Phyllis Henderson

Phyllis Henderson

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PHYLLIS HENDERSON: born 1911Interviewed by Tony Wright: 8-9-06 and 9-3-07


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

Where I was born?  I was born...I was Phyllis Crossley and I was born at the Buttress in Hebden Bridge, which is no longer there.

Was there a particular number?

There was six children; I was the youngest of six children and my eldest brother was twenty…well he was married actually before I was born.  My mother was forty-eight when I was born, I was the last in the family so I was spoilt being the youngest, so the others said. My four brothers were in the First World War; one was a sailor, he was the married one and he went all through the war.  When the war was over he had to stay to sweep the seas…was it of mines? and he was going out to get the mail in to shore and the boat was pushed into another boat and he was thrown overboard; never got him out, they never found him.  He had left two children, he had two children and he was the only one.  That nearly killed my mother, yes – she was so upset about it.  One of them was taken Prisoner of War in Germany, the youngest one, so they all came back apart from the eldest one.

When were you born Phyllis?

I was born 1911.

What was it like living in The Buttress?

Well it was very happy really, I remember running about and up The Buttress really, and I mean there were a lot of children about in those days; there were quite a lot of big families, most people had quite a few children, and I went to Central School.  My youngest brother used to take me to school and we used to have…now in those days, which they don’t do now, you were encouraged to save and you could put a penny in the Yorkshire Penny Bank every week.  You had your own little bank book and you could put a penny in.  Now if you had a lot if children you couldn’t afford to give them all a penny could you to put in the bank, so if you could afford more they did.  Now my mother put in for me what she could afford and when I left school at fourteen, she said ‘Now whatever’s in that bank book is yours, but carry on trying to put a little bit in – carry on’, which I did and when I got married I’d about thirty-five pounds in the bank and I’d parents, my mother had died and my father had married again and left, so no-one to buy me anything and provide so I had to spend it and bought my own wedding outfit with my thirty pound which I’d started saving from school.  

The house that you lived in in The Buttress – how many rooms did it have, what was it like?

Oh there was only one – there was just a sitting room and a living room, and my mother did cooking in the kitchen for eight people.  There was a big square table where we all sat around which I can remember.  She’d just a little partition, that’s all and then there was t’cellar steps going down from there which if you’re not careful you went down…[laughing]

How many bedrooms did it have?

There was just one big bedroom which was parted off from…my sister and I lived in one part of t’partition of the bedroom.  All the boys were all upstairs in a big attic that went all over and the boys were all up there, my sister and I were in a partition from t’bedroom from my mother and father.

Was there a bathroom there?

No way, no!  The bath was one of those long tin ones [chuckling] and of course there was no hot water or anything; there was a big outside kitchen where we used…actually mother, my father made ice cream…my mother made ice cream and my father went round delivering it with a little horse and cart, but my mother did all the boiling over an open fire in the kitchen, a big pan, so big - and she boiled it over there, and that was it.  Then she took it to the out-kitchen and there was a freezer there - no there wasn’t a proper freezer but there was…there used to be blocks of ice which they chopped up and put round this thing and then they had to keep turning the handle to keep it freezing you see; that was the old way of doing it, not the modern way.

Where did you get the milk from?

I don’t know, I can’t remember that but I know that it was supposed to be the best ice cream you could possibly have!

Did you eat loads of it?

I still love ice cream………..[laughing]

What job did you father do?

Well, actually he did work at – he was what you’d call a cord cutter in the mill and whether he left the mill to do this job I don’t know.  He used to do little odd jobs; he had an uncle who was an auctioneer and he used to go help out there weekends you know, to sales and things but I can’t remember a lot really.  And then they took a pub; they took the White Swan Hotel in Hebden.  When I was about four I would say I went down there.

So both your parents ran that pub?

It was better down…mind you, the boys had all gone then.  They’d either got married there was just my sister and I and mother and father down there, but my brothers always used to come and help in serving and t’evening they always came, and always came Sunday mornings with their wives to clean; they used to come and clean every room out, their wives as well.

What was it like living in a pub?

Well I mean it wasn’t like it is today, I mean there was stone floors in those days.  You had to get down on your hands and knees and scrub them ready for opening time on Sunday morning.

Did you ever go downstairs into the pub?

Well I mean it was fairly…there was a nice bathroom there, yes that was very nice and then there was a place out at the back; toilets out at the back and everything but I can’t remember any more….

How long did they have the pub for?

I think about…now they were there all during the war - they must have gone there about 1914 because I would be about three or four and they were there until I would be about ten or eleven, so they must have been there about six years, because actually I have some cards here that came to them, and to let me show you them.  These were all sent during the war.  [showing cards to Tony]

Those are lovely.  Are these postcards then?

They were but I mean they’ve been stuck on – they’ve been, no – they’ve been stuck in a frame, all stuck together in a frame.  This is one that I’m particularly proud of because this was sent to my husband from his father during the First World War, and if you read the back I think you’ll realise why I think it’s great: [pause] ‘I send you this copy of the Grand Old Flag.  Honour it always and when you grow to be a man… when you grow to be a man prove to the world that England can still bring forth men of worth and honour.  Be truthful, obedient and loving to your dear mother and God will bless you always. From your loving father.’ And that was it.  

And these are the others of course that they used to send during the war; these sort of things, these postcards?

Yes, because there were a lot of these about at one time.

‘Best of luck on your birthday’ [looking through cards]

Yes they’re very nice.

Of course they’ve got in a state after all this time, they’ve been handed round so many times.

Was Jack your father?

That was my father-in-law who was in the war.  

These are beautiful.

Because my father was too old I think he would be in those days; he’d be fifty-odd when I was about four.

These are embroidered aren’t they?  They’re lovely – lovely work.  Do you think I could make a copy of those?

Which love?  Some of these?

Yes some of these, and a few of these as well.

Would everybody know who they were from?

Oh I see what you mean.

All those who knew that will have gone by now; I don’t think there’ll be anyone living when we had that pub – they’ll all have gone.  I mean I remember as a little girl running about in the pub and all the men being there you know.  I used to run up the passages, it was all stone floors, everything, yes…but they didn’t do the catering like they do now, I mean my mother used to make a special one for the local…shopkeepers it were, if she used to make a special one, and one of the butchers provided the meat and she would cook it and do a special dinner for them.

When you left school, what did you do?

I went straight into – it was either weaving or clothing and I went and looked in a weaving shed and the noise terrified me so I decided I would go in and I hated it from the first day I went in.  My sister taught me and she was very good at the job, and she thought I should get it straight away but I was a bit slow in the uptakes and I was miserable; I used to go home and cry, and say to my mother ‘I don’t like, I don’t like’ and she would say ‘well just try a little bit longer’ which I had to do, but I stayed in all my life and I hated it in weaving? No in clothing - sewing, and believe me, it was slavery, absolute slavery.  We once went on strike for an eighth of an old penny – an eighth of an old penny and we struck one afternoon.  We lost everything we gained – we did get it eventually but we struck for two hours; during that time we lost anything we’d gained in that eighth of a penny.  They talk about slave labour today abroad; I can’t think sorry because we’ve done our slavery here in this country and that’s why it’s like it is, because we worked for slave wages.  My husband was in the clothing – he was…well he did the cutting trade and they were on three days a week when he was a young man and they worked nine to four which was six hours a week – no it was more, it was eighteen hours was it? Eighteen hours, a shilling and ha’penny an hour.  He’d eighteen shillings, and seven shillings and six pence from the dole money for three of us, so we were paying seven shillings a week rent so we were virtually living on one pound per week.  It’s not a lot.

