Memories of Braunstone – Dennis Pacey

Transcription of Interview with Dennis Pacey (no date)

So please can you tell me your name and when and where you were born just so that I can see if the machine’s working

My name is Dennis Pacey and I was born 61, Taylor Street Leicester

Thank you. Dennis tell me when did you come to live in Braunstone?

1936 the 7th of September

Right so…

No 7th February

…yes and what was it like then?

It was a nice estate then, a lovely estate, the estate when we came up here was from Cort Crescent to Hands Avenue

Yes

And Bendbow Rise School stood on a field on its own

Oh

The road, they got some of the roads out, marked out, but the houses to Bendbow Rise School and the houses beyond Hands Avenue was not built

Right, so were you the first people to come and live in your house?

I was first, first people to come and live in our house; it was a new house when we came up, Taylor Street

Yes

We came up on the 7th February as I said and it was my mum’s birthday on the 8th February so it was a birthday present for her

Oh lovely yes, yes. How different was it from where you lived before?

A lot different because we only had 2 bedrooms and it was a small house, we had toilets down the yard between the 4, 4 houses and no bathroom…

No

…no bathroom so we had to have the tin bath in front of the fire and Saturday nights the nights baths in front of the fire. The copper were heated up by coke and coal

Yes and that’s where you got the hot water from?

That’s where we got the hot water from

Yes, but you were a big family weren’t you?

We was a big family yes but we weren’t, some of my sisters were married at that time so it was not quite as big but we come up Braunstone 11 of us

Wow yes, so did you have a big house here?

We had a 4 bedroomed house in Limber Crescent yes made a lot of difference

I bet it did yes. Tell me about your family when you came here, there were 11 of you

11 of us, my dad was married twice. His first wife we had, he had 3 daughters with his first wife and she died with cancer in the throat so my mam took those 3 on and then she 11 of us afterwards

Yes

My mother used to be a Sunday school teacher

Did she?

Yes, 2 of my sisters go to Sunday school teaching, yes

Yes great, and what about your first neighbours here?

The first neighbours were good neighbours, on the estate, it was a good estate, they were all good neighbours. You could go out and leave your doors open and windows open, go round the shops and nothing would be interfered with. They’d fetch your washing in if it rained, really good neighbours

Yes

If the estate were like that now it would be a lovely estate

Yes things have changed haven’t they?

Yes

Now when you were first here how did people get into town?

They walked down to Western Park, caught the tram from Western Park, that’s where the trams used to stop, you used to get off the tram there and then walk up the hill. Later on I think it was 1937 or 38 then they started running buses from Western Park, up the hill to the roundabout and round the back. So you used to have to get on the tram in town and ask for twopenny halfpenny transfer so you could transfer onto your bus and you got to Western Park

Yes, yes and then it took you right to the roundabout on WoodshawRise/Cort Crescent

Cort Crescent then it turned round and went back down to Western Park

Yes, yes mm. Now you were in a 4 bedroom house which is quite a big house…

Yes 4 bedroom house

…yes, were most of the houses the same or were they all different?

Some 3 bedroom houses and there were 1 or 2 6 bedroomed houses because we had, I know we had a big family we had 11 of us when we come up here, some of them up the street had 13 and 14 and 19 one family had!

My word!

…and that was the Martins they had a big family

Yes they’re a very well known family

Yes very well known

Tell me about that

Well Mary…

Yes

…next door but one, she’s a Martin, she married a Martin

Yes, yes. So these houses were all different some were even bigger than yours

Yes

…some were smaller

Some were smaller, some were 2 bedroomed

Yes, yes were the rents different to match?

I don’t know because we only lived in a 4 bedroomed house but the rent when we come up here was 7 and 9 pence, 7 shillings and 9 pence

Yes great

Yes it were lovely, it had a bathroom and toilets on us own, in Leicester in town we used to have to share 2 toilets between 4 houses

Yes, how old were you at this time?

