Jean Houlston

Jean Houlston

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(This Transcript features: MARY KERSHAW: born 1921 – DOROTHY TONGE: born 1928 – JEAN HOULSTON: born 1927. )


There are some sections where all three talk at once.

The first thing I would like to ask each of you is your full name and where and when you were born.


I’m Mary Kershaw and I was born in Mytholmroyd in 1921, and originally I was Mary Sunderland and in between I’ve been Mary Greenroyd, and I was born at Stocks Cottages – that’s some small cottages at the entrance to Stocks Hall just on there, and but then I moved to…when I was four years to Banksfields, I went to Burnley Road School and then until I was…nearly fourteen, thirteen and a half, and my father was in the weaving industry in Hebden Bridge, and my mother was also in the weaving part-time at Hawksclough.

I was always connected with Mytholmroyd Church and I think I was once on the Church Council, and I was Captain of the Guides which Dorothy was Captain after me, and connected with the Cubs as well which were part of Mytholmroyd Church, I was a Sunday School teacher and…I think a fairly quiet life I suppose.

I had friends locally, we went on holidays camping with the Guides and…holidays with my parents and I left school as I say at thirteen and a half and went to training school in Hebden Bridge[ that was if you wanted to be in an office you needed to have short-hand and typing and book-keeping, and it was a popular place with people who wanted a clerical job, and then the local firms, mainly Moderna and Thornbers Poultries, employed these girls in their offices – I went from there to Moderna, in the office there and then went to work at the local Post Office and passed the internal Civil Service exams because the war started and people were restricted in how far they travelled.

I left and got a position at Halifax Post Office, but in those days if you hadn’t a car it was difficult having a job that wasn’t local, and of course it was easy when go home for your lunches and that in those days.

So I went to the Co-op then and I was in the Co-op office until I left…got married and had children and left.

Which Co-op were you in?

Mytholmroyd – that’s down Church Lane. You know where the church is? Yes. It’s a building just on the right which it looks a bit newer than the cottages that it attaches to, and I spent plenty of time down at Mytholmroyd Church so I did Dorothy and things were fairly active at the church in those days.

Why did you decide to work in an office – did you not like…

I didn’t get to the Grammar School ‘cos I failed my eleven plus – it was County Minor in those days, I failed it so I went to this commercial school it was, above one of the station shops in Hebden Bridge and I got several certificates for short-hand and book-keeping and that, like everybody did, so it’s always been useful because eventually my husband started a transport business and I did all the book-keeping for that and became a Director and all that – it was useful.

So both your parents worked in weaving then?

Yes, one worked at Thomas’s it was at the bottom of Crossley Hill where there’s a car park now and eventually he became an over-looker and they were very pleased when he became an over-looker rather than a weaver, because his wage when he was a weaver was about two pounds seventy a week, and when he became an over-looker it went to four pounds so that was wonderful! [laughing] and my mother worked part-time at Hawksclough which is still – the mill’s still there isn’t it?

ANOTHER LADY: Yes, it’s going to be made into apartments eventually, I think.

MK: Yes, it was Shackleton’s wasn’t it?

ANOTHER LADY: Roger Shackleton’s, yes.

MK: And so that’s what they did and of course I got married when I was about twenty-six and left home and went living first in Todmorden, and then back into Hebden Bridge.

MK: We had a haulage business.

What did you haul?

MK: All things for the local mills, yes.

So were you in competition to Shepherd’s?

MK: [laughing] We were similar.


I’m Dorothy Tonge – I was Cockroft before. I had two brothers and we lived at Hawksclough. Me two brothers were born in a public house there, called the Craven Heifer and then it was made into two cottages and I was born in one of the cottages, and I don’t know what happened but they wanted us out of the cottages, and I went up Banks, right at the top of the hill until I was four and then me mum and dad worked at Westfield Mill – Robertshaw’s and we got a house who the mill owned – the Robertshaw’s mill people owned and they worked there most of their life and I went to Burnley Road School from there at four year old…I’m just trying to think where to go from here…

When your brothers were born in the pub, was that because your parents ran the pub?

Oh yes – yes, I’m sorry, they ran the pub and me mum and dad both lived at Hawksclough – they were married from different houses. My father lived at Bethseda Road. Mrs Greenwood, and me mum had the pub with her mother – I don’t think her father was living then, and they got married from there. They walked down to St Michael’s to get married together [laughing] and they had a friend who was…sort of a you know, witness – Martha Crowther.

So I was at Burnley Road – I’ve a very similar story to Mary’s – I left at thirteen at Burnley Road because I didn’t pass me eleven plus [laughing]

MK: we were dimsters!

