Jelma Bates

Jelma Bates

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[Zelma has a strong Yorkshire accent so this is reflected in the transcript]

This will last for about an hour – if you want to stop before that, you can do.

My life story will take a lot longer than an hour, if you want the whole story – you won’t get the whole story, no way!

We can always do another one later on, if you want to.

The first question is – can you tell me your full name and where and when you were born?

Zelma Bates, I was born 28th of May 1939 at Smithy Farm, Blackshaw.

Right – were your parents farmers then?

Yes, I was born on a farm.

And what kind of farming did they do?

Poultry and cows. It said on my birth certificate ‘poultry farmer’.

Did you have to help out?

Not really because we left there at ten and went to live at Widdop, whereabouts at Widdop? the reservoir. We’ve jumped thought haven’t we now – we should be back in Blackshaw [laughing]

I’ll come back, don’t worry – I do a lot of jumping back.

Can you tell me what it was like on your farm?

My dad were a fairly heavy drinker so we’d never any money. When he used to take school dinners from…they made ‘em at Colden School and he used to take them on t’horse and cart to Heptonstall School and many a time he didn’t get past Shoulder of Mutton at Blackshaw because his parents owned that [laughing] so he wouldn’t have got home when I would have got home from school and I had to walk to school from Smithy Farm to Colden which is about two mile when I was five. My brother and my cousin both started together when I were seven and they was allowed to go on a later bus because my brother had bad feet – he were club footed, but my mother had manipulated them till you wouldn’t know now. They could go on t’bus; Sylvia were allowed to go on t’bus but I were seven and I still had to walk. I think I’d be about eight or nine by t’time a bus came because there got to be more children going you see, right from past Kebs on to this bus. There was only me you see so they wouldn’t do it for one, so when I were about eight or nine I were allowed to go on t’bus. But I remember getting to school absolutely wet through because it was a long way for a child to walk, two and a half mile on their own. To Colden School? Yes.

Whereabouts is Smithy Farm?

It’s below t’Kebs, it’s in between t’Shoulder of Mutton at Blackshaw and t’Sportsmans Arms. It’s first farm coming from t’Sportsmans Arms on your left and my uncle had the one on your right, first one on your right, my uncle lived at. Was he a farmer as well? Yes, he was a butcher farmer.

So did he have beef and pigs?


How many chickens did you have?

Oh I’ve no idea.

Was it ten or a hundred?

Oh no we’d a lot more than that, and cows and a horse you see, because I mean in them days you needed a horse to pull t’mowing machine to get your hay in.

So you sold eggs?

Yes, on t’black market! [laughing] Killing pigs in t’black market.

Was there a big trade in that?

Oh yes, yes, I mean t’police used to come for their ham and their eggs and we used to have dried eggs ‘cos my dad had sold them you see on t’black market and there were none for us! Can you believe it!

So how about your mother then – did she just work on the farm or did she do anything else?

Yes, she worked now and again when they needed her in t’canteen at Colden School but yes, she helped my dad on t’farm.

You said earlier about making the meals for the school.

Yes, Colden School made them and took ‘em to Heptonstall, then when we left, my uncle went to Smithy Farm because my dad only rented it. He was left a farm – my granddad did leave him a farm, but he rented this one and then my uncle took over.

Where did your father go after the farm?

Widdop. He was t’reservoir keeper at Widdop.

What do you do as a reservoir keeper?

Not a lot! Just…you had to go and see how much rain fell in these rain gauges you know and walk round t’reservoy [dialect] to see no sheep had fallen in; it were an easy life really.

You know those two barns that were there – were they working barns back then?

Not when we were there. They were good stone, in fact our Jim said ‘what good stone’ – we used to go and play in there, playing ‘house’. The one next door, somebody came to live in that one…once or twice that worked in t’gang at Gorple. There were only like one room downstairs, two small bedrooms and a bathroom.

One of those has gone now hasn’t it?

Yes, it’s been pulled down. Jim said ‘all that good stone…’

Do you know where that went?

No, my brother probably would. I have a picture – we went up didn’t we [to friend] t’other Sunday. We lived in both those houses. The little cottage below was…t’relief reservoy keepers and then the other one was t’reservoir keepers, the big one. Mind you tey’ve built on to that now. I always thought the cottage was t’nicer house, the little cottage.

How many rooms did that have?

Wash-house, kitchen, sitting room and front room, two bedrooms and t’bath was in t’bedroom. T’sink were on t’landing, although it was a big landing, but then again everything were a lot bigger weren’t it when you were kids? [someone came in and brought a chair to listen in]

How long did you live there?

