Charles "Ken" Green

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Mr Green, shall I call you Mr Green?

Yes, by all means.

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

My full name is Charles Kenneth Green and I was born in a cottage at Mytholm, which has now long since gone, on 24th of October 1926.

Whereabouts in Mytholm was that?
It was opposite the church; I’m not so certain if the actual lane has a name – it’s just a branch off, it’s on private land really.

Did the house have a name?

It didn’t, no, it was an old farm cottage really. The farm had been sort of semi pulled down when my parents took it on and it’s since been demolished now and there’s a pair of semis there, so the whole area’s altered.

Was that on the right hand side below the church?

If you go up Mytholm to the church, before you go up the Steeps turn left; I know where you mean now there’s an old house there that used to belong to Pickles’s Machine Tool people, they were the landlords actually, of my parents, and this little cottage was at the top of that lane.

What did your parents do?

My father was a radial driller at Pickles’s Woodworking Machinery; he came up from Staffordshire just half way through the First World War I think. He was a collier and worked in the pit, and of course he was in trouble with health and it was a very wet pit that he worked in and so he was offered this opportunity to come up.

My mother actually got a job at Mytholm Hall as a maid and it seems – I’ve been down to the village in question – and surprisingly, quite a few of the young women would follow that course up into Yorkshire and go as maid servants into Mytholm Hall.

Can you remember anything about Mytholm Hall when you were young?

I can’t specifically no; I had been in the place briefly but I really couldn’t put a picture to it in my mind.

Do you know who lived there?

It was Hiram Pickles, he was one of the elder of the Pickles.

Was he the one that started the Pickles factory – the mill?

I would imagine – I’m not too certain about the origins but they were certainly there prior to the First World War. All the extensions that were built on were done with profits from the First World War and then another extension with the Second World War. My mother actually came up with another lady who married Charlie Pickles who was one of the bosses there and she did rather well but you see that union sort of triggered off when my father had to leave the pit through this lady; her name was Katie Parker – my mother used to talk an awful lot about her and he was offered a job and of course a cottage to live in.

Was that usual practice, to get somewhere to live when you worked for a mill?

I’m not certain really; my mother came as a maid servant, I don’t know how long she stayed as a maid servant; I suspect not very long.

What was a maid servant exactly?

Well, just general domestic duties really so cleaning, doing laundry, kitchen duties? That’s right, and I suspect they would keep a high table wouldn’t they, people of that calibre, nowadays perhaps not but in those days it was a very much different thing.

What can you remember about your childhood when you lived there?

My childhood was extremely happy. One thing as the years have gone by…well I knew this as most people do from some time ago, but you just realise how hard working your parents were. I don’t think they could stand the pace nowadays really! [laughing] But my childhood was extremely happy; when I looked around at my contemporaries, they would have holes in their stockings, holes in their jerseys but we were always well dressed, well turned out and my mum always kept a good table. I have some wonderful memories of the home baking and so on.

What were your favourite baking foods?

Well, she used to make a variety of things – macaroons and rock cakes, the old traditional jam pasties you know; my mouth could water now, thinking about them! [laughing] She baked all her own bread, we bought nothing; in fact I don’t think I tasted bought bread until I’d left school.

Did she do that every week?

Oh yes, oh yes – it was ongoing really. When I think when I do my shopping now I buy this and I buy that and I pop it in the fridge but that wasn’t a facility in those days, they would have to shop and prepare foods which would not be kept too long really.

Was there a particular baking day?

Usually it would be a Saturday because my mother did, like most, a variety of part-time work. She used to take washing in, that was quite common, and ironing too and my father used to repair shoes; I can recall being sent to the cobblers for what was called a half a bend of leather which would be a big piece about this square (2 to 3 foot) and I watched him hours really, cutting out.

So this was done on the side?

Oh yes, all this was done in the home.

Did he have a particular area where he did that sort of work or did he have a workshop?

Well, it was virtually a one-up one-down; I had two brothers older than myself and a sister. When I think back we were really on top of each other and again, it was common enough; we survived like many did, but all the work was done really in the living area, the same with bath night. We’d all take our turns in the bath – me being the youngest, I was in last!

