Adobe® Flash® is required to watch this video.

Mary Bramall

Interviewed on

Listen to the interview:

Download a PDF transcript of the interview
(183.42 KB )

Adobe® Reader® required.
Get Adobe® Reader®


[setting up equipment]

I’ve gone and done it to myself now…

Right, are you ready?

I think so!

Can you tell me your full name and where and when you were born?

Where I lived when I was born?


Mary Bramall; I lived at number three Wood Street, Heptonstall Road, Hebden Bridge.

Right – and when were you born?

3rd of March…26th of March 1919.

Wood Street you say?


Whereabouts is Wood Street?

Well it isn’t there now. It was near the bottom of Heptonstall Road, and there was quite a lot of houses on each side then but they’ve all been pulled down since. Quite a little community; half way up was High Street and a lot of houses and all the people were all neighbours and that then, and they pulled ‘em down – oh I should say…how long since…oh a long time since…about fifty years since I should say.

Which side of the road was Wood Street on?

It’s on the left side going up from the bottom and you went up an entry, what we used to call a ginnel and our house was the second on there.

Was that near Pleasant View?

Oh no – Pleasant View was up Mytholm. They’re all down now, all the houses.

What were your mother and father like?

Well my mother died when I was ten days old so my grandma brought me up and she was lovely.

**What was her name? **

Sarah Hey.

Oh right – what did she used to do?

Well she were an old lady when I was born so she didn’t work then, she’d be…I was born in 1919 and my grandma was seventy four when she died and I was nineteen when she died, so she must have been about sixty-ish when I was born and she brought me up.

What about your father – what was he like?

Oh smashing; I thought the world of me dad, and me grandma used to say ‘if…if your dad jumped in cut, you’d follow him’ – you know what she meant, canal! I used to worship me dad, yes I did.

What work did he do?

Well he was an office worker; my grandma had him and they weren’t married, but his father was a teacher and his parents in them days, they wouldn’t let him marry her. Why? so he was always well educated was me dad. He only went to Mytholm School but he always had an office job; he were very clever that way.

Where did he work?

Well he worked in different things; he used to be the store keeper at Ormerods…Engineering place down Hebden Bridge. Down Valley Road? Yes, it used to be on there.

When you were a little girl then, what kind of games did you play?

Oh all sorts – I used to go to Mytholm School and…oh we played tally-hoo, skipping, hopscotch, all sorts.

What’s tally hoo?

Well it was…it was a bit like tig, you know. We used to play at night when it was dark after tea and chase one another round, a bit like hide and seek you know, trying to find ‘em.

Did you have any toys when you were little, like dolls or anything like that?

Oh yes, I had dolls – I were always dressing my doll up [laughing]. I used to make clothes for it as well. Oh did you? Yes, and…so me grandma said one day – I used to…we had an old-fashioned sewing machine and I used to use it; I was only maybe about twelve or thirteen and my grandma said one day ‘if you can make doll’s clothes like that, you can make clothes for yourself’ so she bought me some voile, cheap voile you know and I just made a dress with just like no sleeves in you know, just sleeveless when I was, I’d be about thirteen then and I always liked sewing and I used to like drawing and painting. I was top of class with that, but I used to be at bottom for arithmetic! [laughing]

The house that you were in when you were born – can you describe it, how many rooms did it have and what was it like?

There was one big…when you went in at the door, the kitchen was on that side – no door on – and an old-fashioned sink…what did they call ‘em – slopstone and opposite there, there was the staircase that went upstairs and a big living room…and two bedrooms, a big room and a small one.

And which room were you in – which bedroom were you in?

I was in the big one with my grandma; she had a big double bed there and I had a single bed there and me dad had the other bedroom, yes.

Did it have a bathroom or a toilet?

Oh no, no – only posh people had bathrooms then [laughing] – no bathroom – we used to have a tin bath by the fire, Friday night -you were roasted on one side and cold on the other side! Me grandma used to put a clothes horse round with a blanket on you know, to keep the draught off [laughing], so …it were lovely having a bath by the fire [laughing].

You said there was a good community on Wood Street – who were the other people, what were they like?

