It seems all focused on Tottington and broadly the Bury/Bolton area. This of course will continue to grow. However my father can trace his history back to Harmston, thence to India, Cornwall and then via London to Tottington. Pix and info to follow. He had a large family too! Then of course is my wife's family, father from what we thought was originally Sussex, but we now know Hampshire! Last but not least my mother-in-Law, part German and part Polish.
Probably time for some sort of Genealogy table!

My Tottington Years

Not just Tottington but the time that is attached to the front of my life and also the years to date - an autobiography if you like. I reserve the right to change it as I wish, add photos at a later date... I will however change the date at the top to show the last revision.

The front door,
The room on the left was the dining room
The tree was there when I was a child,
The window above the large window
was my parents bedroom.
The conservatory was up to the right.
This was the last house on Whitelegge street
It carried on and became St James Avenue.

I only ever went to Greenmount Primary School, not the "new" one - but the one that is now the community centre. I do recall very little - next to nothing of the first few years. Mrs Meadly was the reception and infant teacher she had a complete roomful of nippers. I recall two or three incidents, her setting the Christmas tree alight. They had real candles in those days, losing her glasses and a particularly sad incident when she told us a fellow pupil had died. A girl. - she wore those terrible national health glasses. Still we got on with life. I didn't care much for school ever, and only ever waited for holidays and weekends. I recall the train chuffing up past the school yard in the morning, warm school milk (the joy of getting the orange juice), playing "cowies and injuns", and the rare chance to have lessons outside. We were NOT allowed to play with the big kids in the BIG yard. (Not that I ever wanted to, they were like... BIG.).  - but blessed with a decent memory.
As for being tortured at school most days were torture - one was my horrendous inability to do maths -pictures of oranges and apples in patterns - learning tables by rote. However I was a pretty good reader and a pretty good artist. I didn't feel connected to the other kids in the early years of primary school - never saw them at night or at weekends.

We lived in Whitelegge Street at the time and my mother took me to Greenmount on the bus. Took me to school and she walked back to my grandmother's and spent the day there. I was picked up from school and walked back to Brookhouse by my Grandmother or Mother and then bused back to Woolfold.

I recall some really peculiar things from the Whitelegge street years though. My father getting his way and having a house with a conservatory - it leaked copiously. He was happy and grew his lilies in there. I can recall listening to the Saturday morning program with "Uncle Mac" listening to such songs as a four legged friend", " home on the range. I can remember Dr Bunfuzz - he was a character in a set of playing cards. One day he wasn't there everything had gone. The insular kid I was just accepted it - years later I discovered he had myxamatosis and everything had to be burned.

Can't quite remember the time when the family uprooted and we moved to Brookhouse. But I do recall that we had not long had the dog. There is a page dedicated to her somewhere in this blog.   There were three bedrooms upstairs, My parents room overlooked the back garden. It had a double bed. They never slept together after the move to Brookhouse. I never stayed in that room except once when I had some dreadful childhood illness, the only time the fire was lit. My room was at the back of the house. It was cold and damp. There were damp patches on the ceiling matched by damp patches on the floor. Pans on the floor too at times. There was a carpet square in the middle. I had a dangerous time taking an electric lamp apart in that room with it still plugged in, on reflection amazed that I did not kill myself. My room was next to the bathroom.  Surprisingly we had a separate toilet with a glass door - it was just possible to see through if you held your face right up to the glass.

And there was a guest room. It was always ready for surprise visitors. We were supposed to get some foreign students. I don't think they ever came. However Sherry (Scheherazade, a grey fearless tiny persian who came with us from London)  the cat used to hide her kittens under the blankets - so it did have a purpose after all. I recall John and Lucy staying in that room once. I was shipped up to Brookhouse.

Downstairs there were two living rooms - one was the proper dining room and one was THE living room. My father called it the drawing room. This was a nice room. There was a door that led off into the conservatory and these big windows over the back garden. This was the room I played in, Christmases were done in this room and people were entertained here too. My Grandmother and Grandfather were regular visitors here. I remember Aunt Irene and the "Welshmen" too. There was another room between the hallway and the kitchen, certainly we ate in there. There were times when I was left in there. Not a utility room. Washing was dried, there was a fire. I remember being SO cold in that house and that room in particular. The kitchen was pretty primitive. I suppose it was probably on a par with the rest of the houses in the neighbourhood.

