I came to live on Thorns Road as a little girl in the 1920s when it was very different to the busy thoroughfare it is now. There was no deep drainage and the ditches on either side of the road carried stale, smelly water, a breeding place for germs. Diphtheria was a common, yet dreaded, childhood disease and both my brother Victor and I caught it.
As the grand-daughter of William Stevens (the elder brother of John and Ernest), The Jury was an important part of our childhood, and my Dad, (Bert), worked there. We loved to watch our road come to life as the shifts at the Jury changed and hundreds of workers came or went, either by bike or shank's pony. The furnaces never went out, so it was a round the clock process - for day workers 8-5.30; and for the shift workers 8-4, 4-12, 12-8. Plenty for us to see! The men often went home for their dinners and it was exciting to watch the lorries coming in and out of the factory. During school holidays I was allowed to help pack enamelware, a great treat for a little girl of eight or so!
Thorns Road was a close community in it's own right, away from the village. everyone helped one another without being intrusive. On Sunday evenings the men could be seen in straw brimmed hats strolling up to The Blue Ball. No ladies were allowed to accompany them although maybe they had been treated to a visit to the pictures on Saturday at Stourbridge!
I often had to take my maternal granddad's lunch across the fields to where he worked at Lye.
Most of my playmates were boys and they made me 'keep cavy' when they were up to mischief. I used to trail after the lads to the pools at Hill's Farm (top of the Thorns) where we had great fun fishing with a stick and a bent pin; or skating there in the winter. It was possible to climb over the wall from Mount Pleasant School, which I attended, straight into Hill's Farm and play our way home through the "twelve acres".
On walks down Woods Lane it was deliciously frightening to race past Polly Skeldings. She did have a black cat! But she also always had flowers in her window and a bowl of fruit. I remember that she sold apples from her Orchard, any that hadn't been scrumped!
One of my jobs - I would only have been 6 or 7 at the time - was to fetch the milk from Josh Gills farm, over Amblecote Road at Gayfield. One day carrying the overflowing enamel can (from the Jury of course) I was chased by the cows. I can't remember how much milk was left by the time I got home but I do know I did it in record time!
When the Peace Memorial was opened in Stevens Park I was watching the proceedings from outside the enclosure which held the VIPs. Joseph Bloomer, organist of Christ Church, was leading the choir when suddenly, it being a very breezy day, the wind whipped off his wig. I had done my duty by laying a wreath and anxious to get home I was not best pleased to hear "Jesse". Realising what had happened, I managed to grab the errant hair-piece as it flew past and returned it to its owner. Unfortunately I was not allowed to escape and was made to hold the music for the remainder of the performance. It didn't strike me as funny at the time but I've had many a chuckle since!
© M.P.L.H.G. 2012