So was the water dirty when you got in?

Well it was getting a bit thicker, yes, but thinking back, they were all wonderfully happy days.

Did you and your brothers and sister all sleep in the same room?

Well, I slept with my sister. She was just two years older than me, in my parents’ room actually and my two elder brothers had their own room, albeit a very small room. I have a brother still alive, he’s eighty-six now; my eldest brother was born in 1917 but he’s passed on now. He passed on indirectly as a result of war wounds..I don’t know…there didn’t seem to be any provision for a pension for him really – I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t a great deal.

So was that the Second World War?


Where was he fighting?

Well, he went to France on D-Day plus ten and he was with an armoured regiment, well an ex-cavalry regiment, the Fifth Royal Enniskillen Dragoon Guards, quite a crack regiment really but they were mechanised and he fought right through to Caen and Feliz, Feliz gap is quite a significant military operation and then they turned north into Belgium and that’s where he was badly wounded.

Which school did you go to?

I went to Mytholm School, a Church of England School. That was the only school I went to actually.

Were the boys and girls separated?

Oh no, it was mixed throughout.

Did you enjoy school?

Yes I did, perhaps if you had asked me whilst I was at school I might have provided a different answer but yes, looking back they were good years, really good years. I was no great academic but…I was quite good at English and History and so on. Arithmetic was…..yet what bit I did acquire at that time…my teacher was Nellie Fox, that used to strike at the heart, oh deary me, you could sweat blood really thinking about Nellie Fox but she was very firm but very fair. I do owe a lot to her, I really do. In fact, I did correspond with her for a number of years in my teens.

What was the best thing about her?

I don’t know…I suppose it was her humanity really, I mean she wasn’t a lady to be trifled with. Everybody sat to attention and really took on board; we were quite serious about it. It was unfortunate that I just couldn’t grasp a lot of things but I made up for that in subsequent years because during the war I thought ‘I shall actually be involved in the war’ but this was out of this district but perhaps not relevant but I did volunteer for air crew and I was passed. I didn’t actually get in to uniform but I was accepted for air crew training, but the war was pretty well advanced then and they really scrapped a lot of the training programmes and so I ended up in the army.

What did you do in the army?

Well I served with the Royal Artillery. I joined up…I was accepted for the RAF in June 1944 and I served till the end of the year, what they call differed service. That was what I should have had to have waited anyway to have entered these flight training schemes, but I was transferred over so I saw the end of the war and the Japanese War whilst I was still training in this country and then I went out to the Middle East. I was out there three and a half years and served in Egypt and in Palestine when all the original troubles were ongoing.

It’s still going on today really isn’t it?

It’s been in a state of firment from historical times hasn’t it, and there isn’t any promise of anything different really.

When you left school you went into the military, and when you finished the military, what did you do then?

Well when I left school, we left the district then and I went working then…well, I was called up for essential war work, as everyone in their teens was, and I did work at Rolls Royce in Crewe; they made Merlin air engines there and I worked there for two years prior to going into the services. Now since I came out of the army I could have gone back to Rolls Royce, that was a government directive, I could have gone back, but I had visions of blacked-out vast buildings you know, the blazing mercury light switch used to haunt me; it was like walking into the bowels of the earth and I thought ‘that’s not for me’. I think I can understand that.

Did you come back to Hebden then?

Yes, I did work for Callanders Cables electrifying the railway. The work gradually went further and further afield out of Crewe and they weren’t prepared to keep us on unless we would go into digs which wasn’t a very happy thing for a married man. That was in 1959 and I had the opportunity of a job up here – well first I had the opportunity of a house and that was the key thing really because if you could get a house, work was no problem. There was plenty of work about.

How did the house come about?

Well, it was one that was opposite where my parents lived and it was coming available and they realised of course my situation down in Nantwich in Cheshire, so I seized the opportunity because all my family, although we’d all moved down at the outbreak of war in 1940, oddly enough we’d all come back again after the war and so I was really coming home.

