67. Doing Things Yourself and Other Practical Tasks

Grandad Did Practical Activities But He Was Limited by Ill-Health

Grandad continued to do a variety of practical tasks, although perhaps not to the extent he had previously, because of ill-health.

He Received More Help From Others

He also perhaps had more help from other people.

Tom Bust and Dick Egglestone

In January 1955, Tom Bust and Dick Egglestone helped grandad when the boiler leaked. They replaced the boiler in March 1955. Tom Bust also helped grandad with other things from time to time. In April 1955, Tom and grandad straightened a wall pillar. The next year, in November 1956, grandad and Tom Bust made a new part to the glasshouse at grandma and grandad’s house. In April 1959, Dick Egglestone replaced a pane of glass in the kitchen door.

Ken Hodges

In April 1955, Ken Hodges helped grandad fix the centre lights in the shop window ready for fluorescent lights.

Mr Vaughan

Mr Vaughan helped grandad with painting and decorating.

Bill Shipman

Bill Shipman helped grandad put glass in the glasshouse at Station Street. He also painted it. Grandad noted “bought Mrs Shipman a Smiths tinner (???) (32/6) for Mr S doing work at Station Street”. In August 1959, Bill Shipman laid some concrete slabs for grandma and grandad, making a small path to the top of their garden.

Mr Walker

Like, Mr Vaughan, Mr Walker was someone who helped grandad with painting and decorating.

Cyril Parkin

In September 1959, Cyril Parkin, grandad’s brother, creosoted their rustic work.

Mr Carter

Mr Carter did the electrics at 41 Diamond Avenue.

Walter Maltby

In August 1956, dad and Walter Maltby cut about a third of an inch off the bottom of each garage door. I am sure this is the sort of thing grandad would have done himself had he been well enough. In February 1959, Walter Maltby helped grandad with some soldering on a radiogram he was making.

Bill Howlett

In October 1957, Bill Howlett put “Styglas” (see below) on the roof of the glasshouse and grandad helped a little.

Jobs for Welbeck Street, Station Street and Diamond Avenue

Many of the jobs related to the shop or where they were living, e.g. in Welbeck Street. There was quite a lot of re-decorating when mum and dad moved in behind the shop in Station Street and again when they moved to Diamond Avenue.

A Burst Pipe

In March 1958, after they had bought 41 Diamond Avenue, but before mum and dad moved in, grandad went with someone from the Coal Board to inspect the ceilings. When they got there, they found the house full of water because a pipe had frozen and had then burst.

Family and Friends Helped with Jobs

Family and friends who helped with such tasks included Eva, Jim, grandma, Uncle Frank, mum, dad and Edna Bust.

A New Carpet from Crowe’s

Mum seemed especially proud when she got a new carpet from Crowe’s (see Chapter 52) and laid it herself.

External Firms

Sometimes, grandad brought in external firms for specific tasks, e.g. Meggitt (see Chapter 53) and the Electricity Board to wire up and connect the cooker and a chimney sweep to clean the dining room chimney.

The Electricity Board

In the context of Kirkby, this was the East Midlands Electricity Board – one of 12 area electricity boards in England, established in 1947. They were responsible for distribution and supply of electricity to consumers until privatisation in the 1990s.

The area electricity boards in the UK post-1947. Area 8 corresponds to the East Midlands Electricity Board © Lozleader and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Grandad Did Some Tasks Himself

Nevertheless, grandad did continue to do some tasks himself. This included making a doormat and rug for mum; two garden seats; a wooden cabinet for the radio he had taken out of the television; a stand for mum’s knitting machine; a six-inch sander; a bed warmer heated by a lamp; a stand for a radiator; a fire screen for the front bedroom, in which he placed a picture of grandma’s grandmother; a small bookcase, a stand for the paraffin drum and one for the “Warma” and three hardboard pelmets for the bedroom windows.

A Small Bookcase

The small bookcase mentioned above was to stand next to the piano. In April 1959, mum covered this with Fablon (see Chapter 64).

The “Warma

Warma was a particular brand of paraffin heater made by W H Paul Ltd.

Instruction booklet for Paul Warma paraffin stove

Converting a TV to a Radiogram

Perhaps one of grandad’s grandest projects was, in 1959, converting an old Ferranti television into a radiogram despite being told that it could not be done! (see Chapter 64).

Other Jobs

He also put a power circuit in his cabin; fixed in place the ITV convertor for the TV (see Chapter 64); put an electric clock on the chimney wall; repaired the hall clock; put an electric light over the clock in their bedroom; put a table leaf in the washhouse in place of the drawer he had given to mum; put some “Styglas” on the cabin roof near the glasshouse; pulled the front of the fireplace off a grate, perhaps in the kitchen; put a piece of iron on the front of the kitchen gate; put a piece of hardboard in the back bedroom fireplace; and he put some new wire into the electric motor of grandma’s sewing machine.

Styglas? Sylglas?

