Wigton Salvation army band.

William Nixon Ismay (CSWig17)

CUMBRIA SPEAKS ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

13 WEST STREET
WIGTON
CUMBRIA CA79NP
isannacurwen@cumbriaspeaks.org.uk

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW

@2017 Cumbria Speaks Oral History Project

FRONTSHEET

Respondent Code:CSWig17
Respondent: William Nixon Ismay
Date of Birth: 28/08/1940
Date of Interview: 20/09/2017
Interviewer: Trevor Grahamslaw

SUMMARY

MAIN CONTENTS OF TRANSCRIPT

            1          Family and Childhood

            2          School days, Cubs, Scouts and Rugby

            3          At the pictures – Saturday Matinee

            4          Work, college, Training with Express Dairies

            5          Life in London and Scotland and meeting his wife Violet

            6          Return to Wigton and taking over the family milk business

            7          Developing the business

            8          Life and shops in Wigton

            9          Family life now

            10        Wigton and it’s future

TRANSCRIPT

TG        Hello William could you tell me your full name please?

WI       William Nixon Ismay

TG        What’s your date of birth?

WI       Erm 28/8/1914

TG        Where do you live at the moment?

WI       Er, Collingwood House, 14 West Street Wigton.

TG        And where were you born?

WI       Er I was born at my grandmother’s house er, Kelsick, small hamlet near Wigton.  I think she must have gone there to have me with her mother sort of thing

TG        Do you have any brothers and sisters?

WI       I have a brother Ashley erm he actually lives in Bournemouth and has a little summer place he goes to in Florida of all spots at the moment.   That’s how we lives his life really he doesn’t seem to think there’s much going up in the North so he stays in the South.

TG        What did your mother and father do for work?

WI       Erm he was a dairy man.  Erm. He had to leave the farm because they thought he had asthma and sent him away sent him away to school in Southport to see if that would help him.   When he came back to the farm he developed this asthmatic condition so he had to find a job of his own so he decided he was going to be a milk man and so he came in to Wigton and got his milk from Johnnie Baird from Blackpool who was very very, good to him to help him to get started on the move erm and that’s more or less it really.

TG        Where do you live in Longford Road? 

WI       ER Now then, its the first house past the Tip Road Inn if you know what I mean next to a Mrs. Pape.

TG        Can you describe the house?

WI       Erm

TG        Do you remember it?

WI       Yes it was quite a low style old fashioned looking, erm now………cottages style really

TG        Did your mum do any work?

WI       Erm, well she helped in the on the business, doing, she was the one who did all the book work for a start and acquired the shop.  They rented the shop from Mrs Twentyman in King Street and this was to sort of for people to pay their milk bills, sold eggs, and lemonade and that type of thing just a small shop, erm rented off Mrs. Twentyman who was, she was a Johnston so she left that particular property from the Johnsons

TG        And how did he do his round, did he have a cart?

WI       No, he was a head of his time really, I’d say he was ahead of his time er, the reason being he had these electric milk floats, which in those days was sort of very very unusual to see these things ratchin round Wigton in the 50’s er  but the reason for that was, there was an egg packing station run by the Express Dairy Company and me father was quite friendly with the manager, he sort of got to know him and he must have acquired these second had electric milk trucks through him, cos he had over the years he bought one or two of these electric milk floats.  But to have er to go and to get his milk he had to go to Blackpool Farm in the morning.  He had to go in the morning and in the evening to pick the cans of milk up 10 gallon cans of milk,  he  had a big old, what you call a trojan van in those days, er  a mean they were good van because I think they had a Perkins engine in it so it was a real worker and that was the vehicle we used to take everybody to Silloth and  Beckfoot on a Sunday afternoon.  We had a van load of people and go to Beckfoot and have er just a bit of a picnic really because that was your only time off was Sunday afternoon.  As you know farmers just have a sleep on a Sunday afternoon so we went to somewhere like Beckfoot or Silloth sand dunes.   There were friends the Morrisons and the Tenants and they all got in to this big van, it was a big van and off we went to Beckfoot and that’s how we spent our Sunday afternoon.

TG        And this is the 1950’s?

WI       That was in the 1950’s

TG        Going a step back, what can you remember about what you used to,  how you used to play as a child on the roads games you played any friends you had.