Eight years…then we moved to Ramsden Wood Reservoir but we weren’t there so long because my dad didn’t like for some reason so we came back to Hebden Bridge.

What did he do after this?

He worked for a man called John Norman Butterworth; he had a vegetable business you know…on Bridge Gate and he worked there, and then he were poorly. He didn’t work after being forty-eight and he died at fifty-two of cancer, he had liver cancer did my dad. My mother, she didn’t really work – oh, she did some cleaning and then she went to be a housekeeper to a Cannon in Barnsley. He was a vicar when he was at Hebden Bridge, he were at St James’s, what was his name? Trevor Bone. He got a living at Barnsley so he asked my mother to go and be housekeeper but I didn’t want her to go; how dare she leave me with four kids and I wanted her here! [laughing] Oh it were awful when she went, I remember I felt heartbroken but she was a determined woman; she only died last year at ninety-two.

What did you do at school – what were your favourite subjects at school?

English – reading. I was hopeless at Maths, absolutely useless, but I liked reading.

Can you remember anything special about schooldays?

Yes, I remember Mrs Featherstone, our headmistress, read us ‘The Cloister and The Hearth’ and I’ve read it since I grew up and I couldn’t understand it then, so how the hell she thought a ten-year old could understand that, I don’t know! I’ve forgotten who wrote it; my mother were an avid reader and she had a book, it had all these ….and me mother had a book it were a Sunday School prize – I should have ‘kept that book, I bet it was a first edition, I threw ‘em all out. ‘A Girl of the Limberlost’, Jean Stratton Porter wrote that – I went to the book shop on Market Street and they got it for me. It were an American book and I’ve read it again, it isn’t as good as you get older, but…what kind of a book is it? it’s about a girl that lived in t’marshes and she collected moths and her mother weren’t right good to her because…her husband had gone off with somebody else and she blamed this baby, because she didn’t really want it you see, so she blamed this child and she weren’t right good to her till she got older. This child went to school and she wasn’t dressed like t’others so of course she was bullied; it was sad really but it all turned out all right in the end.
But this ‘Cloister and the Hearth’ were about…were in Holland. There were a Burgomaster in it and he were a right bad ‘un. They called her Margot and him Gerard, and he went to be a…priest, I think that’s why it were called ‘The Cloister and the Hearth’ but he loved this Margot you see, but all in between this it were right ..I only read it again to see if I could understand it! Well I did understand it better, but what the hell she…and I’ll tell you what she took us to see – Great Expectations – well, all us kids from Colden School you know that had been brought up in t’country – and then that there convict jumping in [laughing]– oh my God, I remember my dad playing hell, he said she should never have taken us! Where did you see that? Hebden Bridge pictures, we went on t’bus, t’Hebble bus.

When you finished school, did you work?

I went into lodgings because it was too far to go from Widdop because my dad hadn’t a car. I worked in t’sewing shop – CWS it was then. I wish I’d never seen a sewing shop because you get in a sewing shop and you never get out of it somehow. Is it boring work? I never took to it but you loved it didn’t you Pauline in t’sewing shop?

What kind of things did you sew?

Bloody men’s trousers – oh I swore! You’ll have to cut that!

Where was the sewing shop?

It were up Nutclough, where Calrec is now. There’s still that fire door, that were open and you could see right in to t’sewing shop.

How long were you there?

Till I got married, from fifteen to twenty-one then I got married and I didn’t work again till my youngest was six months old; I’ve had six and I went on evenings to Cinder Hill, winding because I couldn’t claim owt you see – I’ve never been able to claim owt.

How many boys and girls did you have?

Three boys and three girls. One now lives at Tod, one at Hebden and four in Royd.

So they all work locally then?


Because these days a lot of young people move away because there’s not enough work.

No, they’ve all worked.

That last job that you mentioned – spinning was it, did you say?

At Cinder Hill, yes – winding. What’s that? Winding cotton – it were a cotton mill; it hasn’t been closed down long has it? About four years happen. It were family run by the Marshalls; John and Richard Marshall, he lives on Caldene.

Where is that?

Oh you are thinking of Marshalls Builders are you? I was, yes. It was on t’road going to Tod, you know where the Rose and Crown is – there. I went there six till ten, every night.

So when you did winding, what exactly did you do?

…It were on bobbins and you wound ‘em on to cones, well the machine did it and you had to keep knotting it up to fill a cone, then put them in to trucks. It then went on to another machine to be put on to like big cheeses.

Did you like that?

