Oral History

The Hinckely Mob, People from far and wide remember the Hinckley area around the 1950s-1960s

I am a collector of what people remember, over the last few week’s, people who have moved away from Hinckley, remember places and people.

Starting with Sunday in Hinckley.

The text below is a selection from an email group who call themselves the Hinckley Mob.

It’s funny what people remember.

“It reminded me how Hinckley used to be on a Sunday afternoon when I was very small, which was along time ago. All the children at that time used to go to Sunday school and their mums and dads.

Were resting after very hard week at work in the factories and to help them relax they were reading all about the scandals in the News of the World newspaper.”

Ah, that brings back memories! “The News of the Screws” we used to call it; just about every story in it was sensational and/or sleazy.

“The teenagers of that time were all down the “recs,” and not daring to come into the centre of Hinckley until it was teatime and then time for the cinema in case they were seen and some body told their parents that they were up to no good.”

“Everybody at that time used to walk about on Sundays in their best clothes, it was a tradition to have a new outfit at the Sunday school anniversary known as the sermons, all new hats, dresses and suits were paraded outside the Churches and Chapels before they went in for the service.”

‘We still dress up and go to church on a Sunday morning and rest Sunday afternoon! Only

Difference is we now drive to church in a car, whereas years ago not many people had cars. We do walk in the summer and its really enjoyable, but most of the time we are running late cos I like my lie-ins on a Sunday morning!”

‘I think I tried nearly all the Sunday schools out, around the town. St Mary’s cos I went to the school there and the vicar named “Platt” if I remember right, gave us a “you haven’t been lately look “.

I did the one attached to St Albert’s and also one on the Coventry Road as I got in the proud position of singing in the choir, loved that, as we wore lovely robes. I remember the Salvation Army band used to stand in Queens Road on a Sunday morning but apart from that it was such a quiet day.”

I had a period of going to the Congregational Church to their Sunday School for a few years. Remember being taken to a shop in Castle street to buy a special dress for the sermons. Got a pretty Judy dress. My mother wanted to buy me another panama hat and I strongly objected because I wanted something more decorative for a change. Had my eye on a straw hat with clusters of shining cherries attached to the brim. Got it! I was sick of having the plain and unadorned old type of panama ! I was supposed to get some sensible school shoes and actually twisted Dad's arm enough to come home with ankle strap, black patent leather shoes. Didn't my mother give my father a telling off for allowing *that girl* to talk him out of sensible shoes!

“Yes I remember Sundays in Hinckley very well. Your comments brought a big smile to my face. I remember getting my new outfit for “the sermons”. When I got to be one of “the big girls”

I wanted an outfit for the morning session and then something special for the afternoon main event,

My poor Mum nearly had kittens and I had to be happy with what I got!”

“I hate to admit this but I, too, was in a church choir for several years - Holy Trinity Church. I made my way up to head chorister, but I think that was only because my Dad was head choir man.

Then! Do I hear cries of “nepotism”? That was in the days when the Rev. Collis was vicar, and two of his sons, Michael and Tom, were also in the choir (anyone know what happened to them?). The best part about it was singing for a wedding — sometimes we’d do 2 or even 3 weddings on a Saturday, and get the grand sum of 2s 6d (for the uninitiated, that’s two shillings and sixpence, or 12½ pence) per wedding! We were so badly behaved that, during the sermon, we had to march down to the front rows of pews in the church so that the congregation couldn’t see what we were doing! We were told off for whispering to each other so we taught ourselves sign language! Ah, those were the days!”

“I love to hear your rambles and anyone else’s rambles. Me and my friend used to play hooky from Sunday school sometimes in Hollycroft park, we did used to be praying though, praying that we wouldn’t run into anyone who knew us or our parents.”

‘There would be not much chance of kids doing that these days though as they are taken every where by car and picked up again, which I suppose is for a safety factor as much as anything else, but they miss out on a lot not being able to make there own way I wonder if they manage to play hooky at all.

And now the Treats

“Another occasion that we had to wear our best clothes was at the treats. It always seemed to be a very hot day when we used to march round the streets and stopping at odd times to sing a hymn. If I remember correctly the Catholics were not allowed to march with the other Churches, so they had a little parade on their own.

