Helen Bradley with her sister Dorothy.

was born in the year 1900 in the village of Lees, situated between Oldham and the nearby Yorkshire villages of Greenfield, Uppermill and Dobcross. Even then the village had lost the few farms it once had. The cotton mills had spread out from Oldham, and rows of little back-to-back houses for working people filled the once open spaces. Both my Grandfathers had owned businesses and even before I was born had built some of these houses which they let to good and trusted workers. My Father's Father bought a farm at South Shore, Blackpool, and built a nice house with plenty of room, because, he said, he wanted somewhere for his grandchildren to come for holidays; many were the happy holidays we spent there.

We lived in Lees in a tall Victorian house on the High Street. It had long narrow passages and steep stairs, and a large, warm kitchen with a good black coal range with two ovens: one we called the Bread Oven, and in the smaller one were cooked pies, puddings etc. All our bread, cakes and biscuits were made at home, by Mother or Sarah, who came to help when my brother George was a baby. As we grew older Annie Simpson came to help with the housework. On Tuesdays she "did" the bedrooms, singing lustily as she swept. She belonged to the Salvation Army in Oldham, and always began with "Onward Christian Soldiers Going as to War", and when she saw George and me she would say, "Come along, children, join in", and away she would go again through all the verses, cheerfully banging about with her brushes and mops. Then we would sing "There is a Happy Land", and lots more lively hymns. We always knew when she was getting to the end of her work because she invariably finished off with "The Day Thou Gavest Lord, is Ended". By the time she had done it was afternoon, and on a dark winter's day "Darkness was falling" and it seemed, indeed, like the end of the day.

Helen Bradley
(From Helen Bradley's First Book 'And Miss Carter Wore Pink' first published 1971)

Helen at work in the studio.