Memories of Braunstone – Jack Lippitt

Transcription of Interview with Jack Lippitt on May 25th, 2004

Please can you tell me your name and when and where you were born?

My name is Jack Lippitt I was born in Leicester in 1930

Jack, tell me when did you come to live in Braunstone?

1939/40 So early years of the war…


…and you were a young lad

That’s right

What was it like then?

Very quiet, very old fashioned round Braunstone. Round the church was allotments, er field in front of the church, proper village countryside. Where I live now there was a farm, all farms at the back, there was a farm on the, at the top of Braunstone Lane going from the church on the left hand side and we had all the cows and that at the back of them back of the houses. And people used to feed them, I remember one lady she was a very lover of animals and because they got the, the flies in the eyes she went a floor cloth and wiped the houses, wiped its eyes!

Yes. So how different was this from where you lived before in the centre of Leicester?

Very different because it was, it was quiet. In the town there was a lot of activities going on near the market and all that sort of thing, very nice in the town and that. And Sunday nights we er, my mother and father at 8-0-clock at night always used to take me up the town to see the Salvation Army going round the clock tower

Oh, that was before you moved?

Yes before I moved to Braunstone


Yes it was a recognised thing for the Salvation Army to come from Kildare Street and the Sally’s going walking up all round the clock tower

Yes, with the band playing?

Yes the band was playing

So tell me about your family and your first neighbours here

The neighbours was er, came up about 12 months before we did. The house was new because it was the last slot to be built before the war along Crescent and Lady Johnson at the farm on Braunstone Lane as I’ve just mentioned, she would only allow one row of houses to be built along Cort Crescent

Why was that?

Well she didn’t want the view spoiling from the park


You see because the farm overlooked the park and then they built these houses along the Cort Crescent and that’s why she only gave one permission to be built and nothing else was to be built at the back of the church nor in the front because the park was owned by, one time of day was owned by Winstanley

Yes, but the council had bought it from the Winstanleys in the 20’s hadn’t they?

That’s right, yes, yes in the 20’s. So they can’t build on the park and they can’t build at the back of the church there, the church field


There was some cottages in the Cressida Place which was er sort of got a bit derelict. And the vicar at that time was called Callum Green he sort of got cracking on them and had the houses all renovated

Right but you’re jumping ahead a bit aren’t you because wasn’t Callum Green in the 70’s?

Yes but this is when these were derelict before, before he came


And they wanted to pull them down and so he sort of er said “You’re not we’ll have them done up”


And he put a preservation order on them

And that’s when the conservation area started isn’t it, in the 70’s

Yes, yes in the 70’s

Right. Let’s go back to when you arrived in Braunstone as 9 year old at the beginning of the war, how did you get into town?

We got into town on the bus

From Braunstone?


Oh right

Yes we went into town on the bus, and the number of the bus was number 37

Right, yes

We used to go into town on the bus and then back again

Yes. The houses, were they all the same or did they vary?

They varied, some of the houses on north Braunstone was 4 bed roomed houses they was for bigger families. Where I am is only 3 bed roomed houses

So this is the house you moved to in 1939 was it?

…39 yes, 40 yes. We had to come out of the house where we was because of road widening which is Vaughn Way now and so before the war this is why we had to come out but the war came and stopped it so it er, so the road widening never got done till after the, finished after the war

Yes. Do you know anything about the rules and regulations when the estate was new, when your parents first came?

No, no

Your family, was it just your mum and dad and you?


Right. What can you tell me about your schooling?

Well when I was, lived in the town I was brought up at All Saints church and er…

That’s Highcross Street?

Yes, I went to All Saints day school till I moved to Braunstone. And then I went to Caldecote Road School for a short time and then finished up at Ellesmere Road School


So all through my life I just went to 3 schools, but All Saints that’s where I was brought up. So I’ve been to all the churches round there I went to all of them St. Mary’s de Castro, St. Margaret’s, never went to St. Nicholas because, I don’t know for why but when I was, I was er about 12 months ago I had the chance to have a look round St. Nicholas and I couldn’t believe it what a lovely church it was and I’d lived round there all those years, bred and born round there and it’s the only church that I hadn’t been in!

Yes. Can you tell me anything about Caldecote or Ellesmere, what were they like?

