03 Feb

  • By coventryadmin

What were ‘The Yards’ like during your lifetime?

 “There were over 50 yards in Atherstone, all named after businesses or pubs at the front of the yards.”

“One downstairs room, one bedroom and a landing. One tap at the end of the yard for our water. One wash-house for all to share. Lots of families.”

“They started on the main street and ended on Station Street.”

“The yards were overcrowded. Children played together in the yards and played hide and seek around the town.”

“Tiny houses. Lots of children. We shared an outside toilet and the wash-house which had a copper to boil the water to do the washing. There was an outside tap to fill up buckets with water.”

“Old tin baths hung upon a nail outside. Water was boiled on the coal fire to put in the tin bath. Children would go in one after each other in the same water on a Sunday.”

“I lived in Cotton Mill Yard. We reared pigs in the yards to eat.”

“We had no electricity, only candles. We had to light a candle to go to the outside toilet.”

“Tiny one up one down houses. Children had to sleep on the landing. There were 6 altogether on our landing, girls and boys. Families lived week to week on the wages they earned. ”

“There were 53 yards in Long Street. They were demolished in slum clearances from 1930’s to 1960’s”


What has changed over time?

 “There was slum clearance in the UK. New council houses were built from 1930’s Modern houses were built with heating and bedrooms.”


What jobs were there in hatting?

 “Bumping, trimming, forming, packing.”

“Trimming: We sat sewing feathers, flowers, bands and netting onto the hats.”

“Hats were made for the Forces: Army, Navy, Airforce; Trilby’s and ladies hats.”

“My Mum worked for Vero and Everitt in the Bumping Shop. It was hard work. There was lots of fluff around and steam. She wore a rubber apron and wellingtons.”

“The processes were very Victorian. 1850s machinery was still used up to the factory’s closing down.”

“I left work at 14 years and started work 2 weeks later trimming at Denhams & Hargreaves, Vero and Everitt and Wilson & Staffords.”

“Felt hoods were made in the Bumping Shop. They were made from sheep’s wool.”

“Coal mining and hatting were the main industries. You either worked in hatting or in mining.”


What was coal mining like?

“Hard work and long hours.”

“Coalminers had a bath when they got home to wash away their ‘pit black’ before mine showers were installed.”


Can you tell me about the ball game?

 “Celebrities threw the ball out. It was great fun. We blew dried peas from a pea shooter but later they were banned.”

“We loved it. They threw out lots of pennies, sweets and oranges before the ball game started.”

“The ball game was a bit rough. Children played first, then the women and then the men played in the last hour.”

“Some scuffles happened and men would have a bloody nose sometimes.”

“Started in the time of King John, 1199, so legend has it!”

“Loved it and the pancake race. Schools and factory owners gave everyone an hour or an afternoon off.”