Nora Lumb (b. 1912) Habits, Culture and Beliefs Blog

“The Band of Hope was a once a week event run by a very energetic curate.” (Lumb, pg. 7).

Nora Lumb is the author of her own 12-page autobiographical entry submitted to the Burnett Collection. Her autobiography concentrates on the years 1912 through to 1923. She calls this period her ‘Childhood Memories’.

A Primitive Methods Church, similar to the one that Martha Martin attended.

In her autobiography, Nora concentrates on her family’s habits and beliefs. She focuses primarily on church going, and the events her church held, such as Sunday School, Choirs, Church Bazaars and the Tea and Concert. These cultural activities Nora and her family involved themselves in suggest they were religious people, which wasn’t out of the ordinary during the time period: “Church life was at the heart of much of those days. My father had a keen interest in everything to do with the Church and it followed that we all went to at least one service each Sunday.” (Lumb, pg. 6-7).

This would not have been considered unusual for the time period, with a lot of people having a strong connection with the local Anglican Church, “Anglican communicants rose in 1918, the upward trend being maintained in the immediate post-war years.” Brin.ac.uk. (2019).

Most of the authors in the Burnett Collection went to Sunday school and Martha Martin also bases her autobiography around her family’s religious tendencies and her involvement with the Church: “It was while we lived at the Hough that my Father (..) got interested in a Primitive Methodist Chapel which he attended.’ (The Ups and Downs of Life, Martha Martin, pg. 7).

A 1913 poster for the Band of Hope.

Like most of the Burnett authors, Nora’s introduction to religious life began early: “We children also went to Sunday School.” (Lumb, pg. 7). She remembers going to the Band of Hope with her siblings, the children’s temperance society that warned them of the dangers of alcohol: “I must have been a very innocent child because I wasn’t quite sure what was meant by ‘Signing of the Pledge'” (Lumb, pg. 7).

A Odeon cinema in Sunderland, maybe the one Nora’s father took his family to!

Nora also refers to non-religious recreational and leisure activities she participated in with her family, “My father loved the early films of Charlie Chaplin and when one of these came to our local cinema, we were all taken on a Saturday afternoon.” (Lumb, pg. 6). The working classes were getting paid more at this time, enabling families like Nora’s to spend more time together and take part in new leisure activities such as the cinema (Croll, 1984).

Other activities Nora recalled t were holidays to the seaside. Nevertheless, class divide was apparent to the young girl, even at the seaside: “The tram disgorged about half its travellers at the Roker stop but those who felt that Sea Lane was more exclusive stayed on the tram.” (Lumb, pg. 9). Even as a child, Nora was aware of the class divide.

The Victorian Hall in Sunderland, where Nora would have preformed at the Old English Fair.

It is apparent from Nora’s memoir, and due to the fact that she was from a working-class family, they were often involved in recreational activities which were created to keep children from this social class off the streets and out of trouble, “In the immediate post war years the head of Physical Training and no doubt others in the educational field had the idea of asking each school in the area to train a team of dancers to perform at an Old English Fair to be held in the Victorian Hall.” (Lumb, pg. 6). Another example of this in Nora’s memoir is the ‘Play Circle’ she mentions that her aunts help to run: “To keep barefoot children off the streets on Winter nights some of the schools stayed open for what was called Play Circles.” (Lumb, pg. 11). Nora was only invited to these by her aunts and didn’t actually attend as a participant, “One of my aunties, a teacher, took me to one of these play circles one night.” (Lumb, pg. 11). Therefore, despite Nora’s working-class background, she was still aware that there were other families in a worse position than she was.

Bibliography:

Andy Croll, ‘Popular Leisure and Sport’ in Chris Williams (ed) A Companion to the Nineteenth-Century Britain (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984), pp. 396-411.

Martha Martin. ‘The Ups and Downs of Life’ unpublished memoir, c.36,000 words, Burnett Collection of Working-Class Autobiography, Special Collections Library, Brunel University.

Brin.ac.uk. (2019). Some Historical Religious Statistics |. [online] Available at: http://www.brin.ac.uk/some-historical-religious-statistics/ [Accessed 15 Apr. 2019].

Cumings, E. and Rogers, H. 2019. Habits, Culture and Belief. Week 10 Lecture. 6118ENGL-201819-SEM-2 Writing Lives: Collaborative Research Project on Working-Class Autobiography. Liverpool John Moores University. 28th April 2019.

Spartacus Educational. (2019). Band of Hope. [online] Available at: https://spartacus-educational.com/REhope.htm [Accessed 23 Apr. 2019].

Images used: https://www.lookandlearn.com/history-images/M359790/Quit-you-like-men-be-strong-motto-of-the-Band-of-Hope-for-1913

https://www.myprimitivemethodists.org.uk/content/chapels/county-durham-2/s-county-durham-2/sunderland_charles_street_pm

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/reend37/old-sunderland/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/752101206491812939/

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