Yes, I quite enjoyed that because you were moving; it was sitting I think I couldn’t stand. I would have done better working in a shop and meeting people; I’m good with my mouth!

Can you remember how much you got paid when you first started working?

Yes, two pounds fourteen and elevenpence (£2 4sh 11d) were my first wage.

Did it go up every year?

Well you went on to piece work – you were in what they called a ‘nursery’ for about nine months, then you were chucked out and you earned your own. It weren’t bad money, fairly good money, but it was so boring.

Where did you live when you got married?

I lived in one of their houses at Nutclough.

So did the house go with the job?


Did your husband work there as well then?

No, my husband was a wagon driver when I met him for John Wormald…near Tuel Lane – Causeway Head – then he went for Michael Heap. Michael Heap is still going – he’s on Burnley Road. Then he went to Uttley & Ingham’s in Hebden Bridge, they made cylinders for…. – there were two parts; copper cylinders and hoppers. He worked in t’copper cylinders and then he did both, and luckily he did because the copper cylinders, nobody wanted them any more because these combi-boilers were coming in you know. The bulk feed bins were for animal feed, have you seen ‘em – they stand like on three legs. They put him on to that section. He used to go down Wales…

When you worked at Nutclough, was that part of the kind of contract that you got somewhere to live along with the job?


Was that normal practice? Did everybody get that?

Yes, if you wanted one of them houses.

Wherabouts – on Eiffel Street or Foster Lane…

No, you know where t’mill is – there’s one or two up for sale now.

There’s not that many there though are there?


There must have been lots of people who worked in the mill who didn’t get a house.

Oh yes but not everybody wanted one of them. They started then with estates, so they had bathrooms you see. But I lived there…I’ve had three children there or maybe four…then I left and got a house up Banksfield, a council house. Because I mean you were right on to t’main road there and I mean in them days, a lot of folk didn’t have children, I don’t know why but a lot of them in t’sewing shop hadn’t families were they young girls then? no, some off t’older end so they’d had no family you see so they weren’t badly off so they had managed to buy their own – this was just when people were starting to buy their own properties.

Did you have special days then with the children – birthdays, Christmas, Wakes Week, Whitsuntide, did you do anything special on those occasions?

We’d go to t’pub probably! [laughing] What’s wrong with going to the pub? Yes we did take them places – we’d go to Blackpool usually for us Wakes holidays when t’kids were little.

When was Wakes Week at Nutclough?

Oh I used to go to Butlins….Wakes Week…July, like it is now. Schools are different aren’t they now? It was about the second or third week in July.

Were you a church-goer?

My mother was. She used to make me go sometimes. I went to Sunday School at Blackshaw, but that was Methodist. My Mother went there only when it were t’anniversary because….she was born in Blackshaw and she had to go to t’Methodists you see, and she used to listen to them preaching and think ‘by God, if I couldn’t do better than that…’. Then she got confirmed you see at Heptonstall and that’s how she started going to the Church of England.

Didn’t she mind that you went to Methodist then?

Well we had to do really from Blackshaw because she wouldn’t have had us walking right to Heptonstall like she did.

Did you like Sunday School?

No I didn’t – I hated school, I hated it, and then you had to go to Sunday School on a Sunday and I mean it weren’t Sunday School like it is now….she used to read out of this paper and I was nearly asleep. They didn’t make it interesting for children – to me they didn’t anyway. But I did get confirmed when I was sixteen, when I was in lodgings.

Was it all fire and brimstone?

Yes, that’s how the Methodists are. It isn’t my cup of tea anyway. I like the Church of England service far better. It makes more sense to me.

What do you like about it?

I like the service itself and communion. I don’t go really but I feel better when I have been!

What did you do on the anniversaries?

We didn’t have Whit Walks up Blackshaw and when we moved to Widdop, well there were nothing were there but sheep. Blake Dean we went to…in fact my mother and Mrs Westall, her husband were a sheep farmer up Widdop at Clough Foot, they got Blake Dean going again. It were a Youth Hostel at one time.

Wasn’t it quite big at one time?

Yes, you went upstairs to go down and downstairs to go up because it were built into the hillside. After they got it going, we used to have a service there once a month and we had socials with pie ‘n’ peas suppers and I mean a lot of folk went; t’adults played whist (my dad didn’t – he didn’t go) and we had a Beetle Drive. Then one of t’Deacons of Slack, because it were an off-shoot of Blake Dean were Slack, they stopped it; we hadn’t to play whist, we hadn’t to have Beetle Drives.

