Extracts from Gwenda Lewis' book - page 2
'I Remember ... My Life in Bwlchgwyn 1939-1943'
(taken from chapter 3, 'Life in
Text (c) Gwenda Lewis 2005
At the time all the babies were
delivered at home by Nurse Williams, who, by nature of her profession, was
an important member of the community. She lived opposite the
Post-Office-cum-village shop on the main road, in 'Cynlais', the house
where my great grandparents had once lived, and she was hated and feared
by all the village children. The nearest doctor was in Coedpoeth so Nurse
was the first port of call in cases of illness or injury. She it was who
administered injections and scrubbed grit out of grazed knees when we
wouldn't let our mothers near them, so it's not surprising she was
unpopular with us youngsters...
as it looks today; originally the door was centred between the two front
windows and Nurse Williams occupied the rooms on the left of the corridor
was able to help with one ongoing problem which troubled me. Although I
was getting to enjoy country life and being with my cousin was like having
a little sister (without the competition) I did miss my father. He came up
to see us from time to time, but only more for the odd weekend, and once
he had gone I was disconsolate and inclined to have tummy upsets. Nurse
Williams suggested a remedy which would surely settle my stomach. The
remedy was somewhat unconventional. It was - fizzy pop.
best place to get this in quantity was the 'Joiner's Arms' pub around the
corner. Now being a God-fearing, chapel-going woman, my mother could not
possibly be seen going into the Joiner's Arms. You were either chapel or
pub. You could not be both. So she had an arrangement with Miss Pugh, the
landlady. My mother would knock on the back door of the pub and chubby
Miss Pugh would appear in her grubby pinafore and discreetly supply her
with a crate of fizzy pop in various flavours. So appearances were
maintained, conscience cleared and my vital supplies duly obtained. My
mother found the crates rather heavy and sometimes press-ganged my brother
into doing the 'pub run'. He was none too keen and thought me a bit of a
nuisance. One can hardly blame him...
Joiners' Arms, Bwlchgwyn. Although this picture dates back to perhaps
1910, the Joiner's Arms (which only sold beer) never changed much in
appearance until about the 1960s.
|...But back to the
1940s and wartime restrictions. The fact we were at war meant certain
rules had to be followed. One vital rule was to observe 'blackout
precautions'. Not only were our windows draped with black curtains but the
few cars on the road - and they were very few indeed - had their
headlights hooded so that the light would shine downwards only. Even
torches had to have tissue paper stuck on the lens to minimise the
|Food rationing was
introduced early in the war, in January 1940, and we were registered for
our rations with the Post Office/general store on the main road. I
remember this shop as cluttered, gloomy and damp, with a strange smell, a
mixture of bacon, fresh bread, firewood and paraffin...
you know what you are looking for - this is the Post Office window (when
the Post Office was at Prion) on the left, the shop door was to the left
of the window. The archway to the right led up to Miss Nuttall's house.
as it looks today; only the stone wall, stone arch and telephone box
remain to remind us of how it used to look. (Hilary Belton)
|In warm weather flies
and bluebottles buzzed around our heads, most of them coming to a
distressing end on the sticky fly paper which hung, like gruesome
decorations, from the ceiling. Margaret and I were frequent visitors
running down the passageway cut through the grey rock to Ruthin Road. With
our pocket money clutched in our hands we were after a few sweets,
although they were mostly gritty boiled sweets which scratched our
tongues. Chocolate had all but disappeared and was a rare treat.
|From time to time my
mother would buy salt or icing sugar, if she could get it, which both came
in large, rock-hard, rectangular blocks. David and I had the task of
breaking them down into chunks with a knife and using a rolling pin to
crush them into a usable form. It was quite hard work and we had to watch
our fingers. However in July 1940 a complete ban was put on the making or
selling of iced cakes so that left only the salt to deal with, which
supplies of margarine, sugar and dried egg would be saved up to make a
cake or a little toffee as a treat. I remember my mother making our small
butter ration go further by beating milk into it - quite hard work, but
worth it for the little extra it gave us.
|We collected our meat
allowance from from Ifor Morris' little butcher's shop at the bottom of
Wesley Road and very occasionally had a chicken from a relative who had a
smallholding just outside the village. We had to keep quiet about
|Milk deliveries in the
country were rather different from what we had known in London, still
brought by a horse-drawn vehicle, but it was a farm cart rather than the
Express Dairy milk float. And no bottles. The milk was brought
straight from the local farm in large metal churns and dispensed into jugs
or little churns which we took out into the lane when we heard the horse
and cart arrive.
|'MILK!!' Meilir or
Arthur Hughes used to call and then dole out the right amount with a
measure on a long handle. Meilir was strict and gave the exact amount but
Arthur often slipped a little extra in the jug if there was room. And
sometimes he had sweets in his pocket for us children.
|Then, if my aunt was
in the right mood she would perform her party piece. She could swing the
little pint churn, filled to the brim with foaming milk, round and round
her head without spilling a drop. We watched in open-mouthed amazement
every time as she swung it, chuckling and whooping all the while. We never
discovered the secret of how it was done but were always enchanted when
she responded to our cries of 'Swing the milk, Bombom, swing the milk!'