Well, me grandma had…she’d four brothers I think. There was me Uncle Sam, he lived next door, me Uncle Harry lived further up Heptonstall Road, me Uncle Jim lived down in the front, down Heptonstall Road and me Uncle Arthur lived down our street – she’d four brothers and I was always at one of their houses. Me Uncle Sam lived next door but he was only young when he died, but there were about seven of ‘em , seven or eight in the family and there were just me and me grandma and me dad; I was always in next door and my cousin Harry…I think he must..he must have got fed up with me because I was like his shadow; wherever he went, I followed him [laughing]. Oh and we used to play…down our street there was a lot of children and we all used to play together under the lamp you know and tell ghost stories and things like that – it was lovely.

Were there any shops on High Street?

Yes, me Uncle Arthur had a shop down there; they used to have them in their houses at one time, and me Uncle Arthur had…about quarter way down our street, and he used to sell all sorts, and then one night it went all up in flames and they were burnt, me aunt and uncle, yes it was terrible. I was a long time and I daren’t go past it, no it was terrible because they sold…candles and matches and paraffin, you know it just went up in flames, and they had houses above up Heptonstall Road and so they had to get away, you know it was terrible, yeh a right tragedy.

When was that?

Now then let me think [pause] I would be about twenty and I’m eighty-seven now so it must be…it must be nearly seventy years since, no not so long since, nearly eighty – nearly sixty I should say, about sixty-seven years since. So you can do maths! Oh I can! [laughing] just simple!

What school did you go to?


Did you like it?

Oh yes.

Can you remember any of your teachers?

Yes, I can remember…Mr Dyson was our headteacher, he were a lovely man, and…Miss Ashworth…and Mrs Fox…and Miss Moss; she used to teach the infants, and Miss Holt, she lived down Adelaide Street. Miss Holt used to teach the infants and [pause] Miss Ashworth, no not Miss Ashworth, Miss Crossley used to teach the older people, you know we were all in the bottom, the bottom part of the school, and I loved Mytholm School, it were lovely, yes, it’s still a good school – you never hear any complaints about it.

Were you a church-goer?

Yes, I used to go to Mytholm Church

And the Sunday School as well?


What was that like?

Oh it was nice, yes…what did they call him…I forget what they called him that used to teach me, but Mr Spencer, he was the Superintendent and he was a nice man and he used to come every Sunday.

What did you do on anniversary?

Well we used to go to Church all dressed up…the anniversary, that’s about all we did; we didn’t have a tea or anything like that, no.

Did you go…at Whitsuntide, what did you do at Whitsuntide?

Whitsuntide field – we had a…we used to go up there, up Horsehold, and oh it was a long way up, right at the top and we used to have…we used to call ‘em currant buns, they were oval, no butter on, but they were good; we used to eat them outside and they used to make, they used to make coffee and tea for us, and then they had races, and some of the women used to run in the races [laughing] and one lady, I’ve forgot what they called her now – she were a right comic, and she used to run and she used to have some red knickers on, and pull ‘em down on purpose you know, and lift her ress up as she was running! [laughing] oh dear – Mrs Marshall they called her; she’ll be dead now.

When did you leave school?

When I was fourteen.

And what did you do?

I had rheumatic fever when I was eleven so I missed me eleven plus, you know to go to the grammar school. I went to…first of all I went to Callis Mill, I worked in the… the weaving shed but I wasn’t weaving, I did what they called universal winding; I made the cops for the weavers to put in the shuttles and I worked there three years and then I went to Hartley’s sewing shop…did I go there? Yes, I went to Hartleys and I learnt to make trousers, I made trousers and I worked there till the war started, and I got married in between, before the war started – oh no, during the war I were married and my husband worked at the same place before we were married like, and during the war I went to work at F & H Sutcliffe’s wood shop on by the station. Did you know about that? I’ve heard of it but I don’t know much about it; what was it like there? Well it was a big building opposite the station and they made…during the war they made ammunition boxes, which I was making; I used to knock nails in and you know, they were long boxes like that, they used to hold the mines – there were three, room for three, they were about so wide and about so long and they had rope handles for each end.

How long did it take to make one of those?

Oh not long, we were on piece work.

How much did you get paid for..

Oh I can’t remember, but we got a lot more money at F & H Sutcliffe’s than we did in the sewing shop…a man’s wage was only about two pound then in the sewing shop and we used to get…perhaps about thirty shillings, but when I went to F & H Sutcliffe’s I got about three pound so it was better.

