and see Mr Spaghetti with his ice-cream in the usual place. If we were to go this year I'm afraid we should not see him as a friend but should miss him as an internee. Is "Punch and Judy" still there and does the conjuror still push swords through the lady in the cabinet?
We dream of nights with velvet skies, with a bright moon, thousands of twinkling stars, a low wind rustling the leaves, the rumble of the surf and a …….but never mind, let's leave it.
We remember the colossal suppers eaten in the ultra-modern restaurants which serve anything from a milk-shake to a four course dinner (including cheese and biscuits and all for 2/6!); the amusement arcades with their rows of 'Penny-in-the-Slot' machines; the crowds of people on the beach, including very stout ladies dressed in bathing costumes; the motion-picture machines, with very alluring pictures, around which crowds of weedy looking youths congregate; and of course we remember the old salt sitting in his boat, chewing thick twist and sending spurts of tobacco juice into the atmosphere with mechanical precision. But there will be no preparing to return home; no buying of presents; no pushing of dirty shirts and socks into a suitcase, and no feeling of sadness as the train steams out of the station carrying us home.
This year all will be changed "and they will beat their fishing rods into hayforks and their bathing costumes into farmers' smocks." Let us hope that next year we may return again to the seaside to pay one shilling to see Hitler in a glass case, fasting to death for a wager of five pounds.
[The "Go to It" slogan described those who were involved in the war effort on the home front.]
[The W.W. Jacobs quote is from a book titled "At Sunwich Port" written in 1902.]
Norman volunteered to join the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy in October 1942 and, after training, became a Radio Mechanic. He was sent to a naval air base in Sierra Leone, West Africa and later to a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean as part of the British Pacific Fleet.
When he returned from the war, one of the first things he did was to go on holiday: to Butlin's at Primrose Valley, Filey, Yorkshire.
I think he would have had plenty of money to spend on his holiday. On Ponam Island in 1945, where he was stationed, there was nothing for the servicemen to spend their money on. I read that they stashed most of their wages away in the Post Office Savings Bank and by the end of the war the 1,100 service personnel had accumulated £20,000 (almost half a million pounds in today's money) between them. Also at the end of the hostilities, once returned to the U.K., they were paid a gratuity (Certificate of Post-War Credit) and Norman got £63.19s. 6d (equivalent to £1600 to-day) although he had to pay his employer nearly ten pounds to make up for the pension contributions he'd missed while he was away with the Royal Navy.
At the start of the war, after he'd signed up, Norman went to Butlin's at Skegness in Lincolnshire. This wasn't for a holiday though; soon after war was declared the Royal Navy took over the holiday camp and turned it into a training base for new recruits. This was where Norman was sent for his induction training and from where he was allocated to the Fleet Air Arm. There's a great film clip of the training camp, which was known as H.M.S. Royal Arthur, on the Pathe News website.
Thanks for visiting my website today.
You might also like to read I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety Blog.
I mentioned in a blogpost a few days ago that The Smith family liked to go on holiday to Douglas, Isle of Man.
Another of their destinations of choice was Blackpool.
Edith received a postcard from her mother:
Postmarked Blackpool 17 July 1905
Arrived safe ¼ to 1. Came straight through from Normanton. Nice place where we are staying. A lot of people in Blackpool. E.A S.
Blackpool is a seaside town situated on the north west coast of England about forty miles from Manchester. It became very popular with holiday makers from the Lancashire cotton towns and also from the West Riding of Yorkshire.
A couple of years later, Edith's mother was off to Blackpool again and staying at Woodfield Road. This was a street of three storey terraced houses many of which according to the 1901 census were in use as guest houses.
Postmarked Blackpool 13 September 1907
Arrived quite safe but not until 5 o clock. They are very busy here. Lot of people in Blackpool. Love to all E.A S.
Four years later and Eliza is on holiday in Blackpool and staying in Woodfield Road once again.
The 1911 census shows that the number of guest houses in Woodfield Road had increased and the whole street had become predominantly places for visitors to stay. The street was at right angles to The Promenade in easy reach of the many attractions for which Blackpool had now become famous.
Postmarked Blackpool 9 September 1911
Just a line to say that we arrived safe about quarter to two. Hope Elsie got home safe. Best love Mother
Originally Blackpool had developed in the mid-eighteenth century as a resort where people went to bathe in the sea for health and medicinal purposes. By 1781, a regular stage coach service had been set up to transport visitors to the town from Manchester and Halifax. There were few amenities and the main attraction was the miles of sandy beaches. The population of the town remained small.
