Carlton Green (Local author and ex Mayor of Barton Street) Interview


Interviewer: Adam Forrington

Organisation: Local author and ex Mayor of Barton Street

Date: 07/2/12

Interview: 4:29

ADAM: So to, yes, it’s recording. So um, um, I’m here with Carlton Green and um, he’s very kindly um, offered to um, speak to us about um, Barton and Tredworth. So Carlton tell us the story of how you came to Barton and Tredworth?

CARLTON: The story of err, how I came to Barton, Barton and Tredworth is that I had the opportunity to come to England err, way back in the 50’s, I came here in 1957 and I live in Barton and Tradworth ever since. Um, you asked how I happened to come here, I’ve already had friends who were living here and they received me and um, that’s how I happened to settle here.

ADAM: So, so now I understand that you came from Jamaica is that right?

CARLTON: Yes.

ADAM: So I’m really interested in your first impressions. Tell me about your memories of arriving in Gloucester?

CARLTON: Oh dear. Memory of arriving, I think it, this is gonna sound to you like a, a repeating record because I think I’ve, I’ve told this story too many times. Um, when I came here it was in April and err, then the winter had just finished or just about finishing. Um, the scenery was shocking to me because first of all it was like to describe the a, the, the, the look of the place, it was a greyish looking place. Then I walked towards a park and noticed all these trees and then there were bare, no leaves and I thought well, why they didn’t cut them down because they all you know, dead trees yeah. And it wasn’t until later I realise that it was the effect of the a, winter season. So that was something surprising to me that was my first, yeah my first surprise, yeah.

ADAM: So where did you live first of all?

CARLTON: I lived in Goodyear Street first of all, which was only about a quarter of a mile from here, yeah, and err, since then you know, I, they, I moved a few addresses. But um, I’m never to far from the Barton, well I mean I was also in the Barton area anyway, yes.

ADAM: So obviously you’ve lived in this area ever since you, you’ve arrived. It there something particular about this area that’s kept you here?

CARLTON: Well, I wouldn’t say so, its just that um, I came here and um, I had the opportunity of getting a job and the very fact that, well, I didn’t know anybody anywhere else, I got to stay where your friends are. And err, because of that you know, I stayed here and I, I never worked in Gloucester, I mean in those early years, I work err, I work 15 miles away from Gloucester. I had to travel 15 miles to work everyday err, in the early years when I came here. Um, but to say if there’s anything particular that kept me in Gloucester, not really, its just that I came and I settled here and a, I have no intention of going anywhere else because it was, I was beginning to feel at home after a period of time like you know. I’m never the one to keep moving around um so as such.

ADAM: So did you come on your own or did you come with friends or, or how, how did you actually get from Jamaica to here?

CARLTON: Well, I came on my own. Well, we did, there were other friends, there were other people, friends on the, on the flight with me as well. Um, I came here um, via um, BOAC, yes, we came over on the BOAC aircraft and um, yes um, we landed at London airport they used to call it then.

ADAM: So um, picking up from the last question um, Carlton tell us a little bit about how you got from Jamaica to Gloucester?

CARLTON: Ok. Um, I came over on a fight a BOAC and um, that took, well it did seem like about 3 days flight coming over. Err, those days was the um, original prop aircraft not like your fast um, modern jets these days. Um, having got to London um, we took um, a taxi to um, Paddington, was it a taxi or it, I can’t remember exactly. But anyway we go, we went from London airport, we didn’t even know it was called Heathrow airport at that time, we just say London airport and err, to Paddington where we got onto a train, err, and that took us to Gloucester, Gloucester great Western Station. I think we got here somewhere around at 3 o’clock in the morning. And err, 3 of us took a taxi from Gloucester Station err, to our destination, all 3 of us were going 3 different places, 3 different addresses. We didn’t even know where each others were going but the taxi man he, he knew and he took me to my address and he took the other 2 to their address and from thereon we link up um, days after. Well, one of the chap who came over at that time, I did know him from home, but the other one I didn’t know. The one who I was coming to is somebody who I knew from home and he was a family friend. So he received me and that’s how I happen to come to Gloucester.