I am not sure what this is perhaps Sylglas. According to their website, Sylglas were established in 1958. But grandad was using this in October 1957 and I found an advert for this from May 1957.

Brochure for Sylglas waterproofing products

Grandma Helped with Practical Tasks

Grandma also helped out with practical tasks. For example, in July 1957, she whitewashed grandad’s cabin, in August 1958, she whitened the walls of the washhouse and, in April 1959, she painted their kitchen.

Grandad Invested in Tools

Grandad continued to invest in tools during this period. For example, in July 1959, he bought a jig saw from Mansfield. For more details of tools he purchased during this period, see Chapter 68.

Exchanging Tools and Equipment

Grandad sometimes exchanged tools or equipment with others. For example, in July 1958, he exchanged a ladder, that Cliff Green had made for him at Station Street, with Reg Edwards for a stepladder. Grandad then made them into two pairs of steps, one of which he gave to mum.

Helping Others with Practical Tasks

Grandad also sometimes helped others with practical tasks.

Bourne Chapel

In February 1955, grandad repaired a desk at chapel.

Auntie Bertha

In May 1957, grandad and Uncle Frank made a small cupboard for Auntie Bertha.

Reg Edwards

In June 1957, grandad made a garden seat for Reg Edwards who had found the wood to be used.

Annie Holmes

In July 1957, when Annie moved to a new flat, grandad fixed up a wall clock for her. In May 1959, grandad helped Annie with some work on her radio.

Graham and Joan Hardy

Following Annie Holmes’ move from 98 Welbeck Street, grandad did a number of jobs there for Joan and Graham Hardy moving in. This included pulling down the covering woodwork on the sink, pulling down another small cupboard, making a new wooden stand for the sink, reversing the toilet door, boxing in the pipes and making a cabinet for the electric meter. Grandad got Bill and Frank Howlett to do some of the work but he helped them, for example, with fixing the coalhouse.

Active Gardeners

All the family were active in the garden. They also helped their neighbours in Welbeck Street and received help in return.

At the end of April 1955, grandad laid slabs in the top garden through to Annie’s. In April 1957, he cut a bit of lawn at the top of Annie’s garden but the lawn mower belt broke and needed replacing. In the end, grandad bought a new mower (see Chapter 68).

Both mum and grandad often noted gardening activities such as digging, cutting and fertilising lawns and collecting apples. In 1958, grandad commented that they had a good crop of plums.

In December 1956, Bill Shipman helped by pruning grandma and grandad’s apple trees. The next year, in April 1957, grandad re-laid the stone at the side of the path on the lawn. In August 1958, mum and grandma also cut Mr Shipman’s lawns as he was not well. In September 1959, grandma cut hedges for Auntie Bertha.


Mum was a keen knitter. During this period, items she knitted included two quick-knit cardigans; a fairisle pullover for dad; another cardigan/pullover for dad; a coat for Rita’s baby, Adrian; and a coat for a friend of Mrs Kemp’s.

In March 1957, mum got a Knitmaster knitting machine at a cost of £27 17 6. I do not know which of the many models she got. The Knitting Machine Museum website has details, examples and pictures. In January 1959, mum noted that she made Tricia a cardigan using the knitting machine. She also made a matinee coat for Dorothy’s baby. Then , in February, she knitted Tricia some red and white mitts and a bonnet and, in May, she bought some red wool for a cardigan.

Although he is slightly out of shot, I think this is dad wearing the cardigan mum made for him in August 1956

Sewing and Embroidery

Mum also did sewing and embroidery, particularly when dad was studying. Things she made included a ballerina-length pink dress; a white taffeta skirt and underskirt;  shorts; a black waistcoat; two or more nightdresses; a sundress; a blue and white blouse; a lumber jacket; a blue dress; a smock; a red dress; a red two-piece; a black skirt; a blue paisley dress; another blouse; a sundress, a blue and white viyella dress, a coat and overalls for Tricia; pyjamas for dad; a cover for “Susie” (a doll perhaps?); a cover for the tape recorder; two rugs; cushion covers; covers for the three-piece suite in the dining room; some curtains and some white lace curtains. In mid-January 1955, she started new cushion covers that had been given to her for Christmas 1954 by the Stubbs family.

I think this is the sun dress mum made in August 1956

She made quite a lot of things for her wedding including her hat and bridesmaids’ dresses. I think she may have made her dress. She also altered curtains and clothes including, for example, her grey dress. She patched things, including some of Tricia’s thicker dresses.


Viyella was the name of a fabric made from 55% merino wool and 45% cotton that was first produced by William Hollins and Co in 1893. It is no longer produced but Viyella has become the name of a fashion brand.

Advert for Viyella that was in grandad’s 1914 diary

Domestic Tasks

Mum also did a lot of domestic tasks including washing (including washing suite covers and curtains), ironing, cleaning (including spring cleaning), baking and cooking. Sometimes, after Tricia was born, mum took washing to do at grandma and grandad’s. In November 1958, she noted that she cleaned grandma’s oven and, in December, she did her own.