However in 1819, a local entrepreneur named Henry Banks re-developed one of the few hotels and built some holiday cottages. His son-in-law John Cocker was the brains behind a scheme to open Blackpool's first assembly rooms where visitors could gather, socialise and be entertained.
It was the coming of the railways that started Blackpool's boom when in the 1840s a railway was constructed which connected the town to the industrial cities of the North of England. Travel became easier and cheaper and as more people went to visit Blackpool so more people went there to live and work and service the needs of these nineteenth century tourists. Entrepreneurs seized the opportunity to build more accommodation and create more attractions leading to ever increasing numbers of visitors.
This was aided by the practice of the Lancashire cotton mill owners closing their factories for one week each year to service and maintain the machinery. All the workers from a particular factory would be off work at the same time and these weeks became known as "Wakes Week". All the factories in a town would be closed at the same time on different weeks thus providing Blackpool with a steady supply of holiday makers throughout the summer season. Blackpool also evolved as the preferred holiday destination for thousands of workers from Glasgow.
A few days later Edith received another postcard, this time from her sister Beattie who was also on holiday in Blackpool at the same time as their mother (Eliza Ann).
Postmarked Blackpool 20th September 1911
I hope you are alright and safe. We are coming home on Friday, rained last night and first thing this morning but it is lovely now. The sea came right over last night, it was glorious. We are feeling much better and shall be glad to be home. Best Love B.E.S.
Since the 1880s, Blackpool had had its promenade and all the features of a popular seaside resort: piers, pubs, theatres, trams, donkey rides and fish and chips. Blackpool was, and remains, unique in the U.K having three piers. The first to be built was North Pier opened in 1863 which quickly became established as a centre of entertainment. Central Pier was opened in 1868 and incorporated a theatre and an open-air dance floor. Finally, the South Pier was constructed in 1893. In addition the famous Winter Gardens complex was opened in 1878.
Another claim to fame was that Blackpool was the first town in the whole world to have electric street lighting which was commenced in 1879. The pageants that accompanied the street wiring were the fore-runners of the renowned Blackpool Illuminations. The installation of street electricity also facilitated the construction in 1885 of one of the world's first electric tramways.
Two years later another of Edith's sisters, Elsie, was on holiday in Blackpool.
Postmarked Blackpool September 1913
We went to the Palace last night. It was very good. Every place seems crowded out. Our party seems to be having nothing but bad luck. Joe and Sarah went home yesterday. He has been bad since Sunday. Went to a Dr yesterday who told him to come straight home as he had got appendicitis. Hard luck isn't it? Best love to all. Yours Elsie
The Palace that Elsie mentions was situated within the huge and lavish Palace Complex on the seafront. The Theatre was a re-vamped version of the original Alhambra Theatre which had been undertaken by Victorian theatre architect Frank Matcham in 1903/04. Matcham was also commissioned to design the Grand Theatre which had opened in 1894. His design for the Grand was the first to incorporate an extraordinary cantilever design to support the tiers thus reducing the need to use pillars which always obstructed the view of the stage for many members of the audience.
When Elsie visited Blackpool in 1913 she would have been able to see the early version of the renowned illuminations which were held for the first time in 1912 but were suspended on the outbreak of World War One and not re-instated until 1925. Elsie would also have seen the famous Blackpool Tower which had opened in 1894 and dominated the skyline of Blackpool ever since. It was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris and is 158 meters in height. Beneath and within the Tower is a complex of facilities including the famous Tower Ballroom and Tower Circus.
In her message Elsie mentions Joe and Sarah who were having health problems.
Sarah was the twin sister of Elsie's husband Sidney Buckle; Joe was Sarah's husband, Joe Roebuck.
Even though the First World War had been underway for over a year, this didn't prevent Eliza (Edith's mother) from taking another holiday in Blackpool in 1915.
Postmarked Blackpool October 17th 1915
Just a line to say we are going on nicely. Hope you are all keeping well + that everything is alright. It has been very nice so far. Love to all E.A S.
I think it's true to say that the Smiths in my family loved their seaside holidays and especially Blackpool.
In the words of John A. Glover-Kind who wrote the famous music-hall song in 1907:
Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside
I do like to be beside the sea!
I do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom, Prom!
Where the brass bands play
I've already explained about a diary written by my mum (Doreen Buckle) in the first months of 1947 and how I use some of her entries in the diary as starting points for finding out more about that era.
Towards the end of this week's entries, in a spare section for additional notes, Doreen wrote: “Mr Eaton was killed today on the Railway”.
Doreen’s father worked on the railway so Mr Eaton’s death must have been particularly significant.