Can you remember your very first wage?

Me first wage…well it was from Callis Mill.

How much was it?

It was about thirty shilling because they paid more there then they did in sewing shop and I gave it me grandma ‘cos she only had a pension and me dad used to work away a lot, so we weren’t very well off, so…me dad, he was made redundant where he worked and I was kind of keeping the house going then, because I started working he was on …what did they call it then…anyway when I started working they stopped his money so me grandma just had her ten shillings a week, so I was keeping the house going for quite a while, yes – little tough ‘un.

What was it like in the weaving sheds then?

Well, you know what it’s like in a weaving shed – the roof is all glass and in summer time they used to whitewash it so it wouldn’t be as hot for us underneath and I used to be on what they called a winding machine; it was about as long as this, maybe a bit longer, and they had the spools on each side. The cotton came off big, big rolls and came down, and then…it wound round like that and made cops for the weavers, for the shuttles so that’s what I did for about three years I think.

Did you like it?

Well yes, I had to do! [laughing] – yeh, it was pleasant enough….you know, we used to have…we started at… I used to catch half past six bus from the top of…Bridge Lanes you know from Heptonstall Road, I caught it and I always used to be running, I were nearly always late, and then…I used to have a cup of tea before I went and make me grandma one and take it up to bed to her, and then I…used to run down and just about catch the bus. If you weren’t there for quarter to seven, the door was locked so you had to press on a bell for them to let you in and why were you late and this that and the other; they were very strict, and then we used to have…half an hour for breakfast at eight o’clock till half past eight, and then we had I think it were three-quarters of an hour at dinner time. I worked fifty-four and three-quarter hours a week at Callis Mill that’s a lot of hours yeh, we were only fourteen. I must have been tough – well it were just a case you had to do, you know, just accepted it.

What kind of things did you do…did you do anything during Wakes Week and holidays, what did you do on your holidays?

Oh, we used to go to Blackpool, me and my grandma. There were nowhere else for my grandma, only Blackpool, and we used to stay in a little boarding house, same place for years you know; yes, I liked that, and then when I started courting, we used to go to Blackpool with me grandma as well [laughing]

What did you do at Christmas time – did you do anything special at Christmas?

No, not really, no.

Did you have a tree?

There was only me and my grandma you see….we always used to have chicken or something like that you know because me grandma liked anything with feathers on [laughing] she liked her food, yeh, and she used to make lovely Christmas cakes. We had a fire oven and she used to cook – ooh when you went in, oh – lovely smell, she used to get a little small piece of beef and cook it in the fire oven, and make some lovely Yorkshire puddings, and she used to make them in…you know then loaf tins? Yeh. She used to make them in two of them and they used to come up like that, I’ve never tasted Yorkshire puddings since like that, no.

Did she have a special recipe?

Well I don’t know, you see she couldn’t read or write so she had to have it in her brain what she did, but I’ve made them since and they’ve just been…well they’ve risen up like me grandma’s used to do, and me husband used to think they were lovely [laughing], he liked Yorkshire puddings!

Did you heat the fat first?

Oh yes, yeh, yeh, last time I tried to make some here, I had fire engine come! [laughing] It was Sunday morning and I’d mixed the pudding, and I must have got my oven too hot, and I…I went in the lounge or something and then I went back in kitchen, it was full of smoke, and fire brigade came – three of them, and I’d got me fat too hot and it had…I says ‘I am sorry’ he says ‘it’s alright lass, as long as you’re alreet’ so I’ve never done ‘em since [lauging] oh dear!

Can you remember any like characters, you know, people who were- unusual?

Yes, I can, I can remember one man and he was a bit, well, they used to call him Richard, Richard Holden,well us kids used to plague him, you know, and..well, he used to laugh and then when it was dark nights we used to always sit under this lamp down our street and he’d…he’d come up with a big sheet on him like this, frightening us to death! [laughing] oh dear! We always used to sit under that lamp talking, oh we used to sit there till about nine o’clock at night and then we had to go home to bed [laughing]

Were there any other shops on High Street then, or any pubs or anything like that?

No, there were just my Uncle Arthur’s shop down there and that got burnt…and the other side up Heptonstall Road there were what they called Pie Sammy’s [laughing[

What was that like?

