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  • Interviews and Storytelling: Glenda Gibson

    Glenda Gibson’s Gallery can be found here

    [TRACK 1]

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

    I don’t like me name!

    Well, whatever name you would like to be known as.

    Glenda Gibson, and where was I born – I was born at Edge Hey Green, Colden, Hebden Bridge 1945.

    What number?

    Number I Cambridge Cottage, on Edge Hey Green.

    What was that house like?

    I haven’t a clue – I moved out of there when I was two year old when my mum was having me younger brother, so I moved to High Gate House.

    Where’s that?

    That’s up at High Gate next to what was the Methodist Chapel which is no longer there, and next to May’s – I don’t know whether you’ve heard of May Stocks’s shop, well I lived in the house before May’s farm. We moved there…just before I was two.

    Did you live there a long time?

    I lived there until I got married; my parents lived there…quite a number of years after we got married.

    **What was that house like then? **

    That was big – big, yes.

    Can you describe some of the rooms?

    We’d a big lounge, a hallway, a staircase where we used to slide down the banister [laughing], slide down the stairs on a tray straight through the hall! The kitchen was sort of a keeping kitchen with a round stone roof and stone slabs, and a wash kitchen with the old washer and rubbing board.

    So did you have a big tin bucket sort of thing with possers and that, or did you have any machines?

    No it was a….I’ve forgotten what they call them…it was heated by electric, a big round thing for all the water with a tap at the bottom, yes, and then me grandma lived in what would have been our front room with a scullery on the other end, so it was quite a big house, it had four bedrooms, didn’t have a bathroom.

    So what was your grandmother like?

    What was me grandma like? An old lady all her life, do you know what I mean by that? She never aged all the time we knew her, you know she was old, which they were weren’t they? Sat in front of t’fire, got her legs all burnt.

    What was her name?


    And what was her sort of married or maiden name?

    Her maiden was Collinge, her married name was Collinge – she married into another lot of Collinges.

    Oh right – did they have a nickname?

    Only Collie.

    What did she do – did she work at all?

    Yes, she worked in the mill when she was younger; I have some certificates somewhere that says that she can work part-time from going to school and then she can work full-time when she was thirteen. She worked in Jack Bridge Mill

    And what did she do there?

    I would think she was a weaver, I’m not certain about that, but I would think she was a weaver.

    Did your parents work there as well?

    Yes they did, they were both weavers and then me mum actually then finished up working in the canteen at Jack Bridge Mill.

    Jack Bridge Mill – is that the one just below the New Delight then?

    It is the one that’s been pulled down and the new houses, yeh.

    Did you ever work there?


    Can you remember anything about it, what it was like – did you ever go inside?

    I used to go in and see my parents from school because we went to Colden School which was just up the road from the mill.

    What was it like?

    Looms and noisy – very very noisy.

    Do you know how many looms they had to look after?

    I would think about a dozen looms each, I’m not certain but I would think you know about a dozen each, but I might be totally wrong there.

    Did they ever talk about the work – did they like it, or talk about any of it?

    I don’t know whether they liked it – I suppose there wasn’t anything else for them to do, I mean me dad was actually brought up on a farm as well; my grandma worked in the mill until she got married and then was a farmer’s wife.

    Which one were they on?

    Halstead Green at Colden.

    What kind of farming did they do?

    I don’t know, I’ve got photos of me dad fetching cows from up Sowerby so they must have had cattle, I don’t what else they had.

    Did you have any brothers or sisters?

    Yeh, I’ve three brothers, no sisters.

    Are they older or younger?

    Two older and one younger.

    Do they still live around here?

    They do. Me younger brother farms up Colden, me next brother, he’s retired now – he does old traction engines at Slack, and me other brother’s retired and he’s a gardener, he was having his own gardening business at Luddendenfoot.

    Oh right – so they all stayed.


    The one that’s at Slack, what’s his name?

    Kenneth – do you know him? He has a lot of traction engines.

    He doesn’t have two little dogs does he?

    He’s one little dog; it’s the first farm or last farm at Slack.

