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Grandma LUCAS---Fanny Mary CAMPBELL, who was born in Leeds on 14th November 1878, was a quiet self effacing lady. She was homely in appearance and wore clothes more modern in style and length. We were never likely to forget her birthday as the date was of such significance in our family. For one, it was the date of the first Coventry Blitz in 1940 and in 1951 I had my first operation! Quite a fateful day, you might say![1]

Grandma's family moved down to a canalside cottage at Marston Bridge, Bedworth when she was thirteen, because of the employment opportunity afforded her father. His former job within stables, had exacerbated his chest complaint, and this outside job at the lock on the Asby-de-la-Zouche canal was a much healthier option, although it paid less. Fanny and her elder sister, Alice, were reputed to be lively, spirited girls, who enjoyed their schooling and wanted to be pupil teachers. But that was not to be and Alice went into service --- also a brief period in a hat factory, which she hated, and Fanny was apprenticed to a tailoress. So their hopes went by the board, as the family were only just making ends meet.

Fanny Mary LUCAS

Fanny Mary LUCAS

These photos were both taken in 1950. The first was on a day's outing to Trentham Gardens. Grandma LUCAS is on the left, in the middle is Mrs Yielding and to the right is Mrs Gallimore. Mrs Gallimore lived next door and Mrs Yielding close by. They were all firm friends, and as my brother said, they were always laughing when they were together.

The second photo is of Grandma, (Fanny Mary LUCAS) with her sister Alice GOODYER.

Alice was 5 years older than Grandma, and was a tiny, dynamic woman. They were on holiday together at Colwyn Bay in July 1950. Fanny is on the left and Alice on the right.

Now I reach a bit of a mystery. What happened to turn a spirited girl into the quiet lady that I knew? She had married David LUCAS of Bedworth, and I know that her early married life was far from easy and financially she'd also had a hard time of it.

Obviously she supplemented their income with outwork, because I do know that she handsewed shirts for Allens, the Drapers, of Foleshill, at 6d per article during the 1914 to 1918 war. Sewing by the inadequate light of a lamp at night, after a day spent making munitions eventually ruined her eyesight for close work.

During my childhood Grannie was always there as a reassuring presence. Her husband died in 1937 after being bedridden for some time and her elder daughter continued to live with her, and my own family constantly visited. The war forced us to move houses and from then on we lived in the same street.

The two households were so close and in many respects operated as one. Gran's front door was always ajar, and callers just knocked and called out, "It's only me," and walked in. Of course this was still a time when people didn't need to lock their doors if they wanted to run to the local shops; and neighbours kept a sharp eye open for anyone strange in the street.

As time went by Grannie's life improved no end. She had good friends amongst her neighbours and they accompanied each other to the local Salvation Army midweek afternoon entertainment --- it being about the only organisation at that time to do something for older folk.

Photographs showed that these friendly neighbours went on day trips by coach together, too. And then there were the occasional visits to the Spiritualist Chapel in Broad Street, when her sister came over from Bulkington. That was when we had a brief glimpse of the young Fanny, as she became animated and chatted away "nineteen to the dozen" with Alice! It became a family joke --- we couldn't get a word in edgeways, and settled down to listen in.

Fanny Mary LUCAS

Fanny LUCAS on her 80th birthday

Granny was a good savoury cook in the Yorkshire tradition, and it was a pity that when her girls were young they were perforce to live so poorly. But I can remember her wonderful downy Yorkshire puddings and light as a feather pastry. She never measured ingredients, except a cup or handfuls of this or that and I never saw her with a recipe book. Alice was the same, so I think that their mother must have been an excellent cook, herself. H'mm, I can almost taste and smell their Sunday dinners as I write.

Grandma had a particularly close rapport with my brother and they played many a game of Draughts or Dominoes together. She taught him well and some lively battles were fought as both were canny players. Whenever Roy appeared her eyes lit up --- it was lovely to see her pleasure.

Holidays in the 1940s were often taken at a guest house in Morecambe, where the proprietors came to treat them as "family" and took them visiting when they had a day off. My young brother accompanied them and loved it there.

Later on Auntie Florrie took Grandma on holidays by coach. The Midland Red was their favourite tour operator as the accommodation was excellent and they could ask for special facilities to make it easier for Grandma. In this way she enjoyed exploring Scotland and other picturesque locations.

She celebrated her 80th birthday happily enough, but my photos taken on the day show her with an egg-sized bump on her forehead and a broken arm in a plaster, from a recent fall. Her final months were rather sad ones, as although we did our best for her, a series of strokes gradually robbed her of her mobility, and then speech, and she didn't live quite long enough to hear of the birth of her first great grandchild in New Zealand.

She lies in St Paul's Cemetery, Holbrooks Lane with her husband David. Grandma had insisted that his grave had fresh flowers placed on it weekly, so we walked that route regularly for many years.

I am left with very pleasant memories of this grandma, who with my parents gave me such a feeling of security, through some turbulent times. I can see her smiling as she knitted away at the ribbed welts of a garment for something Auntie Florrie was making, as she needn't look down at it. Auntie would have several of these ready for her!

I hope that I haven't bored you with my narrative, as I have been enjoying reliving these memories. My Grandmas seemingly came alive again for me.

I am a Grandma and Great-grandma myself now and enjoy my relationships with the younger generations. What memories will they have of me I wonder? Will one of them be that I always wear a pinafore, but not of the enveloping type, around my home?

Remembrance - Coventry Blitz

Contributed by Muriel Wells
Email: pollyp(@)
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