Archive for the ‘Eagle Comic’ Category

Computer Games V Mucky Knees

November 1, 2012


Am I an old fool to believe it was more fun to play out and come home with mucky knees than to stay indoors and play computer games?


By Pete Wood.

Way back in the 1940s the door of our house opened onto Jaw Bone Yard, a spacious earth compacted area complete with stables, sheds and dens. It was a magical world brimming with all the possibilities for adventure. When I was about four years old my mother opened that back door and shoed my out to join six other kids already into their adventures. All she said was ‘Go play’. And from that day my life began.               


JAWBONE YARD: was the heart of old Knostrop and the centre of our activities. Seven houses backed onto that yard and out of the houses came seven kids, augmented by the lads and lasses from the ‘ABC’ houses, the Hall, the Lodge and sometimes too; our friends who joined in the fun from ‘The Top’; which were the streets which sat at the top of Knostrop Hill.  This was the gang and didn’t we have a ball! We played every game under the sun in that yard: cricket, rounders, kick-out can, speedway bowlers (hoops) and all the general schoolyard games.  The lads and the lasses all mucked in together. We played football with a tennis ball – you were lucky if you could get hold of even a tennis ball while the war was in progress, for just about everything being produced by the nation was to going support the war effort – so proper footballs were out of the question. The positive side to this was: it certainly taught us how to control a ball. Some of the lads became so proficient that they could ‘keepy-uppy’ with a tennis ball. Harold Sedgwick could even keep it up on his ankle! This all made it that, much easier when we finally did progress to play with proper footballs. Was life less dangerous for us than for modern day kids? Well, the Germans regularly bombed us by night and we had to walk the lonely lanes in complete blackness due to ‘The Blackout’ but we had a freedom that seems to be denied to today’s kids and life seemed to be blissfully happy.

We, who played in that yard, were fortunate in that one of the dads, who worked on the land at the time, would find balls that had been lost down drains and had ultimately found their way onto the land. He would bring them home and leave them in a grate where we would find them. Mind you a ball had a short lifespan with us, especially when we were hitting out at cricket. Balls would fly into the long grass in the adjacent field and become lost. You were out if caught one handed off a wall or if you hit the ball onto a house roof. In the case of hitting it onto a roof the culprit would be the one to climb onto the roof and retrieve it.  The ball would usually be lodged in one of the gutters so you had to climb up onto the roof, via a coal house, then it would be necessary for you to lean perilously over the edge in order to reach it. Like kids all over we were oblivious to the danger. It pleasantly amazes me that trivial incidents can still be brought to mind after half a century and a lifetime of other more important experiences have elapsed. For instance Keith Gale, a participant in our games, can bring to mind an incident, which occurred when we were playing cricket in the yard. On this occasion Gordon (Oscar) Brown was batting – we could never get him out he was like a limpet. Ball after ball he would just play a dead bat: ‘podging’ as we called it. On this particular day Gordon must have had a rush of blood to the head for he smote a ball mightily, it bounced first on a house roof and then onto a coalhouse roof, finally to be caught one handed by Peter Whitehead. By our rules we believed this to have been have been out, but good old Gordon wouldn’t budge, he stood his ground claiming that as the ball had bounced twice this did not constitute being out! The beautiful thing about this little tale is: that although Keith had been out and about for over fifty years carving out a life for himself, with all the toils and tribulations entailed that most trivial of incidents had not been erased from his memory.

Oh the games we played in that yard: there was one particularly daft game that we played where one of us would stand facing the stable wall and the rest would choose a film star’s name without letting on what it was. We would form a line across the yard about thirty yards back and the one facing the wall would shout something like, ‘VeronicaLake take two giant strides’ or perhaps, ‘three fairy footsteps.’ Then the person who had chosen that particular name had to execute the ordered manoeuvre without being seen. Should the one calling the shots turn and catch one of us in the process of moving then the name of the culprit would be shouted and they would be out. The first person to reach wall without being seen won.