    I know somebody that lives up there, but he’s got two of these little furry dogs, curly-haired dogs – only about a foot and a half.

    No, he’s only got one. He’s got two horses and he’s got loads of bantams.

    Does he make a living out of farming still?


    Oh sorry – he’s the tractor…

    That’s his hobby.

    But the other one, what does he do as a job?

    He’s retired.

    Oh he’s retired; what did he do?

    He drove tractors and things on t’building sites.

    And your younger brother then who still farms…

    He’s a farmer.

    And what kind of farming does he do?

    I would think mainly sheep…and cows, but I think – I don’t think – he doesn’t do milking or anything, it’ll be – I don’t know to be quite honest!

    Is it for beef then, do you think?

    I think it must be, and his wife’s a hairdresser in Hebden Bridge.

    Can you remember anything else about your grandparents?

    Not a lot – I never knew my Granddad Collinge and I didn’t really know my Grandma Guy because my mum’s mum died when she was two, then he re-married and that was a bit of a complicated family. I can vaguely remember my Granddad Guy, but that’s very vaguely..

    Did you like school?

    Yes, I liked Colden School. I remember the teachers – Mrs Featherstone – I didn’t particularly like her because I was always in bother, for going in the fields or something. There was just three classrooms – infants, middle and top class with a canteen. There were different age groups all together; in my class I think there would be twenty to thirty. My favourite subjects were maths, art, music.

    Some of my friends actually went to Australia from there, which was a big thing then to emigrate. A lot of my school friends have moved away; I don’t know why.

    What school did you go to?


    Did you like school?

    Yes, yes I did.

    Can you remember any of the teachers there?

    Oh yes! Yeh, I can remember Mrs Featherstone definitely.

    Was she a good teacher?

    No I didn’t particularly like her.

    Why was that?

    I was always in bother, for going in t’fields or something.

    So was she very strict then?

    I don’t know – it may have been me that was naughty, I don’t know.

    What was the school like then when you went there?

    There was just three classrooms – infants, middle and then top class and a canteen.

    So it was different age groups all together?


    And how many were there in a class, in your class?

    …Can’t remember – probably twenty to thirty I would think.

    What were your favourite subjects?

    …I liked maths, I liked art and painting and music.

    Can your remember any of the other students there or any of the other people involved in the school?

    Oh yeh, some of me friends actually went to Australia from there which was a big then you know then, to emigrate. I don’t know of anybody much now that was there.

    So a lot of them have moved away?

    Possible a lot of them have moved away, yes.

    Do you think that’s because of the work situation?

    I’ve no idea really.

    It’s interesting that you and your family all stayed, but you’re saying a lot of people moved away – I just wondered why you thought that might be.

    Don’t know – maybe they were more ambitious than us!

    When did you leave school then?

    I left when I was fifteen – that was Calder High School.

    So when did you leave Colden School?

    When did I leave Colden – when I was eleven.

    And you went to Calder High.

    I went to Calder High which was then in Hebden Bridge opposite the Post Office, that was the first year, and then you went on to Mytholmroyd, so it wasn’t Riverside then.

    Did you like that school?

    Yeh, I always liked school, I cried when I left school.

    Did you really?

    Yes I did.

    What did you do when you left then?

    I went to work in Melbourne which is now the Co-op supermarket; I went in the office there – I don’t know how long I was there – about twelve months, and then I was saving up to get married so office work wasn’t enough money so I went to work at the plastic works at Mytholmroyd – Morris Plastics.

    What did you do?

    Making budgie cage things, kitchen knife handles and…I don’t know, all sorts of – budgie cage, you know, the bird things and everything.

    Was there like a machine that had a mould or something?

    Yeh, yeh – there was moulds and then we cut them, you know – they’d come on, half a dozen on a mould then we had to trim them all off with a knife and cut them all off, or you’d stick them together, glue them together and put balls inside, but it was more money than the office work.

    Was that piece work?


    Can you remember your first wage there then?

