In the first part Walter talks about growing up during the Second World War, evacuation, childhood and family activities and then the end of the war. Describes early television programmes and teenage music in the 1950s. He talks about school and ‘board men’, leaving school and looking for work. He also talks about apprenticeships, national service and life in the RAF.
In part two Walter discusses social activities and courting, family life and working in engineering. Describes maisonette and house that family lived in and family activities. Differences between teenage life in the 1950s and 1970s and then his children leaving home and starting their own families. He ends by talking about retirement and his experience of using computers.
|Year of Birth||1934|
|Location:||Longhill Library, Hull|
|Date of Interview:||24/11/16 & 01/12/16|
|Duration (HH:MM:SS):||00:58:32 & 01:03:51|
Time Code Notes
[00:00:00] Walter was born in Inchgarvie Maternity Nursing Home in Albert Avenue. Childhood house, three bed terrace, small front garden, back yard. No bathroom or toilet. Cold water tap inside and out. Father worked on railway as a fireman, then a driver. Walter was evacuated with his sister for part of the Second World War, starting at the beginning of the war. He was sent to Selby to stay with relations, then Skidby. His mother was there too. He got on well with the other children.
[00:06:20] Came back quite often while evacuated – an adventure – worrying for the adults but exciting for the children. He describes getting up in the early hours of the morning and the air raid shelters. His parents were at work most of the time so he had a lot of freedom as a child. Aware that it could be dangerous but not scared. Played in bombed buildings, collected shrapnel. Played football, block, cricket in streets.
[00:10:38] Mother, Father, Walter and one sister at home – small family. Lived in Melrose Street from 1935/6 to joining the RAF at 18. His parents continued to live in the same house. Listened to the radio, read books, played games. Went to bed earlier, especially in winter, not much to do. There was a fire in the living room. Walter didn’t have central heating until he moved to Longhill in 1990s, his mother never had central heating but had a gas fire. She died when she was 86. Walter was in the RAF when his family first got a television. It was very small, a novelty and interesting.
[00:17:51] Early television programmes – documentaries, some serials, some quizzes. News was the main thing. Yogi Bear, a new type of thing. Six-Five Special – new music. Long time before television had a real impact. Watching quite a lot now there is more to watch. In early days television was only on between 5.30 and 9.00pm. Six-Five Special, late 1950s, rock n roll, people like Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele – teenager’s music.
[00:22:31] End of the war, a relief to older people. For young people it meant you might get new things such as bananas, sweets. Rationing went on, change was gradual. Better transport, television, radio improved – programmes for everyone. Food during the war, didn’t really go hungry. Trawlers brought sugar from Iceland as well as fish. Kids ran errands, did shopping at the weekends and earned money.
[00:30:50] School life. Walter describes the board men checking attendance at school. Walter left school at 15. He became an apprentice fitter at T D Armitage.
[00:38:54] Walter describes joining the armed forces. Life was harsh but everyone was treated the same. He signed on before national service and was paid more money for joining up for longer. He liked the RAF and stayed in for fourteen years. His apprenticeship was useful in the RAF. It was a lot of change at a young age. Some conscripts fought in Malaysia at age eighteen.
[00:46:37] Walter describes the work in the RAF. Movements – moving people and equipment. He was originally going to be an aircraft fitter but ended up in movements. He planned movements, liaising with railways, docks and air transport. Quite an interesting job.
[00:53:52] Coming home on leave from the RAF. Back in civilian life for a few days. Felt better off in the RAF, provided with food, accommodation, clothes. Easier to adjust back to civilian life if married. Some postings were not so good but always only temporary. Some places plenty to do, London Cyprus. Other places not so good.
[00:00:29] Social activities when an apprentice – youth clubs, dance halls, cinemas. Dancing at Newington on Saturday nights. Table tennis, darts, rugby. Night school for apprenticeship. Had to entertain yourself on nights in, radio not very interesting.