What was your first wage when you started?

My wages – well personally I had to go out to work to help, because they just couldn’t live on it and I went, and my first wage was eighteen shillings; that was when I went to a new place that I didn’t know, I’d to pick all the new ways up and I paid ten shilling to have my little girl looked after, and when I had eight shillings left for myself I thought I was in heaven.

Which shop did you work at?

I worked at a place called Waterside…I first of all worked at Redman Brothers at Foster Mill, and then I went to Waterside Mill at top of Bridge Lanes which was near home.

What was Foster Mill like?

Foster Mill was a huge place; we’d over a hundred machinists there.  I know my sister’s number was 103, yes she was.  I can’t remember my own, funnily enough! [laughing]

Can you describe the work that you actually did?

Well I mean we made…at Foster Mill they had what we called the Railway Order and we made everything for the Great North…GNER Railway I think it was, or the Great North Western Railway whichever, and we did everything – we did trousers, jackets, sleeve vests, overcoats; I think we got eleven pence for making an overcoat and it was lined, a lined overcoat.  We made jackets as well – sleeve vests with about four pockets in, I can’t remember what we got for that – we didn’t get much and for trousers we got about four pence a pair. 

So it was piece work?

Yes, just one pair.  Mind they were cut out, we didn’t do the cutting you know; they came from downstairs; the men were downstairs cutting.  They’d piles like that on what they called a band knife that could go straight through them and round.  A fella worked it and it was going by electricity, and he just put it through like that.

How long did you work there?

All my life…unfortunately.  

When did you retire?

I retired when I was sixty four I think I was.  I went on four years after and I did part-time for four years after because my husband died of cancer and funnily enough it wasn’t cancer that killed him; he had cancer on the top of his head and it was caused through knocking it and he was bald and it took the skin off and he kept sort of going to the doctor and then the doctor said ‘well I’ve done everything I can’ – he’d cauterised it, did him…he says ‘you’ll have to go away’ so he went and he saw someone from Leeds who was a surgeon.  He said ‘you’ve had that bugger a long time’ he said ‘yes I have, I’ve suffered with it’ he says ‘can you make Leeds on Monday?’ my husband said ‘Yes’ he says ‘right, we’ll have the bugger out by Tuesday’ and they did, he was true to his word and he lived twelve years after that, and he’d a great big hole on the top of his head.  They put him a skin graft on, they didn’t put him a plate; they took it from…he said he’d more pain from the skin graft than he’d ever had on his head.

After you left Foster Mill, what was it like in the other place?

Well I was at home, I’d have had my daughter then; I left to have my daughter, just one daughter and I left, and then as I say I started working again when she was about four.  She was old enough to go and she was looked after by one of my husband’s aunts so I knew she was all right there, yes; that’s what we had to do.  

So did you do the same work there at Waterside?

I worked there until I retired from there, yes.

When you were a young child, what kinds of games and toys did you have?

Well I was dancing mad, absolutely dancing mad!  I used to go and watch football; there used to be football on Calder Holmes which is the park now.  The local lads they used to be a good football team, in fact I used to have some good photos of them, but like you are with everything, you throw them away and think they’re no good.  I had a lot of old newspapers with the Titanic in, taken then you know, but we threw them all away.  They were all folded up, wrapped up by my mother probably but I just threw them, I thought ‘these are no good’ – you can’t keep things forever.

So did you have any toys then?

Well I did yes, I had a black doll, all that sort of thing when I was young – oh yes – prams, dolls prams and that sort of thing, and I used to play…when we were in The Buttress there was ground at the back and we had a big hut, and one of my brothers was very keen on pigeons so he had pigeons there and he also had a magic lantern which I used to go and watch.  Oh yes, we used to all go and congregate in this palce, this wood hut and watch the magic lanterns going through.

How many people do you think lived in the whole of The Buttress?

Oh I wouldn’t like to say about that – you mean The Buttress, the building that was – no I didn’t live in that part of it, I lived in a cottage on the opposite side, which is still there; the one on the right hand side as you’re going up The Buttress - it comes to a sort of a point at the end, well that was the one, and the land at the back, and my mother kept hens and there was a little bit of a garden.  I had a little garden with nasturtiums in; there was everything going on there, we had a seat in, you could go and sit in if it was nice weather.  It was lovely.

Can you remember any old sayings?  

Well I can’t just think off-hand really, because my father was I mean a Yorkshire man really – I mean they didn’t talk broad Yorkshire – I mean today, if you talked broad Yorkshire like they did in those days…what my husband used to say when we were away anywhere, ‘let’s start talking broad Yorkshire – they’ll think we’re foreigners!’  [laughing] 

Can you still talk broad Yorkshire?

Oh I could do if I want, yes – any time you want me to do!  Oh yes, lots of words that probably wouldn’t recognise.

Like what?

I can’t remember off-hand!

Well if you think of any while we’re talking, just stop and say them!

Did people from Hebden Bridge talk differently to other people round and about?

Oh yes, yes – even from Tod, Lancashire I mean, if you want to go on to the border in Tod people had a sort of little different twang from ours.  My husband was very fond of Amateur Dramatics and he was President of The Little Theatre in Hebden Bridge a long time and he used to produce plays and he also drew a design for the front of the programmes which they still hold.  There’s one on there now, and they still use it and they have a thing inside – a sort of a window with coloured glass in and it’s this figure of the woman and the idea was, she was holding up to the public the art of coming to the theatre, and they ran that theatre all during the war when people couldn’t get out anywhere, and they used to run it over a thousand people – they used to run it a week, and the matinee.  They first started from the Hebden Bridge Literary and Scientific Society, and a dentist who was called Edward Binny Gibson, he was one of them and my husband and a man called Clifford Sutcliffe, they were the three, they away from the Lit and Sci and started this Little Theatre and then they got other people to join who were interested, and that’s how it was formed from then.

Where was it originally?

Where was the Theatre?  It was in what we called The Old Band Room and it was a wooden building where the band did practising and also held dances which I used to go to as a girl, well a young girl I mean really because I used to take trifles which my mother had made – a big trifle to take to put on the stall, and she used to say ‘now take a dish and in the interval get some trifle and bring me some, but you’ve only to get ours, don’t get anybody else’s – you’ve got to get the trifle I’ve sent!’  [laughing]

Where was that building?

That building?  Oh it’s knocked down – you know where the children’s pool is?  It was just there, about there.  You’d had to go over that bridge and you could go either end of the building, in at one end and out the other.  They built a stage on weft boxes, big iron…wooden boxes, built a stage; my husband was there every night and the same when he started producing, three nights a week, I never saw him – he was just straight home from work, have a wash and shave and off – I don’t think he ever saw his child for the first few years of her life!

