Fred Risk talks about his mother
Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 13th March 2012 by Liam Physick
Fred Risk describes how his mother, Martha Sarah May, worked in Meccano for 23 years. Meccano was established in 1907 by Frank Hornby, a clerk from Liverpool, and a large factory in West Derby Road was bought: the factory in Binns Road was acquired in 1914, and became the company’s base until November 1979, when it closed. Martha was in charge of the assembly line, and would read her colleagues’ tea leaves, until one day when she accurately predicted that one worker would lose her brother on board a ship. She was of the opinion that Queensland Street was haunted, as once she saw a vision of a butler in the vestibule there. She eventually settled in Cicely Street, before moving to Gourley Road after her marriage, but they soon relocated to Beach Tree Road, where Fred grew up
Interviewee: Fred Risk
Interviewee Gender: Male
Date of Interview: 16th February 2012
Fred: As I say, my mother lived all the way round, round this area for most of her early years until she got married.
Jenny: What was your mother’s name?
Fred: Martha. Martha Sarah May she was called. What a title she had! (both laugh) Yeah, she was quite a character, me mother was a character as well, but all the family used to come with their problems to me mother! (laughs)
Jenny: Oh, yeah! (laughs)
Fred: Yeah, but, yeah, she was, as I say, she worked in Meccano for many years during the War, before the War and during the First World War, and then she met my father and they got married then. But she was, she was in at the beginning of Meccano, where they were in West Derby Road . . .
Jenny: Oh, right.
Fred: . . . and then they moved to Binns Road, and, she, she become, like, in charge of it, a line in, in, in when she was there, and again, she, the, the, the character of her (coughs), the girls used to have to assemble the screws to the nuts, and if they got any rags on they used to tear their fingers, you know, cos the nuts were put into a little, a spinning mandrill, and they used to run the, the nut, the bolt into the nut, and, to make sure it worked properly when they were (indecipherable), and any of it snagged, my mother used to undo them and make sure they were, there was couple of good nuts and bolts and she used to keep them aside and if the girls didn’t make their bonus number, she used to give them some of them to make up the bonus.
Fred: So . . . but she was a, she was a character, she also (laughs), she used to read tea leaves, my mother, and, she, she stopped doing it, she used to do it every day at Meccano when they have their tea break, so, or their lunch breaks, and the girls used to say, “Come on, read us the cups”, and she read one cup, she said to this girl, “You know somebody who’s on a ship?”, and the girl said, “Yes, me brother”, she said, “he was in the Navy”, she said, “Well, I think there’s gonna be some bad news”, and the chap’s ship was torpedoed and he, he was lost, you know . . .
Jenny: And she read that?
Fred: . . . and so after that, she refused to do it after that, but she used to do it for, for a couple of friends of ours that, they had three daughters and as soon as we went round there, “Oh, get the tea and let’s have it”. (he and Jenny laugh) That was me mum, yeah, and . . . she was, she was a character in her own right as well, so, I, as I say, I think that’s about . . .
Jenny: Do you remember what roads your mum lived on in, in the area?
Fred: My mum lived in, you know, she lived in Cicely Street for quite a but, cos that’s where the grandparents finished, but she lived in . . . all the, some of the roads around here, cos they used to flip those days, the, the landlord would give them free weeks out if they moved, and they used to just disappear and the, the husbands used to come home (laughs), after the family had moved and he hadn’t a clue where they’d gone to, you know, and so it, suppose, Queensland Street, I remember her talking about Queensland Street which was, this was the one she reckoned was haunted, she went out into the hall one day in, in the vestibule they had vestibules in the houses then, and she saw this apparition of a, just like a butler, you know, in his full suit, you know, the butler’s suit, and she always said if, in the bedroom, she always felt as though there were somebody in the room with you, and they didn’t stay there very long, but, but that was one of them houses I remember her talking about, and there was a couple of the other roads around that they must have moved to at different times, you know, and then, they finally settled in Cicely Street, but, the . . . I, after that I, I lived mostly out in the, in the Wavertree and Childwall areas after, after we, cos we, they moved, when they got married they, they went into Gourley Road (coughs), and that was very damp, that house, so they moved them down to Beach Tree Road, I mean, that’s where I grew up in Beach Tree Road, you know.
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