At one time we had an old wooden wheelbarrow, we would take in turns to sit in the barrow with our eyes closed while some other member of the gang would spin it around and then set off in a series of changing directions. The idea was for the one having the ride to try and guess where they were. In the middle of the yard there stood a huge wooden shed, it had three large gates at the front to accommodate flat four wheeled carts. We would use the gates as the goals in winter or the central palings as the wickets in summer. We could shelter inside the shed when it rained and perhaps play with the large wooden boxes which were intended to transport the vegetable produce to market; cabbages, cauliflowers and especially rhubarb. The boxes could be fashioned into all manner of constructions, houses, cars, whatever we fancied at the moment.  Pauline (now Mrs Rushfirth) and  one of the gang, remembers a particular night when the bombs were dropping and the ack-ack guns from further down Knostrop were making the windows shake in the little cottages, and how her mam ran out to the shelter, which was across the yard and ran straight into a parked black car which was unseen in the dark. The shock was so great she thought she had been hit and shouted out, ’They’ve got me! They’ve got me!’  In the morning after an air raid we would hunt for shrapnel from the shell casing. Mam said to me, ‘Don’t go picking up anything nasty.’ I thought from her description she meant something like dog droppings but she really meant the ant-personnel mines the Germans were dropping.

Pauline remembers that big shed that bisected yard too and another game we played 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. We had obviously been brain-washed by watching prisoner of war films. .

There was another shed in the yard too, one in which sacks were stored – I believe the sacks must have been filled with soot for when we climbed about in there we’d get ourselves ‘black bright’. On other occasions we played whip and top, conkers, hula-hoop. We had phases when we played with potato guns, catapults or sped around the yard with bowlers in impromptu speedway races. We had dens everywhere, sometimes in the bushes where we could pull off the ‘green stick’ branches to make weapons. One type could be hollowed out for to use as a blowpipe while another ‘springier’ type could be fashioned into the bow for bow and arrows. Sheltering from the rain under a den’s green foliage is among   the sweetest experiences life has to offer. We all had nick names and virtually usad a language of our own. Now I’m told The Scout Movement has banned nick names as they may lead to bullying. Corr!

We were a bit light on girls but the ones we had were great, Pat and Pauline from the yard, Brenda and very occasionally, Lizzie, from the ABCs. Later there was Rita from the ‘New Hall Lodge’ all the rest were lads but the girls all mucked in and pulled their weight especially when we were collecting wood for the bonfires. You could tell which were the girls: they were the ones who practised their pirouettes when there was a lull in the game and did ‘crabs’ up against the wall with their frocks tucked in. Girls wore frocks or gym slips (no trousers or jeans) and we wore short pants ‘long ‘uns came along when we were about twelve but my mam said lads in long trousers looked like little old men hence she kept me in short pants to an embarrassing fourteen.

At one particular time everyone seemed to be wearing wooden clogs – I think they may have been an attempt to offset the problem of shoes wearing out too fast, or was it that being made out of wood they did not attract clothing coupons? Whatever, the idea was a fad and went out within a few weeks. Then of course there were the bikes, Denis Harrison had a bike on ‘fixed wheel’, it was unforgiving, if you put you feet on the ground before the bike had properly stopped it would punish you by trapping the back of your legs with its pedals; that was really painful. There was another bike which had a bell as big as a teapot and yet another, a butcher’s bike, which had you scared for the basket bit didn’t turn straightaway when you turned the handlebars giving the impression you were not going to make a corner. Peter Whitehead later organised ‘East Leeds Wheelers’ a proper cycling club. Meetings were held in a little building where the dustbins were usually kept. Membership to this club was quite exclusive and mainly taken up by a more ‘up market’ class of cyclist than us ‘yardies’, who rode ‘drop handlebar’ bikes and mostly lived at ‘the top’.