What was your husband’s first name?

James Henderson – you know, quite well known owing to being in the theatre because he did the acting as well; he was very keen.  If there was anyone coming to Halifax of note we always had to go and see them because they used to run a repary [reparatory] company in Halifax, it was very good – it was called Charles Denville and they put a different play on every week so we used to go quite a lot.  Mind you I don’t know how we made the money, but we did somehow – I don’t know how we managed to go really, but I think that my husband was helped a little bit by his mother, I think she used to subsidise him a little bit because he only used to take half a crown (2sh 6d) a week spending money and my spending money was a night at the pictures – nine pence and thre’pence for a bar of chocolate, that was a shilling - that was my spending money.

Did you used to wear clogs then?

Did I wear clogs?  Yes.  Yes, but now…the Co-op had their own clog place; they made them - you went in and you were measured for them and the man there had the pieces of wood and he used to do it by hand, shaving them away until they got to the shape.  We used to go and play in the shavings as we called them, we used to sit in them and play with these shavings – all wooden shavings - when we were kids, watching him make the clogs and he made them all by hand – one man made your clogs, but I always wanted - I didn’t want those with - like everybody had, I just wanted one with a strap over and a button at the side, not one where you fasten them together like that, I didn’t like those.  We used to do that kicking in them and making sparks fly you know! [laughing]

Did you walk to work?

I’ll say – and back at lunchtime because my mother had died and my father was still at home, and we used to…we used to make things beforehand and he used to - if we made dumplings, we used to tell him what time to put them in, to cook them and that sort of thing, or what time to put a pie in the oven for when we were getting home.  We used to walk all the way from Foster Mill, all along Bridge Lanes and back again and I think it started at quarter past twelve to quarter past one, we’d an hour for lunch.  We used to wear more shoes…I used to always be having to have my shoes repaired because it was such a long walk, and believe me, once when we were on part-time - it was sixpence to go into Halifax on the bus - I used to walk to Luddendenfoot to save thre’pence, it was only thre’pence from Luddendenfoot, we used to walk to Luddendenfoot so that it would only be thre’pence on the bus instead of sixpence.

It’s a long walk as well.

We did walk every weekend over the moors, we used to walk over Haworth Old Road every weekend nearly when it was fine; we used to sit on the top looking over on towards Oxenhope and Haworth, have our packed lunch and then carry on from there.

What did you do during Wakes Week?

Well, after my father…my father got married again and he went to live in Blackpool, so when it was holidays we could always go to Blackpool, and I’ve gone to Blackpool, I think we went once, I think we’d about twelve pounds to go on holiday with and of course we hadn’t to pay for bed…we were fortunate, they didn’t have to pay for bed or anything so it was just spending money really, twelve pound and we thought we were very well off and lucky to do that.  

Did you do anything else at Wakes time, oh sorry, not Wakes…Whitsuntide?

Well no, it was always walking – walking, yes. We always spent holidays walking.

Were you a church-goer?

We once walked all round the Ribble Valley, we went into Clitheroe and walked all the way round there and stayed overnight at different places, and we got nearly to…we got nearly to Preston and it was next to the last day, and we decided we’d come back home then the next day we went to Blackpool and we’d been nearly there the day before on a walking…! [laughing]I remember at holiday time when the lads used to all go to a camp on the Isle of Man – was it Cunningham’s Camp; it was well known, all the young men used to go there and when it was Friday night they used to go off on what we used to call the Boat Train, and all the lads from over Stubbing Holme which is quite a lot over there, houses over there, they all used to be on this train and we used to go out and watch them and they’d all be waving and their mothers used to come out and wave them on the street and they could see the train going past, it was a real sight watching them go you know.

Did you go to church?

No, all my family all went to church but I went with my pals, so they all went to Methodist Sunday School so I joined them there.  I went to about three different ones; I started off at what was called Foster Lane and they were all Methodist funnily enough and yet my mother and father went to church, and then my next friend went to…yes I started off at Foster Lane and then I went to Cross Lanes which is on the top there, from Cross Lanes I went to…Salem at the bottom, and my husband…the man who wrote this, he was the Superintendent in the Cross Lanes one, the Sunday School Superintendent but my husband never went; [laughing] I think he was scared of my father being the Superintendent!  I’m afraid that my daughter scared all her three children off by taking them round to so many museums and churches and old buildings that they will not look at one now, but she carted them round everywhere - everywhere they went, we had to go into this church or see that building or that museum, and they just loathe it now – they will not do it.

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

Oh I don’t think so – I mean, I thought it was lovely when I was young, but I don’t know – today I don’t…it’s horrible.

Can you remember any sort of characters?

Characters? Yes.  Yes I can!  [laughing]

Can you tell me about some?

Well we used to call one lad…there was one boy, they called him Richard…Richard Holden and he always used to dress as Tarzan, he used to go about [laughing] have you heard that before from somebody? We called him Tarzan because he’d go [noise Tarzan makes] he used to go about knocking his chest you know - he was a little bit odd, but he did – he used to go about wearing like a skinny little something and go about….he once came to our door where I lived on Bankfoot Terrace there and he told about he’d seen me with a boy, he told my mother, he says ‘I saw your Phyllis with so-and-so’ [laughing].

Which number at Bankfoot did you live at?

Eighteen, eighteen - that’s underneath that was the bottom, the last one.  Yes, it was a big house with eleven windows because it had been belonging to a dye works that there was there and it was the cutting place for the cord, where they cut the cord, like my father did cutting cord at the Co-op Mills – CWS, they did it there and it was all windows you see.  They converted it into this house, but it was at the end of the row so that it was away from the houses but when they converted it there were three bedrooms, three windows in one bedroom and one in a little bedroom – two in a little bedroom, not one.  Downstairs there were three windows in the living room, two in the kitchen and that came to eleven all together– we got so that we couldn’t get window cleaners, and my sister used to sit out you know  – they all used to sit out because they were those sash windows and I used to hold her legs while she went.  I daren’t go out, I wouldn’t have dared do it for my life, but she used to get out, put her head out and then ease herself on - sit on the window ledge and I used to hold her legs, and that’s how she cleaned the windows, pushing them up and down…what a life we gypsies lead!

What dye works was it at the end there?

Well I can’t remember…I don’t know – I can’t remember what dye works – do you mean up Bankfoot? Hmm I can’t just remember - it was a factory because it was always empty when we were living there , it was empty but down on the ground floor there used to be…we used to say ‘if you die here there’s everything’ – there was a joiner’s, there was a laundry, there was…there was somebody who did confectionery; you could have everything you wanted in that place without going out of it.

Did you ever go to pubs, apart from living in the one?

No…no I don’t think so, I can’t remember…

You never went in the Fox and Goose then?

I did go in with my husband, we used to the Fox and Goose when I was six.

What was it like in there?

Oh it was alright, it was very nice, it was only a little place you know; it was actually only a beer house at the beginning I think – they didn’t...because my father used to be very friendly with the man who kept it.  They were in what they called the Licensed Victuallers, they used to meet all together but my mother hated drink; although she was a landlord she wouldn’t touch drink, she didn’t like it at all, no she didn’t. 