And I went to Helliwell’s training school at Hebden Bridge, and it was over a jeweller’s Mary – they were jeweller’s, Helliwell’s, and he was an invalid, and we used to hear him coming – oh we had some fun there. We used to hear him coming up the steps so slowly and – everybody in place by the time he got to the top of the stairs,…but when he went down, he used to slide down the banister and then of course the fun started again. We only went half days and it was four guineas a term, which would be…oh it was a lot of money because they didn’t earn much in the mills then did they? Four guineas a term. I stopped there – oh it’s only twelve months I think we went for didn’t we? But it’s half days and then you come home and do your homework in the afternoon, so I finished there and I got a job in Halifax in an office. I didn’t stay there above a year because…Kathleen Boggis, do you remember? Kathleen Boggis was waiting for me at – it was the Economic then, Jackson’s shop, and she was waiting for me as I was going to work one morning for the bus to go to Halifax, and she said ‘Dorothy would you like to come and work with me at Moderna?’ so I did and I was there…I went and I worked on the wages, five hundred wages I did and I was only fourteen going on fifteen. One pound fifty, one pound ten shillings it would be then wouldn’t it a week, and I earned one pound a week in Halifax but that was a big increase you see, so I stayed at Moderna seven years on wages…I’ve got to think now where I went after that [laughing] but I’ve always done office work wherever I’ve gone – book-keeping, short-hand and typing.

Do you know why they closed the pub?

Well I just think it didn’t warrant it then because there was one opposite called The Elephant and Castle. I think The Elephant and Castle closed first and then The Craven Heifer…yes, in 1926 because I was born in 1928, and so…at Burnley Road School I had a happy time every day I went, but we only lived across at Westfield you see, it was only two minutes across the road. I’m just trying to think what else I could tell you.

Okay, we’ll move on then and then we’ll come back.


I’m Jean Houlston and previously Lister, and I was born at what they call Kipping’s End, or Calder Brook, which is the back of where Walkley’s is – what was Walkley’s the clog place, and from there we moved up on to the Heights up on the top and lived there a short while, and then my mother was ill and we moved back down to Hebden Bridge and we lived quite a while in Hebden Bridge – not very long – and then we got a house at Calder Terrace, Hawksclough and so I was just five when I came to Hawksclough so I went to Burnley Road and I went there until I was fourteen.

I don’t know why I didn’t take any exams because I had bad eyes for one thing and I think that was the reason, so…but I loved Burnley Road School like Dorothy did – I didn’t want to leave, it was lovely wasn’t it? It was a lovely school, and so I could walk you see from Calder Terrace which is just on the main road, just to school and back, so you know we – I came home for dinner and things like that – I don’t remember school meals then. Now then what was I going to say…

MK: It was a big thing then, saving on your meals wasn’t it really?

JH: Yeh, yeh – so anyway I left at fourteen and I didn’t work for quite a while, I was looking after my mother you see – she was ill for a long, long time and then you see the war started – we was twelve when the war started. I was born in 1927; I’m just a year older than Dorothy. The war came and so a lot of things – previous to that, some of the top classes had gone to Hebden Bridge hadn’t they, to a school in Hebden Bridge – they’d gone to Central but that was stopped, so I was at Burnley Road until I was fourteen and then as I said I was at home for quite a while, and then I don’t know whether – there were this scheme brought in, which they came in saying you were supposed to do some work and me mother must have been a little bit better at this time, and I went working at…Waterside, a sewing shop in Hebden Bridge, at the top of Bridge Lanes, at the top of Bridge Lanes and I was working for some of the men that had gone in the forces – I was working in the cutting room doing the…doing the cutting in a slot you know – cutting the bits and things, and sorting bits out for trousers – pockets and things like that.

Sorry to interrupt – did you use one of those fustian knives then?

JH: No, not the band knives, no.

MK: That was a different trade that.

JH: No, there was a man who used what we called a band knife, you know – a big one, but we had – there were knives in a slot you see and you just went up and down like that.

MK: did you run over your material?

JH: Oh yes, it was marked out, the pattern – you went round it, yes. So I worked there and then…I don’t know how long I worked there, then I had to leave and then I was at home again with me mother for quite a while and then I went – after that I worked in Billy Clay’s cake shop, and I worked in there for…until I was…married actually. I was married when I was…twenty-three and I know Mary’s mother worked in the café then when I was there, didn’t she?

And so then I got married and had family and then I didn’t work, I stopped at home with me family.

Can you remember…can you compare the wages between working in the cutting room..

JH: Do you know I can’t remember what I got – I just can’t remember how much wage I got, it wouldn’t be very much.

MK: I think it started at one fifty.

JH: Yes, one pound ten shillings, and I was saying – my father, he was a shuttle-maker for the weaving so that was a trade – he hadn’t to serve his time for that, and he worked in Hebden Bridge and he did that all his life, shuttle-making, yes.

Did he make all different sizes of shuttle?

JH: Yes – yes.

MK: I have a shuttle out there.

I want to ask some things about your school days really – things like – did you have assemblies?

MK: Yes, Religious Instruction first lesson as well for twenty minutes or half an hour, all together in the hall in the morning. We read out of the Bible didn’t we? [other ladies agreed] and then it was arithmetic after that.

DT: Oh yes we went to arithmetic classes, yes. There was a sliding door which divided Mr Wilkinsons’s and the top class, and the sliding door went back and there we had the assembly.

MK: And nature programmes were very good at Burnley Road School – teaching you how to recognise trees and leaves.

JH: And when it was the Gala, we used to call it the Demonstration in those days – it was the Gala, we always had these white flower…competitions.

So did each class then have to pick white flowers and make something out of them?

JH: No, you got them and took them to the Gala or the Demonstration it was called in those days.

What exactly was that – I don’t know much about that.

JH: You know what the Gala is?

Yes I know what the Gala is.

