Dad’s story (1927 to 2002)
A short history of Dennis Manterfield and family 1927 to 2002
By Roy Manterfield, February 2002
Dad, Dennis Manterfield, was born on 21 August 1927 in Netherfield, Nottingham. He had a younger brother Allan, born on 27 April 1931, and they lived on Forester Street in Netherfield.
When Dad was born, his Grandad Albert Manterfield and Great Grandad George Manterfield were still alive. They had a photograph taken with the three of them together with Dad’s father Harold Manterfield.
Dad didn’t remember an awful lot about Nottingham, but he did remember travelling into town on the trams down Carlton Hill.
Grandma and Grandad’s names were Francis and Harold, although Grandad always called Grandma ‘Nellie’.
Grandma, Grandad, Dad and Uncle Allan moved to 225 Sketchley Road, Burbage, near Hinckley in Leicestershire, in the early 1930s.
The family used to go camping and cycling together, to places like North Wales, where they had a favourite spot by the coast in Llandanwg, just south of Harlech.
When Dad left school he trained and worked as an electrician for Freddie Cox, who owned a local electrical shop.
Dad always kept in touch with one of his school friends from Burbage, Howard Verco, who had also been in the local cadet unit, run by Major Manterfield (Grandad). Howard had always been interested in the navy and went on to join up and go to sea, while Dad joined the army, before the end of the war, and served in Palestine and North Africa. He drove trucks and tanks, particularly Sherman tanks.
Dad owned a motorcycle and Grandad owned a car, which was quite unusual for the time.
Before Dad went to North Africa and while he was stationed at Preston Barracks in Brighton, he met Mum, Betty Swinard, literally bumping into her at the ice skating rink.
They got engaged on 25th August 1947, while Mum was visiting Dad and his parents in Leicestershire and before Dad was sent overseas again.
After being demobbed in February 1948, Dad continued working around the Burbage area as an electrician for Freddie Cox and occasionally helping local farmers by shooting pests like rabbits and birds.
Mum and Dad married on 21 August 1948 at St Matthias Church in Brighton and then went to live with Grandma and Grandad Manterfield at 225 Sketchley Road, Burbage.
225 Sketchley Road was a good-sized detached house with a long front garden, a garage and a very long garden at the back.
The porch led into a long hall with a sitting room on the left and stairs up to three bedrooms and a bathroom. There was another toilet downstairs off the kitchen.
Apart from the shop at the front, it had another large front room with a range and a kitchen at the back.
There was a cellar, where fresh food was kept, because we didn’t have a refrigerator, and three bedrooms upstairs, two doubles and one single. The toilet was outside, down the garden. We didn’t have a bathroom, so baths had to be taken in a tin bath in front of the fire.
There was a woman called Nellie next door at number 11 and an old man called Albert lived in a tiny brick cottage that was tucked away behind the houses on Front Street, between the gardens.
Grandma and Grandad Manterfield rented the shop because it was something they had always wanted to do, but Grandad didn’t like serving behind the counter, he was quite impatient and couldn’t put up with the local women coming into the shop, buying one item and then chatting all day.
Uncle Allan married Billie Smart in Hinckley on 29 March 1952, after he had completed his national service. They emigrated to the United States in 1953, travelling there by ship.
I was born at Westcotes Maternity Hospital in Leicester on 21 June 1952, while we still lived at the shop. Mum said it was a very easy birth, but the nurses at the hospital were not very
pleasant or friendly and she couldn’t wait to get home; in those days you had to stay in hospital for about two weeks after having a baby.
Dad worked at the British United Shoe Machinery factory at the Melton Turn in Leicester from November 1949 until he was made redundant in about 1982.
Dad had been a keen cyclist for many years, he also had lifelong interests in shooting, especially with airguns, and he enjoyed gardening, motorbikes and cars. He owned a Golden Flash and various other motorbikes. He had a sidecar for the rest of us to travel in, for instance to go to Brighton a couple of times a year to visit Mum’s family.
Dad bought a 1938 Morris Standard 8, series E (DBC 357) in the 1950s and sold it about 1963. It was a good sturdy car and Janis and I were frequently sick all over the back of it, mind you, that applied to all our vehicles.
Dad and Grandad both had a number of guns. Grandad had kept hold of a German Luger pistol and a Smith and Wesson after the First World War, including ammunition; the Smith and Wesson had come from an airship that had been destroyed by fire. Dad had a shotgun, an air pistol and at least one air rifle. By the 1960s most of the weapons had been taken to Police Stations and disposed of during firearm amnesties.
