Mum’s story (1928 to 2004)
A short history of Betty Manterfield and family 1928 to 2004
By Roy Manterfield, February 2002 and August 2004
Mum, Betty June Manterfield, was born on 26 June 1928 in Brighton, Sussex. She had two older sisters, Dobby and Joyce, also born in Brighton. They lived with Grandma and Grandad Swinard at 32 Hollingbury Road. Grandma and Grandad’s names were Rose and Ernest.
Joyce was slightly older than Mum, born on 10 November 1926, but Dobby was a few years older; she was born on 9 February 1918.
Grandma Swinard had been married before to William Collingham, who was Dobby’s father, but he had died and Grandma later remarried, to Ernest Swinard on 10 October 1925, and they had Joyce and Betty.
Dobby’s name was actually Rosina Dorothy Collingham, ‘Dobby’ came from ‘Dorothy’, which Mum couldn’t pronounce, it started out as a nickname, but eventually almost everyone in the family called her Dobby. To her husband Frank and most other people she was Ena.
Grandad Swinard, who had fought in the trenches in the First World War and been at the Battle of the Somme, worked on the railways as a Carriage Lifter for most of his life. He was based at Lancing Carriage Works, working for Southern Railways and then, after nationalisation, for British Railways.
Mum was a bit of a tomboy when she was young, she and her best friend, Betty Walker, who lived further up Hollingbury Road, would get up to all sorts of mischief. They went scrumping for apples and entering empty houses; Mum said they would eat the apples and leave the cores in the houses they had been in.
Another friend, called Estelle Smith, sometimes went with the two Bettys and copied them, but she had a very strict father and if she got dirty they had to try and clean her up before she went home. If she happened to tear her clothes her father would cane her.
Mum went to Ditchling Road Junior School and later, for a short while, to Balfour Road Senior Girls School, which was turned into a hospital for recuperating soldiers during the war.
Mum wasn’t very keen on school generally; especially maths, but she did enjoy games. Perhaps fortunately, for Mum anyway, after the war started in 1939 the school was only open for half the day.
Joyce had also been to Ditchling Road Junior School and then went on to Brighton Intermediate School for Girls. She started work as a telephonist for Arthur H Cox & Co Ltd on 28 December 1943.
The house at 32 Hollingbury Road was built on a fairly steep hill and was part of a terrace. Grandma and Grandad had rented the house for about fifty years, until Auntie Joyce eventually bought it from the owner, Mrs Crattenden, in December 1967.
The house was fairly narrow but quite long from front to back. It had a front room with bay windows, the parlour, which Grandma kept absolutely spotless like the rest of the house, but, unlike the other rooms, only visitors were normally allowed to use it.
Behind the parlour was a dining-cum-living room that was used all the time, then a kitchen right at the back. Upstairs there were two bedrooms, the largest at the front behind the bay windows.
There wasn’t a bathroom, but downstairs in the basement, there were two more rooms front and back and a basement scullery, where all the washing was done. The scullery led into a yard and a small walled back garden.
Grandma Swinard advertised the basement area as ‘B & B’ and ‘Furnished Appartments’. They had regular customers who came and stayed every year for their summer holidays.
Mum’s neighbours at 34 Hollingbury Road were Mr and Mrs Ellis. Mr Ellis was a keen photographer and had a cine camera, which was very unusual in those days. He made a cine film at Mum and Dad’s wedding in 1948, but unfortunately it no longer exists.
Mum always wanted to be a hairdresser and she used to do Mrs Ellis’s hair for her. Grandma Swinard didn’t think hairdressing was a very good profession and Mum ended up working in a factory when she left school.
The factory was called Dentsply and made false teeth. Mum didn’t really like work there, it was very boring, but she said they played ‘music while you work’ and you could at least chat and sing.
After a while Mum was put in charge of a unit of girls who put the paste mixture into moulds to make false teeth. The moulds then went up the conveyor belt to ‘cheeky’ lads called pinion boys who baked them.
Later on, Mum left Dentsply and got a job at the top of Hollingbury Road working for Puller’s Engineering. She sat on a high bench operating a drilling machine and producing materials for the war effort.
Mum used to go ice skating at the rink in Brighton. Once, when she was out with her friend Joyce Maskell, they saw a group of soldiers skating in a long row. Mum said she liked the look of the small one on the end, because he looked kind and had a lovely face. The soldiers let go of each other and the one on the end shot off and knocked Mum over. She was very cross at first, but he apologised and took Mum for a coffee. Mum was fascinated by his East Midlands accent as they got chatting and he accompanied her home on the trolleybus up Ditchling Road.
That was how Mum met Dad, Dennis Manterfield, while he was in the forces and stationed in Brighton at Preston Barracks.
Mum passed by Preston Barracks on her way to work every day, when she worked at Dentsply, and they would wave to each other.
Grandma Swinard took an instant liking to Dad, but Mum said that Grandma didn’t believe that Dad and Grandad Manterfield owned a motor bike and car; it was very uncommon at the time and Grandma thought it was just a young soldier showing off.
