Josie Greenwood

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The first question is, what’s your full name and where and when were you born?

Josie Vera Ann Eidson, me maiden name. I was born in Stoney Middleton, that’s in the Peak District…and I’ve been married twice, I’ve had two children. I don’t like the world very much now, and where do you want me to start?

What year were you born?

Oh – thirty-eight.

So you were born in the Peaks? What kind of a place was it where you were born?

A very little village, and it’s still there. Me father was the greengrocer in the village, me mum was just me mum…it was the war years and food was short. Me mum used to go snaring rabbits for us to eat. She was a marvellous cook, so we never ever went short of food because we’d have nettles for vegetables and as there got more of us, we’d have cow’s heart and sheep’s heads for us tea, and wonderful things like that you see!

We’d a lot of family round there. One of me uncles owned the local garage with coaches, you know what I mean – they didn’t call them coaches then, they were called whies. Me father only had one leg cos when he were a baby his mum had dropped him on the fender and he lost one leg, but he was quicker and fitter than any of his children; he could swim like a fish, tall…a wonderful man.

If we were poorly…me mother used to rub us with grease – goose. She cooked with it, we ate it and if you got a cold you got rubbed with it, and if we were poorly they used to put a fire in the bedroom cos we’d no heating, obviously no baths so we got bathed in a dolly tub, and then you’d to go to the toilet – it was up the garden with a…you’d to look down to see if there were nothing there before you sat down [chuckling].

It was very…a small village and everybody joined in, a lot of relations. And if it were snowing everybody went sledging – everybody. Me mum, me dad, aunties, you know what I mean, so that were fun, and it was like round The Moon. The Moon is the pub, it’s like there is – there’s one pub and it’s called The Moon, so you see if you’re very good I’ll take you to The Moon.

When I were a child if anybody were missing, like with the war and that, we used to put their name in The Moon, when I was a kid I thought it was in the moon [the real moon] and I was looking at the bloody moon but I never saw anybody!

If there were a wedding, me and me sister used to go and pump the organ. Nobody asked us to, we just went and pumped this organ, you know what I mean, and I told you me dad were a greengrocer and I’d uncles who were into…mining Blue John and t’crusher run – I think we might still be in that somewhere round Derbyshire, you know what I mean – they were quite a well-known family.

I went to a little school, a tiny little one, and you’d to walk there. When we were walking to school, me mum used to pick crab apples and make crab apple and she used to pick horseradish roots to make horseradish, then we used to go to this place called Coombesdale and she’d go and set her traps for the rabbits and then she’d come off farming stock, so she could wring their necks and all sorts.

We used to have a pig to eat…and when anybody had a pig killed it was a big event because you got used to the pig and you get this pig and you fatten it up and then they took it to the local butcher’s – well they can’t drive a pig so everybody used to get out in the streets and shoo it down to the butcher’s, and all the ladies used to be crying because – they’re crying because you know what I mean and after a while you’d hear this terrible piercing scream when they killed it in the back of the butcher’s, and then me mother used to blow the bladder up and make a ball for us to kick around and we had everything you can have off a pig – we had…savoury ducks, black pudding; me mother made everything. She bottled everything for winter.

Did you grow your own vegetables then?

Well me mum did, yeh, and she’d have a few hens and then she’d wring their necks, and she was one of those who could manage with nothing.

Once over we had…we had dogs and things, but in them days if there were anything like that, we had one that were a bit daft and they seemed to put it in a lime pit, you know what I mean if it died you mean? yeh, oh aye – when they killed ‘em you know.

I can remember hearing the planes going over to Sheffield and you could hear ‘em you know; all them memories of planes and booms you know when they dropped the bombs and that, and hiding under the table, and we had a…Prisoner of War camp just down the road from us but they was Italians mainly and they used to give us buns and some of ‘em came to our house cos I don’t think they were, I don’t think they were just – well they were Italians, I don’t really know. There was a Prisoner of War camp, and me mum and dad got friendly with…well one in particular and they didn’t like me because I was always a bit of a bitch but they asked me mum and dad if their son could marry my sister and we had these photos, Demetrius or something, but I think me mother and me father probably took it like nothing, but years later it appeared up – she had promised but she didn’t marry this fella, and at some point I went to Italy and…I thought I’d try to find this family but I never did and then I lost the photos, thrown them away, end of it, like that.
I don’t know what to tell you about.

When you finished school, what did you do after that?

Well we’d to walk home and then I don’t know, I didn’t really do anything – play, just play.

You didn’t have chores?

No, no, no- no, me mum did them – no, just played.

What kind of things did you play?

We had like a buggy what you could put your doll in, and at Christmas you didn’t get a right lot – you’d get an apple, nuts….you’d get one thing, it could be a doll or it could be a book – you’d have one thing and everything else was…apples, oranges, nuts, I suppose what they could get hold of, and we had a Christmas tree; well I had it for years as well and it was made of feathers – it was beautiful, it was just feathers twisted, and it had all little candle things at the end, and me mum used to light ‘em up for us, yeh – and me mum used to make lots of cakes and…mince pies, three wise men on the pies – anybody will tell you that won’t they?