What was the man’s name who owned the pub then?

The Fox and Goose? Yes. They called him Butterworth and then someone called Jagger took it after that, I remember two of them, but the one that I remember most ‘cos they were a younger couple and they were very good, but they came from Lancashire and they used to speak with a Lancashire dialect and it used to tickle us, the way this lady used to talk in the Lancashire dialect which was quite different from ours. She would say ‘yes luv’ you know - it was different altogether.

Didn’t there used to be houses along the side of that?  

Yes, there were houses all up the road there, two on each side; all Bridge Lanes was all crowded with houses, and they just went up like The Buttress was – you went through tunnels to get to the back and then there went another street on the back.  They should never have pulled them down you know; they’d have been fantastic today, it would have been a real draw; there’d have been thousands of people coming to look at them.  Because I mean in Paris I mean, that’s where they got it from, The Butts; there are The Butts in Paris and that’s The Buttress you know, that’s what it is, that’s where it got its name from.  I didn’t know.  But the building of it – they were builders in those days believe me, these would be stone – there’d be stone struts holding up another area of houses, one on top of the other, it was fantastic, and there were little paths going up around and then you went around and then there were some more houses there; you’d go up a few steps - another lot of houses.  It went up to about four storeys from nothing.  The building was fantastic.  They’ll never build like that again, never.  It would all be hand labour, they wouldn’t think to lift, like when they built this place ( meaning Mytholm Meadows), they wouldn’t do that sort of thing.

Can you remember any of the floods or fires or anything like that?

Yes, ooh fires – if there was a fire anywhere, we’d run miles to watch a fire. [chuckling]  We even went up Cragg Vale to watch Cragg Hall on fire.  There was a little fire up at…Savile Bowling Club, I went up there to watch that, we went anywhere there was a fire.  It was funny, we must have been fascinated; everybody went, even went from work when I was young, not when I was older – when I was really young.  There was a fire up at Charlestown and I remember going up there and I used to have an old newspaper with ‘an accident on Charlestown curve’, a train came off the lines and I had all that, but it’s gone. 

A train came off? 

A train came off the lines at Charlestown curve up here.  

Was anybody hurt?

I don’t remember love I’m sure I can’t remember that, no…but it came off the lines and I had a photo of it you know showing it coming off  the line ‘cos there is a real curve there – I always think when I go on a train, I’m always glad when we get past Charlestown curve!

So how has Hebden Bridge changed then from when you were young?

Well there used to be – I should - I could count fifteen pubs and at least twelve butchers, I mean there’s nothing now like that; they’ve all gone.  There used to be three butchers from the top of Bridge Lanes to the bottom there were three butchers; there was a little one at the top that was the Co-op butchers and then there was another at the bottom and then when you went on Market Street there was another one and then you’d to go a long way, and then when you got into Hebden there was the Co-op butchers which had a pork butchers and a beef, you know ordinary…, and then there were two more on there besides that, and going into the square there was another one in St George’s Square, oh there were butchers everywhere.  And yet people hadn’t the money, how on earth they made…I do not know how they survived, I don’t.

Has anything else changed? 

Well [pause] well it isn’t the little place like that it used to be, I mean everybody knew everybody, but not any more. They’re all ‘off-cumdens’ as we say now. [chuckling]

Do you know any jokes?

Any jokes? [laughing] Yes I did know one but, it was about…well they always used to say, it wasn’t true but they said that there was two lads, one who lived in Pecket and the other lived in Old Town and they used to meet at Pecket Bar and they were only getting on sixteen, and they thought they’d go into the city - Hebden, for their night out so they decided to meet at the…where there’s a wall, so one of them said to the other ‘if ah’m theer first ah’ll put a stone on t’wall’ and th’other said ‘well if ah’m theer first ah’ll knock it off!’ [laughing]  Yes, that was a local one.

Did you ever give anybody nicknames or did you have one?

Oh I have a book full of ‘em!  Go on then!  But you don’t know who you’re calling because they may still have relatives living you know - there used to be a lot from Heptonstall because one lad – what was he called?…there were so many Greenwoods and Sutcliffes that you didn’t know who they were talking about and they always called them by what we called by-names and they’d all different ones, now there were some who lived up Heptonstall Road – there were Bushes that were Greenwood, Cappies that was Greenwoods…oh I can’t remember, there were so many of them, there were Greenwoods and Sutcliffes…now there were some…there were Johnties,  that was Greenwoods, Pillings - I can’t remember them all, there’s so many to remember, but every time I think about one I write it down and some time I’m going to have a fresh do and start and do all the Greenwoods together -  they’re mixed up just now.  Probably that couple that came from…that couple – the lady in the wheelchair – she’ll probably know a lot from Heptonstall because they have a lot of relatives - my father, I’ve heard my father tell about a fella called ‘shipinth’attic’ because he said he’d built a ship in his attic [laughing] and he couldn’t – did he tell you that? he couldn’t get it down!  And then he had one…a fella who had a cat and this cat…his wife was trying to get it out and it went through t’door and he held t’door open for it and instead of kicking t’cat he knocked it and he said, ‘I left fur on Mary’ and it was on his toes, he meant.My father used to be able to tell a lot of tales about different ones because he used to follow Hebden Bridge Band as well, he used to be the big drum in the band and I used to go to all the band practices, I used to have go and watch so I used to get to know a lot about music – what was good music and bad, and one of my uncles was an adjudicator of brass bands - my mother’s brother - and my mother’s family, they used to keep what was called The Old Hole In The Wall in Hebden Bridge which was a little old – I have a picture of that as well -  a little old building in those days, and…I mean she had three sisters and their father, he was a right sportsman, he used to go shooting and what not and he once had something hung in the cellar, and he took some fellas down; I don’t know what it was, it was some joint or bird or something, and they must have served this up some time at a meal and [laughing] when they looked at it, it was going green of course because he was hanging it like they did then, I don’t know just what it was, but anyhow when he told them what they’d eaten and he told them it was that thing that they’d seen in the cellar, they nearly all passed out!And then of course there was when…my father used to tell about that – would they have mentioned - that lady who fell from the bridge up into Blake Dean when they were building…not Gorple Reservoir, Widdop Reservoir would it be or the other one?  They built a bridge across for the railway to go from one side to the other and a woman…because you could walk across and she was walking with some friends and she fell from the bridge down below.  That was one of the tragic things, yes…so that was awful.And then there was a murder..was there?…a murder at a farm somewhere on the hill tops oh was there?  What happened? towards Mytholmroyd way – Black…I can’t remember what it was called.  There’ve been lots of things going on in this area. 

What did you do at Christmas?

Christmas – oh heavens, oh always like everybody else – we always used to go and listen to the band at midnight of course, that was one thing you had to do.  At twelve o’clock the band struck up in the square and everybody from…all came in to listen to it; the square was absolutely packed full of people, it was.  

Did you do anything else special?

Only dancing!  Go to dances.

Where did you dance?