DT: It was the same but it was called that – they just did the same, the processions and everything, competitions.
We had an Infirmary Queen which was chosen from the Sunday Schools I think.

MK: They went to the hospitals didn’t they?

DT: Well it was called the Rose Queen wasn’t she, the Queen at the Gala?

MK: I have some of the recent ones somewhere [photos?]

JH (DT?): The day after the Gala, there was always this musical – there was a big band and everybody singing, it was lovely – on the field.

JH: None of us went to the war like a lot of the girls our age had to go to the forces, but because I was at the Co-op and it was connected with food, it was a reserved occupation and you mustn’t have had to go..

DT: Well I wanted to go at the latter end but me mum wouldn’t let me because she’d have one in the Army and one in the Navy – I had a brother killed in the war.

MK: You had to join a Youth Organisation or something, so being in the Guides, it covered it.

DT: I was in the St Johns, a Cadet – you’d to join something, yes – I was a Primitive Methodist

MK: Oh were you a Primitive Methodist?

JH: Our church was pulled down, next to Banksfields just over the canal bridge – Mount Zion; I was in the choir there.

I’ve asked a number of people this – what made Primitive different than the other?

MK: It was a different organisation; there was just a Methodist chapel that’s all.

JH: There were some people who broke away actually from the others to start with and made this Primitive one.

Why did they break away?

JH: They didn’t agree with something – I can’t just remember now what it was.

MK: And then there was the Baptists at Brearley.

JH: But they’re all one now, all together are the Methodists – the Primitives and the Wesleyans.

What were your favourite subjects at school?

MK: English me

JH: I liked Geography.

MK: I always liked poems and spelling and things.

JH: Oh poetry yes – I loved poetry, I still do – I read a lot of poetry, and I did like Geography for one thing.

MK: Can you remember Jean, you were probably in t’same class – we learnt the French National Anthem

JH: I don’t know why – oh we thought we were it didn’t we when we sang it?

Can you remember it?

MK: A little bit, yes.

MK: When they sing it on the television, I join in a little bit.

[JH singing in background]

MK: Oh I know the tune.

JH: Sometimes the words come if you sing the tune.

[All trying to sing it]

MK: I learnt to play the piano – I played for the Sunday School you know – I went round Sunday Schools with a concert party [laughing] oh dear…

Now I interviewed a woman who’s nearly a hundred and one now, and she was taught the French and the Belgian National Anthem, but she was at Shade School in Todmorden, and she told me that the reason they had to sing it was because they had evacuees.

DT: Well we didn’t have any French.

MK: We had some evacuees at our house from Bradford – two girls to start with, and then one went home and we were left with one girl, but they started drifting back – she’d be with us about…nine months perhaps and then they started going back, when they found that there was no danger, no bombs.

DT: Yeh we’d quite a few at Westfield.

DT: In fact one came looking for me, long after I were married, yes. I think it was one from Brighton – we had some from Brighton, and…didn’t find me; I’d been married a month then you see. One of the neighbours, where he went to find me, told me when I met her on the street.

JH: Well the lady who was a hundred and one did you say? Learned the Belgium one – well in the First World War, Belgium children came over, because my mother talked about them, so that would be why.

What did your mother say about them then?

I don’t know; there were some…she lived in Midgley and I know she said there were some came there; I think there was a boy that she was a bit sweet on I think one time, well she told me! [laughing]

Well there’s nothing wrong with that! Did you ever do the monkey run then?

ALL: Oh yes!

MK: At Sunday night! Sunday night – well Sunday afternoon as well.

JH: You went to church at night and then you walked up the monkey run.

MK: It was sort of from Fallingroyd to the Station Road, that was the monkey run, yes. To-ing and fro-ing, you got there and you walked back, making eyes at the boys!

DT: Oh Saturday night at the Co-op Hall, that was our entertainment

MK: And during the war there were a lot of dances, big dances in aid of the forces weren’t there?

DT: They made money for the forces. We used to walk down from Hebden Bridge to Mytholmroyd, all in a row across the road, singing away – no traffic! Eleven o’clock it used to finish, and me mother was leaning over the wall at Westfield Terrace watching for me turning the corner!

MK: It was a red ballroom wasn’t it?

DT: The Ambulance Dance – New Year’s Eve [all together]..

JH: Oh you were lucky to get a ticket for that

DT: All dressed up – good Co-op Hall, it was lovely.

Again about schooldays – what was the discipline like in those days?

DT: It was strict, very strict. You daren’t speak in class – you either had to stand on your chair and go out to the side with your hands on your head; you couldn’t speak in class but we didn’t object to it did we really?

MK: Some of the lads did a bit but not a lot – they daren’t.

JH: And you daren’t be late – I don’t ever remember being late, you had to be there on time and you had to have clean shoes, clean hands – inspection!

If your fingernails were dirty or your shoes were, what would happen?

JH: You were sent to clean your shoes and wash your hands.

MK; We used to have a medical inspection every so often didn’t we? The nurse used to…

DT: Nitty Nora

MK: And looked in your hair

DT: Nitty Nora, that’s what they called her – with a fine toothed comb, and then we had out teeth inspected as well.

Was this every year then?

DT: I should think so, once a year, yes.