WI       Well at Longford Road the first memory I have I must have been four and I went down to the school and they had a sand pit in the school and Miss Iverson  had this sand pit for beginners so I went down there, they must have given permission to go and play in the sand pit because that’s what I did I sort of rushed down there to play in this sand pit at the school.  And thats when I was four years old erm

TG        That’s at Wigton Infant School

WI       That was at the infant school, yes just sort of down the road from us.  And Miss Iverson lived along at Longfoot Road as well the teacher.

TG        Do you have any memories of the school.  What it was like?

WI       No not really, no I just sort of passed through the infants school and don’t particularly remember anything, that was the thing that I remember that was exciting going to this sandpit and then we moved on to the national school, erm I remember more about that erm that was divided up we had big stoves in the middle between two classrooms to heat it was an old building and big stoves to heat the rooms up and the games we used to play were montikitty must have been very brave, we played montikitty on the concrete. 

TG        What’s montykitty?

WI       Eh well its one lad stands at the end and everybody bends down about 4 or 5 behind and then the other team run and try and jump on to their backs to make them collapse to see who wins.   So it was quite a rough game for lads ye know.

TG        What were the lessons like?

WI       Well just sort of a lark.   I remember teachers like eh there was a Mr. Tate and er a Miss Pond and all seemed very good teachers to me. I mean not that I was that education minded really I was just a boy enjoying playing more or less.   Walter Perdum was the head eh so if you got out of line Walter got his cane out and showed whats what.  (Laughing) So had the cane once or twice off Walter. (Laughs).

TG        Can you remember what for?

WI       No not really, no – laughing.   Boys will be boys I think.

TG        Outside of school what did you do for leisure.   And did you help your dad?

WI       Oh yes I had to help me dad.   I used to go erm on a Saturday really and Sunday when I was off school.   To deliver milk with him and collect money and this sort of thing.  Erm I was keen on sport I must admit so enjoyed the sports side of it you know.   Rugby,  that was more when we got to the grammar school when we came erm eleven.   I remember, the strangest memory was erm in the Crown yard which is the back of the Crown Pub my pal Eric Etherington lived and his mum and dad of course and we used play Dick Barton Special Agent, of course I had to be Dick Barton of course,  Eric was Snowy so eh  we used to play round there, cowboys and Indians that sort of thing and the great thing about it was that Eric I mean they moved out the Crown yard and they were the first to get a house at Greenacres.  So they lived on number 1 Greenacres once so this would have been in the late 50’s when these houses became available in….. ? the houses, cause they hadn’t no room at all really you know but you didn’t know anything about these things you, it was just life as it was and we weren’t any wiser about anybody else so everybody was quite happy in their situation you know.  

TG        Because what you describe there going at the Crown yard, Water Street, Church Street real adventure playground.

WI       Oh yes, yeh.  Water Street and that was another.  You know you went into the yard and there was 4 or 5 houses there and a shed.   The wash house and this sort of thing, a mean it was a real closed knit community and everybody helped each other because we didn’t know any different really we were all the same.  I suppose when I think about it, television was may be the biggest influence in our lives cus you saw things on the television that you didn’t really know anything about. 

TG        It was coming in then.

WI       It was  just coming in, we got ours in 1953 cos for the Coronation.   There was very few televisions then so mother had a house full of people wanting to see the Coronation so I think she was just busy making tea all day.  That was in 1953.  So to me er the biggest change in life would have been the television.   Because you saw how other people lived as well which maybe wasn’t always a good thing when you all lived together quite poor really relatively speaking, no cars the vicar might have a car and the doctor would have a car and after that was just the odd one and maybe if run a business you needed a car for something but so you all sort of in together.   When you see all these things on the television, oh my goodness me, everything was such a surprise.

TG        That’s interesting.   So you went to the Nelson School?

WI       Went to the Nelson School. Yeh

TG        And did you enjoy that?

WI       Oh yes I enjoyed that, I did yes.   I especially the sport I enjoyed the sport

TG        Which sports did you play?

WI       Rugby, it was rugby there er it was Jimmy Morton he was like the teacher, but he managed, he was a good rugby trainer because he had all these lads playing for England under 15’s.   Erm Keith Fenwick erm Edmondson from Silloth, Edgar, Jack Edgar and I think there was somebody else I’m trying to think of as well.  So he had quite a,  Brian Robson.   Of course Brian was a big lad for 15 in those days and myself, I such a little fella, so when you met Brian he was a giant you know.   He was fully grown of course and he was in the England under 15’s so he’d a great gathering of good players  and we had a great rugby team.