Oh, just a little shop but he used to make, oh he used to make some lovely pies, beef pies with gravy in you know and he used to go round at Friday night selling these pies and he’d be drunk you know – he’d have a drink in nearly every pub and he used to go to all pubs and Fred, me husband used to say, he used to come in and fellas used to plague him, and they were only thre’pence and they were lovely pies and they used to say ‘oh they should be tuppence now Sammy’ and he used to say ‘they were thre’pence when I left home and they’re still thre’pence, and if you don’t want ‘em you can please yerself!’ [laughing] Oh they were lovely pies though, and then at the bottom of where we lived there was another shop, Tom Ackroyd’s and that was a grocer’s, you know – he sold everything did Tom, yeh, right handed shops, and then at the bottom of Heptonstall Road there was another shop, Sutcliffe’s; they were a bit higher class and they sold all sorts, they used to sell home-made bread and that, they’d some nice bread but my grandma used to make her own.

Oh did she have a special day for baking?

Thursday, she used to make bread, and a big parkin and a custard as well in this fire oven and then…well it got done, it gave out so we got a gas cooker, but we had to send it back – she couldn’t understand this gas cooker; she was frightened of blowing herself up,[laughing] so we had to do without then.

When you say fire oven, do you mean like the range that was set in? What did it look like?

Have you ever seen one, old-fashioned one? At one side there used to be a boiler, well you used to put cold water in and then they had two fire irons inside the fire and if you wanted hot water they used to take that one out at that side and push the fire underneath a bit, and then at the other side they did the same with the oven. There were this boiler at one side and then the fire and then this…the oven at the other side, yeh.

Could you cook on top?

No, no, we had a gas – we had a gas ring to cook, yeh, we used to fry bacon in frying pan, whatever you wanted on this gas ring, but baking day we used the fire oven, oh and when you went home, when I came home from school, the smell…oh it used to be lovely.

Did you used to make dock pudding?

Dock pudding – oh yes, we used t0 go docking; there used to be a lot in that field there. I used to go with me dad up Colden, it were a long way to get ‘em but they used grow by the river, and…

Did you have a recipe?

Yeh, you had it in your head.

What was your recipe?

Well, a bag of docks and about…and they all had to be picked you know, the stems off, and when I used to get ‘em we used to get ‘em me grandma used to say ‘don’t forget to take them stems off’ oh it was hard work you know…so I used to do so much and then used to finish up at home tekking remainder off- well, there was docks and then you boiled them till they were soft and then about a pound of onions with ‘em all chopped up, and then me grandma used to do it on fire and some salt and pepper, and stir it up all the time, and she had a big knife and she used to chop all the time; anything big had to be cooked on the fire and it was hard work but a lovely dock pudding – have you had any? No I’ve not had any, no. Well you have a…at Mytholmroyd about March when it’s dock time they have a dock pudding breakfast and you can have it there with bacon, yeh it’s lovely. It’s an acquired taste – it looks like cow clap, well it does really when it’s cooked and any strangers they say ‘ooh it looks awful’ but when they taste it, it’s lovely.

What else did you put in it?

Oatmeal, oatmeal, docks and onions and then thicken it up with oatmeal so it was thick, well you poured some of the water off, and then you cooked it so it was thick and then fried it with bacon, bacon and egg – oh I could eat some now! [laughing] Some of ‘em used to…me brother-in-law, he used to make it, and then put some in his freezer and have it Christmas Day – it’s alright.

Can you remember any old sayings, any old sayings like your grandmother taught you?

[pause] all sorts – I can’t just remember [pause] she used to say to me when I were little ‘if you can’t say anything nice about anybody, don’t say anything at all’. That was a good…for bringing up wasn’t it? yes, very good. She had a rocking chair had me grandma, she used to smoke a pipe, a brown one not a clay one, but when we went on holidays she [laughing] didn’t smoke it in the dining room but when we used to go up to our bedroom she used to sit by the window and open window, and have a clay pipe and blow smoke out [laughing] – I always remember that!

Did a lot of women her age smoke pipes?

I don’t know, I never saw anybody else, no, she must have been one on her own.

Did you ever have nicknames for people – did you know anyone with nicknames?