Who made the Christmas tree?

I don’t know where it come from, it were there, it was just there; it was just feathers twisted round and it had little candle holders on the end and loads of baubles on it, and I can see it now, you know what I mean – it were lovely.

Did you make any of the decorations?

No, no – I mustn’t have been much good at that.

Did other people in your family make things for it?

No, but I think…I think me mother came from wealthy stock to start with, I think me mum was a lady, apart from me, she were a bloody lady – take my word for it, you know what I mean. She was a miller, you know – made hats, you know what I mean, and me granddad was like a gentleman farmer, and somewhere in t’house I have the catalogue of the sale when they sold up.

That would be interesting to see.

Yes I have that, unless I’ve given it to somebody who’s into family history because you know what I mean, I do things like that, but from all I can gather, these who do this thing, me mother was a lady. She was one of these…she was always up and down in jodhpurs and riding, and she was a lovely lady. You can tell I love my mum can’t you?

Yes – what was her name?

Mary Annie, Mary Anne, Mary Annie Eidson Fletcher, and there was…there was fifteen, thirteen or fifteen brothers and sisters she had, and I can remember ‘em – some of ‘em are still alive, and me mother was the eldest of them.

I can remember just been around farms when I was a child with people squirting tits on me with warm milk, making their own butter and the butter pats. Am I boring you?

No, no – I’m just letting you talk; I don’t interrupt really

Tell me to shut up

No you carry on Josie

One thing I’ve always liked is going swilling t’dairies out; I’ve always had a thing about swilling, and I think it comes from when I were a child. I always loved swilling the dairies out. I did when I were married and I went to t’top, I did it there for a while.

Me dad once showed me how to shoot a gun so I sort of know that – he knocked me down, you know what I mean, but that was sort of the thing I was brought up with, and some of me uncles, they did coke for the gas – we used to have to go, well I didn’t have to, I used to go because it were nice, I were always in t’wagons you see, and we’d go to the coke place and they’d burn the coal and make it into gas and that, and when I were about seven we came to live in Hebden Bridge because me granddad had moved up here then, and it’s only this past couple of years that I’ve realised this – that the pub I’d told you about called The Moon, and a couple of years since I got an urge to go home, and me son…well I hadn’t been so well and I thought ‘I’m going, I want to go home’ – I’ve always called it ‘home’ and so I were gonna go – I’d got it all ready to go, just on my own but then they wouldn’t let me go, so they took me to Stoney Middleton and they’ve Ladybower Reservoir there where they did the Dambusters, they did the things there the bouncing bomb yeh, well actually the fella who lived up here was one of ‘em – he was a Dambuster, Mr Mason, and…when we got to this point that you know, these dams, I felt like Mr Mole – I thought ‘Mole’ – you know, if you’ve read ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and then he’s off with the rat all the time, and then all of a sudden he smells home, he goes [sniffing] ‘I can smell it, I can feel it’ and they have this feeling – ‘I’m home’ and I kept saying ‘oh I’m like Moley, I can smell it’ and I loved it, so they took me there and we went to The Moon for us dinner, and you would never believe, but while I was in there and I was poking around, just a normal pub and I was just poking around, there were a few old fold in and I were looking at t’pictures and remembering things, and somebody must have said ‘me mum come from here’ so that was it, so I got two men saying ‘yes I’m an Eidson, and Mrs Bacon used to live over there and I used to live there but they’ve knocked the house down, and we used to go to the Hall – there was a big hall and we used to go to that’, and this fella says ‘I always wondered what happened to your dad – nobody saw him after the war’ and I’d never even thought of this. We moved from there up here and they could remember there being two girls, and I says ‘eeh there were half a dozen of us’ and the thing is, that me father used to do his round on a horse and cart and I suppose when the war was on, they couldn’t get hold of the stuff. I know there were always bins and big banana boxes around and things like that, but I suppose through the war they couldn’t get as much as they used to yes, and I think that is probably why he come up here and folk just sort of assumed he’d died or something you know.

So when you moved to Hebden Bridge, where did you move to?

Well initially me granddad had the fish and chip shop down Bridge Lanes and there was…I think there were about nine girls and five boys; does that add up? Yeh well that’s fourteen. Well that’s about it then. So we stayed there and then we lived at Barkers Terrace where Maskell’s Butchers is, and me father worked for Brown’s; it was a foundry up here.

When I was…eleven me father died of cancer and it was…people used to be at home then, they used to die at home and the day he died it was a Bank Holiday August and the funeral man who only lived up them streets up here in Hebden – Melbourne Street, he’d gone away so me dad was just laid in the bed you know, and then we had a bit of a catastrophe because he had cancer and he sort of….started blood coming and smells – horrible, and I can’t stand the sight or the smells of hyacinths because at that time I was eleven – I wouldn’t leave me mum and me mum wouldn’t leave me dad, and there used to be a little shop up Bridge Lanes, it were called Georges and we got all sorts – everything we could smelly and poured it all around cos we’d to wait for the funeral man to come and put me father in his box you see, so all the smell, all these smells, smelt like hyacinths and I hate ‘em – wouldn’t have ‘em in t’house, but it also truly started me smoking because the smell was so putrid that me mother didn’t smoke, and me mother was given me smokes so I could…you know, to hide this thing.