What was a Beetle Drive?

You threw a dice and if you got six it were a body, five for a head… and whoever got a beetle first with all t’legs won. But they stopped it because you just didn’t do that in chapels; I tell yer, t’Baptists were worse than t’Methodists! I don’t think you’d better put that in, in case there’s any Methodists listening! Oh they were – they were terrible. I remember one anniversary, t’lads were playing cricket – well, they went berserk – playing cricket on a Sunday – I mean they weren’t smashing windows or owt like that. It were all stopped then, we didn’t have a social evening at all then.

Do you think that’s part of the reason why the church has died away?

I don’t know, but I mean I think a lot of this today is because we don’t go to church or Sunday School any more – kids don’t go do they? [sorting microphone out]A lot of the church people were narrow-minded. I remember when we lived at Blackshaw, one anniversary, my mother went washing up at t’Mutton just further up t’road ‘cos she needed t’money, my dad didn’t give her hardly owt, and they wittered – you could hear them in t’kitchen – ‘Winnie’s gone up there on an anniversary day, washing up in t’pub’…that’s what they were like. I still find Methodists a bit like that. You can put that in an’ all.

Were you a pub-goer?

Yes, when I got older.

What was your local pub?

Swan in Hebden – the White Swan.

What was it like in there?


Who was the landlord?

When I started going in, the landlord was John Moyle they called him; I think he’s dead now.

Was he a good landlord?


What did he do to make people want to go into that pub?

He talked about anything that anybody wanted to talk about. We had a pub up Widdop, that were t’Ridge – Packhorse. I didn’t go there though because I only went home same as at weekend with being in lodgings, up to being eighteen.

When you had your children, did you still go to pubs?

Yes, not so much till t‘latter years.

I’m just thinking when you had your children, it would have been the Nutclough and Nutclough Tavern.

Yes, Nutclough House was a house then when I had my children – it wasn’t a pub. Joe Shaw had that, he had a taxi business and he took children to school in his minibus – I think Glenda worked for him a bit. I’ll ask her about that later.

What was the Tavern like?

When I knew it at first, they could only sell beer because it was a port house, it couldn’t sell spirits; they hadn’t a spirit licence, it were just a beer house. The landlord & lady were Peggy and Ernest Petts.

It never really changed very much did it?

No, it never changed hardly at all. I remember Peggy sitting on t’juke box and saying ‘you’re not putting owt else on, you can go home now!’ [laughing] and then they sold it to Marian and Eric who have it till now, so that’s the only two landlords I remember in there.

Did you used to go to Nick’s?

Nicky’s Café, yes. It were lovely, well we thought it was.

Loads of people have mentioned it, but what was it really like?

It wasn’t so big, not really. We’d go there on a Sunday afternoon and just drink coffee and talk to folk; I mean it were t’first coffee bar really in Hebden Bridge, well it was the only one. We used to go up Tod on a Saturday night and catch t’last twelve o’clock train back and then call in Nicky’s. It was by t’Pet Shop, where that seat is now, by t’river. It stayed open quite late. Then I walked up Heptonstall with my friend to her house because I mean there were no taxis and buses that late.

Can you remember any characters – individuals who had either funny nicknames or did things out of the ordinary?

[pause] I suppose I can, but I’d better not…I can’t just off hand really.

Did you always wear clogs?

No, I did when I went to school – I aren’t not that old!!!

When did clogs start giving way to other kinds of shoes because at one time everyone wore them?

After t’War I should think. A lot of things happened after t’War didn’t they, I mean women didn’t smoke. That’s when my aunty started smoking, and she smoked up to dieing at eighty-four. My mother would have a cigarette, my other aunty smoked; I mean they wouldn’t have done that before t’War would they? Not in t’country anyway. They would have done in towns I suppose.

Can you remember any old sayings?

They used to say ‘it were siling down’ when it were raining, and ‘what comes today won’t come tomorrow’ and ‘if t’cat washed behind its ears you were gonna have company’…

Can you remember the shops in Hebden?

I can remember t’toy shop on Crown Street, Cottons Toy Shop.

Where was that?

Would it be Marian Mitchell’s?

PAULINE: I would have said it was probably the Chinese.

ZELMA: Yes, because Marian Mitchell’s has always been there hasn’t it? It had two windows hadn’t it?

PAULINE: It used to have a thing going round.
ZELMA: Yes it did Pauline that were when I were little, right up to…not too long ago is it? Well you can remember it.

Were there any shops up Blackshaw in those days?