Yeh, they called me grandma Sarah Fanny’s because they called her mother Fanny – Sarah of Fanny’s, and me Uncle Sam was Sam of Fanny’s and all her brothers were the same, and, but next door…my Aunty Annie next door and my cousin Harry, they used to call them Bushies – where they got that name from I don’t know, for a nickname, and they called my Aunt Annie Cappy – she came from Heptonstall, where that came from I don’t know.

Were they Greenwoods?

Yeh, all Greenwoods, they were all…I bet half of Mytholm School at that time was Greenwoods – Greenwoods and Sutcliffes, yeh.

Did you ever go mumming?

Yes I did.

What did you do when you went mumming?

But my grandma didn’t want me to go mumming. They used to come, you know me cousins and that, they were older than me, well I used to carry on till I got older I could go mumming, well you used to blacken all your face you know, and you’d have a…they used to have a brush for the fireplace, and you’d have this brush and go into people’s houses and you never spoke, you used to go ‘mmmmm’ [Mary made a humming sound] like that all the time, and then you’d go to the fireplace and brush the fireplaces down, and then we used to sing…what did we used to sing?…something about ‘if you haven’t a penny a ha’penny will do and if you haven’t a ha’penny, God bless you’, and so they used to have to give us some money [laughing] – usually a penny or a ha’penny, yeh, and my cousins, they were older than me and I used to think ‘ooh I wish I could have my face blacked’ so when I got older I did have it blacked but you’d a job to get it off because it was soot you know; they used to put…me grandma used to put lard on me face to begin and then put this soot on after; it was black as night! [laughing] – yes, I do remember, oh and at…when it was the fifth of November, we used to go round singing then to people’s doors – ‘remember, remember the fifth of November’ the something….plot…’remember, remember the fifth of November’…I can’t remember what that word was and it ended up with the plot. We used to have fireworks outside and me dad wouldn’t let me have my fireworks on me own and I used to be a bit cross, I think he were frightened of me burning myself, and we used to have Catherine Wheels you know, and he used to hammer it on the coal place door was opposite the living room door, hammer it on there and then spin this Catherine Wheel round. We didn’t have one big bonfire like they do, we all used to have our own little ones.

Where was yours?

Well where we lived, there was a lot of…a lot of hen pens and pigeons; all my grandma’s relatives had livestock, either pigeons or hens, and there used to be some ground at the back and we used to have ours up there and put…you know, take potatoes and eat ‘em half raw, I think they still might do that.

In those buildings there up Heptonstall Road and up Bridge Lanes there, what were all those buildings like?

They were all houses, yeh it was like a little rabbit warren, you know there was..there’d be, well where we lived…there was an old lady lived underneath; they were nearly all two stories, you were either on top or underneath and some of them lower down Heptonstall Road, they were just one – one room like a flat and they might have the bed in a little alcove, and then a little kitchen parted off. They were all nice and cosy, they all had them nice but then they all got pulled down; they pulled some down that they shouldn’t have done really, yes they did. I used to go into everybody’s house, me – well kids did then you know, we used to go and…especially with being on my own really with me grandma. I was always in my Aunt Annie’s next door, and me Uncle Sam died and she wasn’t…well you can understand it, she’d seven or eight children, and she wasn’t right clean, and every time I went back into me grandma’s I got a flea, ooh and she used to say ‘you’ve been in your Aunt Annie’s again, you little buggar! [laughing]

Did you ever go maypole dancing?

No only at school, we did it at school, just now and again, not like they do now.

Did you used to like that?

Yes I did, all the ribbons used to twist at top but we never kind of did it till….I never thought we’d done it long enough, I don’t know whether it was right or not – we only used to do it one afternoon that’s all, I liked it.

How did you actually do it – did you go…different people go in and out?

Yes, yes.

Was it all girls?

I think so, yeh I think so. I was in the top class when I was eleven, don’t know whether I were brainy or if they were short of room! Mr Dyson our Headmaster though, he was a lovely man, yes he was.

Did you used to wear clogs?

Yes, yes.

All the time?

No, till I was about twelve I think, something like that, and then I started wearing shoes. Clogs seemed to go out of fashion then at that time, and we used to go down High Street making sparks with ‘em, yes we did, and there was a man lived near the bottom of Heptonstall Road, we used to call him Jack Clogger; I don’t know what his proper name was and all kids, we used to go in there and sit watching him when it was holidays and we used to watch him paring this wood off the soles you know, it was right interesting really, and it used to come off in curls you know, yes. Jack Clogger – he lived near the bottom of Heptonstall Road.

