The ticket man

It was Mondays when Fred ‘The Ticket Man’ came. Mam, Edie, Freda and Ruby (their unmarried cousin) usually met at Hymers Street and occasionally got ‘tickets’ (vouchers) from Fred to purchase goods from the big department stores like Newhouse’s, Uptons or Binns. The larger stores did not give credit, so Fred would sell tickets on an instalment basis. He came each week to collect the repayments and also to collect insurance money.

Fred was small, with a ruddy complexion and a squeaky voice. He always looked like he was dressed for the races. He wore a checked jacket and a flat ‘at. Over his shoulder hung a worn leather satchel. I can still picture him now, even though I must have been below school age if I was home when he visited. He was a friendly man who had to take a lot of ribbing from the women. He didn’t care as long as he got his money each week. It was an exciting excursion when the family had accumulated enough tickets and travelled ‘uptown’ on the ’O’ bus to spend them.

Dicky Valentine – ‘Finger of Suspicion’  1955
I’ll take and lock her charms forever in my arms
Then who is bound to be the guilty, who?
The finger of suspicion points at you

Milk and coal were delivered through the streets to homes by horse and cart. The horses knew their rounds backwards and needed no directions while the goods were delivered.

The Back Alley was the access for the bin man and Sid Piper with his coal cart. When Sid arrived to deliver the coal, women rushed out and frantically gathered in their washing from the lines that were strung across the alley.

Kids playing in the back alley – 1949

Sid always made sure he finished his coal round before the Albion opened. His horse waited patiently outside in the shafts1, sometimes until closing time at 10 o’clock when Sid staggered out of the pub. He climbed onto the cart, fell asleep and his horse then headed for home.

The Back Alley was also the children’s football field and their cricket pitch with a dustbin for a wicket. A one-handed catch off the wall was out, and over the wall was six and out.

Next: The local streets

Previous: The Market 1953

  1. Parallel horizontal poles, between which the horse is harnessed to a cart