And then we was very poor because when me dad died and me mother only had her pension, and we were poor but we never ever were hungry – never ever hungry. My mum made something all the time and I have eaten everything. Offal – you know, brought up on offal and a big copper, what she used to boil the clothes in, she used to throw a sheep’s head in it. When we were younger and we used to have rabbit, we used to fight who was going to have the head because the heads on rabbits are lovely – you can suck the brains out, and your little tongues – you know what I mean, but we ate what you call sweetmeats you know, I mean – fresh off the lamb you know what I mean, and everything. Me dad used to like fishing and he once caught a…and it would be about forty-eight or forty-six and he caught the biggest trout that had ever been caught in the canal.

Oh really – how big was it?

I don’t know – big, but me mother wouldn’t eat anything out of that.


Out of t’canal – it were mucky. No, we never did eat anything out of t’canal.

We used to go holiday in – one of me uncles he had – he were posh and he had a double decker bus and it was fitted out to stay in, and there were a load of ‘em you know – single deckers and double deckers and they’d the kitchen and the beds and everything, and it was always – they called it wait it a minute – what do they call it – Bridlington we went, so me father liked fishing, so he used to go and catch fish and we’d eat it, and this caravan or bus – just a double decker bus, it was wonderful. They called it ‘Nosdie’ which is just Eidson backwards you know, and when I saw it I thought ‘that were a good idea that’ then you forget things don’t yer? So we didn’t have many holidays at all – we might come up here you know for a weekend or something but there were not much money around at all and I don’t know….and then I got three brothers to bray – I used to bray ‘em all the time.

What do you mean bray?


Were they naughty then?

No, no – that’s what you did. Families used to look after therselves a bit – I don’t mean – some kids I went to school with, they truly had jam jars on the table to drink out of, and they had bread and butter and they was lucky if they got a bit of jam, but my mother – we had to have a tray with a cup and a saucer, you know what I mean – I don’t know anything about me mum, but somebody who says ‘your mum were a lady’ and when I think about it, we had a tray with cups and saucers, you know what I mean…and there were five of us and we had to be bathed every night; we’d all to get in after one another, you know, as we were a bit older, and about twice I think, I got shipped off and I didn’t really know what for, but I suppose when I got older I thought ‘that’s when me mother had another baby’ you see, and I went to Dorset and I went to school in Dorset [phone ringing] and I went to school in a horse and trap [Josie answering phone] so I went to school at Central Street, I went in Derbyshire then we come up and I went to Central Street and I used to have me dinners there, and if you didn’t eat it all, they used to sit there while you did; you couldn’t be put off it, you know if you says ‘I don’t like’ and they says ‘well you sit there while you eat it’ and I used to have a paddy then, I used to stamp a lot and run home you know.

And then in among this, I went to Dorset and it must have been for a few months cos I went to school there and I went into me aunty’s house and her husband was the head farmer for a great big, really big hundred place, room big place so then I used to go, I used to ride the cart horse but they’ll only go where they’ve been told to go, they’re a bit awkward [chuckling] you know what I mean, and me aunty used to like ‘The Archers’ – well ‘The Dairy’ or summat, and I’d to run home with an accumulator to make the wireless work.

Was the like a battery?

Yeh, they’re about that big and you got ‘em charged and put ‘em behind ‘em.

Did they have like a liquid in them?

Like so, you’d to tek ‘em – I didn’t take it, I only brought it back, they charged ‘em, charged ‘em up like a battery I suppose

And it was called an accumulator?

Yeh, an accumulator…and when I was down there I used to – I don’t know, just a different, you know – they had better food, it was, I don’t know – it were more ‘farmy’, tasted better, I know what I mean.

So did you have to go there twice then?

No, the next time I went to Stoney and I went to school not in Stoney Middleton, Baslow I think, and I was there for a while, you know – a few years, not years – months, I get muddled up, but when it come to do the Eleven Plus, I never did it.

Oh why not?

Well because I don’t know, I don’t think I was really thick, you know when I started off, but I don’t think it does you any good when you’ve got interrupted with going somewhere else cos you go somewhere else and they’re doing something different than what you know, and every time they seem to be in front of you, not behind you, you know what I mean, so I never really…well I always blame that anyway, you know what I mean?

I do – I know a few people that’s happened to, yes.

I always – when I had children, I always thought ‘they’ll have to go to the same school’ – continue, you know what I mean, because I always thought it…I don’t say it makes…but I didn’t – but you didn’t…the world was your oyster actually when I was a teenager, and I have no qualifications. I was going to be a teacher…and the only the I had to do was to go to work in the nursery in Hebden Bridge and I’d to go to college for a couple of days, and then after sort of a couple of years I could have gone teaching children up to seven years old, but I didn’t because I wanted some money, you know what I mean, so me sister went to be a florist and I wanted some money, but…and I went to work in the mill, and I was…you know you hear of children in looms? I worked in the middle of a loom, tying all the ends – you know when you got a blanket, anything, there’s warp and weft, and when they put – they put like a big bobbin on, bigger than this room, and like a blanket, think of a blanket, and there was like bunches of strings and me and another girl, we had a board about that big, and we’d to sit in the middle of the loom and…we’d to get hold of these ropes…wool…the threads yes – and tie ‘em – we called it tying it in.