However going back to the WOW days, one was coming back from school to find a small wrapped up in a blanket in the dining room. The best dog in the whole World ( and still is!), my constant companion for the next 15 or so years - universally loved, She came everywhere with us. I am sure that Tom had a part to play in her appearance. Tom had his own dog "Cliquot" a chocolate poodle that could do tricks. He knew a small lonely boy needed a dog. It was only recently I realised how much of an influence he had in our lives. Of course he had an exceedingly good salary coming in - but he also had stature and a certain panache that made sure that things were done and done right. I can remember the conservatory quite well, the warmth of Saturday mornings, the smells, the lilies that my dad grew... I recall this glamorous creature Eileen Roberts came to paint them. I have the picture still! I recall my father being as close to infatuated as I have ever seen him and my mother being all starchy and difficult - To this day there was certainly something going on. Eileen Roberts disappeared never to be seen again.

Christmases were pretty special, family came round. My mother could cook extremely well when she put her mind to it. The Welsh contingent came with Tom - I loved Emlyn - what a guy - true blue Bury fan together with Hubert he was the Bury FC physio at the time. And I got a train set. It just grew and grew. I highlight was saving my money and getting a transformer to run it from.

Back to the conservatory, the budgie, a blue budgerigar - never one for birds I suppose. Called Rhyllie after Rhyl where Tom worked. My mother was fond of "her". Her seed went everywhere and some grew in my dad's pots. Odd grass had a little red spot in it - I enjoyed eating this. Rhyllie was joined by a green budgerigar called Abergele. I feel a sickly bird. When the 2 birds perished we never had another bird except a cantankerous  African Grey Parrot called Fred which belonged to a chap who was always being put in jail. We looked after it while he was inside. My mother was secretary of the RSPCA Tottington Branch at the time.  I don't recall my dad being at home during the week he was at Huddersfield taking his teaching certificate. I don't recall being lonely. Perhaps it was only a year. Perhaps that why we got the dog.

However the most unusual occurrence was the visit by a very high ranking Gurkha officer, he was accompanied by other officers. There was a very odd conversation, I was completely in awe at these men, clearly men of great stature and of course the war was only 7 or 8 years in the past. I seems they had come to confer some medal or decoration on him, my father was seconded to the Gurkha regiment in Burma, shot and captured by the Japanese and incarcerated for the remainder of the Second World War. It seemed that when the POW camp was over run by the allies at the end he was in a position as a linguist to prevent unnecessary further bloodshed. I know he declined. He never mentioned it again. - and I knew it was completely out of order to discuss it again. He survived, made it through. Escaped Dunkirk, went to Burma for an adventure, Contacted dysentery and Dengue, being shot and incarcerated. Lucky Man. Whilst he was at war many of his close family died. Like many war survivors he felt more of an outcast than a hero. Whilst he was at war many of his close family died. Like many war survivors he felt more of an outcast than a hero. Couldn't stand any of that Army old boy stuff, Never watched that Remembrance day either, War films turned his stomach. A deep secretive man at times. Apparently he loved me deeply, I wish he told me. A great loss to me - He had a great deal of affection for my wife, she was there when he died. In lots of ways I am still trying to live up to what he expected of me. Strange that we both ended up doing the same job.

I suppose he hadn't got a clue about what he wanted to do - He had completed the first year of a horticultural degree at Reading University, he didn't go back. Demobbed alone in London he met a pretty, moderately well off North Country student at the Royal College of Music who shared some of his interests in classical music, dancing and essentially away from her roots too. They hit it off. A short courtship happened.

I am pretty convinced that my father was the father of the child that was born. She was born Patricia Martyn-Clark on the 30th of October 1947, at Queen Charlotte's Hospital in Hammersmith. I have the birth certificate. My father and mothers address was the same as the Wedding Certificate. She died in April 2010 at the age of 62. I never met her. I started to trace her through an adoption agency while she was still alive. The agency found her, but by then she had died. I wanted a sister so much. Not to be. The family rejected my advances. I will make a second attempt later. I am indebted to my daughter for making this happen. I suspect a pregnant woman went into hospital by one door and a baby came out the other.

My parents married on the 9th of August 1947, My mother would have been 6/7 months pregnant at the time.  I have never seen any wedding photos, They married in London. I am absolutely certain that my mother's parents and close family never knew, They would have been furious and saddened all at the same time. My Grandmother would have adored a little grandaughter. No one knew. I/They were  lied to for 50 years. More of the lies later.

Tom and Jane (My Grandmother worked as a piano teacher for 30 years) were so disappointed that she had dropped out of the RSM - there was a cock and bull story about changing courses to composition - But they never knew the real reason - I suspect that my father collected some of the blame for leading her astray - I suppose part of that is true. I wish he had been stronger too.

That is not my only tie with London of course. I was born there in June 1950, Lived in Ruislip for at least 3 years. I have no idea how they coped financially my father was working as a salesman for Lingua-phone at the time and my mother was doing little... except playing tennis. I know that Tom and Jane helped, There was talk of food parcels being sent. My mother could wrap her father around her little finger. Again, I never knew why they hung on living in London for so long until my Mother's death. There was another child born in 1953. Again my mother kept this extremely quiet. This child was "given" to a close family member and brought up as her own. The birth certificate is completely fraudulent. I cannot say more as the family is still alive and may well be horrified if they knew. Not only lies this time but considerable risk - falsifying a birth certificate meant a considerable jail term.

