Memories of Braunstone – Ron Manship

Transcription of Interview with Ron Manship on May 24th, 2004

If I could ask you to say your name and date of birth again

Ronald Manship, 12 Council Road, 28.02.28

So when did you come to live in Braunstone?

January 1937 em, it was snowing, do I go through the…? It was snowing…

Yes

I lived in 113 Cort Crescent and we had to spend the first night sleeping on the floor because it was the policy of the council to fumigate all belongings that was brought up from old, the old houses.

Why?

The policy, everybody on the estate got the, I don’t know weather they do now but they did then, every family slept on the floor and they gave you a bucket of coke and that was it

A what sorry?

A bucket of coke

Ah

To, for the fire, that was all they give you and they just left you to it. And it was a terrible night and when they bought the (inaudible) in, it wasn’t much it wasn’t worth bringing in really because we were so poor

How many of you were there?

Eight, eight of us, yes

Who was that?

Four brothers, there was em four sisters, no three sisters, four brothers at the time then what was born here, Harold he was born here on Cort Crescent and it was hard it, it was really hard

Where had you moved from?

Wharf Street, we come out as slum clearance from Nuttell Street and we had two bedrooms between the 8 of us, yes and it was, whole streets were coming down at that time and I think the war stopped it, stopped the slum clearance. But it was em, when we did get into it and er we got used to it we thought compared to what we was living in it was paradise

Really?

Yes oh yes

How did it compare then?

Pardon?

How was it different?

Well we could see, we wasn’t living in darkness we were living in a new building that was, we had bigger bedrooms, we had 4 bedrooms in where we went instead of 2, we had 4 between the 7 instead of 2 between the 7. And it was, it was clean, bug free (inaudible) down there where we was living we were bug infested, that why we was , nobody could do anything about it in them days. And as I say my dad worked on the corporation with £3 a week and that was it! We got no more allowances

What corporation was that?

Leicester Corporation, road works he was on and then he went sewers. That’s when we come up here and then he, that’s right and then he went working for his-self. The first thing we noticed up here really was the, the pond, the first week I fell in the pond!

Did you?

Well I fell through the ice actually, yes

Were you skating on it?

Well the Monks was, we used to have Monks, you know where the Monastery is across the road Gooding Avenue? Monks used to come out there and skate on the pond, that was how severe the winters were them days

(Inaudible)?

Oh yes it used to be a regular feature for the Monks, they’d come out on that pond and we used to think it was lovely, yes

And what happened when you fell?

Oh we got out, we got a clout across the ear when I got home and that was it you see

Were you scared at all when you fell in?

Not really no, no, I don’t think you were old enough, we’d been brought up not to be scared if you lived down Wharf Street at the time it was so rough. See at that time when I was in my (inaudible) it was the times of the troubles with the brown shirts and the other (inaudible) and Nuttall Square used to be the meeting place

What would happen then?

Well they’d all crash together then, in our Woodboy Street which is off (inaudible) Square there used to be a big entrance to a factory and they used to chuck them in there, lock em up for the night then let them out in the morning! It was er…as I say it was hard but it was nobody would rob you, they couldn’t rob because you’d got nothing, you see but they’d help you like they do here I wouldn’t leave here, I wouldn’t leave Braunstone. Just off the record…

(Tape switched off?)

So em yes so what…

I’m a bit hazy I’ve forgotten where we finished you see

Oh that’s ok

So where are we going to start from really?

Em some memories of the second world war, that will be interesting for me

From when?

From the earliest you can remember from the start of the war

With these bombings, would the bombing be on that or off?

Off

Off, so er…

Which areas were bombed?

Well the areas were bombed was em Webster Road we lost 2 houses and a bomb dropped on Cort Crescent, the road on Cort Crescent which is still noticeable and em Gooding Avenue, on the corner of Gooding Avenue. And it was the time and I seem to remember that I think it must have been the, either get this in the bombs or was it a coincidence that the Americans were on the park?

Ah they were on it then when the bombs were dropped?

We seem to think so

Ah that’s interesting. And what memories do you have of the Americans being on the park?