    I can’t, not there, but at Melbourne it would be three pound I think.

    And what year was that?

    …It would be 1960.

    What was Melbourne Works then, what did they do there?

    Trousers, trouser manufacturers.

    Is that all they did – was it just a sewing shop?

    Oh no it wasn’t just trousers, it was jackets as well., but it was a sewing shop – quite a big sewing shop, and me dad finished up working there and retiring from there.

    But I thought he was a weaver and they didn’t do weaving.

    He was but he…changed his trade ‘cos all the weaving sheds closed down didn’t they, so he worked in sewing shops but he also worked part-time for Alice Longstaff part-time from when we was little, many many many years.

    What did he do?

    To be quite honest I don’t know – I think he would just generally help Alice’s brother, possible framing – he wouldn’t be taking photographs or anything, but…or he’d do a bit of sweeping up or a bit of shopping or…dogsbody I think!

    Did he ever talk about what it was like working there?

    Yeh, they had a big dog called Mr Bess; we used to call in many a time to see him, because the back of it was like a house, the back of the shop if ever you went into it. I did. Did you? Well it was like a house at the back weren’t it, and then the studios out at the back again, so we’ve a lot of studio photographs, obviously with me dad working there.

    Was he there before Alice took it over, when it was at Westermans was it called?

    No, no. And then Alice lived up Colden as well.

    So what was she like?

    Alright, we always thought she was alright. We used to take her bluebells and beech leaves every first Sunday in May from down the wood and leave them on her doorstep, when we could pick bluebells – that was from the May morning meetings in the wood.

    Did you go on those?

    Yes we went every year.

    And where did you go from?

    From High Gate, we used to walk down and past Alice’s and down into the wood and then through the wood to the May morning meeting.

    Was there just one church involved in that, or were there more than one?

    Don’t know right at the beginning but it finished up by all the churches taking it in turns and I think that is how it’s still run, although I haven’t been for the past three years I think.

    Why do you do that?

    I think it was a custom, like everything else – like your Pace Eggers and everything, where it was said that Charles Wesley or John Wesley preached on the rock but I don’t know actually whether he ever did, but that’s where I think it stems from.

    And what kind of things do you actually do there?

    They just sing and say a prayer and just sing some hymns, everyone has a chin-wag then off they go home for their breakfast.

    So what time of the morning is it?

    It starts at eight – eight o’clock in the wood and I think my father only ever missed one year and that was when he was in the forces, so we all went as a family families used to go down and as I say we picked bluebells and beech leaves and…

    How many people would go?

    They varied, and I have got a little diary and I’ve forgotten to bring it with numbers that my dad used to keep. Every year he’d put down how many adults there were, how many children, how many dogs there were, whether it was wet, whether it was fine.

    That’s a fascinating document.

    Yeh, it’s in a little diary.

    How many years does that go back?

    I thought it went back further than it does actually – I think it’s only going back to about 1960 something or 70 something, so I think he must have just decided to start keeping a record.

    And you still do that now then?

    I did do, but as I say, I don’t know – the last few years I haven’t been, so whether anybody still keeps records or not I don’t know.

    It’s a fascinating place isn’t it – do you know the carved – the circle that’s carved out – there’s a big rock with a circle carved out – do you know where I mean – at the back

    Oh you mean with the hole in it, where we used to go and sit – yeh.

    Who made that hole?

    No idea.

    What do they use it for?

    No idea, we used to scramble all over when we were kids I suppose – we weren’t right interested in singing and we’d go up to play round the woods [laughing] so no, it’s like a great big hole in’t it, on top of t’hill – Stuart might tell you more because he’s studied quite a bit about the praying hole, so he might tell you more about the history of it.

    So you were a church-goer then when you were young?


    Is that because your family was?


    Which church did you go to?

    To High Gate which is just a big pile of stones now.

    Was that a Methodist?

    It was, yeh. Just along the road there was Broadstone which was a Baptist but we went to activities there as well, because that was us social life weren’t it?

    So High Gate – is that the one where Widdop Road goes off?

