MY DAD and ME
6th NOVEMBER 1919 – 16th MAY 2010
My great grandfather, Daniel Parkinson, lived in the toll house on the old A590 in the village of Levens in the then county of North Lancashire, he worked as a farm labourer and moved to Carnforth in 1880, he had acquired a job on the new West Coast Railway, base in Carnforth.
He settled into a small terrace house with his children Sydney, Samuel (Sam) and Mary in 93 North Road Carnforth. As a train driver in the early days of steam, promotion came in the form of how big your engine was and which line you worked, Daniel soon became a driver on the main line; it was London in the south or Glasgow in the north. The money was better than the family was used to. 1914 saw Sam called up to serve in France with the cavalry, after a gas attack he returned to Carnforth and was confined to bed for months so his lungs could recoup, He returned to the front just as the armistice had been signed.
Sam a veteran of the First World War a man of great courage returned to Carnforth in 1918, my father, Philip Parkinson, was born 6th November 1919 in Carnforth Lancashire. Sam and wife Nora had nine children, six girls Ann, Barbara, Margaret, Nora, Florence and Joyce and three boys Philip (my father), Sam and Michael. Phillip attended the church of England school and left school at fourteen. He started work at Coopers of Beetham, a paper manufacturer based next to the river Levens beside the A6 trunk rd.
Dad told of how he would go to work eight miles away on a bicycle He would wait at the cross roads on the A6 for one of the slow moving trucks, he would then hang onto one of the rope down the side and be towed to work at 12 mph. His entertainment those days was to go shooting and fishing with his elder brother Sam. The fishing was good with Morecambe bay at the bottom of the street. His dad Sam was also into fishing; there were lots of fishing rods in the house he fished for salmon with flies.
One of his favourite ways was without rods, he would go out into the bay and treed flook ; a place like fish, as they were feeding on the bottom. As a boy I remember going with granddad, the idea is you walk slowly and stand on the flook, the skill was to get your finger and hook it though the gills and lift it out of the water without it wriggling away, this and shooting of rabbits and ducks helped with the feeding of his large family.
Coopers was a very large paper works, dads job was loading train wagons and cutting paper on a large steam guillotine. Trucks those days were new to transporting goods, they would be mainly steam style traction with the very new articulated petrol powered unit with trailer usually ex army with top speed of fifteen miles an hour, this was the time goods started to move by road. After loading dad would get the drivers to put his bike on the back and drop him off at Carnforth on their way south.
After Cooper’s dad got a job at Shinglers a local farm just down the road, His first job was a stock man, he spent many hours just him and sheep the young sheep dog, starting a life time love of dogs. Shep got used to dads whistle and calls; together they could round up a flock with only whistles. The farmer had a Bradford five ton truck powered by a 28 horse power petrol engine and a 3 tire sheep body, one of dad favourite times was when he could drive the truck in the yard.
Each week the farmer used the truck for collecting sheep from farms in the Trough of Bowland, one day he was at a farm in Layburn, Mr Shingler said, Philip this is one of the Kings farm, so straighten your self up. King George the sixth loved to go shooting in Layburn woods dad never saw him but he always looked his best just in case, from there they would transport the sheep to market in Preston.
On one occasion dad went to Preston with Mr Shingler in his Austin 8, “look at this” the farmer said sixty mile an hour! A mile a minute on the old A6, Dad loved this job. Shep would go with dad every where they were like best friends, one day after four years in farm service dad found he could make more money working in the local quarry, he gave notice to the farmer and asked if he could take Shep with him, he said he would pay Mr Shingler for Shep but to no availed Shingler refused, it broke dad heart to leave Shep behind but money was important! Moving jobs meant Dad had further to go to work and he commandeered his sister Margarets new girls bike to ride to work, he would get whistles from the men at work and tears from Margaret, mother Nora was on dads side because dad wages help with the household bills.
The quarry supplied stone for the railways; it was used as ballast between the lines. Dad had to crush stone with aid of a stationery steam engine couple by a large leather belt to a stone crusher. Dad worked from six till six feeding large stones in to the crusher, I think he was quite happy when war broke out in 1939.
He was twenty years old and just the right age to be conscripted, Conscription came early January 1940, the letter to report to Preston recruiting depot arrived it was off to war. Leaving civy Street meant saying good-bye Carnforth! Hello world. Mother fussed about packing a small suit case, with the only change of clothes he had, along with new razor and toothbrush.
As he left to go to Carnforth station saying farewell to his brother’s sister’s dad and mum, his cousin who lived next door Cecil (Later Cecil Parkinson MP and later Lord Parkinson of Lancaster) had a day off school to say good-bye.
Cecil’s father Sydney was station Master at Carnforth; it was then one of the busiest stations in the north of England. There were ten platforms; they were needed to handle the changes of different lines, main London Scotland line, Yorkshire line, Furness line, north Cumberland line plus the Heysham boat train, one of the main routes to Ireland they all changed at Carnforth.
The famous film brief encounter was filmed at Carnforth station while Uncle Sid was station master.
The train arrived from Scotland at 12 midday, being from Scotland meant there was standing room only, getting on board was difficult when he opened the door he thought ten were going to fall out, on any other day he would have waited for another train, he had to report at Preston by 6 pm, so he pushed and shoved with others to get on.
The guy next to him was pushing as hard as he was," got to report to Preston”, so have I mate, this was how he met Jack Twiss from Rawtenstall, Jack had changed trains from the north Yorkshire line platform 5. This was the start of a lifelong friendship, though thick and thin they would stay together.
Training for War