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After the end of WWI

King Street at the Church Road end
Image reproduced with kind permission of The Regency Society and The James Gray Collection

Born in 1920

I was born on Palm Sunday, 28th March 1920 at 3:00am; sixteen months after the end of World War I, sometimes referred to as ‘The Great War’. 37 King Street, where my family and I lived, was a nine-roomed single-fronted house on four floors, with a basement.  As you can imagine it was a tall narrow house; it was sandwiched in a terrace of other quite dissimilar houses. There were two rooms on each floor, except for the top which was simply a small attic, with the underside of the steeply pitched roof for a ceiling. It was full of junk and dust and as kids, we thought it very spooky.

Living in perpetual twilight

Our family of six lived in the two basement rooms in perpetual twilight; although in my very young days we did have a ‘parlour’ at the front of the ground floor. The only thing I can remember about this room is a black-leaded Victorian fireplace with a highly ornate over-mantle. The only water supply, cold of course, was from the two taps. One was under the little arch formed by the back steps coming down from the back door to the yard, and the other in the separate wash house in the yard.

Toilet at the end of the yard

In the arch I mentioned there was shallow brown sink, supported at one end by a low brick wall. All three of us boys used to pee under the sink when we were too lazy or too frightened of the dark to “go out the back”, as going to the loo was described. Our only toilet was at the far end of the wash house. Over the back of the sink was a wooden shelf where the woodlice thrived in the constant damp.

Duckboards like in the trenches

The ground covered by the arch was brick-paved with an open drain and there were two small wooden duckboards to walk on like those used in the trenches in World War I. Maybe that’s where Dad got this idea. The only other thing under the arch was a wooden plate rack on the wall. This was where we kept our weird and wonderful assortment of dinner and pudding plates.

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