    Oh no it’s not, that’s a different one.

    That was Slack Baptist.

    So did you have any other jobs before you got married, after the plastic?

    Yeh, I went to Moderna doing winding for the blankets…then after I got married I worked at Fisher Kar Parks where’s that? at Brearley, set up on the hill, newish building, saying new – it’s not new now but it was then, then I went doing wiring controls for launderettes; it used to take about a week to wire one big washer.

    So you were an electrician?

    Yes [laughing] Then I started having my family so I did outside catering a bit, then I went sewing trousers at Dunckleys, I worked at Shasco sewing horse gear, and then I went back into an office and I spent eighteen years until Stuart had a stroke and I gave up – I was made redundant then.

    Which office was that?

    That was down at Tommy Sut’s at Mytholmroyd which was sort of a circle for Melbourne because they were all part of English Fustian, so I set off at Melbourne and finished up at Tommy Sut’s.

    Can you remember what sort of things you did on special days, like during Wakes Week or during Whitsun, or Christmas time?

    Well Whitsuntides we used to have Whit Mondays where we’d have sports in the field, in the farmer’s field in front of the church; there was three-legged races and egg races, various races and things. We used to attend Heptonstall Gala and do the fancy dress and the floats and everything from the church. We used to go on Sunday School outings, Southport usually.

    And what did you do when you went to Southport?

    I suppose we’d just go on t’pleasure beach and have a picnic, we’d go in a coach – you know, all the Sunday School.

    We used to have socials on a Saturday evening at the Sunday School where we’d play games.

    Was that allowed?

    Oh yeh, yes – we’d a really good man that used to come, he was called Mr Worthington and he was a really good…get you all going doing musical chairs and all sorts of things, pin the…you know donkey’s tail on and all them sort of things – yeh, they were good.

    What about Wakes Week – did you ever do anything during Wakes Week if you worked in some of the mills?

    After I worked – not really no, we used to just go down to Stuart’s sisters in Stoke-on-Trent during t’holiday, then as I say we started a family then we’d start camping as they were getting a bit older, but when we was little, we went to Redcar because my mum came from here originally so we’d go back to Redcar.

    Did you like Redcar?

    Well I suppose it was a seaside place then; I believe it’s a dreadful place now somebody said, so she was brought up – well she was born in Middlesborough then she went to Redcar, then moved here when she was eleven.

    Do you know why the family came here from there?

    I would think for work.

    Me great-granddad – was it me great-granddad – in Redcar was the lifeboat on Christmas Day.

    Did he survive?

    No he didn’t, he was…they were in the church apparently when it went out for the lifeboats to go out and it wasn’t really his turn, but he was older so he said to one of the younger men ‘it’s Christmas Day, you stay with your family’ so they went and they were washed overboard, and he was washed up at Marske just up from Redcar, and I have a plaque in memory of him.

    Did you do anything special on Christmas or around New Year time?

    At Christmas my grandma would come in and we’d all open our presents; we’d have a tree with candles on it, which when you think now would be very dangerous wouldn’t it, with all these little candles lit, and I was doing piano lessons so I’d play carols and we’d sing carols.

    Did you ever do mumming?

    I didn’t personally no, we didn’t.

    Did they ever come to your house?

    Not that I remember, no. Maybe we was too far out, you know – midnight, you’re sort of talking midnight aren’t you? The first I knew about mumming was when I came down to a friend’s who lived at Queens Terrace and I stayed there one Christmas when I was in me teens, and they had some mummers that came in there and that was the first time I knew anything about mummers.

    What did they do then?

    They just literally came in [mmmmmm – hummin sound] and swept your hearth, put their hand out for money and off they went again.

    Were there any other special days that you liked to go to – galas, parades or anything?

    I can’t remember…me godmother was Betsy Collinge who lived at Mytholmroyd next to the zebra crossing, and every year she used to give me a birthday party; she was very good at playing games, chasing me round the house and under the beds and over the wardrobes and everywhere else, so I certainly remember those.

    Was that when you were quite little then?