So were you actually inside the…

In it. You know all the…the blankets was in here say, you know what I mean, and that’s going there, and then there was all these eyes with wool coming through, and then there’s this great big roll with you know what I mean

So they would collect it around the roll?

And so when we’d done the job, they all had….they had to match exactly, the ones that was there and coming, or else they’d have gone in the wrong holes.

The wrong eyes

And they’d have got a snag, and the looms…and then the shuttles banged, you know what I mean, and I was very quick

You have to be very dexterous with your fingers to do all that don’t you?

Yes… I have to do this – this is me robin.

You’d best feed him then – there he is

[Feeding robin]

So I can weave – I used to weave bits of…samples, and I used to do – you know you’ve heard of these mules and things in mills? I have rather a good idea, a very good idea, from the start from the end of what happens to cloth, wool, from the very start to the end product.

Which mill did you work in?

Ratcliffe’s – there was two in t’Royd – there was Moderna and there was Ratcliffe’s. I don’t know why I went to Ratcliffes, but me mother didn’t want me to go there; she wanted me to be a teacher, and me brothers were all trained for…wait a minute…looms, for weavers cos there were lots of…loads and loads of – it was like a sea in a morning and tea time – folk – everybody had clogs, and it were like a sea; everybody going into the mill and coming out.

Was it very noisy then?

Oh yes, I was only talking to Lesley ‘other day. I could lip read; I can’t now, but if you work in a weaving shed, that’s how you talk, you know what I mean, and once you get the hang of it, you know – obviously you’re looking at who you’re talking tom and they just talk like a bit exaggerate, and one place I liked when I worked at Ratcliffe’s – I loved going into the engine room, which is a big one…a powerful, like a steam engine, all shiny and new and oily, you know what I mean, and this man just had to press one button and all the mill was alive with pulleys and things – it just did everything, and it was like a ship’s…where they work – stoke, you know, and everything was absolutely…every time you went, and I’ve seen a few, and if you ever go and see a proper steam engine, they are delightful, I mean it really – everything is pristine and clean, and I suppose it would be a good job.

So why did you actually like that engine room?

I liked the engine.

Oh right – you just liked the way it worked and everything?

Yeh – big pistons, I just like it – I just like droll stuff!

You said a few minutes ago that you knew about weaving the cloth from the beginning to the end; can you explain that to me then – did you work with wool and not cotton?

Yeh, it was wool.

How did the wool come in then?

Right…it come in…it was all ready in loose strands, and they had a Spinning Jenny and this is another thing, and it would go from the length of this garden about twenty foot or so? a long way, and as it’s going, it’s twisting and I think they call ‘em doffers – you know, it’s on a roll and it’s very hard to tell somebody if they don’t damned know!

There’s like a piece of rope about that thick and it’s going like that

o a big thick piece a few inches thick

And it goes down and then it comes back on, just a big piece of machinery what goes a long way…I think that were called a Spinning Jenny or summat.

**So when it got to the doffer, what happened to it there? **

Well then it got onto spindles, like you see ‘em like cones like bobbins? Yes, and then when it went to another place and all these little bobbins was transferred to a bigger one like this six or seven or eight inches across yes you know what I mean, it started small so it was all wound round that? yes, and then it was taken – it’s very difficult to explain – and then it went away somewhere, and the next time you saw it, it was on these big things ready for the loom.

So was it like a big long piece of wood that was round and it was all wound round that?

When it had finished going up and down with this mule, yes, it would be about that long about nine inches yes, and it was spinning spinning spinning [said quickly] – I know exactly what it’s doing but I can’t explain it, and then – so that was that process then, so they got all these bits of wool together, so they had to make it into bigger cops you know, cos they were only on these smaller things, so then I did this job as well – I seemed to do bloody everything – and then you got the small ones and they’d – everything was spinning spinning spinning, and you made a big cone then, and then the cone went somewhere and the next time you saw it it was ready to go on to the…it was done ready to go onto the loom, and then I’d to tie it in.

So when it came back then it was lots and lots of thread was it – lots of loose wool threads and you put those through the eye?

No, the thing is, if you’re weaving you don’t want anything to clog your eye because if you do, it was all steam…powered, right – have you not never seen a loom?

I’ve seen…the big ones you’re talking about, I have seen, but I’ve never seen them working, but I’ve seen smaller looms.

No – well actually the looms what we used for the wool, the arm was about as long as this about a good three foot then yes, and they were all powered by a big thick leather, and…just to get the thing going in going, you’d to get this shuttle and you’d to catch…this is going like this, you’ve got one…it hits it and this one hits it back and that’s how you so it’s back and forth yes, but to start with, your shuttle what you put in your wool, was about this long twelve, fifteen inches yes, and you’d to time this – this thing, this stop, you’d to try and slot it in so you didn’t get a trap you see, if it had gone in the wrong place it would have just snarled all the wool up – can you tell that?

