Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A Little Bit More about the Way of living in Sileby, Leicestershire, England.

The Garden
The villagers were keen gardeners, not only from a love of the soil which some of their ancestors had farmed for centuries, but from the real necessity of providing food for the family. Gardening was taken seriously, and the plot behind the house was used for growing potatoes and vegetables, though a portion of the land was reserved for the luxury of growing a few flowers. When potatoes were due for lifting, the whole family joined in, as the Schoolmaster’s Log Book shows. Children did other gardening to:

1872. 29 September. “Commenced School after Holiday. Attendance not quite so good. Many of the older children being kept at home picking up and sorting potatoes.”
1873. 8th May. “Many of the bigger boys are away assisting their parents in gardening operations.”
1875. 25th March. “Attendance this week not quite so good, many of the elder boys being away assisting their parents in the gardens.”

A number of lectures in the National School were given on the subject of gardening in the 1890’s.

Garden boundaries were zealously guarded. Damage to pailings dividing the plots, or dogs “scratin” among seedlings and especially children neighbours, with someone shouting, “Yo kape ter yer own part, and mek yor kids kape off arn!

 Without a garden, some of the poor large families would have been in a most desperate plight.

The Coal-House                                                                                               
Every dwelling had its own “cowl-us” in the back yard, secured with a padlock. There were many grade and prices of household coal. In 1890 the advertised Leicester prices per ton, were:
Langton Picked Soft
17s 3d
Langton Picked Hard
16s 9d
Main Brights
16s 3d
Best Silkstone
16s 3d
Langton Soft
16s 3d
Langton Hard
16s 3d
Deep Hard
15s 9d
14s 3d

There was one shilling per ton discount for cash on delivery.

In Sileby, dealers sold a cheaper Derbyshire coal at 11s 6d per ton, which was brought to the village by rail. Israel Lovett, a principal coal dealer in Sileby, owned three coal wagons, which were shunted into the local sidings for unloading. The coal was delivered by horse and cart, at 8d per hundredweight bag. Mr Lovett had two or three shallow coal-barrows for the use of customers who collected their own supplies. Some can still remember him calling to the customers as they left, reminding them to return the barrow.

Poorer villagers who could not afford to buy much coal, were to be seen wandering along the railway lines and the banks, picking up pieces which had fallen from passing trains.

 In 1910, coke sold in the village at 1s a bag, or 11s a ton.

The Wash-House                                                                                                              
Some yards had two wash-houses shared by six families. Each house had its own day for washing, and the rules governing the use of those houses had to be strictly observed, or there was strife among the housewives. A woman with a large family would have a struggle to complete her washing on her allotted day, nevertheless, she had to be out of the wash-house when that day ended. A tug ‘o war between two women with a bath full of soapy water when one had not finished her washing, and the other was ready to begin, and was “gittin all wuked up about it.” Both women ended the contest wet through.

A brick coal-fired boiler was used to heat the water, and large wooden dolly-tubs employed to wash the clothes, with the assistance of a three-legged dolly-peg. Clothes were then so rubbed in an oval bath standing on an old wooden chair from which the back had been removed. Pink carbolic soap was favoured on washday. Some women even added sheep-dip to ensure that the clothes were washed properly.

Women who were poor had to wring out their washing by hand. It was very hard work when there were thick woollen garments, and sheets. Those better off possessed their own mangle, built massively of iron, with heavy wooden rollers, bought from a shop in High Street. One poor Sileby woman undertook dress-making at home, carefully saving the coppers she earned, until she had the £2 necessary to buy a mangle.

There were a number of houses in the village which hired mangles. Women who could afford the 1½d fee, took their washing to the mangle in baskets. These hireable mangles were in houses on Barrow Road, Brook Street and The Banks. There were also one or two women who owned a mangle, who were willing to mangle clothes delivered to them. Sometimes in a front-room window was a piece of paper with the words “Mangling done,” scrawled in pencil.

The Day School records show that children were frequently absent on a wash day, helping with the washing and mangling. The reports of the “School Board Man” show that the absentees were always from large families.

The Cost Of Living in 1890
Butter   1s 4d per lb
Beef   6d-9d per lb
Eggs   10 for 1s

6 pairs of mohair bootlaces  1½d
Diamond Pale Soap  3d per lb
Sugar  2lbs for 3½d

Mutton   6d-10d per lb
Pork    6½d per lb
Hares   5s each

Rabbits   2s-2s 10d a couple
Fowls & Ducks  5s 6d a couple
Pigeons  6d-7d each

Pheasant  6s a brace
Geese  8d-9d per lb
Turkeys  9d-1s per lb

Potatoes  45s-52s 6d per ton
Hay  40s-70s ton
1 dozen boxes of matches  1½d

Best beer  2½d a pint
Brandy  28s per gallon
Port Wine 2s 6d pint

Sherry  2s 6d per pint
Stout  20s per barrel

Whisky  21s 6d per gallon
Pure Malt Pot Still Scotch Whisky 45s per dozen bottles

The above are Leicester prices. In the village some items of food from the farms were much cheaper. Eggs could be bought for a little as 24 for 1s.

The Good Old Days?                                                                                           
Despite the hardships and privations, older people in the village look back on these times with some affection. It was a time when the family was a close-knit unit. Unless one of the denominations in the village was providing some entertainment, there was nowhere to go – except to one of the ten public houses. Many families worked together at night, seaming gloves and stockings, or sat gossiping round the fire; there were few secrets in the village.

Perhaps memory erases the heartaches and anxieties of bygone years, and retains only the happy and homely things that took place. Memories of the past are easy to play with, because they can no longer bite us. Many believe that families were happier then, even without the attractions of television, radio, record players, glossy magazines, cinemas and annual holidays by the seaside or abroad. If some of the old framework-knitters and farm labourers who passed from this life in the 1890’s could return to spend a day in Sileby of 2013, they would imagine they were on another planet!

This public house was called ‘The Bellringers Arms’ and it was located on Brook Street before the bridge, the building is still there but it is no longer used as a public house.

(on the right side of picture) This public house was called ‘The Fountain Inn’, it was located on Brook Street after the bridge, sadly this building is no longer there it is now a block of flats.

(all writing in italics are the way the Sileby people talk.)

All information above was found in ‘Bygone Sileby’ magazine.