Audrey Robinson (nee Ponfield): Dear Old Cannon Street

Dear old Cannon Street. Looking back, what an honour to have lived there.

Maybe we didn’t always think that, especially when families didn’t really have much at all to live on, but looking back, it was a lovely, warm, friendly area to live. What a pity Cannon Street couldn’t have been wrapped up in cotton wool and be preserved forever-wishful thinking, but that is how deeply the residents of ‘Canno’ which it is known so affectionately think of this bygone community.

A shop on every street corner, no need to go elsewhere. Canno provided everything: Groceries, Fruit & Veg, Fish & Chips, Bakeries, Pawn Shops, Second-Hand Shops, Cobblers, the beautiful St. Patrick’s Church always had a huge congregation…Oh nearly forgot, pubs of course!

Thank God at that time there were no mobiles or computers. Kids actually played in the streets. Yes, actually played! Not stuck in front of a screen, as they do now.

Lovely summer nights when mams would turn the skipping ropes for the kids to all join in. Shops stayed open until 10 pm and dear old Angie, who had an ice cream/general shop on the corner of Duncombe Street would still serve anyone at her ‘side door’ after 10 pm. She was a God send, as many a time it would be for a baby’s dummy or a gas mantle. That’s what the people of Canno were like.

Many a man’s suit would be taken to pawn on a Monday morning and hopefully be rescued again on pay day, before he had realised where it had been. Ahh! Good old days.

When a man came home from work his meal would immediately be on the table for him. No waiting, which seems to be the ‘norm’ these days. It was all about the family and making ends meet. No takeaways then, just plain and simple home cooking. The schools were situated in the community so all the kids walked to school. Certainly no cars to do the ‘school run’. So many out door activities costing no money, as the kids amused themselves, playing allies, ball games…and anyone who had roller skates would always lend one of them to someone else so they would have one each to go up and down the street.

Families would go in droves to Albert Park with packed sarnies which were nearly always egg, and they would all have a good time. If their mams had a few coppers they would buy the kids an ice-cream cornet as a treat.

Houses on Canno were small with two bedrooms, a parlour and a tiny kitchen. Yet a lady in Duncombe Street gave birth to triplets! No bathroom, no hot water, just three babies all strong and healthy. A massive difference to how their birth would’ve been today- Hospital, doctors, nurses. People on Canno just got on with everything themselves.

Today, we all lock our doors, burglar alarms installed and anything else to make us feel safe in our homes. Living on Cannon Street the majority of people didn’t even have a front door key. They closed their doors, and many a family used a flat iron to stand behind the door to keep it closed. No-one would ever have thought of a break in. Things like that never seemed to happen. It’s beggars belief compared with today.

Girls and boys left school at fifteen, and the majority were married by the age of eighteen or twenty.

It may have been quite a struggle, but people seemed to be contented just building a little home together. Hard up times-very much so, but lovely, lovely days living on dear old Canno.

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