Yes I understand what you’re saying. I used to do weaving but it was hand weaving, it wasn’t mechanical.

Well you see, you’d to whiz it in…cos otherwise, and then that’s big trouble.

How long did you do all that for, working in that mill?

I don’t know how long I did, probably not all that long, and then I worked at Wireform for a bit and that were horrible.

What did you do there?


What did you weld?

Oh nothing nothing fancy, something like you’d just have in your bathroom, summat like you know what I mean – simple stuff you know what I mean, but I didn’t really like it there – they seemed to be two bosses and me, and I was the worker, you know what I mean – it was somewhere were you didn’t have no peace, I think it’s still the bloody same to be honest, you know, not much money and…you know, I didn’t like it there so I walked out of there…oh and then I went into the sewing shop.

Oh which one?

Helliwells…the corner, Malc’s granddad’s – I worked with his granddad. I…I went on there and…I don’t know why but again I sort of got all the process – I used to do the buttonholes and the man who owned the shop was retired, and he used to sit by the side of me working with me you know

Oh right – did he show you how to do it?

Well it’s all automatic you know, and then I learnt how to make trousers – boys lined ones – very easy to make when you know how – and they used to make a lot for the army where we worked, and then we used to do them pointy – you know like old farmers and them have, them big things what they put their braces on – that sort of, and button flies you know what I mean, and folk weren’t bothered like they are…can’t I be fed up now?

Of course you can be fed up, yes.

I want a cup of tea

Well have a cup of tea – shall I stop this for a minute?

Well is it any good what you’ve done?

It’s brilliant, Josie – it’s brilliant.

How do you mean?

Well you’ve given me lots of detail about what you did when you were growing up, and about all the work that you did.

[tape stopped and started again?]

Where was the doss-house in Hebden Bridge?

Well – Bridge Lanes. In Bridge Lanes there was shops and houses all up, back to back on top of one another like a warren up there, and there was an Irish doss-house, and they came to work because they were so poor in Ireland and you could see them – they were sleeping like in an attic just on bare floors with nothing, and the man who owned the doss-house was called McArdle and he had about three sons – McArdle, that’s what he was called, and my sister actually married one of them; one of the loveliest men you have ever met in all your life, and you see, he come over to work when there were the cattle boats you know what I mean – on with the cattle.

Did he come to Liverpool?

Yeh – he finished up in Hebden, and he actually married my sister and he died just a couple of months since.

There’s a chap called Tony McArdle who used to live in Hebden Bridge – did you know him?

Peter McArdle lived up there where you live.

Up Eaves?

Mmm – that’s one of the McArdles – Irish stock, and his father, when they pulled Commercial Street down, this McArdle, he then lived in one of them houses and he demolished his own house did he? yes, and there were Abby, Pete and a girl, and then Mrs McArdle, but I think Pete’s still around – he lived up Eaves.

I’ve not met him up there.

I don’t know – are you in a middle house?


You could have bought his house.

Possibly. I bought my house off Kath Lord.

Oh no – next door to that then she lived then. Well if you ask up there – Peter McArdle, and he’s still around – I don’t know where they moved to, well he’ll tell you, you know what I mean.

And there were good pie shops – proper pie shops! You know, you could see ‘em making ‘em, like you know what I mean – there were…it was just a different world, it was lovely – you can’t explain – you could not tell anybody – you’ll have to ask somebody like me or they’ll say ‘you don’t know what it’s like’ cos it were so good – nobody had a cent, but nobody was poor.,.and folk used to run in gangs, you know what I mean…

So the changes that have happened to Hebden Bridge then, do you think any of them have been good ones at all?

It is now the arse hole of the world.

Is it that bad?

That is my opinion of it now – it is the arse hole of the world.

Is there nothing good about it?

Nothing – apart from the few locals what’s left, and if you got them together, you’ll soon learn everything, because Hebden Bridge – it doesn’t now – but Hebden Bridge…folk used to come down from the hills to Hebden for their shopping, for the work, and I could have said to you – oh you know – I could have told you nearly every farm where, you know the farm – you know even – you lived in Hebden but you knew everybody in t’Royd; there’s more locals in t’Royd than there is in Hebden. People from Hebden have moved, and you knew people from Heptonstall…Luddendenfoot – you just knew folk, you know like folk just come and would – in fact if there was somebody different in Hebden Bridge, a stranger, you wouldn’t believe it – ‘where’s he come from?’ ‘oh he’s stopping at…’ and everybody would know where they were stopping and what they were there for.

And I told you about Nicky’s

The café?


Did you go in?

Oh aye.

What was it like?

Well it was a bit like ‘Happy Days’ you know what I mean?

That television programme?

Yeh – folk would just go there, sit all night with a coffee, and…Nicky was alright [chuckling] – you know what I mean

What was he like?

[pause] He’d got a beautiful daughter called Dawn and she was beautiful, she was really nice and everybody used to go and they had a…juke box.

Did you like music?

Oh I loved it; I used to get up in pubs and sing.

Oh did you? What kind of songs did you sing?

[pause] old uns

What was your favourite song then?