TG        So that was the best part of school.  

WI       Oh yes that was the sport that was really and then we joined the cubs and the scouts which we joined for the same thing and we got out and about and camping.

TG        Where did you go camping?

WI       Eh, we went to Scotland quite a bit to Peebles, Dunbar places like that err, the master had a bit, at a time was a  eccentric, Mr Beaumont, was a bit eccentric, erm, he may be start to  brew tea on the train he…. laughing……… he’d get his primus stove out and started brewing tea on the train…..laughing… so it was all great fun and once we were there camping and en they set the tent on fire somehow or other. It was Allan Robson and he said, him and his pals Dennis Hodgson and Allan Robson they were senior scouts just like slightly older than me.  The next thing was this tent gone on fire, so eh, the scout master said go to Peebles go, go, so off they went and they didn’t come back so he got a bit worried about them, so we had to get a search party out to go look for these two lads, laughing, they hadn’t returned.   So they went off to Peebles to find these lads , laugh, eh

TG        So when did you leave school?  How old were you?

WI       Urr, I was just going to say.

TG        Carry on.

WI       We had a good scout group because we won this Roses Shield

TG        Right

WI       Err actually Melvyn was the Patrol Leader of our Patrol he was, we were all pals, Melvyn myself an Eric and Robert, Michael, Howard Beale used to live in the house you live in but I can’t remember the last one was, but we had err, Melvyn had us all organised and we had a great team, we went to this place called Rattengate and they assessed you to see how good a troop you were, a patrol, we were the Eagle patrol and suddenly we won that er under Melvyn and won that shield because. I became patrol leader next year and just followed on from Melvyn we won it again you see, but that was because of Melvyn’s influence really, but  that was quite an eventful time.  

Erm, then I suppose we went to the picture house.  4pence, 6pence and 9pence just whatever you wanted to pay and then of course the film quite often broke down in them days and you used to stamp your feet and waited for it to start again.  And it was all cowboys Saturday matinee, it’s was cowboys and Indians that or Batman that was the sort of entertainment you had so I still have a soft spot for cowboys and Indians and that you know a good cowboy film. I prefer them to this modern stuff that we have nowadays.   Eh

TG        So we go to when leaving school or – what happened when you left school?

WI       I went school.  Well I wasn’t really academic, eh, I think I went to the 6th form for 2 or 3 days and then decided, no, no I don’t think I can stand it anymore of this. So I left and eh and applied to Express Dairies in the West of Scotland Agricultural College to do a Diploma in Dairy Technology which.….(?)...same interest.   So this is what I did.  So had to go to London for a year to Express Dairy Company, again so and had to go to different places in London.   This bottling plant, largest bottling plant in the world and all this business, South Morden, College Farm, so I moved around quite a lot really in London and got a lot of experience.

TG        What did you think of London compared to Wigton?

WI       I must have thought it was like a dream, I really enjoyed it, my Auntie (?) had moved to the outskirts of London, so I had somewhere, that’s where I went for my evening meal but they couldn’t stand the young lad being there all the time, so I just went for my evening and I had these digs just up the road from them where I lived.   Erm…didn’t have much money but I, my days off I sort of wandered the tube really in those days. You could go over all the tube without having to come off and pay again, so you could spend all day, you buy you’re ticket and could go round all day on the tube trains which is what I did often.   I didn’t have much money in my pocket but I loved doing that.   You know, different places, went to these jazz clubs on me bike and I cycled on me bike from Stanmore in to Leicester Square, Kenny Lightfoot, Ken Collier, Ake Bilke I went to all these things.  It was a great experience really.

TG        And then what happened after the year, where did you go next.