I can remember the Catholics not being included on the walk round, well since I moved to the North-East and met my husband Tom, I decided I would join him in his religion and become a catholic to, I wonder if doing this had some deep reminders that you didn’t have to do the walk round if you were a Catholic and a little voice in the back of my head was saying “no more treats for you young lady”. But how wrong that little voice was, as there have been plenty of processions for one thing or another since then!!

Then there was the Treats, I hated that. I can remember we all went to a field at the bottom of Hollycroft, and the Burbage Silver band were always on playing and there was loads of cow pats and I got it all over my new white kid sandals. Then you had to play scrambles for sweets and I was never quick enough to get any because I suffered terrible from hay fever and my eyes and nose were streaming and I couldn’t see any of the rotten sweets, so as you can see I didn’t enjoy the treats at all.

Some people turn their minds to eating

“In summer we sat in the garden or took the deckchairs into the park and it was “pop round to Dunkleys” to get ice cream. I always picked a choc ice cos they looked so good and I love the choccy, but I could never eat it as I wasn’t quick enough and it always leaked out of the wrapper and all over me. (giggle) Had a fear of them ever since as its still the same. Get in a mess with cones as well.”

Our neighbour used to call an ice cream an Oakey! Anyone else ever heard of that? How I miss hearing all the Hinckley speak.. .You just don’t get it in Lowestoft me duck and if you go in a bread shop and ask for a cob, well you get this sort of funny look! Would love to know where some of the sayings come from.

“I thought everyone in Hinckley called ice-cream “Oakey”, My Gran who lived in Merevale Close always called it “Oakey pokey” and my Mum still does and has to translate for these Geordie people. You should hear some of their names for things, its another language”

“I noticed the word oakey was used for an ice-cream. When I was very small my elder brother taught me a rhyme and dared me to go and tell it to our Grandma, which I duly did. She told our Mum, and we both got a smack, my brother for teaching me and myself for saying it, as my Mum I put it, a very rude rhyme. I apologise in advance but this is that very rude rhyme from back in the early Forties that I got a smack for “Oakey Poaky penny a lump The more you eat The more you trump.” I do not know what they would think of today’s language.” “Ah, if the worst thing kids said today was “Trump” I’d be more than happy!”

I remember my Gran telling me that rhyme about oakey pokey, I had such a laugh about it, I thought it was really rude to. I wouldn’t dare tell my other Gran about it as she was “a lady” and ladies didn’t say things like that!!

From Oakey Poaky to Cake Shops

" Use to queue up at Winbushes for cakes every Saturday morning and if you was lucky you would get half a crowns worth, about dozen cakes, loved the jam tarts with the blob of cream on. "

Yoxalls was where my mum would take me for a treat on an afternoons shopping”

“Speaking of cakes and all things delicious, would someone tell me the name of a bakers, it was on, I think the name of the road is Rugby Road, but I’m not sure, my memory is getting really terrible these days! It’s past the bus station and that fella who did all the bookings for shows office and house was there, Arthur Kimbrell that’s what his name was, then there was a few more houses and the row of shops started, they were set back a bit. I know there was this bakers I made friends with one of the daughters, and used to go through to the back of the shop with her and I can still smell the smell of the cakes. I know Slaneys was a bit further along and there was a laundrette but I can’t remember the other shops, I think there was a newsagents. It then led round to the co-op on the corner of Clarendon Road. I used to go down there quite often, as I was friendly with a family that lived there, Mr and Mrs Ball. Mrs. Ball made loose covers and Curtains and pelmets and she did beautiful work, I loved to see her create these lovely things from a roll of fabric, I used to make my own clothes and learned a lot from Mrs. Ball about which way the cloth should go and such like.

“I think the shop you are thinking of in Rugby Rd is Connors Bakery.”

“The bakers you are thinking of was Biddles, use to go up the side entry on the way to school and buy cakes, hot from the oven.

Wonder why memories of cake shops are so easily recalled? I still dribble when I think about the cakes from Simpkin and James. Cream horns and vanilla slices from Yoxalls too. Can’t recall where they sold the best Eccles cakes. Fresh fried cod and chips wouldn’t go amiss tonight either.

