The Salford Sagas.

I have several favourite sagas and four of my original books which are part of my backlist will be republished by Canelo on 26th August. They have always sold well as have my others, including The Girl From Poorhouse Lane Series now published by Canelo and selling well.

I sincerely hope these other books will also do well for them. I will put up pictures of them closer to the time. But here are a few details of their stories.

Watch for the Talleyman.
He’s after more than your money… Dolly Tomkins knows what it’s like to live hand to mouth. In the mean streets of 1920s Salford, the only one making a decent living is the talleyman - and Nifty Jack has a moneybag where his heart should be. Dolly’s mam is in hock up to her ears, but when Jack offers to wipe the slate clean in return for Dolly’s favours, she just can’t bring herself to do it. Instead, she takes him on at his own game, and in the process is in danger of losing the love of her life.

Dancing on Deansgate 
They called it the Christmas Blitz, but there are no festivities for Jess, locked in the cellar by her feckless, tarty mother. And when Lizzie is imprisoned for shoplifting, Jess is sent to live with her uncle, a bullying black marketeer, who treats her like a slave. Her natural musical talent offers an escape route - and the chance for love. But Uncle Bernie has never forgiven his niece for refusing to join his illegal schemes, and threatens to deprive Jess of her hard-won independence.

The Favourite Child
Isabella Ashton has always been her father's favourite, but when she becomes involved with the new Birth Control Movement, Simeon is scandalised. It’s 1928 and running a family planning clinic in Salford is challenging but rewarding work, and Bella is grateful for the help of Violet Howarth, a big, generous-hearted woman who takes her in off the street. A friendship with Violet’s son, Dan, quickly turns to love. But Bella also becomes involved with handsome ne’er-do-well Billy Quinn, leader of an illegal betting ring, and soon finds everything she has worked for put at risk, and herself in mortal danger . . .

Ruby McBride 
The grand opening of the Manchester Ship Canal is a big day for Ruby McBride and her young sister and brother. Its glories fade into insignificance, however, when their mother Molly, due to illness, reluctantly entrusts her beloved children to Ignatius House, and the not-so-tender care of the nuns. Ruby, a rebel at heart, is always on the wrong side of authority, but when she is sixteen, the Board of Guardians forces her into marriage and she has to abandon her siblings, vowing she will reunite the family just as soon as she can.

Convinced that her new husband is a conman, she discovers life on the barge is not at all what she expected. She is furious at being robbed of the chance to be with her childhood sweetheart, Kit Jarvis, so resists Bart’s advances for as long as she can. But Ruby’s courage and spirit enable her to rise above the disadvantages of her birth and make a life for herself within the thriving community of waterways folk.

And on 23rd September they will next publish The Champion Street Market Sagas, of which there are six of them. More details of these later.


My Great Uncles

Herbert Akred (my great uncle)
Born 1890 Died July 22, 1917 in the First World War.
Pte – 27892
South Lancs Regt. 8th Bn

He had lived in: 13 Percy Street, Accrington or 14 Royd Street, Accrington. And was married to Agnes Froggatt and had a child: Bertha Akred.

He was 27 when he died in Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery
Ypres (leper) Arrondisement Leper, (West-Vlaanderen) Belgium
Plot: 1. F. 6.
Memorial 11582436

I wasn’t able to check where he was buried, as we didn’t visit Belgian when in France, maybe another time, and sadly I can’t find a picture of him.

He and his family originally lived in Norfolk, but moved up to Accrington to find a job in the Cotton Industry. His parents were: John Akred and Elizabeth Bunkall.

His brothers were:
Ernest Henry – born 1882
Albert – born 1884 - Pte Joined Accrington Pals 1st - 5th July 1916
Edward – born 1888 (my grandfather) married Clara Thompson (my grandmother), but developed Multiple Sclerosis and sadly died in August 9, 1938, before I was born so I never met him. He did not take part in the war as he was ill from quite a young age, and I do have this picture of him.

AKRED, Pte. Herbert, 27892 (8th Bn., South Lancs. Regt.); husband of Agnes Akred; lived at 13 Percy Street, Accrington; d. 22nd July 1917 (27); bd. Belgian Battery Corner Cem., Ieper.

