|(Extracts from Memories of Christleton written by Frank Poston in a letter to David Cummings in 1989.)|
|We older people say the weather, and the climate is changing!. When I was young, in winter on a cloud filled moonless night, gosh was it dark, it was as black as a bag! Should you be outside, and that wasn't often, the darkness was awe-inspiring. It was so black it made me frightened. Of course remember there was not one street lamp. No light from the cottages as the oil lamps used indoors were very poor. No cars with headlamps, not even a horse and trap. The stillness was amazing. Should another person be afoot, you could hear the sound of his hobnailed boots on the cobblestones from the other end of the village. There were no kerb stones or footpaths, but the stones were smaller on the side of the roads. The odd cow, or calf may give out a cry, and a dog or fox would bark. The church clock striking the hour, and that was it, except for the owls. They would hoot all night, and we had a lot of them. I must not forget the railway, that is another sound we no longer hear. On a dark, silent night, you would think the line ran straight past your door. On the down line, you could hear them as far away as Waverton, and each blew its whistle before entering the tunnel, which runs under the canal. On the "Up line" there seemed to be a lot of goods trains, starting from the city. They would huff and puff, and their buffers and chains would clink and clink, and if the firebox was open the whole sky appeared to light up. At full moon the exact reverse happen'd. You could read a paper, it was so clear, and the reflection of the houses and trees was grand. You could watch the owls hunting by moonlight, and you were no longer afraid by night.
At daybreak, you would hear the "Boaties" cracking their whips along the canal towpath and the rooks in the wood, some 50 nests, would be cawing their heads off. You could also hear dear old Joe Mosford the butcher chopping the meat on the block, and the ring, ring of his brass scales when weighing it, often at 5am. Cows would be bellowing, and pigs squealing for their breakfast, and you could hear the handle of the village pump hitting the sandstone trough, when operated by the "early birds" Later in the day, Charlie Booth with his handcart from Chester, with a voice like a fog horn shouting, "Rags & Bones, Bottles & Jars, Rabbits and Skins!!" Then the cockle and mussel man, all the way from Parkgate, with his pony and flat topped cart, crying "Shrimps!, cockles & mussels!, Dee fluke & samphion" (an edible seaweed), and Mrs Hewson with her Hurdy Gurdy, all the way from Chester coming over the bridge just for a few coppers. My father once gave me a sharp curt lesson over Mrs Hewson who had been coming round for years. As we passed the old lady in Foregate Street, he raised his bowler hat and wished Mrs H good day. Whereupon I said, "Why did you take off your hat to Mrs Hewson, she's no lady" I got a quick reply. "Mrs Hewson is a lady"; but no matter, the question is;- "Am I a gentleman" ( I was seven at the time.).
The Iron Gate and sandstone posts at the side of the church leading to the footpath to Littleton, are the originals used as the entrance to the Old School, which was situated on the green at the front of the Church. Later the Parish Hall became the Boys School, but before that it was a pub by the name of "The Ring o Bells". The gate posts to Birch Heath Lodge, and those at High Walls have acorns on top of them. The Canon's widow (Mrs Garnett) told me that all four came from the old church building. She lived at The Green (now the Nursing home) for several years, later at High Walls, and the last I remember of her was at The Old Glass House just before the second world war. She was a very interesting person, who used to ramble round the village sketching. The front cover of the church magazine was once designed by her.