From Bolton Archives 'Mass Obsevation' collection.
Not a vehicle in sight, and very small children on the pavement with no grown-ups corralling them. Health and Safety...risk assessment....?
Here's the same scene now.
We never had a family car, but relatives in our huge family did. Three instances included Uncles Jack, Jim and Ken.
Jack worked for the GPO in the Telephone Exchange on Chapel Street in Salford. He lived with his parents and drove a car. Not paying rent or mortgage, he seems to have no overheads to worry about.
Jim embodied Sixties consumerism. He and his large family lived in a spacious modern council house in Baguley (Wythenshawe). He worked as a compositor at the Daily Express in central Manchester, and he had a series of cars, fitted carpets and a large colour TV. Compositors were the kings of the working class in the 1960s, as their skills were central ro any newspaper actually getting printed.
Ken worked at British Oxygen on the East Lancashire Road. He and his large family lived on a run-down smallholding in Clifton, and he drove a series of wildly decrepit vehicles, including at one point a minibus. The steering of the minibus wandered a couple of feet to either side. Ken had constant run-ins with authority and apparently didn't have a driving licence. Maybe he was from a time when they weren't needed, but I don't really know.
I wish I'd paid more attention to the marques and ages of my uncles' cars - I feel very silly to be writing about them without knowing those central facts.
But what does stand out for me is that for these people, at that time, driving to work in central Manchester wasn't difficult or expensive. It was, quite definitely, a status symbol and a luxury, quicker than the bus and with no parking problems to face.
In contrast, it took me 45 minutes to travel the last three miles into central Manchester at 9.15 am yesterday, and I felt very lucky to get the last space in a car park in Ancoats, paying £4 for a few hours.
Getting the weekly shopping in, at the best price and in the most convenient way, is something we just take for granted today. But I expect most readers will recall the time when shopping meant lugging heavy bags back home, either on foot or by bus, and was something you had to do every couple of days.
Car ownership on an expanding scale changed that....but how, and when?
A bit of digging around has been productive in gaining answers. One key turing point happened in 1964 at West Bridgeford, outside Nottingham. An American chain called GEM opened a vast shed-like 'discount store'. The opening day scenes are in the British Pathe clip on this link: www.britishpathe.com/video/high-st-under-cover/query/gem
What the clip doesn't show is local traffic grinding to a halt, as 5000 cars tried to get into a 1000-space car park. An estimated 30,000 people went through the store on its opening day.
But GEM failed....to be bought up by the newly-emerging ASDA. So here's a question: when did your family start doing the 'big shop' by car, and where did they go to do it?
What factors governed the choice.....was it perhaps the miracle of free parking on site? Or was it the price factor?
More from Elizabeth Ann Shaw:
" I think the pic of the sidecar is like the one that the man next door-but-one had. He used to take his 2 kids, me and sometimes his wife on the back of the bike to his mum's at Tyn Y Morfa in N.Wales. It was the only time we ever saw a beach - got us out of the grim Victorian terraced houses we lived in. "
From Marion Holderness, Bolton U3A:
"My parents had a sidecar for me, attached to their Tandem bike. About 1953, I was 5. I remember going up Burnley Road, in Clayton (Accrington), when the chain snapped on the bike. I think it was the weight of the sidecar I think"
This is from Bolton U3a member Mike France. Mike was born in Bolton but grew up in London, before returning in later life.
"My Dad's a30 reg no. 8410H (Middlesex) followed by two Standard eights.
UTE 570 (lancs) then UUU 502, bought new at Pride and Clark in sarf lunnon. (All 1950s)"
"My first car OOT 775. Renault 750 bought by my Dad at Dingwall auctions Croydon Lasted a week.....He was always getting conned.
Followed by a 1946 Morris series e. £3.10s. My friends helped me to take it apart then f*@# off and left me to it."
"Then a series of Austin seven tourers bought from students. Most I paid was a fiver. Favourite was red with black wings. Called Clytemnestra EYR 454. I passed my test 26/01/1965. So chuffed!!!! Happy days"
"Hate it or loathe it, you can't ignore it."
I will send the first person to identify the quote source directly to the top o' the class!
Seriously though, FB provokes reaction - many use it, lots don't. We have made a closed group for you to use. Log into Facebook and search for Motoring Memories
This means three things:
Hi there...if you've arrived at this page, it's because one of us has given you the link. Welcome!
We're gathering memories of motoring for a project by MMU - more about that here
In the meantime feel free to add your thoughts, be they of playing out in your street or those special parking lamps your dad put on at night....
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