We usually had a variety of pets at home. Dad had a dog named Nipper while he served in the army in North Africa and at home, in Birstall, he had a dog called Jip. When I came out of hospital after my mastoid operation, in 1955, Mum and Dad brought me a tortoiseshell cat, which we called Tibbles.
Mum and Dad made many friends after moving to Birstall, such as John and Jean Valentine, Bill and Winifred Hatley, Pete and Pat McCubbin, Clifford and Marion Rice. Clifford Rice had been at school in Burbage and knew both Dad and Howard Verco.
In 1955 we moved to an old cottage just down the road at 5 Front Street, rented from Miss Agar. There were two bedrooms upstairs, a front room, a back room and a small kitchen. We didn’t have a bathroom, but we had an outside toilet shared with Miss Agar, who was in her 90s when I remember her and lived at number 7, the cottage next door to us, with her daughter, Olive. I thought Miss Agar was very strict; she used to give me a good telling off for climbing onto the flat concrete roof of the toilet.
Although we shared the toilet, we had separate toilet paper; we used hard, shiny, shop bought paper and the Agars used sheets of newspaper torn into squares and hung from a piece of string.
As we didn’t have a bathroom we had to bathe in a tin bath in front of the fire, just like at the shop, gradually filling the bath up with hot water and taking it in turns to use it.
Some parts of the cottage were thought to be over a hundred and fifty years old. We also shared the garden with Miss Agar; it backed onto part of the old mill on the right and had a wall right at the bottom that overlooked an overgrown, and presumably unused, men’s urinal behind one of the village pubs – sorry Mum, I’ve still mentioned the urinal!
We often travelled to Brighton for holidays and Christmas, to visit Mum’s parents and relatives. We would go at least once, sometimes twice a year, from the 1950s right through to the 1970’s when Grandma and Grandad Swinard died.
Dad used the bike and sidecar to drive us down to Brighton, later on the family car, or sometimes we would catch the steam train from Leicester to London St Pancras and then the electric train from London Victoria to Brighton.
Until the early 1960s it was possible to get a train from the station in Birstall, on the Great Central line. We had a day trip to Nottingham from Birstall in the late 1950s. Once, after our car had broken down on the way to Brighton, Dad and I caught a steam train from Birstall, to somewhere near Rugby I think it was, to collect the car after it had been repaired.
Mum and Dad bought their first television about 1955/56, around the time that ITV started to broadcast. It was black and white (no colour until the 1960s) and had an eleven inch screen. I used to see ‘Watch with Mother’ and programs like ‘The Wooden Tops’ and ‘Bill and Ben’.
Janis was born on 7 September 1957, in the front bedroom at 5 Front Street; Dad was present and thought it was marvellous. He was so thrilled to have a daughter he talked about it for weeks; Dad said Janis “popped out like a pea from a pod”; hence Janis’s nickname ‘Pod’.
I had the back bedroom upstairs and Janis had her cot in with Mum and Dad.
The same month as Janis was born I started school at Birstall Riverside Infants. Grandma Swinard and Auntie Joyce came up to stay for a couple of weeks to help out and look after me.
Grandma Manterfield was very ill with meningitis in the late 1950s.
Other relatives that we used to visit, and have visits from, were Edna and Arthur Sharp and their daughter Christine, from Hitchin. Edna was related to Grandma Manterfield; Edna’s Grandfather, Fred Hobbs, had adopted Grandma when she was a few days old. He was actually Grandma’s Uncle, but brought her up after her mother, Ellen Hobbs, died around the time she was born, because Grandma’s father, Thomas Hobbs, already had a large family and having another baby was too much for him to cope with.
One of the people Dad met while serving in the armed forces was Ken Owston, who came from the North East. They became friends and kept in touch after leaving the army; in the 1950s and 60s Ken, his wife May and daughter Sheila would come and stay with us in Birstall, and we would go on holiday to Sunderland and stay with them. Janis and I always called Ken ‘Uncle Sausage’.
In 1959 we moved to a new semi-detached house at 56 Denegate Avenue on the new Greengate Lane estate. The house had three bedrooms, so Janis and I had a room each, and a bathroom with a toilet; this was the first time we’d had an inside toilet since I was born. Downstairs there was a living room at the front, with folding doors through to a dining room at the back. The dining room had French windows onto the garden and a sliding door through to the kitchen.
The shop at 13 Front Street had not been doing very well, loosing customers to the newer shops in the village at Sibson’s Corner, so when we moved house Grandma and Grandad Manterfield gave the shop up and moved into 5 Front Street.
I used to go shooting with Dad in the fields where Jelson built the new estate; one of the old field boundaries where we hunted rabbits was quite close to where our house was built. While we still lived on Front Street I went with Dad to some of the large local houses to watch him with his air rifle clearing the gardens of starlings, which were seen as a nuisance.