1947 saw the passing of the Transport Act which heralded the nationalisation of the railways the following year.
Nationalisation would see the four massive private railway companies which had interests in shipping, hotels, air transport and road haulage as well as railways combined into the unifying British Railways.
The Railways Archive website has 32 accidents listed for 1947 but none of them seem as though they would have involved the Mr. Eaton mentioned in Doreen's diary. Further scrutiny of the accidents recorded for 1947 show there were a staggering 111 fatalities and over 800 injuries.
The worst accidents of 1947 were at Gidea Park (7 fatalities and 45 injured); Doncaster (18 fatalities and 118 injured); Burton Agnes (12 fatalities and 32 injured); South Croydon (32 fatalities and 183 injured); and Goswick (28 fatalities and 90 injured).
The causes of these terrible railway disasters were:
Goswick: excessive speed and human error resulting in derailment and the train splitting
South Croydon: signaller error resulting in derailment
Burton Agnes: collision with a road vehicle
Doncaster: signaller error resulting in rear collision and derailment
Gidea Park: fog, excessive speed and human error resulting in rear collision and derailment.
Reading these appalling statistics made me re-appraise what might have happened to Mr Eaton. I'd assumed he'd been killed while working for the Railway: now I'm not so sure.
(Interestingly, sixty years later, in 2007, 54 accidents were reported on the railway in which there were 6 fatalities (5 were caused by collision with a road vehicle) and in the majority of cases there were no injuries at all.)
Emma Jane Gooding was born on 15th January 1871. She was the younger daughter of George and Ann Gooding who already had a daughter, Minnie, born in 1865. At the time of Emma's birth George was employed as a joiner and was in the process of establishing his refreshment rooms business.
They lived at 28, Market Street in Bacup, a small cotton mills town on the Lancashire / Yorkshire borders between Burnley and Rochdale.
When she was old enough, Emma Jane was employed as a waitress in her father's refreshment house at 28, Market Street. It had become known as Goodings Dining Rooms and also provided bed and breakfast. Apparently Goodings Dining Rooms became the Commercial Hotel, a beer house and dining rooms.
In 1891 Emma Jane married John Thomas Ashworth at the parish church of St. John's in Bacup. (Photograph: © Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)
John Thomas was a butcher who at the time of his wedding lived with his parents at Thorn Farm.
Emma Jane and John Thomas had six children: Richard Henry born in 1894; Arthur (1896); Frank (1899); Tom (1901); Fred (1903) and Horace (1905).
By the end of the 1890s they'd moved to Burnley in Lancashire where John Thomas was employed as a Butcher's Manager and they lived at Number 2, Woodbine Street.
By the time their son Horace was born in 1905 they'd re-located to Nelson in Lancashire living at 27, Scotland Road.
In 1911 they were living at Number 12, Altofts Road, Normanton, near Wakefield in Yorkshire. John Thomas was still employed as a Butcher's Manager working for The River Plate Meat Company. Emma Jane didn't go out to work after she was married; six sons and running the household was a full-time job.
I love the way they named their boys with such down-to-earth names as Tom and Fred and then finished off with Horace, surely not named after the renowned Roman poet.
Horace was my grandfather and I am delighted to have this photograph of four generations of the family in my possession. I am the toddler and I'm guessing the photo was taken in about 1952. My mum would have been about twenty five; granddad in his late forties and great grandmother Emma Jane Gooding would have been just over eighty. She died a few years later and I can't say I have any memory of her at all but I love having the evidence that I met her.
You can imagine how thrilled I was when I found the reference to Goodings Dining Rooms mentioned earlier on a fantastic website about the history of the town of Bacup in Lancashire. I've added more information about it to my Useful Sites page and highly recommend it even if you don't have ancestors who originate from there. The site has a forum which I've joined and I hope there might be more information available about Goodings Dining Rooms. I'll let you know!
I explained in an earlier post that in 1947 my mum (Doreen Buckle) wrote short entries in a diary.
On January 13th 1947 she recorded that she had a "pike" developing on her eye.
Went to work had quite a nice time.
I have a pike coming on my eye it is quite painful.
A pike is another name for a stye: a painful eye infection caused by staphylococcal bacteria.
As the week went on the stye got worse and she was unable to go to work.
Went to work on 9 bus and had quite a nice day.
Sty much worse.
Did not go to work sty very bad can hardly see.
Usually, even today, a stye is treated by applying a warm water compress and leaving it to heal itself unless it is very severe in which case antibiotics might be needed. Even though she didn't think it was any better she decided to return to work.