WI       After the year I went to Glasgow for the, this was on the course, so a year in Glasgow and then a year in Ayr on the more practical side.   And then I sort of graduated with my diploma and went back to Express Dairies and sent me to Appleby to train me there and after a year they sent me to trainee manager to er Sanquhar.  So I went to Sanquhar  and that was another creamery and eh, I had the nasty job of trying to persuade them to have a different attitude to cleanliness, cause the Express Dairies ideas was erm to develop these bacteria and put them in to cheese making vat and make cheese.   Of course, the old fashioned way was a bit eh any old.????(?). all thrown back in to the vat,  it was may be a dirty process, but to produce the cheese.   So of course, when I first went and processed these bacteria they weren’t used to dirt and they just died on them and they just struggled and struggled for months to produce the cheese and get it all absolutely clean so you could put the bacteria in to cheese vat and it would actually work.  Cause they were running the little creameries to get some eh starter, they called it.  We’d got to somewhere like Mocklin?? or somewhere to go sometime to put in to the milk to make it in to cheese.   But after period of time, of course, the problem was solved and it was all done through laboratory work and that sort of thing, testing and cleanliness and that’s where I met Violet my wife.  She was working in the labs so she probably thought I was a bit cheeky at the start demanding this and wondering about that ….laughing….so she worked in the labs regarding the testing.

TG        So what happened next. Did you?

WI       Well, I think I was in Sanquhar for 2 years and joined the Masons then erm, which you know I was quite pleased to do that, cause was on me own and eh friendship and that sort of thing, so I joined that and I  learnt how to drink whiskey because being an English man you know, for a time, a bit under the weather, but once you realised you could drink it…laughing…. it stopped.   Ha ha ha and always enjoyed whiskey ever since, really…….laughing.  

TG        Honorary Scotsman then…….laughing. So you were there for 2 years and where did you go next?

WI       Well of course I got to know Violet and started going out with Violet, erm …..  she always had to be back for midnight on the Saturday night, no later than midnight so she was we had to be there, so I’d to creep her off to Ayr somwhere and be going in to a hotel to have a drink, but her father and mother never knew these things cause th’ didn’t believe in that …………LAUGH ……..

but I always got her back home before midnigh, t you know, so er, thats that how I started courting Violet.  

And then they decided they needed a Dairy Manager in Froome in Somerset.  So they sent me there.   So it was a long way really eh when you sort of 400 miles away y’know.   But I had quite like the job, but the manager was on the fiddle and I found it very difficult y’know you couldn’t really, what could you say, what could you do but I knew I used to being bored in the evenings I pop back down to the creamery just to look round and seen these loads of cheese going out.   Didn’t know that was on the order book but you couldn’t do anything cause he he’d don’t worry you look after, I’ll look after ya and then me father said he was going to have to sell his milk business because of his health.   So I decided, ah well,  I’ll just come home and run his business and I’d be nearer Violet so like kill two birds with one stone, so I came home.

TG        You came home

WI       In 1964 I think it was.  

TG        And that was…...????? Road

WI       No, but in the mean time they moved down to 16 West Street.  

TG        So you took over the business completely.   Were you, did you have any employees or just by yourself?

WI       Errr, oh no me father was sort of run, he had this shop, where he had em, bottling milk, em bottling milk as well which is, and washing the milk bottles.  Milk bottles weren’t any value to anybody but him.  But you see people did everything with milk bottles.   Put paint in them and em and just threw them in the dustbin,  and em,and they were quite an expensive item really.  Anyway that was, so that was all included in, so he built this dairy behind this house, eh so when they moved to 16 West Street this property here came up 14.  Now it was the, one of the offices for the coal and one was the offices for the National Insurance and all that sort of thing.  These two front rooms so but they belonged to the Masonic, the properties ye’se so I think it was in 1947 he bought this property cause the war was over and they didn’t need all these, y’know the coal talkers ????? and these sort of things.   So they decided to they’d sell it so he bought it and at the back where this dairy is now it was a big garden so he moved from 16 to 14.   Took all the soil out of the garden and made a little dairy. 

TG        How big was his round then?

WI       Oh, I would.   He had two trucks on the go, he had two rounds on the go, so it was quite big really.

TG        Outside Wigton

WI       Yeh, outside Wigton as well.  I went to Aikton and Oulton that …..(?)…………they were the two villages we covered.   And then Wigton.

TG        Can you remember how many pints of milk he delivered in an average day?

WI       No can’t remember exactly.   Eh, 20 …. 4 or 500 maybe, it was a lot because everybody had milk on the doorstep in those days.   And  some markets really didn’t have milk it was all delivery.