Yum yum, those cakes were great, and you have just brought back another memory, Stanhopes, when I was at Albert Road Junior school we used to go on a weekly visit to the baths in Station Road, and when we came out we walked past Stanhopes and I always bought a hot meat and tater pie, and the gravy just oozed out loverly.

If I remember rightly Biddies owned it first then Conner’s bought it out and still own it!!

Still on about eating

Wonder why things in our youth always appear now to have tasted better then? Those delicious Jersey new potatoes - they’d peel with just a rub of a finger. Cook them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, good dobs of butter. Red Leicester cheese and HP sauce.

Now Castle Street and the Coarsey

“Can you remember the traffic lights at the bottom of Castle Street? I certainly do remember the traffic lights. Every Friday evening I used to cycle up to visit my Aunt Edie and Uncle Edgar in Orchard Street (just off Queen’s Road) and my uncle would always walk back with me to the bottom of Castle Street. I would then sit at the traffic lights waiting for them to change, not knowing that you had to step on the rubber strip in the road in order to make them change! So my uncle would always do that while I wasn’t looking and then I would cycle off!”

“How many people these days, on a bike, in a car or whatever, would sit and wait for lights to change like that? None that’s how many! Everyone’s in so much of a rush now to get from A to B, usually without thinking about anyone else in between.”

Anyone remember the coarsey”

“Coarsey? Was that the sidewalk (sorry, I mean footpath!)? Maybe short for “causeway”?”

I remember me mam telling me to “gerron the coarsey”

Oh yes, I do remember the coarsey. Along with being told to wash my “Donnys” and stand still while I brush your hair, it’s “Cotty”. Where do they all come from, I would be so interested to know.”

“Donnys” I think that is just baby talk there is a lot of words used to talk to babies or young children.

“OOOOOH the dreaded coarsey! I had forgotten all about that, heck it’s some years since I heard these words. I was always running down “the Jitty” by our house to get to school. One day, I stood crying in the afore mentioned “Jitty” on my way to the infant school, Brian being my big cousin and of course looking out for me wanted to know what was the matter. I had to tell him through my cries that I had forgot to put “my breeches” on or Knickers as we all call them now. I don’t know whether they still say “Breeches” in Hinckley but it sure does sound funny”

“How on earth did “jitty” come about, anyone know?”

What on earth is Cotty

“I had certainly forgotten ‘cotty’!! That brought back memories of my gran trying to brush the ‘cots’ out of my hair...ouch she never showed any mercy!”

What about someone being called a “mardie” from time to time?

“I was very often called “a mardie bum” when I had the sulks, that was another one that I don’t hear up here.”

Ladies hairdresser's

I am trying to think of the name of the hairdressers that was it just up from Russells where I worked? I used to go there, it was quite a long shop’ remember, you went down to the bottom to get glammed up, I know it was one of the leading ones of the day, You brought back memories of going for a “comb up “(giggle) The things we did! I also went to “La Croix” in the Borough and to one that was at the bottom of Castle Street, on the right hand side going up and you went upstairs, they were a good hairdressers, as you can see from this, I liked to get my hair done, and tried various styles and colours. I now have the colour to go with my brain-yes— you’ve guessed it-BLONDE! So if I make some spelling mistakes it’s on account of being a bit of a geordie and blonde into the bargain

I did some alterations on a Hairdressers when I was a bricklayer, just above Russells and some where near Christies the Dentist used to be. I think the name was French or Frenchies. Does this name ring a bell with you or anyone.

But, you know what, I really don’t remember the name of the hairdressers I wonder if I ever knew. I just know that once a week I went for the shampoo and set, and four times a week

I went for the comb-up, and every two weeks to get the roots done! Posh eh?

Giggle. Mind you I also had green hair and purple hair and pink hair, they put candles in the hairdo and paraded me up and down the catwalk at a fashion / hair show in Nuneaton. So there!

That was in the days when I was worried about what I looked like and worked in an office. Now I don’t have the time to worry but my kids still think my hair is great I wonder what the name of the hairdressers was? But you are probably correct, what do I know?