We had our work cut out on the garden at Denegate Avenue; it was fairly long and quite steep.
The first few years were very hard work; mainly because Jelson, the house builders, had removed all the topsoil and left the underlying solid clay exposed. This took years for Dad to dig out and break up with compost and manure until it was workable.
Dad set the garden out in tiers; he dug the clay out near the house with a small patio and a square lawn outside the French windows, then a garage on the right facing the drive. We had raised flowerbeds and a crazy-paved semi-circular patio cut into the slope, with a large flowerbed above.
There were steps and pergola poles up the side of the large bed, which was next to a shed behind and above the garage.
At the top he had a vegetable and fruit garden with a compost heap in the corner.
After a few years Dad laid crazy paving where the bottom lawn had been, put down grass at the top of the garden on the left of the path, took down the pergola poles and reduced the flower bed and built a green house on the right above the shed.
Our neighbours in number 54 were Iris and Kurt Spenadal, who had a son Michael, and at number 58 were Pam and John McMohan, they had two children, a boy and a girl.
After we moved to Denegate Avenue, Mum and Dad brought Janis and I a dog, she was a black and white mongrel called Bess; she was a lovely dog, with a very gentle nature. During the 1960s we had a menagerie of other animals; after Tibbles had died we had Ratcliffe, a mottled grey cat, plus Frisky the rabbit, Charlie Jones a tortoise and a number of mice.
Auntie Billie and Uncle Allan flew over with Terry Carol to visit everyone in 1960; the first time they had been able to come back since emigrating to the USA. I went down to Heathrow on the train with Grandma and Grandad Manterfield to meet them and then Dad collected us from London Road Station in Leicester. After the large cars in the States they thought ours were tiny.
Billie and Allan stayed with Mum and Dad at Denegate Avenue for a while on that visit and managed to come over again every few years. They visited in 1967, so they saw Grandad Manterfield again before he died. Neither Grandad and Grandma nor Mum and Dad were ever able to afford to visit Billie and Allan, but Dad probably wouldn’t have wanted to go at one time anyway; for some reason Americans often irritated him. I think it had something to do with the American soldiers he came across when he was in North Africa; he thought a lot of them were brash, arrogant and trigger-happy, although he did soften a bit towards Americans later in life. It always seems odd to me how people can take a general dislike to a whole nation or race of people when everyone is an individual, but then we are all strange in one way or another.
After we had moved to the new house, Grandma and Grandad Manterfield nearly always came up to visit with us on Saturday. Grandad liked to watch wrestling on the TV in the afternoon, so we would sit and watch it with them. Grandad was always a bit impatient and when they went home after visiting, Grandad usually started to drive off before Grandma was properly in the car, saying “Come on Nellie!”
In the early 1960s Dad studied archery at night school and with other local archers became a founding member of the Bowmen of Birstall. All the family took up archery and we made many friends through the club, such as Isobel McDermott and Joan Birkett, Doug and Honor Arnold, Pete and Pat Lewin, Dave Fish, Neil Featherstone, Roland Broughton, Ivor and Joyce Hall.
Dad was a modest and reasonable person; he was usually quiet, firm and fair, with strong principles. At work he had a reputation for expecting high standards and being very strict, but at home he could be a lot of fun and was very welcoming to visitors. We had some brilliant parties at home, often with friends from the archery club. At Christmas people like the Valentines and Isobel and Joan would come round, and we would play silly games like ‘Mr So and So has lost his hat’.
For quite a few years in the 1960s we had a maroon Dormobile van, which Dad fitted out in the back with cupboards and seats that converted to beds. It was really useful on holiday, especially for camping, because Mum didn’t like sleeping on the floor with the ‘creepy-crawlies’, and it often served as a temporary clubhouse for the Bowmen of Birstall; especially on wet days.
Dad had quite a good appetite; he liked good plain food and good portions of it, things like meat and veg, liver and onions, casseroles, suet puddings and traditional fish and chips. One of his favourites was tripe and onions, which Mum occasionally cooked for him. When they went out for a meal Dad would usually have gammon and pineapple.
Sometimes when Dad had a cold he would eat a raw onion, which he swore did him good; but it wasn’t so good for his work mates or us though.
Apart from visiting relatives in Brighton and friends in Sunderland, we also had holidays in Skegness, North Wales, the Lake District, Cornwall, the Norfolk Broads and Scotland, camping or in bed and breakfast. We often went to stay in or near Harlech, sometimes with friends like Jean, John, David, Elisabeth and Becky Valentine and occasionally staying in the caravan park below Harlech Castle, which had been a favourite spot with Grandma and Grandad Manterfield.