The first time I went up…we lived at Hollins, well I got that house before Fred…Fred was in the forces, me husband, I didn’t see him for four years and I got that cottage – I were living with his father and mother when he went and I got a cottage at Hollins, do you know where Hollins is? Is it Blackshaw? No, you know when you go on Lee Wood yes well there’s a road going down and some cottages, well we lived in one of them and…what was I going to…what were we talking about? Forgotten. Oh and I used to either go down Buttress or down Dark Lane or…Moss Lane to work, it was all up and down.

When did you move to Hollins?

Well during the war. I got this house when Fred was still in the army so we’d have a house of our own when he came home; I didn’t want to still live with his father and mother. They were very good to me but we wanted our own house when he came home, as I say I hadn’t seen him for four years, anyway when he came out of the army he went down, he used to go down to the Fox and Goose; there were just men went in then, they didn’t have women in and they were all old men and they used to make a fuss of him you know, and when he came home on leave he went down…no he’d finished then, he went down one night and…I thought ‘oh he is a long time coming home, I wonder where he is?’ it got to twelve o’clock and I knew they went out about eleven, and I thought ‘I wonder where he is?’ He’d got lost [laughing] because he’d never been to that house before you know! He were walking on Lee Wood Road and he met three men coming from Blue Pig they call it, Working Men’s Club, and he had his big boots and his army clothes on, and they says ‘where are you going lad’ and he says ‘ Well I’m looking for Hollins but I can’t find it’ so they says ‘come on back with us lad, we’ll show you where it is’ so he got lost first night [laughing] – it were funny!

What was the house at Hollins like?

Oh it were lovely; I’d no water in but we had electric, I had electric but no water, I’d to go down twenty steps to fetch water, well I were young then, young and strong, I’d be about twenty-five then, twenty-six. The well was at the bottom and it was hard work going down when it had been snowing; I only used to fetch one bucket then but normally I used to fetch two. There was like a landing in between and I used to put these two buckets down and then have a break and then carry…twenty steps all together, and one day landlord, Albert Greenwood, a nice chap, ‘Mary’ he says ‘what are you doing carrying two buckets up’ so he says ‘put ‘em down, I’ll bring one up’ so he carried one up for me, and he used to bring me eggs as well and they were on ration then you know, you only got one egg a month and he used to bring me three or four eggs and I had an evacuee then, a little girl, Gwen, and I used to say ‘how much do you want for ‘em Albert?’ ‘I want nowt or else I shan’t bring you no more!’ [laughing] Aye, a nice chap.

Where was Gwen from?

Gwen [pause] Fred never saw her.


Have you said about neck end?

What’s he saying?

He’s saying about neck end.

Oh I haven’t got to neck end yet! Where we used to live, they used to call it neck end.


I’ve always known Colin [other person in room?] he went to Mytholm School when I did. Bottom of Heptonstall Road they always used to call it neck end, why I don’t know, I don’t know and Colin, he used to go to Mytholm School when I did, and he used to live up Mytholm way so there’s about eight of us here that were born in Hebden and lived in Hebden.

Do you think it’s changed a lot?

Oh yes.

What’s the biggest change for you?

Well I think some of it’s changed for the better. Market Street used to be full of lovely shops when I was younger and then it just seemed to go derelict. They used to shut the shops on a Saturday – fancy shutting shops on a Saturday, but they did and then. I think it was David…one of the councillors anyway, he got them to open their shops again at Saturday – well everybody used to go down Hebden at Saturday when I was younger, all dressed up you know and even with hats on, you had to wear a hat and gloves then you know, you had to be dressed up, and they had some lovely shops, and then it all kind of went derelict.

And then I remember going up…I used to work at the fuel office down Hebden Bridge during war and I was waiting for a bus going up, Heptonstall bus, and when I was going up Heptonstall Road they were pulling all these houses down. I cried when I got home – I thought ‘they’re pulling all me memories down’. Sad, but it’s what they did.

Do you think young people today have the same values that you had when you were young?