Nine, we come up here when I were 9. The first school I went to was Dudlands on the Hinckley Road

I know, yes

Because Bendbow Rise was the infant school but I had to go to the junior school and that was on, Dudlands on Hinckley Road

Yes, so you didn’t go to Braunstone Hall?

No I didn’t go to Braunstone Hall; Braunstone Hall was full at the time

Right

I went to Dudlands School and where Cort Crescent School is now that’s where they built the school, they transferred us from Dudlands to Cort Crescent when it was 2, 2 or 3 wooden huts on the field. We roped round for the playground, put stakes in and roped round for the playground, and the men used to come everyday and empty the bins, toilets so they got (inaudible) they used to come and empty the bins

Goodness, right, that was shortly after you came, was it?

Came up here yes because the estate was getting bigger you see. When we come up here we could walk across the Hinckley Road and then you’d be on the Western Park golf course and through there you’d get, carry on till you come to Dominion Road, that was the first main road you come to. New Parks or anything like that wasn’t finished

No, no. Can you tell me about your schooling?

Yes we had schooling at Cort Crescent as I say and it was good schooling. We had a good time there I enjoyed it, I used to box in the final and done all the sports

Yes, you were good were you?

Yes I enjoyed like, when we come up here we had nothing but we were always out and enjoying ourselves making us own entertainment. We used to come down the park and the lake now where they’re fishing in you could see the bottom of that

Really?

It was all crazy pavement and crazy pavement on the bottom; we used to go swimming in it, swimming. And the mothers and parents used to bring the younger ones down and the bridge from Shady Lane down to the lake that was all, the brook was all crazy pavement and on the bottom and all, they used to let the young ones paddle in that. The park was used regular, it was full, lovely park

It still is isn’t it?

If you’d seen it in 1936 instead you wouldn’t think so

Oh

Because all round Braunstone Hall there were flower beds and everything and they used to have notices round ‘Please keep off grass’ which we never went on the grass

No

We had 2 park keepers one up Hinckley Road Lodge and one here. The one at Hinckley Road Lodge he, I always remember his name it was Bill Walker and he rode a ladies bike and he had a brown trilby on, a straight coat on and brown trousers and boots, yes he always used to have a walking stick on his bike and a brown dog running up side of him

Oh right

And if you seen him coming, if you were doing nothing wrong you used to get out the way! That’s how it used to be, it were a lovely park. The park was, used to be used regular, crowds on the park till the war broke out then we had the camp come on

Yes tell me about that

Well that’d come on and camp but the Americans come they put the mission huts up, the Americans come they used that over Gooding Avenue side and on the hill facing Woodshaw Rise this side of the island growed wheat on that, growed wheat. On the other side, on the other side of Bendbow Rise they had sheep, sheep on that side and these trees on Cort Crescent well that there, that land went for allotments

Right

The park was used continuously

Yes, well it was like people had to feed themselves didn’t they?

Had to feed themselves yes. When we first come up here the inspectors used to come round every Monday and check on the house and gardens which they should do now. And everybody were doing the gardens then well during the war we had to do the gardens to grow greens and potato…

Yes, yes is that where you learnt your…

Gardening

…gardening?

I had to learn it yes. And then from Cort Crescent I went to Ellesmere Road School and then we used to, had to walk 4 times a day to Ellesmere Road and back for dinner and then back in the afternoon because we couldn’t ask for bus fares because there’s too many of us we daren’t ask for bus fares so we walked and we used to walk and we used to walk all the way. My mother used to take washing in and I used to have to walk up to Holmfield Avenue on a Monday morning, fetch washing and then go school, walk to school and then on Wednesday morning I had to walk back and take the washing back and she done that for half a crown

Wow, yes

My father used to work up the British United shoe machinery down MacDonald Road and he were a store man and he used to take photographs of them down there, he was a photographer and he had his own camera and when the weddings used to be on up the church people who knew him they asked him to take the photographs like. And that’s where they used to come out the small door where they come out on Saturday and they used to walk on to the field and it was short grass then and that’s where he used to take the photographs

Right, yes. So it’s war time, they’ve built a camp on the Gooding Avenue side and they’re growing wheat on the Cort Crescent side

This side

Yes, what difference did it make when all the Americans came?

