Friday, 9 March 2012

Porter St

Tommy Holt came from Thomas Court, Dublin and joined the British Army. Looking for work he originally came to Stoke, England where he delivered coal.

Tommy already had an aunty living Leicester, Annie King, married to John Moran, and was probably coming over as early as 1948/49. Tommy met his wife-to-be, Greta Callaghan, back home in 1951 and they were married in 1951.  Greta came from Rainsford Avenue, Dublin and  came back over to Leicester with Tommy.

They originally lived on a first floor of a terraced house at 2 Porter St. in Highfields. Annie and John were then living near by at 88 Upper Conduit St. 

An old man lived downstairs and Greta took care of him as well as her own family. Their first child, Roseanna, was born in Bond St. hospital in 1952. She was named after Greta’s sister, Rosanna May who had died 6 months before baby Roseanna was born. Roseanna’s family has always called her May. When Greta was pregnant with their second child, Ray, the family moved down the street to  6 Porter St. where they had the two bedroom terraced house to themselves. As the only girl, Rosanna had the box room. It had been completely normal for them to have shared with others at No. 2 and they carried on sharing yard space and outside toilets with neighbours when at No. 6. The landlord called around to the house for the rent. The Sansomes lived at No. 8.

Tommy worked at Brigg’s Tannery almost facing their house and later at Gimson foundry, Vulcan Rd. His last job there was as a Castings Inspector and like many Irishmen and women Tommy sent money home regularly to his mother.

By the late 50s they were joined in Leicester by Tommy’s brother, Kinner who married an English girl. Greta’s brother, Paddy Callaghan, came too, with his wife Sarah (Hill).
Paddy and Sarah lived nearby at 104 Upper Conduit St with their children, Lynda and Sandra.  Rosanna would spend time with Aunty Sarah and her two daughters as her house with 3 brothers could get pretty hectic but all 5 cousins have fond memories of playing together and time spent in each other’s houses.

Roseanna has a memory of her Aunty Sarah expressing breast milk with a pump into glass bottles. These were then put into a tin box and put on the doorstep to be collected for the hospital. No refrigeration or cooler boxes then!

Greta had wanted Roseanna to go to Holy Cross School on New Walk but she actually went to Sacred Heart, Mere Rd. where her 3 brothers would follow her. In fact she originally went to Medway School, St. Peter’s Rd. May remembers walking to school, home for dinner and back again in the afternoon. May, Chris and Les later went to Corpus Christi and Ray went to Gateway.

Corner and local shops provided most of what everyone needed but Greta loved to get down to Leicester market and would walk down Sparkenhoe and Swain St. to get into town. Ray remembers being a delivery boy for the Co-op on the corner of St. Saviour’s Rd and Kitchener Rd.


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  1. Great insight. Thank you. I love how multicultural Leicester is.

  2. I know! Some stories casually mention the Greek landlord or the Polish school friend showing us that it was already multi-cultural way back then.