Tag Archives: Widnes

The Lightfoot Letters

Well, the chapbook arrived yesterday and I am delighted with it. The publishers, Erbacce, have done a wonderful job and Maria Walker’s cover design is really beautiful. I have dedicated the book to my brothers and sister and I am looking forward to presenting them with a copy. I wonder what my dad’s family would have thought if they had known their letters would one day be published, revealing so much about working class life in a Northern industrial town in 1923.

Maria wants me to write more poems, so my work is not yet done, but at least I have a publication to include in the exhibition at The Brindley, which will be happening in late summer this year. I have a feeling I will need to order another box of books by then as so many people have shown an interest in this project. A friend only remarked yesterday that Maria and I only discovered the connection of the letters in October – what a lot can happen in such a short time!

The discovery of the letters, and my doing some work in Widnes at my old library and Farnworth Church, has brought me back in time and back to Widnes in a very curious way. Having not thought much about the place for years, and recently severing my links with it when my in-laws moved away into a retirement flat near us, I suddenly feel closer to the place than I have for a long long time, even though I am a bit of a stranger in that it is all so different these days. The busy town square is pedestrianised, Simms Cross school has gone and the market has moved. The library now has a coffee shop – we would have loved that – and the road home past the foundry where my brother worked is now a dead end. Roots are so important and you can never dig them up.

£5 from me or from Erbacce

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Filed under New books in 2011, poetry, The Inspirational Old Letters

We have had enough of the Tory’s

 

Peter LIghtfoot 1880-1968

 

20 December 1923

Dear Frances

Just a few lines  hopeing it finds you well as it leaves me at present i have just came in from an election meeting we are in the thick of the fight and i hope Labour wins this time we have had about enough of the Tory’s it is a lovely Night and frosty and i am knowing about it this week my nose is as red as a berry with the Restu do you use it for washing with if not tell Aunt Sarah to get you some tell em it’s good. Because your Dad makes it so you argue about religion well i am sure you can hold your own with them. Spiritism is Demonic tell Aunt Polly i said so and so does the Bible. Mam as told you all the news so i have very little to write about i expect you are busy getting read for xmas i will try and come before then to see you it seems a very nice place from the Photo I think this is all now as it is geting late so with best love and xxxxx i will close

Good Night and God Bless you

From your loving Dad xxxxxx

My grandfather wrote this letter to his daughter. He worked at Gossages and Restu is a brand of soap made there.

We are still staunch Labour in the family, but I wonder what grandad would have made of some of the changes in his beloved party since he wrote this letter!

His points about religion are also interesting. He was a Protestant, and very much against other views. I think he has a point about Spiritualism, but it is a pity that my father turning Catholic caused so much strife. Frances must have been around 16 at the time, but he has every faith in her ability to argue her view.

Working at Gossage’s cannot have been good for him, but then he did live till he was 88.

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Mother/Daughter Love: Ada Lightfoot to Frances Lightfoot

A letter from my paternal Grandmother Ada Lightfoot to her eldest daughter Frances, probably written November 1923.

Probably written end of November 1923

19 Russell Street

Farnworth

Widnes

Dear Frances

We’re very pleased to have your letter on Thursday morning. We have been waiting and watching for the postman every day for ages. It does seem a long time since you wrote. I slept all night till 5 o’clock in the morning for the first time since you went away. You know how I do trouble over things I have not had you out of my thoughts night or day and you may know how I miss your presence at home. Doesn’t a pussy cat even cry if one kitty is lost? Is not a Mammy lonely when the girlie is away so don’t forget try and write once a week home to save worry. If we did not think it was for your own benefit we would not punish ourselves by letting any of the family be from home. Even Willie has waited and waited for a message from you. He was most dissapointed when there was no special letter for him as well as the others.

Our Ada yelled and howled because she did not know how to write a letter to you she did her best so did Vincent and Peter I don’t know how you will manage them. I was going to write this afternoon  only I had the ironing to do. I could not leave it after Friday I washed on Tuesday but the drying hinders one so many days. Can you manage the ironing yet?