ADAM: How long did you live there? That was obviously your first place of abode but how long did you live there for?

CARLTON: Um, I would say that I lived there for about say I think it’s about 3 years, 3 years I lived at that address and then I moved to somewhere else, you know people are always falling out. I mean not exactly falling out as such but um, sometime your looking for a better accommodation because there, the accommodation situation then was you know, I can’t describe it but we’ve been through it, we survived it, survived it and um, we did live happily, um happily together although most of us were all strangers coming from different part of the Island but um, we got on well, yes. So I wouldn’t say we had a bust up why I moved from there anyway, yeah.

ADAM: Now you say you can’t describe, but that’s exactly what I’m gonna ask you to do, describe your accommodation to us.

CARLTON: My accommodation (laughter) well, well, lets us put it this way to think that we came here and we believe that when we came we will be well accommodated and well received by the host community; well it wasn’t as rosy as that. So when one of our, err, our countrymen brought a house he would accommodate and many of err, his fellowmen Jamaicans as he could. I can remember at one stage there was about 4 of us in one room, yeah. And were all, all strangers, but then we got on well, we got on well and we make the best of it because we know that at some stage in our life we gonna come out of that situation because our ambition was not to be in that situation for too long or forever.

ADAM: So how did you feed yourself, did you cook communally, did you all cook for yourselves?

CARLTON: Well, funning enough um, a few of us who was there together, I mean we took it in terns yeah, we took it in tern. First of all there was one goodly lady there in the group and sometimes you know, she would cook for so many of us and err, err, and of course I mean she was also a working person, yeah. So it was err, the norm that if she’s not there, one of us would take over and do the, the chores so it didn’t cause much of a problem, yeah, we, we weathered through that storm because a lot of us we able to look after our self before we came here anyway, yeah.

ADAM: So where were you working, when you, when you, when you first come. You said it was 15 miles away. What, what were you doing, what was the job?

CARLTON: Well, first of all err, the first job I got was at RA Lister & Company in Dursley, that’s 15 miles away from Gloucester. Um, and that was a labouring job. Um, I, I a stuck to that job for quite a, I can’t remember how long now and they err, had this set, well, not they had decided, I ask, I ask if I could go on operating machines and err, they said oh, we’re try and see what we can do like, you know, and um, that was it. I mean um, the reason why I ask about this machine, I took an interest in what was going on. The operators were operating there um; I think it was a radio drill machine he was operating. And um, at some stage because I was a labourer err, the foreman asked me to go and help that gentleman to put the engine bearers on the machine so that he can machine them, ok. Now I was so keen to see what was happening, I took a, a great interest in what he was doing. He noticed that and the gentlemen said to me, he said well, do you think you could err, do this? And I said well, I don’t know, but I think I could try. He said alright, come and have a go then and you know, he stepped aside and he put me in his place and he said well, now this is what you do. Now, do you know, I, I liked to mentioned his name and I don’t know its maybe, I don’t know weather he’s still alive now but I always remember his name and he said now this is what you do. When it reached that point you knock it out, if you let it pass that point you’re gonna smash the cutter. He said for god’s sake don’t bust that cutter, you will read all about that in there somewhere. And I remember I was operating this radio drill machine you know, and I was pop facing these engine bearers, at one point I said to him, I said to him by the way your doing peace work, now am I not losing you money by you letting me do this? No, no, no, he said carry on for a little bit longer and he did let me carryon. And you know, I operated that machine for about maybe 20 minutes and something like that and within that 20 minutes I was inspired to move further ahead. Now, after all that experience I went to the foreman and I said to him now, Ted, Ted his name was, Ted Collins, I said Ted you know, I would like to, to operate a machine. He said all well what I’ll will do then, I will a, mentioned it to the manager ok. He went, mentioned it to the manager, I think his name was Strickevil. 2 weeks went over I didn’t hear anything, I, I went to him and I said Ted, I’m still waiting (laughter). He said oh yes, oh yes, we are just waiting for somebody to take your place. And err, I think some, it was a week later pass and he came to me and he said you know we’ve got somebody to take your place now so were gonna move you and put you with somebody else. Now when I discover who was coming to take my place, it was one, one of my school mates from Jamaica. (Laughter) take my place under a labouring job. They moved me from there and put me along with a Polish gentleman, yeah, on what a Caption machine. I think it was a number 7 ward to do semi-skilled operating and err, I got on with that err, gentlemen err, I think his name was Taber, he showed me as much as he possibly can, you know, at one stage I, I end up laughing. I said well this is strange here this Polish man trying to teach a Jamaican something, you know I said I can hardly understand his accent, I hope he can understand me. And but anyway um, that’s where, that’s where it started from in my engineering career, yes it just snowed balled up, up, up and up from that very experience with um, Syril Wilkes, his name was, yeah. I don’t know whether he’s still alive but it was many years ago, yeah.