TG        And of course the shop as well.  How was the shop.  Sold milk en

WI       Eh, the shop sold milk as well, eggs and it stayed like that for the time being. Yeh, for a quite a long time really, till I came home really.    And then he got on to a corner of the market with his eggs.   In those days Express Daires had this packing station and they graded the eggs, them weren’t actually 1st class they downgraded and called 2nd class.   They might have a chip in them, they might have a funny shape.  Nothing wrong with the egg and the father he got all these eggs from the Express Dairies and he used to go to these markets and sell them at a much cheaper price.   So he sold a lot of eggs at Workington market and Whitehaven market and Carlisle market.  See he did all that ye see and me mother was sort of there in the shop and the lads on milk, Billy Fells eh an old faithful, he enjoyed that ye see he’s in the fresh air and he got out.

Erm  Is it raining.   Then when I came home in 1964 I think it was, then I got married to Violet in ’65 erm,  this is a bit, working all this time – not really , ye, it was healthy but seemed if you were just going round and round in circles, things like, things were changing, all this, the cost of buying all these blessed bottles that all seemed to be buying then your washing them em or I thought, I’d rather just try and develop the shop.   So I had to buy the shop of err Mrs. Twentyman.   Which I did ye know persuaded Mrs. Twentyman to sell the shop so I could expand the shop.   So me father, he wasn’t, really that bothered because he wasn’t so well, ye know, I mean he’d buy the premises to hand back.

TG        How did you develop the shop then?

WI       So, in 1971,  it was developed in to the cafe bit, making a cafe.   But in the meantime I sort of made a little, I’d opened it up and made a little coffee bar, me father started that for the bus men, back in the 50’s and 60’s bus men, conductors. There was a lot of them about, there was a garage, an office, I mean teams, teams of em really, teams of conductors, drivers and  the ……and if you get an urn, he could make a bit of teas and coffees, so he got this urn y’see and he started making teas and coffees and then of course sandwiches, jam sandwiches and cheese sandwiches and ham sandwiches so that was bit in the front.

TG        So it almost developed in to a cafe all on it’s own.

WI       In a way yes I just decided to make it more a cafe like hot food and this type of thing.

TG        Did you name it the Spotted Cow then.

WI       No he had it as the Spotted Cow, because of Ayshire cows Johnny Bairds Ayshire cows, so that’s where the name came from.   So erm, he had, if I wanted to do anything when he was still knocking about I had to do it when he was away because we had such arguments about what we were going to do.   I know ye I says we’ll haft to get a machine we’ll have milk coffee now.   Oh…….…….?……..…things have changed. We’ll have to produce milk coffee so I had to wait till he went away before I bought this ……………..?….. to make milk coffee.   Laugh.   Ah but that was that.   I so and in those days it was em Redmaynes, they had the factory there a lot of people from Redmaynes in those days it was more, it was more pie en chips, beans en chips, egg en chips, that was the sort of diet that people were on they didn’t really see any sandwich bars or anything like that.  Erm and then if you went to likes of Betty Lunds or Haightons it was a 3 course lunch you got.   So it was all slowly changing ye know.   They were coming in to me first for things like egg en chips and that type of thing, something simple and just one course, change a way from 3 courses that were provided by the bakeries and that.

TG        Redmaynes was a big factory, how many people used to get in at lunch time?

WI       All we had queues of people coming in because it was the only, I think it was George Harlequin, he was further up the road he was more of a coffee bar so, oh know, they were queueing to get in for the beans en chips en egg and chips en, they were all made good chips ye see but there was a lot of people yeh.

TG        How many staff did you have?

WI       I’m trying to think back, I mean we had a lot of staff, ye know, the best time was the busiest time, we were on our own, there was nothing else, I think we had about 8, about 8 people working in the shop, so quite a lot of us really.

TG        What about the weekends, were they, did Redmaynes do shifts at the weekends?

WI       No , no they didn’t work at weekends, no.

TG        So was it quieter at the weekends.

WI       No, not really, there was always people knocking about I think.  I mean I think Saturday there’s always been the same, a lot of people have disappeared really but I opened on Sundays for a year or two. I was hoping to build the restaurant up above the cafe, so I wanted to get a bit a money really, instead of going to the bank manager, cause the bank manager he was grand fellow, Baldwin Wilson what you want, borrow what you want.  No, I didn’t want to borrow so much, I want to you know, the attitude, I don’t want to be borrowing a lot because it all has to be paid back, it’s all right you just say – so I decided to open on Sundays so I could get a bit more money in to develop the upstairs restaurant which is what I did raise it so I didn’t really borrow very much off him but he was a genuine chap he used to be a big fan of Baldwin he……he was a chap you could talk to, ye know so he helped really.  He was a good adviser as well.

