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by Irene Kelly

I was born on 6th January 1922. My younger sister Lilian was born on 13 February 1925. We lived in Crook Street. I can still remember mother saying, 'Are you listening to me? Wanderers are playing at home so I want you home by 4 o'clock. She didn't want us crushed by people.

I went to Derby Street Central School, and I left at the age of 14. The family couldn't afford for me to go to Grammar School. Lilian went to Castle Hill School after we moved to Hall i'th' Wood, which was almost 'enemy territory'

I was 12 when we moved into a brand new house in Pixmore Avenue. It had electricity, which was new to us, and we couldn't resist switching the lights on and off. To make us stop all Dad had to say was 'now then'. It was enough. My father worked at the brass foundry in Bark Street but he couldn't always find work.

My dad went down the pit in Wigan when he was ten years old. In those days you had to pay to go to school. Granddad sent him without his school money, and the next day sent him down the pit.

Holidays were half-day trips to Southport. Once we were so hard up we couldn't afford it. My dad was determined to go, even though my mum said 'we can't manage it Jack'. Lilian was four then and a fare had to be paid, so we pretended Lilian was a baby under four and got away with it.

No 6 Radio School, Manchester RoadI worked at Hodgkinsons and Gillibrands in Bridgeman Place, and there was a lot of short time. I was a fabric cutter and I even had to buy my own 9-inch scissors, which cost 6/6d. The firm made women s and children's underwear. I used to get 7/16th of a penny for each dozen baby wraps, plus a bonus. I used to have to stand on a little board or platform, as I was quite small. I stood on this for some years.

My brother worked in the offices because he was a delicate lad. He suggested I worked at Sir John Holden's Mill in Blackburn Road and I got a job there in the offices. I worked there for eleven years and at Rumbelows (formerly Bulloughs) in the Manchester Road offices. I finished my career there. They were a good firm and I got a lot of help when I finished.

In the Second World War I remember the Tonge Moor bomb, and the flashes of light in the sky when bombs were falling in Manchester and Liverpool. The College in Manchester Road was taken over by the RAF for training wireless operators.


Lilian Kelly's graveLilian Kelly 1925 -1944

My sister Lilian worked at Eagley Mills, and then at Gregory and Porrits in Great Moor Street. She joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) as soon as she was 18. She went on a training exercise in Preston. She had to climb over a wall and put out an imaginary fire. As she climbed the wall she fell over, but got up and said that she was all right. Unfortunately though it transpired that she had chipped a small part of her spine, which pierced part of her lung. Gradually her health deteriorated. It was nearly a year since the accident when she died on the 24th November 1944. Lilian is buried in Astley Bridge cemetery.

The Commonwealth War Graves certificate says:

'In Memory of Private Lilian Kelly W/266664, Aux. Territorial Service who died age 19 on 24 November 1944.

Remembered with honour Bolton (Astley Bridge Cemetery).