Funeral teas only in ‘the best room’

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WALKING through the town centre earlier this week I saw a sign in a shop window that brought back memories of 35 years ago - back to the days of renting our first television.

The sign was not actually for a TV, but a washer. I thought the practice of renting electrical appliances had virtually died off but it seems the market is still thriving, probably more about me moving on to buying these items rather than renting.

Things have certainly moved on a pace since me and Mrs H. bought our first home.

Back in those days girls would have a ‘bottom-drawer’ but at our son’s recent wedding the concept of a ‘bottom drawer’ meant nothing to his wife to be. Carrying out a bit of research with similar aged engaged couples, what we saved in the so called bottom draw seems is to a thing of the past or at least by that name.

Having bought our new house all those years ago we set about furnishing it. Unlike today when most newly-weds seem to have everything ready to walk into couples setting up home then did it bit by bit.

We had a new carpet but only in the best room. Can you remember when your grandparents had a ‘best room’ only ever used for funeral teas. There was no heating, not a cushion out of place and the pervading smell of moth balls. The door was rarely if ever opened and as children you were never allowed in unless you were accompanied.

We had a three piece suite the shop had stored away for over 18 months for us, and an old black and white TV which we were given.

A big day came when we got a new colour TV from the Granada shop which as many readers will recall was on Commercial Street. It was one of those ‘all round sound models. It was fantastic but it cost just over £14 a month. Looking back it was a nice piece of furniture as well as a TV. Mrs H. always saw that the wood was polished and sparkled, just as the old Ambassador radiogram had been for earlier generations. Did you have your own radio or did you like many others visit Radio Rentals and pay the weekly rent for one.

Radio Rentals was a company that was started in 1932 in Brighton and grew to have at its peak over 500 shops through out the UK. It gradually joined the new TV boom and later the must have video craze. In 1968 it was bought by Thorn Electrical Industries and merged with DER, another household name familiar to town centre shoppers from those days. In 1968 it was bought by Granada and of course we saw the Commercial Street branch of Granada appear.

You had to be careful back in those days because whilst the mortgage rate these days might fluctuate between three and six per cent. In the mid-70s eight per cent and above was not unusual and the rate peaked at a colossal 15 per cent for a short while.

In those days you had to save up. This, I guess was the mantra drummed in by your parents – save up until you can afford it or do without until you can.

Yes, these were the days when you still had more frost on the inside of your windows on a winter’s morning than there was on the outside, central heating was for posh folk. TV finished at midnight you were seen.

This week’s featured photograph was taken at an event organised and held at the Brighouse Labour Rooms in 1952.

The memories that I have revived here will have been part of every day life for all these people as it has been for my own.

I have no doubt they will have been a way of life that many of you will remember as if it was yesterday.