HERE is the weekly History column from Peter Holme. 

Kendal Oral History Group, through interviews, aims to compile a picture of earlier times through the memories of some of the area’s older residents.

Irene Holmes was born in 1921 and interviewed in 2006.

There was times when we didn’t have any fire ‘cos we didn’t have enough money and me dad was a drinker.

If there was threepence or a tanner (sixpence) lying around he’d tek it and go down to the Wheatsheaf.

You know where Hanratty’s Fish Shop is and there was a butchers, and then there was our yard, Jennings Yard, that went right down to the river.

In the middle where Bishop Blaize pub was, well it’s Bowman pub now, was Mason’s Temperance Bar, and if we had a penny or a ha’penny we could get an Oxo and a couple of cream crackers and we used to sit there all night.

They sold home-made orange juice or dandelion and burdock or something like that and he used to do Oxos.

If he put all the Oxo in he used to charge a penny for a big beaker and two cream crackers, but if you only had a ha’penny you could only have half a one. But he used to top it up, so we used to say “We’ll have a ha’penny one” because you could have two then. That was the drink of choice wasn’t it.

You also got the warmth of a fire on cold nights for playing out you know. We would go in there, talk all night and he never bothered us.

Then there was another yard, what we called “dark yard” but it only went down so far and then come into our yard.

All what we called snobs lived in that yard, apart from old Mrs Storey. She had a terrible burnt face and she always had a big fire and she used to say to us “Will you get me some coal from down in the cellar.”

It was all cobwebs and two or three of us used to go; we never went down on our own.

She allus had a big fire and she used to say “Now look, that’s so and so”; she could see all these skeletons in the coals and it used to pass our night on and when you looked you could see what she meant. Skeletons in the coals, the shapes of them.