Townhouse Road, Nelson John aged 18 months  
On 30 March 1940  Japan established a Chinese puppet government in Nanking, which the United States refused to recognize. At 81 Townhouse Road, Nelson, Lancashire, John Stacey Hagan was born to Ena (née Whittaker) and Lloyd John Hagan. They had married first of July the previous year. My sister Jill, later called Jil, was born 13 months later. Our father didn't see her until she was two years old because he was stationed in Gold Coast (Ghana) as a pharmacist in the RAMC. I remember he brought back some skins; I especially liked the crocodile skin that we made into belts. He was a keen etymologist and had drawers full of beautiful butterflies and moths. When I was about 8 years old, I learnt how to catch, kill and mount butterflies, but more often moths caught at night in the bright light of a bulb. Later I reared various caterpillars and released the hatched butterflies. My favourite was the lunar hornet moth that I reared quite successfully.

 

 
       
Possibly my most vivid early recollection was our trip to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands. My mother and her 2 children travelled to Newcastle and took the "St. Magnus" to sail north. On board whist in the North Sea I decided to toddle on deck. A sailor found me and said he would throw me overboard if he caught me up there again. I probably stayed with mother there on. We arrived in Shetland 18 August 1944. We had a very small single storey cottage at Ness O Sound. It was only yards (metres) from the sea. Jill and I would walk and play on the rocky shore. Freedom! We sat on a farmer's wall and watch the haymaking and ran among the haystacks. We were aware of the war - just - we were not allowed to go up the hill behind the cottage to the other shore. We did sneak up at least once and could see long posts on the beach. Inside the cottage there was no electricity: my father had great problems lighting the Tilley lamp and Primus stove. He was forever 'pricking' it. No doubt I was unhelpful.
  Photo 1943 John and Jil 1943
Jil & I used similar box Box that Jil & I slept in    
Jill and I slept in a box on legs. It had a sliding door to keep us warm and prevent us from falling out. What we slept on I don't remember, but traditionally it’s straw. I think we thought it adventurous. The only major calamity I remember was when I pulled the tablecloth to reach a mug of very hot milk. It toppled and milk poured down my chest. My father treated me with picric acid - the pain soon subsided but the scar has remained. It was a very unhappy day, around my fifth birthday, when mother announced that we were to have another baby. I remember asking my mother if Jill & I were not enough! The birth of Garth Magnus in June 1945 delayed our return to England at the end of the war. However, it was exciting to watch the mines exploding on the shoreline opposite. We had been told to open all windows and stand well back.
 
         
I don't remember the journey back to Nelson. In Shetland schooling begins at 6 so I had had no formal education. School at Barkerhouse Road Junior School was a bit of a shock. At midday, after lessons I decided to set off home. Teachers dragged me back and I was caned. Some first day of schooling! Sometime between leaving Shetland and Easter 1947 my playmate and I became ill: she died. I recovered and went briefly to the Open Air Special School at the top of Marsden Park. Later, Mr Nelson who lived opposite, encouraged me to walk by pretending to be a soldier. I remember looking out of the widow at other children paying. I said I couldn’t do that because I’d been ill. My parents rounded on me saying that I was not ill and I was never to mention it again. In retrospect I think that was the best advice I could have been given. When in my 50’s I asked my father what it had been. He said: "Polio".
 My brother Robert was due to be born mid April 1947 so I was packed off to stay with Nanny & Granddad Hagan at 76 Lomeshaye Road, Nelson. There, I enjoyed playing with my grandfather's car dynamos and going to their large allotment with greenhouses of tomatoes. It was by the Leeds to Liverpool canal where I often watched coal filled barges go by. Nanny was a weaver at the mill just a few yards/metres from the back gate. The noise from the looms was deafening. They looked after me well. My grandfather was a Jehovah Witness and he took me to meetings. I sat and listened but was not impressed. I attended Walverden Junior School until the end of the summer term. Autumn term began again at Barkerhouse Road. On leaving the army my father was appointed the pharmacist at Reedyford Hospital, Nelson. That appointment brought some perks: a telephone, Nelson 962 and when emergency a taxi. We frequently played in Marsden Park, rode bikes on the road. On occasions, I took Jill by bus to Nelson shopping. We, all the local children, were quite expert at converting prams into steerable racing trolleys. What a thrill! I also remember dancing around a Maypole, weaving in and out making a pattern with the ribbons.
 
Barrowford our rebuilt front wall at Pasture Gate House  
In 1949 we moved to "Peacehaven", which they returned to its original name "Pasture Gate House". It had a rural position on Pasture Lane, Barrowford. We had a greenhouse with a huge vine, an orchard, beehives, a dyke and a stream at the bottom of the garden set in nearly an acre of grounds. Soon my father bought adjoining land, making a total of about 2 acres. We soon had huts and pens for hens and ducks. Each week I took eggs in a brown paper bag to Uncle Victor and Auntie Eileen. They had a young son, Stephen. I went to Barrowford Junior School, Rushton Street. The class recited/chanted multiplication tables. We knew them. During the first week there the teacher posed a question to the class. Various incorrect answers were given. I whispered an answer to the boy next to me. The teacher gave the answer. The boy told the teacher that I knew the answer. Suddenly I realised I must be ok at maths. I passed the 11+ exam and went to Nelson Grammar as my father did. At junior school we played marbles - we had bags of them.
 
