Stan Pickles’ First Holiday


Last month’s tale took us on an adventure to the Leeds School’s Camp at Langbar near Ilkley in the 1950s. This month our old stalwart Stan pickles takes us back, through the papers he left for us, to 1923 and a beautifully different schools holiday for deprived children organised by the Leeds Schools.

My First Holiday
By Stan Pickles
Recently I was returning from a holiday in Whitby with my twin eleven year old grandsons and my mind went back to that holiday many years ago when I was thirteen years old and throughout the hard years I hadn’t had a holiday from one year to the next. Silverdale had been providing holidays for Leeds school children for a number of years but a new venture had just got underway. Yorkshire villages such as Nun Munkton, Barmby Moor and Bishop Wilton opened their doors to many under privileged poor children of Leeds and a memorable school holiday in the depressed year of 1924 is still treasured in my life.
Along with two other boys from my class at Ellerby Lane School I was chosen to have two weeks at the delightful Barmby Moor. You can just imagine our excitement as the wonderful day in August arrived. Children from various schools in the city grouped on the station platform for their big adventure, what a scene it was with about a hundred boys and girls all carrying pillow cases packed with a change of clothing and the other essentials for our holiday. Many of them had never been on a train, let alone a holiday. Eventually, the train pulled in to the excited chatter of our party, with our parents waving us goodbye and a last word from the officials we were on our way to Pocklington station where four or five farmers with horse-drawn flat carts took us to our village about a mile and a half down a lovely country road, where the local children greeted us and took us to our ‘digs’ for our stay.
Barmby Moor was beautiful; we stayed in a cottage by a stream with an elderly couple who were so kind to us. The three of us shared a bedroom with a big double bed and we soon made ourselves feel at home with the nice couple. Each morning we came down to breakfast at 8.30 to the smell of fresh baked bread in the neat kitchen where a pot of tea, a boiled egg with bread butter and jam awaited us. Then it was outside to walk around and explore, sometimes accompanied by the village children who had become our friends. Each day a very nice lunch and tea were ready for us and always there was a glass of milk at bedtime.

Each Sunday we went to church and on the first Sunday the vicar gave a special welcome to the ‘Leeds children’ and wished us all to have a happy holiday. An optional pleasure was a ride in the cart to our host’s hayfield to pitch haystacks. It was all new and interesting to us – quite a novelty – and I learned something I had never known before and what an appetite it gave us! Our kindly hosts gave us an apple each during the rest periods. On the two Saturdays we were there we were taken to the pictures in Pocklington which made a change
I can still see the little stream rippling its clear water through the village. Yes! And the walks on the moors, trips into Pocklington, services in the beautiful church, our work in the hayfields and the welcome we received. To have it all and to be blessed with good weather made this a holiday always to be remembered.
However, all good times have to end and the day of our departure arrived and after we had been given a bunch of flowers each for our mums we said goodbye to all the friends we had made and we were on our way back to Leeds. It had been indeed a special treat for us in those hard times.

My First Girl
(A Little Love Story)
I met Elsie on that lovely Barmby Moor holiday. We hit it of right from the start when we stood side by side on that farmer’s cart taking us to that lovely village for those lovely two weeks. ‘Which school do you go to? Where’s that? What’s your name?’ etc. We had made our first tentative efforts to be acquainted. Although there were about thirty boys and girls in our party we were always in each other’s company. We even managed to go to the two Saturday picture matinees in Pocklington together.
Elsie lived in Hunslet and I knew it well as I often went to the rugby matches at Parkside and to Hunslet feast on the moor. During our holiday a few kisses and cuddles passed between us and on our return to Leeds we said goodbye at the station and Elsie ran off ran off to greet her mother who had come to meet her and I was met by Father. What an excited crowd was on that platform as we went off in all directions to our homes
I never thought I would meet Elsie again but a few days later as I was leaving the street with my pals to play football on the park a voice called out, ‘Hello Stanley.’ I looked around and there was Elsie looking very smart. She told me she was on her way to visit her aunt and after a few words with her I rushed off to catch up with my pals, nothing but sport was on my mind at the time. Alas, I never saw Elsie again. We were both thirteen years old at the time.
After I had had written out Stan’s memories we decided to have a run out to Barmby Moor. It is a beautiful East Yorkshire village with a stream running through the centre. I took a copy of Stan’s tale with me and presented it to the post office None of the present generation had any knowledge that there had ever been such a scheme to give deprived kids from Leeds the chance of a holiday in the country but they were delighted that their forebears had been so kind and charitable. They put Stan’s tale on show in the post office and it was published in the local paper.
Well done the Leeds Schools!

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4 Responses to “Stan Pickles’ First Holiday”

  1. Douglas Farnill Says:

    I read Stan’s story this morning, and it lifted my day. It was 1924, quite a few years before I was born, but I’ve heard enough about the strikes of miners in those years to know about the hardships and impoverishment of East Leeds communities in those days. It is so heartening to by touched by Stan’s happy memories from that era, and to learn of the essential goodness of the organizers of the holiday project and the good people who provided the experience. Thank you Stan for telling that story that continues even though your spell on earth is over. And thank you Peter, it was simply wonderful of you to take that story back to the old post office and let the people of that community know of their heritage of good will.

  2. peterwwood Says:

    Thanks for that great comment, Doug. That’s lifted my day too.

  3. Eric Says:

    I agree with Doug, a really nice & thoughtful gesture in taking this story back to the Barmby Moor post office , almost a hundred years after the event. I remember passing through Barmby Moor several years ago & thinking it a typical, nice East Yorkshire village although I doubt it remained the rural idyll of 1924.
    This story is heartwarming recollection of a joyous interlude at a time of hardship & which clearly had a lasting impact on Stan’s memory. One of simple pleasures and kinship , sadly missing in much of today’s world. I wonder if any of the descendants of those kind villagers will learn of the friendship their ancestors bestowed upon their visitors ?.

  4. beauair Says:

    Hello Peter,
    Took me till today to read this months memories. The first thing that I noted was ‘Moor Monkton’ being where Murphy my horse is . Every week I hope to be able to go ,with Kelly, to look after Suzie, while I give Murphy some TLC and every week something crops up to stop us.
    I don’t know Barnby Moor but can appreciate what a thrill it would be for all those children, firstly to go on holiday, and secondly to go to the country and ride on the cart pulled by the horse. And thirdly have such a wonderful welcome by the couple they were to stay with, and be treated in such fine style. Then 3 in a bed, what fun that would be. Those kind of memories stay with you forever. Thank you Peter.
    Take care Pete, Keep smiling.

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