Well er I thought it was er, they wasn’t very well liked. At that time they were very racist, so was we actually but towards the black soldiers the white Americans were so, thought they were so superior

Really?

Yes, oh yes they did, oh yes, yes you wouldn’t see the black and the white Americans mixing in the pubs in Leicester

Oh right

Or the pub we had up here, The Shoulder of Mutton

What soldiers, was it the black or the white soldiers that were in The Soldier of Mutton?

Well they’d be in different rooms

Ah

They would’t be in the same room and they’d be a certain amount of trouble and we didn’t, didn’t like them and most of that was envy, they had everything and we had nothing. You see and certainly, they certainly showed the part, they showed that they did think they were so superior

Yes

Oh yes, yes but when they got away with it like all our fighting men was gone, you see they come over here and the’yd only got people like me 16, 17 year olds to fight which, which anybody could shout their mouth off if there’s nobody about

Mm

Which I think they did a lot

So a relative of yours married one?

Pardon? Yes Margaret, she used to live down the town, down where Lewis’s is now, and it’s all built on, she used to live in Fox Lane and she got quite a (inaudible) one and anyway she married one at, I think she got married at Whetstone I believe, no she didn’t, no. But anyway, oh no she didn’t she got married in America that’s right she got married in America, Margaret yes and our Julie she must be getting on a bit, but she used to live with me at one time

(Voices fade)

….and they used to be concrete block inside and everybody was expected to do their own because there was no labour about to do it for you anyway and it was for your own benefit. And then the families that could’t do it they all got together and done it for them like if they were 2 old ladies, wouldn’t help anybody that was capable of doing it but the 2 old ladies or 2 old people then everybody would help out and do it for them. It was quite an adventure really they’d put (inaudible) on and then put flowers on the top of it, top of the thing they’d cover it in soil and put bulbs and things all over it and it was quite nice really

So did you help build quite a few?

Oh yes, yes it was everybody. Well of course at that time it was a young estate you see so there wasn’t many old people really you know and er, you see and then they put the community ones were in Wellinger Way

Right

Which I do think is still there

Ah

I do, I think I put it in the thing and it’s a side of Wellinger Way and the school in between, and there is a mound thing round there still and this long sort of, from here to here, across there was under and I don’t ever remember that being taken up. And that mound is still there and I’m wondering if the (inaudible) are still there which is well worth thinking about or is it left alone, if the vandals get to know about it and – I see

How often were these air raid sirens sound?

Nightly

Yes?

Yes nightly. Well we were in the middle in the route to Coventry, Coventry Birmingham you see and as soon as they come over Coventry was the, the em manufacturing town and Birmingham you see there weren’t much in Leicester to worry about as far as the war effort was concerned but they was coming over…

(Voices fade)

… off the bottom of Wingate Drive there’s a big, it’s only just, it’s been took off actually this last 12 months, I’d like to know who’s pinched that! Big (inaudible) you know what I mean it’s empty. If you come up Hinckley Road there’s a corner of Wingate Drive there’s a building ain’t there?

Mm Mm

Next to it, that’s where the, that’s the post box, that’s where the sirens used to sound from

(Inaudible voices fade)?

Oh yes oh there was, there was everybody, yes

Did you go to sleep across there?

Oh yes, yes they used to, the mams and dads used to put beds in there and used to have a… (Voices fade) …created the neighbourliness you know – no garden, very, very few gardens up here, the council came round and said “You’ve got to cultivate your garden for the war effort.” It’s all war effort and everybody was expected to do their own bit

(Voices fade – inaudible)?

Oh no, no yes well (inaudible) you have your own… …everybody was happy, I don’t think anybody went more or less hungry as I say… meat or something…they hadn’t got anything about them…most butchers were at it…them that were registered, they didn’t register them all that’s why they got away with it. If you knew what you were doing you didn’t go hungry, no not really there was plenty of meat about
(Voices fade)
….as I say it was called survival, the war was on and you know what they say about war you’ve got to survive and it don’t matter how, it happens today it’d be in Iraq or anywhere they’ll do anything to survive

(Inaudible)?