Another great uncle of mine did take part in the First World War, and he fortunately did survive. I believe had about five children. Here is a picture of him that I found in the list of War details.

AKRED, Pte. Albert, 20960; b. 2nd March 1886 at Accrington, s. of John and Elizabeth Akred; marriage to Annie Midgely registered Q4 1908 at Haslingden; lived at 7 Nuttall Street, Accrington; e. 14th June 1915 (29); w. 1st/2nd July 1916; rejoined 11th Bn. from 3rd Bn., East Lancs. Regt. March 1917; w. (gas) 11th/12th April 1918; dis. (sickness) from 3rd Bn., East Lancs. Regt. 13th or 15th December 1918. [3, 43, 219, 221, 250, 253, 282, 284, 299, 314, 552, 579] Left: Albert Akred. Photograph from the Accrington Observer & Times of 11th July 1916.


The First World War in France.

We’ve recently enjoyed a wonderful holiday in France exploring the First World War, feeling keen to find evidence of my great uncle and my husband's uncle who were both killed. I didn’t find mine as Herbert Akred was killed in Belgian, which we didn’t visit. But we did find my husbands uncle.The first day we started at the battlefields of Gommecourt where the Pals regiments from the Midlands and London fought. In the afternoon we moved to Serre where the Accrington Pals and other Northern Pals Brigades were largely wiped out on the 1st July. We found David’s Uncle Norman’s grave in the Queens Cemetery near to the Accrington Pals Memorial, which has been built in Nori Bricks from Accrington.

Norman Lightfoot

The second day we saw the Ulster Tower and the Thiepval Memorial and museum and then went on to the Lochnagar Crater created by a massive underground explosion from explosives tunnelled under the German positions.

Thiepval Monument

At one point we saw reconstruction of the trenches in a village museum, which was fascinating and after we’d had a good lunch in the local restaurant.

Our final day we looked at the woods at Guillemont and the amazing Delville Wood, which was almost totally destroyed apart from one tree that remains. All round it the wood was replanted after the war. In the afternoon after lunch in Albert, we saw the excellent Museum in Albert which is underground and then moved on to the Red Dragon memorial to the welsh pals and the woods around it.

Soldiers belongings and shell casings.


We were taken everywhere in a coach, and visited various appropriate places showing the army members, and given fascinating details by Tim Thurlow who was excellent.

Tim Thurlow talking to us.

He said: ‘In 1914 they had joined up together, many into what in the North was known as ‘Pals’ battalions, in 1915 they had trained together in any number of caps and billets, and in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, they all too often died together as well. They became what later historians called ‘The Lost Generation’ – the men who had marched to Picardy and found their graves in the poppy covered fields.’

And we saw many wonderful details of cemetaries.


Mujeres en el Frente

Mujeres en el Frente is number 1 on Sagas and Video familiar, plus 8 on Ficción femenina on Amazon.es - Spain.



Poor House Lane Series

Editions of Poor House Lane Series have been published this month by Canelo, provided with good new covers.

1 -The Girl from Poor House Lane

What lengths will a mother go to in order to protect her son? The first in the historical Poor House Lane sagas The slums of Poor House Lane are no place to bring up a child, and Kate O'Connor struggles to make ends meet when her beloved husband is killed, leaving her a single mother with a baby to support on the meagre hand-outs she gleans from charity. So when the childless Tysons, owners of Kendal's shoe factory, offer to adopt her son, Callum, and employ Kate as his nanny, she seizes the chance to ensure he has a better life. To be so close to her son, yet no longer be his mother, is bittersweet. But Kate is not prepared for the jealousy the new arrangement provokes in Eliot Tyson's brother, Charles, who sees Callum as a direct threat to his inheritance…


2 -The Child from Nowhere

Kate finds herself back in Poor House Lane with some heartrending decisions to be made, not least how to find her missing son. Somehow she must also make a living for herself and help the women being abused by the hated Swainson. But nothing is straightforward, and her sister-in-law Lucy isn't done with her yet…


