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Mary Sutcliffe

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Did he want to do that? Eeeh yer nosey parker! What do you want to know all that for?

I wanted to know if you could remember your teachers – your school teachers.

Me dad?

Your school teachers.

ANOTHER PERSON IN ROOM (CARER?): Your school teachers.

MS Who were me teacher? Mr Jackson – everybody remembers Mr Jackson, the school master, boom boom boom – could he cane, oh! He didn’t do it much, but by gum, when he did – he did, and I only were caned once, but by gum I could have swacked him in river, I could – it did hurt, and that’s Mr Jackson for yer, and you know him, you did, I know you did.


Go on.

Can you tell me something about your mother and father?

Well me dad’s the best dad in the world, I’ll tell yer that. Me mum weren’t me real mum because she died when…there were three tiny little girls and she died when we were three tiny little girls and me dad had to bring us up; he had to take us to me grandma’s so she that could look after us and then we could go to school and he could go to work. Isn’t that good? That’s very good. It is that.

What work did your father do?

What work did he do? He worked in a factory, a mill or whatever yer called it. I don’t know what he did but, among blankets – he’d a clean job, he never dirtied his hands but…I don’t know what they called it what he did, only I know it were with the blankets he used to chuck ‘em over his shoulder – he were a strong man, he were that. He could knock ‘em to pieces! …He never touched us, never – not with a little finger; he was the best dad in the world, and don’t you forget to tell that. I will. ‘cos I will.

What was his name?

Oh I’m breathless – what did yer say?

What was his name, what was your father’s name?

Ernest Sutcliffe. I bet yer knew him. I’ll bet yer did, yer beggar! [laughing]….Do yer know where he lived?



I don’t know.

Banksfields, yes. What’s this?

That’s the microphone.

Oh is it?

Yes. It will be alright there.

Am I talking through this?


Eeeh – I’m a film star! What love?

How old were you when you finished school?

How old am…you don’t ask ladies how old they are!

Not now – when you finished school.

Did you hear what he said?


No, he wants to know how old you were when you finished school.

Twelve, and the year after it were fourteen. There’s just twelve years between me and my sister, just twelve months I mean and I was born…the eighteenth of March and me sister was born on the first of April. Eeeh…the eighteenth of March – that’s my sister’s birthday. Well how old am I? Oh…


I think you’re in your nineties.

MS: I’m ninety summat but I don’t know what – I don’t bother about how old I am.

Did you go to work?

I’ll say I did! We wanted the money, by gum we did that, because we didn’t have any money, only me dad’s wage for all of us so they wanted me at work as quick as ever they could. Right – anything else?

What did you do?

I was a…what did I do? I was a weaver. Were you? Yes…do you know what weaving is? Yes. Oh, were you a weaver? I did do weaving at one time, yes. Did you? Yes – put a shuttle through, back and forth. That’s it, that’s it, and didn’t they clonk clonk clonk – by gum, it’s a good job…if anybody were hurt with that blooming thing that goes across – I were hit once, just once there and luckily it just skimmered across me cheek – oh I were scared stiff, I thought I were done. Oooh – I’m alright. Luckily there weren’t anybody hurt while I were there; if they were it weren’t much of anything…No I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to go back working, I want to play, that’s what I want to do! Oh, I’m sat on me flipping skirt – pull me skirt up love [carer sorted her skirt out] Let me get…[laughing] that’s it, that’s it,that’s it – that’s it, that’s it, that’s it! She’s a little lion – now come on love!

What mill did you work in?

….wait a minute…Harwood’s, you’ll remember Harwood’s. Where was it? At Brearley. Ah yes. I knew you would because you’re fairly old aren’t yer? I look it – I’ve had a hard life! I bet you have love, I have an’ all. They had at my age, and you’d to work and you’d to work and you’d to earn every penny you got – I could have clonked ‘em one, more than once! I don’t want them days again, I’m glad they’re better than when were when we were young, I am that.

I’m not gonna be young again and I don’t want to be old, so I’m stopping as I am!

Sounds good to me!

Yeh it is good, it is good! I weren’t born yesterday yer know, no – yer weren’t neither were yer?


I bet you’re as old as me, aren’t yer?

Not quite.

How do you know how old I am?

Well you’ve told me, you said you were ninety summat.

You shouldn’t go round noseying folk – it’s naughty! That’s what my mum said, you shouldn’t ask questions – it’s naughty. Did you ask questions?


