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Monday, 26 March 2018

52 Ancestors: Wk 13 - Grandad’s House.

“The Old Homestead” is the this week’s theme in Amy Johnson Crow’s series “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”.  I have chosen to feature my grandfather’s house in the small town of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. 

Grandfather was William Danson (1875-1962), son of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe. In 1907 he married Alice English and they had five children - Edith, Kathleen (my mother), Harry, Billy, with baby of the family Peggy, born after the First World War. Alice died in 1945 and I never knew her.

The family was living in a small cramped terraced house on Bull Street, Poulton, but moved in 1926 to a semi-detached house   “Ashleigh”, Blackpool Old Road, (below),   then on the edge of Poulton, but only a short walk to the Square.  I still have the receipt for the deposit of £67. It looks quite a big house in the photograph, but, with only three small bedrooms, it must have still been a squash for William,  Alice,  and three daughters and two sons.

 The front door had a round stained glass window which I thought was very posh.  Half way up the side wall was a small hatch door which revealed the coal shute where the coal men emptied  their sacks down into a small cellar under the stairs. My uncle Harry (a joiner)  much later took on the hard task to clear it all out to create a much needed "glory hole" and utility room.   He also modernised the kitchen and installed French windows in the living  room at the back of the house. 

The side trellis gate was later taken down and a driveway created to take my uncle's motor bike and side car, and later a car.  Grandad's hen house at the back then became the garage.  
There was one surprising feature about the house, though - it did not have electricity until the late 1950's, because my grandfather refused to have it installed. I remember my Aunt Edith  standing on a chair to light the ceiling gas lights, and ironing with a heated flat iron, whilst the flames from the gas cooker frightened me as a child. So of course the only form of heating was from a coal fire. 
A copper kettle stood in the hearth (open fire) and I was told that had belonged to my great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe (1859-1919). 

Pride of place in the small front room (kept for best) was the piano which I learnt to play on. The  glass fronted bookcase held the family bible recording the marriage of Maria Rawcliffe and James Danson (my great grandparents) It listed the the birth of their first four (out of eleven) children - entries petered out after that. 

Another favourite book which had belonged to my grandmother and was treasured by my mother was an 1899 edition of "Pride and Prejudice" with delicate pencil drawings protected by flimsy tissue paper.

It was in Grandad's house iin a cupboard by the fire  that I first saw the shoebox of old family photographs and embroidered cards sent by him from the battlefields of the First World War. This discovery set me at an early age on this fascinating family history trail..

The large gardens were my grandfather's and later uncle's pride and joy - with floral displays in the  front and a very productive vegetables and fruit  grown at the back.
The front garden was the setting for many a family photograph down the years. 

My dressmaker mother, Kathleen
n  modelling one of her dress
 My grandmother,  Alice, with Peggy, Edith & Kathleen (my mother)


  My father setting off for war with my mother right, and my aunt Edith  left. 

My mother Kathleen with her brother Harry c.1980's

My mother was the first of the family to marry in 1938, followed by Billy and her younger sister Peggy who emigrated to Australia.   Grandad died in 1962.Edith and Harry continued to live in the house  nearly all their lives until their deaths in 1995 and 2001. 

Then  70 years of a family home came to an end. 
Grandad's house was sold.  


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

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