However, Mum and Dad got on really well and continued seeing each other. Eventually Grandma Swinard had to believe it when Grandma and Grandad Manterfield arranged to visit Dad and the Swinards, at 32 Hollingbury Road, and arrived in their car.
Mum had told all the girls at Puller’s factory at the top of Hollingbury Road about the visitors arriving by car, so when they passed by a great cheer went up.
Grandma Swinard gave all the visitors a nice tea on a brand new table cloth and they were allowed to use the best room; the parlour, which had been dusted and polished from top to bottom. Everyone got on very well and, to Mum’s delight, Grandad Manterfield asked Grandma Swinard if Mum could go back to Burbage in Leicestershire with them and stay for a few days; and, to Mum’s surprise, Grandma said yes.
This was very exiting for Mum; she had never been so far from home and in a car too. She had to promise Grandma Swinard that she would telephone every two days, to let them know she was okay. Grandma and Grandad Swinard didn’t have a telephone, but Mrs Ellis did, their next door neighbour, and Grandma went round there to take the call.
Mum was a bit of a townie, having lived in Brighton all her life. To catch the train to Leicester, they had to walk over some fields with cows in them, which Mum didn’t like at all and Dad and the others found very amusing.
In 1947, while Dad was on leave and Mum was visiting them in Leicestershire, Grandma and Grandad Manterfield suggested that, because they got on so well, her and Dad get engaged. Grandad went to the phone box with Mum so that he could ask Grandma Swinard’s permission; and yet again, to Mum’s surprise, Grandma agreed.
So Dad borrowed Grandad’s car and drove Mum into Leicester (to avoid the cows in the field on the route to the station) to buy an engagement ring. They got engaged on 25th August 1947, before the army sent Dad back overseas to Palestine and North Africa.
After Dad had returned home and been demobbed from the army in February 1948, they got married at St Matthias Church in Brighton, on 21 August 1948. They went to Plymouth for their honeymoon and stayed at a bed and breakfast owned by relations of Grandma and Grandad Manterfield.
Mum and Dad then went to live with Grandma and Grandad Manterfield at 225 Sketchley Road, Burbage. Mum really liked the house. It was quite large, detached, with long gardens front and back, a garage and it had two toilets; one upstairs in the bathroom and another one off the kitchen.
It wasn’t long before the whole family moved to Birstall near Leicester to the village shop at 13 Front Street.
Grandma and Mum did most of the serving in the shop because Grandad didn’t like working behind the counter; he didn’t have much patience and couldn’t put up with the chatting women.
It was still rationing when they first had the shop and, because Grandma Manterfield was a bit scatty, Mum used to bone and slice the bacon and measure out all the rationed portions of cheese and meat. Grandma would usually do all the washing, using a dolly tub with a mangle and then boiling the whites.
Mum had her first child, me, at Westcotes Maternity Hospital in Leicester on 21 June 1952. 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.
Mum and Dad made a lot of friends after moving to Birstall. Some of them through the Methodist Chapel and ‘Young Wives’ such as John and Jean Valentine, Bill and Winifred Hatley, Pete and Pat McCubbin, Clifford and Marion Rice.
We often travelled to Brighton for holidays and Christmas, to visit Mum’s family. 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.
Mum and Dad bought their first television in the 1950s, around the time that ITV started to broadcast. It was black and white and had an eleven inch screen.
Janis was born on 7 September 1957, in the front bedroom at 5 Front Street. Mum thought this was much better than having a baby in hospital, especially as the midwife was Nurse Hatley, who Mum knew quite well as she was Bill Hatley’s sister.
In 1959 we moved to a new semi-detached house at 56 Denegate Avenue, built by Jelson on the new Greengate Lane estate. The house had three bedrooms, and a bathroom with an inside toilet
Our neighbours in number 54 were Iris and Kurt Spenadal, who had a son Michael. Mum was quite friendly with Iris, they got on well together and we had a gate between the two houses at the back so they could call in on each other. At number 58 were Pam and John McMohan and their two children.
After the shop on Front Street had been sold Mum had a number of part-time jobs, mostly so she could work while Janis and I were at school. One of the first jobs was house cleaning for Mrs Rouse, the doctor’s wife, who had two daughters. They lived in a large ‘posh’ house in Birstall and Mrs Rouse was very untidy.
Mum also worked for a time at Soccerpools in Leicester; a fairly boring job stuffing envelopes and Mum wasn’t very keen on travelling into Leicester.
In the early 1960s Mum and Dad both took up archery and we made many new friends through the Bowmen of Birstall 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.
In the 1960s we had a maroon Dormobile van, which Dad fitted out with cupboards and seats that converted to beds. It was very useful on holiday, especially for camping, because Mum didn’t like sleeping on the floor with the creepy-crawlies. It was also useful for Mum to have a cigarette in; she didn’t like smoking outside and liked to have a ‘fug up’ as she would say.