We had a Post Office, Blue Ball, in Blackshaw Fold and the Breadmoors had a little shop, it weren’t right clean either; in fact I went in one day, I remember with my mother…a cat chasing a mouse – can you imagine it today? We were watching this cat playing with this here mouse in t’shop![laughing]

What did they sell?

Bread – we used to get us bread there…oh and there were t’Co-op; when I think about it, in Blackshaw Fold we’d three shops.

Were there any down Colden way?

We’d a little shop at Jack Bridge – we used to come out of Colden School and go down t’road for us kali [this is correct spelling – Linda looked it up].

What did they sell?

Kali, sweets…you know. Hmm…I’d forgotten about that, ‘cos Jack Bridge Mill were there, my mother used to work in there before she were married, at Jack Bridge Mill –I think Glenda’s parents would as well – she were a weaver.

Your mother was a weaver?


Did she ever tell you how it was?

Yes, she said she wished she’d never seen a weaving shed – throwing t’shuttle, I mean my mother were born in 1912 and she were illegitimate – can you imagine being illegitimate in 1912? So she didn’t have a right good life, probably why she turned to God.

Can you remember any major events that happened?

I can remember when the War finished, I’d be six and I can remember D-Day – they had a big ‘do’ at t’Post Office. We had a bonfire, I think they put Hitler on top and flags we had, and everybody were so happy – I remember that. and I canremember we were off school for six weeks in that 1946-47 snow, and my dad used to take milk on t’horse and sledge on top o’drifts and my mother made some bread without any…it would be unleavened bread wouldn’t it, without any yeast in, ‘cos we just couldn’t get…so for six weeks that was Yes, we were off school, it were lovely. I remember the German prisoners of war coming to dig us out, well they dug it out during t’day then it just blew in at night, because they hadn’t stuff then like they have today had they? But it were lovely being off school.

Where were the prisoners of war stationed?

I’ve no idea, I just remember them coming to dig us out and us looking out of the window and saying ‘ooh – Germans!’

Did any of them stop after the war?

No idea; my dad were a bit…he’d say ‘don’t speak to ‘em’ But yes, it were a bad winter were that.

How has it changed around here from your point of view?

Well some things are better, like the bus service up here, isn’t it Linda? I mean we used to have to walk didn’t we and push your pram, I mean I’ve pushed prams with one toddler in and one sat on…..Yes, t’bus service is better.

Is there anything gone worse?

Well every generation’s said it haven’t they – every generation’s said ‘why bring kids into this world?’ and ‘the good old days’, well to me they weren’t really. I wouldn’t want ‘em back.

Do you think it’s better now then?


What do you think’s better about it?

Well kids are better fed aren’t they? They don’t go to school dirty, they don’t go to school with…well some of them probably do, but they have shoes for their feet, they don’t have to go out…mind you it might do some of them good, mightn’t it…to go out to work and earn a bit when they’re fourteen and twelve – no, I don’t think they were t’good old days. I mean, my dad drank but years before then, they’d just starve wouldn’t they; there were no – well there were means tests but before that, when you retired, if your kids didn’t take you in, you ended up in t’workhouse didn’t you? No, it were horrendous I think.

Do you think young people today have the same type of values that you did?


Why do you say that?

They’ve had too much…I know what you mean…they’ve had too much a lot of ‘em, far too much and mothers have given in I think sometimes because they’ve gone to work it’s easier to give in and they’ve felt guilty, but every generation wants to give them more than what they’ve had, but surely it’ll have to come full circle in a bit.

What do you think’s missing out of the attitudes today?

[pause] The family unit’s gone. We all lived near us grandparents didn’t we at one time and your grandparent stepped in…It’s just gone hasn’t it? Women get fed up, they just go with somebody else; they don’t consider t’kids really, so it isn’t all t’kids fault.

When I was here the other day, did you say that you worked in a saddlery?

Yes, after my youngest one went to school whereabouts was that?

Up on Burlees Lane. Linda worked there, Pauline were an out-worker there weren’t you?

What did you make?

We made horse collars made of webbing, numnahs [correct spelling – Linda looked it up], Linda worked in t’office – numnahs.

What’s a numnah?

It goes under the saddle.

So is it like a blanket?

Yes but it’s shaped like a saddle and it’s made out of curled fleece and you sort of packed it with…foam and sewed it in so that it were comfortable you see for the horse.

So you were sewing again in a way?

I was sewing, but I didn’t mind that sort of sewing.

How long were you there?

When it closed…about fifteen year. I enjoyed that, it were like home from home, I mean we used to moan but I don’t know why; it were like home from home.