3 - The Woman from Heartbreak House

The Great War is over and Kate is ready to welcome back Eliot with open arms. But her husband is a changed man. Kate has become used to her independence, and Eliot's return creates tensions both at work and at home, particularly with Kate's son, Callum. It tears Kate apart to see such strife between the two men she loves most. And her sister-in-law seems determined to stir up the animosity in order to benefit her own son. But when tragedy strikes, Kate cannot imagine just how much trouble Lucy's ambition can cause…



Inspiration for Polly's Pride

The idea came from the story of Great Aunt Hannah who, back in the thirties in order to survive through difficult times, sold off all the furniture save for an earthenware bread bin and their bed. The bread bin thereafter held their food, and acted as a table or stool. With the money, she and her husband bought second hand carpets from auctions and better class homes, which they cut up to sell on the local market. They also bought many other items offered, such as small pictures, clocks, jugs and vases, even chamber pots. Anything saleable was grist to the mill for them to survive. Everything would be loaded on to a two-wheeled hand cart and transported home to their rented terraced house.

Carpets in those days were a luxury, most houses in working class areas covering their floors with lino, although kitchens were generally just scrubbed flags, perhaps with a rag rug made from scraps of old clothes. But when they first went into business they did not have the space or the facilities to properly clean the carpets before putting them up for sale. On one occasion Aunt Hannah was showing a carpet to a prospective buyer when a huge cockroach ran across it. Fortunately he didn’t see it as she quickly grabbed the horrible thing in her hand and held it until the customer had paid for the carpet and left. She must have been a tough lady.

They also bought the entire set of carpets from the German ship SS Leviathan which was being scrapped. In order to do that, and having refurnished from the profit made, they sold everything all over again, repeating this process several times. Gradually their hard work paid off and they expanded, renting the shop next door, and later bought property where they began to sell new carpets, as Polly does in the books. Aunt Hannah was such a kind lady that when my parents, who had married early in the war, finally set up home together in 1945 in rented premises as a shoe repairer, living behind the shop, she gave them a brand new carpet as a gift. They treasured this for much of their married life, as they’d only had Dad’s demob money, and otherwise would have been on bare boards.

I often use family stories, suitably adapted and fictionalised. In this case my aunt had a very happy marriage, not suffering the traumas that Polly was forced to endure.

ebooks and paperbacks available on Amazon

Polly’s Pride 

Polly's War


Quarry Bank Mill

We enjoyed a fascinating visit to Quarry Bank Mill at Styal, in Cheshire south of Manchester. 
This house is where children from aged nine lived and worked. There were about 60 girls and 30 boys, each viewed as an apprentice and had to stay for at least 10 years, or then continued working as an adult. They could work on the land as well as in the mill, the latter involving long working hours. They were also educated, fed, suitably treated medically, and slept upstairs two in a bed. Probably more beds than there are today. The conditions for them were reasonably appropriate, but if they ran off they'd be in trouble.

   And the mill was equally fascinating with looms and other details.

Here is a picture of the mill and the home of Samuel Gregg, the wealthy owner
who had a wife and thirteen children

Here are some details given to me by my daughter who works for National Trust.

"On Saturday 25 August, Quarry Bank in Cheshire reopens after a four year transformation project. Quarry Bank was once the site of one of the largest cotton manufacturing businesses in Britain. This £9.4 million transformation project has been supported by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund and thousands of generous donors. It is one of the biggest projects in the Trust's history, as the conservation charity continues its commitment to bring the stories of its places to life.

Over the last three years, new areas of Quarry Bank have been restored and opened to visitors including the mill owners' home, a workers' cottage and a 19th century curvilinear glasshouse in the kitchen garden.

Now, with new facilities, galleries and interpretation in the mill itself, visitors will be able to experience the entire site for the first time. As one of the most complete survivals of an industrial revolution community, Quarry Bank contrasts the cramped living conditions of the mill workers and pauper apprentices with the grandeur of the owners' family home and picturesque gardens.

Joanne Hudson, General Manager at Quarry Bank, said: "This is an exciting moment for us as we invite our visitors to experience the complete story of Quarry Bank. It tells a story of social change and industrial revolution, rich and poor, mill owner and mill worker, the power of nature and the ingenuity of man; of benevolence and exploitation." 

For further details, please visit https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/quarry-bank/features/transforming-the-mill