Voices and Pictures from Tideswell and Litton's recent past
Terry Yates talks about the Co-operative Store in Tideswell.
“I was at Lady Manners until 1949 and I left when I was 15, couldn’t get away quick enough. Before I left, a fortnight before I left, I went to Co-op for an interview with the manager called Mr Wilkinson and funnily enough he is, was my son-in-law’s grandfather and er he asked me one or two questions and all the time he was writing and, anyway, eventually he says gave me a piece of paper, he says just write that up for me please and he’d put a line of figures down so I reckoned it up and I’ll allus remember it came to £1 17 and threepence, and he took it off me, checked it, very good he says, so he says, I think you’ll do he says, I think we’ll employ yer. So I left school on the Friday night and I started work on the Monday morning. That was my holiday between leaving school and starting work.
So what did you do at the Co-op, was it just serving behind the counter?
I served behind the counter, unload wagons and any job that wanted doing, stoking the boiler downstairs in the winter, raking all the ashes out, trecking them upstairs and putting them in dustbin in backyard, and ‘er unloading wagons that used to come in from Manchester and we used to have them, what four days a week and bring everything really y’know and at that time, it’s not there now, but there was a hoist up to a wind up ratchet which used to swing out through that, if you look at the Co-op it’s got like a gable end this side, its got like an arch thing, an arch door and we used to pull ‘em up, wind ‘em up and ‘er we’ve had a few escapades doing that because they used to, if it was a sack they had a chain, a length of chain with two discs, rings on each end and they used to put it round and tighten it up and then push if over the hook of the hoist and haul it up and ‘er we’d just got, one day we’d got a hundredweight of pearl barley on this hook and the chain slipped and down it went and it split and there was pearl barley all over the wagon, all over Pot Market and we’ve never had such fat pigeons in your life. Yeah, we swept some of it up but pigeons cleared rest up.
Now I heard you’d driven the van as well, is that right?
That’s when I went out, I learnt to drive while I was at the Co-op, as soon as I got to 17. He wanted me to learn to drive so that I could relieve the van drivers when they had their holidays because they used to have a little van then that went round Tideswell about three times a week. Well one went round everyday with milk and the same one went round three days a week with bread and delivering orders as well as the milk because people used to bring their orders into the Co-op because they all had books in them days, order books, write all down what they wanted, leave it, we used to get it ready, put it in boxes, stack ‘em on stairs and we used to have to carry ‘em off the stairs into the van and then they’d come out and deliver ‘em. And I did that for, I was in there for five years and then I thought, well, not a lot of money there, ‘cos I’d got to about 20 and I’d started going with June and I thought I can’t save up enough with money from these wages to prepare for getting married, anyway they decided then that they would have a travelling shop see how it went so Mr Wilkinson said, Are you interested, he says, on going out on a travelling shop, give it a trial, see how we go. I says, yeah, course I am, so there was another bloke that worked there called Harry Watkins and ‘er we started it off and we went round the runs, Monday morning to load up and then we used to go round, start off at ‘er Great Hucklow then into Foolow, round Foolow and then into Wardlow and that was Monday’s run. Tuesday was down into Pinfold and then up to Wheston and then Little Hucklow and Windmill. Wednesday was Tideswell Moor in the morning, home for dinner, then Litton Mill and then Millers Dale in the afternoon. At Litton Mill, there was no point in going to Litton Mill till after 4 o’clock because everybody at Litton Mill worked at the Mill so in the village itself during the day, there was nobody there., so you had to go in the evening and that’s when on a Wednesday night it used to be 7, 8 o’clock by the time we finished. Thursday was a full day ‘cos we used to go all around again: Wardlow, Great Hucklow, Foolow, and finish down in Pinfold for last two hours. Friday was Wheston and Tideswell Moor and Litton Mill and Millers Dale and Saturday morning was back down in Pinfold and then in between all those you had to load your own van with stuff out a stock room at Co-op so you eventually got – I know the first week we took £80 I think and by the time I left we were averaging up over £800 a week. And it was quite a lot of money then but we were doing, what 55, 60 hours a week on a regular basis for that, but I enjoyed it because the fun you used to have with the customers and you had to alter your hour book so many times during the day because you got people who were up ‘ere, who thought they were up there, y’know hoity toity sort of thing so you had to be so polite and that and then you got the people who worked in the mill who called a spade a spade so you had to bring yourself down to their level to be accepted but the fun we used to have on the van, I wish many a time in those days, I’d ‘ad one of those because if I’d ‘ad one of those under the counter that nobody knew about I could ‘ave wrote a book, could ‘ave made a film and I could ‘ave ‘ad a television programme. You would ‘ave ‘ad to change the names else there’d ‘ave been lots of divorces.”