What about the changes then in Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, in the area – what’s the biggest change?

DT: A lot more people in Hebden Bridge now. And the shops – I mean we’ve nothing in Mytholmroyd now. I have a list of the shops, I think I have it with me – what we used to have and what we have now.

JH: You could get anything in Mytholmroyd

MK: There are more shops in Hebden Bridge now than there were..

DT: Ooh yes…

MK: ten years since

DT: ‘Cos we lived in Hebden Bridge eight years, first eight years we were married, we lived in Hebden Bridge – awful lot of shops and then we live in a house, it was…at the bottom and there was a house above us, they went round the back road to get to their house

MK: Top and bottom.

DT: Top and bottom, yes, and I always remember – our Sheila were only a baby, she were born up there

JH: Where did you live?

DT: Up Melbourne Street

JH: ‘Cos I lived in Princess Street which was underneath Union Street

DT: Ah yes, right – well we were underneath, but in our bed – we’d two bedrooms, but while she was a baby we had her in a sort of a recess in the corner in a cot, and there was what we called a soot box above – Jack used to go and clean it out every so often because they were coal fires, and I think it was because it was an underneath house you see, I suppose there would be a chimney but this soot used to collect and every – I think two or three times a year, you had to go and shovel it all out and then paper over it again, yeh – and I used to dread that soot box

JH: I don’t remember that, anything about that, no.

DT: Oh yes, we had – and a tin bath which we used to take from the kitchen and hang it up in the coal cellar and if the coal came, everything was covered in dust, if you left the door open! And a stone sink, toilet at the end but some steps JH: outside toilets

DT: we passed three or four houses and go up about a dozen steps, and we shard it with the house above – we had to clean it in our turns.

JH: Yes, we were the same and you cut your newspapers up and put them on a string, there was no toilet paper then, no toilet rolls then

DT: And we used to swill the flags every week and yellow your front step and the windows – we were proud I think in those days, more than they are today.

JH: They don’t sweep out today; my neighbours, I’ve never seen them sweep out.

Do you think the younger generation have different values then than you did?

JH: They have it a lot easier than we had.

DT: They have more expensive things, more than we had. We hadn’t automatic things had we – washers, fridges..

MK: We had to save up to get things then you see – our parents had to save up to buy washers and things, but now it’s a recognised thing that everybody has that – all the couples have to have them don’t they? They have to have a television and all the latest things, yes. So values have gone up.

JH: I know when the televisions came in, my father made the first television – he was into wirelesses because he made wirelesses and repaired them and things, and he made this television, and I know all the neighbours came in to watch the Coronation on our television – it were a right little one you know, and it had a thing on the front – a magnifier or something and they all came in to watch – it was great!

DT: Yeh we didn’t have one, we went to a friend of Jack’s – there were a house full, everybody watching the Coronation! The little ones sitting at the front – oh dear!

MK: The men had to work hard didn’t they?

DT: Oh they did, yes, they did.

MK: Long hours too

DT: Always Saturdays, they always worked Saturdays.

JH: Oh we kept hens, we always had a hen run as well and that was a little bit…it was on Crow Nest was ours, in the woods so we used to have to go on there – I know Dorothy’s dad had a garden at Hawksclough where I lived – there were allotments on there, on there or behind there.

MK: I thought they had a garden at Banksfields

DT: Yes there were some there – never tasted tomatoes like me dad used to grow! They had a lovely taste – yes and hens, and rhubarb and all the greens – oh yes, all fresh food.

So are there changes that you think are for the good then that have happened?

MK: Well I suppose because things aren’t as hard to work, to do as they used to be, so people live longer don’t they, so there must be some advantages mustn’t there?
And the old people are well taken care of nowadays – I mean the pensions they used to be ten shillings, ten shillings a week me grandma used to get I know – I suppose people have a better life

DT: Oh yes we have a better life; we can travel now – I only remember one holiday at Blackpool. Me mother had a cousin who had a boarding house – Vance Road behind Central Station at Blackpool, and there were six of us then – there were me mum and dad, me grandma and three children, and me dad and me eldest brother went on bikes to Blackpool ‘cos we couldn’t afford the train fare for all of us, and me mum when we got there, me mum used to help in the kitchen most of the time we were there, yeh – cooking and washing up

JH: Well you used to take your own food

DT: At one time you did – you could do at that time, but we used to have four meals a day in the boarding house, yes – not bed and breakfast or anything like that [laughing]

JH: Well I’m afraid I didn’t go away while I would be about fifteen my first holiday away – I’d been on day trips to Blackpool and Llandudno, but that was it you know – we were children then.

DT: We used to go to Sunny Vale and Hardcastle Crags and have picnics- mostly picnics in those days.

MK: We’d go with the Guides

DT: Oh we went with the Guides yes

MK: And camping holidays

DT: We had a camp site up Cragg Vale didn’t we Mary?

MK: Yes – Wams.

I received an e-mail yesterday from a woman who works for the Girl Guides and they would like to do an oral history project on the Girl Guides because it’s their centenary in 2010, so they’ve asked me whether I can give them some advice and that sort of thing. Was it a big influence on your life?

MK/DT: Yes

DT: You started in the Brownies, yes.