Well they was, I was only there for a short time because I left Ellesmere Road School at the age of 13


So I, but I enjoyed the 2 schools the short period I was there but All Saints was the main one that I enjoyed

Yes. Now can you tell me about life during the war?

Yes I can tell you a little bit about when we had the air raids. They was er, a land mine dropped at the top of Cort Crescent, opened the road up fro 3, you could get 3 buses in


And then there was a land mine dropped at Kirby Muxloe, I don’t know much about that but Braunstone was, when it dropped the land mine in the road there were some houses damaged round Webster Road round there. We went to have a look and that and we saw part of the houses down and the bath hanging out! And, so that was during the air raids but when the sirens used to go we used to have to get out and go up to the nearest shelter and the shelter was where the police station stands on now


So we was down there, we’d just about get up there and get settled in the air raid shelter when the all clear went so we all came back again

So how often did that happen?

Oh quite a few times

I mean was it sort of every week or…?

Well er it happened 2 or 3 times a week


Yes but em…

But was that for just a year or 2 or was it for the whole war?

It was for the whole of the war and, but then it sort of died down when D Day come

Yes, yes. I heard there were a lot of American soldiers around here?

Yes there was American soldiers on the park, on the Gooding Avenue side, there was all huts built for them. And the Americans was very good, they er, I think they’ve got a memorial of them on the park. And all the, when they put the, the Americans came out, when the Americans came out the council took them over and they used them as, the squatters went in!


Squatters went in the huts you see and I think that’s when the council took over and then it was called the, we used to call it the camp when I was on the council. And one of the family just lives down the road from me was one of the squatters and she, when they come out she got a house down the Court Road she’d got about 7 children

Yes, when you say squatter were they made homeless by the bombing?

I don’t know I can’t tell you that one

No, can you tell me about the blackout because I imagine there was a black out?


Oh yes the blackout, we used to have to be, have all the windows blackened out and the A.R.P wardens come round and er if he, he’d be walking round and if he seen the light showing he’d come and rap on your door and tell you…! We had shutters made for our windows we fitted inside so everywhere was blacked out, even cars had to have shields on the head lights so they could, just slits in so they could just see where they was going

Yes, but it must have been a bit tricky coming home at night in the pitch dark

Oh yes, yes it was yes

How did you manage?

Oh we managed we had to do in them days, in the war days. Anyway we managed to get home and that, the buses was running and some of the windows was blackened out but we used to have to keep the lights very dim so the enemy wouldn’t see where they was coming

Yes. Is there anything else you can tell me about those years? Especially something that might not be in the history books, I mean people talk about a black market do you know anything about that?

No I don’t know anything about the black market, no; no I cannot tell you anything about that

Where did people work?

Oh they worked in factories, hosiery, boot and shoes; oh there was quite a few factories around in the town where they did all the hosiery because it was an hosiery city

Yes, yes

And a shoe city as well

What about round Braunstone because there were a few factories round the edge weren’t there?

Er yes but not so much you see, Braunstone was anew area at that time and it was just being, just being built so they all had to get into town you see, all the factories were down the town. There was factories where I lived in the town

And when you left school did you go straight to work?

Yes got a job straight a way and as I said I left when I was 13 but I couldn’t start working till I was 14


And I went to work for Western and Pilling, plumbers merchants in Waterloo Street, but the plumber that used to work for them, he’d started a business on his own so I went to work with him but I was recommended by Western and Pilling and I served my time as a plumber, mind you I don’t do any plumbing now! And I had 7 or 8 years for, in the plumbing then the fella that I was with, it was only one man business just me and him. I’ve worked all down the west end of Leicester which is the bottom end of Hinckley Road and Norfolk Street and all that and em, and I left there because he hadn’t got, he was almost retiring so I went and got a job on the city council and I done 35 years on the council. I done a bit of everything on there, you had to do it in those days, I done a bit of plumbing, carpentry, brick laying…


Yes and then it was a job coming up and I went as a lorry driver, it was a lorry drivers job came up so I went as a lorry driver and that’s when I finished all my time as a lorry driver so all told I was on the council for 35 years

Yes so it’s quite something

So all told I’ve only had 2 jobs in my life since I left school

What as working for…

Working for a plumber…

Yes and then working for the city council

…then working for the city council, not many can say that these days

No, no that’s right. Now after the war what changes happened on this estate?

