AUTHOR Mervyn Hadfield was born in the Brickhouses area of Burnley during the war years, in 1942.

Now, almost 70 years later, he has complied a CD of dialect poems and stories of his days as a young boy living among the terraced streets, which have long since disappeared.

Brickhouses, off Westgate, was first built in 1847 and was demolished 120 years later, in 1967. All the characters in his stories are based on real people and the places are real enough too.

One of them — it’s told in dialect on the disk — tells about Dolly Dugdale’s corner shop, better known as Dirty Dolly’s, as it was dirty, drab and dingy.

A widow, she wore the same black dress, grubby apron and slippers, day in and day out.

Her regular customers were few and far between and were usually the folk who were on ‘t’tick’ and couldn’t buy anything anywhere else. Dirty Dolly’s never closed. Whatever time, night or day, families could get the necessities of life by knocking on the side door that belonged to Dolly’s home behind the shop.

He said: “Like most of the kids in the neighbourhood I thought she was a fearsome figure indeed; tall, thin and grim, with long straggly black hair. Main thing about her face, apart from the cigarette in her mouth, was her moustache, which was a source of wonder to the local children.”

Mervyn, however, became quite a favourite of Dolly’s after a mix -up with change after his mum sent him round to the side door one cold winter’s night for a quarter of tea.

Sometimes she asked him to get her change from the clogger’s shop further up the lane, or take a letter to the post box. She always gave him something for doing those little jobs — sarsaparilla tablets or Uncle Joe’s mint balls or whatever his favourite sweets happened to be at the time.

When he passed his 11-Plus exam his mum and dad, although pleased, were worried about the cost of his uniform — there were five children in the family and money was always a problem.

Dolly was also pleased when Mervyn told her the good news and gave him a big bag of sweets, and one day she came to the house and asked to speak to his mum.

“They went into our front room and, after a bit, Dolly left. When I went into the room, mam was smiling but there were tears running down her cheeks,” Mervyn said.

“The very next day we went to a shop called Bradley’s in Burnley centre, where mam bought me a blazer, pants, two shirts and two ties for my new school. But when we get home, our neighbour, Mrs Webb, told us that Dolly had been taken into hospital.

“She was still in there when, a couple of weeks later, mam said that Dolly wanted to see me in my new uniform.”

Mervyn wasn’t allowed in the ward, and stood outside a window until Dolly looked out with a big beaming smile.

“I smiled back and waved to her as, proudly, I showed off my uniform,” he added.

“Dolly died on the same day I started my first term at grammar school.”

*My Slice of Lancashire, is available from eBay – Talking Books, priced £5 plus postage.