Moving on

Our move to the new estate in Castlecroft was not without it’s dramas.  It was quickly realised that the furniture in the flat over the butchers would not pass down the winding staircase and out into the road.  (Heavens knows how they got in the flat in the first place).  In order to extricate the said furniture the window overlooking the main road had to be removed and the furniture lowered by block and tackle onto the waiting transport below.

Castlecroft and all that

In those day’s, there were very few shops or services in Castlecroft.  Woodisses shop in the dip between Castlecroft and Finchfield was the food shop, Kytes (or Kites), coal yard on the canal at Windmill bank was the source of power and the local pubs were the Castlecroft hotel and the Mermaid.  Pop, sweets, eggs and crisps could be brought from the cottage by the railway bridge, which was home to Mrs Farley, who also cleaned the local telephone exchange, which is still there on the opposite side of Windmill lane Mrs Farley’s daughter, Jean, carried on in her place for several years until well into the 1970’s.  Bread, was delivered by a chap called Bobby, in his van.  He later went on to open up a general shop in Castlecroft in the row of shops by the bridge.  Other shops in the row included a shop that seemed to sell everything from batteries to buttons, which went by the name of “the dolly shop”; this was later replaced by a butcher, and a hardware store.  Next door was later turned into a paper and sweet shop.  This was firstly run by a chap called Ray, and later by a family by the name of Couse.   There was also a cake and pie mobile van, which I think was known as “cookery nook”.  As a shop of the same name existed in Bradmore and this may have been a spin off.  An old farmhouse or row of cottages stood on the site of what is now the Firs public house.  I remember the demolition, as it was a natural playground for a small boy.  The gardens of this place were overgrown with large purple-headed poppies.  The shops were built early in the 1950’s.  The local primary school was Castlecroft County primary in Windmill crescent and most senior age pupils attended the Regis school in Tettenhall.  They were transported by a fleet of old busses from Castlecroft, through Finchfield and Compton, up the Holloway and into Tettenhall wood.  These busses were the worse that Wolverhampton transport could find and it was not unusual for the passengers to have to help by pushing them up the Holloway.  As I recall there was the local civil defence organisation that used to give displays at the local fete, which was usually held on the field, by the Castlecroft hotel.  Other activities included an “ox roast” and various gymkhanas held at the rugby club.

The Castlecroft estate during development.

Living in Windmill crescent in the early 50’s meant that the view from the front bedroom was not of the comprehensive school, but across the fields looking out towards Compton and Tettenhall. 

The chimneys at the Courtalds factory were clearly visible and the factory’s hooter could be heard in the early morning air.  As goods trains still ran on the branch line through Castlecroft, to Oxley, the steam and smoke was also visible on the horizon as the engine steamed into Tettenhall.  

At first, living in Windmill crescent was slightly confusing.  All the houses were all new and there was no difference in a lot of them and as a nipper it was easy to get lost, a feat I managed on more than one occasion.  It was a wonderland for a young explorer as the fields opposite our house afforded endless hours of fun, especially at haymaking time, as we would build dens out of the rectangular bales of hay.  At the bottom of the field was a small stream that ran into the canal or brook.  This gave us chance to dam the stream and play in mud, as young lads are wont.  As our confidence grew, we moved on to the woods that lay between the bottom of the crescent and the canal.  Here we could climb trees and roam free.  This was our wild west and our space ship.  Most of the tenants were gardeners and soon a co-op of them got together and on a Sunday morning they would gather at a wooden hut at the bottom of the road to buy seeds etc.  For the first few years, the traditional bonfire night bonfire was held in front garden’s as the gardens were full of rubbish from the building of the estate.

We moved in, in coronation year and I can still remember the “Ecko” radio that stood on a table in our living room with it’s illuminated dial full of names of faraway places such as Hilversum, Berlin and Reykjavik, (no T.V in those days).  After breakfast I can remember cycling on my tricycle to my granddad's house in Rayleigh road to watch the coronation on the Philips T.V that took up a large portion of the back room.  A large box although I think it was a 12-inch screen.

Castlecroft “County primary school”, in Windmill crescent was naturally enough my first encounter with the education system.  The teachers included Mr L.T Guest, Mrs Pilsbury and Miss Goodman.  The headmaster was Mr Park, a Scot who lived in Chelmarsh Avenue.  He gave me my first and only caning.  He ran the Local Boy’s Brigade Company, at the Presbyterian Church in Merridale road.  During my time at Primary school I contracted whooping cough, which required many weeks of staying at home, taking penicillin.  This period of confinement covered Christmas and as a result I was going to miss the Christmas party.  As they did not want me to miss out on the fun and food the teachers sent someone to our house with a brown paper bag containing a few sandwiches and a cream cake.  I think the junior postman was a bit shy as he pushed the bag through the letterbox with inevitable results.   School sports days were something else.  I am not and never was athletic and so sports day was academic to me although I do remember that we were given ice cream from a box filled with dry ice.  Raspberry ripple flavour ice cream still brings back memories of summer days at sports day.  Harvest festival was another time well remembered as we all had to take food in that would be displayed on a table in the foyer and later distributed amongst the local needy.  The morning assembly saw us singing “we plough the fields and scatter”.

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