May Ward (1907-1984)

Aunty May was born on 27th October 1907, probably in Malta Street. May is the second of five children born to Bridget (nee Shannon) and Joe Ward.

Aunty May and the Turnbull family are very close to me because as a child me and my brother Stephen spent a lot of time with them at their house, on trips and also on holidays. They were very supportive of my mother and us since our father had left when we were young.

In 1911 the Ward family are living at 11 Malta Street. May's father, Joe, is 29 and a cotton weaver, her mother Bridget is 26; they have been married for five years and have three children, James who is 4, May who is 3 and Kathleen who is 3 months old. Betsy Ward, 64 years, is also living with them, she is Joseph's mother (it seems likely his parents are separated as his father is living with one of his siblings). Here is an aerial photograph of the area taken in the 1950's. Malta Street is marked with a red circle on the map below.

May married Jim Turnbull when she was 20 years old on 31st December 1927 at St George's church. Here is a copy of the details from the parish church entry:

May was a cotton weaver and Jim a cotton spinner. Uncle Jim Ward, May's brother, and Ivy Waring Turnbull, Jim Turnbull's sister, were witnesses. On the marriage certificate it says that Jim lived at 4 Grime Street, and that his father was unknown. I will return to this later. May was living with her parents and siblings at 27 Malta Street.

There does not appear to be any photographs of St George's on the internet but here is one that I took looking down into Darwen from Tockholes Road when I was in my early teens, so it is about 1960; you can see St George's behind the lamp post:

Aunty May was a cotton weaver. She worked in various cotton mills. I'm not sure about the mills she worked in when she was a teenager but I know that she worked at Greenfield Mill when Gandhi visited in 1931. Here is a photograph of Gandhi with some of the workers. I don't know who any of the workers are but the woman at the front with the hat and coat on looks suspiciously like my grandma! I do know that aunty May told me she had met Gandhi.

And here is a photograph of her in about 1929, she is at the back on the right and my grandma, her mother Bridget, is at the back on the left. Her eldest son, Thomas, who was born in 1928, is sitting on the knee of Betsy Alice Richardson, May's cousin; he looks about one. My mum, May's youngest sister, is in the middle and Bessie Richardson, Betsy Alice's daughter is in front of my grandma.

Here is a photograph of May and Jim, not sure of the date:

I'm not sure when May and Jim moved to 32 Ratcliffe Street but I always remember them living there. Ratcliffe Street is marked by a red triangle on the above aerial photograph. It seems highly likely that they bought this house off aunty May's uncle John William Ward who lived there from about 1911 to at least 1926 when his son was married from there. What is also fascinating is that one of uncle Jim's relatives helped to build Ratcliffe Street.

Here is Tommy, Jack Parker, Kathleen, uncle Jim and Walt Bleasdale outside 32 Ratcliffe Street:

May and Jim's two other children were probably born at Ratcliffe Street: James (Jimmy) who was born in 1934 and Kathleen in 1939.

At some point May worked as a weaver at Cotton Hall as well as Primrose Mill on Ratcliffe Street which was just across the road from where they lived, you can see it on the aerial photograph as the sun is reflecting on the roof. I remember going to the mill to see her once, the racket of the looms was horrendous! Working in a weaving shed meant that aunty May, like other cotton weavers, could lip read as this was the way they communicated over the noise of the looms.

She also worked for a while in the canteen at Premier Mill. I distinctly remember one occasion going to see her and her giving me and my pals an ice-cream each.

The Turnbull family lived at 32 Ratcliffe Street for many years; I spent many a happy hour visiting them.

Here is a holiday shot, aunty May is on the right side next to Alice Thornber who was May's daughter's mother-in-law, Kathleen is on the left at the front:

Here is another photo of aunty May on holiday: I don't know where it is nor who the other woman is, May is on the left:

And here is a photo of May with her son-in-law's uncle Norman:

Uncle Jim and aunty May took over the Black Horse public house in Redearth Road in 1955. The red square marks a row of houses on the aerial photograph above: I was born in number 80 (Redearth Road); the Black Horse is just to the left with the bowling green behind number 80. They ran it for thirteen years, here is a recent photograph I took:

I have lots of fond memories of the Black Horse, I virtually grew up there. I used to wait on and uncle Jim showed me how to pull a mean pint with a good head on it - if there wasn't a good head the men would send it back and say it was flat! I once saw the Northern Lights with aunty May through the kitchen window!