    Yes, and t’British Legion Club was opposite and we used to go and hide underneath that because it was on legs, it was built up on legs.

    Did you get told off for doing things like that?

    Yes, probably! [laughing] We spent a lot of time up at Strines Bridge in the river and up at Rodmer Clough dam, we used to go swimming – well I was pushed in there and it was swim or drown, so that’s how I learnt to swim – in the dam.

    What other things did you do when you were little then, what kind of games did you play, or toys did you have?

    Well I had a doll; my friend had a big walkie-talkie doll that stood about this high and I got one, I think I’d be about eight, and I remember it was broken and it had been repaired, and that’s how I found out that there was no Father Christmas because it was a second-hand doll that my parents had had to buy for me. There used to be dolls’ hospitals where you got them repaired then – I don’t know where it was, but I know it was the doll’s hospital.

    We had pets and animals – we had rabbits and me brothers had goats. Guinea pigs, bantems, we’d all sorts of things.

    Did you used to sing any songs then – either at school or in church?

    I remember always singing ‘Molly Malone in Dublin’s Fair City’ at school, and I always wanted to go – I thought ‘one day I’m going to go to Dublin’ and I did!

    Did it match up – was reality as good as the song?

    Yes I think so, yes, but mainly I suppose it was hymns from Sunday School that we used to have, and prize-giving – every year we had a big prize-giving where you got prizes for attending Sunday School and that was a big event, a big social event and then you’d have all your prizes given out.

    What kind of prizes did people get?

    You used to be able to request what sort of books you wanted; I think you’d probably have a limit to how much you could spend, for how many times you’d attended Sunday School, I don’t really know but I think that’s how it worked.

    Can you remember any kind of big events like floods or fires or snows?

    Yes, I have some photos of making an igloo in the snow up at High Gate. The field in front of the school, I can remember that being flooded and the cows up to their knees in water; it was right up to the school nearly.

    The biggest snow that I remember was when I was going out with Stuart and we walked down one Sunday evening down to Hebden Bridge. There was a Hebble bus at Knowle Top buried under the snow, it was level with the walls; you couldn’t find any roads, there were just drifts and walls and blizzards. We were wrapped up, I think we’d got goggles and all sorts on, and when we came down The Buttress we went into The Swan at the bottom to get some cigarettes I think, and everybody was in shoes and everything else looking at us as if we’d come from I don’t know where! It was so different up there, yeh really different.
    I remember sliding down The Buttress on me satchel; we always walked to school, we never missed school down at Calder High School.

    So you walked from the tops all the way to Calder High School?

    Hmm, and me dad, if he missed the Hebble bus in front of the park gates, he would run round to The Buttress and catch the bus from the top, up at the top of The Buttress and that is steep in’t it? You could just about make it, if it were just going, if you ran like mad, you could just about catch it at the top.

    Can you remember like any characters – people, individuals a bit out of the ordinary?

    Yeh we had a couple, two or three I would think up Colden – we used to have a lady, I’ve forgotten what they called her, she used to have a little window in the door with a curtain on and she was always peeping from behind it, so I suppose we used to torment her a little bit because she was a bit different.

    There was a chappie called Harry Huts which was Aunty Betsy’s uncle I think…they were called Harry Huts, he was Harry Greenwood really but he’d have the huts – they’d call them whatever they were doing sort of thing.

    There was another man that use to travel up and down on the Hebble buses who had a wooden leg which was different then I suppose. Did you have a name for him or a nickname, anything like that? It would be Peg Leg or something wouldn’t it?

    Can you remember any old sayings – maybe things that your mum or your grandmum or your dad said? I mean they might have been just ordinary figures of speech back then, but I mean now we’d think of them as being a bit different.

    I can’t think off the top of my head.

    Did you ever do any maypole dancing?

    No – no we didn’t have a maypole.

    Was there just certain churches then that did that?

    I think they must have done, or the squares in villages in’t it, it seems to be more up North Yorkshire doesn’t it where they have the village green and the poles and the mayole. I think they do it – do they do it at Luddenden? They have a maypole haven’t they?