ADAM: So, so how long did you work for Lister’s?

CARLTON: I work with Lister’s for, I think it was 6 err, 6 and half years I think because I remember leaving there 1964, I went to TH & J Daniels in Stroud. Yes, so still travelling, yeah. Yes, um. (Interference from a third party).

UNKOWN: Can you turn the microphone down around the back, its hissing. Sorry.

ADAM: Hello, hello, testing.

UNKNOWN: That’s fine, that’s fine.

ADAM: Um, so Carlton what did you do in your spare time at this time when you, in the early days? I mean, how did you entertain yourself and, and what sorts of things did you get up to?

CARLTON: Well, to be honest with you I must say that I did not have any social time because um, first of all um, travelling backwards and forwards to um, to these jobs which are so far away and then I was encouraged to go to evening classes yeah, because err, going back to when I was at Lister’s, there was a gentleman by the name of Bill Evans and he said to me, he said now look Carlton, now your going on a machine just operating is not good enough. He said you need to go to Tech College. I said oh, oh; how I’m gonna do that? He said well, you can go in the evenings after work, ok. And I said how do I go about that then? He said you go to this College, speak to a Mr Reed who was a principal he said, and tell him that I send you there to him. And I went, I err, spoke to Mr Reed and he signed me up you know to take err, evening class lesson in mechanical engineering, yeah. Um, it was tough, the first year I struggled through and I had to drop it because I didn’t have enough backup or help like you know. I came home from work, I mean, you need somebody to cook your food and you get cleaned up and all that so I did find it a little bit um hard. Well, I dropped it for a little while, then later on in life I got married. But when I got married I said to Joyce, I said now listen I started on a course which I was not able to continue because of non help so what is your opinion on this. She said go on, do it again and err, you know, she encouraged me and um, I started to go back to evening classes. And I carried on for, I get, guess how many years now I carried on. Well, I got the qualifications I went there for, err, just because of that little bit of help and encouragement. So it was not an easy case when travelling all the way up to Stroud, work err, 8,8, 9 hours a day and all that business and then come back in the evening and then back at Tech College for what, 7 until 9 something like that. So I didn’t have any, I didn’t have any leisure time, but I didn’t mind because I, I told myself that um, one day I will be free of all that and I will have more time for pleasure and leisure (laughter).

ADAM: What about the weekends, what were you doing at the weekends?

CARLTON: Well, the weekends err, because um, of course I mean, well you, you go to evening classes and you take notes and then you know, things get over your head and all that business. I used to spend my weekend doing homework yeah, yes, never, never had time for any um, pleasure as such. Not much social life for me during those years anyway. So I was more keen in learning in what I could learn.

ADAM: So how did you meet Joyce?

CARLTON: How did I meet Joyce, oh well. Funny enough I knew her from, from Jamaica but err, we weren’t so, so um, of friends from Jamaica. She came over here err, to her father and err, she started to, you know in nurse, the nursing profession and of course I mean she was single and I was single and we get talking and um, that was it (laughter) yeah, that was it.

ADAM: But where, where, I mean how did you, did you her know father or did you meet her?

CARLTON: Yeah, I, I did know her father err, because err, when I came to this country her father was already here and err, we knew each other and all that and we used to get on well. But he didn’t know that I was after her daughter (laughter). Sorry to use it, to use the term. Yeah, but um, that’s how it went, yeah.

ADAM: And, and so when you got married did you, did you move out, did you buy a house or what was the, what was your living situation then?

