NORMAN Hindley’s early childhood memories will be familiar to so many local people.

Last week he spoke of being employed picking potatoes at Hall i’th’ Wood instead of school lessons during the Second World War.

The youngsters were helped by the Land Army girls who supervised the operation and if one of the boys was lagging behind in their potato picking she would give him a hand.

He recalls: “There were times when the farmer would speed up his tractor and the faster he went the potatoes would be thrown farther away.

“This slowed the collecting of the potatoes down, which wasted time.”

Norman said that about 200 to 300 yards down Crompton Way from Seymour Road was a small gateway with a flight of steps leading down to what is now the Waters Meeting complex.

The steps led to Eden and Thwaites Bleachworks and were a short cut for the workers from Astley Bridge and Tonge Moor to the Denvale Mills one and two, Dart Mill, Back O’th’ Bank Power Station, Little Bolton Bleachworks and other companies in the Back O’th’ Bank valley and bottom of Waterloo Street, he explains.

“During the War I recall when passing the bleachworks and there was a very strong smell of rum. I was told that the Navy stored some of its Grog there, hence the smell.”

He adds: “My mates and I spent many happy hours in this part of Crompton Ward playing football on Hall i’th’ Wood playing fields, enjoying the roundabouts and swings in Bobby Legs Park but I think that one of the favourite things we did in Back O’th’ Bank was to play in the river near to the power station as at that point waste warm water was discharged from the station into the river making the water warm enough to splash about in.”

Within Crompton Ward’s boundary, were more than 20 cotton mills and engineering factories.