Alexander Ainscough – My fathers shop

1. Early Memories

2. My Father was a very proficient Clog maker.

He made the wooden Clog soles himself by hand, now they are made by machine and are not nearly so nice or comfortable. To make the solos he used big steel knives which had a hook at one end and a long handle at the other, in the middle they had a variety of blades, kept very sharp. I can testify about the sharpness because I spent many hours turning the handle of the stone grinding machine on which he often sharpened the knives. The hook of the knives were put- into a swivelling hook which acted like a’ fulcrum. The ring or hook was fastened to a special sole maker’s bench.  From two blocks of wood he could make a pair of lovely clog soles in about twenty minutes.  As a very small boy I used to sit and watch him at work, I thought then, & still do, that he was wonderful.  The clogs he made were long lasting, very nice looking and extremely comfortable. If people told him of carbuncles, flat or high arched feet, and bunions he would make the soles accordingly. People came a long way to buy his clogs. He made small ones for children before they cou1d walk and thick soled ones for the miners’ work clogs, thinner soled fancy ones for their night clogs, no shoes for them then, they couldnt afford them.  He made thinner soled slipper c logs for ladies. He used to scribe fancy patterns on the night clogs’ leather and use brass nails instead of iron ones, with fancy patterns on the welting – red welting for the ladies.  A pair of his mens clogs cost 7/6 (7 shillings and 6 pence or 37p). They would last a lifetime.  New soles could be put on them as the other ones wore out. Irons around the sole bottoms cost  5d (5pence – or around 2p) a set to put on and would last for a long time. By hs steadfast & long efforts. he supported, our large family of six boys and two girls, other children died, one boy from Scarlet Fever,which myself and a younger brother had at the same time. The brother who deid developed Emphysema, was operated on in the same bedroom as myself , no anaesthetic. He cried and the Doctor smacked his bottom and told him to be quiet.  Poor boy, he died.  I developed Diptheria. I should have died but somehow I didn’t. Three died at birth. In those days there were only handywomen to carry out midwife duties, the charge for their work was 7/6.  People had to pay this in instalments; sometimes the midwife never got paid. ‘hab a difference to today. All us boys in our time had to help my Father make clogs. So that we all became able to make clogs, All our spare time when we were not at school was spent in the shop. I can only speak for myself,I didn’t mind, except at times, when I could hear the other boys playing games I did wish I could join them. Finishing time was anytime between 10 pm and midnight.

I well remember my Father’s greeting on my arrival home from school. “Be quick and have your tea and then get your brat on.” (A Brat was a leather apron which Dad had made for an older brother now it was mine).  I also wore hand-me-down clothing and clogs belonging to previous brothers. Shoes were onlyworn by the more prosperous Hindley people on Sundays. We were in this class apparently as we did have clogs and shoes. Others who couldn’t afford the luxury wore night clogs, lighter fancy ones, for evenings and Sundays.  However gradually shoes became more possible and so Dad learned to repair shoes and now the shop was  a ‘Clogging Boot Repairing’ one. Men’s boots Soled and heeled were 2/6 .

3. Early Mornings