Everywhere; I used to go to Todmorden, to the Town Hall in Tod, or the Co-op Hall, and the Weaver’s Institute there used to be, and then there used to be the Co-op Hall here and the Victoria Hall, and the bandroom which they did dancing, and then I used to go to Sowerby Bridge to one there and Halifax, I went to all the valley – I used to go somewhere every Friday and Saturday night, and when we used to go to the Trades Club it might finish at twelve and then they’d say ‘right, shall we have another hour?’ you’ll have a collection and they’d pay the band, have a collection, they’d pay the band and they’d stay another hour and we’d stay on…I once stayed and I didn’t come straight home; somebody walked me home and it took me a long time.  When I got home, my sister - my mother was ill at the time and she had to have her bed down in the house and my sister was staying up looking and I was late, they expected me home – well when I got in my sister - I just got kicked upstairs, I got kicked up the stairs – I hadn’t time to get in the doorway before my she was calling me all the names under the sun and I was kicked up the stairs! [laughing]

What was the Trades Club like in those days?

Well it was where the Labour Party met.  They’d offices and what-not there, that was upstairs.  Downstairs was a billiard – I think they had – it was a billiard hall, a little billiard.  You know where the Picture House is, next to there, did they tell you about that?  There used to be a wooden building called The Royal Picture Place and that was all wooden, and we used to go there and we used to sit on [someone coming in] we used to sit on wooden seats you know and I think it was tuppence at the front, on the seats in front and they used to say ‘push up there’ and you used tohave to keep pushing up to hold as many as you could, and I always remember I once went….you used to have to come ‘docking’ in this field – gathering docks for dock pudding – and I used to have to come running home from school, have my tea and then come and then if I got a bag of docks I could have thre’pence to go; this is when I was younger, at school, I could have thre’pence to go to the pictures – well I was once so long doing it that when I – by the time I’d got it and I got to the pictures it had started and I was fuming!  I was thinking ‘rotten beggars, rotten beggars, having me going docking when I could have been here!’ [laughing] I can remember that to this day, how I felt about that, that I’d missed some of the picture because I’d been docking – the rotten beggars!  Oh how do you remember these things, I don’t know

Do you remember your grandparents at all?

I don’t remember me grandparents no, I know that me grandfather – I’ve heard me mother say he came to see me when I was born, and put me a five shilling piece which my daughter still has as a brooch, a five shilling piece for me on the pillow.

Did you do anything on Good Friday or at Easter?

Do you mean a Pace Egg?  No, me brothers used to be in the Pace Egg Players and that then but it wasn’t commercialised like it is now, I mean they just went round in little gangs to everywhere; there might be two or three of them going to different places.  

What were they doing then? Why did they do it?

I don’t know really, it was just local interest I think.  I don’t know how they did it.

Did they get paid?

No, ee no, they might get - somebody might throw them copper out of the windows, because they used to go before people were up; they’d go really early on in a morning you know and perform outside, like outside the…Buttress, I mean they’d stand in the square at the bottom and there’d be houses open, they could always throw something out you see – they might throw stones at ‘em an’ all!

What part did your brother play then?

I don’t know, I don’t know.

Did you watch him?

No, I wasn’t really interested.

How old was he when he did that?

Well it would be my younger brother, it would be my younger brother that did it I know…I shouldn’t be very old I don’t think when they used to come round – I wouldn’t be very old, but I do remember it.  I think it were when we were up The Buttress, it was before we went to…moved to The Swan I think.And they used to sledge down Buttress you know, down the proper Buttress that’s still there that comes down the lane and the boys used to come down there, well I used to have to be content with going over the old bridge into the pub where we lived you know, and my mother used to say ‘mind th’orses’ - mind th’orses in those days - not cars! [laughing]

I just want to ask you one thing – since we’ve been talking, what do you think about what we’ve been talking about?  How does it make you feel, talking about the old times?

Oh I don’t know – it’s too late to bother about anything, I’ve given up bothering about anything anymore.  I just can’t be bothered, I mean as I get things through the letter box I think ‘oh what are they bothering about now?’  I just feel I haven’t got the patience to bother about it; it doesn’t matter – you can’t, you just can’t do the same when you get this age.

Do you think younger people or middle-aged people will find this interesting?

Well I wonder sometimes when I’ve gone into Halifax which I hate now - I used to go every Saturday shopping – I hate Halifax now, there’s gangs of youths about and they’re always… these ‘ere what do they call them? they’re around eating and I think ‘don’t they get anything to eat at home?’  They’re always eating in the streets you know and you get that horrible burger smell and it smells horrible to me – they smell horrible to me.  Mind you, I have to be content now to have ready meals myself I mean, but I’m a little bit particular what they are – I couldn’t eat burgers.I will say this – kids are a lot taller than they were in our days you know; I don’t know whether it’s because they’re eating all this or what, but they are definitely taller, all the girls and most of them are a lot…I mean I’m only little and I used to think ‘oh I wish I had longer legs’ but a lot of us…we used to put it down because we were in little low…people were brought up in little low houses and there wasn’t room to grow!

Did you live anywhere else besides Bankfoot?

Yes, we moved into them high-rise flats which was awful.  When I first went in at the beginning, a lot of local people had gone moved in thinking they were going to be in nice modern flats; well by the time some of them had left or died away, they started bringing people in from Halifax - rough areas of Halifax, young ones; well over the top of me I had a couple and they had reggae music on you know ‘boom boom boom’until two or three o’clock in a morning.  I could not sleep and I eventually came after one of those over there and I said ‘if you don’t get me out of this place, I’ll go mad’ I said ‘you’ll be taking me away because I just can’t stand it any more’.  Next door there was a couple with a baby and the fella used to sit up until the two o’clock feed and he used to play darts, and it used to be on the wall next to me and there would be ‘plonk, plonk, plonk’ until two in the morning; believe me, it nearly drove me mad, I thought I was going crazy and when I said something to him of course I got a mouthful so I didn’t – I didn’t anymore, and after, when they left, they got a girl in who was having fellas coming, different fellas, and she had a child, a little boy, and I’m sure she locked him in a cupboard ‘cos he used to scream murder.  Oh it was awful, that place.  It’s a good job they’ve pulled them down and put those up.

Have you thought of any of those nicknames yet?

Sammy Pie, Sammy Pie was one and he had a little pie shop.  He was called – but his name was Holroyd, it wasn’t either Greenwood or Sutcliffe and then there was somebody called Billy Sutcliffe, we called him Billy Plonk and that was one name.  And…who else was there?  Charlie Swallops – I don’t know where they got that name from, that was Charlie – Sutcliffe I think he was called, Charlie Swallop.  I can’t just remember, no I can’t – but there were a lot of names.

I think this is gonna end very soon – oh it’s still got a minute or two yet  to go I think.

Can you remember your teachers at school?

