ROCK SOLID 01

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Stanley
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ROCK SOLID 01

Post by Stanley » 11 Oct 2016, 04:44

ROCK SOLID. PART ONE

When I moved into the house on East Hill Street where I am in now, I needed some work doing and eventually found a good plasterer, Andrew Platt. This pleased me because I knew him as a baby. This was reinforced one day when two of my daughters came round to see how the work was going on and Susan told Andrew that she used to change his nappies for him. This was bad enough but Janet then told him that when he first learned to speak she used to try to teach him swear words to get him into trouble! So, there’s a close connection with my subject this week and it might just poke through here and there.

Andrew’s grandfather Jack Platt and myself were wagon drivers at the same time and got to know each other quite well because of that. Drivers always tended to stick together and I’ve had many happy hours with Jack telling tall stories and having a good laugh about what we had seen on the road.

Twenty five years ago I had the good sense to sit down with Jack and get him to tell me his story and this will be the theme for the next few weeks, not because he was a mate, but because his life tells us a lot about Barlick. If you get the impression that I liked him you will be right. The title says it all, if ever there was a man who was rock solid it was Jack Platt and as you’ll see later, there are other rock connections.

On the 29th 0f May 1905 Mrs Platt had a baby boy, the last of three children, and called him Jack. He was born at Cheesden Pasture Farm, Norden, Rochdale. Jack’s father farmed there but times were hard and the family was under stress and all Jack could tell me about this period was that for a while he was sent to live with an aunt and uncle at Royton.

By 1911, Mrs Platt and her three children, Walter, Annie and Jack were together again and living at the cottage attached to White House Farm just below Whitemoor Reservoir. She had a job weaving in Barrowford and used to walk there every morning rain or shine for starting time at half past six in the morning. Jack was going to school at Foulridge and walked there and back across the fields every day. Annie, his older sister, used to get them up and make up a bit of lunch for them.

The family had an arrangement with Fred Cutler who farmed White House at the time, in return for help with the farm work they were let off the rent for the cottage which was half a crown a week. (twelve and a half new pence) Both his stepfather and his mother were working but there were weeks when they had bad warps or were stopped. On a good week his mother could earn twenty three shillings (one pound fifteen) but this was never certain.

After a couple of years Mrs Platt found work at ‘Pummers’ (Windles at Crow Nest) in Barlick and she took that because it was a bit nearer. She was still walking to and from work and one night as she reached the top of Salterforth Lane she was attacked and had her purse stolen with her weeks wage in it. They never found who did it and when you think about it, this was a terrible thing to happen to a poor woman. Jack remembered that it was a hard week.

I asked Jack about the cottage at White House and he said it was a two up and two down. There was running water but only a stone sink and the fire to cook on. They had a bucket lavatory outside and of course no bath. He once told me they didn’t even have a tin bath, his mother used to stand him in a bowl and give him a stand up bath in front of the fire. The floors were stone and they sanded them once a week, there were no rugs. They had very few clothes apart from what they stood up in. When his mother washed them at the end of the week they wore old clothes until the regular ones were dry.

Jack said that Fred Cutler was very good to them and he enjoyed his time at White House. He used to trail round the farm with Fred getting under the feet but as he grew up became more and more useful. For years afterwards he went back each summer to help Fred with the haymaking. He could remember the First World War starting while he was there but shortly after that the cottage was condemned by the local authority and at the age of ten, Jack was on the move again.

It all sounds a bit grim doesn’t it? I should think that anyone younger than fifty years old reading this will have problems imagining just what it was like. Think about everything that makes your life comfortable from a warm house and running hot water to food, clothes and entertainment and discard them. Add in no guaranteed wage, no social security, no National Health and no transport. This was life on the margin and the worst thing about it is that these were people who were working full time.

It gets worse in ways that we have great difficulty appreciating these days. Women had the roughest time of it. Nobody likes to talk about these things but think of what we would regard as the most basic requirements for hygiene and recognise that Mrs Platt had no access to any of these things. She was under-nourished because she went short to feed the children, she was almost certainly anaemic and her system was under constant attack from infection and fatigue. This is what your grandparents had to survive, the wonder of it is that they did and we are here.

So, it’s 1915 and the Platt family is looking for the next option. More next week.


SCG/27 February 2003
1031 words






One pic attached. Caption reads:

Jack Platt in 1977.
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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Stanley
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Re: ROCK SOLID 01

Post by Stanley » 01 Nov 2017, 05:00

Bumped. The first of a series of articles on my mate Jack Platt. Worth a read I think, lots of Barlick in them!
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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