I don’t suppose there will be much. We are being careful and not making any more washing than we can help but I have washed each Tuesday so as not to get over faced. I tried naphtha dry soap for Willie’s overalls so used it for the lot I am not in a hurry to use it again it made such holes in my fingers. Mona does not come in much now, nor anybody only Jim Fenny calls for Willie. I have only been able to do a bit of shopping twice since you went away. One week Daddy did the work and last week Willie did it. We are not doing too bad with the work only the front has not been done. I can’t see it being done either this weather. The wind is awful, blows the pictures off the wall if the door is opened half an inch. I am glad you have had letters from your companions they will tell you the news of Farnworth and school which both you know I never know only what the children bring in.

Last week when I called at Grandma’s for a minute Auntie Nellie and her mother brought the baby to see her it is a lovely big fat girl very much like Uncle Gill, reminds me much of Aunt Hattie’s Gwen. Our Dorothy is going worse naughty I am think of putting her in trousers and jersey she is more like a boy than a girl. We have hardly any dishes left the way she keeps smashing them. It will soon be Christmas I won’t be sorry when it is over perhaps we will have a bit less rain. Jim Fenny is going to paper Harrison’s parlour and kitchen so he will be getting quite well off. I am just wondering what sort of a mess our Willie will be in when it is done for her is sure to be p??? over the scene. Dolly has only been twice since you were home we don’t give her fuss enough the sooner she get tired the better I say.

Well I will have to get the children ready for bed now so I will have to close, I have a stamp so you will perhaps get this on Saturday if it is posted tonight. Do your pinafores do you for alright and did you get fixed up for nighties alright I have been worrying about them so let me know. I have 29 in the sweep I wonder how I will get on. Ask Freddie when he is coming to Runcorn to that football match, is it before Christmas I ask our Dorothy where nanny is and she says pupper. Every day she says a new word. So no more now with fond love from Mam & Dad & all your loving mum

xxx Ada Lightfoot xx

This long letter must have been a huge effort for a busy housewife and is full of yearning for her eldest daughter who must have been her helper and ally. Ada had six children, but the other two daughters were small at this time. There was Willie, the eldest, who seems to have expected to be looked after as he was working, then Frances, who seems to have been working away from home, then my dad Peter, still at school, his younger brother Vincent, then the two small girls, Dorothy being the baby.

I never knew my grandmother but getting to know her like this I feel very close to her. Given the troubled relationship we had with this side of the family owing to my father later becoming Catholic, this is a very healing experience. She was just a mother doing the best for her children, like all mothers do.

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My Father’s Letter

This is as he wrote it with his errors preserved.

Dear Frances

Just a few lines to tell you for ther’s not much doing.

On Saturday morning I went to the Brickfield to skate. I could go on one, but now I can go on two.

Our pits are thick with ice. Jim Smith and I are pals. On Monday noon Jim and I went to the pond to skate.

Every dinner time I go to skate.

Sunday morning Vincent and I went to the pond. When we got there Jim, Fenny, our Willie, etc. etc.

When I go to school at play-time I go in goal for Farnworth team. We have won every game this week.

Now I finish at S. Bridge’s at 5 o’clock on Thursday.

Thursday night at 7.30 pm Father, Vincent and I went to a lecture on animals by Mr Rev James Woolfe.

I was interested all the night.

Vincent and I started out t. 10-10 pm for dad had not reached home.

Half way down the lane we met him he told us to go to Grandma’s till he came there.

Grandmar gave us a penny and a Rosy Apple. which we ate in the room.

When I was coming home I saw Mrs Beardmore with his wife.

We came home the the Houseing Scheme.

I have not got a tip of any kind yet.

I hope you read Vincent’s finish and I am sure you was surprised at the paino.

I have started to get two comices each week now.

That are called “Golden Penny Comice” and Jester

From your loving Brother

Peter xxxxxx

This my dad on his wedding photo, two months after the wedding.

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