   At secondary school we did not play marbles so I exchanged mine with a friend's musical bones - 'rickers'. I taught myself to play them, so bought another pair to play with my right hand. At school the 'best' subjects were chemistry and Euclid's geometry. I loved the theorem proofs - especially the QED at the end! I excelled at chemistry but not other subjects, especially French and Latin. Mrs Steen taught English and probably, of all the teachers, influenced me most: we learnt! I am still very aware of the use of 'me' and 'I'. She gave examples: "Peter and me went to...." wrong because wewouldn't say "Me went to ..."; "You must come to see Peter and I" because wouldn't say "You must come to see I". She made it simple - even English Language graduates broadcasting on TV regularly get it wrong. One time she asked us to write where we'd been for our summer holiday. We didn't holiday, so for some reason I made up a story about Liverpool docks. My parents were called to school. My father knew Mr Lawrie, pathologist at Burnley General Hospital. He had a chalet, Redridge, at Llandanwg, near Harlech, Wales. We could holiday there. We did, and soon we bought a plot further up the field and had our own chalet built. We spent a many happy holiday there, before and after being married.
  Still playing Still playing the  
Chalet name place Carved flagstone for Tyena chalet 
What should  we name the chalet? Michael Ashworth could count in (he said) Cumbrian. It began yan, tyan ...etc. I suggested we call it 'Tyan'. My parents asked the locals - in Wales it was "Ann's house", so it was called "Tyena" after my mother Ena. It became our single holiday destination and still remains in the family. Sometimes friends came to stay with us, especially Dr. Premdas. When I was about 14 my parents employed a stonemason to rebuild the wall to the front of or house. I was fascinated. He showd me how to cut stone, dress it, how to use a mole and club hammer. I had several chisels made at the local blacksmiths forge opposite the 'George and Dragon' in the village. I wanted to be a stonemason! He said not - far better have it as a hobby. True, and I made some 'shields' from flagstones. As soon as I was old enough I delivered newspapers - up at 6.30, had breakfast and took Peggy our Cumderland collie to the newsagents (Slater's?). What a day delivering papers when the king had died.... and later Einstein. My round was Church St. As a young teen my hobbies were climbing trees, going to the Watermeetings, throwing arrows. I made an arrow from a straight branch about 9 inches (22cm) long, cross cut the thicker end and put in a quill made from a square piece of folded card. A nail pushed into the other end completed the job. String with a knot at the quill end was wrapped round and the string ran down the arrow, held in the hand. It was thrown overhand and could reach about 80m.
 
  
 
   After GCE's I went to Burnley College to study 'A' level chemistry, physics and mathematics. I continued to study French at "O" level but was unable to pass it so I couldn't take my place at Manchester University. During the gap year I worked as a laboratory technician in the science department at the college. There I met Miles Ainsworth. He had an interest in electronics and showed me how to make a single valve (ECC84) audio amplifier. It worked first time; success! My love of electronics never left me; (I was very fortunate to be involved at a time when transistors and integrated circuits were being developed). It was there I met Sylvia Payton - by helping her with homework. We first went out together to the Burnley Odeon on 30 November 1959. Her father was a well known and respected dental surgeon in Accrington.
  A continued interestJames 
John & Sylvia wedding 
From 1960-1963 I studied chemisry at the University of Hull. During the holidays I worked either at Lambert's Timber Yard or as a 'navvy' for Nelson Corporation. There I worked on the roads doing flagging, kerbs etc. 1963-4. I went to University of Manchester for teaching, PGCE training in the Primary sector: Primary, because I thought if I could teach all subjects to younger children, It would be able to teach a specialist subject to older pupils. After training, during the summer holidays prior to teaching Sylvia & I worked as wine waiter and afternoon tea maid at the Scarisbrick Hotel, Southport. We had been engaged during the previous year. My first teaching post was at Worsthorne Primary School under the excellent headship of Jimmy Clitheroe. Whilst there he was upset to read an advertisement for his post. He retired and died soon after. Sylvia taught at Rhyddings, Oswaldtwistle with Vic Ogilvy. Later we became very good frinds with him and his wife, Audrey.
 
   Sylvia and I were married 17 July 1965 in Accrington.. We had boughta semi-detached house in Burnley from Jimmy Connolly, a Burnley footballer, for £2850. Before we moved in we dug up the downstairs concrete and composite floor to depth of over half a metre, insulated it and put in underfloor electric central heating. I built a darkroom attached to the garage at the bottom of the garden. There I developed and printed our photographs - mixing and recording the chemicals needed to give the best results. When colour photography became common I stopped. Soon I moved from Worsthorne to Primet Secondary School, Colne as a science teacher then after reorganisation became head of science in 1968. To commemorate the occasion I carved crest with the Lancashire rose on it and te date. It was placed in the school wall to right of the entrance.
  Chris & Richard Chris & Richard 
Our Todmorden Farm Hugeon Croft Farm 
30th December 1968  Christopher was born at Fernlee maternity home, Barkerhouse, Nelson. I was very fortunate in that Dr. Premdas allowed me to be present at the birth. It was a very moving experience seeing a baby quickly changing from a waxy blue colour to a beautiful pink. A little over two years later I was fortunate enough see Richard's birth. We moved to Wilkie Avenue from 1974 to 1978 . From there we moved to Hugeon Croft Farm with 23 acres on Kebs Road, Todmorden. It was to be our 'conversion' project. We redesigned the backdoor entrance, installed oil central heating, cut the stone mullions for new windows, converted the barn to lounge, entrance hall with downstairs toilet, staircase and above 2 bedrooms with shower; re-roofed, built a double garage and planted over 12,000 trees - mainly 1+1 lodge pole pines. These were initially planted as a windbreak as the farm is at 311m - 1350feet. It was the formative years for both Christopher and Richard. They went to Mytholmroyd School. After they left home it was too large a property for the two of us, so we moved back to Burnley.