Plowright Press - Ordinary Lives - Bill of Bulwell

Bill of Bulwell

Bill of Bulwell

by Bill Cross
ISBN 9780951696019
£9.95
2nd Edition
208 pp including photos
Out of print - Copies are sometimes to be found second-hand. One method is to Google "Bill of Bulwell"

Autobiography of a Nottingham miner born in 1918. Already a must for social history students.

Highlights include accounts of family life between the wars and the so-called age of affluence after 1945, the daily routine of a conscript soldier in the Second World War and, especially, the work experience that dominated his existence before retirement from the mines, the joiner’s shop and the timber yard in the 1980s.

Midland History, University of Birmingham

I much enjoyed it and want to order copies for my brothers in New Zealand and in South Africa. I’m certain they will also enjoy it.

HJ, Sutton on Sea

Extracts from the Book

Here we stood on the brink of war dressed in riding breeches, puttees wrapped from knee to boots, old tunics with brass buttons, meant for horse artillery and we hadn’t got a horse. We looked like ghosts of men who had fought in the First World War.

The Thames looked like it was on fire, the tall cranes silhouetted, the firemen in the thick of it. As a fire engine raced down the road, a bomb dropped in front of it blowing it into the air.

After the greeting of homecoming, I looked around. The old kitchen table was still set with medicine and tinned milk. There was the old black grate with the coal fire, the black kettle singing as the steam rose from the spout. In the scullery, pots and pans in the sink as I went in for a wash. It was as if all this had been mothballed for seven years.

What finally brought the wedding plans forward was that someone knew the owner of a small terrace house coming up to let . . . I was dressed in a pin-striped suit tailored at the Co-op. But, when it was made, I only had coupons for three yards of cloth. So it was a bit tight.

He shouted: “All in the bucket.” We scrambled in as the platform tipped right up, then stopped. He hit the plate twice as we were brought out. There were arguments and nearly fights. The onsetter had been pressing the wrong button on the pit top. There was an enquiry and he was sacked. We had nearly been killed . . . but I think the beer had a lot to do with it.

The Council had put a Compulsory Purchase Order on my allotment garden. I was to be off it in a month. There was to be slum clearance of the area where I lived. I quickly had to sell off the ducks and fowl. My garden was full of produce. It was a shame.

We were still trying for a house with a bathroom. In this year of 1968, we were still using the tin bath.

The Lord Mayor of Nottingham gave Bill and his wife, Joan, a Civic Reception on the occasion of the 2nd Edition launch which coincided with Bill’s 80th birthday.

Among readers who wrote in has been one born after his father was killed in an accident in the same shaft sinking at Calverton that Bill worked on; one from a wife who was reading the book to her elderly ex-miner husband whose photo of one shift on shaft sinking appears on the book’s cover; and from a reader who was pleased to find the book in her local library at Kingscote, South Australia, and who went on to complete My History of Community Activity (see Current Projects). Bill's book quickly established a readership who value this series.

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