At the first small bench along the chain-link fence.
Stop 9 – Of Gas works, and selling coke & Bonfire competition.
Narrator: The green lane behind the fence goes through to Waldo Road, and dates from when this was the brickworks.
Peter’s memory read by Tony: “In one place was a large mound where the lorries from the gasworks sometimes used to come and tip the clinker and by-products from the gas works. Often the local lads used to go and collect bits of coal and coke. It earned quite a few of us a fair bit of pocket money. And then they would tip a tanker of a creosote like product from the local gas works. It lay in the ground like tar. Many a kid had a good hiding after going home with it on your boots, since, after a couple of days the soles of your boots just fell off.”
Jo: The Gas Works were further up Homesdale road and produced Town Gas. This was quite a large site, part of which is now occupied by Tesco, though the site went all the way back to Liddon Road. Until 2018 it contained two huge gas monitors, and when the central European starlings migrate here in the winter to join the local starlings, the monitors provided a huge roost of them.
Peter’s memory read by Tony: “The coke from the gas works? It was regular pocket money for a lot of us. My dad made me a purpose-built barrow that took 28lbs of broken coke (that is what you had to ask for when queuing at the window in the gas works). From memory you could get: a small coke; or a broken coke which was larger lumps; and then boiler nuts (they were a form of compressed coal dust and something else) they were the most expensive and burned very hot.
The Gas Works was I believe run by a Mr Skudder who lived in a house just inside the Main Gate and the ticket windows were further along on the left. You bought your ticket and one of the prisoners of war would take you with your barrow under the hopper and dispensed your measured amount. They, the POWs, would be all over the place driving low trucks called Lister trucks.”
“Among the rubble there was a constant supply of asbestos sheets that when thrown on any of the numerous bonfires resulted in loud explosions. Be assured I am in no way fantasising or exaggerating.”
Anonymous ladies’ memory, ready by Sandra: We used to have a big bonfire and fireworks on the field for a number of years…
Peter’s memory read by Tony: “Every November the competition to build the largest bonfire caused many a fight as it was almost a nightly job to nick stuff from anywhere you could find. There was always a large one near the Walwyn road entrance.”
Narrator: Continue along the edge of the park to the next entrance to the Green Lane where our neighbours have a large oak tree.