The Americans was alright, I mean we still went on the park, but I mean we gave the park up virtually,1 or 2 parks (inaudible) there was all, so I mean then after the war we got the parks going again straight, it was lovely. I mean in 1950’s we used to play cricket on the top of the hill there, cricket pitches yes. I played cricket on there myself for the firm I used to work for, Liberty Shoes, Tuesday nights and Thursday nights we used to have teams up there practising there.

So em going back to during the war you were at school for most of the war weren’t you?

School yes but er Ellesmere Road where the (inaudible) that field now a sports field Ellesmere Road used to have that for a garden plot

Ah yes so you were gardening there as well?

You used to have to go across do all the gardening lessons and dig that and grow stuff so it were nice gardening like and that. My grandad he had allotments down the Airman’s Rest on Ratby Lane and we used to come home from school some nights and my mother used to say to me, “You Granddad’s waiting for you down the allotment, you’ve got to go down there and push the barrow backâ” or put potato’s in or something like that

So you were kept busy?

We was busy and we enjoyed it, we used like, we used to go out regular, although Sunday afternoons if we had nothing to do we’d perhaps walk across the Braunstone Aerodrome and watch the planes there come down

Oh where was that?

Facing the Airman’s Rest I don’t know if you know where the Airman’s Rest is?

Not really no

It’s on Ratby Lane, Ratby Lane…

Oh yes

… Airman’s Rest where we used to have the Moths the training, not the big planes, war planes but that was the Braunstone Aerodrome across the opposite side of the road now, British Shoe and them lot all took over and built on it, New Parks

Yes, yes I think I know. Now during the war did they have a blackout?

They had blackouts yes

So tell me about that

Well you used to have to have curtains up, dark curtains up so you can’t see the lights you know, we used to have to make blinds and do. And the lamps were dimmed so you could hardly see in the street and cars used to have the blackouts round the headlights so you don’t see it

Right yes, so what was it like finding your way home in the dark?

You got used to it didn’t you, you had to

Yes

You could walk about in those days safe, you could go into town and walk back from town and enjoy yourself. We used to, went with the lads perhaps go out for the night, miss the bus home but we used to walk up Hinckley Road perhaps with a crowd of them and all used to join in singing and no violence, no nothing

No

Lovely it was

Yes. Is there anything else you can tell me about the war years you were growing up, you must have left school before the war ended?

Yes I went to, I left school, went to Liberty Shoes from there I went in the Army. But during the war years there was bombs dropped on Braunstone

Oh yes

Yes there were 2, there were 1 dropped on Webster Road and a couple of houses went there, collapasped there, we heard the bricks go because we were in bed. My dad used to be on nights at the British United Shoe Machinery making ammunition and my mam used to look after us. And that Anderson’s air raid shelters down the back of the garden?

Yes

Well we used to have to go and get down there. But then after that I went in the Army

Right mm and did you serve in this country or did you go abroad?

Served in this country didn’t go abroad I weren’t lucky enough to go there. I done my national service and then when I come out (inaudible) I went to see the lads at Liberty Shoes and that’s where I met Shelia on the staircase

Oh right!

That’s where the first time I met her, seen her and I was in uniform that were, uniform must have fell for her I don’t know!

That’s how she fell for you, was it love at first sight?

I think it was, it was, we stopped together but we didn’t get married because in those days her father wouldn’t let her get married till she was 21

Right, yes, yes, she’s a bit younger than you isn’t she?

5 years younger, her birthday’s on September 3rd, the 4th and mine’s on the 6th

Right

…both September babies

Yes, and you’ve been married a lot of years now?

49 years this time

Right yes we’ll all have to look forward to a bit of a do next year

In us young days as young lads and that we didn’t have a lot at home we didn’t have radios

No

We did have a piano and mother had an organ which I think one which my father bought her because she was a Sunday school teacher she used to pump it up and she could that, she could play piano and we used to, Saturday nights or Sunday nights we used to sit there and she used to tinkle away and sometime have a sing song and that, lovely

Yes mm. Now after the war what changed in Braunstone?

