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collecting pennies from the gas meter

(70 Posts)
PRINTMISS Sun 15-Apr-12 08:26:39

I wonder if there are any others out there who remember having a gas meter, and the gas man coming to collect the pennies? I have no idea why I woke early this morning with this memory of the pennies piling up on the kitchen table, 12 to the shilling. We were, I know now quite poor, although I was not aware of it at the time, but I realise now that my gran was waiting in the hope that we had paid too many pennies, and might get one back.

Carol Sun 15-Apr-12 08:37:57

I do remember having a gas meter that took shillings, and it was a big event when the meter man came to empty it. My mum would have a large pile of shillings, and the gas man would ask if she wanted the meter adjusting to reduce the amount she put in, but she would always refuse, as this was a way of saving. There was occasionally a bit of a panic when the gas ran out before she managed to get another shilling in.

nuttynorah Sun 15-Apr-12 09:23:03

We had shilling meters for both gas and electricity. If we didn't keep the electricity meter topped up, the lights would suddenly click off and we had to stumble round in the dark to put a shilling in. To make matters worse, the meters were right at the back of an understairs cupboard. This would usually happen during "Take Your Pick" or some other favourite TV programme and the rest of the family would be shouting "Hurry up, we're missing it!"

Greatnan Sun 15-Apr-12 10:15:16

I remember the very flimsy mantles we had on the gas lights.
When we were first evacuated in 1941 we were in a one-bedroomed cottage in a valley near Tottington, Bury. There was no gas or electricity and my mother cooked on an open fire and lighting was by paraffin lamps and candles.
The water supply came from a source up the hill and we had a water butt underneath to catch the drips. The coal man would not bring his horse and cart down the hill, so my mother had to drag the bags down on a home-made sledge.
There were four children, plus many cousins who came to stay in the school holidays. We all slept on mattresses on the bedroom floor. There was no back door, so there was a terrible fire risk.
I was only a baby but my sister has told me many tales of what fun it was .My mother always said the five years we spent in the country during the war were the best years of her life. My father was away in the RAF so we only saw him on his occasional leaves.

Annika Sun 15-Apr-12 10:23:09

I can remember when I was a child the neighbours would knock on our door with news that the meter man was around, which to me seemed to be a time of excitment to my mum and other ladies in our street.
I now know why, our meter was always full and mum was sure that if the meter man did not arrive soon we would have no gas as she would be unable to get any more money in it. Our meter took shillings
When I was first married the first flat we moved into had a meter for the gas and I soon got that changed. I thought this is 1973 no more of this "old fashion " way for me, so within two weeks the meter was changed and I have never gone back to "old" ways. grin

PRINTMISS Sun 15-Apr-12 11:14:12

The time I remember is the mid l930's, when my gran would get the boiler in the corner of the scullery going with newspaper and wood on Monday morning and all the washing would be done on that day. It usually meant cold meat for dinner (as it was called) and I always hoped for a steamed suet pudding. I certainly remember running out of money in the meter and scrabbling around in the dark for some coppers, and being worried that the meter was too full and would result in no light; and those awful fragile mantles. When we got married in 1952, we still had gas lighting and fragile mantles. Do any of you remeber the gas lighting in the schools? Those enormous lampshades and the long chains which could be pulled to put the lights on?

Greatnan Sun 15-Apr-12 12:16:10

I was reminiscing with my sister, who is 75, and she told me that when she ws first married and they were very poor, she would feed the electricity meter with a washer. She was terrified when the man came to empty the meter, but he must have taken pity on her and he left her the washer and said nothing. What a nice man!

numberplease Sun 15-Apr-12 17:30:38

Oh yes, those mantles! Woe betide us if we broke one.
And having to go outside to the toilet, ours was shared, there were 3 toilets to a row of 5 houses and a shop. Toilet rolls were a luxury, we had squares of newspaper threaded onto a string hanging on the wall. Our toilets were across the yard, and ours was nest to a low wall, over which was a plantation of trees. One night, as I was unnlocking the door to the toilet, something touched my shoulder, and I screamed..........turned out to be a curious cow!
And the blacklead fireplaces, my grandma used to keep her nightie in the oven when it wasn`t in use, so it was warm to put on at night!

nanachrissy Sun 15-Apr-12 19:21:11

And those big stone hot water bottles with a towel wrapped round so they didn't burn your toes!
Our outside toilet used to have a little tilly lamp to stop the pipes freezing in winter.

Greatnan Sun 15-Apr-12 19:23:20

WE had a big black range with two ovens and a trivet over the fire for a kettle. We could tell if our mother had been annoyed with our father by the state of the range - when they had a row she would polish it with Zebo until it glittered, all the while muttering to herself the things she wished she had said to him.
WE couldn't afford pyjamas, hot water bottles or fires in the bedrooms, so she would wrap the oven shelves in old cloths and put them in the beds before we got into them (she took them out of course!)
At least cold bedrooms went across the class divide - I gather that boarding school dormitories were pretty dire places in Winter.