Did not think it would be long before the T.V. came round

I can remember getting our TV and having it repaired when I was a girl, the man who used to come to our house was called Mr. Garrett and I think he used to have a shop on Regent Street. He never used to say much, but the tele always worked when he had gone!!

Who remembers their Co-op Number

I think the occasion you mentioned with the package of sandwiches, Cakes and sweets was to do with the Co-operative Society. People had divvy numbers – my mother’s was 1921 - it was given when people purchased goods/groceries from Co-op. They made out a receipt with your number against the amount spent. Once yearly they paid out a percentage in the pound spent as dividend. Perhaps something like 1/6 in the pound. People might get something like two pounds given back in cash. The Co-op Society gave out tickets for the children to have an afternoon of games and a box of goodies to eat. Am I on the right track? It is fun being able to bring back memories tucked away for years.

Does anyone know if the Co-op is still there at Clarendon Road or if like many of our Co-ops ( or “the store” as they are known here) has been closed down. Speaking of Co-ops can you still remember your co-op number or your mothers number? I can still remember going through the ‘jitty” from Stanley Road to Edward Street saying” 7687” to myself all the way in case I forgot it. It was more than my life was worth to go home and say that I had forgot the number. I’ve just thought of sugar in blue bags and the butter in big blocks and the lady cut off how much you wanted, but I couldn’t concentrate on everything in case I forgot that rotten number ! ! ! !”

Being rude again

Talking about breeches, wasn’t she? Well, I replenished that part of my underwear wardrobe recently in a bargain sale.

Barry took the catalogue and asked girl assistant to pick out six items of my size - in black! Yesterday decided to give my daughter a sample pair and her father wrote an accompanying verse to include in the packet.

Pray accept this gift of mine

Of Marvellous shape and quaint design.

At here enclosed you’ll say. “Good grief.

What wondrous things, a pair of briefs!”

And when you put them on at dawn

Let no one sneer or dare to scorn,

For if they do, you answer back

This bum, my friend, looks best in black”.

Consulting a Expert

“A few years ago on Radio Leicester there appeared a language expert who offered to tell the listeners where abouts certain words came from e.g. Roman, Norse. Old English etc. I phoned in with the word “mackle” meaning to mend and make do for example I’m going down the shed to “mackle” up my bike. This expert said he had never heard of the word and it was probably used in only one locality. It was used quite a lot around Earl Shilton where I live, as everybody used to have something to mackle” up. Was this word used around Hinckley?”

I’ve heard of “mickles” and “muckles” (as in “Many a mickle a macks a muckle”) but they’re Scottish words. Never heard of a mackle, though – must be an Earl Shilton-ism!

“Mackle” I used that when I was young and I lived in Hinckley.

“I remember the “monkey run”. Meeting dates under the clock under the arcade, Banners. Danilo. the Barley Sheaf. the Duke of Rutland. the George, and the first real restaurant. the chinese one at the bottom of the horsefair. ...can’t remember the name! We didn’t have much growing up..but I do remember some fun times. Anyone remember the gypsies coming through town in their painted wagons, on the way to the common?”

Smoking at your age

Ah, as a kids we used to think that them lamp post was gift sent from heaven, if we hadn’t got a light for our cigarettes, (yes ciggies at our age) the yanks would give us for running errands, one of us would shin up the post with a bit of paper and get a light.

Now Gas Lamps

One of my earliest remembrances of Hinckley as a little one, was they still had gas lamps in the street, at least where I lived. I grew up on St. George's Avenue (next to Hollycroft Park) and at the top of the street was a roundabout that joined us to Shakespeare Drive Mill Hill and Canning Street. In the middle of the roundabout was a gas lamp, and every night a man would come round to light it (of course, it was always a man - that was before the days of sexual equality!) Twas an exciting day when they removed it and installed a new-fangled electric street lamp.

Watching people go up and down

I lived in Trinity Lane until I was ten years old and remember sitting upstairs on large trunk with my brother watching people go up and down Trinity Lane. Counting people wearing hats and number of dogs we saw as we munched apples we’d concealed to get upstairs. We felt compelled to get to sleep before 10 o’clock horses came galloping along the street - horses we imagined would have flaring nostrils, streaming manes, red eyes and sparks flying from their metal shoes.

