Monday, 10 March 2008

#007 Monsal Dale and Blackpool

Later on that year in September, Dad and I went on our bikes to Monsal Dale for a week’s holiday. Dad had an uncle who farmed at Monsal Head and Great Longstone. What a thrill it was to bike 40 miles with Dad who obviously had to push me some of the way. We had a marvellous week there culminating at the weekend with a trip to Blackpool Illuminations, the trip was organised by Great Longstone choir (it was their annual outing), two people had dropped out so Dad and I were invited to fill be vacant places. We caught the train at Great Longstone station (closed by Dr Beeching), walking the 4 miles from Monsal Head, we changed trains at Manchester (as far as I know this is now the G Max exhibition centre). As we neared Blackpool, dad asked me to look out of the window to see Blackpool Tower, this tower had the impression of moving from side to side of the carriage as the track snaked.

Blackpool was a real treat for me, every tram and every building was lit up ‑ even the Tower had a searchlight on top. We eventually caught the train back home, unfortunately the train only stopped at Monsal Dale station so it was a long climb to Monsal Head.

We left there on Monday and biked over to Sheffield, where my dad’s brother Sam entertained us. On the following day we had a tour round the famous Vickers Steel works at Attercliffe ‑ seeing all the drop forging plants and the foundry filled me with wonder. During the time we were at Sheffield, or actually the suburb of Firth Park, my cousin and I walked through Pitsmoor and then climbed up Wincobank Hill, quite a good view of Sheffield could be obtained from there. (It has now been built over). The real reason for our wanting to top this view point, was to see the World War I sites for anti aircraft gun and searchlight posts, parts of which were still there, for us 7 & 9 year old it was quite something. Uncle Norman from Long Eaton who was the proud owner of an Austin Seven collected dad and me from Firth Park, the bikes tied to the rear luggage rack.

On pre-war visits to my cousins at Firth Park in Sheffield we would visit Owlerton Stadium where Sheffield Blue Socks played Baseball, this game was very popular around 1936. On one particular night Boston Red Sox from America where playing Sheffield Blue Socks and starring in the Boston team was the legendary figure of “Babe” Ruth the finest player the world had ever seen. He was at the end of his career reduced to playing demonstration games. We were honoured to see him play he ran two “home” runs that night the crowd where ecstatic.

On future visits to our Uncle at Monsal Head we marked a diamond out on their large lawn then played with a broom handle as bat and a tennis ball. My two brothers and I would cycle up to Monsal Head on most Easter and Whit bank holidays our cousin Maurice would meet us there having cycled over from Sheffield. How my Aunt was able to feed us, I’ll never know as she had no inkling we were coming, we would stop at least three days and all their family i.e. two lads and two girls played baseball with us a great time was had by all.

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