PAULINE: it were in a lovely setting wasn’t it, just a bit further up

Did they make anything else besides those?

No, did they?

PAULINE: It was all to do with horse clothing.

ZELMA: He had Arabs.

Did he? How many?

You’ll (Pauline) know better than me – White Lightning hadn’t he, and Bay Shadow, they were the main ones.

Were they like stud?

Oh yes, well his ex-wife actually still has Elizabeth Greenwoods. I don’t know that. Well she’s just moved hasn’t she to somewhere on White Lee I think, or is it Moderna – where t’old Moderna was. It’s advertised Elizabeth Greenwoods

And she makes horse clothing?

Yes, it’s just the same. If you ever wanted to know anything about that more you’d have to go and see her.

**That would be interesting. **

She’s Czechoslovakian actually but she speaks fluent French, German doesn’t she? An intelligent woman. His first wife still lives on Burlees Lane.

What kind of games and toys did you have when you were little?

Not a lot – we used to play a lot of cards. I’d to play cards on my own, Patience – I’d sit hours, if I weren’t reading, I’d be playing Patience on my own. We didn’t have a Monopoly, I thought that were a lovely game. If I went to anybody’s house they had a Monopoly but I mean we didn’t have one. It were really cards and dominoes.

Did you have brothers and sisters?

I had a brother.

Did you play with him then?

Yes, he were two years younger than me. He has a butcher’s shop at Tod now, opposite t’York – J T Stansfield and Sons. He’s been there a fair while.

Was that your maiden name?

Stansfield, yes. It’s one of the oldest names round here I think.

Well there’s a whole area called that isn’t there?

Yes there is.

Did you used to sing?

No I can’t sing a thing, I’m not a bit musical!

Did you have other toys then?

I remember having a pram and t’handle were broken and I remember my mother saying to my dad ‘will you put her a handle on that pram?’ but he never did. I used to lug this here pram…it just had a thing on and I used to try and…somebody gave it us. Dolls… I remember one Christmas Eve…I’d got a doll and they were pot then weren’t they, and my brother had got a pop gun. At Cotton’s shop my mother had paid so much a week, wrapped ‘em together. My dad hadn’t come home, he’d been out and t’cows were bawling to be milked. My mother were upset and she went out to milk ‘em and she’d said ‘oh open them’ and we opened them – he’d wrapped ‘em together and the pop gun had gone through t’doll’s belly [laughing] and t’leg were off an’ all! So Christmas Eve – t’cows were bawling, my mum were trying to milk ‘em, I were bawling….my mother came back and were trying to put this damned leg on this doll, Christine I called it, she had a hole in her belly [all laughing]……I’ll never forget it! Christine Rose I called it. I think it would probably be t’first new doll I ever had. Sad weren’t it? [still laughing]

Did you used to play out in the fields?

Yes we did.

What kind of things did you do?

We used to play in t’hay field and then get told off because they’d have got them all into things and then we’d just knock ‘em all down. We used to run on t’hay cart with the horse but my dad were always saying ‘you’ll fall off…’ not that he were ever there to bother really, but he bothered about stuff like that. Hide and seek because my cousin was t’same age as my brother, two years younger, and she lived on t’next farm; she lives up Cragg Vale now. Then we used to play at house and stuff like that, ‘cos they were a bit better off – well, a lot better off than us and she’d got dolls like, so she let me play with her dolls.

Can you remember any of the floods, I mean you probably wouldn’t have got them where you were?

I can remember that one – it would be in t’forties wouldn’t it, there were one – I can remember my mother, I think it were one Monday morning and we didn’t go to school, oh I were glad – swilling t’lobby out, so we did get a bit of it but it didn’t get into t’house, just t’lobby because like these farmhouses had big lobbies hadn’t they – a porch and all that. I can just remember her swilling that out.

Why does everybody remember that one so much?

I don’t know…I don’t ever remember another one.

One chap told me that it used to flood all the time, you know every year a few times a year, but whenever I ask anybody about the floods, it’s always that one they seem to remember.

Yes, I can remember when I worked at Nutclough in t’sewing shop and t’buzzer went; a lady used to just run out and get her coat, she lived at Royd where it did flood you know, on Burnley Road. I remember that, and it also used to flood at Callis didn’t it? But that’s the one I remember, apart from that one a few year ago in Hebden when Keith James got his car stuck. It’s always that 1940-odd one that I remember.

Can you remember any of the big fires?

There was a big fire when we lived at Nutclough; it would be about 1962,63… It were a polystyrene place, it were just when polystyrene came out; I can remember that going up.