I suppose he hadn't got a clue about what he wanted to do - He had completed the first year of a horticultural degree at Reading University, he didn't go back. Demobbed alone in London he met a pretty, moderately well off North Country student at the Royal College of Music who shared some of his interests in classical music, dancing and essentially away from her roots too. They hit it off. A short courtship happened.

Whatever passed between my Father, mother, Tom and Irene is not known to me, but harking back to the changes at Brookhouse with the death of Tom and Irene's Dad, Grandad Frank will have something to do with it. I do not understand why there was a break at Whitelegge Street first, unless it was just convenience and there were too many people living at Brookhouse.

I do believe that Tom manipulated the situation from the background.

Another strange occurrence at Whitelgge Street was the growing activity whithin the family, my mother and family had got involved in local politics. Yes we did the canvassing stuff, I remeber my mother on the door knocking, stuffing envelopes, working the doors at the polling stations. I suppose I got carried along with the excitement and the buzz that was there. Pat stood as a local councillor - perhaps it was a blessing she was not elected - gloom descended on the house for a while. We met the local MP, John Bidgood. ( a good bid!). My mother and father became involved in the local Horticultural societies. I remember the "family" wiping the board at the local Woolfold Show one year. I was immensely proud, but I don't think it went down too well with some people, no-one else got a look in. The family seemed to be going up in the world, there seemed to more going out at night. I stayed at Brookhouse with my Gran... great days. We played in the stream walked the hills and spent time in Tottington village - it was a village. I enjoyed the Bury Show, Spent the night under canvas with Boy Scouts and Goats - Fantastic.

However something happened -  not sure what. But I do know at this time my mother must have had her affair. This I know - I have my suspicions who it was. My close family friend, Barbara will not spill the beans, but with hindsight I can see the way things were going - Links with "Toffs", now that really wasn't my father's style. I always suspected it was my father - but I was wrong - sorry dad! I am pretty sure that this was the time of the ultimatum. I suppose Pat and Andrew kowtowed to her Father's will. We moved to Brookhouse. Frank had died. Irene and her Father was left in the Greenmount end, Jane was left in the Tottington End. We were sandwiched in the middle. Tom was still working in Rhyl. He started coming across more and more. He was "unofficially" separated from his wife Jane - my grandmother - but tales surfaced that he was flitting across to the other side of the house in the middle of the night!  They went abroad together with Irene and her best friend, Julia. They had a really good time - lots of photographs. Pretty much Irene and Tom must have retired about the same time.

The garden was given over to my dad - although owned by Aunt Irene, he must have relished the prospect - he spent every daylight hour in there. He loved his flowers and really enjoyed growing plants that were unusual - There were blue poppies and gentians from the Himalayas. They were very happy in the stony ground by the rhododendrons. Jane still kept her patch on the top garden where she flung packets of seeds around. Candytuft and forget-me-nots grew everywhere. They were inter-spaced with perennials. There was a rose garden too - a great deal of effort was spent mulching the roses from the lawn clippings, There was a cherry tree - Maranello no less - everybody complained the cherries were too tart and the birds always ate the fruit. Jane always promised to make tarts with it - never happened. There was a pond too, an inadequate concrete halfmoon shape that did actually have fish in it, how they survived is a mystery. The bottom half of the garden was given over to a garage a short drive and place for fruit to grow. The whole garden was surrounded by a privet hedge. This took my dad a whole weekend to clip, included stops for all and sundry and copious amounts of tea. The garden was a third of an acre. However those 6 or 7 years at Brookhouse were moderately idyllic.

There were deaths and changes. As I mentioned Tom's dad Frank had died, Jimmy Cosgrove had died - that is mentioned earlier in the main blog. My Grandmother and Wyn the dog had died - ranks with being pretty much the saddest time of all. I wasn't at home, I had moved to Blackpool as a student. I had been going home every weekend, and spent all summer and Christmases  in Tottington. However Tom left Rhyl and moved in with Irene at 135, the right hand portion of Brookhouse. My parents knocked through into Jane's and 131 and 135 became one house again.There was a status-quo for a while.

My father was working as a remedial teacher in Bury, he wasn't well. I recall a time he was confined to bed, he looked shocking. By this time I was in a firm relationship with Diana.My parents had organised my 21st at Brookhouse. It was fullof Blackpool people and Bury people. A good night as I recall. Very shortly we got married in Blackpool. My parents, although  invited did not show - source of acrimony for a while.

More to follow:

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