Well there was er, not a lot of changes. They started re-housing people from the city centre and bringing them up to Braunstone. And em because you see all down the city there was all houses round the old Wharf Street area and 2 up and 1 down as they called them and they brought them up and re-housed them up at (inaudible) because they wanted to get everybody out of the city and, so that’s what they did. Now they’re building houses now to take them back into the city!

Yes, yes. You described where you went to work where did you go for an evening out?

Well we made our own enjoyment, going out; we used to go to the football matches and all that sort of thing. There was no clubs or anything in those days where you can, you go out I mean the pubs and all that used to be closed at 11-0-clock at night

Right, and how as Braunstone changed since then?

Er well it has, it has changed because there’s not much of the old village left now

No – the old village included the farms?


Yes and the farm that you described as being on the left is that where Herle Avenue is now?

That’s it yes, that’s all houses and where the Shakespeare is that used to be a farm

Did it?

That used to be called Ashley Farm, but I’ve been there for my mother to get some plums because they used to sell the plums there at Ashley, Ashley Farm but we…

I do wonder if the Shakespeare had been a barn or something…

No …it’s a very old building isn’t it?

Yes, it was the farmhouse

Oh was it?

Yes and then it, after the farmhouse in er…

Keep talking to the tape

…in er we had a curate came to Braunstone and he went and lived in the, in there

In the Shakespeare?

In the Shakespeare

Oh right

And his first daughter was born there Elizabeth, his name was the Reverend Chesterman


And he was the curate and he lived in the farmhouse

And this was just after the war?

Yes, yes it would be, when he first came to Braunstone he wasn’t married, he lived at, on Hallam Crescent and then he, I don’t know what happened there but he went in lodgings on Braunstone Lane for a time and then he got married and went in to, and lived into the Shakespeare. He made it quite nice, as I say his first daughter was married there

Was born there

Was born there yes

Tell me about the shops in the early days


Yes what shops were there around Braunstone?

The old village shop that we’ve got now that was the only one as I can remember

And in the new estate?

Yes in the new estate there were some on Raven Road, Wellinger Way, Heford Road and there was a pub on Heford Road called the Shoulder of Mutton


I believe, well that’s demolished now, and I believe that is where the RSPCA er…

Do you know anything about that?

No I don’t know, no, so that was all done after I’d left the council. But there shops across the road from it on the corner of Avery Hill?


Both sides of Avery Hill (Inaudible) Road?


And there was garages at the back


…where people could go and you know put their cars and all that but all that’s, well I presume it’s all demolished now the garages because they demolished those while I was on the council. But the pub was at the top there called the Shoulder of Mutton but as I say the RSPCA’s there now Yes. Now lets move on to St. Peters, St Peters church is the oldest building in Braunstone, what part has it played in your life? Quite a bit! When you first went there you’d been used to All Saints, Highcross Street… Yes Did you go immediately to St. Peters with your parents? No we used to travel down to All Saints when we first come up here, then the vicar down at All Saints he said, “Well you’re in the parish of Braunstone” he said, “Why don’t you go to Braunstone?” So we said “Well we’ll give it a try and see but if we don’t like it we’ll come back to All Saints.” But anyway we settled in at Braunstone and the fella that got us this house he was a rent collector on the city council and he knew what he was doing and when he got us to Braunstone he was a church warden and treasurer at the church


Yes and em so he, he booked us in and they wanted, well they’d already got a verger there she lived in the school house and she came up and so of course the vicar came round to see mother which was the Reverend John Hollingshead at the time and said “We’d like you to be the verger at Braunstone,” “Oh I don’t know” she said, “I haven’t done anything like that before, what do you do?” “Well there’s not a lot to do” he said “Just come to the services and a bit of dusting!” Anyway so she said “Well I’ll give it 6 months trial” so he set her on and she finished up doing 30 years! So em and of course Father was the assistant to her and so she quite enjoyed it, we had some laughs in us time there. And I used to pop in as well and give him and hand because in them days she used to do all the cleaning you see. And then Father died in 1954

It was quite early

Yes, he died and Mother was still the verger and so they roped me in to be her assistant. So I carried on helping her and that and I’ve been on my own 31 years now as a verger and I looked after Crispin’s and all

Oh right

Oh yes I was a verger up there as well when they had the new church I started well I mean I used to go up there, but you see when they first started St Crispin’s there was me, my Mother and Father we used to have evensong here at, this was all during the war, we used to have evensong at Peters and then we’d walk up to Crispin’s and have the service there

In the evening?

