North Laine History
Alice’s sisters: Edith, Sybil, 'Gossie' and Olive
Alice at her book launch
Alice Reynolds has written a fascinating book about her life -
Bringing to life her day to day world
Alice brings to life the day to day world of her family and friends in North Laine from 1916 to the 1930s. There are extracts from the developing manuscript elsewhere on this website and now the published book (A Penny for the Gas) provides the context for these extracts.
A short book
It’s a short book (135 pages with lots of pictures) and a quick read and, although it hasn’t got an index, the chapter headings -
All change and no change
Alice’s history is of particular interest for me because I’ve known the house she lived in – No 11 Over Street -
A local history resource
For people with a more general interest in local housing and history, ‘A Penny for the Gas’ is a great addition to the rich vein of reminiscences about North Laine and should also be a useful source of local information. Alice tells anecdotes about the people she knew as a child, so if you are researching your family history, it might be worth a look to see if a relative is mentioned here.
Life in No 11 Over Street
An early section of the book describes the layout in No 11 Over Street and how the rooms were furnished and used by the family. This anecdote about Alice’s grown-
”On the top of the piano stood Daisy. She was a plaster bust of a girl reading a book, and had been brought back from Dieppe by one of the girls when they had a day trip to France on the paddle steamer which went from the Palace Pier, Brighton. Daisy provided a convenient place for hats – the girls always took their hats off and put them on top of Daisy, so she would end up with perhaps four modern hats piled on top of her head.”
Alice also recounts how, when her sisters left home, the first floor of their three storey house was let out as a flat, with the family continuing to live on the ground and second floor, and later on under the heading ‘Shared House’ she tells how pressures on housing after the First World War meant that many houses in North Laine were in multiple occupancy.
Family life in the 1920s
The book provides a wealth of detail about life in North Laine in the 1920s -
A good read
This description of A Penny for the Gas just skims the surface but I hope it entices others to read the book. I enjoyed it – and it reminded me that we should all write down what we remember of our childhoods because ’the past is another country’. They did ‘do things differently there’ [L P Hartley, The Go-
A Penny for the Gas – the personal history of a nonagenarian , by Alice Reynolds, Railway Cat Creations, PO Box 299, Rainham, Essex, RM12 8XT,2011, price £5.99 plus UK p&p £1, or www.railway-
[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 211, July/August 2011 and part of the NLCA Archive]
‘A Penny for the Gas -
A review of the book about Alice Reynolds, former resident of Over St, in the 1920s, by Anne Fletcher