THE ABC HOUSES: As an alternative to playing in the yard we would often join the gang from the ABC Houses on their patch, they had lots of places on their doorstep to explore. There were two plantations; which we unsurprisingly called; the first wood and the second wood, the ‘Red Hills’- which were in fact red shale slag heaps from anold mine. This shale could be seen forming a good hardcore base for paths and minor roads throughout the district, tagging them as ‘Red Roads’ due to their colour.   The old mine itself: ‘Dam Pit’ was located between the two woods and would find us messing about dangerously in the brick filled shaft. Wagons from the pit would be left shunted onto a branch line allowing us to climb all over them. The lads from the ABC Houses always seemed to be more agile than us ‘yardies’ they could shin up the trees in the plantation like monkeys. We were allowed to cut down the dead trees for our bonfires but all we had to do it with was that which we called a ‘hunting knife’ so you can imagine it was a long job and oh those calluses.

SCHOOL: Now, alas, in my seventies, I pass our local primary school on the way to collect my morning paper. The surrounding roads are absolutely clogged with the cars of mums taking their kids to school (Chelsea Tractors) some of the kids seem to be at least nine or ten; they’ll be back again to take them home at 3.00.

With deference to busy working mams, who I know have to drop off their kids before going to their own place of work, I still have to hark back to, what happened to walking to school and giving kids space to learn responsibility for their own safety. I know there are a lot more cars around today and ‘strangers’ (there were always ‘strangers) but I recall that our mams took us to school on the first day at five years old and after that we were on our own and getting to grips with the world of lonely rural roads and busy crossings for ourselves and it made us responsible and street wise long before we were ten!

SCHOOLYARD GAMES: Once we had started school we were introduced to a host of new games either played in the schoolyard itself at playtime or immediately outside the school gates before school started. The staple diet for the boys was always going to be football, played twenty odd a side with a tennis ball and coats for goalposts. In summer cricket took over, the wickets being chalk marks on the wall and three or four balls on the go at once. The whistle for the end of playtime always seemed to blow when it was your turn to bat. I spoke to an old school mate at a reunion recently, he recalled playing football in that old school yard (we called it the field) and how a workman who had been mending the road outside the railings had come over with a whimsical look in his eye and said to him very sincerely: ‘Do you know lad, these are the happiest days of your life’. The old schoolmate said he’d remembered those words all through the years and he thought the old guy was just about right.
As alternatives to football and cricket and to suit the seasons, more individual games would be played. Ice on the ground meant a giant slide and everyone having a go, in the process causing the road to become like glass and a hazard to any unwary pedestrian.   At Whitsuntide, the girls, mainly, would play whip and top: colouring the tops with chalks, so they would make pretty pattern as they spun around. In the autumn it would be conker time and bruised knuckles all round for each time you missed your opponents conker you tended to hit your own knuckles (no namby-pamby ‘elf and safety then)  Each player kept a score of how many other conkers his conker had broken. For example, if your conker broke a conker that had, say already broken two itself, then you added his two to your score as well. Lads would try to make conkers harder by baking them or pickling them in vinegar. Sometimes they had become tiny hard things like the kernel of a walnut but provided they hadn’t broken away from the string hole they were considered to be still ‘live’. When a crack occurred the shout would go out, ‘It’s laughing!’ Last year’s conkers were like iron and would not be played against if recognised: ‘It’s a laggie I’m not playing against that!’ would be the cry.
Another game was played with cigarette cards or the big bus tickets of the day, which all had a sequential number on the back. In this game a lad would take a ‘wadge’ of cards or tickets of roughly the same thickness in each hand, and another lad would take a similar number in his hand and ‘bank’ on one or the other of his opponent hands. Then the bottom card or ticket would be turned over in each hand; if the lad had banked correctly on the wadge with the highest number he would win his opponents cards. If he had banked on the lower number then he would have to surrender his. As school bags were a ‘no – no’ in those old Victorian primary schools a lad’s pockets might well be bulging obscenely with his winnings.
Marbles or ‘taws’, as we called them, was another favourite game. There were several different types of marble: ‘allies’ (coloured marbles), ‘milkies’ (opaque marbles) ‘bottle washers’ (clear glass) and ‘stonkers’, which were made out of stone. Some lads had become real experts and had calloused knuckles to prove it. These experts would have a favourite marble, which they always used when playing – normally it would not be a pretty one but rather a gnarled old thing that gave give a good grip. Should they loose they would surrender any of their stock of marbles rather than give up their ‘player’. I recall some were so expert they could hit an opponent’s taw at three paces, firing from the knee.  The rules of the taw game we played were as follows: two lads would play with a marble each – more could play if required. A small hole was excavated in the earth and called the ‘knack’, the idea was to take it in turns to try and hit the other lad’s marble. After a hit, it was still necessary for the opponent’s marble to be not a ‘needer’; a ‘needer’ meant the opponent’s marble still ‘needed’ to be hit more than two shoe lengths away from the hole. Big shoes were an asset if you wanted it to be a ‘needer’, smaller shoes were better if you didn’t want it so. To complete the game it was then only necessary to roll your marble into the hole. If it missed then the other lad had a chance to ‘un-needer’ himself.
The girls had their own playground at our school (St Hilda’s) it was a concrete affair in an elevated position above our ‘dirt’ field.  From this lofty position they would carry out their skipping games: pitch, patch, pepper etc. Or dance around singing traditional schoolyard songs like: ‘The wind and the rain and the hail blows high, the snow comes travelling from the sky. She is handsome she is pretty she is the belle of the golden city; she goes a courting one, two three: pray can you tell me who it can be?’ Then they would shout some lad’s name, say: Tommy Johnson says he loves her.’ Then they would let out a great scream, silly beggars and then continue, ‘All the boys are fighting for her’ and so on.  The lad in question would probably be playing football in the field below and would blush to the roots of his hair but secretly be pleased – alas it was never I.  Sometimes, to the annoyance of the girls we would sing along with a much ruder version of the song.