So you moved into the house?

Yes, we moved into that.

You were married by then you said?

Oh yes, I had a small child by then, and the work that I got was in a local clothing factory which one? Thomas Sutcliffe’s up Regent Street – now long gone like many of the others, all of the others I would think. I worked there for about two years but when I was down latterly in Crewe I was a storeman Kelvin refrigeration, so storekeeping was something which I enjoyed doing and I had the opportunity then of working for Shepherd’s garage as a storeman. I worked there from 1961 to…1968.

Did you do mechanical work as well?

Very limited mechanical work, no I wasn’t a trained automobile engineer as they like to be called.

Was Shepherd’s like it is now, where they have petrol and fix cars and they also have a large parts section?

It was fundamentally the same work – routine garage work – but at the time Shepherd’s also ran a fleet of wagons. They had eighteen wagons, in fact I think they’d really cornered the transportation of finished cotton pieces throughout Lancashire really, with eighteen vehicles which were kept very busy, and of course the work involved in maintaining those was considerable you know, there was a lot of movement of materials and so forth.

So they were more distribution rather than a garage as such?

Arguably yes, although the garage was very busy but I rather suspect that the transport was a substantial part of the operation.

I’m actually going to interview Wilfred Shepherd – he phoned me up because of the ad in the paper and said he would like to talk to me, so that should be an interesting chat.

I’m sure you’ll Wilfred very interesting. He was in charge of the transportation and his younger brother Trevor – I went to school with Trevor – was in charge of the garage; very well respected too, and a very able person…happy days!

When did you get married?

I got married down in Nantwich, that would be 1952.

Was she a Cheshire lass then?

She was, yes.

What was her name?

Irene – although unfortunately we were divorced but even so looking back, we had happy times but things had gone wrong, it became irreparable really; a sad tale that’s related many times over I think isn’t it? Then I did marry my second wife, her name was Marian Butters – she was a well-know local greengrocer and she lost her husband in 1966, and I don’t know how we met really, maybe because of our children. I had a daughter Wendy and Marian had a daughter Alison of a similar age and they were school buddies really, and of course Wendy would go home with Alison quite a while and then you see it came about when Marian was baking which she did all day Saturday really, she did a tremendous lot of baking and then of course the question was posed: ‘would you like to make a cake for your Dad?’ and it all developed from there, and of course in the winter, they wouldn’t allow Wendy to come home on her own because she was only…well, she’d be nine perhaps then and…yes, I was presented with a cake and of course Wendy says to Marian ‘aren’t you going to come in?’ so it’s pretty obvious how it all went really; that was 1966 or just after and we were married in 1969.
But I lost my wife two years ago…but we were married for thirty-six years and when I think back I know we all relate hard work to what our parents did, but mine was a really hard-working girl and there were quite a few of us; altogether we were seven strong so I mean Marian had a lot on her hands really to look after us all.

Did you all live at Mytholm?

Oh no, this was up Moss Lane. She had a house already up in Moss Lane – well, the address you’ve got now really.

You’ve been talking about how people worked very hard when you were younger, particularly your parents – how do you think that relates to today, particularly with younger people today – do you think they have the same sort of values as younger people back then?

Clearly some of them have but I think the work ethic is something that’s quite alien to many of them. They want too much too soon you know, the timescale for apprenticeships and things like that are very valid really and to give you a sense of purpose and your station in life that you wanted to achieve, you had to work for it for seven years and I think having achieved that, you can be justly proud and slot into society as traditionally we all did.

Do you think that was because work was more stable then, whereas these days it seems that most people don’t work in the same job for more than five years and they seem to move on?

That’s very true, profoundly true actually – oh yes, when I think back, certain jobs – the Post Office, the Railway were jobs for life and that’s the thing that’s long gone. Even if it were possible, I suspect that not many would wish to grind and toil away at the same job. [laughing]

Did you have special occasions, Christmas or Easter or during Wakes week – did you go on holiday or stay at home and have ‘big dos’?