CARLTON: When I got married I was living in a better err, condition or a situation than when I was at the first address. Um, well I got married in 63 and we brought this place in 64 so that’s a year after we got married, we um, we came here and I’ve been here every since and were still married, put it that way (laughter).

ADAM: So you’ve been in this house for almost 50 years, almost for 50 years.

CARLTON: 47 years, 47 years. I come here the 24th of October 1964 yes, and err, you know I just never feel like moving anywhere. It’s a quite area yeah, and of course, I mean we are for a quite living so it suits us, yeah. Things might have changed a little bit but um, you know, it doesn’t bother us so far.

ADAM: So what, what changes have you seen in, in that time?

CARLTON: Changes, oh my goodness, where do I start. First of all let me say I came when we here err, there was not one Indian or Asian in this area, not one, I can’t remember any. Well, as a matter of fact when I came to Gloucester I couldn’t remember seeing any apart from um, later years; we used to have one from Birmingham, used to come down with his suitcase you know, selling clothes and all that business. Um, so they um, the population I would say has escalated, the, and it’s changed because of the different ethnic minorities um, groups, yeah. Um, first of all the changes was Asians and now it’s the Eastern European people, yeah. But um, looking back I, I said to myself well, was it like this when I came here or were we like you know, but um, everything, people, everybody seems to live together in, in harmony I would say. You mind your own business, I mind my own business, it doesn’t bother me, yeah. Yes, so changes, changes, changes, oh you look along Barton Street now, of course you will see a lot of, what is it, fast food place going up. Barton Street was a, I would say was a thriving business area. How many banks we used to have along Barton Street? I think there was Barclay’s and I think there was the Midlands, yes I think there was about 2 banks along there. Err, pubs, let me see if I can remember them now, there is a Crownwell, Cromwell head I think, Princes Bloom, the Foxall yeah, um, going further down towards town, because if you remember, Barton Street used to end up way back up in um, Clarence Street. Its um, Barton Street used to be all, the way up there; it wasn’t East Gate Street then. East Gate Street used to start between Brunswick Road and towards the Cross, yeah. So I can remember that clearly. Um, going down Barton Street now, err, what used to be down there. There, there’s a Bath and there was one famous pub I used to hear the lads talk about. I’ve never got in there but I’ve heard all about it, there was where all the mischief and the scraps and all that business with Teddy Boys and playschool um, what was it called again. Oh dear, the name slip me now but it used to be along Barton Street. I think where, where it used to be is where the um, East Gate house is now, yeah. Good lord I can’t remember the name of the place but err, that’s, we used to get all sorts of stories from the lads yeah, they said they used to get in there and the Teddy Boys used to come in there and pick on them like and you know, and all that business, they end up fighting, yes, um, god what’s the name of the place. Avic it was not Vic something or another, I, I will remember the name because it’s always a prominent place like for um, for the lads to handout. Err, yes so let me see what else changed at Barton Street, well there was the, the railway lines yes, you must of known all about that um, because we used to have East Gate Station just where ASDA is now, yeah. The railway line used to come across, they used to close the gates and then there was an underground you know, to go under the other side when the gates are closed. Um, I remember that so all that’s got and err, the railway lines gone across California Crossing. Um, and one thing that I used to remember that used to fascinate me was that, that Lope line that’s goes from California Crossing towards South Gate Street down to Fielding & Platt and the Wagon Works. And I remember the old chap, you know, the, the um, guard at the, err, the, err, the railway house there. He used to come out with a red flag and stand in the middle of the road, park in the road, you know and stop the traffic, you know. And I keep telling my son, I say you know something there used to be an old chap that used to come out in the road standing in the middle of the road with his red flag and stop the traffic. He says, no, no, that’s sounds like something out of a film. I said no, no we’ve seen that (laughter) so this, this is our, these are little things that you remember like, you know. Um, experience with travelling again. Oh well, I’m mixing up things now, you asked me about the Barton area. Err, yes the Barton area was um, a very thriving place with Post Office, Ironmonger, which was it now, it was the um, Meatons, I think his name was, Chemist, yeah we had Madge & Chemist up the road there. It was, it was a thriving place yes but its different now, um, I wouldn’t say it’s not thriving now but it’s different. It went down hill for a little while but I think it’s picking up again but one thing I feel sorry about, too many fast food places around, yes, too many.