Well I’ll come to that, yes well I think every, more or less every house had 3 or 4 (inaudible) chickens, cockerels and they’d got their own eggs and I don’t know how many rabbits. I tell you now we had about 6 rabbits all named “stew pot”. Yes, I got my grandkids one, I said WWhat you going to name it?” said “I don’t know granddad”, “Well name it Stew pot!”

(Inaudible)?

Oh yes, yes…(voices fade)…cockerels are, I don’t know weather you know but a cockerel, if you lower the netting it won’t croak did you know that? A cockerel has to lift itself up to croak if you lower the netting it can’t lift itself up.

(Inaudible)?

Pardon?

(Inaudible)?

Oh yes but people used to, used to carry them things on their (inaudible)

Did you get plenty of eggs?

Yes we got what eggs what we wanted you see but there was nothing wasted you see (inaudible), you go out in the fields for them you go poaching they get the rabbits like that, everybody was geared up to survive

Voices fade

…rabbits run out and get tangled in the net, copper comes along, pinches them and says, “Now don’t come here again” he had the rabbit!

(Inaudible) shops?

First shops was Wellinger Way…the butcher…grocery shop, 2 grocery shops up Raven Road…the chemist…Hargraves the grocer…Hayles the fish and chip shop…

(Voices fade)

They offered us a piece of land at where the (inaudible) church is on Hallam Crescent (inaudible) spare piece of land of course now they’ve just bought that land from the council for £70,000 (inaudible)

(Inaudible)?

Well when it came from Stone’s Brewery, we had er, then it was £20,000, Stone’s Brewery had 1% so long as we sold their beer you see…it was another 60,000 to upgrade it. And it was Tom, Tom (Inaudible) who was MP at the time, Conservative MP (inaudible) and again Ansells and Stones gave us the money again to, the last upgrade. (Inaudible) we are now. All the debts had been paid off (inaudible)

(Inaudible)?

Oh they were liquidated themselves, they were bought out

(Inaudible)?

Well there was only the Shoulder which at the time was full of Yanks and blacks you know (inaudible). Because half the time it was nothing to walk around the town, the buses used to stop at 9, everybody used to walk home

(Voices fade)

…well the little place near the old village shop that was a school…really I mean all it is were black outs, I don’t think the buses, the buses stopped running and the ARP used to come round and check see if all your lights were on before, before the sirens went, check every night to see if your blinds were in order, no light through it, and it used to be “Joe put that light out” you know if ever you, if anybody were going by and you just happen to be going bed and someone would yell, “Put that light out!” You know (inaudible) so that’s what they used to shout

(Inaudible)?

Oh every body were ARP warden, everybody perhaps 6 in this street would take turns as ARP warden

Oh really?

Oh yes

Did you?

Well I was too young, yes. The warden’s post was at the bottom of Bendbow Rise, there’s like a, it was a building as big as this (inaudible) I think it was an air raid shelter as well you know the building was about as big as this and there’s one on Gallards Hill, you see and they used to have all the equipment in

How long would you be in the ARP?

There was no such thing as how long, you’d perhaps come and say if you were an age, say “You’ll be down the ARP warden tonight” you see. They’d come and you’d go down there and stop half the night or so many hours

(Inaudible)?

No, no I don’t think so. They might have had 2 or 3 regulars but most of them were volunteers you see they’d have to do their job like an ARP warden, if they see anything happening because it was the whole of the estate that was being looked after so everybody had to do their part. You see if you was, a lot of people went down the mines from up here instead of going in the army Bevin Boys they were called

(Inaudible)?

Ernie Bevin was the minister of the mines and he suggested that instead of going in the army the coal was just as equally necessary so they, they went down the mines instead of going in the army you see. Well them people that weren’t, were (inaudible) you see they were the ones that had to go and do the em do the stint you see. Anybody that was perhaps too old for the army say they were in their 40’s or whatever, I forget what it was now, but they would be expected to go down and do their stint during the week
(inaudible)

(Inaudible)

Pardon?

(Inaudible)?