We largely stayed at home. I didn’t personally go to the seaside at all during those years, I mean most of the children would maybe go to Blackpool, Morecambe or wherever, Southport or wherever but we never did and I suspect that it wasn’t that I felt I was left out because I was quite happy in what I was doing. We would largely go down to North Staffordshire to my grandparents, that was always special that was, and that constituted my holidays really but I didn’t feel disadvantaged in any way.

Was that from a young age?

Oh yes, from being quite young, yes.

Did you engage with the countryside?

Well yes we did the Wakes Week Walks and things like tahtwe got involved with things like that, and the weather was also very seasonable in those years, I mean we often thing the weather was better in those years and my goodness it was. Summer in summertime and winter in wintertime you know, I’d settle for that any time but now it seems to vary wildly.

Where did you go on the Wakes Walks?

Largely round and about, on the tops to Heptonstall and…on towards…Widdop and round there you know, or Hardcastle Crags.

Was this a particular group of people?

We used to tag on, I mean the Church used to run them – although we were welcome to go, I wasn’t actually a member of the Church…well I was a member of Mytholm Church I never sang in the choir or anything like that, although my elder brothers did.

Were you a church-goer then for most of your life?

I think with some pressure you know…yes, I suppose like most we used to abscond with the spending money – a penny for the collection would be frittered away I suppose! [laughing]

What did you do at Christmas?

Well Christmas was very special, it really was although from what I can recall, yes we’d have the odd toys – very nice but not over elaborate and nuts and the orange and apple, yes, and the decorations.

Did you make your own?

Yes, quite often – we’d buy the coloured paper, crepe paper, but that was very common; we used to love that. And painting doilies you know for the paper patterns they would put the cakes on, we used to paint those.

Were your presents home-made as well then?

No, those were bought. I suspect my elder brothers didn’t fare as well as I did. I think my parents were falling on slightly better times so I seemed to accumulate presents that were a bit special, perhaps costing a little bit more money.

What kind of things? What kind of toys?

Well when we lived at the cottage of course we were on top of each other, as I say it was virtually one-up one-down. My parents had their name down for a council house and in 1936 we moved up into Eaves estate which number did you move to? Two actually – number four Eaves Mount and the next row down was number five Ragley View and we moved up there. Of course we were on electric light there; we were on gas down at the cottage but the build-up to moving up into Eaves and having a supply of electricity – I mean like any other little boy I was always interested in engines and so forth – and my parents gradually built up a little electric train set for me, an electric train you know, and to have a truck or an extra carriage was something very very special, oh yes that was great.

I always recall prior to moving up we’d been up to sort of decorate and we were lectured no end that once we got up there, ‘none of this falling out’ – not that we fell out really but we got neighbours you see and we were advised very strongly that we had to be on our best behaviour, none of this noise upsetting people! [laughing]

Did you used to go on the walks that the church organised to do the praying on May Day?

I didn’t go to any of those, no.

Do you know anything about those?

I don’t know, really I don’t, no. I was never involved with them but as I understand it now there was quite a lot of activity and old traditions were kept going. I learnt a lot – well I wouldn’t say learnt a lot, or rather became more aware of them because I have been in the local camera club for…I joined in 1974 and of course a lot of the members are very knowledgeable and a lot of the pictures I put together have their origins there, of old Hebden Bridge, as things used to be.

Do you think Hebden Bridge has changed then, in your lifetime?

Oh, it has significantly.

In what way?