AFTER SCHOOL: In the evenings after school we would be out again even in the dark nights of winter – no computer games for us. I think our absolute favourite game was one we just called ‘chasing’. We could play ‘chasing’ in all seasons; it was fun whether it was the light or the dark nights. To play the game; first a couple of sides were picked by the old ‘dip-dip-dip’ method, then one team would run off and after a prescribed period the other team would run after them and try to catch them before they could return to base. In the process of this game we covered miles and miles, over fields through woods, haystacks, rhubarb sheds. We had the lot at Knostrop. The area we covered was so vast that when I consider the game now it astounds me how we ever managed to locate individuals who had run and hidden often several miles away and sometimes in the dark too, but amazingly, we did.  When the game was over we would congregate around one of the gas lamps and talk. Sometimes there would be road works and a night watchman – perhaps we would sit with him for a while around his coke brazier watching the blue red flames and choking on the fumes. Maybe we’d tell a few yarns and then accompany the watchman while he checked his lamps.  Pauline remembers being scalded when one of the lads, tried to jump the brazier and knocked the boiling water from the big iron kettle all over her legs, causing here to miss school for a while. When we would finally come home in our frocks or short pants, happy but tired out by our games, it was then time to have our mams sit us down and wash our ‘mucky knees’ .

Which would I prefer – a computer game or my mucky knees back?


Alex had last month’s mystery building correct. It was of course The Parkie’s House on East End Park. Now for this month’s mystery building. What did we  better remember this building as? look out for another Audrey special next month.

Brenda’s Tale

March 1, 2011

Brenda is not strictly an East Leeds lass-she was born in Castleford and spent most of her childhood in Hebden Bridge-but she has an interesting tale to tell and as she is married to an East Leeds lad; me – I hope she qualifies to tell her tale.

My mother’s name was Lily Locket she was born in the Fitzwilliam area of West Yorkshire in 1917. Her family were miners who migrated from Staffordshire, (walking all the way) when the coal mines in Staffordshire were exhausted. Seemingly, most of them managed to secure coal mining jobs in Fitzwilliam. Somehow or other Mother managed to become a pupil at the high quality but very strict Quaker School in Ackworth. She told as how on one particular day when the headmaster had been more than usually unkind to her and sent her out into the cloakroom, she had taken a safety pin out of her knickers and punctured his bike tyre. Later she had a spell working on munitions and once nearly got lost in a snow drift in the blackout trying to find her way home.

