1926 THE GENERAL STRIKE

The strike made us a lot of extra work on the farms: No coal for the big steam engines that drove the thrashing drum to thrash our corn. Father got over the fuel crisis as he with the workmen went around our farms cutting down old dead trees, lopping off big lower boughs off others and sawing into 3 to 4 foot lengths and carting off to the Bush (our farm) and Chisnell (our other farm) Rickyards in great big stacks. It was put close by where the engine would stand in easy reach of the engine driver.

I vividly remember the engine driver, George Goode, splitting some of the big ones with a fourteen pound sledge hammer and iron wedges because they were too big to go in the door of the fire box of the steam engine. My, that engine did burn wood and drink gallons of water! George worked and sweated but like all our workers he was happy.

Maybe because Dad’s homemade parsnip wine, fifty gallons of it, was drunk in the ten days thrashings. My father was pleased to get the thrashing done. The extra wine was a bonus.

I was the water boy with horse and a water barrel on two wheels, I went down to the canal backing the barrel to the water’s edge. I stood on a step on the back balanced on one foot with a rope tied to a gallon bucket. I dropped the bucket upside down into the water and with a flick of the rope pulled it out full of water, flopping all over me and whatever about ninety nine times a load. This was sealed with sack bags stretched over the top and a big loose wooden lid on top. That water drawing was a hard job and in vain I tried to bring the full load up to the engine, but up hill over the fields bumping away, I watched some of the water flop away. My hard earned work gone! Some of the workmen would sing:

Water barrel boy am I
From the turnpike to the brook
5 times a day
Oh what sights I see
5 times a day
Ladies on horses come riding by
with garters up above the knee
5 times a day.

The worst side of the strike to us in our village was the hunger marchers. They came walking along the road, top of Turnpike, hundreds of them. Heavy nailed boots and billy cans. Thump, thump! It echoed down to our village that steady beat. It was even to me as a ten year old a tragic, moving mass of men so stirring, so unforgett­able. What a sight those unemployed miners – Wales to London they walked. Times were hard to those poor men. Very hard. As I walk down my village lanes I think of those men.