Audrey Ward's memories of family life in a guesthouse

By Laura Matthews

I was born in July 1928 at 77 St. Peter's Road. I was the seventh child. My mother ran a boarding house and our lives were run to the season.

Christmas was usually quiet and spent at home, or visiting relatives. We always had plenty to eat and drink.

After January, Mother went into a frenzy of cleaning and decorating ready for Easter. Sometimes we had a casual visitor. Mother had her regulars of commercial travellers.

The big start was Whitsun (six weeks after Easter). We had Bed & Breakfast people, Full Board which usually meant three meals and a light supper, and Apartments when visitors hired rooms and provided their own food for Mother to cook.

There was no plumbing in the bedrooms and washstands with a marble top and splash back with an ewer jug full of cold water and slop pail underneath provided washing facilities. These were cleaned and jugs filled twice a day (a goes under was provided too, as the toilet was in the back yard.) The men usually came down for hot water to shave and the family to wash with.

We all had to help and learned at an early age Mother's Way was the only way and God help you if you didn't do it right.

Feather beds were the order of the day, which had to be shaken and turned everyday. The rooms were swept, using a scattering of cold tealeaves - it helped to draw the sand together. Mats were taken outside and shaken; skirting boardsĀ and even theĀ springs under the bed were dusted. After I'd finished, Mother would inspect - if there was a small amount of dust on her finger, I had to do it all again with her watching.

Written by Audrey Ward

This page was added by Laura Matthews on 17/04/2007.
Comments about this page

My family lived at 1 Deneside next to BHS. One day in summer (1950?) my brother and I were approached by a tall well-dressed but pretty desperate looking man who enquired whether we knew of a decent and clean boarding house. Being enterprising scamps, we seized the opportunity of increased pocket money and said ‘Our mum can put you up’ and promptly marched him home. My mother nearly fell over when we introduced him and told him she had never taken in lodgers. However, we had taken to him and with our persuasion combined with his pleas that he was desperate for somewhere to stay, my flustered mother (after telephoning my father, who came down to vet the man from where he worked at W.Ames a few doors away) agreed to negotiate a fee and set up one of our spare rooms. It turned out that our lodger – a Bill Fellis - worked for the Tote, travelling round the UK racecourses. He not only became one of a few regular guests of my mother one-roomed boarding house, but also became a life-long friend of my parents. Better yet, whenever he had a successful day at the races, he was extremely financially generous to my brother & I and never missed the opportunity to tell how he discovered his favourite B&B.

By Edward Sheldrick
On 09/01/2012

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