I also remember when Herman's Hermits were playing at the Mocambo night club (in the building that was the first Redearth Road Methodist Church), which was just below the Black Horse, and aunty May refused to serve them alcohol saying they were too young!

The first Catholic Church was a small chapel built in Redearth Road in 1845 which became the Black Horse Inn ten years later in 1855; services continued to be held in a room upstairs and it seems there was a temporary chapel in the Black Horse in the 1820's. I remember a fancy railing at the top of the stairs which, I was told, used to be the alter rail.

Here is a photo with uncle Jim and aunty May Turnbull, their daughter Kathleen and her husband Jack and aunty Kit and uncle George at the front. They are on holiday in Great Yarmouth.

Whilst uncle Jim did have a drink it was only occasionally whereas aunty May, like my grandma and mother, loved her King's Ale - this was a small bottle of very strong ale made by Lion's Brewery of Blackburn. In fact, aunty May used to have two bottles at a time poured into a larger glass. I remember aunty May liking her drink in much the same way as my grandma did.

Grandma used to work as a cleaner at the Black Horse until she reached her 80's. My mum waited on there, as did most of the female members of our family.

Saturday night was my favourite as the 'best' room would be open and the piano played whilst everyone (and it was always packed) sang the old songs.

In 1968, after running the pub became too much for uncle Jim: he had diabetes and didn't know it and after trying to cut a corn off his big toe it turned to gangrene and he had to have his leg off to just under his knee, May and Jim moved to a sweet shop on the corner of Starkie Street and Ratcliffe Street, which aunty May ran until uncle Jim died in 1970.

Here is a photo of aunty May with uncle Jim in a wheelchair, I forget the name of the couple they are with:

And here are a series of holiday photographs:

Uncle Jim and his grand-children, Jimmy and Eileen:

Uncle Jim, Tommy, Winnie, Bridget and second from right aunty May:

Jackie Pollard, uncle Jim, Tommy, Ian Pollard, Jimmy.

Uncle Jim, aunty May Orrell, aunty May, Tommy and Jimmy:

Uncle Jim in the middle and uncle Jim Ward on right:

Uncle Jim is on the back, right:

When uncle Jim died my brother, Stephen and his first wife, Lilian, bought the sweet shop and aunty May bought a little house in Alpha Street which was almost opposite the shop. Later on auntie Kit bought a house lower down on Alpha Street, followed by my mother buying the one next door to aunty Kit in about 1979 after my step father had died. So for a few years, all three sisters lived in the same street.

In 1973 auntie May married Lawrence Bradshaw. She spent ten years married to Lawrence until she died on holiday at Margate. There has always been a mystery surrounding auntie May's death. She had bruising on her neck. It seems she had a cold and, like most of the Ward family (including myself when I was younger), she had a nylon stocking tied around her neck, to help the sore throat. Clearly the police in Margate thought it suspicious as two detectives came to interview family members.

Here is one of the three Ward sisters, May on the left, Kit in the middle and Bessie on the right:

May and Jim had three children:

Thomas (Tommy) Turnbull (1928-1997)

Thomas, or Tommy as he was known, was born in 1928; I am guessing he was born at 32 Ratcliffe Street. Here he is on the far right at my mum's wedding in 1945; he must be 17 but I have to say, he looks a lot younger.

Here he is, again on the right, with my mum and his brother Jimmy; the photo is taken at the back of Ratcliffe Street.

I have really fond memories of 32 Ratcliffe Street, jumping on the double bed, playing on the pen at the back, where Tommy kept hens and two pigs (I think one was called Jacob and the other Jennifer). I wasn't so fond of the toilet, however, as it was a long-drop toilet - I was frightened of falling down.

Tommy married Winnie (Winifred) Bedford on 24th December 1955 at St Johns:

and here is the full photograph. Kathleen, Tommy's sister is on the left, then Jimmy, his brother, Tommy himself, Winnie his wife, Winnie's dad, James Bedford, Annie. Winnie's sister. On the front row are two of Winnie's nieces and me.

Tommy and Winnie had four children, three boys and a girl. I used to babysit them when I was young and I am godmother to their daughter. In between having children, Winnie would go back to work at Carus's, all told she worked there well over twenty years.

From my memory, after they first got married they lived in Gladstone Street, then moved to the prefabs just over t'Bent, then to 127 Redearth Road.

I remember when they lived in the prefabs, I thought it was wonderful, all on the same level with a kitchen that had units. Tommy had a pen just behind the prefab, across a river, where he kept hens. I remember being chased by a cockerill over the fence, over the river and I just got inside the prefab and closed the door in time.