TG        So it was quite a big business, quite a big business at this time.

WI       Oh, yes it was, ye, yes it was.

Pause……

WI       This was about the 60’s and 70’s.   What do you think Wigton was like at that time 60’s and 70’s?  Well, he I used to enjoy it really, Wigton in em, things like used to see the policeman come when something was wrong, the policeman possibly in two’s coming round and at night used to try all the business doors to make sure the’re all locked.   And then two of em, th’ my go and stand at the corner where Billy Dodge shop used to be and it was an ideal point to look up and down the street. They could see if there was anything going on from that vantage point, em so if there was any trouble brewing in any of the pubs they could dawdle up and see what was going on and erm

TG        It was lively at nights.

WI       It was lively at nights.   But they didn’t seem to bother too much if eh you could so of have a late drink if you wanted in the Crown or wherever so long as there wasn’t any trouble they really didn’t bother you.   It’s when the trouble sort of started.  There was a few fighting families about…laughing…in the town….laughing…but there was never any knives or anything like that it was all just fighting families and the police would help them to get home and just had too much to drink and just get them off the streets and get them away home and that’s it out of the way.

TG        Because the licensing hours were different, you told me that he used that kept some of the drinkers in an afternoon.

WI       Eh that was right.   Pubs used to close at 3.00 and then open again at half past five so of course these lads had a fair bit to drink eh and wanted to go somewhere they ended up in Spotted Cow slopping tea about and coffees and quite noisy but they weren’t bad or anything like that and then at when half past five came they all got up and away they went again back to the pub so they’d sober up a little bit but erm but me wife erm I think was in the shop a lot at that time so she got to know all these characters, she could sort em out ye know, git yourself, sit down there and behave y’self.   Me  wife sorted them out quite well, they sat down all right Mrs. Ismay, right oh, right oh.

Laughing…….so them, the Salvation Army standing at the end of George Street, McGee would be playing his accordion, ye know, singing some religious songs and then they’d go home and give his wife a bashing………………laughing…………poor old Jane McGee but he always played the accordian a Saturday night…………..laughing..

Ye see, I dunno, things like the library it was in the Quaker Meeting House, one of the meeting rooms was for Quakers the one was the library, the county council library and so the kids from Bluecoat School they came up every Sunday morning trooped up from the school to the meeting house to have a meeting.  Then I was open on a Sunday then they’d troop down to the shop to play the juke box. Laughing….which we had in those days.

TG        What was King Street like the shops and round about you?

WI       They were always quite busy really am mean there was Walter Wilson, the smilin service,  they were right  in the middle of it.   Erm there was Tighs Chip Shop and they started making Cumberland Potato Crisps erm I don’t know how successful it was because they, the crisps were just put in to tins.   It was something they did for a while but they were overtaken by modern technology and en packaged crisps and that sort of thing.   But the chip shops were quite busy theres Tighs and then a little one in er Water Street. Watsons and he still used to use his coal he used to shovel the coal in to his under neath his cooker with his dirty hands….laugh use the coal.   Cause the best known one was Mori (?) the Monument.  Josey chip proper,  fantastic chip ?they were a Spanish family, they’ll still be some relatives here today really.   Then I think the chemist,that was, it was originally Ridleys Chemist before Mr. Poucher??? took over, then Mr ?? had his shop, and a wet fish shop er Miller, Jimmy Fish, they called him.   Er then the Co-op they were there and I think there was a clothes shop next to the fish shop, erm now I’m trying to think before Harrison came, erm there was ….(?) a little sweet shop, Twentymans Sweet Shop next to the fish shop, very small one that one.   That was before Richard Harrison appeared ee knock in to and take that sweet shop as part of his premises.   But I think before Richard there was a firm called Stobbarts, related to the  lorry people I don’t know if it was his brother, probably his brother.   So there was an ironmongers as well cause Saundersons was there, it used to be called Stobbarts as well beforehand and then before that there was another name but theres been an ironmongers there for many years.

TG        Mintoes,

WI       Mintoes. Yeh it was Mintoes, before that so it’s been an ironmongers shop for a long, long time.  An then going further down there was a fella called Boucher Smith be done below us he used to sell soft furnishings an all that type of thing but I don’t know what had happened to him he left and he went to, en I don’t know he got in to a bit of bother or something that he left and the shop was empty for a while and then Ashurst took it over so Fred Ashurst had it for quite a long time.