JH: I was in the church Brownies but I didn’t go into the Guides, and then I went into the St John’s Cadets you see – I didn’t go into the Guides

DT: Do you know Sybil in the shop down in….what’s the Economic…down Crown Street…oh dear JH: no I don’t know Sybil

DT: Down Crown Street, the grocer’s shop, not the corner one, the other one

The Spar?

DT: The Spar. Do you know Sybil?

I don’t, no.

DT: Well she’s the President of the Trefoil Guild – now then you want to get on to one of the County Commissioners or District Commissioners to get that history don’t you?

Well It would be interesting. What kind of things did you do in the Guides then?

MK: They had meetings every week

DT: Ooh yes every week and we had badges – you had to get an armful of badges, like the Scouts used to do.

MK: I had mine up to recently.

DT: And we went to camp, and we passed these badges which weren’t easy were they – like cookery, embroidery and they were always professional people that had to sign when you passed for a badge, yes.

MK: They don’t wear their badges now on their arms like they used to do, but they still have those competitions and that, yes.

DT: We used to go cooking didn’t we up the woods

MK: I was wondering if I know anybody that can get in touch with – I can send you the District Commissioner

DT: In touch with Mary?

MK: Yes because I’m in Trefoil Guild

DT: Yes I gave up, after I were married I gave up

MK: So I can let you have the name of the District Commissioner.

That would be great.

MK: Trefoil Guild is the oldest.

JH: I’ve never been in, you know but she kept saying to me, I said ‘oh I’ve enough things to do without going’, because…

DT: We had a re-union not so long since didn’t we Mary – we had a lovely party, and Mary and Gwynneth cooked the cake. There’s a photograph in there.

MK: We never mixed with the Scouts though did we? There were the Scouts as well in the church; we never did anything with the Scouts. [looking at photos?]That’s one of the local Scouts – the Scouts were up at Birchcliffe Chapel weren’t they? Well Dennis were in t’Scouts.

DT: Oh your life revolved around the church. I was a Sunday School teacher, you know everything revolved around – I was in the choir and I used to go to meetings – apart from Saturday when you went to the dance, it was all church.

MK: There he is look [photo of Dennis?] I’ll give you the…

Oh we can look for it when we’ve finished this part of it.

MK: That’s my mother on at Hawksclough Farm look.

Oh that’s an old photograph.

MK: They farmed, when my mother was a girl, they farmed at Hawksclough Farm.

DT: Oh right, because my relations were there.

MK: Were they?

DT: Aunty Gladys and yes..,Sutcliffes.

MK: Well there are two buildings aren’t there and some cottages, yes. it’s nice in’t it?

It’s lovely.

DT: Oh there used to be a lovely orchard at Hawksclough

Too many talking at once.

DT: Steven Uttley’s dad

Too many talking at once.

MK: Perhaps she had it for an occasion

DT: You can see the photographs taken outside – you can see there the type of dresses they wore

MK: I’ll have your name and address and then see that the District Commissioner of Guides get in touch with you.

JH: Another thing we used to do, about clothes you know – we only had one lot of new clothes in a year, those were what we’d wear in the church – I don’t know whether they did it, but the Methodists or the Primitives, we had a big anniversary day every year, and the children all sat up in their new clothes on this big, like a big stage you know – a stage, and they sat up there all in their new clothes, and then you kept those for Sundays until the following year when you could go to school in them and you got some more – no buying clothes every week like they do now

DT: Oh no – there were no jeans or anything then

JH: Some nice shiny ankle straps, all black patent

MK: A little hat, I had a little hat

What did you do on anniversaries then?

JH: Well it were the church service but the children sang things and you know

MK: It was just a big sing-song

JH: Yes, and the children in their new clothes, ooh it was really exciting.

MK: And then there were t’Harvest Festival – everybody brought..

So when was the anniversary?

JH: It used to be early in the year – May, April or May

MK: Before summer

JH: Each church had a separate day and I think it was…was it Hebden Bridge had the first one, and then they all followed on so different churches in the area were the following Sundays you know, anniversaries, yes.

So you kept your clothes for the September when you started school?

JH: Oh no – they lasted you all the year until the following year – no getting things, well you might have to have some new shoes in among if you’d worn your others out, and a lot of the boys would wear clogs.

MK: These are all leaflets you see about Guide meetings and Trefoil Guild meetings but you won’t want to go through…

JH: Goodness gracious me, you were a historian on your own!

MK: Girl Guiding in the Calder Valley, that’s 2004 – Trefoil 2000

DT: But the children have a lot more freedom than we had. I mean we couldn’t go out after tea, unless it was really – you know summer time and we used to have a ball game at the end of the street or something – we always had to be in sight of wherever you lived.

Why was that – because you were girls do you think, and boys could play out?

MK: No, there were boys with us.

DT: We used to play in the square at Hawksclough and all the boys and girls and some of their parents used to come out to play as well – skipping with a big rope and

JH: I were never allowed to go down to the ‘rec but you were nearer

DT: We were nearer, yes. We just used to play about in the square at Hawksclough, playing tig and whatever and I remember quite a lot of stick – sticking, yes. Then if somebody got a bike everybody borrowed it – we all had to take turns

MK: These are all old meetings, but you won’t want to go through all those – but I’ll see that the District Commissioner gets that and gets in touch with you, and what is it you’re wanting – you’re wanting information…

Well yes – I’ll just have a talk with them because some woman from the National Committee – they’ve set up a Committee to plan ahead for the next four years to try and work out

MK: And what was her name?