You have to ask questions.

I did and then got smacked for it, you’ll go to bed tonight without supper – that’s what we had to do, oooh – then me dad used to sneak up with a sandwich; he was the best dad in the world and the world and the world, ooh bless him, and he’s living, did you know that? No I didn’t. And he’s coming to meet me if it’s fine tonight, then you’ll see him…he’s like a bobby. He wanted to be a policeman and me mum didn’t want him to so she wouldn’t consent to him going for a policeman, but she did later and then he said ‘well I’m not going’ so that’s it, he didn’t go. Eeh he’s a lovely dad, big and strong with a little ‘tache. Everybody thought ‘in’t he smart?’ Did you know him? I bet yer did. I’m not sure. I’m sure you’re sure. How big are you? About five nine. oh, me dad’s taller than you. He’d knock yer flat, he would that – he’d just go bang – dead, no he wouldn’t kill you, yes he used to.

Do you remember…do you remember Harwood’s?

I know of it, I never went in. What was it like inside? How many looms did you work?

And me dad worked there but he had a fairly clean, decent job, he had a clean job, he never dirtied his hands, he never dirtied his hands. Me mam used to say ‘you don’t work’ he did but he didn’t get dirty, no. He used to walk like a policeman. ‘Who’s that man?’ ‘My dad.’ ‘Shut up’ that’s what I told ‘em ‘You say one word against my dad and…’ I’ll show ‘em. I bet you did know him, he were a big man, he weren’t quite six foot but he were tall and broad and he used to walk…and he used to wear clogs.

**Did you remember clogs? **


I did because we went to school in clogs, and he used to go down street did me dad in a morning at half past six clonk clonk clonk and they used 8to say ‘that’s Ernest getting up, time we were up’. Up they got, and he were an alarm clock were me dad, eeh the best dad in the world…And don’t you remember him? I bet yer do – what’s this? Oh it’s that in’t it? And don’t you remember my dad? I don’t know anybody from Brearley. I bet he did, I bet he did and he’s reckoning he didn’t but I know he did because you’re me dad’s age aren’t yer. How old are yer?

I’m fifty-four.

Fifty-four? Me dad’s fifty-five or else fifty-six, I don’t know which. He could knock you to pieces!

And we were like little titches, there’s three of us, we’re like little titches, but by gum if anybody touched us….

When we went to school there were a boy, ooh and he were a ‘nowt’- do you know what a ‘nowt’ is? No. Nowt [laughing] and he used to keep waiting for us at school and knocking us, ooh he were a bad ‘un. So bad, me dad went down to his house and had a word with his father; he never touched us again, that flayed him. He were a big man were my dad, a big ‘un and he used to walk like a sergeant, anybody touched us, they had him to deal with, they did that, but let ‘em touch us – they’d run a mile, and me dad after ‘em, he did that – he could run, and he could play football – he could that. Don’t you remember Ernest Sutcliffe playing football? No. You do. I’ve watched a lot of football. He reckons he didn’t and he does, I know he does because I’ve heard me dad talk about you, you little monkey. Has he? What did he say? I’m not telling yer. Oh good! But he says ‘by gum but he could run’, that’s why he liked you on his side when they played football,’cos you could run. He could run, yer wouldn’t think it, would yer? Well he can, he did, he did. It’s true – I could run very fast. Can you run now? I’m too fat now! Are you? Yeh. Ah but I bet you could run if I were after yer! [carer brought a drink] Ooh by gum, oooh…

We could run and we’d to run at school – we’ve run round that blumming playground till I’m capped it isn’t level! We’ve run round that playground, I’m capped it in’t level. Yes we’ve run round that playground at school, Burnley Road you know, while I’m capped there isn’t a flag on it. Bang bang bang. ‘Get them feet going, get them feet going’ – oh that were Mr Jackson. He were nice but he were a tartar. Were he a pal of yours? Oh I’m shutting up. I don’t know nought, and I wouldn’t tell if I did, no I wouldn’t! That’s what we used to say at school, yer cheeky beggar! [laughing] You daft old woman – I’m not an old woman am I love? No. No, am I heck – I’m only ninety summat…am I ninety summat? I think so. Are You? No. Aren’t You? Well you should be. I would like to be, but not at the minute. When you get oldlike me, you’ll remember. Maybe I will. You will. You’ll think eeh – I wish ‘I wish I’d done that, I wish I’d clonked him an’ all, and I wish I’d knocked him down’. I wish I’d done lots of stuff I didn’t do, but I’ll do ‘em, I will.

