I was brought up amongst a small community in a suburb of Chesterfield, England during and after the Second World War. My paternal grandfather was the father of 8 children and my maternal grandfather helped to produce 23 children with the aid of two wives. Therefore I had lots of uncles and aunts and hundreds of cousins.
My first book, an autobiography described my life between 1938 and 1955, when we left Pottery Lane to move into a Council housing estate.
Reviewed by (please click on the front cover picture of the book on right to see details and more pictures)
Tony Benn (MP – Chesterfield 1984-2001)
Betty Heathfield (leader of the Women against Pit Closures) Nationally known as “the miners’ heroine”
Des Baker (Old Taptonian 1949-1957)
Sandra Walsh (Residential and Nursing Home owner 1985-2005)
I started writing my autobiography in October 1996 having been spurred on by old friends, primarily residents of Pot Lane, Chesterfield. It was intended to be a tribute to the people who helped me to become what I am and it was a way of thanking them. I owe them more than I can ever repay, especially my mam who helped me to get where I am today. The book opens with the hilarious and memorable account of my grandad Smith’s participation in a popular radio quiz show of the late 1940s called ‘Have a Go’ which featured Wilfred Pickles and Violet Carson, better known as Ena Sharples of Coronation Street fame.
It covers the struggle that took place in the days of rationing and relative poverty in an area bounded by three bridges and containing 72 houses, three shops and a pub. It records events that occurred inside the close-knit community, the colourful characters within it, and explains some of the different activities that seem to have been forgotten in today’s environment. Coal mining was the main industry and gambling was very much a way of life there. It includes a number of unusual incidents, which are both extraordinary and humorous.