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Norman Windle

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VARIOUS CHILDREN:Twenty-seventh of November 2009, Scout Road.

What are the names of your family?

NORMAN WINDLE:Didn’t understand that, what did you say?

What’s the last name of your family?

Windle [spelt w i n d l e].

What’s your favourite moment at your house?

My favourite?

Moment when you were at your house.

What do I do at home for pleasure, is that what you’re saying?


Well I still do quite a bit of reading and I do what television of course like everyone else, and listen to the radio – Radio 4, when I have time to myself.

TONY WRIGHT:When you were a child, what  things did you at home?

Oh is that what you meant?

Yes, yes.

Oh you didn’t say that.  Well, when I were at – I came to this school until I was eleven and in those days you had to take an exam at eleven – your eleven plus.  If you failed it, you stayed here at this school until you were fourteen and then left – fourteen.  And if you passed it which I did, you went to the Grammar School in Hebden Bridge which was Riverside School – do you know where that is – on by the Post Office there, so you went to a Grammar School, and so time at home was spent doing homework, doing an awful lot of homework – at least two hours a night, that was from here and then I went up to the Grammar School and you got even more homework.  You’d no calculators in those days – do you have a calculator?


You’d no calculators, you’d no mobile phones,  you’d no…you didn’t take an exam and see all the information on the exam sheet, you had to know it, and if you didn’t you were in trouble.  Right, anything else?

What was your favourite holiday?

Favourite holiday, when I was at school?


Well I was brought up in the Second World War and there were no such things as holidays really, although I do recall after the Second World War we used to go to St Anne’s which is near to Blackpool and then after I’d be about fourteen, I used to go youth hostelling, I rode all round England on my bicycle and then when I was still at school I rode across from here to Switzerland, twice.  I went to school till I was eighteen – people don’t seem to do that nowadays, it seems to be dangerous, but we all got up and did things, you did them – worry about the danger afterwards.  Have you got another?

Do you remember any of your teachers, you know when you were in school?

Oh yes, from school, oh I do remember indeed.  One of them has just died and he was a science master at Calder High School cos Hebden Brige Grammar School became part of Calder High School, and he was called Mr Hacker, and he would stop you on a corridor and ask you so-and-so’s law and what this was and what this formula was, and if you didn’t know you would get a clip round the earhole, and everyone, everyone passed physics with Mr Taylor, everyone passed physics, no failures.  And then… you know where Burnley Road School is, on by the road, do you know where the school field is?


What happens on there in summer?  Mytholmroyd..Gala.

Gala, right.  Well when I was a young boy that was Hebden Bridge Rugby League Club, and I used to play for them, not for the senior team but for the under-fourteens and under-fifteens and under-sixteens, so two nights a week were spent training and playing games on Saturday, either at home or away.  I found when I was a boy, I didn’t watch much television – why don’t you think I watched much television?

Cos they didn’t have any.

Exactly – very good.  The first television I saw…..I was eighteen years old, I’d never seen one before, and do you know how big they were?  They were about – yeah, they were about that big, the screen was and it was black and white, and then a very important event happened in 1953 – do you know what that was?  It’s just on the news at the moment………well when I was born it was King George the Sixth on the throne and then King George the Sixth died and Queen Elizabeth the Second was crowned as queen so 1953 they had Coronation Day and we had – over on the field at Calder High School were Coronation Day sports and on Coronation Day, I think it was June the second 1953, it rained, it poured down, so the sports were cancelled until the Saturday afterwards, and I was a bit thinner then, I wasn’t as big as I am now and I was a very good sprinter and I won the….two-twenty race and came second in the hundred yards, and I won thirty shillings which was an awful lot of money in those days – one pound fifty – different days.  Any more questions?

Who were your parents?

Who were my parents?


Mr and Mrs Windle of course.  My father was in the war and…mother has been dead about forty years and father about thirty-five years, something like that.  Rather an interesting thing cos…long before I was born, my grandfather was caretaker of this very school – long before – I don’t even remember him, but he was an old soldier from Queen Victoria’s army and I know someone who knows us both and he said I looked like him, I took after him, you know.   Any more questions?

What was your favourite school?

What was my favourite

School trip.

School trip?


What do you mean by that?