…oh a lot of….oh what do you call him…Al Jolson. He’s alright for a sing-a-long…old songs; I know loads and loads of old songs…

Do you want to sing one now?

No I can’t sing now, I just can’t sing. I probably couldn’t before but I used to get up in pubs and sing and I didn’t get thrown out!

It were just a different world, and all the teenagers in the valley were sort of…they used to fight on a Saturday night of course, but…they was more together cos there wasn’t…there was a ballroom in Hebden and it was beautiful, but me mother – I’ve told you, me mum was a stickler…and I hadn’t to go this street because there were rough and I hadn’t to go there cos they were rough and I couldn’t to this dance and I couldn’t go to t’pictures…and you used to sneak off and although there was five of us and I can see ‘em now, me just having a good dance and this woman in black – she didn’t used to – me mother was [like that] and I’d just see this woman and me mother storming out of here! We’d only been to a dance or the pictures – ‘out!’ she was actually very strict was my mother, and I’m very sorry that we all disappointed her because we was brought up very strict – really. If anybody went out with me, they had to come and pick me up and drop me back or there’d be trouble, you know – they wanted to see who were bloody hanging round, you know what I mean – I know I probably don’t look like it, but I was brought up proper and I have lots of good values – they haven’t nowadays.

So do you think younger people have different values altogether then?



They’re dead – they’re dead because they’ve never had a life. What’s a life? With a big label on your jumper, you know what I mean? Is that a life? A bloody jumper? Well not mine. We were scruffy – I’m saying scruffy because me mother was very poor and like when me dad died, I had to wear black and that’s another thing you see; when me dad and he’s buried at…Cragg Vale, I’d to go every week with flowers and me mum made me go you know, and I used to have to go into church and get some water and I used to be scared going in the bloody church, you know what I mean, but I had to go – that were it, I had to go every day, every week. Me mother went to church probably every week but I don’t know why I had to take these…but you see, another thing – I don’t like anything these years now – I don’t like anything because if somebody dies now, all they want is a bloody party. Now I’ve just lost my brother-in-law who I love and a friend who I love, and I am bereft and I’m not just saying a little – I am bereft because that’s how I think of people and there’s no way I could go and dance on a bloody table when somebody’s dead, that’s not me.

When me father died he was the first person I saw dead and funerals and things like this, but I told you – one of me uncles or somebody had this coach thing and they came in a coach, right – to Cragg, and the people from here, me mother’s family, came, and we all went to the Hinchliffe Arms and all sat round a big table and they call ‘em wakes – there’s no such thing as a bloody wake. The thing is, there was funeral teas – you got a sandwich and a cup of tea, nothing alcoholic; a cup of tea and it was folk who’d come a long way for a funeral, so they got a bit of food in ‘em to go back with, not just go dancing down the bloody bar.

When you sat round that big table then, did anybody tell a tale about the person?

Oh yes, but there was…one of me aunties, and I can remember her saying ‘I don’t like these teas, I don’t want to eat’ – now I think I’m rather the same myself. If I go to a funeral, I don’t really want to eat because I don’t bother with people I don’t like, so if I go to a funeral I aren’t bothered that this person’s dead, you see – I don’t like everybody’s attitude now. I am definitely, I think – I’m not ninety but I may as well be because me head’s more in that thing, so that’s another thing I don’t like. I could keep you going for a bloody week couldn’t I?

Have I told you owt different?

You’ve told me a lot of different things, yes. Like I said earlier, you’ve told me a lot of detail about actual things that you did – quite a few things. A lot of people, they talk about the shops in Hebden and how they’ve changed and things like that.

You knew every shopkeeper in Hebden, every one of ‘em. You could go – when I was first married, you could go down Hebden and buy something and have no money; you’d go and say ‘I want this’ and they’d let you have it. Now the last person to do this was Lord Dales in Hebden. He died a couple of years since – you can remember? Now he’s one of my favourite people and he’s of the old school that…I was brought up with nothing, I can tell you that. I have always had a dread of debt; I have never had any debt – I don’t know – it’s a thing with me. If I can’t afford it I don’t have it, but we had a caravan in Blackpool, me and Ray, and I kept thinking ‘oh I would like a telly’ so one day I were down Halifax and I’ll never bloody forget this, I were mad, and it were Mawes and it says ‘ get a telly and pay it in six months’ or summat – this is only going about twenty years back this – and I thought ‘eeh I’ll have a bit of that’ you know, I thought ‘I keep saying I want a telly’ I thought ‘I’ll have some of that’ so I went in this shop, and this is one of my most embarrassing things – so I went in this shop and I says ‘you know these tellies’ I says ‘well I think I’ll have one – I’ll have that one’ you know, just like that, and oh God – and I says ‘and I want it on that – I’ll pay you six months no interest’ you know, and I thought they’d just give it me in me hands but they didn’t, and they were wanting to know where I come from and where I worked, and I thought – I’m not gonna start cursing – I were bloody mad, and Leslie were with me, and when I got out of that shop I says ‘I’m not bloody going back up there’ I says ‘they can shove it up their arse’ – I couldn’t have this bloody thing I’d gone in for – I could come back for it on Monday – and I says to Lesley ‘they can shove it up their bloody arse, I’m not having it’ – and this is how Hebden used to work – we got to Hebden and I says ‘I’m going into Lord Dales’ and I just went in there – Alan he were called in there – and I just went in to them and I says ‘I want a telly and I want it, but I don’t want to pay for six months’ and Alan says ‘when are you going home?’ I says ‘now’ he says ‘I’ll fetch it’ – simple as that. He knows me, he knows he’ll get his money and that is true that. I were so mad and I just went in and says ‘ I want a telly, but I don’t want to pay for it for six months’

Was there a lot of that in Hebden then?