            I was born in Castleford in 1943 at number 73 Carlton Street (next to the YMCA) which at the time was a fruit and vegetable shop. The business, but not the property was owned by my father, Leonard James Martin – born in 1895 and  attended the same Castleford school at the same time as the sculptor Henry Moore.Dad had seen service in the Royal Navy during in World War One. We lived over the shop and one of my earliest memories was Dad’s big desk upstairs; being wartime sweets were in short supply but Dad had a friend who worked at Bellemy’s and  he used to get us liquorish allsorts off-cuts which Dad kept in a big brown paper bag under the desk. When he had a sleep on a Sunday afternoon, Alan, my elder brother, and I would creep behind the sofa where Dad was asleep and help ourselves to a handful each and creep back out of the sitting-room without being seen. Mam used to dress crabs and boil mussels in a big cauldron and Alan and I had to crack nuts in the cellar to be sold in the shop, we received a half penny for cracking enough nuts to fill a jam jar. Two children cracking nuts with hammer each – no health and safety issues then! When both Mam and Dad went out in the evening Alan and I would steal downstairs into the shop and pinch apples but instead of getting rid of the evidence Alan stashed the cores under the mattress of his bed, which inevitably led to our misdemeanours being discovered. On occasions when we were very naughty we would throw nuts at passers-by from the upstairs window and duck down when they looked up. Alan’s job, before he went to school, was to unpack fish from boxes encased in ice – he hated that job. I remember my Auntie Winnie knocking over a bottle of ammonia in one of the large cellars which ran under the shop and nearly gassing herself.

All my life I have had ear problems; one of my earliest memories is of being in a cot at Carlton Street with severe earache; when the doctor came he boiled an onion and made a poultice to fit my ear and bandaged it on tight. That certainly made me jump. When I was a bit older I had to look after my younger brother, Ralph. One day I had to take him to Saville Park in a big Silver Cross pram – I was only about six years old myself. Children of that age would never be allowed to be in charge of a baby today. Anyway, I decided to have a drink from the fountain and let go of the pram and didn’t give it another thought until I heard someone shouting – the pram had run away and been found in some bushes. Ralph was OK although he had been thrown out of the pram. I thought no one at home would find out but someone who knew my mam told her the tale when she was out shopping. I was only six years old but I got a real rollicking.

I attended Welbeck Street School and I remember there was a shop that sold tiny little Hovis loaves for a penny each. On an evening Alan and I would go to the Star Cinema which was close by. Mam used to know the person in the ticket booth – we called her Auntie Beatie – but she wasn’t really our proper auntie. If we took her a couple of apples we used to get in free. At that time cinema going was so popular that sometimes we had to sit on the steps. I remember some of the films, especially: Abbott and Costello Meets the Ghosts. It was supposed to be a comedy but with Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man being involved it made it really scary for a seven year old. Even today I can still recall the fear of seeing the candle moving on the coffin lid as it was being opened from the inside.

I remember Alan and I had to spend some time at an aunt’s house in Littleborough when another child was born and we had to attend school there for a while. One day after we had been playing cowboys and Indians in the school yard I had been tied up to one of the concrete posts in the playground with the belt of my dress. When the whistle went at the end of the playtime and everyone started to go in I was still tied up and the teacher had to come out and rescue me.  

During the war the shop did very well, anything Dad bought he could sell: there was a black market up and running. One time Dad was stopped with half a pig in the back of his van, but luckily they never looked in the back. When the war was over and goods could be obtained more freely folk could shop anywhere for their fruit and veg but Dad couldn’t get out of the idea of buying in bulk and with the stock being perishable there were significant losses and the business began to fail. Dad decided to sell the business (remember we only owned the business not the premises). Mam wanted to buy a bungalow down south but without even telling Mam – Dad bought a lock-up fish and chip shop at Hebden Bridge which was itself already dying on its feet and rented a back to back house opposite at 37 Foster Lane. The house only had one bedroom, one attic bedroom, no bathroom and no kitchen, and by this time there were four, later to be five, of us children ranging from 18 months to eleven years old plus Mam and Dad. Mam managed to arrange a curtain in the attic to separate the girls from the boys. The house was far too small to allow Mam to take her nice furniture that she had acquired in Castleford. Of course she was furious at this devastating fall in our living standards; especially as she had been denied any input to Dad’s reckless plans. Relationships between mam and Dad reached low ebb.