Like, where you go with school to somewhere.

I see…..well the answer to that – we never went anywhere with the school, when I went it were about learning and trips…..we just didn’t have them.  A lot of people my age did things for themselves, they didn’t go with school trips.  Once a year we used to have the school sports, the Halifax and District School Sports, and they were at Thrum Hall to begin with which is near where the rugby league ground is and then they were at the Shay.  Where’s the Shay?  What happens at the Shay at Halifax?

Football, rugby.

Football, or rugby, yeah, yeah.  And then after that, the last one I was in, Spring Hall which is just further on past the Shay.  School trips – no, didn’t have them, not a one, but as I say people used to go off for themselves…

What’s the most exciting job you’ve had?

……….well it certainly wasn’t school teaching – I was a school teacher for many years, for older children, I was a sports master originally, but I was in the forces twice; I was a soldier when I was younger and then a bit older, I was air crew in the Royal Air Force so I was a commissioned officer in the Royal Air Force and I think that was the most exciting by a long, long way.  I didn’t make it through the flying training, I didn’t make it all the way so I used to fly and that was very, very interesting, very exciting, very interesting, and I should, I should never have come out because I did, I should have stayed in, and since then everything’s been a bit of a….a bit of a let down.  Anything else?

What different jobs have you had?

Well I was…I was in the forces twice as I say, in between times I trained as a teacher, and do you know where Ryburn School is – just up through the wood here isn’t it?  I was the very first sports master, or one of them at Ryburn School – there were two of us – and then I was in the RAF and then I worked for an American company down in the Midlands, Goodyear Tyre Company, as a sales manager…and I’ve had all sorts of jobs.  Interesting enough, I often found you earn more working with your hands just as a labourer and driver, I could make quite a lot of money then, much more than school teaching, but it’s alright when you’re a young man in your twenties and thirties, but when you get older you don’t want to be working in the rain you know, like these men – do you remember them doing all that building last year?  I thought ‘I wouldn’t like to be working outside’.  You can always – you know, people have no reason for being without a job.  You young people, when you grow up, you can always get a job.  Learn to drive.  Get a driving licence as soon as you can – it’s always there, it’s always there.  Anything else?

What was your best birthday?

My best birthday?.........well I think when I was twenty-one because…in my day, in my day, you couldn’t vote in a general election – do you know what a general election is?


You couldn’t vote until you were twenty-one, but you could fight and die for your country, and when I was twenty-one I’d come out of the army, I was at teacher college in York and…I had a very wonderful birthday I can assure you, we won’t go into detail but that was one of the best ones I think [laughing].  There was a very beautiful girl lived nearby and I persuaded her to come and play tennis with me that afternoon cos I was twenty-one and then I went out down into York at night and had a few beers.

Did you have a school uniform when you were in school?

Yes.  Yes, at Hebden Bridge Grammar School you had a blazer badge that said HBGS – Hebden Bridge Grammar School – we also used to have hats which we had to wear and if you weren’t wearing it you were in trouble.  Also, wore….are you in long trousers?  We wore short trousers, you wore short trousers till you were about thirteen fourteen – went to the Grammar School and had short trousers, and one of my biggest thrills was getting my first pair of long trousers.  You’ve got them on now you two lads.  Anything else – Joseph?

What job did you gain most friends from?

Gain most?

Friends from.

Friends in?


When I was in the military, without a doubt.  You – I still go – you know what a re-union is?  It’s when old soldiers meet together.  I went to one only a couple of months ago and I talked to some that were my comrades all those years ago.  You never forget, particularly if you’re on active service, you never forget them – friends for life, and I’ve been doing this – you’ll remember me coming to talk to the school with the British Legion, and I was in the Co-op at Hebden Bridge selling poppies, and if ever an old soldier came up it was like a fellow…a fellow friend of mine, we understood each other, but definitely that – not anything else.  Any more things folks?

Have you always lived in Mytholmroyd?

A lot of the - yes, a lot of the time.  I had a place, I had a flat in Hebden Bridge.  Obviously I was away when I was in the military…..and I lived down in a place called Derby in the Midlands when I worked for the Goodyears Tyres, so I have lived away but….like all Yorkshiremen it’s nice to come home, I’m very proud to be a Yorkshireman.  Do you know what Yorkshire Day is?........have you heard of Yorkshire Day?