Like what Mary, like what? What would you have liked to have done?

Me dad? No you Mary.

CARER: What would you have liked to have done when you were younger?

MS: Oh I don’t know…well we hadn’t choice, we’d just got to – ‘you go there’ and you went, but not now – they do what they want. We had to do what we were told, had you? Yes. Yes, I thought you would. Life’s different now in’t it?

It is – how’s it different?

Yes, where do you live?

**Eaves. **

Where did he say?

CARER: Eaves.


CARER: At Mytholmroyd, up your neck of woods.

No – Mytholm Steeps.

MS: Do you like at Mytholm? Well I’ll go to heck, that’s not far from us is it? Mytholm… Mytholm. Well you’ll know Mytholmroyd then. A bit. I thought yer did. It’s a bonny little spot. Do yer know, somebody once said ‘the prettiest little village he’d ever seen’ now that’s true because I heard it. Did you hear that?


MS No? Come here and I’ll tell yer. I were once talking to a man, I don’t know who he was, and he said ‘where do you live?’ I said ’Mytholmroyd’ – he says ‘the prettiest little village I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’ve travelled the world over’. In’t that grand? Very good. Don’t you wish you lived at Mytholmroyd? I like where I live now. Where do you live, Mytholm? Mytholm Steeps. Well that’s not far away is it? No.

I like where I live an’ all. I don’t think I want to live – sometimes I think I’d like to live where I can see a bit more. There’s houses across, houses across bottom; I wish sometimes they weren’t there and I could a lot, I could see everywhere, so when I move it’s going to be so I can see everywhere, in’t that nice? That is nice. But I don’t think I’ll move, I don’t think I will. I like where I live and I like the people around me, and they’re all nice.

CARER: And your sister’s just up road in’t she?

MS: Are yer talking to me?

CARER: Your Mabel’s just living up road from you now in’t she?

MS: Yes, do you know where…where does she live?

CARER: Near you.

MS: Where does Mabel live?

CARER: Up road from you.

MS: I live in Albert Street, she lives…Aspinall, yes, Aspinall Street. I know it. You know where that is? If you know Banksfields you know where Albert Street, you know where Aspinall Street is, you know where…there’s lots of streets – everybody wanted to live in Banksfields at one time but they don’t now, they want to be posh. Good luck to ‘em, get out of road, that’s what I say– that leaves more room for us doesn’t it! In’t it lovely to be alive – say yes! Well, you don’t know what it’s like to be dead do you? No. Andwe don’t want to be do we? No, we don’t.

So you lived near Aspinall Street? Did you know a chap there called Ted Highes? He may have been a bit younger than you.

I can’t tell a word he says, I must be deaf!

CARER: Do you know a man called Ted Hughes?

MS: Ooh no – Peg – that’s not a name – is that a nickname?

Ted. Like Theodore, Teddy

No I don’t love – should I do?

Well he lived there, but I think he was a bit younger than you.

Eeeh no – I’ve lived there as far as I can remember all me life, but I were born, so me dad says, in Brearley, at that little village in between, oh it’s a bonny little spot.

They’re very particular in Brearley, who they have born there; it’s a lovely little spot is Brearley. There’s nothing there but one shop, one shop the Co-op so if you don’t shop there you’ve to go somewhere else. Everybody helps one another, they do. If you go out shopping, they’ll help you carry your shopping home – it’s a lovely little spot.

Where do you live? Hebden Bridge. Oh, Hebden Bridge – they think they’re it at Hebden Bridge but they’re no, they’re nowhere near us! It’s a lovely little spot is Hebden Bridge but it doesn’t come up to Mytholmroyd, no.

A man once said it’s the prettiest little village he’d ever seen, and do you know who it was?


King Kong! [all laughing]

Do you like jokes?


Not a person – jokes.

What does he say?

CARER: Do you like jokes?

MS: Oh jokes – I thought he said Joe. Well it depends what sort of jokes they are – not naughty jokes, else you’ve had it! My dad said no and that’s what we keep, no. Anybody says anything, out they go. They don’t come again, no. Me dad’s a clean man and I don’t know whether you know him or not, but whether you know him or not, he’s a clean man – everybody likes my dad, and if they don’t I’ll make ‘em, I will, and he’s a big man – do you know that? You do, I know you do. He’s nearly six foot and he’s a little ‘tache and he walks like a sergeant, and he wears clogs for work – ah that did yer – clogs!
We wore clogs for school, everybody wore clogs for school. Do you wear clogs?


