Mary was born in Corporation St and moved into 23L St. Laurence’s Mansions in Sheriff St. When she moved there, the other blocks of flats, had not yet been built. St Laurence’s Mansions was the first and was built amongst the artisan cottages which had existed for years, to house the craftsmen who worked the docks. She was one of five sisters and three brothers.
She worked in my father’s shop, helping out when times were busy. She also babysat me on many occasions. This was on a voluntary basis and she would have her meals with us in the evening. She recalled that during one such meal that my mother served freshly cooked beetroot. Mary had never tasted fresh beetroot and she loves it ever since.
She recalled that her years in Sheriff St were the happiest of her life, amongst her family, friends and supportive neighbours. One of her abiding and happiest memories was of the activities on New Year’s Eve. On these evenings, the bells of Christchurch pealed all over the city in celebration. Every pub closed between 7.00 and 8.00 pm. The ships moored in the river blew their fog horns and set off fireworks, a phenomenon not normally seen in those days. In the middle of the flats which was like an amphitheatre, men came out and played skiffle music, whilst the neighbours on their balconies sang along. Lonnie Donegan was regarded as the king of skiffle music.
She recalled that her husband worked in Aer Lingus for years and he got this job there by putting down his new address in Sheriff St.