In the evening. There was a service in the morning, a communion service and they had that in the Ravenhurst Road School before they got the church built. And it was the same with Barnabas we used to go alternate Sundays, used to go to Barnabas and that was in Bendbow Rise school for a start off before they built that, and they built them both on the same principle as each other, Crispin’s and Barnabas Yes One was dedicated one Sunday and Barnabas was the other


We used to walk over there

Presumably you couldn’t have been verger at two services happening at the same time?

Well when Crispin’s had the new church that’s when I was, took my turn at being verger up there so I used to do alternate Sundays, one at Peters and one at Crispin


If there were anything special on at Peters well then I used to come down and Crispin’s used to have to float on their own

Yes. Now you said you had some laughs?


Tell us a few of the stories

Well we, we used to get up, when we at (inaudible) and the lads and me (inaudible) having the service at night time some of the mothers used to bring the children and that and of course tried to keep them quite and that. They, one of the ladies as went, it was the vicar’s wife that’s right, she, she got her keys out for the, dangling her keys at the side to keep the children quite and that! And the vicar said “Here’s me trying to preach a sermon” he said “and you’re giving them keys to dangle!” Yes it’s been quite er, it’s been quite interesting and all that and in Mother’s time you see we had the burglars in the church. And going across the, one night we went in and the, Mother went round to lock, see that everything was alright and she went in the church, the collection box was ripped off the pew at the end. So she went in the vestry and there was a box in there, “I’ll have that there’s money in there” “We’ve had the burglars in the church.” So he said, “I’ll be over.” Well he came across, came out the old school came across the field and there was a fella walking across the field, he said “Good evening” and he was the one who’d been in and robbed the church! And he said to Mother “Goodness me Lucy” he said “He was in here all the while you were in here and he was crouched underneath one of the pews at the back”

Good grief

Course she’s come out you see and locked the door, locked him in but he’d let himself out through the little chapel door and we never did find out who it was No But that was er that was a laugh that was

Now you’ve showed me some photos of Rogation Sunday, can you describe what you did then? This is just after the war

Yes well we, Rogation Sunday we went all, we went up the church Sunday afternoon watching the clouds in the sky that there was no rain coming and then we, the farmer which was George Stroger at the time



Stroger, right, can you spell that for me?

No I can’t!

No alright never mind

And, probably got his name somewhere, he had his tractor out and the trailer and we had the organ on the back and here’s me holding on to grim death while the organist is playing (inaudible)! and then we, we went all up the farm and the vicar blessed the crops and then we sang some hymns, then we moved on and we come out onto top of Evelyn Avenue and Avon Road, put the organ in the middle of the road. And we had another stop there and got to em, played some more, sang some more hymns. And then we processed all the way down the Braunstone Lane with the organ at the back and a police escort…

Oh right

…and right back to the church again Oh right We went all in the fields at the back and then moved round to the back, and then went back to the church and then up to the farm again and then read the final service in the farmyard, and then we all processed back to the church, that was on Rogation Sunday yes, done that every year

So you didn’t go all the way round the parish?

No, no

Just round the farms and the church

Just round the farms and the edge of the church, yes

Yes, and how many people would be part of that?

Oh quite a lot, there were Sunday school children as well we had a good Sunday school then you see, I mean it used to be full Sunday afternoons with children

Yes, there was quite a big choir wasn’t there?

Yes, yes, well you see we had an organist Ernie Withers, he was the, his heart and sole was in the choir and he used to go round to the day schools and get them to join the choir


Yes very good man like that and of course when he passed on well nobody could keep it on long, he wasn’t married you see and he was a bachelor and all that retired so he could put the full time into it

Now tell me about Hay Sunday because it sounds really strange

Yes well Hay Sunday is an old custom. Em the Lord of the manor…

The Lord of the manor in Braunstone?