No, no – and he says ‘where are you going now?’ and I says ‘home’ he says ‘I’ll fetch it up for you’ and he did. You could buy anything with no money because folk trusted you – you didn’t have to nail anything down; you used to put your milk money on the doorstep. I have sold a house – the school up Pecket – and I hadn’t even got a bloody key for the place – I never locked the door. You see folk…we had robbers, and my brother was a robber and if anybody says ‘what does your brother do?’ I say ‘he’s a thief’ – that is what he does; he’s a thief, and he probably still is a thief, and it’s very embarrassing having a thief for a brother.

Does he still live around here?

No, but he’s very well known around here. I have another two brothers and they’ve actually sort of changed their name because they don’t like the association with a thief, you know what I mean, so I’m one of these – I don’t…I am one of these…it’s just the way I think and I say this to people, and if I say it you’d better watch out because I do not like you Doctor Fell, what it is I cannot tell, but this I know very well, I do not like you Doctor Fell – and that person I don’t like, and I only like honest folk. I can’t do with…I think I am basically honest, and I was brought up to treat people how they treat me, and it wasn’t while I was forty I realised that folk are horrible.

Well some are.

I used to trust everybody implicitly but you get that knocked out of you.

I think that happens to a lot of people in life – that you start out trusting people


Perhaps it is – and then you learn along the way that you can’t trust everybody; you get to know them a bit better and then once you know them a bit, then it’s alright. But there are some

No I don’t really make friends very well, in fact…no, my friends are plopping off their perches and they are irreplaceable. I have friends – men – since I was a teenager and they’re now seventy-odd and I can see look at them and say ‘that’s my friend’. You are a friend – and I’ll tell you the difference between a friend. I’d give you a right bloody bollocking if you said owt I didn’t like, but I could sit with you and I don’t have to talk to you, cos I have done, I like you.

Well I like you

You know what I mean – I am happy in your company, now…but I am not with a lot of folk. Don’t you feel like that?

I do

In fact, it was a fella who told me that and I’ve always remembered it, and it was when the, Suez, oh I’ve got bloody war in ere you know, and a friend, and still a friend – they fetch me big boxes of chocolates when they come now, although they did anyway, but one day he just says ‘you know Jo’, he says ‘I can sit with you and I don’t have to speak to you’ and I thought that’s the best compliment I have ever had – that somebody’s quite happy to sit with me. They don’t have to talk and that is right isn’t it?

It is good.

What time is it?

Oh it’s getting on a bit – it’s gone half two now.

Oh I’m just wondering if me junior were coming.

What time do they come?

Oh – about three she comes.

Shall we pack it up then?

Yeh – I don’t think I’ve told you owt have I?

Well I think so.

I can tell you a lot more of that drivel, but it is true.

Well that’s one of the reasons it’s so important – because it is true.

But will folk want to listen to the bloody thing?

Well [both laughing] I’ve sat here listening to it and I’ve found it fascinating.

You see…I can remember folk who used to drove, to drive the cows to t’market

From the farms on the tops?

Oh they come all over Cockhill

And where did they come from?

From Oxenhope and there, and they’d be fetching the cows to – you know, to sell and they had the pinfold but I actually – one of my neighbours, she’s dead years now, but they used to live at Slack House up Pecket, and they used to drive theirs from Oxenhope, and it took all night.

Where did they take them to – was it in Hebden or Tod?

I don’t know, it could have been to – probably to the Piece Hall, that was the Cockhill market, and they still have round here – you see, all these bloody off-cumdens, they won’t know where all the driver roads are round here; I don’t…why it’s just an old drive road, you know what I mean – I know where they are – well, a lot of them.

From Cockhill then, how did they – which did they use as the drive road from there then?

Well they’d just come over Cockhill, but there is another road…over Cockhill – the old road – Old Haworth Road, and I’ve been over there in a car, I mean it must be a long time since but I have, and..

That road goes down to Hardcastle Crags doesn’t it?

No, it goes to Haworth.

Yeh – it comes from Haworth and doesn’t it go up near Crimsworth?

Yeh that’s it, yes.

Would they then turn off and go to Old Town and go that way?


Because you can go over Cockhill from there and get up on to the top of Midgley Moor – get on top of Midgley Moor that way.

No – you know where Old Haworth Road is?

Yes, I know where it is.

And it just comes in – there’s farms, and then it goes to a track now, but it’s still there. When we first lived up there at Pecket, we was a young family and there was only about five children in the village, and one man used to sit in front of his fire in a workman’s hut with a brazier to keep him warm. Somebody at Crimsworth Farm, they had a pulley and they had to pull the food up to the ceiling so the mice couldn’t get it or summat – you know what I mean – and stuff like that.