I suppose I could illustrate it when we moved up into Eaves. Everybody but everybody knew everybody and by virtue of that, we were always advised to be on our best behaviour because everybody knew you and of course the values that we had then, they were very important to uphold. You wouldn’t dare contravene them because our parents would deal with us a bit harshly you know if anyone said to them that we were misbehaving, so everybody knew everybody and that I think that was responsible for a lot of discipline really. I was always reminded about it but nowadays, I don’t know, the good citizens of Eaves I suppose are good solid people, but how many know each other? I live at Eaves. Do you live up Eaves? Yes, at number fifteen Eaves Avenue. Oh that will be opposite the recreation ground. Yes that’s it, at the far end, yes, and you are right…I know my neighbours on two or three doors on either side and the odd person up and down the street, but I don’t know everybody at all, I mean I know some on Ragley View and Eaves Mount as well, but that’s about four people out of fifteen houses I suppose.
Yes, you probably wouldn’t keep pace because there is a movement of people isn’t there of people coming and going. Yes, more so than there used to be I think. But that didn’t happen in my day. People were there for keeps more or less; rarely would you see anyone moving or hear of anyone moving – well all the work was local, people weren’t commuting and people stayed put. That’s where a lot of the difference I think is in Hebden Bridge, but the industry’s gone – how many people live here of working age that actually work in Hebden Bridge? I suspect not many in proportion to those that commute. Yes, that’s probably very true.

I’m trying to think now of characters – were there people in the town in those days that you would consider a ‘character’ because of the way they talked or behaved or whatever?

From my boyhood – I can’t give you their names actually – there were two characters that were…I don’t know, the good old hearty Yorkshire types I suppose, and they had a view on life that was certainly different. I only know them by ‘Long Wilf’ and ‘Silly Wilf’. [laughing] I don’t think that typified the person really but to be in their company, yes you could understand the names.

What type of things did they do then?

[pause] I don’t know – I suppose they were simply just boisterous I suppose you know – they would jump the traces and do things which we’d consider out of line these days…I’m just trying to think of an instance [pause] should have to ruminate in my mind now just to give you an illustration…
When I came back up here, like everyone else I was – for want of a better word – hard up, but I was in good company you see so I joined the Fire Service in 1959 and I served with them till 1974, and served fifteen years then.

So was that a second job?

It was, yes. That was when I worked at Thomas Sutcliffe’s and at Shepherd’s and they were both very good at giving me leave of absence because sometimes it was quite considerable.

Did you attend any major fires?

Oh yes, very much so. I suppose one could argue most of the big fires in Hebden Bridge, we didn’t save any [laughing] but having said that, these old mills were several stories high and they were really saturated in oil and latterly you know they were let off in bits and pieces, multi-occupancy, and…well I don’t suppose now the fire regulations would mean much to them really but as it stands now, they would not be able to set up business without it being overseen, but I suspect most of the mills ended their days in that way, through negligence and they caught fire. A lot of mills were used for deep litter in the poultry business and the loss of property through that was so severe that the Home Office advised the West Riding Fire Authorities to keep a log of all the premises used for deep litter, there were so many being lost to fire.

Was it mostly mills then that caught fire? Were there not many houses?

Oh yes, right across the board – oh yes, houses. It was mainly…bit of a novelty now, chimney fires, but that was our main bread and butter I suppose, chimney fires, but some of the properties especially built into the hillsides, if you got onto the roof it was quite hairy. It is true though, you do get used to heights, you really do, I mean it would frighten the pants of me now but in those days as I can recall, I have been in situations that have been quite hairy you know.

What type of fire engines did you have?

Well it’s a rural area so we had….what do they call them now? It was on the tip of my tongue then…you’ll have to cut this bit out…I’ll think of it, but we carried about two tons of water whereas a major pump for town and city use would just simply pump water, they wouldn’t carry any but we carried two tons of water, but being in a rural environment, that was our first application, using our own water, and then a mad scrat around but on the other hand, we used to spend a lot of time in the brigade familiarising ourselves with the availability of water – mill dams, the rivers, wherever we could get to work.

Did you have special pumps to pump it out of the rivers?

Well, the machine would pump it out but the atmosphere will only support a column of water thirty-two feet but you still need some pressure to work from, so I think about twenty-five feet would be the limit you could raise water. If it was any higher than that we had pumps that we could take down to the water and pump it up.

It must have been quite difficult getting water uphill so to speak.

Well in some cases, getting the pump to work really – it was a Coventry Climax Featherweight Pump I say featherweight, it was really a four man job to carry it, especially over rough ground but once you’d got it to work it was great; you could pump it up through the machine and relay it on wherever.

