Marc Riboud – A Lasting Moment

Another archive rescued by The Oral History Company

Two Children Quarrelling in Archway – Quarry Hill -

Steve Farley_1: Quarry Hill, childhood:

“My earliest childhood memories, were that I was born in Ascot Terrace. Now Ascot Terrace was at the back of the Hope Inn pub, just off Marsh Lane really, sort of… the top of South Accommodation Road as it turned into the Marsh Lane area. That’s where it was. And the flats themselves dominated the skyline, from everywhere we went as children. We used walk down to York Road to get the bus into town and, of course, everywhere you walked, the flats were just there on the skyline; massive, often looking a bit austere. I always remember them as being off white and grey, and our parents telling us that… that inside the flats was full of nasty people and children went missing if they went inside the flats because they were so big! And of course this was just a way of keeping us from crossing the road at the bottom of York Road, which in them days wasn’t like it is now, but it was still heavy traffic, so we weren’t allowed very much to go down there in my very earliest… earliest times.”

Steve Farley_2: Quarry Hill, inside the flats

“In them days, when you went inside the flats, it was like everything else because everybody around had coal fires and nobody had central heating, so you always remember everything as being slightly cold and slightly damp. We didn’t have nice duvets and lovely wallpaper and things like that, as I remember it, all the walls were nearly always painted white, slightly grubby in the hallways and things like that. Very small formica kitchens and tables, and there wasn’t the choice then so my memory is that nearly everybody had everything the same! Now, I can remember one of me earliest memories of a table was that it was a yellow checked formica table and four wooden chairs, and everybody either had that or a derivative of that, and that’s what it was like inside the flats. They… I don’t remember them feeling small, in fact probably quite the opposite, they always felt very large, to me as a ten and eleven year old! So, the flats always seemed quite friendly and just like everybody else’s house. I don’t even remember thinking of them as being a flat! You used to play downstairs, but obviously there was no upstairs in a flat, but we never really thought about that. We never thought they haven’t got an upstairs, ’cause it wasn’t like these days where kids might visit somebody else’s house and go and play in the bedroom. You didn’t do that in them days; you played in front of the coal fire where it was warm! So, you never really thought that do they have an upstairs, or don’t they. What they did have, were these wonderful walkways, and balconies and massive areas to ride your bike, so it was like a different playground. No better, no worse than where we were.”

Joe Wroe_1b: Waste disposal at Quarry Hill:
“And like yer say, yer didn’t have to bother carting ashes up and down stairs . All yer did is yer, yer just pulled a lever, and sink, a big flange in sink opened up, you put it in, run some water, swilled it away, and that were it!”

Denis Cronian_1b Quarry Hill,  Launderette:
“Laundry.  I used to go there with me dad.  Used to be a big laundry in middle of Quarry Hill flats.  Everybody used to do their washing there…  Use a pale, big washing tubs, washed them…  Used to scrub stuff in the sink.  When they’d washed it they used to go into dryers.  There wasn’t a dryer like a tumble dryer, it was a thing that you pulled out of the wall.  Basically it were like a steel plate with a handle on it, you used to just pull it.  It was long bars and you just hung your washing on them and pushed it back in.  And it were really hot in there because as soon as you opened it up you could feel the heat coming out at you, at your face.  And then pushed it back in and let them dry and take them home.”

All Images – © Marc Riboud/Courtesy HackelBury Fine Art, London