Museum and Gypsy style Caravan

I will endeavour to dig back in my memory for anything else that might be of interest. The only really interesting thing that always springs to mind is my Mum was born in what is now the museum. I must say I don’t really know a lot about the place, and how they were living there, I must sit down and talk to her about that, I don’t know if she remembers much about why they were living there but I will try and find out. If you have any information about families that lived in those cottages I would be pleased to hear. Also she tells me about her Uncle or Grandfather who lived in a gypsy style caravan which I think she said was at the bottom of Manor Street or there abouts.

Now a man that comes from Earl Shilton

I was born (1942) and still live in Earl Shilton. I was a bricklayer who did my apprenticeship with a firm in Earl Shilton called Peggs later on I was self-employed for quite a number of years and finished up working for Downes in the town. I had to finish work around about 10 years ago after having four discs removed from my spine and several operations plus a fall from a lorry, I have finished up not being able to walk distances so most of my travelling is done in an electric wheelchair. The fall from the lorry has left me with an impaired right arm and hand which is hardly movable so I have to rely totally on my one good hand. Because typing with one hand is a bit of a problem I use software via voice which types the words for me as I speak.

A lot of my spare time in the past was spent at the Concordia Theatre which I helped to construct when it first started, and later on I appeared on the stage there notably as the Dame pantomimes.

My father’s family also came from Barwell, they were the Lords and Callingtons and we seem to be related to most of the people in Barwell, so you and I are probably cousins or as they say “Our cat run up your alley.” We have traced our family back to around the 18th century, and we think we may be back to 1640 but that has got to be confirmed. Unfortunate1y I cannot get to any of these places to look up things so other people have to help me with my family search.

My mother-in-law used to say “Our cat run up your alley” or “Their cat run up our alley” Now who said it first?

My in-laws used the word entry not alley “Our cat run up your entry” or “Their cat run up our entry”

Fancy a bit of gardening

I remember years ago, I went to help my Dad dig out an old apple tree in his back yard. As we worked the stump back and forth, worms by the dozen came out of the ground, and a real “Hinckley Robin” came down, completely unafraid of us, and began to scoff the unexpected treat. So I picked up a couple of the worms myself and put them on the palm of my hand – and the little robin jumped onto my hand and ate them all! They’re not at all afraid of humans, are they?

How did Claybrook get in to it

I've just pulled a very old book off the bookcase - A History of Claybrook -and some of the old sayings are hilarious. Such as " I can't awhile as yet as " " I reckon as I ain't one " and an old labourer calling his wife " the O'man " etc.

Easter time brings hats and eggs

Hello all, just a few thoughts about Easter when I was a very small boy. It was a tradition at the school which I attended in Earl Shilton to take to school "hard-boiled eggs" which you painted in very bright colours, to be rolled down a hill known that locally as the hi- chal. (And I have no idea whether I have spelt that correct or not) most people at that time used to keep their own hens, so everyone had a good supply of eggs that could be boiled up very hard to take to school. We used to use the poster paint that was supplied by the school to paint our eggs, it came in a powder which we used to have to mix with water, and it made very vibrant colours. The day we broke up for Easter, all the school used to march down to the hi-chal to roll our eggs down the slope and the one that went the furthest got a prize. I can never remember winning a prize, all the children thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon out from lessons. After we had rolled our eggs, we were allowed to eat them. It always seemed that the cows had just left the field before we got there and had left their contributions to the afternoons festivities, and I could guarantee that my egg always found their leavings, but the eggs still tasted good. Then we were marched back to the school and we were all given a buttered hot cross bun to round off an extremely enjoyable afternoon.

It’s really lovely hearing words and expressions I haven’t heard in many years.

Here is a lot of sayings or slang which is said by one person and it is copied, you will notice that some of the slang used in “Chelps Wi’ Old stockiners” is still used today and that was more than 100 years ago.

My thanks to all the members of “The Hinckley Mob” who took part, for allowing me to collect their words, to inform, amuse, and I hope bring back a few memories of your own.

Edited by: David J Wood.