TG        So there was quite a community then really, you all knew each other.

WI       Oh yes,

TG        Rubbed along,

WI       Yeh and old Carrick of course another sweet shop, erm am sort of going down and there was Lunds and then there was spirit vaults and then it was Haigtons,  became Maxwells Bakers, then you work down the Bluebell and that was right on the corner, it was knocked down for traffic I presume.  It was a red brick place but they called it the Bluebell and then next to that was the bus offices and further down was the fire service, ye know where the fire engine was stored.

TG        Yeh

WI       In those days, I’m trying to think, they went on the market with the buses, the bus station, previously to that they were all on the street, like they are now, and signs to say where the buses are going to.  They decided to take it on to Market Hill and they had a bus garage further down, so coming up the other way was the Royal Oak, Mr. Curruthers was in the Royal Oak he used to do his Sunday lunches, they were always very popular.   Erm The Kings Arms in those days was going great guns.  Eddie Ruddys was in the Kings Arms for quite a few years and you tend to forget about next to Eddie Ruddy’s which is now the Factory Shop it was Dickie Thorntons Petrol station er and in behind he had taxis and used to collect your rosehips and take em to him and mushrooms.   He’d weigh them and give you some money for them.   I know the council were very keen to get this petrol station moved cause it was in a bad spot.   It took them quite a long time to get it moved and then it moved, then they moved it further up West Street and it didn’t really take off really it was always in an ideal situation there for cars and he got to moved and it was all put in behind sort to knocked Union Street in half because he sort he bought the property the other side and he just went straight threw to his new garage so it was cut in half so half so its of Union Street ??masher?a bit. Laughing  Dowm theres quite  a few Wigton families lived down there, Peacocks and the Rumneys en you know the Ritchies the Irvines, all Wigton families ye know.

TG        A lot of these people come in to your cafe?

WI       Oh yes in those days, yeh they come in to pay the milk, that’s right to buy eggs, cause ye say me father had what they seconds but they were a good buy.   And then eventually they stopped that so now they go to bakery trade now and there going to be broken up and frozen and em for baking trade so that sort of spoilt his trade a bit once that was stopped.    Right

TG        So shall we move on that was the 60’s and 70’s.

WI       Yeh

TG        Em how do you see the shop now, then?

WI       Well it’s completely different now really.  I mean it’s different, I suppose it’s a different world.  I would say that I haven’t moved on not that I would have wanted to move on, I’m quite happy where I am.   But things have changed totally we’ve got used to different types of food er I mean look at all these sandwich bars this is what people have for their lunch now, sandwich and a drink, but the fillings are all much fancier than ever they were.   When  you go abroad you see all these different to tapas bars and things like that and you think if you enjoy it, the foods completely different to what it was when em Mr. Carruthers was in the Royal Oak when he was providing Sunday lunch but a Sunday lunch and that was it.

TG        A traditional English Sunday lunch

WI       Yeh, thats right

TG        What about your life now, you’ve got, how many children.

WI       Er well two en.  Two children and  grandchildren.  And five grandchildren

TG        And do you stay…..

WI       Sorry 

TG        No carry on

WI       I well,  so me daughter she lives at Blencogo and William lives in Wigton.   So they have five grandchildren between them sort of thing and we have five grandchildren.   William has three children and Kath has two children.   But there getting older now ones at university and an other one ready to leave school and then Willies going to be an apprentice at the factory, so theres the two younger ones, the noisy ones…..laughing… ?year old and a 7 year old.

TG        So you keep, you’ve a lot of friends in Wigton over the years – you keep in contact with friends home and away.

WI       Oh yes, yes.   Locally I’m, we’re bad visitors really, don’t really have any time,

TG        No you’re working

WI       You know, I work with charities which I enjoy doing.   So when I’m closed on a Sunday I tend to be doing something, you know, whether its going to be trade market or just I don’t have to but I want to do it, you know.  But on saying that I’ve always planned holidays, to look forward to, like a point in your life where, I’m going there so and so that was before my holiday and that was after my holidays.  We’ve always been lucky had great holidays, been very fortunate really.

TG        Home or abroad, holidays?

WI       Yeh, yeh

TG        Have you any hobbies or anything at all  not, no time

WI       No time, Spotted Cows a hobby.  No not really, no not any hobbies to be honest no

TG        One of the biggest things in Wigton that’s happened over the decades is the development of the factory.