On another occasion I was playing on the pen with my brother Stephen and Gerald Bibby and Gerald shot me with Tommy's air rifle! I also remember borrowing the same air rifle when I sang You Can't Get a Man with a Gun in a concert at Redearth Road Methodist youth club.

Tommy was a coal man, working for the National Coal Board, for many years. I remember for a time he worked as a milkman and had a milk-float. He then worked as a stoker at Darwen Paper Mill.

He loved fishing and I recall many a fishing trip to the River Ribble, Glasson Dock. I remember one holiday I had with Tommy, Winnie and the children: we were camping. I recall Winnie cooking breakfast on Walney Island and a policeman moving us on telling us we couldn't camp there. I think it was the same holiday that we camped late one night; luckily I stayed in the van that night because those in the tent got wet through in a bad rain storm.

On another occasion we all went up to Jack Keys Lodge and for a bet I went into the Lodge to recover a football we had been playing with.

Like his mother and grandmother, Tommy liked his drink and could be a bugger when he'd had too many. At the same time, he had a heart of gold. If my memory serves me right, Tommy and Winnie drove me to Preston in 1965 when I joined the RAF.

Every Christmas Eve Tommy and Winnie would have a party at 127 Redearth Road as this coincided with their wedding anniversary. It is a shame that such traditions die with our parents.

I am doing a separate page for Winnie Bedford and her family.

James (Jimmy) Turnbull (1934-2007)

I don't have many photos of Jimmy and his family.

Here he is on the left with my mum and his brother Tommy behind Ratcliffe Street.

Here is Tommy's wedding photo again, with Jimmy on the left.

Jimmy married Doreen Taylor in 1956 at St John's, here they are:

And here is the full wedding photo:

The three people to the left of Jimmy are Doreen's brothers and sister. To the right of Doreen is her dad then my cousin Kathleen and, I think, Doreen's niece then Tommy. I am the one with ringlets on the front and the other little girl is another neice from Doreen's side.

Here is one from another wedding, it shows their son Kenneth, then Doreen, Jimmy, Tommy and Winnie.

Jimmy and Doreen had three children, a boy and two girls. Their son, Kenneth died the year after his dad; he was punched by a drunken 18 year old one night outside the White Lion pub in Darwen. Kenneth had a brain haemorrhage and died. He was 51 years old. Here he is:

Kathleen Turnbull (b. 1939)

Kathleen was born in Ratcliffe Street and went to St John's school (like me and Stephen). Kathleen was very close to my mum and me (and vice versa). In fact, she was one of the bridesmaids at my mum's wedding, she is on the right, she must have been about six years old; the bridesmaids dresses are pale green satin with little pink roses - it seems that uncle Jim Turnbull was able to get the material as he was in the navy.

Here she is again with my mum and me in the backyard at Ratcliffe Street, Kathleen is probably about nine or ten:

And here she is with me, Stephen and my mum visiting our grandparents in Preston, again at a similar age:

Here she is again, when we were all on holiday in a caraven in Morecambe; she is sitting with my grandma whilst me and Stephen are looking through the window:

Most of these photos are taken when we were all on holiday. Here is another one, sorry about the condition but I cannot improve it. Not sure where it is but Kathleen is on the left, then me with Stephen behind me, then Barry.

Another holiday shot; Kathleen is on the left sitting on a deck chair; Jack, her future husband, is behind her; his mother is on the right with her arm around Kathleen's mother. They are in Rhyl.

Kathleen went to Avondale Secondary School for Girls, the same one I went to. Her favourite teacher was Mrs Whalley - I was also taught by Mrs Whalley but I'm afraid she wasn't one of my favourite teachers.

Most of the other photographs were taken at weddings. Here is Kathleen on the left at her brother Tommy's wedding:

and here she is at her brother Jimmy's wedding, she is third from the right:

Kathleen married Jack Parker in September 1958.

My cousin Barry is on the left, then my cousin, Christine, Jack's brother, Norman, Jack, Kathleen, uncle Jim, cousin Marion, me and Stephen.

Here is a colour photo taken outside St John's church. Also in this photo is Jack's brother, Harold Thornber to his left; behind Jack is his step-father, Tommy Thornber, and his wife (Jack's mother) Alice, then uncle Jim and aunty May.

Here is one of my favourite photos of Kathleen:

Kathleen and Jack had two children, their son John and their daughter, Kathleen Janet (1960-1995), I am working on a page for young Kathleen.