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Linda Mary Wright (nee Stapleton)
Memories of Fletcher Road

Linda Stapleton
1956 Linda in Fletcher Road
Fletcher Road is a small cul-de-sac off Washbrook Road, just above the fire station; it is a road where the surface has never been finished since the houses were built. There are fifteen houses, thirteen in a long terrace and two at the top, facing down the street, towards Washbrook Road. There is an alley way beside house number one and another between houses seven and eight, both leading to the back of the terrace up to number thirteen.

I am Linda Mary Wright (nee Stapleton) and I was born at number twelve on March 18th 1942, and lived there with my older sister Molly, and our parents Mabel (nee Bazeley) and Arthur Stapleton. There was also an older sister, Elizabeth Ann, but she died of meningitis at the age of 18 months, and is buried in Rushden Cemetery.

Fletcher Road was like a "family" with many of the residents called "Aunty and Uncle". Of the houses one to six I can only remember some of the people who passed through; Rose and George Bazeley and their children Michael and Stella, Mr Guinee the blacksmith and his family, the Darnells and Childs families, and number six was a police house, with different policemen and their families living there.

Ann Wills & Linda Stapleton Playing "schools"
Best friends
Ann Wills & Linda Stapleton

1956 Ann Wills, Margaret White,
John Pendered and Bridget Guinee in the back yard of No.7 playing "schools"

Number seven is where the Wills family lived; Ruby and Den and their children Richard and Ann. Ann was my best friend in the street and we spent many hours playing schools and dressing up as aspiring ballet dancers. I have photos to prove it, although a little strange as Ann was much taller than me!

That was one side of the middle alley, and at number eight lived Mrs Smith. I only have vague memories of her but I do remember a lot of yellow daisies growing in her garden and being tempted to pick them.

The Golding family lived at number nine with their son Len. When Len got married, he and his wife (I think she was called Joy), they lived in the front room of number nine, and I can remember saying to my mum that when I marry I want to live in the front room. Next came Mr and Mrs White and their daughter Margaret. Mrs White was very tidy and I can never remember going into Margaret's house to play.

On the doorstep at No.12
Linda sitting on the doorstep at No.12

Linda at the Swimming Pool
Linda at the Swimming Pool
Next at number eleven were Mr and Mrs Attley. Mr Attley kept pigs on his allotment in Quorn Road, and when you went into the house there were sides of bacon and large hams hanging on hooks around the living room. Imagine doing that now! They had a son Tom who came back to with them after his marriage ended. Tom was very important because he taught me to swim. I was one of the people who arrived at Rushden Swimming Pool at six o’clock in the morning, no matter what the weather, to an open air unheated pool. I did this until I started working.

Sister Molly Molly Stapleton
Sister Molly behind the terrace and in the back yard at No.12
Then there was our family at number twelve; the house is still very dear to me. The front room for “best” with a three piece suite, a tiled fireplace with two large vases with swans on, standing on the mantel piece, and mum’s sewing machine, but I can’t remember this room being used very much. The other room is where we spent most of the time, had a table and chairs, a small “cottage” suite, coal fire and cupboards in the side alcoves either side of the chimney. A square of carpet, no doubt bought at Haigh’s was moved around as some parts began to wear. Upstairs, three bedrooms that were very cold in winter, with ice on the inside of the windows; no central heating and no indoor toilet!! How did we manage? In the kitchen a roller towel hung on the back door, a yellow stone sink was used for everything from washing to plucking a chicken, a copper in the corner to heat water (later replaced with a gas copper) for washing and for the Friday night bath; me first, sister next, then mum, and dad. That’s how a working class family lived. The kitchen also had a gas cooker, a kitchen cabinet, and mangle in the corner, and there was a small alcove where our beloved brown terrier, Sally, slept. The floor had red stone tiles, and I remember my mum giving me good smack on the bottom for walking on it when it was still wet!

The outside toilet was at the top of the garden, next to the barn where the coal was kept, and it was where you had to “go” in freezing winters and hot summers but it was always kept in pristine condition with a coat of whitewash every year.

Ann Wills, Linda, John Pendered & cousin In the back yard
Ann Wills, Linda, John Pendered & cousin
Pamela Litchfield in Fletcher Road
Linda, friend Susan Wright and John Pendered in the garden at No.12. Note the ramshackle hen house and neighbour’s toilet at top of next garden!

The last house in the row is where Mr and Mrs White lived. It always made my sister and I laugh as we watched Mrs White going up the garden path to her outside toilet clutching sheets of cut up newspaper – no Izal roll for her!

John Pendered, Ann Wills, Linda and her cousin Pamela
John Pendered, Ann Wills, Linda and her cousin Pamela Litchfield
with the top two houses that face Washbrook Road

The top two houses looked down the street. At number fourteen Reg and Jess Pendered with their children Norma and John. John also joined in our play a lot. I think he was Ann’s cousin. The very last house, number fifteen was Mr and Mrs Farrow, sons Steven and David, and Mr Hulett (Mrs Farrow’s father), a very grumpy man, who used to get very cross when we were caught scrumping his gooseberries. These two houses backed onto the railway line, but we had no sense of danger from the steam trains as we often played on the railway banks, hiding if any rail workers came along, but we came to no harm.

Linda on a barrel
Linda on a barrel in Bill Bayley’s yard

The greatest source of pleasure came from playing in Bill Bailey’s scrap yard. Old cars, soldiers’ tin helmets, glass bottles with “marble” stoppers, and many more treasures to be found. I have a photo of me walking on a barrel in there. We used to take newspapers and rabbit skins to sell to Mr Bailey for a few pennies. Many a Cowboy and Indian fight took place in Bill Bailey’s scrap yard.

Also memories of Joan Houghton delivering bread and leaving it on the kitchen table: no doors locked then, and Violet Groome delivering the milk in all weathers and money left on the kitchen table for Mr Ellingham the insurance man. Such were those days.

Other memories of all the shops in Washbrook Road: Fitzjohn's, Dilley's, Groome's Marsden's, Mr George the photographer, Mrs Green selling ice lollies for a penny in her front room, Bill Sharpe on the corner of Spencer Road, all making a living selling the same goods. Then of course, Spencer Park with its putting green, sand pit, and paddling pool with lots of little red worms in the water, and the brook to jump across; no fencing then and all the fields beyond. Happy childhood days.

Later we moved to Wentworth Road with bathroom and indoor toilet. My sister emigrated to America where she still lives. Mum and dad later moved to Crispian Court (now deceased), and I still live in Rushden.

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