The houses which became known as number 13, 15, 17 and 19 were a block of 4 terraced cottages. It is frustrating that we do not have any photos of these houses which were on the right-hand side going down Horseshoe Lane from St Mary Street.
We have been told they were very similar in appearance to a row of 4 houses in Rock Street which we do have a photo of. We have been given a good description of the Horseshoe Lane houses by Win Jenkins who was brought up there as a child.
Win said her house had only one bedroom. This was a problem in a household with so many children. Like many families at the time, they used the wide landing at the top of the stairs as an extra bedroom. Win’s mum used a wooden rail at the top of the stairs and made a screen to divide the space to give some privacy. To increase bedroom space, they had an arrangement with Bill Rugman who lived in the house next door. Win’s mum cooked meals for him and did his laundry and he allowed them to use his landing space to accommodate a couple of the children.
Down stairs each house had one living room with a fireplace and oven. There was a tiny scullery which was only about six feet wide and there was a place for the coal under the stairs. The space was so tight that when the door to the scullery was open it covered the door to the coal store. The coal was brought through the house and there was a great deal of dust when it was delivered.
The children of the family, like many others, collected bark in the field known as Blakes which was part of the saw mill property. This was where they put the wood to season. People were allowed to have the bark. You could not peel the bark off but you could take any that had dropped off. It was used to burn it to heat the water for the washing or to cook.
The toilet was down the garden. It had a wooden seat and a bucket underneath. The men came to collect and empty the buckets and like everything else, it had to be carried through the house.
The house was lit by oil lamps. It never had gas or electricity or even a tap inside the house, even in the 1950s when the houses were demolished. At first water had to fetched from the pump on Pullins Green. Eventually water was laid on to a tap in the back yard outside. Here there was a sink and a boiler. This outside area was called a court and as was typical of that area of Thornbury the area was shared with the neighbours. It was covered with a galvanized roof and there was a step up to the sink. There was a sink at each end of the court for each house. There was a water butt which collected rain water to be used for washing. The washing was hung up under the galvanised roof in bad weather.
Win’s mother was always campaigning for a council house with more modern facilities. She only got one in her old age when the Council wanted to demolish her cottage and they moved her to Stafford Crescent.