Oh yes, yes well that what he considered that you’re duty was to be in the community I think that what it was, you’ve got to look after your own community. I mean they wasn’t looking after their own family when they wasn’t there somebody else was looking after their family, I think that’s all it was so it was like a community effort. This happened all over the country it wasn’t just Braunstone it was all over, you gave them an arm band and that was the official ARP warden

What other duties would (inaudible)?

Well they’d have the authority you know to patrol the shelters, you know like the park shelters and who was in and they’d go round there and if there was any hanky-panky going in the shelters it was their job to stop it and get them out, you see. And that was, people used to go round there and then get the beer bottles from the pub and sit in there all night. They’d be, anybody drunk and that there would “Out!”, but people didn’t get very drunk at the start because they didn’t want to be chucked out. But people went down the shelters at them times, especially on the park, to sleep you see (inaudible) that was the school shelters you see. At night it was opened to the public, anybody about they’d go down the shelters but they went down there to sleep…

Voices fade

What changed?

Yes (Inaudible)

Well so excited (inaudible) really

(Inaudible) celebrations?

Oh yes, yes there was street parties and that (voices fade)… then they’d see what their wives had been up to (voices fade) no it weren’t Braunstone this was all over the country (inaudible) get fed up you see, you have a joke about it (inaudible) tonight why Braunstone why not Highfields? (Inaudible) work there at Highfields it’s too dear!

(Inaudible)?

Oh yes

(Inaudible)?

Yes, yes

(Inaudible)?

Well there was, well some were arrogant really (inaudible) you know they were more confident…(Voices fade) it was interesting really you see the war and the builders and the housing people, it was the councils idea (inaudible) training people (inaudible) the Germans built the roads up New Parks, the German people they did, yes

(Inaudible)

(Inaudible) so they sent them up Humberstone Lane because it was the training centre, in 6 weeks they came out and they were expected to (inaudible) brick laying (inaudible) he’s done his 7 years (inaudible) building the houses and if they wasn’t built in 6 weeks (inaudible) all he could do is lay bricks! (Inaudible) know how to check anything out (inaudible) and then they called them improvers till they got the their time you see I mean anybody can lay bricks in the middle of 2 brick layers on each end building the foundation up but it’s still happening today actually they’re training in 6 weeks and the plumbers and that but they’re not going to work with them, they’ve not got a job, they’re not going to spend their time in an apprentiship (inaudible) you see, it’s 7 years now

Oh right

But he’s not going to leave 7 years and then somebody comes 6 weeks government training course and they expect the same money as him! (Inaudible) and I’d do the next week, you just can’t do it (Voices fade) Well I’m trying to think, it’s hard to think really because I was engaged then I was (voices fade)

(Inaudible)?

Oh yes, yes

(Inaudible)?

Well it’s like anything else you just except it; if you come now and said… (Inaudible) going to start tomorrow… what can you do about it? We just say “Well we expect you but why (Inaudible)(Voices fade) Well when I was growing up it was (inaudible) I honestly didn’t know anybody (inaudible)…if they did they were taken care of… If somebody came and harmed me they might as well leave Leicester, they would have to leave. If I’ve got a phone number and somebody harmed me they’ll be (inaudible) and it’s the same with a lot of people (inaudible) about that through obvious things (inaudible) I’ve known people to get awful good hidings through obvious things through harming people on the estate you see and that’s how it was then. But now it’s still happening you see but it’s the people that are coming on the estate are vicious people already before they’re here which is making it, making it a bit er…(inaudible) threw off, literally threw off “Don’t come back over, don’t come back here”

(Inaudible)?

That’s always gone on all during the war

Really?

Yes anybody harms anybody they’d be in trouble, that’s when them and us you see they’d come in a gang. We’d have our gang this side of the brook and the other side they’d have their gang (inaudible) we used to have a fight on the park

(Inaudible)?

Them and us?

(Inaudible)

We used to call them, “Them and us” they do now and we used to have a fight and if you crossed the brook God help them if you got caught! You see this was our territory because as I say we were…

Voices fade

End of Interview

This entry is dated Friday, April 8th, 2011 at 12.00pm and is filed under History.

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