Causing trouble in the St Barnabas Church Girl’s Brigade

Isn’t it just fabulous that we can all reminisce on our memories?

In part one of Once Upon a Time In Openshaw, Janet S told me some precious memories from her time growing up in Openshaw with her best friend Janet B.

Now, they share more stories from the past that we just had to share with you.

St Barnabas Church Girls Brigade 1962/63, I was about ten years old. I really fancied the idea of marching along in uniform blowing a bugle. My dad had played the silver cornet in bands around Ancoats and Newton Heath back in his youth, preWorld War II, so I thought it would be a good idea and Janet B and I Joined up.

Within a week I’d got mum to buy the full uniform for me. We did all the practise marching on the spot.

Attention! At ease!” I would shout out and all the usual commands etc. Then the time came to go out on a march. I was allowed to join in because I had all the uniform. It was great fun, walking along South Street to Wood Street and out on to Ashton old Road. Just a march locally around the parish”: they said.

My parents, aunty and uncle stood on the corner of Grey Mare Lane near to where my aunty and uncle lived, but by the time we got passed Grey Mare Lane, my legs were aching and all I could think of was I’ve got to walk all that way back again to St Barnabas, and then walk back to Grey Mare Lane where all the family were gathered. 

So, once we had turned around to head back to the church, I had a brainwave. As we approached Clydesdales store on the corner I faltered and wobbled a bit until a senior rescued me, they took me to one side where a St Johns Ambulance Brigade man came to my rescue.

Janet B and Janet S

He asked where I lived, so I told him, adding: But my mum and dad are just round this corner at my uncles house. He said: You should go directly there, without going back to the church.” Result. And then he added: But first, this will help, breathe in and he stuck a bottle under my nose. 

Oh my word I almost passed out, it was smelling salts – it almost blew my brains out. I had to wait five minutes before my legs worked and then as I made my way to Uncle John’s house I thought: That was God paying me back for telling lies.  

Janet B and I didn’t last much longer in the brigade. I knew marching was not for me and I soon discovered you had to be a teenager before you got a bugle. Then one fateful evening during practise in the church hall the pair of us got an uncontrollable fit of the giggles brought on, no doubt by boredom.

We just couldn’t stop, and it ended up by the two of us being shown the door, still screaming laughing and told not to return.

My mum put my uniform in the next jumble sale at the church.


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