Anagram Sun 15-Apr-12 20:00:36

Frost on the inside of the bedroom windows in the winter! Draughts blowing in all over the place....

jeni Sun 15-Apr-12 20:21:32

Pretty patterns! Like ferns? Going to drift to avatar land again. 7ft tall and blue and flying---

Anagram Sun 15-Apr-12 20:34:25

I was always told it was Jack Frost! The old perv....

jeni Sun 15-Apr-12 20:47:50

I remember when doing my house jobs in Hallam hospital westbromwich. I agreed to swap my single room fot a locums obstetric registrars flat over Xmas.
She was on her own and felt vulnerable in the rather isolated flat! On the other hand it had a double bed that I could share with my husband!
We retired to bed in this freezing flat and promptly stubbed our toes on the stone pigs that the domestic staff had very kindly tried to warm the bed with!
I think it was the coldest Xmas I have ever had! But at least we were together!

Anagram Sun 15-Apr-12 21:38:37

What a lovely memory, jeni (despite the stone pigs!)

numberplease Sun 15-Apr-12 22:37:56

Oh, and using a bicycle lamp to light our way upstairs to bed, my mother didn`t trust us with candles, yet it was OK to have real candles lit on the Christmas tree!

PRINTMISS Mon 16-Apr-12 07:47:14

Oh!, how much I have enjoyed reading all these, I hope you have too. We all seem to have survived the harshness of the lives we led. I was never aware that how I lived was difficult; there was no 'media' coverage to compare my life with. We just jogged along, enjoying the small pleasures. The war altered that, but we do still have our memories, and there must be one or two more out that that I am sure we would all love to read.

Maniac Mon 16-Apr-12 17:57:15

Yes I remember-the fragile gas mantles,the iron heated by inserting a stone heated in the coal fire,the zinc bathtub in front of the fire on a Saturday night,
the weekly dose of Syrup of Figs .The thought of it makes me retch. Shared a bed with my sister until I went to uni.No heating/lighting in bedroom.Candles and a Valor paraffin heater which threw pretty patterns on the ceiling.
Medicines and doctors visits were all charged so every Friday the 'Doctor's Man'would call to collect the weekly payment .Mum thought long and hard before calling doctor.I say 'call' but we didn't have a telephone so how did she
call him.

numberplease Tue 17-Apr-12 00:01:49

To call the doctor, my mother would send one of us to the shop with a note and money for the call, and they`d ring the doctor for us.

Joan Tue 17-Apr-12 02:20:49

We didn't have gas or electric meters, but Mum had a special savings box disguised as a book that the electricity board gave her. It locked, and only the meter man could open it. They gave it her when she went to see them almost in tears when the bill was more than she had saved up. They let her pay it off that time, and thereafter she always had enough in the box with a bit left over.

i certainly remember freezing cold bedrooms as no-one could afford to heat them, beautiful frost patterns on the windows, cold lino on the floor, and six blankets on the bed (Dad was a foreman spinner in a blanket mill)

PRINTMISS Tue 17-Apr-12 07:47:16

What about the freedom some of us had as children. We could go off for the day, if we wanted, and play in the park, ride our bikes 'round the block' (if you had a bike and a block of course). the boys made their own carts, and enjoyed repairing them when the wheels fell off. The girls did hand-stands, against the wall, showing their knickers, and simple ball games. No 'elf and safety, we just learned the hard way, and enjoyed it.

Libradi Tue 17-Apr-12 08:54:58

Yes I remember the 'electric man' calling and piling up the shillings on the kitchen table, he was very popular in our street and always stayed for a cup of tea.
We used to go off to the woods for the day pack up a picnic and off we'd go without a worry in the world. Our parents never worried about us, can you imagine sending your grandchildren off to the woods for the day with just a few friends shock

Anagram Tue 17-Apr-12 11:27:21

I remember the ball games and handstands against the wall, PRINTMISS, but we didn't show our knickers - we tucked our skirts into our knicker legs! grin

grannyactivist Tue 17-Apr-12 11:42:57

We were very poor and one evening mum was out and the electricity went. We had no money for the meter so I tore a bit of lino from the floor and jammed it into the meter - and it worked. I seem to remember that it was a trick my mother used on a couple of occasions when there really was no money to be found, begged or borrowed.
The street economy was based on borrowing from neighbours. I was always being sent to borrow things: two cigarettes, a cup of sugar, a spoonful of coffee or a splash of milk were the most common items. Other people were also poor, so sometimes I had to call at three houses before finding someone who had enough to spare what I needed. It was ALWAYS paid back as soon as possible. I do remember often being anxious about things that (happily) children now are able to take for granted.

nelliedeane Tue 17-Apr-12 13:45:23

mum had an evening job in a factory,we had only one pair of stockings between mum and me,I would rush in from school so that she could have them for work,one day disaster struck I fell over on the way home and laddered the stockings...no loving words fell on me when I reached home,I got a cuff round the ear for being clumsy.