            The houses at Hebden Bridge are mainly built into the hillside and unbeknown to us there was a house located beneath our sitting room floor – well, you can imagine what a racket five of us kids would make when Mam and Dad were working in the fish shop, One day a woman came around, who evidently lived in the house underneath, to complain about the noise. Thereafter whenever we were dancing about she would knock with a brush handle on our floor, which was her ceiling. All this horrified Mam the more.

            After six months it was obvious the fish and chip shop was unviable; there was a bit of business from a nearby mill at lunchtime but nothing in the evening and finally the shop had to close. The thratching between Mam and Dad continued and I used to wonder if they would still be together when we came home from school. Dad was about twenty years older than Mam but he was always a grafter. He would have been over sixty years old by then but he got a job as a loom sweeper – clearing the waste from under the machines in the local mill, working amongst all the dust and the noise which permanently damaged his hearing and made him profoundly deaf.

(No health and safety then). Because there were still young children at home Dad had to keep working at that horrible job right up to his death at aged 76 years.

Mam never took to Hebden Bridge; she had the idea that you had to live there for generations before you were accepted and all the knocking on the floor was really getting her down.

  I was the second oldest, my brother, Alan, went to Hebden Bridge Middle School but my younger brother Ralph and I and later Pat and Wilfred (who was born in Hebden Bridge) all went to Stubbings Junior School. The school being built on a hill was quite picturesque and featured on many a calendar but to a couple of kids arriving with Castleford accents it proved quite daunting. We were looked upon by the other kids like something from under your shoe – no one wanted to know us – we were not part of the ‘in crowd’.

           One day at school I was given a few words and told to make an essay out of them; I didn’t know what an essay was and thought I could only use those few particular words and no others and it made me really distressed. On another, particularly bad day, when the dinner bell went the day had seemed so long already I thought it was the bell for the end of the day and went home. When I realized what I had done I was really scared I knew I would be in trouble so I persuaded Mam not to send me Back. She went along with it but I was in even more trouble than ever when I finally went back to school the next day.

My brother, Ralph, for a period, had to attend school in a rigout which was a bit like Dan Dare wore in the Eagle comic. It wasn’t Ralph’s fault of course, he had to wear what he was given to wear at home, but the headmaster (who shall remain nameless) didn’t like it and he kept picking on Ralph and ridiculing him in front of the school assembly, which had him in tears. I told Dad about it and Dad went up to school and grabbing the headmaster by the neck threatened to throttle him if he didn’t lay off his son. Our standing with the rest of the kids rose a bit after that when the kids took it into their heads that Dad was a boxer. Later the headmaster got the sack, presumably for his cruelty towards the kids – Ralph survived and went on to study for a PhD at Leeds University.

Once a year the school had a party and all the girls went in party dresses. Money was quite tight as usual and there was no party dress for me so I turned up at school in my ordinary clothes. When folk asked me why I hadn’t come in a party dress I just told them I had forgotten about the party, but I resolved if ever I had children they would never have to suffer such ignominy. I asked, the next Christmas, if I could have a party dress and Mam got one made for me by a local dressmaker. It was made out of net and by the time I got to wear it – it was way out of fashion.

In spite of all the traumas associated with school and the house Hebden Bridge afforded us a beautiful rural playground. Within a few hundred yards of home we had ‘Butcher Bunts field and  flowing meadow with a gurgling stream which we could dam and make deep enough to swim and float a raft and the natural beauty spot ‘Hardcastle Crags’ was within walking distance.  

To supplement his income for the growing family Dad did a Sunday morning paper round – he used to take the big Silver Cross pram to the other end of Hebden Bridge at 6.00 a.m. every Sunday to pick up the papers and bring them home to sort out on the table this would take us about an hour then I used to go with Dad and the pram around Hebden Bridge delivering them and Hebden Bridge is very hilly. Sometimes I would cry my hands were so cold. When I got to about eleven my brother took over helping dad with the pram and I graduated to helping Mam with the Sunday dinner. Every quarter Dad got that which he called his ‘quarterly accounts’ paid. These were from the people who were so well off they paid their paper bill on a quarterly basis and we all got a little windfall each. One year we put all our little ‘windfalls’ together and bought our youngest brother, Wilfred, a red pedal car from ‘Baby land’, which at that time was a large toyshop in Hebden Bridge. He loved to pedal up and down Foster Lane in that little red car – we didn’t have any spending money left for the rest of the summer that year.