No Aylestone

Of Aylestone? Mm

She, his daughter got lost and they, I forget who, who found her but took her safely back and the Lord of the manor of Aylestone and he left, he said “Well they’ve been, you know so kind to find his daughter because she got lost and er so he left a legacy of hay to be cut on his meadow, to be strewn in Braunstone church at that time in appreciation for his, for finding his daughter. And it was to be brought to the church door and then the verger would strew the aisles with hay, 30 shillings in them times

Oh right

And the money always came from the gas works


The money came from the gas works for the verger

Oh I see the gas works had sort of acquired the manor of Aylestone had it?

Yes, yes because they built on the meadow you see the gas works and the legacy comes from the gas works to the verger, nobody else only the verger. But weather it still does now I don’t know

No, well we certainly don’t have hay all over the aisles!

No, no well we stopped that in the 1970’s because people was getting hay-fever and because there was no hay around Braunstone the church warden then had to go and get some from a farm and it was costing too much. So we disposed of it but what’s happened to the legacy I don’t know. But we still had the legacy but I, when I became verger I used to do it and I got the 30 shillings but when it was disposed of they still carried the 30 shillings in and I said “Well I don’t do it anymore I’ll put it into church funds.” Now whether it still comes from there or not I don’t know

Can you tell me how things have changed in St. Peters from 1940, 1941 to now?

Yes when we first, when we first went there the extension was put on. There was no seats in there at all only just a couple of (inaudible), slabbed, yes all slabbed I think. Well then the vicar used to have to preach through an archway and people sat in the (inaudible) and the congregation got quite big so we had to do something about it. So we turned the church round and we got, made the original alter is now, the lady chapel because all the choir stalls was in there and then we worked hard we all took a share and turned the church round. St Luke’s in the town down Humberstone Road was closing being made redundant so we had all the pews from St. Lukes put in the bottom part

Yes in the extension?

In the extension part. The, we had all that we had quite a bit from St. Lukes, the brass lectern came from there

Oh right

As black as the ace of spades it was and it’s all in sections so we, we took it all to bits it went out to the vicarage, because they had a copper in them times, a brick copper in the vicarage so we put it all there and boiled it up and got it all clean, got the blooming thing stuck in the copper! And oh we had some laughs over that, we got it all out and cleaned it up and we worked on it and got it up as it is now all in the brass. And it’s on the, a long pole goes right through and fitted it up see and it’s all in sections, and (inaudible) got it all over and cleaned it all up and that’s how it is now


So that was another thing came from St. Luke’s. The cross and candlesticks, I don’t know weather you’ve seen this one or not but it’s got stones in, it was on. I think it was in the draw it’s broke, that came out of the yeomanry at the cathedral

Oh yes, oh yes, the photograph there

And the candlesticks, well the cross was on like 3 bases and the candlesticks was on 3 bases so it made it too high for the alter so one of the fellas that used to be (inaudible) at the church he worked at (inaudible) foundry near the Abbey Park so he took it and had it cut down and just had these bases put on the, on it’s own so it’s just the one base. But we had that on the high alter, I think that that alter came from the cathedral as well because they had a new setting in there but we altered it so it all faced one way, the alter is in front of the Queen Anne porch with a nice long red curtain across and we started with that for a start off (inaudible) and then we extended right across and made it very nice. And our late organist made the choir stalls…

Oh really?

…because he was a carpenter and joiner. And there was 3 of them and they made the choir stalls so we could have the choir there you see, we used the other choir stalls what was at em, these were the boys stalls but the other were the men’s stalls sat at the back, so we put them at the back and there was a lot (inaudible)

And em…

And these 3 men made the pews as well

Oh right along with the ones that had come from Humberstone?

Yes, yes

Now there were quite a few vicars, there’s been quite a few vicars in your time haven’t there?

Oh yes

There was the Reverend Hollingshead you said during the war…

Yes well (Inaudible) when we first came, he was the first vicar, he, I knew him and, we knew him and that but he left soon after we come. So there was Hollingshead er Gibb…


…Alexander, there’s been that many I’m having to think you see

There was Newbon wasn’t there but that’s later

Oh that’s later yes

Alexander was in the 50’s I think you said

Yes Alexander was in the 50’s, er there was, I’m just trying to think who followed Alexander

How long was he here for?