During the 1960s we had a telephone put in at Denegate Avenue and gas central heating installed, we even had a fitted carpet laid.
At home Mum used to cook us things like toad-in-the-hole and bacon suet pudding with pease pudding, which were really good, and belly pork, which wasn’t so good. She sometimes did tripe and onions for Dad, but the rest of us didn’t have it!
Grandad Manterfield died on 8 February 1968, he’d had heart trouble for a number of years.
Mum had another job in the late 1960s working at the Red Circle Library on Belgrave Gate in Leicester. Apart from lending books they also sold a lot of cards. Mum often got the job of decorating the shop window, which she was good at and really enjoyed.
The shop had to close eventually because the whole area between Belgrave Road and Humberstone Gate was being demolished; it was the site for the Haymarket Theatre and Shopping Centre.
Mum’s next job was at the BU, the British United Shoe Machinery Company, where Dad had worked since 1949. Mum worked in Production Control doing ‘boring’ paperwork and making tea. This was where she made friends with Glenys Baggott and met John Lewin, who latter married Janis.
Dad brought a light blue Mini about 1970 that Mum and I both drove a lot; Mum learnt to drive just before me.
Grandma and Grandad Swinard both died in the 1970s. Grandad Swinard died on 19 August 1970 and Grandma died on 17 May 1975.
Grandma Manterfield died on 16 January 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.
Mum’s sister, Joyce, was made redundant from her job with Arthur H Cox & Co on 16 June 1979, after over 35 years service. The pharmaceutical company had decided to relocate to Barnstaple in Devon, but Joyce didn’t want to move there. However, with so many years experience as a telephonist, she managed to get a job with British Telecom.
Mum had a cleaning and tea making job at Syston Police Station for a while and later on, until she retired, she did the same thing at the offices of a distribution firm on High Street in Syston.
Sue and I were married in Nottingham on 24 July 1982.
Auntie Joyce sold 32 Hollingbury Road in Brighton on 13 August 1982 and moved up to Leicester, buying a bungalow at number 32 College Road, Syston. Having worked in the last couple of years as a telephonist for British Telecom in Brighton, 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 at home in Syston; mostly in their garden because of the number of people. The weather kept fine and it was a really good turnout.
Sue and I had Alice on 29 January 1994.
Mum and Dad went on a couple of coach holidays when Dad couldn’t drive so far as he used to. They met and made friends with Barry and Jessie Broadley from South Yorkshire and with Elizabeth Kirk and her husband from the West Midlands.
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.
Mum had a stroke in 1999; she had been driving out of the car park at Somerfields in Syston when it happened. She had to be taken to the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham for an operation to remove the blood clot from her brain, because it was causing damage. It was very serious and Mum was in hospital for quite a few months.
Mum wasn’t able to drive again afterwards, it also affected her memory and made it hard for her to work out what day or time of day it was.
Joyce died on 11 February 2000; she had been unwell for quite a while following a hysterectomy a couple of years earlier.
Dad suffered from Parkinson’s disease from the late 1980s; he coped extraordinarily well with it most of the time, but found it much harder to manage with his illness after Mum’s stoke.
In April 2003 Janis and I decided to take Mum on a short holiday to a cottage in Derbyshire with our families. It was a lovely house and location and Mum had been looking forward to it for quite a while and couldn’t wait to go, but by this time Mum had become quite confused and forgetful and, in the days and weeks before, kept pestering us, especially Janis, about when we would be going, even ringing up to accuse us of going without her and leaving her all on her own.
After a couple of days at the cottage Mum became very unsettled and wanted to go home, so as Sue and I had to go back to Nottingham for a couple of days because of work, we decided it would be best if we took Mum home on the way.
When we got back to Derbyshire later in the week we found out that Mum had become very confused and was constantly telephoning the cottage; she thought she was still in Derbyshire, but on her own and wanted to be taken home to Syston!
This situation lasted for quite a while; Mum was very agitated and convinced that she wasn’t at home. Even though all her familiar things were around and her neighbours were there, Mum still insisted that she was in Derbyshire and wanted to go back to her proper home. She was very upset that we have taken her to Derbyshire and deserted her.
This upset seemed to have made Mum generally a bit more confused and forgetful. She started trying to contact people such as Doug Arnold, who had died a while ago, she went into Leicester on the bus and had a lift back from a stranger, which was very worrying, and she wrote a letter to her parents, who died about thirty years ago, to tell them that Dad had died, asking them if they could come up on the train from Brighton to visit her because she was so sad and lonely.
Mum had another stroke on 22 May 2004. She was, again, taken to the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham to have the haemorrhage removed, but she didn’t fully recover this time.
After a few weeks in hospital and then in Berrystead Nursing Home in Syston, Mum was taken ill again and died a week later at the Leicester Royal Infirmary on 31 July 2004.
Mum was cremated at Loughborough Crematorium on 10 August and her ashes were scattered on 17 August at Birstall Cemetery, in the same place as Dad’s.
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