[00:03:54] Going to the dance hall – proper wash, best clothes, suit, collar and tie. Try to attract girls. Mixed ages at the dance. Worth having dance lessons so you could do it properly. Modern waltz, foxtrot, some jazz. Big bands such as Ted Heath, Glen Miller, Joe Loss, other bands tried to copy them. Always live bands. As a teenage boy would stand by the wall and occasionally ask a girl to dance. Older people were in the café or bar. Enjoyable. Didn’t mix with girls unless you had a girlfriend. Knew girls from school and met other at the dance halls or youth club.
[00:09:36] Asking girls to dance could be nerve-wracking, embarrassing. But if did it for two to three weeks might ask her to go to the pictures. Not difficult to get a girlfriend. Very strict rules – no messing about. Could be going out for a year before a girl’s father would allow you in for a cup of tea. Knew virtually nothing about the facts of life. Picked it up gradually.
[00:13:41] Joined the RAF when just coming up to eighteen. Stayed in five years, came out and met wife before joining up again. Thought more stable way of life when married. Came out because he had finished the term he originally signed up for. No real plan. Stayed out three years working in engineering. It was a decent job but did not pay well.
[00:17:24] Met wife at a party. Walter was 23, living back at home with his parents. They went out to pubs, the pictures, for walks if the weather was good. Less strict than when a teenager, both adults now. They decided between them that returning to the RAF was the best option, easier to get a house. When first married they found a house to buy in Hawthorn Avenue £875. Needed a lot of work.
[00:27:04] Re-joined the RAF. Went to York, married quarters at Acomb. Not that different from civilian life. Three years in Cyprus, not a holiday resort in those days, terrorist problems. Considered a good posting. Wife not so keen on moving around, so when posted to Leconfield she didn’t want to move again. Got a council house before married quarters, maisonette the house on Longhill. Lived there for forty years.
[00:30:10] Stayed in the RAF for 9 years. First daughter born about a year after re-joining. Family moved around with him, mattered more as children grew up and accepted it was time to leave the RAF. Found a job at Mysons in the engineering stores, sorting equipment for the fitters. Walter stayed there until it closed down.
[00:34:37] Lived in maisonette on Longhill. Three story building, bottom floor flat for older people, top two floors were a three bedroom house. In the late 1960s. Coal fire, no central heating. Could get gas fires but not as available. Kitchen had an oven, washbasin, two to three cupboards and a pantry. Got a fridge straightaway, probably before most people. Mother died in 1986, she never had a fridge. Washing machine. Wife stayed at home until youngest daughter started school, five years after leaving the RAF. Worked in hospital laundry.
[00:38:50] Moved to three bed house behind the shops. Stayed there for thirty-eight years. Working shifts, so affected social life. Drinks in pub at weekend, football. Television at home. Would go to cinema as a family, East Park, museums, afternoons out at Withernsea, holidays in Scarborough, Blackpool, always one week. Eventually could afford a car.
[00:44:20] Only man in house. Three daughters. Differences between teenage life in 1970s with own teenage years in 1950s. Less strict. Loud music – girls had own record players, spent more time in own rooms.
[00:48:00] Children left home gradually. One left and came back twice, others got married and went. Still came back at weekends. All now settled with families, one divorced. Working at Fenners in 1980s as a fitter on the shop floor. More practical work, knew a lot of people there, social place to work though a shrinking workforce. Concern about whether he would lose job aged 50+. He worked in weaving shed, conveyor belts for coal mines. Miner’s strike caused problems, but markets abroad.
[00:24:42] Took redundancy eight months before due to retire so finished at age 64. Finished early December 1998. Still active, good sized garden, used to go away for two or three days for first two to three years. Enjoyed retirement. Fairly comfortable financially. Wanted to slow down. Missed people from work but still saw them in pub.
[00:57:04] Now lives on Anlaby Road, moved four years ago. Started to get difficult to go upstairs, look after garden due to arthritis, so moved to a flat. Family now living that side of the City so closer to them. Big decision, but necessary. Still in contact with people on Longhill, come for things like the genealogy group. Help other people research their family. Difficulties with researching over 200 years ago.
[01:01:15] Computers – use them but still a mystery. Difficult to understand and to retain skills. Had to use computer for genealogy.
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.