Well after the war the camp went, well the camp didn’t go for a start because people who were waiting for houses went and lived in there, mission huts, they went and lived there and bought pre-fabs on Hinckley Road I don’t know weather you know that, have all the sites there, building, industrial estate it is now they had pre-fabs there then they started building New Parks

Yes, yes so there were a lot of people wanting houses then?

There was at the end of the war that’s why they moved in

Is that because they’re houses had been bombed?

No I think it was because houses had stopped building you know they didn’t build much after the war, during the war. They finished off Braunstone estate and after the war they started on New Parks and started up again you know

Yes, so some things happened almost at once, the temporary housing, after the war?

Yes pre-fabs, when we first got married we lived in a pre-fab on New Parks, Aikman Avenue

Yes

And then there’s that old lady facing my father in Limber Crescent with a 3 bed roomed house she wanted to get out and my dad were getting on in years and he weren’t very well so we exchanged so that I could nip across and look after him, what he wanted and do his garden for him

Yes, yes because you’d have been a pretty skilled gardener by now

Yes oh yes we used to have to dig and do

So you came back to Limber Crescent?

Came back to Limber Crescent yes

And were you both then working at Liberty Shoes?

No Shelia finished work then because we’d had, she’d got the lad then, she finished work and I was at work. And we had the daughter, the eldest daughter you know Donna who lives in the next street

Yes

But Liberty Shoes closed down in 1962 they closed down, in September 1962 they closed down, I’d been there since leaving school but they didn’t bring redundancy out till November 1962, they shut down in September so they got the (inaudible) about 600 people worked there

Yes and no redundancy?

No redundancy but I left just before September because in August I was on a fortnight’s holiday, I’d been looking for work and I went for a painting firm William Dixie’s for a fortnight’s work doing factories out just to help get a bit of money. At the end of the fortnight he asked me, he said, “What you doing now?” I said “I’ve got to go and look for another job now” so he said, “Would you like to stop with us?” which I stopped with them for 25 years

Oh! Yes, as a painter and decorator?

Yes, I started from the bottom and, I mean I did a bit of paper hanging and that but, and after that showed me the tricks of the trade and yes I stopped with them for 25 years

Yes

And he was Jim Dixie who was the chairman of the MS Society

Really?

Yes the chairman of that he used to take them out on holidays. They first started off in the transit vans, driving the transit vans that’s all we used to have, go down at night time, empty all the painting kit out, perhaps go round and pick 2or 3 of them up in wheelchairs, lift them in the wheelchairs and, tightly, and then take them to the shows, evenings out, pantomimes and after that they started having do’s, raffles and social evenings and they bought an old ambulance which we used to take out then and pick them up in an old ambulance, brilliant. And then from out the other ambulance a 29 seater, a 41 seater and a 52 seater

Gosh!

Yes

And of course they’ll all have been specially fitted

Specially fitted for lifts and wheelchairs to go in, bolt them down, yes I done that voluntary for 16 and a half years

Gosh

Yes 3 nights a week sometimes and weekends, I used to take them down the coast, leave them there and perhaps fetch them back the next Saturday. I used to take them swimming, pantomimes, holidays, weeks holidays

Brilliant

Yes Shelia’s been on the 2 holidays with us but she didn’t go on the other one. I’ve not had an easy life but I’ve had a good life

You’ve had quite a full life

Full life yes, we made it full from being young we made it, we didn’t stop and sit round home we used to go out, we used to go as I said to the aerodrome, the fair used to come down Westover Road because they know at the start there’s just 2 shops at Westover, well they were all wheatfields well the fair used to go down there we used to go on the fair there. And St. Mary’s Avenue the old, the grand (inaudible) house kiddies used to call it The Haunted Manor

Oh yes

We used to go and play up there, we used to go Aylestone boathouse on a Sunday afternoon and get a boat out, a rowing boat

At Aylestone?