MS: Them’s slippers! Are them yours?

CARER: They are.

MS: Oh she’s a clever thing, she thinks she’s it because she wears slippers!

Well we wear clogs and we used to run up and down, and you know they’d irons on – you’ll remember them won’t yer? They’d irons on and we used to run and go ‘bump’ and go like that on tram lines and then they made sparks, eeh we’ve had some fun with that, then we’ve rolled over and bust us knees, running home – ‘well you should stand on yer flipping feet, that’s what they’re for’ that’s all the sympathy we got, so we used to run around again, roll over again – bless ‘em! Bum to ‘em, that’s what I say.

Do you know any nicknames?

Is that it? Can I go now?

Do you want to go now, or would you like to talk a little bit more?

Eeeh I could do with him, but I can’t tell what he says. What did he say?


Do you want to go now, or do you want to carry on talking to him?

MS: Oh I’ll talk as long as he likes, go on love – I’ll talk as long as you want, but you tell me what I’m talking about.

I’m just wondering –did you know any nicknames?

Eeh I don’t know – I might know a lot of stuff, but I don’t know what – ask me.

Nicknames – can you remember any nicknames for people?

What’s he say? Nicknacks? Oh nicknames, no – I’ve just Mary, all I have is Mary, bless her little heart, I wish cat had it, that’s my name, not one more. I don’t think any of us have two names, not even me dad – do you know me dad? No. I bet yer. Go on then. Ernest Sutcliffe. Ah! I knew it, I knew it, I knew he knew him.


Yeh, but do you know any nicknames?


Ay, nicknacks! Nicknames – what my nickname?

No, other people’s.

Who do I know? Nick Jones – who’s he? Do you know Nick Jones? No. Well I don’t neither! Anything else – go on.

Did you ever go mumming, at New Year – did you go mumming?

I know what you mean, ho heck – do you mean knocking at people’s doors and opening ‘em and saying Happy New Year, do you mean that? Well I didn’t but they did, but me dad wouldn’t let us go. ‘you are not going out tonight in that dark’ so that’s that, so we hadn’t to go. When me dad said no he meant no, when he said yes off we went…the best dad in the world, and you knew him, and he were a big man, you know that don’t yer? Yes. Bigger ner you. I’m not very big. You’re not six foot are yer? No. Me dad’s not quite six foot but nearly, but he could just bang – they’d be over the moon, he was the best dad in the world.

Did you go maypole dancing?

No but I’ll tell you what we did do once – they used to call it Demonstration, do you remember that? Gala Day.

Did you do that?

Did you? I did. I do an’all, and once the schoolchildren and I were one of ‘em and me sister, me both sisters were…you should have seen us dancing round that maypole with us ribbons [singing] – did you ever see that?


Yes, I’ve done it.


Oh, we thought we were Lord Almighty because we were dancing for demonstration! Round and round the mul…no that’s mulberry were maypole weren’t it? Yeh. eeeh we had a good time – they must have thought we were good mustn’t they? Yeh. Well we were.

Were all the girls from the school or was it from the church – where were they from?

MS: Oh I don’t know love. They might be dead I don’t know – no they won’t ‘cos they’re only my age, they won’t be dead. Eeeh they won’t be dead, never! You can’t be dead at my age –how old am I?


Eeeh – did he say ninety-odd?



MS: Am I ninety-odd?

So I believe.

MS: How old are you?

I told you once.

MS: Have you told me?


MS: Well I forgot – well I won’t ask you again., ‘cos you don’t want to tell me do yer? What’s this?

That’s the microphone.

MS: Oh it’s this thing in’t it?


MS: Are yer tekking me picture?


MS: Oooh did you see that? Can I go now?

What did you do at Wakes Week, when you went on holidays?

MS: When we were little we had to stop at home ‘cos we’d no money, and we’d to wait till we’d started working and we only worked part-time, do you remember that? we only worked part-time so we couldn’t go for a week, we only had to go for Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – then when finished, and then when we started working full-time we could go for a week – oh we thought we were God Almighty because we could go to Blackpool for a week – eeeh we thought ‘nobody like us’ – we used to walk about as if we were King Kong! I bet you did, didn’t yer?