Well I feel sorry for the young ones today because when we were young there were three dance places – there was Trades Club, Victoria Hall and the Co-op Hall. Well I were dancing mad and my husband, when we were courting we were both dancing mad and we used to go to all dances, but today I said to one of me friends the other day, I says ‘there’s nothing for young ones here today only discos and pictures and pubs’, well they have to go in pubs because there’s nowhere else to go is there? I feel sorry for ‘em really.

Did you go in the Fox and Goose?

Oh no – ladies didn’t go in pubs then and anyway, the Fox and Goose were only for men in them days. It were during the war when women started going into pubs, because if you went in a pub at one time, you were a loose woman, you know – women didn’t go in. Me grandma used to like, she used to like a drink of beer, but she used to send Fred down for a bottle of beer for her and he used to go, yeh.

Did you remember Mrs Norland?

Yes I do.

Did you ever meet her?


What was she like?

She was a good-hearted woman but she looked tough. She used to wear a man’s cap and a shawl and she were in charge of the canteen at Gorple, and me dad once took me up; my dad, he was…what do they call it…put bets on…a bookmaker? a bookmaker? Yes he was, and he had an office on canal bank. He once took me up to Gorple because Mrs Norland used to take bets for the men and then give it me dad when he went up. I remember Fred saying when he was about seventeen, he had an office on the canal bank had me dad and it had like a little wooden bridge that went across to it to the door and Fred said he went when he was about seventeen, before he met me and he must have had some bets or something, and he knocked on door – it was illegal to give you know…people bets outside – if they had an office it was alright – so he went and knocked on door and me dad opened door and he grabbed hold of him, he says ‘come in you silly buggar, you can’t stand there’ it were funny. There was another man, another bookmaker up…he lived at Fairfield and the rumour was going round that police were coming, you know, they got wind of these men that took these bets, so me dad came home and he used to sell tickets an’ all, football tickets and I used to help to count these coupons out – put ten that way, put ten that way – I thought it were lovely, I were only about eleven – and anyway, me dad said, ‘we’ll have to get rid of them’ and we got all these tickets and these coupons and hid ‘em upstairs thinking police would be coming, they never came. Ooh I thought it were right exciting, I thought ‘ooh me dad might end up in jail! [laughing] oh dear!

Do you know any jokes?

No not really – we used to know dirty jokes when I worked in sewing shop but I were never right tekken on with them.

What were the major events that you can remember – important things that happened around here, can you remember anything?

Well there was the carnival, that used to be once a year, and that man I was talking about, him with the white sheet on, he was a bit…poor, what did they call him?…I’ve forgotten, anyway he were at front of procession and somebody had made him a big jam cake and it were full of jam, he was eating this jam – Richard Holden they called him – and he won a prize. [laughing]I think I was a daffodil; me cousin had made me some…like a daffodil and a yellow dress out of tissue paper. The carnival and then…there was a big fire once, everybody went to watch it, on by station; it was a sewing shop, I don’t know what they called it now, and it caught fire and there was a right big blaze. In them days when there was a fire, everybody went, everybody went to watch it! When you think now…[laughing]

Did you ever go into the blacksmith’s shop on Crown Street – the farrier?

I can remember it; I used to go with me granddad. I was only five when me granddad died so I’d only be about four or five then. I used to stand at side and watch him making these horseshoes you know, yes I can remember that. It was opposite where the Co-op buildings are now, it was opposite there.

Can you remember his name?

No, no, I can’t remember his name – as I say, I’d only be about four or five but it right fascinated me you know, I used to think they were burning horse you know – well you did didn’t you, didn’t know that it didn’t…me granddad used to say ‘oh it’s alright love, he isn’t burning it’ He was a nice man was me granddad, he died when I were five.

Did you go to Nicky’s café?

No I never went in Nicky’s cafe, I were a bit too old then but a lot of the young ones went. I was older then I think.

Can you remember some of the shops on Market Street?