Can we go back a little bit to when you first began to work – what were your wages in those days?

From the Hebden Bridge end? Yes. At Tom Sutcliffe’s as I recall my wages were about eleven pounds a week.

**How many hours did you work for that? **

[pause] It would be a forty-eight hour week.

**So did you work six days then? **

Yes, we worked Monday to Friday and Saturday morning, now at Shepherd’s I worked similar hours there although just occasionally if there was any particular reason they would probably ask us to do a bit more, but my wages there, my take-home pay was about seventeen pounds a week so it was quite a significant lift.

Did you do the fire work as well on top of that?


Was that just…obviously when needed, when there was a fire, but were they very often?

Oh yes quite frequently, yes, it could be two or three times a week; sometimes you’d miss a week, it was a bit of a lottery but by and large we would average probably easily a fire a week of one sort or another, but of course, the really big fires occurred at night time really because, particularly in mills, by the time it was obvious there was a fire, the thing had got hold and it was well alight so to be turned out to a mill fire at night could be a quite long job. But I’ll say this, Trevor Shepherd who ran the garage would realise of course that, well the job had to come first, but he’d realise you know that shortage of money was acute to a lot of people and he was good enough to let me go, but I never lost a minute of time daily work, even if I’d been out all night at a fire. I’ve gone home lots of times, had a wash and a shave, a bit of a bite to eat and gone down to work – I’ve done that many times.

I’d like to go back again to your childhood really, about the kinds of games you played – did you play with your brothers and sisters or mates at school?

No I didn’t actually, I was never enthusiastic at playing games apart from snakes and ladders and ludo and things like that. I never played cards – I never played cards no, but going back to that time…there was so much to do – playing in the woods, that was fantastic. There was always something to do, whether it was in a secret place where you could build a hut; to me that was real entertainment that was.

Did you have a kind of fantasy life – did you imagine yourself as some character or a hero?

No I didn’t actually, no – I hadn’t got any idol to salute really.

What type of things did you do in the woods?

Well, tree climbing, general exploration, playing round the mill dams which used to frighten the life out of my parents, and the mill races – there was all manner things in the woods that had been built to route the water down to the dams. Looking back, we wouldn’t be very old, I suppose they were dangerous really but I used to find that I was quite happy up the woods, I really was.

Did you sing songs?

No, I wasn’t in very good voice, neither am I today! [laughing]

Can you describe what your house looked like when you were young?

Downstairs was really one room, partitioned off for the little kitchen. All that we had in there was a gas ring that you could only put one pan on it, but the open fire was always going and so that was used for baking and preparation of food.

Did you have a range?

Yes, with all manner of things that you could swing over the fire and hooks to hang pans on and so on. I think they’d be worth a fortune these days with this retro look, and of course it was gas lighting…The room had two windows, quite well lit but very spartan. There was just a short partition by the door, otherwise from outside you were straight into the living room but all the work was done in there; a lowish roof with beams it was stone built then? yes it was stone built. It was an old farm building, much of it had been pulled down as I recall. At the end of building it was a bit castellated where you know…where the old parts had been taken away.

So was Mytholm Hall a farm really, with a big hall and then cottages and barns attached, that sort of thing?

Well this wasn’t a farm – I don’t know how far back we would be going when it was operated as a farm; there was certainly a barn there and we would play in there too but it was quite derelict really, the floor upstairs was quite rotten. If you were walking round you had to sort of choose where you walked and there was a hay loft as well, but it was pretty far gone really. Mytholm Hall was certainly in its hey day then, there was a farm down there by the Hall – now that was operated, well they would own it, Pickles’s would, but the farmer was a Mr Chapman, he was the farmer, an old traditional farmer with everything horse-drawn.

Was that a dairy farm or a mixed farm?

It was a dairy farm really, yes. His mowing meadows were where the playing field is now where Mytholm Hall used to be and where Bankfoot Garage was, where the new property is, that was a meadow – Mr Chapman’s meadow, I remember that quite well. He used to bring his cattle in after school up to the farm and I used to go with him a few times…but I do remember the old bridge at Mytholm, the old hump-back bridge.

