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History of a Street Precinct
Interview - Emily Lock

Emily Lock
September 2004

138 Farrell St

My parents moved into the house in September 1905 when the house was just a few years old. I was born here in 1908. There were three older children born in a house in Ross Street and three others were born here after me. At first they rented it because it was entailed. The eldest niece inherited it, and when she died, about 1938, they were given first option to buy and did. My father was always doing things to improve it. Recently someone told me that it was the best painted house in the street.

My father worked at Kitchens, the soap manufacturers for over 50 years. He started work there when he was 9 years old because his father died and his mother had to find ways to support the family. He began as the buggy boy for Mr Kitchen. When Mr Kitchen went to see someone my father was sent with him to hold the horses head while Mr Kitchen did his business. When he was old enough he began work in the factory and stayed there until he retired at 63 when he had a stroke.

My earliest recollections are of the happy time we had in the neighbourhood as children, All the families were large, ours at seven was only average and everyone knew everyone else. Some children went to Graham Street, some to St Joseph's and some to Nott Street; we went to Graham Street because my father did not want us crossing the busy intersection with the trains. The children all played in the street and in each others houses. In summer people brought chairs into the street in the evening, as you walked down the street you spoke to everyone. Everyone used to come to my mother for help and advice on family and medical problems. She was a very generous person.

Everyone went to the football. The men would lean on their fences and discuss football, politics and so on. They were hard working people who kept their houses very clean, even scrubbing the front steps. We were very fortunate to have such a childhood.

At first the houses were lit by gas light. We had three rooms with gas and the rest candles. The last one to bed had to blow out the candle. Cooking at first was on the open fire with a colonial oven and a black iron kettle, which was always on the hob. We used coke in that fire and in the winter it never went out. Later we cooked on gas. When electricity eventually was connected it also was put only in three rooms at first.

I started at Graham Street School at 6 years old. At 11 I left school with my Merit Certificate, they could not teach me any more. The teachers wanted me to stay and become a helper, a pupil teacher, but my father said I would be better at home helping my mother and later that I must get an apprenticeship because then I could always support myself. I was too young to go to High School. I stayed at home helping my mother until I was 14, old enough to be apprenticed. I commenced work with a tailor in Bay Street. When my four years apprenticeship was finished I was put off. For the next 24 years I worked for a firm of tailors in Collins Street. My speciality was making coats, all by hand, no machining. I worked as a tailor making coats until I retired, if I get to heaven, I will see them all hanging up.

Some of the families I remember from the street are:

Thackrah who lived opposite in Farrell Street. He was a waterside worker and each of their children were much the same age as we Lock children, we all had our own special mate in the Thackrah family. Mrs Thackrah was a lovely lady. All the Lock and Thackrah children went to Graham Street School

Jim Harris at 136 Farrell Street was a bachelor. His married sister lived there too and brought up her family there.

Mr Vick worked for the railway workshops. One of their children married George Irving and the Irvings lived there for a while.

Byrnes there (136 Farrell St) for over 50 years. (see interview with Greg Byrne Interview)

Mrs Nancarrow was a mid-wife. When I was six months old I had bronchitis and was not expected to live. Mrs Nancarrow came in every morning and rubbed me all over with camphorated oil and saved my life.

Peter Robb there now (140 Farrell St) is the son of a couple who lived there for thirty years.

Some of the games they played in the street: tiggy, rounders, statues, hopscotch, skippy with a big rope; they said jingles like pepper ,The rope often clipped us on the ankles!. We girls used to give concerts, dancing and singing, for the war effort in the First World War. These were in the back yard. Entrance was by a penny or an empty beer bottle, a popular fee as the fathers had to drink the contents first. We used to have a marvellous time.

One of my brothers made a crystal radio set. When he made a second one he gave me the original and I used to lie in bed listening to it, static and all.

At first I went to the Baptist Sunday School in Ross Street because my parents had lived next to the Baptist church in Ross Street before they moved to Farrell Street. My father had been a Lutheran and mother Church of England. When I was 10 I transferred to the Methodist Sunday School in Farrell Street. At that time my brother had changed to go there with his mates. They had a Girls' Club and some of the girls from Graham Street school urged me to join their church club. Once a month all the club members went to Church. Because I went to the church, I was asked to be a helper with the Sunday kindergarten and at 14 I became a Sunday School teacher and stayed there teaching until 1963. The church had cricket and football teams. Mr Gilbert (always known as Jack) Cartwright did a lot for the young people in the church. The boys were very enthusiastic about him. I worked with him at the church for 40 years. During that time I taught in every class of the Sunday School. One of my old pupils is Ray Pugh who lived in Albert Street and is now at Blackburn Church of Christ, he still keeps in touch with me.