An Oral History interview with Harry Whitworth
Interviewed by Roger Kitchen on Tuesday 8th March 2005
Harry could we begin by – when were you born?
I were born in 1939. I was actually born where I am now. This was my granny’s farm. The farmhouse is still standing. It’s up the corner there, it were down 10 Blacksmith Lane and as a lad I were kinda brought up on the farm as such, but I lived with me mum and dad in Hartshorn Road, and of course the farm were that close I spent a lot of time there, helping out and got me uncles and me aunts whatever, so yeh, I’m in view of where I were born, which I think is rather nice.
And what about dad. What job did dad have?
Me dad worked down the pit. He worked down the pit at Granville Pit, regular afternoons, then, in the daytime, because me granddad, who went out on the round when me grandma got injured, me dad used to take milk out in morning with me grandma and they’d got the horse and cart, with those chains and buckets and whatever, and then they’d – he’d come home at – when he’d done that, have summat to eat and then Granville Pit, on afternoons.
And what was ‘afternoons’? How long was afternoons?
8 hours, 8 or 9 hours down pit. He’d got a heavy job me dad had. But, in them days you all helped each other out. I mean, I used to go out in me later few years with horse and cart picking up peelings for the pigs. You’d go out down round the estates and round Box (NB. local name for Woodville) and people kept peelings and stuff for you and then you’d go round with yer cart every fortnight and pick ‘em up with horse and cart and tek ‘em back to the farm and these… would feed pigs.
And how old were you when you were doling that?
Oh, about 8 or 9 or something like that. That carried on for a few years. Cos it were only 21 acres, the farm was, but on that 21 acres we got about 8 milking cows I think it wor, a couple of Shire horses, there were a pony for the milk float and me uncles took coal out – bagged coal me Uncle Tom took out, round the area, round Box, and then me uncle Jack took loads of coal out, like concessionary coal for the miners and he dropped it off outside your house…
And you paid them?
No, it was part of the Coal Board… You see in them days, if you worked at pit, you got so much coal every year and me uncle Jack took the concessionary coal out to these miners – about every 8 week you got a ton of coal. And that’s what me uncle Jack used to do – plus help out on the farm. He used to do the milking, so there was always something to do. Me grandma, some say, she used to milk up till she was 75 and used to kneel on the milkfloat going down to Hartshorn and round Box taking milk out. She’d also got ‘Derbyshire Throat’ which was, how can I describe it? Like a big bag under the chin.
It were enormous and, I’ll always remember, she used to sometimes cry with the pain of it. She painted it with iodine fert get some relief out of it, ay but… she did that till she died really did me gran. But she were the worker. I mean, she were the workhorse of the family.
So when did she die?
Got to be thirty year ago, must be now. But…characters were ….
That kind of neck, Derbyshire Neck thing, you called it ‘Derbyshire Throat’?
Derbyshire Throat, ah
It was caused by the water wasn’t it, the lack of iodine was it in the water?
No idea. I know she had it from me earliest recollection. She always had it but it got bigger like as she got older. She was a very small person me grandma wor, but she kept the family going. She were the mainstay of the family. Course, the rest of them, they always used to like the beer, they liked the gambling and … but the farm really come to its end when the milk started being done in bottles and in them days me grandma wouldna spend all the money for a bottling plant at farm, so she sold out to Northern Dairies. So that’s when we stopped taking milk out. Obviously me dad then stopped doing that job and me uncle Jack and me uncle Tom carried on taking coal out for a few more years after that.
When she sold out to Northern Dairies, did that mean she sold the land then?
No, she sold the rounds. No, the people who she went to. They.. the land still stopped. Eventually obviously it’s come to what it is now, like, it’s called - the Bird’s Estate they used to call it at one time, but Tollgate Green’s another name for it. But this is me granny’s farm, this is – and me house… The farm were called Field House Woodville, Field Farm Woodville, so I named me house Field House Woodville because it’s – it’s because I were more or less… I were born and raised here, more or less.
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