Verity somebody – I can’t remember her last name, and I’m gonna get back in touch with her and say ‘yes I’ll be glad to help’ but I’m not sure exactly what she wants. She might just want some technical information about this sort of thing or she might want me to follow up, I don’t know.

MK: Tell her the District Commissioner will get in touch with you.

Can you remember any old sayings that maybe your parents used or your grandparents or when you were young – things that you heard?

DT: Well I can’t just bring them to mind! I’m trying to think…


It could be anything really, like that famous one about the Yorkshire man who ‘say nowt…’

JH: And if ever thee does owt for nowt, [with others] allus do it for thysen.

DT; Yeh we know that one – oh I see

[MK gone to put kettle on]

DT: You’ve caught us there Tony. I mean you didn’t hear people swear, saying swear words like they do now – nobody…I can remember somebody saying ‘oh you little besom’ but I never heard – very rare, and if you did hear somebody swear, oh it was terrible which is now it’s everyday language. We must have been all little goody-goodies mustn’t we?

MK: That’s Sybil – I thought you might know Sybil. This is a Trefoil Guild celebration and we’re the two oldest members – do you know Sybil?

I recognise the face but I don’t really know her to talk to, but then I don’t really go in there much.

MK: She’s President of Trefoil Guild, but there we are cutting the birthday cake you see. You’ve seen these haven’t you?

DT: Oh yes – I was there!

MK: They were the two oldest members, the oldest members that’s right, yes.

I didn’t realise that you carried it on all through your life – I thought when…

DT: Oh you do, yeh – I gave up soon after I were married though, ‘cos we moved to Hebden Bridge – well I was in the Trefoil Guild though, the oldest for a while, but they don’t meet every week – how often do they go to the Trefoil?

ALL SPEAKING: Once a month, it varies

DT: but all we did when I went to t’Trefoil Guild were wash up and cater for the others you know – I’ve had enough since!

JH: It were just like a gathering really weren’it?

DT: Mary still does it, yes – catering…

But do you not teach the younger ones – the younger Guides

DT: That’s right

So you do that as well?

ALL: Yes.

JH: Oh she’s bringing her shuttle out now

DT: Oh yes I have one with a – mine has a – a what is it – a gauge, you know – temperature gauge, a thermometer thing, yes.

JH: Do you know I haven’t one, isn’t it strange, and I should have – I’ve kept thinking when I’ve been to one of these….flea markets, I must pick one up some time

MK: I got a few as presents

JH: Because my father was – you know he worked in wood and he made all sorts of things in wood you know; he made a grandmother clock, all sorts of things in the home you know – he was very into wood and I was into wood; I used to watch him ‘cos I only had one sister you see, he hadn’t got a son, so I used to be really – I’ve always been interested in woods and things you know, yes.

DT: I’ve been to woodwork at Calder High

JH: I didn’t go to woodwork no, but I was always interested

DT: I went on me own and the dark nights and the weather

[passing round biscuits]

You see these bristles here – what were those actually for?

JH: Well it’s something to do with where the thread went through I suppose

DT: Well when I worked at Moderna on wages, I had to go round with a big box of wages on a Friday to each department, and…and in the weaving shed, oh dear me – you couldn’t hear anything, and the shuttles were going you know, JH: Clanging DT: A long building it was, and all these weaving looms, and they’d come to the end of the loom for their wage, and you got to know them, you knew – you know, he were two hundred and whatever, you know, yes…very noisy in weaving sheds.

JH: I used to go into Roger Shackleton’s to visit somebody and the noise – it was awful

MK: Into the dyehouse, the smell and the steam – it was dreadful, yes.

So you went around every department?

MK: Oh yes, yes, and then in the afternoon if there were anybody wanted a query they used to come and knock at the office door you know, and I used to work upstairs and come downstairs and sort ‘em out – their income tax and whatever, yes. I remember once, and we lived up Melbourne Street then, the foreman, the night-shift foreman, I used to leave them in a certain place with a lock here and the key went there and the key from that cupboard went to another cupboard you know and he knew where the wage was for the night-shift and he came to see me one evening, yes, during the evening – me husband were right annoyed [laughing] – well, coming after work, because somebody’s wage were missing or something, you know.

So did you ever find the wage then?

MK: Oh yes, yes – I don’t know, there’d been two clipped together or something, yeh.

Can you remember any sort of characters, like you know, people who were a bit unusual?

JH: Oh I was talking about this – I do little talks at the women’s meetings and I was talking last week, and I was talking about characters that there used to be in the area, you know – I always remember when I was working at Waterside, there used to be – the man who was on the band knife was always talking about Billy Wallopclock – who is Billy Wallopclock, and I think he lived at Heptonstall he said, and I think what it was – when the alarm went in the morning, he’d give the clock a wallop you know ‘cos he didn’t want to get up, so I was talking about that and various – and then I said oh there used to be a man at Hawksclough called Potty with a little horse and cart

MK: Potty, yes, because he had a horse and cart and he used to sell pots and plates and pans and go round on a horse, and this flat cart

JH: He was a bit of a character wasn’t her?

