Friday, January 17, 2014

GUEST POST Memories of Snailbeach in the 1950s

Christina Samson has kindly sent me her recollections of life in this village in Shropshire's lead-mining country more than 50 years ago.

This is an area for which I have a very deep affection having spent many extremely happy holidays with my Mum's cousin and family, who lived at 14 Snailbeach.

When I first visited around 1956, the cottage didn't have running water and the loo was located outside the house and up a steep little bank. It was an Elsan. My Aunty (although technically my second cousin) claimed the view from the loo took in several counties!

Our water was collected by turning right out of the front door, down the steep path, crossing the lane up to Lordshill and into the cottage opposite's garden where there was a well. The water was very soft and I remember frogs in the well which Aunty said kept it pure.

Ablutions were carried out in the bedroom from an ( even then) old fashioned ceramic jug and bowl. Baths from a tin bath. Rainwater was collected in an old wooden barrel. This was used for hair washing and it beat any modern conditioner. Very happy times.

Saturday mornings we took the elderly Minsterley Motors bus into "town" (Shrewsbury) and back in time for lunch. It sometimes seemed that we would never make the hill from Plox Green as the little old bus chugged and wheezed its way up. But I was always glad to get back to the cottage.

I can never remember feeling bored whilst there and apart from the odd visit to Mollie Wardman's funny little shop, didn't spend a ha'penny. I made friends with the local kids and we roamed the Stiperstones, playing and 'wimberrying'. Aunty Jo would make a pie. The white hillocks presented endless scope for playing. Can't have been very healthy when you think about it!

We once attended a service at Lordshill Chapel. I remember we walked up in procession at Eastertime. It was lit with oil lamps and the service was interminable. The minister gave a sermon denouncing just about everything that would make life worth living. Eventually we were given a really nice tea.

My Aunty's adult children also lived at Snailbeach. I remember velvet black darkness walking up after visiting Jackie and Mollie. No lighting at all. The clear night skies were wonderful to star gaze.We often stood and watched for shooting stars. And saw plenty.

1 comment:

Pauline Fisk said...

I knew Snailbeach well in the 1970s and 80s, though I never lived there. Lord's Hill Chapel remained fairly unchanged. I too remember hanging lamps. Connie, the organist, lived in the attached cottage [the minister's house, if I remember rightly, in Mary Webb's 'Gone to Earth] along with her alsatian dog. Several times she invited my family, including five young children, up for supper and an evening of scrabble. I wrote about the Stiperstones in my own novel, Midnight Blue, in particular the legend of Wild Edric. People up there told me that they heard him riding past in the dark of night. Who am I to argue about that?