Our first house
Ken Hargreaves’s parents lived in Holcombe Brook, a suburb of Bury in Lancashire. When his died, his mother moved in with Ken and Kath Hargreaves, who were living in Prestwich. Ken asked if we would like to move into their house. I found it hard as Mrs Hargreaves kept giving instructions on how to keep the house clean, and what furniture polish to use! We were only there for a couple of months before we found a house to rent, just around the corner. It had a beautiful view of the gasworks! It was terribly primitive and very cold!
The move to Castleford, Yorkshire
Fortunately we weren’t at the house in in Holcombe Brook long as Lawrence was applying for jobs and got a position at the Castleford Mining and Technical College in Yorkshire. So we moved on the 1st February and Christine was born six weeks early on the 13th February 1959. I think it was moving all the furniture that brought on the labour.
We had a limited budget of £500 to buy a house. We found a terraced house in with a bathroom but an outside communal toilet, overlooking the Rhubarb fields. It cost £560, and was No 67 Bottom Boat Road, Wakefield.
All the other houses in the terrace were occupied by miners. In those days someone from the mine would come down the road and knock on the bedroom windows in order to wake the miners up. (The ‘Knocker-Upper’). If the miners missed the ‘cage’ (lift) down the mine, they would lose a day’s wage.
However, since the miners got an allowance of coal every month, they would happily shovel some our way for free. The miners were ‘salt of the earth’ type people, and since Lawrence was happy in his job, it was three very happy years that we spent there.
We moved to a newly built house in Woodlesford as I was expecting Donna in 1962 and we needed a bigger house, it cost £3000 which was a great deal more than the previous house. Lawrence was still working at Castleford, teaching the students who were mainly miners. Sometimes they would come straight from the pit to the class without having time to clean themselves. Most of them assumed that they would always be working in the pits like their fathers and grandfathers before them, but Lawrence was trying to teach them that this didn’t need to be their future, if they got an education. Lawrence used to play five a side football with the students, but they were very strong being miners, and always would beat the lecturers!
He was promoted to Senior Lecturer for a couple of years and was in line for Head of Department before the Unesco job came up. The UN job was in abeyance for a long time. Tony when he was in Uganda was very friendly with a chap who worked for FAO Agriculture, and he said “isn’t your friend a textile engineer?” “I believe they are looking for one in Egypt”. So Lawrence applied for the job. He had an interview and nothing happened and it was many years later that they contacted him and asked him to start immediately. We sold the house and bought a Landover and went to Egypt, for two awful years!