Oh really? They rebuilt it didn’t they?


When did that happen then?

Oh you’re taxing my brains now. It would be certainly in the early 1930’s but I couldn’t pin it down to a year.

Because didn’t they remove the two end house of Adelaide Street?

That’s right, they took two off, because round the other side on the Hebden Bridge side was the old Bankfoot Garage, a wooden structure.

On the other side of the road opposite the old Bankfoot Garage then, were there houses along that side of the road, leading up to where the traffic lights are now?

Oh yes…going from where the garage was and past Church Lane there was Crabtree’s Dye Works there; now was a row of houses there, you had to go down some steps. My brother had a friend who lived down there, there were about three houses I think down there. Now I can’t recall any more until we get to the top of Bridge Lanes; there used to be a row of houses, there was…it started with a shoe repairer, Mr Horsfall, he lived up Eaves; I used to go to school with his son, that’s where I used to get my half a bend of leather. Now the steps went up the back, up a higher elevation to Prospect Terrace; all that’s gone now but my parents did live up there at one time, but it was certainly before my day. Whether they would go there first, it is hard to say; all these are questions that should have been asked a long time ago. [laughing]

Were there shops along Bridge Lane?

There was a chip shop just short of the Fox and Goose and then going down Bridge Lanes immediately on the right was a newsagent’s, Fletcher’s – I used to take evening papers for him, then a bit further down was a sweet shop on the right-hand side and I cannot tell you the name, then on the other side of the road half-way down there was a greengrocer’s, that was Mr Hey had that and then as the level ran off and ended at the Buttress, there was a joiner’s shop on there- Cockroft’s, he was a funeral director as well. Now he lived very close to where you are now, he lived in a house on the right-hand side just before you went up the hill and then going down further still on the left-hand side…I can’t recall it but I have pictures of it, it was a pie shop, well you could have pie and peas there, before my day was this going down Bridge Lanes? Bridge Lanes on the left, that’s right, and then there was a general provisioner there which was my wife’s grandmother – Nancy Swain.

Was that one of the ones that’s been knocked down?

Oh yes, in fact the first property as you go down now, it abutted on to that. My wife thought a lot about Nancy Swain, they called her ‘Nancy Allsorts’ because she sold everything, but she’s a dear lady and my wife…you know, she thought a lot about her. Going down then, there was a chip shop next door – I think that was Haigh’s and then there was the Bull Inn which has now long gone but the building’s still there isn’t it? that’s right, yes.

Did you used to frequent pubs?

No, I was never a drinker, I was never a drinker.

Because there were some pubs in all of those buildings on the left of Bridge Lanes prospect and High Street I believe it was called – weren’t there some pubs within that whole group of buildings?… I can never seem to find out – it’s curious really.

[pause] I’ve heard talk of them back at the club…I’m sure you’re right, I’m sure you’re right, but….I’ve just heard tales but I’ve never heard a name or anything like that, so I’m not really sure myself.

What do your children do?

Well my children, they all did their schooling up here and then…they fled the nest. My daughter went to college in Stockport, she was a fabric designer, she’d quite a nice job, she lives in Manchester now and my son ended up in Cornwall where he is now but he has not enjoyed very good health for quite a while, but he did work for Curry’s for many years, Curry’s stores and enjoyed meeting people.

Did they move away from Hebden because there was no work for them or were there other reasons?

Well there wasn’t work in my daughter’s line, she would have to move to Manchester for that. You se when my first wife left me she ended up in Cornwall and my son, he was only young at the time, well my daughter was too, but he took it rather badly really and through a friend said ‘well we can probably find her’ you see and he knew the ropes and they did locate her down in Cornwall, so he went down quite early on in his teens. She did write to me, saying ‘I’m not taking him off you but I have let him down once and perhaps I can do a fair bit for him now’ and he seemed to get on quite well down there but latterly he had very indifferent health and so he’s just made up fifty now, at the moment he isn’t working.

Have you got any hobbies?

