I have no memories of my Grandma Johnson, who died when I was seven. We had very little to do with the Derbyshire side of the family and my childhood memories of Chesterfield are very few and far between.
All I know of her is seen through my dad’s eyes. I know how much he loved and admired his mother: he saw what her life was like and what a struggle it was to bring up her ten children in “The Square”.
They had two bedrooms: one bed in the back for the four boys, and three beds in the front bedroom: one for Mum & Dad, one for current baby, the other for all the girls. Downstairs was one decent room and the kitchen with its coal-burning range to heat the water, cook the meals and warm the house.
The toilet, of course, was outside in a separate block, along with the middens – no wheelie bins in those days!
She had four miners in the family: her husband and sons Eddie, Bill and, later on, Jack: in fact my dad Steve was the only son to escape the pit. There were no pithead baths: they came home covered in coal dust, taking turns to get clean in the tin bath set in front of the fire.
Lily was a strong woman but my Dad did see her cry once – when she first saw her new four-bedroom home at Holland Road, complete with bathroom and hot running water.
Born Lillian (but used Lily) Leachman in 1890, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire
Married Joseph Johnson in 1909
Died in December 1957 in Chesterfield