Posts Tagged ‘Bicycle’

Mum’s oil lamps

March 22, 2014

I find it interesting that I recall my mum loved a pair of oil lamps which I now have. Mum died way back in 1967 when I was a teenager but I still think of these lamps as ‘mum’s’.


The lamps have a clear glass window at the front and a red glass window at the rear.


There’s a small green window at the side and a clamp for fastening on the other side.


I do not know for sure what they were used for but almost certainly they were for bikes. Most similar lamps seem to have the fastening bracket at the back.

The base of the lamp is the paraffin tank and the lamp is a simple wick lamp so there is a wheel adjuster to control the flame.

The clear glass front opens so that the inside can be cleaned if it gets sooty.


The lamp was made by a Birmingham firm.


P H stands for Powell and Hanmer. I think they made their ‘Demon’ lamps towards the end of the nineteenth century or possibly early in the twentieth. I have had them lit in the past.

Lovely items – I am very fond of them as lamps but mostly for memories of mum.



Clowns at Firle

December 19, 2013

One of the hopes, when writing a blog like this, is that you might get more information from somebody about what was going on. Not that there’ll be many people around now with memories of events and things that must date back to the 1920s. Yes, this is a bit of family history.

Two sisters, both great aunts of mine happened to end up living in Firle in Sussex (correctly it is West Firle). One was Eliza who married Will Hughes who was a local farm worker. The other was Ellen (Nellie) who married Frank Toms who was a general worker/engineer on the Firle state. Ellen lived to a goodly age and I know she was known as ‘Granny Toms’ by many villagers.

Well that sets the scene for that hoped for recognition but it doesn’t introduce us to any clowns. For that we have to introduce two more sisters. One was my granny, Ethel, who lived in Bexhill and the other was Great Aunt Sue who lived in Ringmer. I am sure these photos were taken around Granny Toms’ house which was on Wick Street in Firle.


This is Sue in the clown costume on a bicycle which I don’t think we’d call roadworthy. It lacks a front tyre and minor items like brakes and pedals. Sue’s foot is on what is only a footrest.

What I’d love to know is why Sue was dressed up as a clown.

And here, presumably on the same occasion, is Ethel, my grandmother.


Now I never saw grandma on a bicycle, although there is a photo of her and grandad on a tandem bike. Anyway, Granny has clearly decided against the bike and has a concertina instead.

I find these delightful photos and it reminds us that people did have fun in those old, black and white photo days.

But what was the occasion?

A Young Mechanic

May 6, 2013

OK, the young mechanic is me aged something under 4.

Back in 1952 my family had no car and not a lot of money. But we did have bikes and here I am  giving a bike a service


The bike would not have been in the first flush of youth for it would have arrived at me via my older brother, and before that my older sister. And just where it came from originally, I do not know. As far as I remember it was painted brown. It’s amazing I remember a colour for I tend not to take much notice of colour these days. Well that isn’t strictly true, but if you were to ask me the colour of walls in any room in the house other than the one I am in, I’ll struggle to give an answer. Shapes matter more to me and I am regularly in trouble for poor taste with regard to colour.

What I want are bold colours and contrasting colours. People tell me things like ‘red and green should never be seen’. To which my response is invariably to draw attention to the beauty of poppies in an unripe cornfield – a wonderful mix of red and green.

But I digress. The bike presumably had a flat tyre for I appear to be attaching a pump. The location was our yard at the house in Ifield and I note the next door neighbour’s plumbing vice under wraps.

It really does look like another world! No surprise there really, for it was.

Crawley – Old Town / New Town

April 25, 2013

As a child I lived in Ifield. It was about a mile and a half to go into town and that meant Crawley. As I grew up our village of Ifield became a part of the New Town experiment. Crawley had been selected as a site for a big town to be built as an adjunct to the old.  Other local communities were to become a part of the town and that included Ifield.

Of course, it was all planned properly. It wasn’t just to be a new town of dwellings. New shops, factories, pubs, churches and community buildings were all in the plan. Crawley gained a new town centre just away from the historic High Street of old.

By and large the planning was quite good. It’s not the original planners’; fault that Crawley is now vastly bigger than envisaged and the facilities don’t really match need. I’m not sure that planners some 60 or more years ago can be blamed for not realising how the car was to become a must have item, first for families and then for individuals. Many areas are thus chronically underprovided with off street parking.

But it is the Crawley Town Centre we are going to look at. These are more photos taken by Herman Gerard, our German friend, and given to my family in that wonderful Disney album.

Let’s start with the old town


This is Crawley’s old High Street and the building is known as The Ancient Priors. It’s still there, still looks much the same and is still some kind of Café. The two ladies walking by are Herman’s wife Geppa, on the left and my mum on the right. The car we see part of is an Austin A40 – a popular model of the early 60s.

I think Herman did little more than turn round to take this other High Street photo.


This looks past Mum, Dad and Geppa and beyond an Austin A20 to The George. This was very much Crawley’s heritage – a coaching inn on the main road from London to Brighton. More than fifty years on, it, too, remains unchanged.

And now to the new town centre.


The same trio of people pose for Herman’s photo which shows a part of Crawley called Queen’s Square. The Queen had ‘opened’ it a few years before. My dad met her on that occasion. Queen’s Square was something new and special for the new Elizabethan age. Shops we see include Tesco’s Food fair and the original Sainsbury Store in Crawley. This was so hugely popular that on Saturday mornings the doors had to be shut to stop people getting in.

But it is the sheer quantity of old bikes that look amazing now. Actually, the nearest one looks remarkably like mine – the one which languishes, unused in my garage. It certainly has the same shape. The same kind of Sturmey Archer gear change and the same front hub dynamo. But I doubt it had been ridden to town, although it was once the way the journey was made. I still recall riding on a child seat on my mum’s bike.


There’s the same trio of people sitting in Queen’s Square. The multi storey building housing Queensway Stores was a slightly later addition. There’s a Victorian bandstand which came from elsewhere in Crawley (I think). My wife, as a schoolgirl, played her oboe in a band there. Just out of shot on the left there was a Woolworth shop, said to be the biggest self-service shop in Europe at the time it opened. It certainly wouldn’t be now.

Aspects of Queen’s Square have been revamped but the buildings still look much the same. Cars were stopped from using this square years ago. It might look less cluttered these days.

I remember both ‘halves’ of Crawley but I have to say I’m glad I live where I do now.