WI      Oh yes, I mean the factory is probably the most important thing in the town really.  Em I remember seeing a Mr. Mombryhall??he was one of the bosses he was walking down from Wigton Hall to the factory and two of ’em lived up in Wigton Hall in those days and they were I think it.????? British ???

Then as time went on em they came involved with ICI er then Mr. Lowther he became involved

erm so it was like a Wigton based thing in a way.   So you used to see Billy, when I was running about  Billy was going to do his studies at Carlisle Tech he did all his studies there and of course then he became the boss of the whole place really, ye know, world wide but I mean he was a great man for Wigton really and he was interested in the Wigton community so the factory in a lot of ways giving money for one thing and another.   And the nuns used to run along as well to ask.

Now Mr Lowther, ….laughing…..they were very persuasive people but they were part of the town as well, they looked after people in the town and they ran carnivals and they mixed,  erm they ran the schools, .???? and the catholic school

TG        And the boys club

WI       Yeh. Boys Club, a very successful Boys Club as well.

TG        It’s remarkable what they did

WI       Yeh, so the nuns, I think they were very important.  So it was all a shame when the convent, when it came to an end and it all dispersed.   It was a bit of a pity really.   But I think they were invited by I don’t know the history of it really but they were invited to found a convent of Mercy to help Wigton by the lady who used to live in Wigton Hall, she was the one that erm persuaded them to come and she would donate some money to build this Convent of Mercy.   So quite a story really and they were very good in the town helping people and mixing en faith? school boys clubs, carnivals so they were another good influence but they weren’t frightened to ask, weren’t frighten to ask for help, some of the people were not having it.   The Carnival came up and they were working all night beforehand to get the floats……………?????    to get ready for the day.   So its very good really.   The only bother now is when you look er is the banks are disappearing.   Ye see aren’t really interested, there’re just big business and they and how their business goes, they’re not really bothered about Wigton.

TG        When you were talking about Baldwin Wilson earlier how things have changed.

WI       Yeh, well Baldwin, he was a bank manager, a Wigton bank manager, ye could go and speak to him but now, well I don’t know who you would speak to really, it would be someone impersonal, you’d just give em the phone and just speak to somebody.

TG        So businesses, so the way you run your business has changed.

WI       Oh yeh, completely yeh.  He was sort of part of it really, giving a bit of advice but now I mean you does sort of do it.  It was genuine, the thing about him was it was genuine advice where as now a days the banks you don’t know who is advising you ??it’s a bit distant really, which is a shame.   The factory, I mean touched every family in the town, by somebody who is associated with the factory, there was a job there or doing something for the factory.   So its been a wonderful place for Wigton.

TG        The future of the factory looks good.

WI       Hum, thats right at the moment, the £10 note coming out and this is rather an adventure capatalist this is a firm that’s actually involved now again, now I mean the last people who were in were adventure capatalist they just sort of got the money and moved on but this is actually a firm that is involved in making plastics and materials so thats good.

TG        So what do you think Wigtons future is then?

WI       Well I…. I mean to me it looks good, but in saying that you don’t know with big business, it’s big business really, I  mean things was good when Mr. Lowther was running it because you know he was all for Wigton but, now its big business so, that were, they have a different approach  haven’t they really.  I mean seems fine at this moment in time, seems great, thats good and they are, they’ve spent a lot of money on the place and …… ??? I think that’s quite an asset for them really.   This new firm that’s taken them over, I mean I like, it’s quite an asset, this new products en so hopefully, touch wood, it’s going to continue for another fifty years   …… laughing.   A Japanese firm in ????

so there’re interested in that type of thing not just the money side of it, not just the profit margin.

TG        So vital  isn’t it

WI       So it does look good really, but in saying that ye can’t, you don’t know with big business whats going to happen, do you and they won’t know themselves.   See that Toys R Us in America its in trouble its in the paper yo’ see.  ????? and that‘s another big business.  No

TG        Yeh.  OK

WI       Oh, I just say that, em, me wife is probably one of the most important parts of all this, cause when I’m working away, she’s doing all the other jobs, en and keep me right and looking after me, helping me and being my pal ye know, so she’s another important part really.   There’re all vital as I say….laughing.

TG        A team

WI       A team, yeh, yeh.  

END

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