MS: Ay bless ‘em! When I say we’ve had a good life, no we could have had a better but…we’d a good dad… we’d the best dad in the world – did you know that?

Yes you said.

MS: Did you know him?

I do know.

MS: Oh he’s the best dad in the world. I won’t say he’s six foot but nearly, and he walks like a sergeant – anybody touches us – ‘I’ll go see to them’ and do you know there were a boy at school and I’m not telling yer his name because you’ll know him, and he used to wait for us coming home from school and he used to stop us, he wouldn’t let us pass, and it got while we were crying us eyes out because we daren’t go to school and we daren’t come home, and me dad were working, so me dad says ‘right, I’ll see to that’ – off he went down to his house; he never did it again. That put lights on him. Never did he touch us with a finger again, because he knew what he’d get…and by gum me dad would have clattered him. Do you know what clattering is?

No, what does it mean?

MS: Clonking, you know – he would have belted him while he couldn’t stand. Anybody touches us – only once did somebody stop us coming home from school and it were this same lad, me dad says’ I’ll put a stop to that’ – off he went down to his house, his father – ‘come here’ – he never did it again. Me dad could have squashed him with his hand, he were a big man. Did you know me dad?


MS: Oh he were a lovely dad, weren’t he love?

**Yes. **

Did you used to sing?

Sing? We had to sing at school.

What did you sing?

Oh what did we sing – well we used to have to start school with a hymn you know, I bet you did, didn’t yer? We used to start school with a hymn, and we’d to sing ‘get them voices going, get them top notes’ – oh gosh he were a…oh I could swear, I still could swear at him and he’s dead, I don’t care whether he is or he isn’t, I could still swear at him – by gum he did make us sing. We sang while we couldn’t sing another note and still it were ‘get them top notes’ – I’m capped he didn’t swear at us, but by gum did we sing – we sang better than anybody else in the world and we were school children, but could we sing – them top notes, they were like a bell; we could sing. We had to do, whether we could or not we had to do – he made us – by gum I could kill him now although he’s dead, I could – eeeh he were a monkey! We liked him but we hated him, you know – that sort. I were glad when I left school and got rid of him, I were that. Now he’s dead; you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead should you, well I don’t, but I don’t like him. If you’re up there I don’t like you, and if you’re down there I still don’t like you!

There’s lots of folk I don’t like, go on ask me who.


MS: You! [laughing] I bet you did didn’t yer?

That’s a joke!

MS: No I like you love because you don’t shout at us, but if you shout at me, I’ll stop it…I don’t like people shouting at me, besides you haven’t to shout at people, you’ve to talk natural – that’s what they told us at school, you talk natural, you do not shout, so we never shouted – you see, we did as we were told. It were a good school. Did you go to Burnley Road?


MS: You’d go to a posh ‘un wouldn’t you?


MS: Where did you go then – Hebden Bridge?

Oh no I didn’t.

MS: You lived in Hebden Bridge didn’t you?

I did live in Hebden Bridge, yeh.

MS: Well which school did you go to then?

Well – my son went to Central Street.

MS: Oh Central School, that’s just behind Market Street in’t it? Yes, I know where it is. I’ve been there but I used to go there when I went to night school. I had to go to night school.

What did you do at night school?



Well I stopped at home for a long time because my mum weren’t so well so I had to stop at home and look after the house – I were a little mother because me mum had died, so I were a little mother but I got through…but we had to work, everybody had to work – blumming hard an’ all for children. You shouldn’t have to work so hard, not children, no. I’m not coming again.

Had you to work


MS: Yes, well we had hadn’t we? You didn’t work did yer?

CARER: I weren’t born then.

MS: Did you love?

Mary, what did you study at night school?

MS: Tailoring, you know, tailoring – making coats and dresses. We had to make all our own clothes – I used to be sewing and sewing while I couldn’t see hardly, but I had to do because we had no money, so I had to machine, and then I put the things together, made them fit – they went out like two little birds – everybody envied us because I made the clothes, and they kept coming to my house – ‘will you make me this, will you make me that’ and I said ‘no, I’m not making it for anybody else, you mun make your own I I’ve had to make my own, you make your own’ then they wouldn’t speak to me! I thought ‘well I don’t care if you do or you don’t’ I can make mine, I can make family, I don’t care about them; ‘make your own’.

I bet your knees are sore aren’t they?

