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1. The Art School, Ford Street, remembered by Liz Bayly
2. Schoolday memories of Pauline Bearcock
3. Little Park Street & Spon Street, by Mick Billings
4. Voyage on the Queen Mary with Cecilia Cargill
5. Schoolboy fun around town with Patrick Casey
6. Dunlop Rugby Union Club, by Lorraine Clarke
7. Pre-war memories of Norman Cohen
8. The Life of Riley, by Ron Critchlow
9. Wartime memories of Wyken, by Alan Edgson
10. War and Workplace memories of Mike Fitzpatrick
11. 1940s & 50s remembered, by Ken Giles
12. World War Two memories of James Hill
13. A selection of 1940s and 50s memories, by Rod Joyce
14. Pictures of a Coventry ancestry, by Lesleigh Kardolus
15. Innocence, by John Lane
16. A plane crash over Exhall, by John Lane
17. Post-War memories of Keith Longmore
18. Growing up in Willenhall, by Josie Lisowski-Love
19. The thoughts of a younger Coventrian, by Paul Martin
20. Growing up in Hillfields, by Jan Mayo
21. Winter before central-heating in Hillfields, by Jan Mayo
22. Viewing the Blitz from Birmingham, by Mavis Monk
23. Family memories of Eric Over
24. Early working days of Barry Page
25. Band life with Derick Parsons
26. Brian Porter, A Coventry Kid
27. Experiences of the Coventry Blitz, by Joan Powell
28. War-time memories of Brian Richards
29. War-time memories of Jeanne Richards
30. Coventry Remembered, by Andrew Ross
31. The Coventry outings of Brian Rowstron & family
32. Time Gentlemen Please! - Jo Shepherd's Family
33. The life experiences of Mike Spellacy
34. Humber Works photographs of Peter Thacker
35. Early Coventry memories of Lizzie Tomlinson
36. Post-war decades remembered, by Mike Tyzack
37. Fireman Frank Walduck, remembered by Peter Walduck
38. Early memories of Coventry, by Muriel Wells
39. Family memories of Burt West
 

Wartime memories of Wyken, by Alan Edgson

As an absentee "Coventry Kid", (I moved to South Devon in 1970) Coventry still holds most of my memories. I was born at 24 Heath Crescent, Stoke Heath in January 1934, and after a few temporary homes moved into 63 Hartland Avenue in Wyken; this is where my first memories begin. In those days horses and carts were still very much in use, and all our daily deliveries were made that way. Our bread was delivered from Savages' bakery on a cart pulled by a horse named Spider. He needed no instructions as to when to stop and start, and knew the round as well as the delivery man.

St. Mary Magdalene church, Wyken
St. Mary Magdalene church, Wyken, in February 2008

The same applied to our Co-op milk delivery. Even the dustcarts were horse drawn, and as the cart filled up it would be collected by a three wheeled lorry, which brought an empty replacement. The full cart would then be taken to the "Wyken floods" (alongside the river by Wyken church).

This tip was a treasure trove to us kids where we would scavenge and take home other peoples rubbish. This area is all built over now but I wonder if people realise the antiques that are buried there?

Talking of "the floods" reminds me that in those days, the area around the bridge over the River Sowe in Wyken Croft road, near Blackberry Lane, (known as the millers brook in those days) used to flood so often that a permanent raised wooden walkway was in place for about fifty yards either side of the bridge, as the road became impassable to pedestrians. This was painted white so obviously it was always known as "the white bridge".

River Sowe, Wyken
The River Sowe passing beneath Wyken Croft road.

The river near the bridge had a sandy "beach" and in the summer was a popular spot where mums would bring their kids for a swim and a paddle. If they tried that today they would need hospital treatment afterwards I'm sure.

When the Second World War started, an army gunnery site was established alongside Torcross Avenue going right across to Blackberry Lane. This contained several ack-ack guns as well as the new rockets. Torcross Avenue was at that time an unmade road from near Dartmouth Road to its junction with Wyken Croft, (which was, incidentally, still a gated road). I well remember the army camp inviting local kids in for a feast, (we were on strict rationing at the time) and we were allowed to sit at the anti-aircraft guns and wind them round aiming at imaginary planes in the sky, and afterwards given sweets to take home. How could I ever forget? There was also a barrage balloon site at the old Turners farm in Blackberry Lane, and I remember seeing a balloon struck by lightning and coming down in flames. These sites were to protect the old Morris factories which were heavily involved in the manufacture of munitions and were an important target for bombers.

My brother and I stayed with our parents throughout the war, and would be woken most nights by the sirens and hurry down the garden in pitch black to the "safety" of our shelter, where we would watch as bombs fell all around us, sometimes for hours. Going to school after a raid we would collect pieces of shrapnel and at school we would do swaps for the more interesting bits.

At Stoke Heath school we would start lessons with our gas mask drill, and it was compulsory to carry them wherever we went. As well as the three "R's" we had lessons on identifying various bombs and grenades. When it was considered too dangerous for too many children to be together we were split up into small groups and a teacher would try and give lessons in various houses near our homes. I guess it was better than nothing and certainly did me no harm.

Devonshire Arms public house, Wyken
The Devonshire Arms & Torcross Avenue, Wyken, February 2008

Not many people would remember that the Devonshire Arms in Sewall Highway was, for a while, a storage depot for Unexploded Bombs, and as kids we would sneak in past the guards and try to pinch bombs. My brother Bill got one out on his trolley - but was caught halfway up the road with it.

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Alan with his pet monkey
Alan with his pet monkey.

As a teenager after the war, many local people may remember when I kept a pet monkey, which used to ride on the back of my motor bike holding on to my hair. His exploits when he used to escape are too numerous to mention. (See photo on the right).

As a lorry driver in my teens I worked mainly at Robbins & Powers flour mill by the Swanswell, and it was there that I met my wife Jackie; we are still happily married after over fifty wonderful years. Robbins & Powers also had their own transport, and amongst their lorries were a couple of steam driven vehicles which did mostly local deliveries, and I can remember one of their drivers telling me that when they drove to Bedworth they would set their wheels in the tram tracks on the Foleshill road, and then cook bacon and eggs on the boiler fire. Can you imagine that with today's traffic?

The Longford Rockers
The Longford Rockers c1968.

My last years in Coventry were when my wife and I owned the Island cafe in Torcross Avenue, (now a Chinese takeaway) which was a favourite with local bikers belonging to the "Longford Rockers". They were a great bunch of lads despite their reputation and never gave me a moment's trouble. (See photo, approx. 1968.)

Wonderful memories; I'd better stop now or I'll go on for ever.


 
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The Life of Riley, by Ron Critchlow
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Wartime memories of Wyken, by Alan Edgson
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War and Workplace memories of Mike Fitzpatrick
 
 
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