    **They have a maypole and also at Warley I believe. **

    Yeh that’s what I meant – Warley.

    **I have seen photos of Hebden with people doing it. **

    Have you? Yes. But you see we lived…Hebden Bridge was a big city to us – I didn’t come down very often; we actually went to Burnley a lot more, with being up there. The Hebble bus ran over to Burnley and we used to go shopping over to Burnley.

    Was there a dialect or a particular accent from up that part, up Colden way that was different to anywhere else around, or was it just Yorkshire?

    Well I don’t know, a lot of people said we’re Lancashire, you know – they think we’re Lancashire.

    What do you think?

    Well we’re Yorkshire aren’t we? But I think it’s with being on t’Yorkshire and Lancashire border in’t it that we probably pick up some Lancashire sayings, some Yorkshire sayings.

    So are you proud of being Yorkshire then?

    Yes, yes, I’m a thoroughbred Tyke, I am – I’ve got so many generations ‘cos of course Redcar used to be Yorkshire; it’s not now but it used to be then, and I’ve got three generations both sides – Yorkshire, so we’re thoroughbred Tykes!

    Did you wear clogs?


    All the time?

    No, we wouldn’t at Sunday, for Sunday school but I did for school, but much to my disgust mine had rubbers on because I was a girl and all t’boys had irons and they could spark, so we used to swap! [laughing] The playground at the back actually sloped a bit and we used to slide down on your clogs but mine wouldn’t because they were rubber, so we used to swap with t’boys so we could spark!

    Were there any shops then up that way?

    Oh yeh, there was two shops on Edge Hey Green; one was…forgotten what it’s called, but there was a Co-op, there was a Co-op and there was a little sweet shop – Amy’s, Aunt Amy’s, a little sweet shop, and then there was Ashburner’s down at Slack and another down at Slack, one at Slack Bottom – there was one at Slack Bottom and one at Slack Top. There was a Post Office up at Blackshaw Head and the Blue Ball, which I’ve got a photo of the Blue Ball – I don’t remember it at Blackshaw Head and it had some stickers outside saying ‘sandwiches’ or something, and I have a photo of somebody stood at the doorway of that, a really old one.

    The shops at Slack then, what did they sell?

    Everything the Co-op.

    So it was the Co-op at Slack was it?

    Sorry not at Slack, at Edge Hey Green. Slack was the little pops and crisps and chocolate and biscuits I think but the Co-op, we used to go and do all our shopping there; that was my job.

    Did you get a good dividend?

    Yes – I used to walk all the way from High Gate on top of the walls – I didn’t walk on the road – and walk back with the shopping.

    So this bus then that used to come up – how did it go about then?

    It used to come up every hour did the Hebble bus.

    Did it go through Heptonstall?

    No it went round Lee Wood. Stuart’s dug it out many a time in the snow coming up!

    Did it go then to Slack, Colden, Blackshaw then on to Burnley – is that the way it went?


    It didn’t go to Widdop then?

    No, no.

    Did you ever watch the Pace Egg?

    I don’t remember going down to watch the Pace Egg because that was in Heptonstall and it was a different area again was Heptonstall, we just used to go to the gala at Heptonstall.

    What kind of things did they have at the gala?

    Floats and decorated bicycles and I think we’d have stalls.

    Where was that?

    I think it would be on the park or somewhere in the fields at Heptonstall, I’m not just sure where it was. I know I’ve got photos of us little sitting on the floats on the back and we had fancy dresses and these decorated bicycles with t’wheels all going round, all decorated. I went as a daffodil one year. [laughing] – a photo of a daffodil!

    Did you ever go into pubs at all?

    Not a lot; we’d go into the New Delight after pottery painting. I used to go to pottery painting at Colden School after I left school and we’d just go in there and have an odd drink and then come back, but I didn’t go into pubs. My mum and dad were both tee-total.

    Have you been into it recently?

    Into t’Newdy? Yes I have – last year I think I went into it.