The first of August, it’s Yorkshire Day is that – wear the white rose.  And you’ll find that in your lifetime you will no doubt go away, work away.  Whatever you decide to do, you’ll get your job and then you may have to go somewhere else.  If I was a young man, I would go to Canada or New Zealand, I certainly wouldn’t stay here, but that’s political and maybe that isn’t within the scope of what we’re talking about now.   Okay – any more?

Who was your best friend?

Who was my best friend? mean when I was a young man?


Well I had many, many best friends………I still know people now that I was at school with, and……if in life, if you get older, if you can count your friends on the fingers of one hand, you’re a very lucky person.  A friend is someone who will help you when you’re in need or whom you will help when they’re in need, that’s not necessarily a relative…..So friendship is a thing – I mean, you’ll have a best friend will you in school?

I have loads of best friends.


I have loads of best friends.

You as well – you’re all popular aren’t you at Scout Road School!  Does anyone know anyone who goes to another school?


Gosh you’ll all meet up in the end you see.  If you lived lower down in the village, you know towards the main road, you’d probably be going to Burnley Road School wouldn’t you?  But you’re coming to this school, to Scout Road School.  Anything else?

Do you remember Mytholmroyd when you were younger?

When I was younger?

Do you remember it?

Yes I remember it very well….because there weren’t as many houses.  You know over by Calder High School – your bottom yard and look across – big estate – Hullett Drive – do you know where that is?

I live near there.

You live over there.  There were no houses over there when I was a young man, none – just fields.  And the other estate – Bankfield Estate - was built just after the war when I was, probably about your age, I can remember that being built, and there were… Mytholmroyd there used to be at least three banks, many shops…there isn’t one bank now, this is progress – they’ve all closed down, so you have to go to Hebden Bridge.  Much smaller and everyone knew everyone.  If you went down the village, most people knew you, and nowadays a lot of these houses that’s being built, some are sold to Rochdale Housing Association so we get people from there living in the village.  Any more?  Just even if you haven’t got them written down – just general.

Which of your friends has changed the most?

Changed in what way?

Like….I don’t know – overall.

Well, as I say, because I’ve been away so many times….you tend to make friends as you go along and I haven’t really anyone that I’ve known all that long.  I had some trouble with my eyesight two or three years ago; I’d come back from ski-ing and I went to the opticians and I found out I was going blind and I am blind in this eye, and this one is going the same, so I had to have some injections and it’s okay now, and some of the chaps who helped me then – they were true friends.  I have – I have one friend and he’s the one who – you know between Hawksclough and Hebden Bridge, all the canal boats are moored aren’t they on the thing, well the guy who owns that, the guy who owns the canal bank and there, he was an evacuee from Bradford of all places and he use to come to this school and he was in my class, and I still know him to this day, sixty-odd years after.  I can remember him.  I have another friend of mine who was at school with me, I still see him cos he lives up Pecket Well, but a lot of the others moved away to different countries and what have you, but never be afraid, never be afraid to go away and seek opportunities – you can’t always be sure to get them round here, particularly in this day and age.  Anything else?

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Anything else?

You’d like to say.

I’d like to say?


Oh many things – about what?


About anything?  Right I’ll ask you a few questions.  What sport do you do?


How many times a week?

I don’t really do it as a club but I play at school and at play times.

What about you?

I like running.

You like running.  And do you do it here?

I do it here and you know Spring Hall?

Oh you go down there do you?  Oh with Halifax Harriers?  Oh that’s very interesting.

Every year two people from each class get picked to go.

Oh right.  And how many times have you been down there?


Right.  Do you like that?  Very good, well you stick to that.  What about you son?

I just do football at my house.

Oh yeah, yeah, well keep it up.  Sports are a very good thing; you’ve got to have a balance between study and physical activity because it’s no good having too much of one thing and too little of another.  There’s a saying – ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ – have you heard that before?  It’s an old saying; you’ve got to have…when you’re studying for something you’ve got to have a break and do something else, and……with me, it was always sport, it was always sport.  I played…I played a lot of rugby when I was a young man which is why I don’t have many teeth now, these are not my own – you tend to lose them playing rugby, and it was very good at the time.  What bits of advice have I given you, from my point of view, what have I said?...Get a what?