Teachers?  Oh yes rather, from being in the babies’ class it was the…headmistress was Miss Moses and then was Miss Livermore and Mrs Uttley.  Mrs Uttley used to whistle; she was fascinating because she always whistled when she talked, a proper whistle came out with it, I was really fascinated by that.  It was lovely – they had a big rocking horse in the corner and if you were good you got a ride on the rocking horse if you did anything clever.  And then there was a swing that they used to have; you could fasten it up and have a swing, it was lovely.And now as I say about bank books - we had a bank book, even then in the babies’ room, because I remember once running home because I’d left my bank book, I hadn’t taken it - ran straight into the caretaker’s ladder.  He was coming round the corner of the building with a spike; I ran straight into him and it went into my forehead, fortunately it wasn’t my eye – straight into him, I don’t just know which side it was - I had a mark on or a long time, and the spike went in and the teacher had to carry me to the doctor’s and I got two stitches put in.  I remember that very well, running into that!

Did you like school? 

Yes, yes I did like school but I never went in…I didn’t go into further education, I don’t know.  I mustn’t have been bright enough but I could write – I could write composition but I wasn’t very good at maths I’m afraid.

Somebody told me that teachers had to be unmarried.  Is that right?

Well yes, well, we did have – yes, when we got into what we called the Big School there was Miss Eastwood…oh yes, Miss Smith…oh yes and Mr Lellow, Mr Rushworth and the headmaster was Mr Glue, because at that time there was Mr Potts up at Stubbings, Mr Wager at the Grammar School and who was here.  We used to have a …Mr Potts broke a pot, Mr Glue glued it, Mr Wager paid the wages, Mr Somebodyelse did something else – we had them all off one after the other, what they did! [laughing]

Were there any shops down this end of town?

Oh I’ll tell you what there used to be - they used to run a…to Hardcastle Crags, to the Lodge gates…a wagonette from the White Lion, a horse with a wagon, a one horse wagonette.


[TRACK 2 – commentary on the images of the envelopes from the WWI letters]

Right – shall we begin?

What I’d like to do, is talk to you about these letters from the First World War that were sent to your family, and to talk about the characters who were drawn on the front of them.  Were they all written by the same person?

Well the man who did them, he was a cartoonist for a newspaper – I don’t know what.  He was a cartoonist.

Did he live in Hebden?

Yes – yes.

Was he a friend of one of your brothers?

Yes, that’s right.

Did you know his name?


The cartoonist.

I think he’ll be dead by now, even if he hadn’t been drowned at sea – he would have been over a hundred.

Do you know some of the people that he drew?

Not on this one I don’t – well, he’s put a sailor on hasn’t he, and we always had a cat, and he always puts a cat in – always puts a cat in.

Do you think that he drew them according to what your brother told him about the family?

Yes.  I know some of the characters that are on but like I say people today won’t have a clue.  That’s  Lillian me sister, and he’s doing the washing in the kitchen outside.

[looking through photos]

So is that your sister in that one?

Yes I had a sister, she died at thirty-six – cancer.

What was her name?


So that was written to her?

Yes, that was hers.  I wish I could print like that!

It’s very nice…who wrote that letter do you think?

My brother wrote the letter to my mother, ‘cos she was always ill and she had someone looking after her, and she wasn’t very good so my brother’s wife – I think he mentions it if I can remember, that ‘Sarah Lidworth will look after mother’ that was it – that’s it.

So there’s another one.

Well this is supposed Blackpool isn’t it, with t’wheel and I can’t see me mother doing on a donkey at all [laughing] but that’s what it is.

They’re just acting silly on that aren’t – is that Ramsden’s fivepenny, five pence a pint beer?


Ramsden’s it was…oh that’s when – my mother always wore black skirts, black silk skirts in those days.
And this was a fella who used to be a regular visitor and he was a very gentlemanly type of person, and they’re of course having a drink with him.
And there’s a cat again [laughing]

Did you always have a cat?

Always, yes I’ve always had a cat – they called it Verdun after the Battle of Verdun.
That’s another fella that used to come – the cat’s there again.

Can you remember any of their names?

I think he was called Mr Cunliffe I think, if I can remember his name – mind you I was only about four years old then; I think they went in when I was three and came out – they were in all during the war and then they came out after the war, but they did keep in all during the war.  If the lads came home on leave we used to have a real happy time then.

Did they own it then?

My father?


No, not own it – he were a pub landlord but it belonged to the brewery of course, yes, in those days.

[still looking through]

They’re all on there aren’t they, all them boys.

That’s supposed to be me! [laughing]

Is that all your family then?

Yes, that’s me mother and father standing – ‘Welcome Home’ when they were all coming back home.  That was sad about him not coming home when the others all did, and he was the man who was married.

How many brothers did you have?

Two children he had and they’re both dead I think – I never kept in touch, they just went away and I never heard anything again till…they’ll be old chaps by now.

So how many brothers did you have?

Now then…Willie, Percy, Harry, Sam, Tom – five.

Did they all go to war?

No – Tom didn’t; he was the youngest, but he died.  All those at home afterwards, they all died in their sixties.

Were they all in the navy?

No there were three of them in the army; one of them was a prisoner-of-war actually, in Germany.

Do you know which prisoner-of-war camp he was in?

No.  We did have a letter that was supposed to be from George the Fifth about welcoming back home after being in prison during the war, but he [Percy] always said that they used to  - he said ‘we used to have potato peelings food but the Germans were no better off than we were – they were having the potato but they were having the peelings.

How long was he in for?

I don’t know – he tried to join up when he was sixteen and me mother had to fetch him back, and he went two or three times, determined to get in the army and then she gave it up as a bad job, and I think he went in when he was about eighteen, but he did go all through the war.

Is that you again in that one?

Yes, blowing bubbles, soap bubbles!  We used to get clay pipes you know, make a mixture and then just blow them through the pipes, and there’s Mr Cunliffe again – very smart man always, and the cat every time – never misses the cat.  Somebody must have a big tub – someone looks to have a big tub in here.

He has some weight on that chap.

[pulling curtains open to let light in]

There’s a chap with a parasol.

That’s me sister again, and that’s supposed to be Peter because he was rather smitten with me sister I think.

Did they get married?

No – he went - we never heard anything much after the war when me brother had got killed, well he got drowned – we didn’t seem to hear much afterwards about him; well he went back to Ireland, he was an Irishman.

They are a dirty mess aren’t they?

Oh that’s when they’re going back…that’s probably him that’s waving, Peter probably waving.

Who are those people on the corner there – is that you again?

Yes [laughing]

Is that your mum?

That’s my sister, well she was fourteen years older than me.  I think she would be well in her twenties there, and she never got married.

And who’s this chap then, with the red nose?

I think that’ll be Peter – I used to have my hair in ringlets, what they put up in rags you know – he’ll be serving on.

So how did you put you hair up?

Oh we used to have long strips of cotton calico, strips- used to cut them to about that width then you used to put them in, then you used to wrap your hair round ‘em and then tie them at the bottom to hold it, and then when you got up in the morning you pulled them down and your hair used to come down

How long did it last?

Eeh I don’t know!

Was it all day or was it weeks?

Well everybody wore them I suppose in those days – it was one of the things they were doing.

Did you like curly hair?

