3 Salisbury Road
Memories of Luton 2
3 Salisbury Road
In the 1940s we lived at 10 Stanley Street and then at 56 Dumfries Street; my grandparents lived just up the road almost on the corner of Dumfries and Salisbury and in my eyes they had a much grander existence than us.
I never remember entering that house through the front door, it was always the back way for me, which was reached down a short alley way almost at the top of Dumfries. You walked past the back entrance of the bakery on the corner which produced the most wonderful bread and always, on a Good Friday, the unmissable hot cross buns.
Grandma’s house (it was in her name, for reasons I never discovered) was reached through a gate and up a small path lined by flowers such as her favourite ‘Lily of the Valley’. Along the wall bordering the bakery were some rabbit hutches and sometimes we used to let them out into the garden. We used to keep rabbits too and I thought they were just pets until my favourite ‘Billy’ disappeared one day and we had rabbit stew that week. “It’s Billy isn’t it!” I said. “Shut up and eat your dinner”, said my mum, and to my distress and guilt, I did.
You went up a step at the house end of the garden and to the right were steps leading down and to the left the toilet. That was a luxury to have the toilet so close to the house. In our’s it seemed like a day’s trek when you had to go.
Grandma and Grandad lived in the basement of their house. On the first floor lived Rita and John, two lodgers. On the second were my grandparent’s bedrooms and above that was an attic.
In the basement was a seemingly huge walk in pantry which was dark and always cool. It was perfect for shutting people in and after my great grandmother suffered that pleasure she told grandma never to let that ‘little sod’ to visit while she was there.
The kitchen, or scullery as we called it. Had a large table, in front of the window, for preparing food etc and then at the other end was the ‘copper’. This was essentially a brick oven with a large basin set into the top. Underneath was a space for lighting a fire and thus heating the water in the copper. Grandma washed her clothes in it but also, a few weeks before Christmas the Christmas puddings were boiled in there and stored away in preparation for the great event. Sometimes babies were bathed in the copper too – bathed, not boiled!
Along another wall was the gas cooker and along the opposite wall was the mighty mangle. It could have been a torture instrument and it could have been dangerous too. My dad used to joke ‘Dont get your tits caught in the mangle, Mum!”. However it was simply the means of crushing out the water from the sheets and clothes washed in the copper.
In the next room of that basement was the living room. I loved this room. We could sit and talk, or listen to the radio, assuming that Grandma had remembered to get her accumulator recharged. Sometimes I would be sent down to the shop with the old one and bring the new one back. I never did, and still don’t, understand the technology of that.
In the corner stood a wind up gramophone. There were only 2 records, it seemed to me but I listened to those again and again. One was a very strange song which I could never understand but the music was catchy and it etched itself into my memory.
The other was a song called ‘Today I feel so happy’ and I would move around the room singing it out loud.
The rest of the house was nothing extraordinary but going up into the attic was what I always liked doing. I always hoped that something new would be up there each time Grandad allowed me to go, but even if not, that was there he kept all his old books and papers and I just loved mooching around and discovering all kinds of things which seemed to be worth knowing just for their own sake.
A few weeks ago I passed the house and all the stuff just flooded back. Thanks for the memory.