The Pot Dog’s Tale

Yorkshire Pudding posted about a family heirloom yesterday, a silver cigarette case presented to his mum when she married in Delhi in 1945.

It is a link to his past that he clearly cherishes and like many of us, he worries that it might end up in a charity shop or on Flog It! when he’s gone because the memories mean little or nothing to those who inherit it.

It set me thinking along similar lines, although if truth be told there isn’t much from previous generations that have to leave. My mum and dad and theirs before them were very much from a working class background so heirlooms are pretty scarce, let alone any with an intrinsic value.

But I do have one, namely the pot dog pictured above. It belonged to my nan and is imprinted on my childhood memories as it took pride of place on top of my granddad’s upright piano in the living room of their two-up two-down terraced house on King Street in Dukinfield.

It is rather battered with a bit of his left ear missing and has zero value, but it means a lot to me. Not so for Mrs P who hates it so it has to make do with standing on top of one of the bookshelves in the corner of the dining room where it is mostly just me who sees it regularly.

However, the pot dog does have a tale. Nan and granddad married on Easter Saturday in 1924 and as a result, granddad would buy nana a new Easter bonnet as an anniversary gift every time it came round. Nana got a bit fed up with the same present every year thinking it showed a lack of imagination on granddad’s part and eventually let him know so in no uncertain terms. The year after he gave her the pot dog and nana came to wish that she’d bitten her tongue and settled for the new hat instead!

And speaking of dogs, also above is a photo of Dottie that Mrs P recently sent to some of her slower paying clients to encourage them to cough up.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

9 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 4th May 2017

    I am intrigued. What service does Mrs P provide? I am thinking mobile hairdresser or plasterer. I sincerely hope that it nothing more intimate than that! I love your pot dog and if you were my husband it would have pride of place on the mantelpiece sitting right next to Roary the Tiger.

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  • Mr Parrot 4th May 2017

    Mrs P has successfully run her print and design business for the last 30 years or so to keep me in the manner I would like to become accustomed.

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  • Steve 4th May 2017

    What a great story. I can just imagine your grandfather going out to buy the ugliest possible present! Little did he know how long it would survive as a family heirloom!

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  • Trevor Rowley 5th May 2017

    Do you mind me asking which part of King Street your grandparents lived in, Mr P? The more down to earth, working class part was of course the older part – from the Astley Street junction and down towards Ashton, taking in the delights of the Princess cinema, the adjacent public lavatories at the bottom of Taylor Street, then Peel Street (handy for the Seven Stars pub), George Street, Wellington Street with the sweet shop at the bottom and not forgetting a myriad of little shops of all types and we must make a mention of Dooley’s School of Dancing. Eventually, you got to Wharf Street, the canal, two separate railway lines and several old cotton mills. Going the opposite way from the Astley Street junction, and towards Hyde, took you past some quite pleasant shops – a bakers, a hardware shop (for our colonial visitors, that doesn’t mean they sold guns. The local shops with this description always sold tools, paraffin and household items like buckets, mops, lightbulbs, fuse wire, ironing boards – I think you get the picture). There was then a doctors’ surgery, an opticians, two banks, a post office and the Liberal Club with the (still) rather grand Town Hall standing opposite. This then led to some rather nice late Victorian/Edwardian family houses, the refined looking school clinic, the town park (complete with metal, ornamental fountains and superbly manicured lawns) and the local cricket club. This part of town was always referred to as “Higher” King Street and clearly was seen as being much more superior when compared to that lot that lived down at the George Street, Taylor Street end.

    Come the slum clearances of the 1960s and it all changed – some might say for the better, but it certainly changed that part of the town for good. It’s now just a pale shadow of the vibrant community it once was.

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    • Mr Parrot 6th May 2017

      My grandparents lived at the Hyde end of King Street, not far from the White Bridge. My great-grandparents lived across the way and my granddad’s sister lived next door.