No, I never really – I knew curly hair didn’t suit me because I’ve tried wigs on and they do not suit my face – curly hair does not suit my face – I always used to wear my hair up in a bun and I just suddenly decided – I mean I wore it unit…not so many years ago but it had got such a nuisance to put it up, and my arms used to ache [getting tangled in wires] and I used to get so irritated with it, and I thought – one day I was just in Hebden; I was my with me niece and I said ‘I’m going to get this bun cut off’  ‘ooh’ she says ‘you’re not!’  I said ‘I am’ so anyway I did – I was determined and it’s been easier ever since; it wants cutting now actually.  There’s a hairdressers downstairs you know; I have been once but she didn’t tek enough off.

Is that all your brothers do you think?

…no – well me father used to be in the Hebden Brass Band and he used to play the big drum because a lot of the bandsmen, they used to come to the pub and I think he joined in the band just to play the drums.
Me cat looks to be dancing - me father used to do what was called a cat dance and it’s like the Russians do  - bent and throwing his legs you know, backwards and forwards and going around the room – he was very agile in that respect.

Why did they call it a cat dance?

I don’t know – it must be the way – you know, when you’re bent down in two and your two legs going at the front – I don’t know really – no, I’ve not idea about that.

Was he good at it?

Oh he was excellent – he used to go down the passage in the Swan doing it [laughing]   - just like the Russians do; when the Russian dancers came, a few of them they went all round – oh, just like me father used to do

Was that something that other people did in Hebden?

I don’t know – I don’t’ – I don’t suppose everybody could do it; he must have been very – you know, his legs must have been easy to manoeuvre.

It’s a hard dance to do.

The old people used to say that he looked like and Italian – father was very dark, very dark and they used to say ‘ he just looks like’ – because he always wore…what they call ‘em…Homburg hats and very smart; he always wore like black and white shoes; black and then white as well, he was always very smart.

Like correspondent’s shoes or spats?

Yes…oh there he is you see.

Yeh – playing the drum

And that’s a fella that we called ‘Little Normy’ – he was only a little dwarf fella.  Is that Ramsden’s five penny it says on there?

So who was that little fella?

This one – that’s little Normy.

Did he live in Hebden?

He came from Mytholmroyd – Normy Helliwell he was called and I was as tall as him you know; it used to be funny talking to him.

So he was in the band as well?

Yeh.  Just like me father – he was so straight, even when he was eighty-eight years old he’s a really straight back, and he always used to be saying to all of us ‘get your backs straight – get your shoulders back’ – he was always saying that to us…

Oh that’s when they’ve been on leave again- Mr Cunliffe; I think he smoked a cigar mostly 

Was he a regular in the pub?

He was a very nice gentleman, probably treat them a lot when they came on leave you know, because he wasn’t without a penny.

Do you know what he did?

He lived in Mytholmroyd at Hawksclough and he had a house-keeper as well so I don’t think he was without a bob or two.

Do you know what he did?

No, not before he retired, no.

Is that him again?

To catch the post – no, I think that’s supposed to be me father really – I think that’s supposed to be me father, and I don’t know – I couldn’t say – he looks to have a moustache; well me father did have a moustache because I know once I went home from school and I was going to have my tea and my father was sat at the other side and he suddenly lifted his head up, and I said ‘he’s had his moustache grabbed’ because he’d had his moustache taken off, and it was very dark you know – a little moustache and I thought – well I didn’t like him without his moustache.  
Being the youngest of the family, the others always said I was spoilt to death. Well this isn’t much – I don’t know who this is connected with, except they used to put papers on the wall didn’t they?

Is he a window cleaner?

I don’t know if they put any on the front of the pub, no – but somebody, I don’t know who that fella is supposed to be – I don’t remember him at all, but it’s quite a neat little thing in’t it that?  Yes.  Very neat – I wish I could do that sort of writing.

It’s a big skill, that.

Yes – very good.

Ah yes – you’ll know that one.

Yes, he’s doing it on that – that’s right, yes, with Mr Cunliffe watching him.

So that’s the cat dance.

And that would be Peter because he was a bit of a boy you know – full of spring and I think there was a dog and a cat looking very shy [laughing] with the dog – yes that’s a good one actually of me dad doing that dance – hands on hips you know.
That’s me sister – we used to have a kitchen sort of built on to the back of the pub and she used to have cooking in there, so he’s cleaning shoes while he’s waiting for his dinner, and it’s fish. The cat knows.

Ah right – last one there.

Oh yes – now you see those are in fashion today, fur, those scarves because my daughter bought some, no her daughter bought her one and a lady here’s got one I noticed, so they’re in fashion – old-fashioned things again you see.

They’ve come back.


Are they feathers?

No they’re not feathers now – they’re made from a sort of nylony soft stuff, a bit shinier – I don’t know what it is they’re made from.  You see he’s put Miss Lily Crossley, well that wasn’t her name, it was Lilian.  They say from Harwich, so they must have been, they must be stationed at Harwich when they came back to England.

Where were they?

Well they were – anywhere, I don’t know; on the high seas, anywhere – I don’t know where.  They probably wouldn’t be able to be told where they were in those days would they?  Like secret service.

That’s true, yes.  

I feel dirty after handling those cards – they are a dirty mess

Oh they’re not too bad.

Well it’s wallpaper that’s at the back because they were all in a glass – they were all in a big pitcher you know, all together and I think they hung them up when they came back, that’s why, and one of me brothers got hold of it and he kept it so that’s how he come to have them.  Probably I would have thrown them away long ago, I don’t think I would have kept it.

You’ve forgotten your tea – I bet it’s cold.

No, it’s spot on!

What a shame – that much gone on a cold day, because there’s a cold wind I think today isn’t there?

There is a cold wind.

There looks to be – I can tell by the trees moving, and I cannot get those branches taken down; they will not come and do that – I wish they would, because when they’re in leaf I can’t see a thing, they just cover all the window. They’re getting nearer and nearer; we’ve been on to them now two years.

They are getting closer and closer.

We’ve been on to them but they don’t take any notice.  It’s not the trees I’m bothered about – it’s the branches and little thin branches; they’ve got leaves on them, it’s surprising.

Oh the buds are out.

I mean it’s been lovely to be able to see other people’s houses – Savile Road, well when those trees are out I cannot see a thing – I just feel to be on my own completely.

Is it the council you have to talk to?

Well no, it’s Pennine in’t it?  I can’t understand it – one thing is connected with Pennine, the other is Calderdale Council so who is responsible for everything, I do not know, but somebody had had some trouble with the ceilings – some coming down or some cracks or something, so they had to get someone in so she asked how much it was and they said ‘well we can only allow you fifty pounds, and it was a hundred pounds but she had to pay the fifty so they’re not responsible for that, which is silly really because I mean the size of them – to get anybody in to decorate these places, it will cost the earth.  I think a big council like we have, I think they could have a permanent staff of decorators to go round and do their property up, instead of having people to depend on, see who they can get and how much they’re gonna pay because it’s going to cost a heck of a lot.  I see they’re alright for two – they’re just right for two people could live very nicely here because I mean they’re big – the bedroom’s big enough for two but I think there are only about three couples in, and they’re old – they’re not young couples, because they wouldn’t accept young couples because they’re supposed to be for older people really, so I don’t know.  With not going out into – I don’t go and join the crowds much, and you get to know anything if you don’t go and talk to people; it’s the only way to get to know what’s going on really.