My sister, Pat, was the thinnest little girl imaginable with lovely long thin legs. One day when she was learning to use the toilet we heard screams when we got there all we could see were he legs sticking up in the air – she had fallen right inside the pedestal. Another time, after Mother had had a large baking session Pat asked for some apple pie so Mam cut her off a piece and covered it with custard, after she had started eating it she complained that it was not very nice but Mam said, ‘You asked for it you must eat it!’ but as it turned out it was a cheese and onion pie that Mam had passed to her which didn’t go very well with the custard – but mam made her eat it anyway.

Pat had lovely blond hair and on one occasion she sat for two hours while I put it in pin curlers and hair clips. When I reached eleven I had to go, via the Middle School, to Calder High School at Mytholmroyd. Calder High School was one of the new comprehensives; perhaps the first in Yorkshire and excellent for its day. We still didn’t have much money but both Ralph and Wilfred aspired to a university education from Calder High School at a time when only about 8% of the population were fortunate to attend university. And that small percentage was far less in working class areas. Even so the school still held a few traumas for me – with money still being so tight. In the first year I had a second hand uniform, but  in the second year I didn’t have a proper school uniform skirt and I got pulled up by the headmistress as we were to have a school photograph taken. I had been given a skirt by an old lady and it had box pleats – I wasn’t that fashion conscious but I knew box pleats were really old fashioned. In addition the school uniform was navy blue and this damn skirt was a mustard colour. The headmistress said, ‘Come to my office and I’ll sort you a skirt out.’ But I didn’t like the idea, it seemed degrading. So I went home and told my Mam who managed to obtain a navy blue dye and we immersed the skirt in a bowl of water along with the navy blue dye. It should really have been left to steep for a week but it was the school photograph the next day so we had to pull it out and dry it. This time it came out dark brown. But I wore it anyway for the school photo and the teacher put me at the back where it couldn’t be seen.

            In the last year at school my compulsory school beret went missing from the cloakroom and I didn’t fancy putting Mam and Dad to the expense of a new beret when I was so close to leaving school. After being put in detention three times in a fortnight for not having a beret I picked a dusty old beret up off the floor which had been kicking around on the floor for days with nobody claiming it. I was soon in trouble again with the headmistress though when the old beret with someone else’s name in it was discovered on my peg. I was up before her again for ‘stealing a beret’ notwithstanding that nobody wanted it! But I was frightened they would write to my parents about it.

            I left school in 1958 on a Friday and started at Redman’s, the local sewing shop, the following Monday morning, working on piece work, I stayed there for about two years before leaving and joining Nutclough Mill where I learned to make a garment all the way through. At the same time I worked as an usherette at the Hebden Bridge Cinema – later so did my sister, Pat. That cinema, I believe, is still a going concern even today – one of the few suburban cinemas left in the country. I gave Mam my wage and kept my usherette money as spends.

            It was while I was working at the Nutclough Mill that I became friendly with a girl who had moved to Hebden Bridge with her husband, who had been evacuated from London to Hebden Bridge during the War. They later bought a house in Leeds to take in paying guests and I moved there with them; much to my mother’s distress.

Both Ralph and Wilfred went onto university. My sister Pat and I both married and ultimately came to live in Leeds. Dad worked in the mill until his death aged 76 in 1971, just missing the birth of his first grandchild. Mam was glad to up-sticks from Hebden Bridge and she came to live independently near to Pat and me where I believe she enjoyed her last few years in peace and comfort after all her traumatic years and, I hope, to enjoy her grandchildren in small doses.          Here are her great grandkids

We haven’t heard from our brother [Alan Martin} for over fifty years.It would be lovely if we could have word of him on this site.