Memories of Pauline Rushfirth(nee Brown)


Memories of Pauline Rushfirth (nee Brown),Memories of Pauline Rushfirth (nee Brown),These are the memories of Pauline Rusfirth (nee Brown) of living in Knostrop in the 1940s/50s, air raids, blackouts, yard games and attending Mount St Mary’s School.  



Air Raids at Knostrop    (Pauline Rushfirth nee Brown)


I remember my mam waking me up and wrapping a blanket around me to carry me out to the air raid shelter when the sirens were going and the guns were firing. The artillery guns were quite close, I don’t know quite where, further down the lane, I think, near the woods. It was very frightening the whole house would shake. The tiny windows had been taped with brown sticky tape in a diamond pattern so they would not shatter into pieces. One particular night when Mam was running to the shelter she went ‘smack’ into a black car, which had been parked outside the door. Being so dark, (remember we could not have any kind of light showing during that which we called the ‘blackout’) anyway Mam was heard to shout, ‘ They’ve got me!’ – They’ve got me!’  She thought she’d been shot.

Pauline (Brown) Rushfirth

In actual fact, between August 1940 and August 1942 in Leeds there were 87 alerts but only nine air raids. In this period 77 people were killed and 327 injured. 197 buildings were destroyed and 7,623 damaged.

(Illustrated History of Leeds  by Stephen Burt and Kevin Grady)


                                    Attending Mount St Mary’s School                                     

I attended Mount St Mary’s School, I think we were the only Catholic family living in Knostrop at the time. We were taught by the Holy Family Sisters. They were well known in the community and instantly recognisable by their black habits and large white headdresses and bibs (wimples were the correct name for them). They were very strict but fair. The classrooms were very cold, no central heating in those days, only a small coal fire. We would have regular air raid drills. A large shelter was located where the pre-fabs used to be. The children would assemble there and sing hymns. As far as I can remember we never did actually have an air raid while we were at school.


                                                   The Blackout


As a child I was afraid of the dark and  ‘Knostrop Lane was one of the darkest places of all to walk. When my sister, Pat, and I had to go to the ‘top’ I wouldn’t let her speak and would hold onto her for dear life. I can’t explain how dark it was, it seemed to envelope you. Sometimes there were not any lights at all, not even a gas lamp. When I could see the lights of the ‘top’ I felt a little safer. Coming back however it was a different matter, you left the lights behind, the further you went the darker it got. When I got older coming home from school was a nightmare, I would call on my guardian angel to see me safely home.’



                                                      Yard Games

We played a game called ‘Escape’. Someone would stand on top of the granary steps with a torch or a bike lamp, shining it on the shed gates and moving it backward and forward and we would try to escape in the dark bits. Pauline recalls it as: quite frightening.

‘My earliest memories are of my dad ploughing the fields with the horses, he was employed at the market garden. Looking back it was very hard work, long hours and poor wages. Back to the horses, one was called Tidy and the other Blackie, both were big shire horses, I liked to watch them being groomed and fed in the stable.’

I liked to decorate bricks, yes bricks! I would mix water with the lime that was heaped in a pile ready for use on the land and make it into a paste. Then decorate the brick with daisies, leaves and such. ‘They looked good enough to eat’.






Pauline (Brown) Rushfirth

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