Just a little.

MS: Yeh I know – I’ve knelt down there long enough, I’m not gonna kneel know more – ay bless ‘em, but me dad is the best dad in the world. Have you a dad?

My dad’s dead – he was a good dad, but he’s gone now.

MS: When did he die?

Oh quite a while now.

MS: Oh dear, so have you a mum?


MS: Is she nice?

She is nice my mum, yes.

MS: Ay bless ‘em – well I’ll be your mum, oh you have a mum. It’s a dad you want. We’d the best dad in the world. He’s living now. Do you know my dad?

Did you get married and have any children Mary?

Well I am his child – one of ‘em!

No you – did you have children?

No I didn’t get married – I had too much work to do at home to get married, I’d to work work work, ‘cos we’d no money so we had to work.

What work did you do at home?

I worked at home because, I had to work at home to keep the house clean and tidy; oh it were like a little palace, everybody used to say ‘hasn’t Mary a lovely home? Doesn’t she keep it nice?’ I thought ‘yes, I do keep it nice’ and heaven help somebody if they don’t – I’ll clonk ‘em one, and I would. You went to work didn’t yer?

Yes I did.

MS: You weren’t a bobby were yer?


MS: That’ll do then. My dad had wanted to be a bobby and me mum said ‘no you’re not going to be a bobby’ oh me dad were cross – he says’ right’ and then she says a few years after, ‘you can go for a bobby if you want’ he says ‘I don’t want’ – he never went, they fell out. My dad – he was the best dad in the world, heaven help anybody that touched us, and there were a lad at school – I’m not telling yer his name because he’s your age, he’s my age, and he used to wait for us coming out of school and he would not let us pass to get home – he used to keep going, you know how you do – this way, if we went that way he went that way, if we went this way he went this way and then me dad went down to his house – I’m not telling you who he was because you know him, and he knocked at that door – ‘may I see your son?’ [in a ‘posh’ voice] – he could speak nicely could me dad – ‘may I see your son?’ ‘what do you want to see him for?’ me mum said ‘never you mind, just let me see him’ so she let him see him – he never touched us again – ‘you touch my child again and any of ‘em, you’re in that river’ – he never touched us, not with one finger – that showed him, that showed him who were boss. He says ‘I’ll show you for touching my children – you let them come home from school in peace, and go to school in peace’ [someone coming in?] Who’s that?

CARER: They’ll sort him out.

MS: So he never touched us again, never – not with a little finger, and me dad used to watch from the window or the door where he could peep through and watch him – he daren’t touch us – no, he’d have been thrown in that river, he would that – ‘you touch my children and you know where you’ll be.’

What did you do at Christmas?

Oh what did we do at Christmas? Everybody came to our house – family I mean, I don’t mean everybody, family you know, everybody came to our house and me mam used to cook – we’d to save up for a turkey and we’d the biggest turkey you ever saw, it hardly went in the oven but she got it in and she cooked it, and we’d the best meal anybody could ever have – ooh we had a good do, and they all came to our house for their Christmas dinner, and then we’d finished we all sang every little Christmas song we knew, and then they all came and they stood outside and they all sang with us. That was the best Christmas we’d ever had – eeh we were poor but we’d – oh –we’d the best family in the world, we had. They all liked to come to our house; we’d no money and not much food, but we used to share. Everybody came and they just – well they just had what they wanted and if they couldn’t eat it, well….but by gum we had a good time, eeeh. I wouldn’t like to go through it again, but they can’t stop us having a good time, can they? Did you have a good time?


Everybody did because they had to make their own entertainment hadn’t they? There were no money, you couldn’t buy things and think ‘we’ll have that, we’ll have that’ – we couldn’t because we hadn’t any money so we’d all to panto, and by gum there weren’t anybody had a better time at Christmas as we had.

Did you ever come to our house?

Not at Christmas.

MS: No, well – and you never came? Me dad were there, uncles were there, aunties were there, everybody that we knew – oh we had a good time – and then we used to stand at door, just outside the door and we sang for if we hadn’t a penny piece – by gum, we did sing! In fact, they all came from Banksfields to our house and we stood and we sang and we sang and we sang until we couldn’t sing no more, so we had to go to bed, but did we have a good time.

Can you remember those songs?

MS: You mean the Christmas songs?


MS: We used to sing ‘Christians Awake’, that were the first song. [Mary sang part of the song] isn’t that good?

