Elizabeth Tomlinson's father worked for MacAlpine's construction company, and it was through MacAlpine's that the family moved to Coventry, and later on to Derby. One of fourteen children, Lizzie and her brothers and sisters appear to have had a wonderfully happy upbringing - reportedly, with neither a smack nor raised voice ever being recalled by any of them!
We continue this series with the childhood memories of Elizabeth Tomlinson (known as Lizzie) as related by her daughter, Joan Johnstone.
y Mum (who died in 2006, aged 95) was born in Wales in 1910. She was five years old when the family moved to Coventry, and she was ten years old when they moved to Derby. They lived in Bishop Street, Coventry, from 1915 until 1920, and her youngest sister was born there in 1918. Although she was only ten when the family left Coventry to move to Derby, my Mum always said she loved Coventry and often spoke of it.
I think their house on Bishop Street was next to a shop called Montgomery's. (I also think she said Montgomery's was a butcher's shop.) Mum described the house as being a large, three-storey building, which belonged to a doctor before they moved there. Mum's sister said one of the rooms off the main hall had lots of different coloured bottles in it when they arrived, which I presume contained medicine!
My mother said there used to be a toy shop on the street and, after school, all the kids would run to it to stare in the window. Every Monday, the dolls in the window would have different outfits on. There was never any hope of the kids having any of the toys - it was the First World War - but she said they got their pleasure just looking at them. She also said that they were a lot happier than the kids of today!!!
We now live in a village named Spondon, four miles from Derby. The village is on a hill, and from some parts we can see five counties - Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire and Lincolnshire. Although Warwickshire is not one of the counties we can see, on the night of the blitz on Coventry in 1940, villagers could see an orange glow in the sky. They knew it was a really bad attack, but were amazed when they learned that it was as far away as Coventry.
The following day, my mother went to fetch coal from the coalhouse. In the coalhouse, she found a dog, a greyhound. The poor animal had no pads left on its feet - it took weeks to nurse it back to health. My parents were convinced the dog had run from the blitz on Coventry the night before. He must have run and run in sheer panic, poor thing. He certainly ran to the right house, my parents were exceptionally fond of all animals!
My grandmother returned to Coventry just after the war to visit some friends and was really upset to see the devastation. The house she had lived in, in Bishop Street, had gone, but the butcher's shop, Montgomery's, was still there.
Some years after the war, one of Lizzie's brothers visited Coventry again, and recalls that Montgomery's shop had become a restaurant.
Joan's Mum also spoke about a park nearby, and a little girl named Emily Trevitt, her friend. Did Emily's family remain in Coventry? And does anyone remember Emily and her family, or remember anyone ever mentioning 'Lizzie Tomlinson'? We'd love to hear from you if you do!
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