DT: And we had rag and bone men coming round

MK: And if you took some coats you got a goldfish didn’t you?


DT: So when we heard the rag and bone shouting, coming up the street, we used to all run in and either get jam jars or some old clothes together, and come home with a goldfish

JH: And then the oatcake man used to come round with the oatcakes and you opened them up on the rack, on the creel, in the kitchen, and I was talking about last week, we had this musician in Hebden Bridge – has anybody told you about Ezra Jenkinson no who lived in Hebden Bridge? Well when we moved from on the Heights where we came down into the bottom and we lived in this house – Commercial Street, there was Garden Street underneath with some houses round the back of there and there was this little out-house, and this man lived in this little out-house and he used to come out with this big long coat on with a big cape on and a big hat with a big brim on, and he was Ezra Jenkinson and he was a violinist and he played all over – he played for the German court and he was a leader in Todmorden orchestra, and then – now whether this is true or not, they said one of his strings broke when he was playing for somebody – a notable – and they said it made him go a bit strange and that was…but he was a very good violinist, yes, and he taught people lessons, yes.

DT: We used to have – oh I can’t remember his name – he were like Tarzan, and he was always in the demonstration

OTHERS: ooh yes, I remember him

MK: he was always in the procession

DT: What did we used to call him – I can’t remember. He used to get out of a bag that was chained up and that, you know – escaping, escapologist sort of

MK: I can’t remember his name, but he used to march down the procession

JH: Do you know I’d forgotten about him altogether.

MK: Did he live up Midgley?

DT: No Hebden Bridge I think, yes.

Did any of you know Billy Holt?

ALL: Yes, well we know of him…

JH: Now my father knew him because he used to come – he travelled for the weaving trade, and he used to come to the shuttle place where he worked and my father knew him quite well, yes.

Did he ever tell you about him – did he ever mention any stories?

MK: This horse

JH: Well at that time you see he wasn’t doing that, that would be a bit later on, but, well my father used to say he was a bit of a character when he came round before..

MK: He wasn’t very kind to his horse

JH: No I don’t think so – he was a bit of a character wasn’t he? I don’t know what family he had, I don’t know

DT: He had a daughter – I only know what I’ve read over the years you know.

JH: Well I mean he went to Spain didn’t he – he was there during the Civil War wasn’t he? [pause] I have a video of him and Trigger.

MK: Recently, this past few years, there’s been around on a horse with a big hat JH: oh there has MK: I don’t know where he’s from – I’ve seen him come up Cragg Road

MK: Are you still sounding and filming Tony?

Yes, carry on.

[Mary passing tea round]

Did any of you ever do maypole dancing?

DT: Oh yes

JH: No, not me

DT: I have a photograph and that was up Cragg Hall, and Mrs Sutcliffe – Mrs Willy Sutcliffe, she was a Girl Guide

MK: J W Sutcliffe was the Chairman of the Council DT: He was, yes.

MK: And he had a building firm

DT: He did – he tarmacced

JH: He sprayed the roads, tarmaccadam

DT: Yeh – Tarmac Billy. [pause] I used to love that maypole

Did you do it every year then?

DT: For two or three years – I think we were in the Brownies then, I was about ten or eleven.

JH: I remember going up there but I can’t remember doing the maypole but I remember going up there, yes.

DT: I’ll show you – oh you’ve seen it perhaps, that photograph

JH: I don’t know whether I have or not.

DT: Yeh, Dorothy Masher’s on

JH: Oh I don’t think I’ve seen that, no.

DT: Most our age anyway

Did you ever do mumming?

ALL: Oh mumming, no, mumming –no

DT: That was at Old Year’s Night wasn’t it? We were not allowed to go out

ALL: No…

DT: We did Carol singing

JH: Oh we did Carol singing

DT: And Plot singing, I did Plot singing

MK: Oh yes

DT: To get money to buy fireworks


JH: And this here trick or treat – well we’d never heard of it had we?


JH: I think it originated in America didn’t it?

Well there used to be a night called mischief night, and I think Hallowe’en is just part of that, and why it came back over this side – who knows?

JH: I don’t ever remember it.

DT: I haven’t heard that till this year – mischief night.

JH: I’ve heard of it a few times, but I think it’s more or less the same thing as trick or treat thing isn’t it really?

MK: We used to go – in winter, the canal got frozen up you know, and we used to go skating on the canal, oh several weeks didn’t we?

JH: It was very thick

MK: And the fields up there, up Banksfields, got all frozen with ice and we used to go at night, with our sledges

ALL: sledging down – where Banksfield is, where the houses are now

DT: Down the side of the field didn’t we?

MK: But you see the winters haven’t been so severe for years.

What kind of a sledge did you have?

ALL: Well they were home-made; a home-made one yes; a bit of wood with metal on; and a bit of string; the sledge of wood and then metal runners; very strong cord to steer it with; a piece off the washing line; we used to use that as skipping as well

Did you ever used to go and watch the Pace Egg play?

ALL: Yes, ooh yes

JH: Yes we went up Midgley – it originated in Midgley and we used to go up Midgley to watch, yes. It used to be crowded didn’t it?