Very good!

MS: I knew you’d like that because you could sing couldn’t yer? Yes you could because you’ve sung, you’ve sung when we’ve sung – you’re a little monkey, but you could sing, and by gum couldn’t he sing! He used to chuck his chest out – by gum, didn’t yer? [Mary singing – everybody clapped]

What do you know love?

Not very much.

MB: Ooh in’t he posh? ‘Not very much’ – I know a lot – go on, what do I know? What can we sing that you know? What do you know that I know?

I’m not sure – what other ones do you know?

MS:…you won’t know ‘Hallelujah’ will yer? [Mary sang it – everybody clapped] Eeh I know a lot but I can’t sing ‘em. We used to have some lovely times at Christmas, and we’d no money, but by gum we had a lovely time. We used to go singing at doors, knocking – they used to give us a penny and we thought we were Lord Almighty ‘cos they’d given us a penny, then we used to put it in a box and then when we thought we had enough money, we used to go and we’d buy some – well no, we used to sing not buy, we used to sing Christmas hymns at doors, then they’d give us a penny, then we’d put it in a box and then when we thought we’d got enough, we went round singing again for some more and they used to say ‘ger off with yer, you’ve got enough!’ didn’t they, do you remember that? Yes. I do. Eeh gosh, they’d have clonked us if they could have done but we were too sharp for ‘em, by gum we were too sharp for ‘em – they’d none clonk us so easy, no they won’t.

Ey your dad were schoolteacher – oh by gum, we’ve run from his house scores of times – ‘get out of this house, get out of this room’ and we used to be peeping through windows to see if we could see him then when he’d gone we used to come again, sing again. ‘What did I tell you? – Hop it’ But we didn’t! We’ve had some lovely times at Christmas, even if he his dad did shout at us – bless him.

And your dad could sing, couldn’t her? He could that, and he used to make us sing an’ all, and we couldn’t but we had to do – ‘get them top notes, get them top notes’ and by gum – we had to do, if we’d to stand on us seat at school, we’d to get ‘em. ‘Up you get’ – we’d to stand on seats and sing, and by gum did we sing – they could hear us at Hebden Bridge, they could that – them were the days, different to what it is now – we made our own entertainment, but not now, no – ay bless ‘em, everybody joined in – even little children that couldn’t walk and had to be carried, but we had a good time. Everybody enjoyed themselves, everybody sang till they couldn’t sing no more, I bet they heard us at Hebden Bridge or in Halifax! They once came from Halifax to listen to us singing, they did. Go on – that’s true, in’t it love? But could we sing – they used to call us ‘ranters’ – who called us ranters? That were Methodists weren’t it, and I was a Methodist. Our family were all Methodists, but could we sing! And by gum we did, and they used to come and listen to us – can’t they sing, can’t they sing? By gum I’ll say we could – we had to do, there were Mr Jackson – that were our headmaster. ‘Get them top notes, get them top notes’ and we had to do. By golly he were a….he were one of them, I could have killed him, but everybody like him, but I could have killed him – ooh I could, and then he’d come to school at Monday and tell us how good we were – I thought ‘you…’ one of them, but by gum, he made us sing and we couldn’t sing, but we had to do, we did that ‘get them top notes, get them top notes, get ‘em’ and we had to do – do you remember them?

Can I ask you another question?

MS: Ay we had to sing, and he used to make us stand on us seat, do you remember that? Yes, stand on us seat ‘put your hands on your heads – sing!’ and by gum we had to sing, whether you could or not.

CARER: He wants to ask you another question.

Have you enjoyed talking about when you were younger?


Is there anything else you would like to tell me about that I haven’t asked?

No and I won’t tell yer- I’m not telling you because you’ll tell! I’m not telling him 0 he’s a schoolmaster, I know what he is – he teaches me, I’m not telling him.

CARER: What games did you used to play with your Mabel and your other sister?

…what did we play?

CARER: Did you play with spin and top?

MB: Yes, yes we did, yes, and then we had ‘in and out the windows’ you know, do you remember – in a ring, and then we used to go in and out everybody you know as you walked round…

CARER: ‘in and out the dusty windows’

MS: That’s it, eeh – yes, we hadn’t any money but we had some lovely times,and everybody sang to top of their voice – I bet they could hear us at Hebden Bridge! We had a good time hadn’t we love? Yes we had.

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.

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Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge

Phone: 01422 844450
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