The view

 The window looked out onto the main road, Market Street, which was the only link through the valley between Rochdale and the next town.  None of the houses along the main street had front gardens, which made the whole area seem rather bleak.  The stone appeared dark grey.  This was due to a thick layer of soot which had been deposited from the atmosphere onto anything and everything.  The true colour of the stone could be seen on front doorsteps, which housewives cleaned using a donkey stone.  To children walking along the pavement with front door steps providing occasional obstacles, it was a great temptation to jump on and off them.  However we learned that these were a source of pride to their owners and to be regarded as “Private property; keep off.”

Across the road two houses joined together were adjacent to a patch of disused ground.  One of them was a hairdresser’s with posters in the large window.  The other belonged to a friend called Ethel.  To the left we could see a few more terraced houses including a sweet shop with its entrance slightly lower than the road.  Beyond that was a side road leading up onto the moor.   The butcher, whose shop was next door to my grandparents’ house, lived a short way up that hill.  We were always amused that my grandparents, whose name was Butcher, lived next door to a butcher with a different name!  All the buildings were of the local stone with a uniform layer of sooty grime.  The stone was cut in larger pieces than the moulded stone for garden walls which became popular in the south of England in the late 1960s.  The doorsteps were large single blocks of stone or sometimes several such blocks with metal railings for safety if the door was at distance above or below street level.

My sister and I used to watch the traffic on the road, which was the only link between two towns.  It passed through a number of ribbon developments on the way.  We spotted car number plates.  At that time the local registration code for Rochdale included the letters DK.  Sometimes we did a casual traffic survey where we noticed how many local vehicles there were and how many from farther afield.  Most of the traffic was from nearby.

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