Well, photography I suppose is the principal one.

Are you digital these days?

Both digital and conventional, yes.

How would you compare the two?

Well, I’m going through old photographs and some are pretty dreadful, including some that I have come by of old Hebden Bridge badly exposed and some have suffered the ravages of time and it’s just incredible how you can salvage them in the digital world, and so it’s sort of given me a new lease of life since I lost my wife. I perhaps spend too much time with the computer you know, but it’s all to a practical end really because a lot of the photographs that I’ve got now…well when I say they’re quite good, I don’t mean that I’m good at doing it, but they’re infinitely better than what I started with. You know, old photographs – you can’t repair damage but you can lighten them up, give them more contrast bring them to life you know, and I enjoy doing that.

Do you exhibit your work?

We do have competitions down at our club between ourselves, we compete for various cups and the photography shield but we do compete several times a year with clubs around and about, we call them ‘battles’ – I think that’s the traditional language – having a battle with whatever – Rochdale, Todmorden, Halifax….we don’t go too far afield.

What are your favourite subjects?

Well…I’ll have a go at anything really, I’m interested in anything to sort of test my skills, I mean a lot are very difficult, like portraiture for instance – you’ve a subject in the corner of the room but to get something with really good lighting is very difficult, but landscape mainly I enjoy doing.

I’d actually like to carry on talking, but we’re coming up to an hour now, the tape will start to finish soon so I’d like to finish off by just saying is there anything else that you’d like to talk about or mention that I have not asked you about?

Well there isn’t anything of significance – I did mention when I saw you last week that somewhere I do have a list of all the shops there were during the war and I know I’ve got it and I’ve looked for it – I will find it. You see my wife had a life-long friend, Edna Crowther, who you probably hear of or know. Edna was quite formidable, she was really, but a lovely lady – babysitter to all Marian’s children when they were small, and between them, if you could talk to them now, that would be quite something.

The last thing is – what do you think about what we’ve just done – how has it made you feel?

Well it’s like turning the pages over again, it’s nice to be prompted and having something significant to talk about because it’s hard just ad-lib to pull things out which would give a continuous flow of interest. I think it’s quite excellent really because it does prompt you and you can go over it in fine detail really. I’m sorry I can’t give you more information about Hebden Bridge in my younger days.

Well it’s not necessarily about that – it’s about people’s lives what I’m interested in, and part of that is the place they live and how it’s changed, mainly about how they’ve lived, and the things that they’ve experienced can then be shared with other people, younger people so that people get to understand a bit more about life really, and that’s how I see it.

Do you think it’s important that these sort of things should be shared?

I do indeed, we do live in a fast changing world and as we get older – even now in my generation – gosh, if I’d got these questions in my head when my parents were alive – but that’s an ongoing thing really because so much is lost and I don’t know whether the younger end are the same as I was really, that they’ll be asking the questions when it’s all too late and I do think it’s important that we keep a weather eye on things how they used to be, however can you measure the changing scene? How things were and then what your expectancy is, and then I’m not sure about that, about the expectancy of things really. We make the best of what we can…maybe it’s because of my age, but there doesn’t seem to be any order in things you know.

Is that in general you’re speaking?

I do yes, I do. My life and my early experiences were in a little enclave in Hebden Bridge you know, the outside world was certainly there alright but I think we’d enough in every respect, in entertainment and everything else – work, school, all in our little enclave really. Whereas now you tend to think that it’s enormous really, where do we fit in?

Do you think maybe that’s one of the reasons why the young don’t fit in – because they don’t know how to fit in, because society doesn’t allow them?

Yes, I think they set their sights too high – there’s nothing wrong in that but if you want to enjoy that sort of a scenario…it’s all hard work and it’s identifying at that age that that effort needs to go in to achieve. Anything is possible but you need to be put on the right track don’t you in early days and to be given that sense of urgency, it is really because times goes so quickly; if you don’t find a niche in life, it will leave you by.

If you don’t mind, could you fill those forms in if you’re in agreement – I did explain earlier – and I’ll just deal with this camera


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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