MK: They used to take a picnic, and they used to do it on the recreation ground at Midgley

JH: Well of course my granddad lived at Midgley so we used to go up there you see, so we went a lot, yes- nearly every year actually, yes.

DT: Me dad knew every word and he could sing the whole lot

JH: So did me mother!

MK: My dad was in the Cragg band – they had a brass band you know up Cragg Vale and they were very good, yes, and he got to play – he played a tenor horn – with the phones and the Black Dyke – it was good.

DT: And then they became the Moderna band and I have a photograph

JH: I don’t remember the Cragg Vale but

MK: At Moderna we’d a fire service, ambulance – we’d everything at Moderna, big canteen – we used to put plays on and oh yes…that’s when I started work, fifteen

DT: It were a big firm weren’t it – Casson, did they call it Casson’s ALL: Yes.

JH: You see the railway was very busy then – my grandfather was the inspector and the manager at Hebden Bridge station – manager of the goods and oh – they lived in a cottage just by the railway, opposite where the waiting room is now – and I used to go and stay a lot, and they used to be piled up because there were two chicken factories in Hebden Bridge apart from the one in Mytholmroyd

MK: There were Lumbs and Watsons

JH: Watsons that’s right – and the things that went – cattle and everything came to Hebden Bridge, it was a very busy station, yes.

MK: Am I right in thinking when it was the…oh dear…can’t think what I’m trying to say now…animals all walking up the Turnpike to the show at Hebden Bridge – Agricultural Show

DT: We used to go to the bottom of Westfield Terrace and watch the cows and horses and pigs – all walking to Hebden Bridge

MK: It was a big show – you see that photo was taken..

DT: But they had them at the Hebden Bridge Agricultural Show – before that they had them up Nest, because I know me mother – she were pregnant with our Dennis, and she had to leave the show there quickly you know – so it used to be up there

Was that on Calder Holmes Park then?

JH: Calder Holmes, yes.

ALL: Yes.

MK: It’s been a showground for a long time – where they have the fireworks now, and the bonfire

What do you think of the bonfire then that they have now?

MK: I haven’t been for years

JH: I haven’t for a while

MK: Not like it used to be when they could burn proper wood, because my son’s always been in t’Round Table – I said ‘are you going to the bonfire?’ ‘no – it isn’t like it used to be’

JH: No I haven’t been for a few years now

MK: We all used to have our own you see – that street had one and that street had one – I remember our lads, they once got a telegraph pole for the centre pole – it was the envy of the village! The fireworks were beautiful, the Standard – they were wonderful weren’t they?

JH: I’ll tell you what I didn’t used to like – jumping jacks – the lads used to throw them at you – oh I was scared of them things

MK: Five or six times they used to bang, but it was a good place and all that, but they liked to think that they were burning wood, not – what do they burn now?

ALL: pallets; bales of straw; something like that

JH: I mean the fireworks are really fantastic what they have – I have walked up the road and just seen them, but I haven’t been on the field for ages

MK: Well there are a lot of people and cars..

JH: You’d take the children like when they were younger and then you get that you don’t want to go

DT: But it’s usually wet – I’ve been in wellingtons, really muddy – terrible

MK: But it was nice this time

DT: Oh yes it was a nice evening

JH: I remember one night it snowed as well when we were there – this is years ago, it snowed, yes.

MK: And they have lamb chops and beefburgers

JH: Just look at the weather now though – I mean it’s so mild isn’t for t’beginning of December

MK: Oh yes we’ve known snowstorms you know

DT: Oh gosh – forty-seven – year before we were married…well we were courting as they used to call it! Jack lived at Hebden Bridge and I lived at Mytholmroyd, and I know one day – all the buses stopped – but anyway on the following day, on the Sunday, we got together, and we walked round the tops and it was above our heads, yes, above the walls

JH: And it lasted for months – it went into May before it melted

DT: Really deep snows

What month did all the snow actually arrive?

DT: Well that would be what – January or February

ALL: Yes, something like that

DT: And then you know you quake – is there going to be a flood afterwards if it you know, melts too quickly

MK: There was the flood the year after was it – or the year before?

DT: I have it somewhere

MK: The flood was…

JH: When it washed all the village away

MK: It would be the year after the snow wouldn’t it?

JH: I don’t remember which year – when it washed all the buildings – the buildings away and things, yes.

MK: It washed one or two shops down Mytholmroyd – they were wood huts mind you, yeh they went down the river. Oh there was a terrible mess – all those that lived on the roadside hadn’t they? There’s a date on I think hasn’t it of the floods? I have it all at home on a…what years they were- I’ve forgotten. Forty-seven was what they called The Cloudburst up Midgley, and it ripped all Midgley Road up,yeh, and it came through Dorothy Greenwood’s garden, knocked all the wall down and it went into the canal. It all came down Midgley Road, and it was 1946

DT: it was the same year as Peggy Greenwood and Phillip Longbottom got married, ‘cos he were cousin to me was Phillip Longbottom and I don’t know where they had to go – round Luddendenfoot or somewhere, it was dreadful.

So the flood was the year before the snow?

MK: Yes it was, wasn’t it?

DT: September forty-six that, yes.

MK: Isn’t that a nice photo of Hawksclough?

DT: Ooh yes, the bridge – yes lovely.


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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