ADAM: What would you like to see, in their, in their place?

CARLTON: Well, at least one decent restaurant, one decent restaurant, be it Caribbean, Asian or whatever about, but a decent one yeah, that you, you see a lot of fast food places and comes the all, it also at times it attracts litter, yeah. Don’t blame the place for that, you’ve got to blame the people who use it, yeah, but how, how do you educate the people who use it. I mean there was a time where wherever you go there was always this notice keep Britain tidy and there was always litter bins and people used to use it. Oh, I don’t say we haven’t got little bins today there’s lots of litter bins and maybe more and more modern one as well. But then people attitudes are different isn’t it, yeah, yes. Along Barton Street again I remember now where they used to put the Citizen I think its, no, no that’s gone up into East Gate Street now somewhere, its not at the Cross. The Citizen right, they used to leave the Citizen there, you pick one up and you put the money down there, yes, yes, I remember that. You pick up a Citizen and you put money down there and its left there until a person come along and collect it, yeah. I remember that. The Milkman again, deliver your milk, yeah, you know when its payday you out the money down, he’ll come and pick it up leave your milk, nobody gonna steal it. You can’t do that now, you can’t do that now. And I remember those little things, yeah, in the Barton area, yeah, oh yeah.

ADAM: I wanna get back to something you said earlier about when, when you came to Britain and you were hoping for a warm reception. Now how were you, how were you sort of met by the people of Gloucester. I mean what were your experiences around that?

CARLTON: Well, I, I just don’t know how to describe it. I was of the impression that because they don’t know much about us, where they should know because we are a product of the colonially, yeah and the way they were a bit I would stay standoffish or withdrawn. You know you, you know our community back home, you’re always stretching out and helping hand to strangers, you always do that. Now we were strangers coming here and then we didn’t find that. Oh, that was, that was surprising to us. We didn’t find that because we think well, you’re in a strange land and you think somebody would sort of make most of you but then um, instead of that it seems to me as if there not quite sure who you are or what your temperament might be, you know, so they were a little bit stand off. But it didn’t bother me because I thought well this is something that you’re over come (laughter) yeah.

ADAM: Did you experience hostility though at all, apart from indifference; do you also get any hostilely?

CARLTON: Not really, not really because um, I would say there are times when people come up against hostilities it depends on where, where you go, what your social outlook on life is like, yeah. As I said, the youngsters who used to into this a um, Marcus and Grandsbe they used to call this pub or Marcus and Grandbee or something like that. The youngsters you came, well they came up against hostility. Now I wouldn’t have that experience because I’m not going there. I’m not the type of person to go to theses places, so I wouldn’t find that yeah. So really um, my story could be a lot different from others. You may speak to somebody else and they say oh well we used to get in scraps and all that business whether we go over to Cheltenham or the Marcus of Grandbee pub and all that business. Now I wouldn’t necessarily be against that because my aim and objective was to come here, work some money and get back home, yeah. And because the situation was such it was hard going, you’re struggling because what you’re earning was peanuts so by the time you pay your way here, save a few ponds, yeah. I’ve got no money to throw away so I made the best of my few pennies that I was earning then, yeah. And maybe that, that is something that kept me in this straight and narrow, whereas I wouldn’t be veering off to say I want to go and have a good time tonight and all that business come what may. Now, it didn’t bother me that way at all, yeah.

ADAM: So you said that you, you’re original intention was to come and save up some money and then go home but at some point you made the decision to stay. So tell us, so tell us about that?