About 8 years

Right, when did Ken Newbon…

Wait a minute er Bill Matthews!


Bill Matthews – Bill Matthews then er Newbon

And then it must have been Alan Green wasn’t it?

No Alan Green was before, soon after Matthews…that’s right

He was before Ken Newman

Yes, yes, yes and then came Newbon, then Michael…

Yes Michael Woods

Yes, then Rajinda


I’ve got a book somewhere with them all in

We’ll look for that after the interview. Is there anything else that you want to tell me about St. Peters church? About it’s history, things that have happened?

I think I told you about St Peter’s being a chapel of Glenfield

Oh that’s going way back isn’t it, into the middle ages?

Yes that was a chapel that’s why it was called, it’s dedicated to St. John the Baptist

Really, oh!

But with it being a chapel to St. Peters, Glenfield they named it St. Peters, Braunstone but it is dedicated to St. John the Baptist but I’ve never seen it with just a chapel. Somebody said to me only the other week “Did it have a tower to it higher than what it is?” I said “Well not as I know of…”

No, but I gather that the, the tower was burnt or something wasn’t it (both speak)?

Yes that was burnt in 1974 I can tell you that now

Oh yes goodness

Now that couple was married at the church and I went to the Airmen’s Rest up on Ratby Lane and they came out and quite late at night, and they came down the lane and she said to … “There’s a fire in the church!” So he said,”Don’t be daft.” And she said “I’ll tell you there is” she said, “I can see it”, course he was driving the car so he I mean he had to look where he was going. So he said “Well just for curiosity we’ll go round” and that’s what there was, there was a fire

Yes so they were the ones who called the fire brigade?

Yes and they phoned the fire brigade, I got fetched out at 2-o’clock in the morning


And it done more damage. If it hadn’t had been for them the whole lot would have gone, there wouldn’t have been no church there now, so we’ve got them to thank for and er then oh yes there quite a difference. and the organ (inaudible) had just been put in and it had to be all stripped down again and sent away to Walkers because it had got the water in, couldn’t do nothing about it you see I mean there it is there, ripping it all out, all the parts and all the whole lot had to come down


You see and then all the roof had gone, all the bells come down and that collapsed in the church, there were 3 bells, Nik, Nak and Pru! It’s what they were called, Nik, Nak and Pru and they went away to be re-cast at Taylors at Loughborough because that’s the only bell people there are. And they came back and (inaudible) it done us a good turn really because the bells was on wooden beams and they was rotten so they took all them down and put us steel…

Ah so it’s really stronger now?

Oh it’s stronger now and there’s room for another bell to go in

Is there? Mm

Yes, and then the other part was that the weathervane went because that was (inaudible). So the apprentices of Jones and Shipmans on Narborough road made us a new weather vane and that’s, hang on where they’re putting the bells up, I thought there was a picture – ah here it is – there they are the steeplejack erecting it (inaudible) the top

That’s a very distinctive shape isn’t it?

Oh yes it is yes, the apprentices at Jones and Shipmans made that free for us

Oh that’s nice

But Jones and Shipman are not there now

No what did they make apart from weathervanes?

It’s an engineering firm, they were called Lockie during the war, it was all the ammunition during the war, you see and then – you don’t know Maurice Webster do you?

Do I know…?

Maurice Webster

I’ve heard of him

He’s up at Crispin’s

I probably know him

Yes well he used to be, he used to work there he was a draughtsman in the offices there, he worked at Jones and Shipmans – there they are taking all the organ out again it had just been put in and dedicated

Yes, now is there anything else that you’d like to tell me that you think is important about Braunstone at all?

No I don’t think there is I think I’ve told you all what I sort of know at the moment

We’re coming to the end now, what have you got out of telling me about life in Braunstone?

Quite a lot, it’s quite interesting to talk about these things what you can remember of them

It’s certainly been very interesting for me, how do you think it’s going to help the Braunstone Local History Project?

Oh I think it’ll do them good to know what Braunstone was like years ago, because the present people I mean they don’t know, they’ve got no idea of what it was like or what the area was like you see. I mean the youngsters will probably you know…book somewhere

Yes, thank you very, very much indeed

Yes – let me go and find this other book…


End of Interview

This entry is dated Thursday, April 7th, 2011 at 4.59pm and is filed under History.

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