Gilbert Austin

Gilbert recalls growing up in Marfleet Village during the Second World War and being evacuated to Hook near Goole. Gilbert’s first job was working as a ticket boy for London and North Eastern Railways (LNER). He then became an apprentice carpenter for LNER. Gilbert describes his social life as a teenager, meeting girls and marriage. He also discusses playing rugby league for Hull Kingston Rovers.

Media No: 1046
Interviewee Forename: Gilbert
Interviewee Surname: Austin
Year of Birth 1929
Interviewer: Dan Dearing
Location:  Men in Sheds, Greenwood Avenue, Hull
Date of Interview: 22/03/2016
Duration (HH:MM:SS): 00:45:38

Time Code Notes

[00:00:00] Early memories. Second World War. Born in Whitefriargate, Hull. Remembers evacuation, bombing of Hull. Gilbert remembers playing football in Marfleet, hearing the news that war had broken out and going home. His family lived on Emily Street off Hedon Road when he was five years old and at 1067 Hedon Road during his teenage years.

[00:02:27] Gilbert describes his childhood house – two bedrooms, a boxroom, no bathroom, outside toilet. They made a makeshift bathroom in the kitchen.

[00:03:07] Mealtimes – Gilbert recalls eating mussels. Rationing – bread and jam, powdered potato, ration books.

[00:04:00] Evacuated to Hook near Goole. A small holding, pigs, on the riverbank. Gilbert could see searchlights and activity in Hull. He mucked the pigs out. Tenting – stayed out all night with the cows.

[00:05:42] Went to school in Goole. Wanted to go home. Separated from brother. Did not enjoy evacuation. Brother evacuated to Rawcliffe. Gilbert was pleased to go home.

[00:06:27] Played games, made own rugby ball by wrapping a sack up with string. Lived in Marfleet Village – played in fields after tea. Not industrial as it is now.

[00:07:12] School – always enjoyed school. Gilbert was in the top stream. He left school at fourteen to start work. He started work straight away.

[00:07:53] First job was as a ticket boy for LNER. Then he worked as an apprentice carpenter. He was an apprentice for seven years form fourteen to twenty-one.

[00:09:08] Gilbert lived at home and cycled to work. He would meet up with friends on street corners and in youth clubs. Craven Street Youth Club where they had dances. Abbey Street Dance Hall.

[00:10:31] Gilbert built a caravan with his brother which they berthed near Hornsea and stayed in at weekends. Played on the beach and went rock pooling. They estimated the time – no clocks or watches.

[00:12:59] Meeting girls – sex did not come into it. A kiss and a cuddle, no more. Kiss when you took a girl home. Met Jean, his wife, and then went into the forces.

[00:13:56] Would meet girls at youth clubs, dances. Reckitts, covered swimming pool over at Reckitts. Church halls put dances on. All young people – ballroom dancing, had to learn steps.

[00:14:56] Describes asking girls for a dance – could be difficult but seldom refused.

[00:15:56] First pub he went in, Victoria Tavern near Reckitts. Coal fired freestanding stove.

[00:17:14] Became a carpenter. When he came out of the forces he went back to working on the railways for a few years. Then chased the money – civil engineering. Built the Saltend Jetty.

[00:18:40] National service – deferred until he finished his apprenticeship. Went in for 18 months, then increased to 2 years and then another 3 and a half years. 5 and a half years in total in the Territorial Army. Gilbert did not like any of it.

[00:20:00] Gilbert met his wife when he was about twenty. He had a motorbike and would go with friends to Blackpool. His friend’s girlfriend was Jean.

[00:21:31] Courting for four years. Married in 1954. Stayed at home until he got married. They moved out on their wedding day.

[00:23:14] They started a family after a couple of years and had two daughters.

[00:24:00] Both Gilbert and Jean worked. They got a car when the first baby was born. Gilbert played professional rugby, they weren’t hard up. Did other jobs as well.

[00:24:46] Bought a car around 1956. Learnt to drive in the forces. Had been a motorcyclist before the forces.

[00:26:58] Few people had cars. No drink drive rules. Would go dancing to Hornsea and Withernsea but went on the train. Did shopping and running about in the car.

[00:28:41] Played junior rugby league and was spotted by a coach. Gilbert played for Hull Kingston Rovers. He had to be employed. He started playing for Rovers at 18 and then for another 6 years when he came out of the army.

[00:29:45] Never really had a good team but it was his life. Trained two to three nights a week and played every Saturday which sometimes involved travelling overnight. Gilbert was paid £7.50 for a win, £3.50 if they lost and £5.00 for a draw. He doubled his wages by playing rugby.

[00:31:05] Gilbert still worked on the railways. His general manager was a Rover’s supporter and allowed Gilbert time off. Best memory of playing for Rovers. He played on his wedding day and had a good day. He never got to Wembley. Gilbert got married in the morning and played rugby in the afternoon.

[00:33:34] When he retired from rugby he had a normal working life. Jean stopped working when the children were born and then returned to work later. They lived on Ceylon Street, Marfleet. The house cost £800 to buy.

[00:35:00] Better newer house down Ceylon Street. Nice garden. Downstairs kitchen and bathroom. Two bedrooms and a boxroom. Greenhouse – grew carnations. Bought a bit of land at the back of the house. Allotments and bred rabbits for butchers. Skilled job, working out food / weight / price ratio.

[00:37:14] Bell’s Butchers, Marfleet. Always done other work apart from main job.

[00:37:58] Moved to Birkland’s Drive in 1960s. Lived there for forty years – good times. Moved six years ago to downsize – no upstairs. Now Ings Road, Sutton in a bungalow.

[00:39:24] Youngest daughter married David Smith, Olympic medallist. Grandson is an athlete and another grandson is a silver medallist from the Commonwealth Games.

[00:41:19] Goes dancing now and to the theatre.

[00:42:18] Hull has changed. Traffic horrendous. Rugby league teams have improved, better players, fitter, more training. Hull City doing well. Lives have changed. Don’t often go out in the City Centre.

These time code notes are provided as a rough guide to the above recording. Untold Hull would like to thank all the volunteers who took part for their time and hard work in producing this information.