At Aylestone boathouse. Some of us couldn’t pay but we all collect us money together, some of us would get in and get 3 or 4 of us in the boat and take it up the canal a bit and all used to pile in it and take it back!

Brilliant. And when you got a bit older what would you do for a trip out or in your spare time?

When I was at Dixie’s I didn’t have a lot of spare time because we were painting. I mean sometimes we had to work, paint out of town sometimes I never used to get home till 8-0clock at night for my dinner. We worked out of town coming home from perhaps London or Grantham or anywhere like that, we used to have to work till 6 then come home, take the men home in the van, if I did get home early I used to take the ambulance out perhaps, social evenings and pantomimes. And Shelia, sometimes Shelia used to get fed up with it and (inaudible)

Oh yes

“You think more of them that what you do of me” But then I enjoyed it, doing it. I mean I took a 29 seater to Skeggy and a 41 seater

Yes

You know but after I left Dixie’s, I finished because when I left Dixie’s I applied for the council to go on these ambulances, you see he sold up and I applied for a job there and they said I was too old, 58, to drive disabled about, I could still carry on doing it voluntary but I was too old to get a job!

Mm, shame

But I went in the plastics then, I finished my time in the plastics in the welding shop

Right yes. Which of your jobs did you enjoy the most?

Painting and decorating and the British Shoe as well I used to enjoy the most. But Liberty was a good firm to work for, you know easy and Dixie’s were they were good. There were only about 7 of us working there but it was like a little group, a family group and every, you know I used to get up and be pleased to go to work, happy you know, “I’m going workâ” kind of thing. But in the moulding shop I didn’t care much for that because I’d been in the painting trade for 25 year and being shut in one room and doing the same thing every day it took a bit of getting used to but I stuck it till I was 65 then that was it, finished it

Yes

Been out with the dogs and do because we’ve got the dogs now, we make a good life

Yes…now you’ve had 3 children, how different was it bringing them up from when you were a child?

I think it (inaudible) it the wages wasn’t, when I were working weren’t all that brilliant

No

But not like they are now, when they tell me what they earn in an hour now, I was surprised but it was better than what my father brought us up because they’re was no family allowance and no social security, nothing. We had, they had hard times and I had a good mother and dad

Yes, yes. And now have your children grown up and had their own children?

Yes

And is it different again for them?

I think it’s different but they’re getting on alright, all got their own houses because it’s easy enough, they’ve all got good jobs. The grandkiddies, except the one what don’t go school, they’re all got good jobs. I mean there’s Dennis’s he’s oldest he’s my lad, well one’s a mobile hairdresser on her own, ones in the traveling, and the lad, his son, he’s a electrician on his own

Yes?

Yes they’re all doing well

Yes great. So how do you feel about Braunstone now?

I still like Braunstone but it could, it’ll never get back to what it was to us old ones

No

No, the park won’t and the estate won’t

No

As I say it used to be lovely and clean and I tell you neighbours were neighbours, no trouble at all, we don’t get a lot of trouble now around here but you could go out and leave your back door open and…

Yes, yes

…but no I think everything’s changed and the youngsters of today got no respect, I’m sorry, no respect for anybody else only themselves, and the police can’t do anything can they?

No

I mean when I was a lad waiting to go in the army just before 18 it was Easter Sunday I know it sticks in my mind they’re were 5 of us just kicking at a tennis ball in the street, a policeman come on his bike “name and addresses”

Oh

Playing ball in the street was kicking at a tennis ball, name and addresses, went down the court took us court, we were fined a pound each

Really?

Yes

Gosh!

All 5 of us and that pound we said, “Right we’ll pay it a shilling a week” we used to take it down a shilling a week and he used to, “I’ll make a receipt out for you” and we all had different receipts except he didn’t like that and I kept them 20 receipts for years!

