Valerie Jones
Recolections of Childhood

     My recollections of childhood go back to when I was being brought up in one of the few houses in Woods Lane. My home life centred on the gravelly lane - a good mile or more from Quarry Bank, even across the fields!

     We lived in one of the 8 'new' houses towards the bottom of the hill where Woods Lane joins Caledonia (Road) and Bagleys Road. In those days, almost 60 years ago, Ravensitch and Astons Fold was our playground, and Caledonia was an expanse of fields and mine workings, cottages and farms.

     The village was school, church and shops, but home life was playing in the fields. On the opposite side of our road was a hedge of snowberry bushes and we children made gaps in the hedge to the field and to the large old oak which was our meeting place and the focal point of many games... tick, hide and seek etc. and the patch of ground near the tree was also the site of many bonfires. During the winter the single street lamp took over; no passing cars to worry about even when playing 'kick the can'. As the lamp was at the top of the hill outside Polly Skelding's house and opposite Wright's Farm the can invariably rolled down to the bottom giving the players a longer time to hide. One day playing bat and ball with my friends, I gave the ball a mighty swipe which unfortunately, sent it straight through Polly's window. The children scattered -- but there was trouble to pay! They all vowed not to tell who the culprit was but someone let the cat out of the bag and told my Mom and Dad who were very angry, mostly because I hadn't owned up. My Dad subsequently replaced the window but I had to go and apologise to Polly. This in itself was the worst possible punishment I could have received -- Polly seemed to us children to be a very fierce old lady and there was always a black cat sitting in her window. 'Was she a Witch?' we wondered.

     Scrumping was another favourite occupation. Oh what delicious terror to climb into the orchard at Stamford House just down the lane, and then out again with the precious booty without being caught. On one such sortie, coming home with jumpers stuffed full apples and pears we had to cross the brook (sadly, long gone) which marked the Quarry Bank border. Rushing to keep up with the others I missed the far bank, fell in the water, and lost all my precious cargo. Then soaking and bedraggled I had to go home and get out of it as best I could!!

     The years have flown by and much has changed but our house is still there - although the snowberry bushes, the fields and our oak tree have been replaced by houses.


Caledonia open cast mining early 1960s. (where Grosvenor Way and Winding Hill now stand)

     

         Quarry Bank

     ©  M.P.L.H.G.  2012