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Day we Bilston piano pushers struck a note of chaos

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: August 21, 2014

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I AM writing a book about my life growing up in Bilston in the 50's and early 60's. It is called Living in God's Country, The Bilston Years.

I have got a bostin' story that may interest your readers. One Saturday my mate 'Dollar' Dolman and I decided to go to Bilston to see if we could find some work to earn a few bob. We were about 12-13 years old. We tried the market to see if they wanted any help later packing up - no one was interested. So we 'mulled' around the town a bit and ended up on Swan Bank. Next to the war memorial was a shop called Shakeshaft's. They bought and sold furniture, clothes, bikes and anything worth having.

We were looking in the window when 'old lady Shakeshaft' came out. She was a stern looking woman, grey haired and glasses.

"Do you want to earn a few bob?" she said.

We jumped at the chance.

On the pavement outside the shop was an upright piano. She gave us the address in Hartshorn Street at the top of the town. Bearing in mind we were 12-13 years old, we started to push the piano up Swan Bank into Hall Street, past the post office and the back of the market, then past the fire station into Dudley Street. We made it into the High Street at the top of the town.

Remember in those days all the heavy traffic - buses, lorries and cars passed through the town.

We saw the break in the traffic and made a final push across the road. As we held the vehicles up, one of the brass castors fell off the bottom. Buses and lorries, cars, even the shoppers stopped. There were horns hooting and papping. The high street came to a standstill.

We finally made it into Hartshorn Street and stopped in the gutter outside the number of the house she had given us. I knocked the door and this bloke came out.

"Right lads I'll take it from here," he said.

I gave him the broken castor.

"Thank you Mr Burton," I said to him, expecting a tip - nothing doing.

That turned out to be Tommy Burton, Bilston hero and most famous son.

Anyway, we walked back - hands still numb from the vibrations to old Ma Shakeshaft's expecting a healthy payout.

"We've delivered the piano Mrs Shakeshaft," we told her, hands outstretched. She reached into her purse and pressed a 'tanner' (sixpence) each into our still trembling hands. I thought: 'You miserable old b...gger.'

Anyway, off we went and back up the town to spend our well-earned wages.

Thanks for listening, Bugle readers. I hope to write you some more stories from The Bilston Years. Many thanks and God Bless you all.

K.L. Parton,

28 Telford Gdns,

Merry Hill, Wolverhampton.

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