      I well remember Dooley’s School of Dance, Les Smart’s butchers shop and Bough’s barbers. (At least I think it was Bough or a similar name) Moving up King Street there was our family doctor, Dr Kelly, and Mr Fenton the dentist, although my memories of him aren’t so pleasant. And the school clinic you mentioned where we got the free orange juice from as well as getting your eyes and feet checked out!

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  • Trevor Rowley 6th May 2017

    Having relatives from “Higher” King Street will undoubtedly have enhanced your pedigree no end, Mr.P. My lot, from Astley Street, were “neither fish nor foul” although it was clearly a neighbourhood where everyone went out to work each day to “earn an honest bob.” Most of my friends’ fathers were like my dad, unskilled or semi-skilled but predominantly employed in heavy industry or the muckier end of the employment chain.

    The barber you were thinking of was probably Eric Bourne whose premises were on King Street, adjacent to the bottom of Taylor Street. Not the most welcoming of characters, he seemed to run a tight ship and his philosophy appeared to be, “get ’em in, get it cut, then get’em out.” He certainly didn’t like little boys who he saw as irritations who drove his older customers elsewhere (especially in the school holidays). He gave a good haircut, but you had to be able to tolerate a mountain of fag ash cascading down on you as he gripped his burning cigarette between his teeth, whilst trying to converse with his cronies at the same time. Health and Safety, who needs it?

    Gerald Fenton? Always told my mother, “Mrs Rowley, your son is biting me” That was his way of getting you to open a bit wider (having been encouraged by a dig from your mother). Happy days.

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    • Mr Parrot 8th May 2017

      It may have been Higher King Street, but the terraced houses at the top end were hardly mansions, just two-up, two-down and an outside toilet backing on to the railway.

      You are right about Eric Bourne – he was a grumpy sod. I was sent there for my short back and sides and was made to wear a balaclava on the way home in case I caught a head cold!

      My dad was one of those semi-skilled engineers and worked at Arnfield’s in Audenshaw making cigarette making machines for Gallaghers. He managed to get us on Fenton’s list by repairing his dentist’s chair which operated on some sort of pulley system.

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  • Trevor Rowley 8th May 2017

    The railway you refer to, Mr P, was the Dewsnap Sidings, a large goods train marshalling yard which “clattered and clattered” all day and all night. The sound of the goods wagons shunting into each other could be heard straight across the town on a still evening.
    That area had also had quite a significant history as it had been the site of the Astley Deep Pit which had been part of Dukinfield Colliery. Considered to be the deepest coal mine in Britain, at six hundred and eighty six yards, when first created in 1858 (some theories say that it was the deepest in the world), it was able to produce the best coal, Lancashire “Black Mine,” which was also the most sought after – and expensive. Tragedy struck in 1874, when fifty four men and boys were killed in an explosion of firedamp underground.

    By 1901, the pit had become overworked and unviable and was closed down and much of the site became fenced off. A remnant for the community to “enjoy” was the creation of a football pitch made entirely of cinders from the former coal pit – sadly there was never any grass, the only vegetation being straggling weeds in and around the corner flags. Who needs all-weather sports facilities?

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    • Mr Parrot 8th May 2017

      I well remember the cinder pitch which is where I learned the offside rule when playing for Globe Lane School. Or at least I thought I had when the ball was lobbed over our heads to one of their players and we stopped chasing him because he was definitely offside. Then Mr Farrell belatedly added that you couldn’t be offside in your own half of the pitch. Poor teacher!

      And of course the Dewsnap Sidings. My nan’s bedroom was at the front, facing the main road and probably quieter than where the railway ran, but I well recall sitting by the back window counting the wagons being pulled along – they were very long train loads in those days of steam.

      We often climbed the wall to drop into the overgrown weeds and off to the slag heaps of shale, the remnants of the old mine. And we would use rusted pieces of corrugated metal, the fronts bent up, to toboggan down the side of the tip.

      I seem to recall that there was a dug down bunker there that we always assumed must be from the war, but I’ve no idea how true that was.

      Reply

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