    Has it changed any since when you were…

    Yeh I would think so, and I went into t’Top Shoulder once but that was…really old.

    When did May’s shop come about then?

    [pause] I can’t remember actually…it would be after we were married I would think, and I think that just snowballed from starting from a little, a little shop in the outhouse until it went into…I think she’s just about everything there now hasn’t she? You can buy anything.

    [going for a drink of water]

    How has it changed then – how has Colden changed or how has Hebden Bridge changed?

    Well Colden’s changed…expensive houses up there now where they were cheap because people relied on the buses, whereas now they all have cars or two cars. They’ve improved a lot of the farms up there and a lot of the buildings were derelict farms you know when we were kids, and it was cheap to live up there then. I think my parents paid £800 for their house and thought they’d never get their money back on it; I think it’s worth a quarter of a million now, that’s the comparison!

    But people didn’t have transport, you know there were horses and carts and we used to have to carry all the coal on sledges up the road when we were snowed in – I can remember that very well, pulling all the coal up on sledges.

    Hebden Bridge was very dark and smoky; it’s been opened up a lot. If you’d asked me prior to this – what they’re doing now I’d have said it were a big improvement – I don’t think this is.

    The new roadworks and the square – why? What’s wrong with that?

    It’s all modernised and Hebden Bridge is a little old town that should stay a little old town [laughing]. It’s like t’yellow brick road. No, I don’t like it.

    Do you think it’ll last?

    Well it’s gone down and been taken up about twice or three times already hasn’t it, so I don’t know. I’ve heard of three different things that we were going to have in the centre of the square, from a sundial to a fountain to a big knife.

    It’s a weaver’s – not a weaver’s…a cutter’s knife for t’English Fustian where I started.

    I think they’re making it up as they go along.

    And I believe that they’re taking the flags up at the old bridge now again and putting the setts back down are they, I’ve heard?

    It’s rumoured.

    And outside the butcher’s all was laid and then it’s all come back up, and it’s been re-laid…a lot of money.

    Did you ever go in Nicky’s café?

    A few times, not as a general rule – it was sort of the age, a few years older than me that went in Nciky’s café a lot, I did just go in a few times but we were frowned upon because me brother’s age group, they went in. I can remember a juke box being there, but no – I didn’t go in there. There was an institute as well at… a Men’s Institute at Edge Hey Green next to the bus stop which is pulled down now.

    I’ve heard of this.

    My brother used to go playing snooker there and they used to go telling stories, I think ghost stories round the fire inside.

    Was this for any age then?

    It would just be men; my brother would be in his teens so it must have been, yes.

    What was the Men’s Institute then? I’ve heard of the building and where men used to go and talk…

    I think they’d play cards or darts and snooker. They had a snooker team ‘cos my brother won a cutlery set once playing snooker.

    Did it have alcohol – was it like a Working Men’s Club type of thing?

    I’ve no idea – no idea – possible it did; I know me dad used to go and rake our Ken out a lot ‘cos he’d got talking and it were bedtime!

    Did you ever meet Mrs Norland?

    Norland’s Café – no I didn’t really, no.

    I just wanted to ask about young people today then – do you think young people today had the same types of values that you and your parents had, or the values that you were taught?

    No I don’t think they’re the same values but they’ve got a lot better scope with education and everything I would think.

    So how are their values different?

    Well they’ve all have computers and everything like that now where we had to make our own entertainment more than rely on computers and games and TVs and everything else, which we didn’t have

    So you’re talking about technology – don’t you think they feel the same – feel the same things are important?

    [pause] No I think they would prioritise…what can I say…material things more, I personally think they do.

    In a way I’d like to go backwards to again when you were little then and…’cos it’s quite an isolated place today up where you live – did you feel like it was isolated then or…how did you feel about living up there?