Oh yes, I can remember all of ‘em, well most of ‘em. There was Gracie Astin’s the first one – a lovely dress shop that was, and then there was Sam Crossley’s greengrocer’s; next to it there was a…tobacconist’s and I used to have to go there for me grandma’s bacca, cut cakes I used to get, and he knew me so he let me have it – I’d only be about eleven then – and then there….it stood back and there was a confectioner’s shop and ooh they used to make some lovely cream cakes, and me cousins, I think you see with me mother dying, me grandma’s brother’s children used to come and tek me out, and they used to tek me down Market Street when I was little and we used to go to that shop and get some cream horns on a Saturday, we always had a cream horn at tea time, and they used to take me back to their house, to me Aunt Minnie’s and she lived at Queens Terrace, well down below, there’s some steps there and you went down below and some houses underneath, and me aunty lived there, and I called me cousin Leslie, Leslie Greenwood. Did you know him? I know a woman called Lesley Greenwood but she’s about- she’ll be in her forties I suppose now. Oh no, Leslie were older than me, no. He’d three sisters; my cousins Nellie, Gladys, Gracie and then Leslie, and I think they’d had two boys before and they’d both died so Leslie were absolutely ruined, yeh he was; he were married twice.

Do you know a man called Jim Greenwood? Which Jim Greenwood? He’ll be about sixty-five now; he used to be an engineer – a spinner.

I know a Jim Greenwood but he died. Oh it’s a different one then. There’s such a lot of Greenwoods. His wife lives here, that Jim Greenwood I’m talking about, Marjory.

What do you think about what we’ve just done, I mean talking about this – do you think that it’s important that people should hear what the old times were like?

Well yes I do, I think…well, younger ones, they’ve no idea at all have they? During the war hen everything was rationed and that, you know you just had to do your best.

If you had any advice for young people then, what would you say?

Well, I would say live life as best you can and like me grandma used to say, ‘if you can’t say a good word about anybody, don’t say anything’. I don’t know anything else.

Were you always in the sewing shops?

No, I’ve had a few jobs. As I say I went to Charlestown and worked in the weaving shed, then from there I went into Hartley’s sewing shop, then during the war – where did I go then? oh, I worked at F & H Sutcliffe’s, they used to make hen cotes and all sorts of stuff like that, it was opposite station, I think it’s pulled down now, and then from there we were made redundant about thirty of us, so I had to go to the Labour Exchange and they gave me a green card, not for that! They gave me a recommendation to go to Barbreck, and that was a woodworking place, but I wasn’t twenty-five so they couldn’t take me on; they couldn’t take anybody under twenty-five, this was during the war, so I ended up – I had to go back to the Labour Exchange then and tell them that they wouldn’t tek me on. She s says ‘are you any good at writing?’ Well I think I tek after me dad, I’m not a bad writer, I shouldn’t say so meself but I can’t do with this hand now so well, but me dad always worked in an office and so I says ‘well, not so bad’ she says ‘well they want somebody at the fuel office’ but I said ‘oh I don’t want to work in an office’, so anyway she says ‘well will you go and see Mr Blackburn?’ so I says ‘well yes I will’. It was Edward Blackburn and he knew Fred; they’d grown up together up Birchcliffe. He said ‘are you Fred’s wife’ and I said ‘yes, but I don’t want to come here working!’ He says ‘why not?’ I says ‘well I’ve never done office work’ he says ‘well, I’ll tell you what we’ll do’ he says ‘I’ll give you a month to see how you go on and if you didn’t like it, you can finish then’ I were there three years and yes, I liked working in the fuel office very much, then when the war finished…where did I go then?…oh I went back machining, I went back machining then and I worked there forty-three years. Which place? Hartley’s Sewing Shop – Peter and Bob were the bosses and they gave me a cheque for fifty pound when I left. I got that I was teaching young ones that came in to machine so I didn’t do so bad. And then I finished work when I was sixty, I said to Fred ‘I’m finishing when I’m sixty’ I says ‘I’ve worked long enough’ he says ‘well you can please yourself love’ he worked there as well, so I finished when I were sixty and that’s twenty-seven years since so I’ve been a lady of leisure ever since!

Did you have children?

No, that’s one disappointment, yes; we both wanted children but it’s usually case in’t it, and them that don’t want ‘em usually get a field full, anyway we were happy, I think it brought us closer together not having any children you know, but when he went in the forces I didn’t see him for four years and it seemed a long time. We kept thinking war would be over but it just kept


About Us

Wild Rose Heritage and Arts is a community group which takes it's name from the area in which we are located - the valley ("den") of the wild rose ("Heb") -  Hebden Bridge which is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

Get in touch

Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge

Phone: 01422 844450
Contact Us