Where was that?

Up Bridge Lanes somewhere, ‘cos my friend worked there. It would be early 1960s, Bridge Lanes – I’m sure it was and it was a polystyrene place, it was when they’d just started making polystyrene. I’m just trying to think where that might have been. Well Stuart probably will know, he’ll know – who is it hasn’t come has he? What do they call him? Is Ken here? They’ll know just where it was, but I’m sure it were up Bridge Lanes.

I want to go back to like the shops – were there any shops at Widdop at all?

No, we got our milk from a farmer. We went to school by taxi then, and t’taxi used to stop and they used leave it – it were a black bag my mother had and every day he’f put two pints in this black bag and we picked it up off t’grass verge, and bread, we got in Heptonstall, we picked that up in t’taxi. Mind you, my mother did make her own bread as a rule.

Did she have a baking day?

Yes, Wednesday I think were baking day…or Thursday I think; washing Monday, ironing Tuesday, I think bedrooms were Wednesday, and baking day I think were Thursday, cleaning and black leading were Friday.

Did you have to do any of that?

No I didn’t do a lot. You see we didn’t do that much because my mother were at home, she didn’t go to work you see, so I think I got a shock when I got wed! [laughing]

Do you know any jokes or funny things that happened – there must have been things that happened on the farm that were funny?

I’m trying to remember – no there weren’t nowt right funny!

Did you ever play dirty tricks then on neighbours??

Well there weren’t so many neighbours you see about… my cousin lived at that farm just up t’road and then my godmother lived at t’farm…Daisy Bank, I see that’s up for sale, they lived there – they went to live at Leyland but they came from Leyland, so really there were nobody to play with really.

Not when you were really young – maybe around the time when you left school or thereabouts – were there a lot of farmers about then?

Well you see we’d gone to Widdop then.

If you go up the Widdop road now, there were a lot of houses there but I don’t think there’s even one working farm left, so were they all working farms?

Well yes, yes they was.

Was it all dairy then?

Yes, dairy – dairy farming.

Can you remember any of the people?

Pearsons…where we got our milk from, and Higher Greenwood. That were like a café, that’s just been for sale – they used to on a Sunday make dabs and they were really good.

What’s a dab?

A dab is potato done in batter – yes, and people used to come from far and wide to have their dabs.

Was it like a scallop then?

A scallop, yes, what we call scallops now, we called them dabs – well they were dabbed in t’batter weren’t they?

So they did that just on a Sunday then?

Just Saturday and Sunday, I think that’s on only time they did them unless a party rang up…no they could have done ‘em through t’week as well but it was more Saturday and Sunday because of the hikers and that, because folk hadn’t cars then like they have now.

Did you ever go into Hardcastle Crags at all to play?

No not really, we never go, you know you don’t look at it when you’re used to it. I mean at Widdop, it’s a lovely view looking across at that reservoy now it’s one of my favourites places of all is Widdop yes, you know to look out over there, I mean it’s beautiful isn’t it but we never really…we used to walk round t’reservoir because my mother liked walking – we used to walk round and there were t’rocking pig and t’camel…I saw a lizard the last time I was up there. Did I tell you I were playing in t’conduit, I mean that were all cleaned out then, it isn’t now – there’s some steps going down with t’water running, and one summer I saw a newt and I got hold of it and t’tail came off and it wriggled all in my hand; I’d be about eleven or twelve. That’s stuck in my mind.

Was it part of your father’s job then, to keep those conduits clean?

Yes, you see there’s no reservoy keeper now is there?

Who lives in those houses then?

I don’t know – they’re private, private houses. Now when I look, I think ‘this is absolutely beautiful’….We went up didn’t we, and I said about this here newt. There were all cranberries at t’other side in them rocks did you used to pick them? yes. Did you mum make jam out of them? Well she made summat – I think it would be jam, but we did use to go and pick ‘em. Folk used to come and stay – my friends from school and, they thought it were marvellous – from t’town they used to stop.

Can you think of anything else that has changed in either Blackshaw, Widdop or Hebden Bridge?

There’s all these new houses they’ve built at Blackshaw isn’t there? I mean, t’Shoulder of Mutton’s gone – my granddad had that and he also had t’Sportsmans Arms…I think my dad might have been born at t’Kebs…I’m not just sure where my dad were born.

**He was a Stansfield then? **

Yes, there were a lot of Stansfields. He left about four… lots of property when he died.

So did he have a farm as well as run the pub?


Did he own the pub?