That’s true.  Well we hope to come back in May I think and tell some stories about all the different people that we’ve interviewed.  We’re gonnna take different bits of each one and do like a pretend, like as a one-person

The only thing is that you’re sat looking at the kitchen aren’t you?  I mean that’s another thing that doesn’t appeal to a lot of people I think – being an open kitchen because you’ve got to try and keep that kitchen pretty tidy – I mean you can’t just leave everything!

So you recognise Staithes then – well my daughter lived on top of this cliff facing down there and I think he’s boats on – he has a boat, I think it’s that one there, but he’s sold that now and gone in for a greenhouse; I thought ‘he thinks he’s got too old to go out to sea so he’s converted to land now’

It’s a beautiful picture

It’s lovely, it’s a pretty little place – do you know nearly all the cottages were booked up for Christmas?  People going there for Christmas to a place with little to offer anyone you know, to do, except if you like a drink – there’s a pub, but not everybody wants that and it would be too cold for kiddies to go on the beach, I mean they couldn’t do that, so how they spend their time I do not know, because it’s a jolly cold coast I think is t’east coast.

It is.

I was surprised when they said they was going to live up there, but they both seem to like it.

Well at Christmas...

Well Mike’s mother and father lived in York so they thought they were nearer both of them, and me when they came up here so that’s why they arrived up here, so that’s why they arrived up here – I said ‘ooh I don’t know why you’ve gone on the east coast, it’s the coldest coast’  I said ‘you please yourself’ – I think I should have been going abroad like more people do nowadays, a little place abroad, in the sun.

Would you like to live abroad then?

Yes, I’ve had some good holidays, but not necessarily sun holidays.  We’ve mostly gone to – well my husband was very fond of art so we went to Italy especially, we did like Italy and we liked Germany for a happy, good, jolly time there’s nothing to beat Germany.  We had a real time when we went there, and of course my brother was living there – he couldn’t bear to speak of Germany, I said ‘I don’t know what you’re going there for’ [laughing]

So the brother that died just after the war, what actually happened to him?

No me brother that died that was lost at sea, no that was Willie, t’eldest one, yes…and my niece went to either Portsmouth or whatever down there, down south in Devon or Cornwall and there’s a memorial to all those who were lost at sea and his name was on it, yes it was really funny to see his name – someone had told her that they thought that it would be him, so she went to see and she said ‘yes it was’ and it was right and everything.

Is his name on the memorial gardens here in Hebden Bridge, because they have a monument in Hebden Bridge don’t they?

Oh yes, yes but I don’t think his name’s on that, perhaps they’re all soldiers – I don’t know, I don’t think so, I don’t know that – too self-centred I think.

Well thanks very much for that Phyllis -  that was quite fascinating talking to – well these drawings on these envelopes to do with your family and friends from the past.

The one who mostly wrote to my mother I should say of all of them, he was the one who wrote most – the one who was married.  He was the sailor, and they always say that that killed my mother, when she got to know that he’d been lost at sea and he was in sea boots or something and the weight of them would pull him down; they never found his body.  They searched for it but they didn’t find it, and I don’t know if he was particularly fond of swimming before he went even into the army, I don’t know.

How did your father take it?

I don’t know really, although I was supposed to have been my father’s girl – it were always ‘oh your father – spoilt to death, you!’ they used to say, ‘my father spoils you’ especially when I came on the scene because they’d only one girl and she was spoilt by her brothers of course, so when I came on the scene I put her nose out!

And I was always playing with boys- I liked boys’ games – whip and top and that sort of thing you know, and marbles – things like that I always used to love playing, I did used to like that because there were some boys that lived on Bridge Gate and I was always with them – two brothers; they all kept shops and they used to be on the back, there’s a ground at the back and we used to go and I remember playing at cards you know – football cards, and you’d to guess the names, and I used to love all that sort of thing.  Skipping ropes as well and big round things you know – hoops and that as well; they don’t seem to enjoy things like that nowadays.

Did you know any skipping songs?

Yes I suppose we did but I can’t remember any…but I can remember a lot of old songs when I was older, because when I get to bed sometimes they just come into my head and I just go one after the other, really old songs, and the words were lovely words to the songs – they’re nothing, just noise, but they were always lovely little songs and the words used to be lovely you know, and sentimental but still they were lovely, they were.

What songs did you like?

Eeh I can’t remember, but I know they do come back to me…there was one – ‘You’ll Never Know How Much I Miss You’ – really nice words, very sentimental I would say, and then of course the American ones – they were always on about things in America and that sort of thing; they were different songs to ours.

Did you sing Irish songs?

Can’t remember, can’t remember – no…can’t go back so far!  I can go back a long way, but when you’re on your own you can sort of think about things, and especially if you can’t get to sleep – you do then.

Okay – we’ll finish off then.

I think there’s nothing else I can remember, but I do remember that we used to have – well we didn’t have to save but we were taught to save in those days; they don’t do anything like that now, do they – no encouragement to save.  It’s all spend – ‘it’s only five hundred pounds’ you know – everything is ‘only’ – if it’s a thousand pounds, it’s ‘only’ a thousand pounds – it’s marvellous.

Well my husband worked for eighteen shillings a three short day week, eighteen shillings, that was his wage – seven and sixpence at home for three of us, just half a crown each, and my niece, she went working and she worked five and a half days a week for seven and six – all the hours, early morning till half past five and Saturday mornings till perhaps half past eleven.

Where was that?

They was doing the clothing trade – all the clothing, there was nothing else here – there must have been a dozen clothing firms in those days and they all went – there’s nothing left of them, all gone – they’ve all been converted into flats nowadays – where are they all coming from, these people?

I don’t know.

They’re coming from away aren’t they, they’re not locals.


No, they’re not locals.  Mind you, I suppose families today – they split up quicker don’t they, I mean they’ve been married two or three times and moving house, so they will want more houses won’t they naturally?  I don’t know how many people there are in this valley now, but I’m sure it must have doubled or trebled.

Do you think so?

Yes I think it has, and yet you know, quite a lot of shops – Bridge Lanes, we had everything you could think of; three butcher’s shops in Bridge Lanes alone, and a greengrocer where you could get everything, fish and chip shop, two – you could just get everything in Bridge Lanes.   Three pubs, I think there were three or four up Heptonstall Road alone – marvellous, at five pence a pint – but there were no catering, the only catering – me mother used to do a dinner for the local tradesmen and it were just in a little room that we had at the back and she used to put it in - and the butcher, who live in St George’s Square, just where he used to provide the meats so it was always good, and me sister used to help with the cooking as well so they managed a little bit between them, but she only just did it as a favour really to them because they’d supported the pub, most of them.

When was that – how often?

Ooh I don’t know – a long long time ago.

Did she do that every week or..

No, no – just occasionally, just a special tradesman’s lunch, dinner it was [someone coming in – talking about getting a new manager for the home]

[END OF TRACK 2 - letters] 

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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