Pat Howard

Pat Howard was born in 1925 and died in 2017 at the age of 92.

Pat has lived in the same house in Queen Street since she was born.  Her parents bought it in 1921, but before she was born in 1925, it was nearly destroyed in the disastrous Queen Street fire.  “An old lady had a room upstairs next door.  They said that she broke in upstairs and made her own fireplace, but that sounds out of this world, doesn’t it?  But she was the one that started the fire. . .   We were left with two rooms and nothing much else at all.”  The insurance didn’t cover replacing the second storey on the house, so it remains single-storied to this day.


There are some memories from childhood which stand out:  “You mainly played on the street because there were very few cards coming by and that was quite alright.”


On Guy Fawkes night:  “all the kids would stuff the Guy Fawkes into old prams or things like that and they’d hang round the corners and “Guy Fawkes! Guy!”  And they’d get lots of pennies to buy all their crackers and things.  That was great.  So we trailed along behind because we were not supposed to have anything to do with Guy Fawkes – two-faced Catholics – but, anyway, we flowed along behind everybody else.  I suppose the Guy Fawkes were what were on the bonfires; they had at least one bonfire up there near the tunnel, which was wonderful . . . You didn’t seem to have adults organising it, or anything like that, as far as I know.  Anyway, the children were certainly up there in their droves.”


“After primary school I went to Tech.  That was for one year.  I thought maybe I might like to follow Mum and be a dressmaker, so I finished up going on what was a sort of domestic class . . .  It was horrible.  So when they asked me if I’d stay home, because Mum was getting ill at that time, well I suppose I jumped at the chance, you know.”


“I got afternoons off when I used to go to a matinee, you know.  Mum would be alright for the afternoon and I’d go off and see Naughty Marrietta.  And I’d come home as cross as hell – I’d be in such a bad mood – coming back to this life.  But, of course, I had to cook a hot midday dinner . . .  Dad and Mick, especially, they always came home for a hot midday dinner.”


After her mother died, she went to work at Amos Soft Goods in Kent Terrace, near the Embassy Theatre.  “They taught me how to sew, which I mucked up for a while in the first place, but never got told off.  It was really lovely.  And they made beautiful lingerie – beautiful – beautiful lingerie that you don’t see these days.”


The girls from the factory came to Pat and Jack’s wedding and were entertained at Queen Street afterwards.  “All the girls had a ball and got a bit tiddly at the same time.”


The young couple then stayed living in the house.  “We finished up in the front room here. . . .  Nobody really said we could stay here, but we stayed on and on because I’d always, as a young girl, I’d looked after Mum.  I’d sort of been the housekeeper since I was fifteen, and I’d never been anywhere else in my whole life.  I’d been the one that’d sort of done all  the chores and kept the house as a home.”


Later, Pat went to work in the office at the Prestige hosiery factory in Pirie Street.  “I had my great big chitty-chitty-bang-bang calculator.  It was a beauty – a monster of a thing with a big carriage that chitty-chitty-bang-banged right and then it would come back and chitty-chitty-bang-bang.  Ooh, it was lovely.  It had a lovely rhythm to it.  Then one day I gave it a bit of a push and that was the end of it.  But I stayed there until the Prestige folded up altogether. “


One of the changes she’s noticed is the trees.  “In those days we had no trees anywhere round . .  . people didn’t need all their privacy everywhere, and they wanted the sunlight.  You know.  And there’d be lots of sunlight everywhere so people could grow all the veges and we got to know each other well because of that.”

Historic photographs courtesy of Pat Howard.

Pat’s home (2nd from the right) after the Queen Street fire in 1923.









The house rebuilt, just after the fire.




Pat on her wedding day.