‘Fairytale’ childhood at Oldham house on the hills
WE had lived in a normal house on a normal housing estate.
It was really just chance that the family moved to the gamekeeper’s cottage. My stepdad had spoken to the owners of the land and agreed to take it over.
I don’t even think we paid rent, we just lived there to look after the land. It’s the most bizarre thing.
We did sometimes have no electricity, no gas and at times had to worry about being trapped inside our home because of snows.
I would try and sell frogs to passers by, play with a sheep or take my boat, ‘Tiny Tim,’ out on the pond.
It was very basic really. At the time we had a generator and our TV was powered by a car battery.
We used to have paraffin lamps that we had to pump up and they had a small light. We would take them upstairs to bed and stick them to the ceiling. There was a flushing toilet and a bath but we had to heat up water and fill it, so I had to share with my sister.
I was just seven when we moved into the house. We had a real wood-burning fire so we used to have to go out and chop wood, we didn’t have any central heating.
After I grew up I went into the Army later on and it was easy compared to living there!
I remember waking up one day and you just couldn’t see out of the windows. You couldn’t see the house from the outside, it was just covered. We were stuck inside for about a day.
It’s like a fairytale, it just doesn’t seem true, but it is. Every year we got snowed in at least to the point where you couldn’t leave the house, so we would go to the shop and stock up on tins and things, just in case.
There was a freshwater stream which would run straight down to the village and was the water source for all of the houses.
One day my sister and I decided to put fairy liquid into it, it was really bad. There were giant suds and clouds bubbling up from it. It took a few days for it to clear out, the houses at the bottom were without water for a few days I think.
The summers were amazing. We had the whole of the moors to play in. We would play with the sheep and pretend that we were sheep herders or play on the pond with our little boat.
The house was over the top of Standedge Tunnel as well.
There was a massive slate mound – you would have to see it to believe it – and me and my sister would sledge down. It was about 50ft high.
There weren’t many people around; there were people, walkers and ramblers, I used to talk to them for hours when they came past.
Not seeing people in the summer holidays was tough. It was hard to go out and play with your mates. My closest friend, Jennie, lived a few miles away at the rifle range and we used to have to meet half way – she was my only friend close by. We moved out when I was 11. I am now a mum myself, living in Cheshire, and I tell the children about life in the gamekeeper’s cottage. My daughter can’t believe it.
This former gamekeeper’s cottage on the edge of Saddleworth Moor is one of Greater Manchester’s most isolated homes – looking out over miles of beautiful but barren countryside. But for the last 30 years it has remained empty. After we wrote about the mystery house in Diggle, near Oldham, we were contacted by RACHEL TRPESKI, 43, whose family were the last people to live there...