Bank & Brake Level Village
recently retired I have started to research into the family tree, which
led me to this site and I wish that I had found it earlier. I lived in
I was actually born at Rockside above, what is now,
Because my father worked night shifts at the time, my mother went to my Auntie Annie Cotterill in Rockside to give birth and, at 2 days old I returned home to
next door neighbour at that time was an elderly widow, Mrs Mitchell. A
lovely and very self contained lady.
At the bottom of the Brake , where the Brake met the main road, lived George Boyson who was a local councillor. I remember Georgie, as he was known, as a dour character with little humour but people trusted him to sort out their problems.
Opposite George Boyson, lived Monty Bowker and his wife whose name I forget. Monty was the exact opposite of George in that he was jovial and friendly. Whenever you went past, he always seemed to standing at his front door and he always had a word for young or old. Visually, he always reminded me of George Formby.
to the Bowkers were Tommy and Mary Cotterill and their son Colin. Tommy
and Mary eventually took over the Crown in the village, Tommy always had
a car when there were few private cars about and I had many trips out
with them to
only other two houses on
the bottom of
At the age of 5 I started school at Woodcock Wells where Vernon Ball was Headmaster. The teachers at the time were the lovely Mrs. Priestman, the slightly daunting Miss Bailey and, in the later part of my time at the school, the fantastic Miss Forrester. I passed my 11+ at the school to go to Wolstanton Grammar and I am certain that Miss Forrester was instrumental in me passing. My mother went to Woodcocks Wells and we both agreed that there was no better school anywhere in the country.
comparison of a childhood today and that in the early 1950s is stark.
A typical day for me as a 7/ 5 year old was to walk to school up the Brake,
walk or run back after school, to walk to my cousin Bill’s after
a bite of tea and to run back home again, often after it got dark. That
probably constitutes about 4 miles
walked or ran – regardless of weather. Leaving Rockside in the dark
usually going over the back wall and running down the rock side to join
We did so many things that would not be allowed today. In the playground at Woodcock Wells we had access to vertical rock faces which we climbed, we had stone throwing battles – which were not intended to cause anyone any harm but certainly sharpened your reflexes. We went along to the Machine fields below Butchers Corner and built camps out of wet clods (turf ) we went further down towards Kent Green where we would dam the stream to build a paddling/ swimming pool. There were people who rode down the Drumbers on bikes without brakes ( John Owen was one ). We played football, cricket, rounders and the like on the Rec on a space which was little more than a postage stamp and overgrown with thorn bushes ( This is now the top of Grays Close )
Nobody ever got hurt – well, seriously hurt that is. We were not mollycoddled, we were not overweight and we were fit
Reading the other memoirs reminds me of so many things and events I thought I had forgotten. Standing petrified singing a solo in the pantomime at the Parish Room ( “ Smile” by Charlie Chaplin ), Watching Fred and Bill Leeson rebuilding an old blue MG sports car which they had bought as bits, watching Fred Howell finish rebuilding my shoes ruined by constant footballing.
Prize day at Bank Chapel. The Superintendents at the time were Billy Wright and George Dixon and, every year, the Sunday school pupils received a book (usually of their choice). The presentation would normally be by a senior Methodist cleric but, the year that I remember best, the books were presented by Ray King who was, at the time, the Port Vale goalkeeper. I had been introduced to Port Vale 3 years earlier by my cousin Bill and I clearly remember standing speechless and in awe of this great man. It was the equivalent of meeting David Beckham.
Whilst I still see Chris Hallen, David Cliff and Colin Cotterill, as the years go by, we lose touch with many of the friends and the individuals who were so influential in our growing up which is inevitable but is also such a pity.