During the 1960s we had a telephone put in at Denegate Avenue and gas central heating installed, we even had a fitted carpet laid.
Grandad Manterfield died on 8 February 1968, he’d had heart trouble for a number of years. It was the only time I ever remember seeing Dad cry, he really missed Grandad.
Dad was very good with his hands; he was always doing and making things around the house and garden. He made a garage when I was very young (‘Moy’s Garage’ because I couldn’t say Roy), a dolls house, a fort (which had the aroma of fish from the fish glue he used) and a very large mouse cage.
The cage was for Tom (my black mouse) and Snowy (Janis’s white mouse) who had dozens of babies that occasionally escaped and caused havoc, in Dad’s organised but crowded shed, while we searched for them. The cage had an exercise wheel, various rooms, with stairs to an upper floor and a large glass sliding door, so we could watch the mice.
Other cars we had were a Ford Cortina, a two tone grey Vauxhall Victor and a green Morris 1000 Traveller. The Morris 1000 Traveller was the first car I drove on my 17th birthday in 1969.
After our cat Ratcliffe died, Mum and Dad had two, mostly white, cats called Meg and Emma who were sisters.
Dad had always been clean-shaven until the early 1970s. Then he let a beard grow on holiday one year and decided not to shave it off when we got home. Thereafter he always had a beard, which was dark at first, but went grey as he got older.
Mum and Dad both smoked cigarettes regularly, right from their teens. Although Dad changed to a pipe later in life and gave up smoking altogether in his 60s.
I lived in Leeds during term time from September 1971 until July 1974, while I went to Art College. In July 1974 I started work in Nottingham and went to live there from September 1974.
Grandma Manterfield died on 16 January 1975. She had not been well for a while, suffering from dementia for a few years and finding it harder and harder living on her own. She had problems with her memory and often burnt holes in pans and kettles, even setting fire to the kitchen once.
Grandma and Grandad Swinard both died in the 1970s. Grandad Swinard died on 19 August 1970 and Grandma died on 17 May 1975.
Mum and Dad moved to a bungalow at 84 College Road in Syston around 1976. Dad did a lot of work on the house; including knocking down walls between the hallway and small bedroom to make a good sized dining room.
They had a dog called Penny in Syston; she was a small mottled brown lurcher, a crossed whippet, who could run very fast. Dad used to take he up to the fields off Barkby Lane where she would tear round and round in circles.
Dad was made redundant from the BU about 1982; he had been an engineering foreman in L department. After that he mostly worked until retirement at the Leicester Royal Infirmary in Patient’s Records.
Sue Weallans and I were married in Nottingham on 24 July 1982.
Mum’s sister, Joyce Swinard, moved up from Brighton around the end of 1982 and bought a bungalow at number 32 College Road. Dad helped her a lot with the garden.
In recent years Joyce had worked as a telephonist for British Telecom in Brighton, and she was able to transfer to an exchange in Leicester when she moved.
Janis married John Lewin in Syston on 2 August 1986.
Mum and Dad’s first grandchild, Amy, was born on 23 April 1988, followed by Thomas on 5 April 1991.
On 9 August 1992, Mum and Dad had a retirement party; mostly in their garden because of the number of people. The weather kept fine and it was a really good turnout of old and new friends, relatives and neighbours.
Sue and I had Alice on 29 January 1994.
Billie, Allan, Terry and Harold came to visit in 1994, but even then Uncle Allan had not been very well; he had diabetes, heart, lung and hip problems. When Sue, Alice and I went to the States in 1996 Allan had been ill in hospital shortly before we arrived. He died the following year on 12 October 1997, in Georgia, USA.
1998 was Mum and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary; they had a big party with lots of friends and relations in a pub in Rothley. We put up a display of photographs covering the 50 years.
After their dog Penny died, Mum and Dad had another small dog for a short while, called Clare, but after Mum had a stroke in March 1999, they had to give her away because she was too much for them to look after. Later on, when Mum had recovered quite well from the stroke, they had another cat, called Tammy.
Dad was a very patient and consistent man, his attitude and temperament where always the same, you always new he loved you and that he was willing to do anything for anyone, especially for those he loved.
He suffered from Parkinson’s disease for about the last 16 years of his life, but he coped remarkably well with it most of the time. After Mum’s stroke in 1999 Dad found it much harder to manage with his illness.
Dad had a fall around the beginning of October 2001 and became unwell over the next week or so; he had another fall on 13 October and had to be taken to hospital. After a number of infections over the next four months in hospital Dad’s health deteriorated, he became very frail and died on 9 February 2002.
Dad was cremated at Loughborough Crematorium on 19 February and we scattered his ashes on 20 February at Birstall Cemetery on Greengate Lane.