The village has changed.

The village has changed, yeah.  

Quite a long time. 

Right, what else have I said?

About  all your friends.

Right friends are very important, they really are important.  Get a…
Driver’s licence.
Driving licence as soon as possible.  Even if you don’t have a car it’s always there.  And be prepared probably to go abroad when you’re older – I don’t say you have to do, you may find something in this country, but we live in difficult times at the moment, and without going into politics – there are problems here which are not of our making…cos the….round here if anyone got a job with the Halifax Building Society, that were a job for life, it really was….I wouldn’t like to have a job for life, I wouldn’t like – ‘you’re here till you die – that would bore me, I’d be absolutely bored.  I go ski-ing every year, I go ski-ing next month, in January, and I don’t find it easy at my age but I still go, I still enjoy it.  If you want to do something, do it.  No good sitting – no good waiting for someone to help you – you help yourself and get on with it.  Anything else?  Anything you haven’t asked yet?

TONY WRIGHT:Well I’ll ask one or two and if the children want to join in they can do.  I was just wondering about – you were talking earlier about Mytholmroyd where Bankfield and the other estates weren’t there – has it change in any other way and do you think any of  it’s been good change?

I’m sure there’s been good and bad you know….I don’t think the development at the back of the Post Office is for the good, for the village.  All these self-appointed important people, our leaders – houses for young people – and there’s so few of them taken off that they’ve sold to Rochdale Housing Association and some of the people in there are not the ones you would normally expect in a village……Hebden Bridge is, I think, is a trashy little town, dreadful.  You can’t pedestrianize – it’s too small.  We have too little streets. You pedestrianize one – nowhere for the traffic to go.  Eight sets of traffic lights between this side of Hebden Bridge and you know where the station is, the railway station and the Fox and Goose at the other side, there are eight places where people can either stop the traffic and cross the road, and that makes traffic very very slow doesn’t it, so people try and avoid coming to Hebden Bridge.  In my day, younger day, there were lots more sporting clubs, a lot of tennis clubs up and down, and other sporting clubs.  Everyone, everyone played sport – either running or something like that.  There were never enough hours in the day for me.  I heard……some young people the other day when I were selling poppies and ‘I’m bored’ she says, child of eleven – ‘I’m bored’ – how can you be bored?  God  Almighty.  Perhaps young people are spending too much time in front of a television set and

Do you think there are different values today then for young people?


Do you think there are different values that young people hold today?

Well they only hold their values of their peers….they definitely are different values.  In my day, anyone without a job…it was a shame, a shame.  I can understand nowadays, some of the guys who worked on this school, one was fifty-two years old and he’d never been without a job before but he was going to be because he didn’t know how things, you know – it’s just the way things are.  There are different values and you gave me one of these forms which is to complain about if I feel – if I had any complaining to do I would do it to you, I’d do it face to face, you would certainly know about it.  I don’t have, I don’t have to – please don’t think that – but you’d be in no doubt as to my feelings, I wouldn’t send a silly little form in, that’s sneaky – that’s underhand.  You’ve got to be honest to yourself.  You can pretend, you can pretend things are happening but you can’t fool yourself.  Anything else?

Well you have to leave in a couple of minutes so I’ll just ask one last question really.  This exercise that we’re doing, interviewing you with the children, do you think this sort of thing is important?

I think it’s excellent for the children, talking to me rather than their own parents you know.  Do listen to your own parents, but…’s nice talking to other people, to older ones who’ve perhaps seen more of the world than a lot of people have.  Listen to what’s said and make your own mind up afterwards, that’s what I would advise you to do.  I think this is excellent.  I mean, it’s good in that all three of you knew me before I came – I’ve been coming to this school – November – all the time you’ve been here and before, and you’ve seen me every day, sort of across the road with William’s dog comes round to see how I am most mornings.  Do you know William’s dog?  Big black Labrador.

Well you’re going to miss your bus if we don’t finish so I think we’ll stop now.  The only thing I’d like to say is I’d like to thank the children for taking part and I think you’ve done really well.

I thought you were excellent, excellent.  Some excellent questions.

And thank you for participating.


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