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by Margaret Edwards

I read with interest my fathers story, how things have changed since his younger days and I began to think of my younger days in Deane.

My name is Margaret Edwards the daughter of William Edwards. I was born in the house where my parents still live in Melbourne road. I had a happy childhood although there was a war on, with all my friends in Hibernia Street. There must have been twelve of us all the same age who played together.

I went to Brandwood Street School until I was eleven. Mr Lloyd was the headmaster who everyone was afraid of. We tried to keep out of his way. I remember our old English teacher called Miss Agnue, she would rather cane you than smile at you. Then there was Mr Battersby, I liked, him, but I remember that he used to throw the board duster at the lads if they were out of line. I didn't pass my 11+ so next I went to Derby Street School for girls. Miss Laing was the headmistress there, a strict but gentle woman, always ready to help you. I enjoyed my life there, Cookery, English and History where my favourite lessons, but I never enjoyed Needlework or Art. Now I wish I'd taken more notice in art, I would love to be able to sit down and paint. I do envy people who can.

The six weeks holiday was the best time of the year when the sun always seemed to be shining. We would all gather in Hibernia Street and plan our days. We would go off to Queens or Haslam Parks with our bottle of water and our jam sandwiches. If we had some money we would be more adventurous and go on a bus to Horwich and have a walk up Rivington Pike. But our main walks lead us from the Pocket where the flats are, to the first or second bridge by the Croal. In winter when the snow fell we would have a sledge (or my alternative) and would sledge from the top to the bottom of Melbourne Road. People came from all over because of course cars were scarce in those days. The milkman used to come down in a fancy horse and glass trap at the back covered the two-wheeled float.

Then came the time to leave school and start work and all go our different ways. From that day, to this, there are many members of our gang that I haven't seen. People moved house and new families moved in with younger children. But when I think it was the end of the war and families would be getting back together and starting normal lives. My first job was at Whitakers Stores, I worked on gloves and handbags, which was alright but I didn't fancy being behind a counter for the rest of my life and I was keen on going to college. So I moved to Parker Ellison's in the cutting room doing carry cots and canopies. I remember that we did one for Richard Green the film star and we all signed the lining. Orders started getting slack there, as other firms began to make carrycots and canopies and they became more and more popular. So I decided to try the mill.

I went to Kirklees, nylon cone winding, I think my parents where a bit disappointed but never the less I met a great bunch of girls who I am happy to say are still my friends after all these years. The year I got married, there were eight of us got married one after the other. Then the sad day came when the mill was to be sold and closed down. So I moved to Littlewoods as it was just opening and I learned every job on the office floor. I learned more there than at any college.

I stayed there till my daughter was born and that is when I noticed all the changes. Pushing a pram around all the old haunts, all the shops had gone. The Windsor picture house were you did all the courting and Drinnans, where we sat all night and had a vimto were still there, but they had changed. The Saviors Church where I went to Guides and was a Sunday school teacher, flattened and gone. It hurts at the time, but I suppose you have to look forwards. Still it was nice to look back and take from memories the way we were then and see the way the town has changed in 25 years.

My advice to anyone who wants to look back on his or her early life, mentioned in my younger days is, have a day out at Wigan Pier. It's a very enjoyable day out - I've been there twice and have enjoyed it both times.