Yes

But they wouldn’t, they get away with it now do they? I mean I were just kicking a tennis ball along the street

Yes I didn’t realise that was against the law

Yes it was against the law in them days playing ball in the street

Yes, now that…

Same way 2 on a bike or anything like that, old crossbars

Oh yes

You’d get done for that

Yes, yes. Now can we move on? You mentioned Easter day, St Peters church is the oldest building in Braunstone, what part did it play in your families life and the life of the community in those early days when you were a child?

Well when we first come up here we went to, we used to go St. Matthews before we moved down, up here, St. Matthews church in Chester Street, I think it’s still there now. I know we got christened there and we were all in there on a Sunday morning. But when we come up here we used to have to go Sunday school at Bendbow Rise

Oh yes

…Sunday school at Bendbow, and then as we got older the lads, 1or 2 of them dropped off, 2 of my sisters they kept on and they went to the church on Gooding Avenue and they became Sunday school teachers

Right the church on Gooding Avenue?

Yes on the corner of Gooding Avenue…

…and Hamelin

…Hamelin Road yes

Yes, yes

That’s where they went

The URC, oh of course it wouldn’t have been then would it?

No -¦we were christened Church of England all of us

Yes mm

You know and we dropped off because we used to go out and do as long as we behaved us selves (inaudible) didn’t mind

No

About 11 or 12 we used to have old bikes made up we used to bike to Kettering, Wicksteed Park on a Sunday for the day

Really?

Yes

That’s quite a trek isn’t it?

Yes well get them all out of Limber Crescent and we used to go there regular on a Sunday for the day. And when my dad, on a Sunday morning when the blackberries were out he used to take us on his bike and we all used to go Peatling Magna blackberrying, yes

Yes wonderful

Wonderful time we had oh we had a good time, lovely. As I say we didn’t have a lot to see like televisions and that but later on in life

What can you tell me about the shops?

Shops?

Yes

When we first came up here the shops, the only shops on Braunstone was in Wellinger Way

Yes

Yes and that’s the only shops there was, a butcher, a post office, the post office used to be half post office and half hairdressers you could go there Sunday morning and get your hair cut

Oh yes

And the groceries, 2 groceries on Ivy but they were the only shops that we had at Braunstone. Later on till they started building on the Raven Road, because Raven Road that was a big green up the back of us at one time, used to dig trenches then, dugouts! Wood over then chuck soil on top and get down, yes

Yes mm. We’re getting towards the end, is there anything else that I haven’t asked you about which you think is important and you’d like to tell me?

Only the park hurts me that’s all. I mean Shelia wrote up about other (inaudible) for the paper. I mean that park used to be open, the war garden, all the time, they used to have bands up there on Sundays, they don’t have nothing now. And the toileting on the Braunstone Park, they used to have 3 lots of toilets on the Braunstone Park, there used to be 1 on Woodshaw Rise up here, boys, girls and a drinking fountain and 2 on Gooding Avenue, but they got nothing now

No

I tell you they’re not going forward they’re going backwards I’m afraid so, we keep saying we’re going forwards and we’re going backwards all the time

What had…go on

They’re trying to bring law and order back because it’s no good trying to do anything is it?

No

Until he gets law and order and discipline back then it’s a waste of time

Mm. What have you got out of telling me what you’ve told me in this interview?

Well it’s been nice telling you, I enjoyed it going back years, lovely, as I say we always enjoyed it and that, always, we were always out and then we used to go and fetch coke and coal from Aylestone gasworks, walk down there

Yes? Mm

1947 they used to come round, you had to walk down Aylestone Gasworks for your coke and chalk, push it back in the snow 1947…

Yes bad winter wasn’t it?

Yes couldn’t get round, your coalman couldn’t get round

No. And do you think what you’ve said, how do you think it’s going to help the local history project?

It’s up to the (inaudible) families know a bit about Braunstone how it was

Yes

But I’d say it was a nice place, Braunstone it was a lovely estate when we come, sorry it’s gone like it is

Mm, well Dennis thank you very much indeed

Yes thank you anyway

End of Interview

This entry is dated Thursday, April 7th, 2011 at 4.32pm and is filed under History.

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