Yes, he owned the pub you see and it were a farm as well were t’Kebs.

I didn’t realise that – was it just a beer house as well then?

I couldn’t tell you – no, I don’t think so, I think it would be both.

Do you know how long it had been in the family?

No, I think he’d farm t’Rough which were a farm at Todmorden way and then they’d take t’Kebs; I think my dad could have been born at Rough Farm because my granddad left my dad Rough Farm. I think he’d sell t‘Kebs, but yes – he did own property.

What do you think of what we’ve just done, how did it make you feel?

Nostalgic, but I’m glad…it’s now and not then. I’m not one of these that looks back and thinks ‘oh it was so good then’ because a lot of it wasn’t.

Do you think it’s either important or useful for the old tines to be told – the kind of experiences you had – told to the younger generation so that they know what it was really like rather than reading it in books?

Yes, not as they’ll take a lot of notice till they get to our age!

Did you celebrate birthdays?

Oh no – just ‘Happy Birthday’, you didn’t got owt – you didn’t get owt for Christmas!

Was that usual?

We didn’t expect a lot, not really, no.

I haven’t really celebrated birthdays much.

I haven’t really with my kids you know; I’ve never made a big fuss of birthdays.

Did you have a nickname or was there anyone around with a nickname?

No – actually they called Stansfields ‘Kitty’ – I don’t know why, Kitty we were called, and the person I went to lodge with when I left school, he always called me Kitty and it was a nickname, yes – ‘Jim Bill Kitty’ – they called my granddad James William and they called him ‘Jim Bill Kitty’ for some reason. My mother had a coat hanger and Kitty were put on in…somebody had burnt it on, oh and I remember my granddad getting a…he hadn’t a lot of patience either, getting a piece of wood and burning two eyes in it and a nose and a mouth and that were a doll! [laughing]…a bloody doll!! Oh and my Auntie Janie tried to teach me to knit, well our Sylvia picked it up, my cousin, to hide away or I did, so she hadn’t a lot of patience either! Is this a family trait then? I can knit now, but I think my mother taught me – it weren’t my Auntie Janie! [laughing] She did leave me £100 when she died like, so she isn’t that bad! Well it were my dad’s share – he’d died.

Can you remember any of the other shops in Hebden around the Nutclough area and coming down into town?

Only Barkers opposite t’Nutclough, t’Nutcrack, that were a little shop that sold everything. Down Foster Lane there were a shop – Phyllis’s, I remember her dieing, I’d be about sixteen when she died was that right down the end of Foster Lane? No, it were at t’top – she were selling stuff off just before she died, and I bought some chocolate that were mouldy. I’ve never had a bit of luck! There were two shops farther down – Suthers…were Suthers and Adams’s t’same, can you remember ‘em? [To Pauline].

PAULINE – I can remember Suthers – no, Adams’s were at t’bottom

What did they sell?

Everything really; Suthers used to make..peas didn’t they? You could go and get pie and peas for your dinner at one time. She were lovely were Mrs Suthers; yes, that were there.

Were there any coming down Keighley Road into Hebden?

Yes there were t’Co-op weren’t there? There were t’Co-op up Keighley Road. I remember going there and then Co-ops started closing down didn’t they – it were alright were t’Co-op. You forget don’t you and then all of a sudden you think ‘oh there were a Co-op there’ and a shop here and a shop there, and I remember ‘em widening t’pavement at t’White Lion – if you look you can tell it’s been widened can’t you, and I remember coming down with t’pram, the pram and my wheels always come off t’pavement because it were so narrow. There were a green window in – I always remember that green window…

In the wall, when you come down Keighley Road along the wall down from Nutlough down, there’s lots of bits that have been bricked in or stoned in; can you remember what any of those were?

No – I know what you mean; no I can’t, but I do know what you mean. I can probably find out for you – Margaret would know.

That would be interesting because there’s a few and I thought ‘well maybe it’s like a bit of a well and there’s a pump or something for water’ but you look at them again and you think ‘no, it wouldn’t be that.’ If you could find out and let me know, that would be great.[people coming in] You haven’t got any old photographs or old things like that…

There is one of my dad somewhere in…that snow, in that blizzard. They were all outside t’Blue Ball at Blackshaw; I’ll ask Jim if he’s got it.

What I can do is, when all this gets typed up and gets put on to the web site, then we could scan it in – that’s what all that stuff is, and so we could have the picture next to when you’re talking about the snow that winter and we could have a picture next to it. If there’s anything like that that you can find or remember – or beg, borrow or steal…

My brother will have some.


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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