CARLTON: Well, the, the thing is if I was able to earn enough money within a year to go back home, I would have gone, yeah I would have gone and I wouldn’t have experienced what I have experienced now. But then because err, wages were small you could not earn enough money to save up a good package to go, yeah. So you stayed and stayed and you’re always going to get better so you get better and what happens well, you get more accustomed to the way of life here as you go along. You start, first of all, err, your introduced to people, you could buy a car or you could buy a house and all that business. So of course, I mean once you start doing that you’re beginning to settle down, you are beginning to settle down. Course I’m mean I was not able to return to Jamaica until after 13 years here, yeah, 13 years I was the first time I was able to go back to Jamaica and even then I, I didn’t have much money in my pocket. But um, I wanted to go home that bad, but um it took me 13 years before I could get back. But by then I think I got married then err, my, my son was born, yeah, err, yes and that’s it, we went back after 13 years. So really um, to say save up some money and go back um, after a while that went out of my head because I mean you start seeing a different way of life, you start grasping things and then well, you just to decide to stay. And 5 years becomes 10, 10 years become 20, 20 becomes 40 and it goes on like that, you know. So um, I at the same time I have no regrets; I have no regrets coming here. I think um, I don’t think I’ve done too bad yes, not as good as I would like to but you know um, there’s a difference between contentment and satisfaction, yeah. So I wouldn’t say I’m satisfied but I’m contented, yeah, I make myself contented (laughter).

ADAM: So um, I was going to ask you about your son, what, what do you think you’re, you’re sons experience, having been born here in Britain and brought up here? How does he, does he, has he asked you a lot about your childhood in Jamaica, is he really interested in that or he is very much kind of thing living, living in Britain?

CARLTON: Well he’s a as you said living in Britain, he’s British you know, or core British um, but he still asks me about life in Jamaica which I try to err, share with him as much as I possibly can because I always said to him, I say now take it from me, the opportunity that you’ve got here now for your age I wish I did have it, yeah and if did have your opportunity I would be way ahead. I said because when I came here um, I was a young green man or green boy yeah, and had to struggle you know to make ends meat and err, to carve a good way of life, yeah. Err, but for him it’s a different thing because he was born here, he did not have to experience what I had to experience because I first of all I said, because first of all you were born in a nice warm house yes, central heating around you yeah, everything around you. When we came here we never had anything like that, yeah. We used to congregate around this one little lamp; you know paraffin, a paraffin heater, yeah, so many of us you know, in this, in this living err, room until it was bedtime (laughter), yeah. So I said well when you think of the convenience that you um, or the luxury that you come from your en, your enjoying now, we didn’t have that, so um you know you’ve just got to think yourself lucky, yeah.

ADAM: And I’m, and I’m really interested in your book because at some point you decided to write about your experiences. What, what prompted you to do that?

CARLTON: Well at some stage I felt not that I’ve got the education and knowledge to write a book at such but I believe at some point I can impart my experience to um, my young friends and I thought well what’s the best way because you’re telling them something but for some reason it could sound like fairytale, its not really registering so what’s the best way to get it registered to the youngsters because when you look around and see what’s happening, what their doing and where were coming from, their not seeing the picture, their not seeing the picture so the best thing for me to do I thought, well the best thing to do, um, see if I can put things together in book form and hopefully, hopefully some of them will get some knowledge from it, yeah, or, if not knowledge some sort of encouragement so as to um, let them realise that you don’t get everything put on a plate for you, you’ve got to work for it. If you, if you haven’t got the ambition to work for anything then your not gonna get anywhere in life. So this is why I put this little story together and it’s called High Hopes and Great Expectations because that’s what I came here with. High hope and great expectation, I don’t know whether I fulfilled any of it but I think I’ve got up to a point anyway, yeah.

ADAM: And what sort of reaction have you had from people who read, who read the book?

CARLTON: Well they like it, they like it err, because they said, it’s, it’s, they believe it’s so true to the fact that um, and I put it in such plain and simple way that it’s easy to follow, yeah they like it (laughter), yeah.

ADAM: And have you written anything else?

CARLTON: No, I, I’m getting too old and tired now, I, I just can’t um, tell myself that myself that I’m gonna do anything else as such. I take an interest in um, photography you know, um, amateur photography and um, my passion at the moment is to put like power point presentations together. That’s what um, that’s my passion at the moment but the book thing is not. I don’t, I just don’t feel if I can sit down and concentrate that much to do another one, yeah. There are still a lot stories to be told but let others people, let others because I mean it will be similar, yeah

ADAM: Carlton, thank you very much.

END

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