And there were one lot, and she put a…I can’t remember the name now, but they were all sort of known for these things that they put a frock on…in summer, then they put another one on in winter, you know what I mean?

To keep them warm?

Yeh. [pause] My father-in-law, he comes from Babby Hey House have you never heard of that? Cos they had about fourteen children, they had one every year, so the house – I think it has just recently been demolished, but they called it – it was called tBabby House cos they had one every spring, and this is Eric – he’s one of them, and they – part of that family built the Crimsworth Dean Chapel oh did they? yes. And Dorinda was the last person to get married there.

When was that?

She’ll be married thirteen years.

And she was the last one?

Yes. And my children used to go to that Sunday School…there were just benches and I think I’ve given it Jack now, but it says like ‘John….John Butterworth plays the piano, Mrs Doo-Da – you know, Clifford does this’ – you know what I mean, it was like – when they first built the chapel, somebody from Booth Farm, they says ‘oh we’re reet posh now we’ve got a chapel on t’end of t’road’ you know, so it was…my kids used to go to it, and all the children round Pecket used to go.

Did you like it at Pecket?

I loved it. I liked the sky – I don’t get no sky here. I’m obsessed with sky.

So you like it to be all light and airy? Because you’re next to a river and a bit over a wood here.

When I lived up Pecket, I never drew me curtains – I could just watch they sky; never bored – I love it, and if I go on…the few times I go over Pecket now and I might go into – you know ‘t’Worth Railway? The Worth Valley Railway? Yeh – and if it’s a lovely night and I sit on that bus and I’ll say to Lesley or Dale, I’ll say ‘if there’s a heaven this is it’ – that’s where it is – it’s up Pecket in t’sky. It’s black, red, green – every colour.

So is that one of the things that’s so special about this area – the landscape and that?


Oh right – is it just the sky?

The sky up Pecket is magnificent – don’t ask me why – it is. The thing round here was the people…because there is…folk still in Hebden who haven’t really been much further, you know what I mean – that is true.

Yes, I have been told of some people

So it is true. You know what I mean?

I do believe it, yes.

It were very nice until…when I were working in the sewing shop place, and one day – I’d have to think of his name – and he had a sewing shop, and they was all family run. In fact, there is one in Mytholmroyd and he is a relation of mine – Farrar’s – by marriage, and he’s – I would say that he’s the original sewing shop in full production now. I know a lot of crap don’t I?

Whereabouts is that one?

You know going up to …Calder High School, where Russell Dean’s is up there, and then there’s this mill on the left as you’re going up? yeh.

Did you like it at Helliwell’s in that sewing shop?

It were alright. I used to be happy there and we used to sing all the time, they used to tell me to shut up but I didn’t take no notice.

Was he a good boss then?

They was excellent. Every sewing shop was like a family – really truly a family, and you don’t forget the folk you worked with, like I can remember John Helliwell and Malc Helliwell when they were children – do you know what I mean – and his father, brother and his mother and his granddad, you know what I mean – you just knew everybody, they weren’t ‘them’ and ‘eres’. There was obviously one of two folk who – well no there weren’t – folk were more or less level; some might have more than others, like the sewing shop – they gave you Christmas dinner at Oxford House, they used to take you on day trips, and if anything went wrong they’d be saying ‘send for t’Union man, get t’Union man’ and all this crap!

Did you ever go on strike then?

No, there were only me doing my job.

Can you remember what your first wage was?

[pause] I can tell you one thing – I’m going off summat else – till the day I got married, I tipped my wage up. To the day I got married my mother had my wage, and the wage won’t be very much…I can’t even remember….shillings…six and ha’penny you know what I mean – you don’t get big money, you know what I mean, it was just very…not much. When I got married, I used to get ten bob a week pocket money.

Out of your wage?

Me mother had me wage, which me wage might have been five pound, I don’t know.

When did you get married?

Well I had to get married – no I didn’t have to get married – I could have waited a week – oh that’s another story, you see I go off that you see…I’m not bothered about telling you

No I just wanted to know what year it was that’s all.


Do you know any old saying from around here then – any old Yorkshire sayings- can you remember anything like that?

Well, folk used to talk in dialect round here. You see, nobody does – you know –

‘what’s to do ‘ere?’

‘have you got clout ears?’

you go ‘laking’ – you’re going on t’cut

Our Harold fell in t’bloody cut’

‘tha’s a fool’

‘tha’s a trollop’

I can’t tell you summat I don’t know

Were there any kind of unusual characters about?

Oh definitely

Can you remember any of them?

Yes…one in particular. [going to door] When we were first married, and this is up Pecket again, there was a man and he were called Long Tom, and he lived in a hut across from me in a hut in a farm field, and he was one who come over every for the hay. One day I got to know him – I got to know him very well actually, and he was one of my favourite people, and he came one year with the hay and he got a message saying ‘don’t bother coming home, your dad’s died’ – this is somewhere in Ireland the house was, and he stayed in Pecket in this farm – Willcroft Farm, and he used to go to the pub every night [someone at the door – friend came in]


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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