Stayed away again.
Sty is no better.
Got things ready for work.
Went to bed early
Interestingly, it was observation of staphylococcal bacteria that led Alexander Fleming to discover penicillin in 1928. The story goes that one morning in September 1928, Professor Fleming was having a sort out in his laboratory and tidying up some glass plates which had been coated with the staphylococcus bacteria as part of his investigations. One of the plates had mould on it and the area round the mould was free of the staphylococcus bacteria; the mould was penicillium notatum. Further investigation found that the mould could kill other bacteria too and even be given to small mammals without side effects.
However Fleming moved onto different investigations and it wasn't until ten years later that two other scientists, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, isolated the penicillin from the mould.
In 1941, at a hospital in Oxford, a patient was dying and the doctor, Charles Fletcher, used some of Chain and Florey's penicillin on his infected wound and the patient made a recovery. Unfortunately this was only temporary as the supply of penicillin ran out before the patient was fully recovered and he died anyway.
Florey persuaded an American drugs company to take the penicillin into mass production and by 1945 it had become widely available and known as "the wonder drug". That year Chain and Florey were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and the age of antibiotics had begun.
It's also interesting to note that at this stage the National Health Service was still at the planning stage. It wasn't until July 5th 1948 that the N.H.S. was launched by Labour Health Minister Aneurin Bevan making the services of hospitals, nurses, doctors, dentists, opticians and pharmacists free for all at the point of delivery.
By the end of the week the stye was forgotten and Doreen went off to the cinema on Friday Night to see A Woman's Face with her friend Sheila.
I've added the transcript of the January entries to the archives page in the Yorkshire Family section.
Keep in touch on Twitter @spurwing_
I've already explained about a diary that my mum (Doreen Buckle) kept in the first months of 1947 and the terrible weather they had in January and February that year.
On Wednesday January 8th 1947, she wrote in her diary:
Went to work snow about 6 inches.
Went to Palace at night to see Florian, enjoyed it.
Doreen makes several references in the diary to going to the cinema and records some of the films she saw. Cinema going was a very popular form of entertainment in that era and even a small place like Royston (near Barnsley, South Yorkshire) had two cinemas.
The Palace Cinema that Doreen went to on this occasion had been opened in 1914. It had one screen and over 700 seats including a balcony. Although the building is still there today it had stopped being used as a cinema by 1980. I can re-call going there with my grandfather to see Jason and the Argonauts in the early 1960s and it was very run-down even then. The Ace was the other cinema in Royston; in addition it had a ballroom on the premises.
Florian, the film Doreen watched on January 8th, was an MGM film released in 1940 starring Robert Young and Helen Gilbert. Set in Austria in 1910 it told the story of a poor boy and a rich girl who were united by their love of a Lippizaner stallion (a horse highly trained in the movements and jumps of classical dressage).
I couldn't find a film clip on Youtube of Florian but the rest are all there so do click on the links if you've got time.
Later in January Doreen went to see Woman’s Face another black and white MGM film released in 1941, starring Joan Crawford. It's a melodrama set in Sweden within a courtroom framework where the embittered heroine turns to crime but draws the line at murder.
Despite the awful weather, the shortages and rationing, the power cuts and the disruption life still went on!
Visits to the cinema were somehow managed and in February Doreen went to see The Postman Always Rings Twice. This starred Lana Turner as one half of an adulterous couple who plan to murder her husband. Released by MGM in 1946 it was subject to the Hays Office (Motion Picture Production Code) which imposed strict guidelines about sex on screen.
She also went to see Devotion which she recorded was very disappointing. It was a hugely romanticised account of the lives of the Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell. Starring Olivia de Havilland it was made in 1943 and not released until 1946. It has the reputation of being an example of a very bad big-budget Hollywood production that stretched credulity to the limit trying to explore life in a Victorian country parsonage with a leading actor with an Austrian accent.
It includes the infamous conversation between two celebrated literary figures:
Dickens: ‘Morning Thackeray’
Thackeray: ‘Morning Dickens’
No wonder Doreen was disappointed!
She went to see Two Smart People which she thought was V.G where a con-man on parole in New Orleans is pursued by a female crook who is after his hidden loot. Starring Lucille Ball it was a comedy drama released by MGM in 1946.
On 17th February 1947 Doreen records that she:
went to The Ace with Mary and Barbara.
She didn’t record the title of the film but whatever it was she didn’t enjoy it: rotten picture.
I've add the transcript of Doreen's 1947 Diary (January) to The Archives but I've edited the names of the boys she liked to initials: don't want to cause any friction even at this late stage!