Above is Vera sitting on her fathers (John Todd Ferguson) lap with her sister Winifred Todd Ferguson ho;ding a book. Although damaged this is one of my favourite photos.
Left: 365 Dickinson Rd taken in 1990.
Excerpt from Vera Alexandra Ferguson's Autobiography.
My earliest recollections are of living in a 3 storied house at 365 Dickinson Road, Longsight, Manchester, I was 3 ½ when we moved from there but I remember passing around cakes at one of my mother’s tea parties and then being allowed to go out through the French windows to play in a walled-in back garden where a cat often appeared on the wall but I was told it was a Tom cat and not to be trusted, in fact all pets were taboo. My sister & I used to play in the attic and I remember cutting out the black velvet dots on an old veil & then feeling repelled by them because they looked like nasty little beetles. We were sometimes taken to play in a nearby park by a nanny who was dressed in a long skirted grey costume with a flowing cape and snug fitting bonnet – the traditional out-fit for a nanny in those days. I recognised the entrance to the park when I passed there on bus bound for a Manchester bus depot in 1964 while spending a weekend with my cousin Marjorie Paulson. When I was 3 ½ years old we moved to Halesdon Rd, Heaton Chapel, which in those days was an outer suburb of Manchester and almost rural. Our house there was only a two storied one but had a small front garden where pansies flourished and a large back lawn where we would lie on summer days and watch the larks soaring high into the sky. Part of the Manchester Ship Canal flowed not far from our house and I remember going there with my father and sailing the little paper boats that he made for me. Buttercups and daisies grew in profusion near our house and scarlet poppies growing in the wheat or corn fields have always made a greater impression on my mind than even the most exotic orchids. It must have been when we went to a farm in Hayfield for our summer holidays one year that I remember lying down amongst the heather and there were hills at the back of the farm where we rambled and picked blueberries which were made into pies and eaten with rich farm cream. Sometimes we went to St Anne’s and Blackpool where the smell of the sea was such a delight, the sand so firm and clear when the tide would go away out, and donkey rides were such a thrill. Punch & Judy shows were always an added attraction and Nigger Minstral Shows were on nightly in the Pavilion at the far end of the pier. (When I was 5 we met the poet Donald McLean on one of our holidays and he wrote a poem for me which is now printed in a book of his poems which is now in Bob’s possession. I attended the kindergarten class of a private school before I turned four and remember learning to write by first making rows of “pot – hooks,” painting symmetrical flowers with a pointed brush and holding the brush flat with the point away from the centre and plasticine modelling was a favourite pastime. My sister had a box of paints given to her before I did and how I longed for some of my own because she would only let me use the black or dark brown colour and I craved something brighter. In 1907 my father and mother visited his family in Ayr and attended the Edinburgh Exhibition where they bought the lovely glass goblet engraved with my name and visited Inverary Castle where they got the little china cup and saucer with the castle painted on it. My sister & I were left in the care if the family who ran the private school and felt privileged to be boarders instead of day scholars for a change. All I seem to remember about the boarding period is of a fine looking gentleman standing at the top of the stairs in a large entrance hall and he threw down paper wrapped toffees for the little girls to scramble for. I think the only time I have ever seen a hummingbird was when a man brought one to school one day in a cage and I couldn’t believe that such a tiny little bright coloured creature could really be alive but we were enthralled with its activities. Getting to school on some winter days was a bit of a problem and , when the snow was deep, my father would carry me over the worst places but mostly we enjoyed sliding along the ice in the gutters and throwing snowballs at our friends – I don’t remember any enemies. My mother’s oldest brother Hugh and his family lived in a big house called “Capstone” in Urmston and the whole clan came there for our last Christmas day in England. We were there a day or two beforehand and while my mother helped Auntie May to make the mince pies and other goodies my sister & I helped Rosa & George to make a snowman on the back lawn. I remember finding 2 round black stones for his eyes and Auntie May gave me a carrot for his nose. When I awoke on Christmas morning I was thrilled to find a lovely strong wooden cradle among my presents but was later told that I would not be able to keep it as we were so soon to start packing up to leave for Australia ( on March 5th 1909).