John Edward Cooper’s Notes

HomeContentsAlphabetical listingWhom I’d like to meet in eternity…

Beyond Fairfield Drive

Early Days

Early 1950’s
 1. I was free to go outdoors alone in our back garden and anywhere in Fairfield Drive, but I was given strict instructions not to go beyond the top of Fairfield Drive into Blackpool Road, not even if I kept to the pavement and didn’t cross any road, for fear of being knocked down by a passing car.
 However, I often went for walks beyond the confines of the cul-de-sac accompanied by my Mum and Dad.
[1] Often we would go to Haslam Park, where the following incident happened.
[1] Walks beyond the confines of the cul-de-sac accompanied by my Mum and Dad: On Thursday 6th June 1996 my Dad recalled our often going to Moor Park, situated ca. 1–1½ miles to the east of our home—he mentioned there being a bandstand there—but I didn’t remember any of this at all.
Sometime in 1953 or early 1954
 2. We were walking, my Mum and Dad (called at this time, of course, “Mummy” and “Daddy”), probably Steven, and I, in Haslam Park, which was behind our house on the other side of the railway. The paths were laid with gravel and pebbles. There was a man and a woman, walking with a child who would have been about two; and the child had stooped down to scoop up a handful of this gravel. And the child’s father scolded him, saying, “Don’t do that, you’ll get dirty!” The child wasn’t too pleased about this and registered his protest in the way that children of that age do.
 So I promptly bent down and did the same thing as the child, saying to myself, “I won’t get dirty; I’m big—I’m three!”
[2] I’m three!: The first year that I remember by name was “nineteen fifty-five”; and it seemed that it had always been 1955, but after an age of it being 1955, 1956 came along. But this memory, just related—the earliest memory in which I can definitely remember my age—must come from 1953 or early 1954.
Haslam Park
 3. Haslam Park
[3] was pleasant, with green grass and tall, mature trees; and naturally—it was a “park” after all!—it had swings, a see-saw, a roundabout and a slide. To get there, we turned left at the end of Fairfield Drive into Blackpool Road, went over the somewhat humped bridge carrying the main road over the railway, turned left just afterwards and entered the park gates. The playground[4] was not much further on in the park from there.

Not Haslam Park, and not Preston: old photographs illustrating “swings,… a roundabout and a slide”—necessary, on my childhood view, for a park to be a park.

[3] Haslam Park: On Thursday 6th June 1996, with my Mum and Dad, I revisited Haslam Park. It is much larger than I, or in fact we, remembered.

[4] The playground: On our visit to Haslam Park on Thursday 6th June 1996 we found the children’s playground, more or less where I would expect to find it, but Mum indicated a different place where it originally was. “And for the first time in my life,” she told me, pausing here to explain: “Because my Mum [Nanny Paine] to me was always old, as I assume that I always look old to you. But she always looked old.” She continued: “And then, she was pushing you two on swings, and for the first time in my life I thought, ‘How pretty she looks!’ And I told her, and she was really chuffed! Because you don’t often think of your parents as ever having been young, or anything like that.”

Click on the image for a larger map.
Lancaster Canal
 4. Sometimes, I remember, we would go up from the park to a canal. The embankment of the Lancaster Canal forms part of the east boundary of Haslam Park. Below it there is a large duck pond
[5] with a path around it, and there is a kind of overflow from the canal with a series of small waterfalls; the water presumably passes under the path and drains into the duck pond. It’s to the left of these waterfalls that one could (and still can) scramble up the bank[6] to the canal. And that is what we used to do when Steven and I were little. We would then turn left and walk along the towpath of the canal.[7] A few yards further down, a fairly substantial stone bridge carries the canal over a stream, Savick Brook, which flows below between steep, wooded banks. After about three-quarters of a mile, having passed under two humpbacked stone bridges[7] and coming to a third, we would turn left and join the lane (Cottam Lane) which had just come over the bridge, and so return home. The lane passed under a bridge, which carried the railway, and we would enter Blackpool Road near the “Stores”[8] from a metalled road, a house-lined continuation of Cottam Lane.
[5] A large duck pond: Till our visit to Haslam Park on Thursday 6th June 1996, I had forgotten all about the duck pond, but my Dad remembered that the way to Lancaster Canal was via a duck pond. When we found it, it was much bigger than he remembered it.

[6] To the left of these waterfalls… one could… scramble up the bank: There is now an “official” path nearby, to the left of the canal overflow, giving access to the canal. I think if it had existed then, we’d have used it.

[7] The towpath of the canal… humpbacked stone bridges: Here are two photos, taken in 1996:

[8] “Stores”: our name for the Co-op grocery shop.
 5. Once, when we went for a walk by the Lancaster Canal, I was strolling along with my Mum and Dad, but Steven was lagging behind. Suddenly there was a loud “Splash!”. Mum and Dad spun round in alarm, but instead of seeing a spreading circle of waves in the water where Steven had fallen in, they observed with relief that he was still standing on the towpath; and he laughed like billy-o when he saw them. He had found a big stone and heaved it into the water.

 6. Another time, we didn’t leave the canal by the usual lane, but walked on and left it later. It was a long, long way, and beginning to get tired and fed up, I started to half grunt, half whine.
 “Uh!”, step, step, step, “Uh!”, step, step, step, “Uh!”—
 Half a minute later: “Uh!”, step, step, step, “Uh!”—
 Another telling off. Tears—
 And so on, through that interminable walk. The insides of my thighs were getting red through friction with my short trousers. Back on Blackpool Road, I saw a building which looked like the “Stores”; it was in the same red brick and had the same kind of Dutch-style gable. But I was disappointed; it wasn’t our “Stores”, which had a funeral furnishers’ next to it: this was still what seemed like miles away, further down that long road. What an ordeal that walk was! I think in the end my Dad took pity on me and carried me the rest of the way, piggy-back.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]