    I didn’t know any different, I mean they’ve built – the estate was there so there was lots of people moved in on the estate with children – we used to play with those – they used to come up to Sunday School, as I say we used to spend a lot of time at Highgate at the socials but we’d also go to Broadstone, you know and they’d come to us.
    I never felt deprived because I didn’t pal about with anybody down Hebden Bridge until I was sort of in me teens and then you sort of think ‘oh they go to the pictures, they do this’ but by that time I could go and do it anyhow so when you was little you didn’t – you know, you used to…as I say we had dolls and we’d play with those and we’d make carry cots out of cardboard boxes, me brothers would make go-karts with pram wheels and things, then me brother got an allotment we used to go pinching his rhubarb and sugar! We’d make tents out of clothes horses and bedding; we didn’t have a lot of money because my dad was poorly for a long time.

    When did the mill close down there then, Jack Bridge mill – do you know when it closed?

    No, I can’t remember when that closed at all. I remember me dad going down to work there, down the fields and there was a cockerel in front and it used to go for you and he used to kick it up in t’air and run for t’stile! [laughing]

    I ask earlier about the Collinges and if they had nicknames – I do believe that some of the other families did have names, particularly the Greenwoods and Sutcliffes – there were so many of them, they all had different kinds of nicknames. Did you know of any of those?

    Only sort of Harry Huts as I say who was Harry Greenwood. Not really, no.

    I just thought you might know about that.

    When you worked then, how many hours did you work in the first job that you had?

    It was an office job so it would be nine till five, I would think five days a week, then when I went into Mytholmroyd it was eight o’clock till five.

    You didn’t have to work weekends?


    Where did you get married then?

    At High Gate. I had a taxi and I lived next door to it! [laughing] Nobody else walks to their own wedding, so why should I! It was only as far as from here to the telephone box, if that.

    Can you remember any of the mills when they burnt down?

    On Market Street?

    Well any really.

    In Hebden Bridge, yes. There was Waterside, I think there was Blackburn’s; there was quite a few at one time that burnt down one after another.

    Did you ever go and watch any of them?

    No, no.

    Can you remember any of the floods that happened?

    There again, the flood that I remember was up Colden where the rivers all came out – Stuart can tell you about a lot of the floods in Mytholmroyd, because I didn’t come down at them times.

    Did you have your own room when you were young – you lived in quite a big house didn’t you?

    I used to share with me younger brother for a long while and then they made what was called the box room into a bedroom and me older brother went in that, so me two other younger brothers went in together and I had my own room which was quite big, and then me mum and dad had their own room.

    What did you have in your room then?

    Wardrobes, chest of drawers, and like a bedchair that we were always getting into bother for. It had a rod across the back and you used to be able to lower it down with notches so it went into like a bed, or you could put it back up and we were always acting silly with it, and me dad would come up and we’d dive under t‘bedclothes ’cos we were playing on this chair!

    We used to have paraffin lamps

    Was there a fire there?

    In the bedrooms yeh, but we only had those if we were sick, if we were poorly in bed we’d have a fire. I remember the icicles on the windows ‘cos we’d no central heating and it was cold. We used to breathe on the windows and make patterns till they ran down in the morning, and it was really cold, but we survived!

    There was a beautiful fireplace in me brother’s bedroom with marble pillars down the side, that was still in when my parents left so what happened to it I don’t know

    So that house isn’t there any more?
    Oh it is, the house is, yeh. If you go on to May’s shop and go down the steps, that’s our house. We used to go to the farm next door.

    Did you like the farms?


    You said you had a lot of pets – what were your pets, your individual pets?

    Cats – we’d three cats, and rabbits.

    Were they mousers?

    Yes, and they used to fetch mice in and play with ‘em and bat ‘em under t’sideboard and tease ‘em, cruel things!

    It’s what they do isn’t it?

    Did your parents have any hobbies or part-time activities, things they did outside work?

    Me mum used to go to night school for dressmaking and make her clothes or my clothes, and me dad’s was the chapel really, the church. He was a steward there and he used to spend a lot of time there, he used to be the treasurer and as I say he worked at weekends for Alice Longstaff’s all the time we were kids that I remember.

    Do you think you have any special talents or skill that you’ve either developed or not developed – things you maybe might have wanted to have done?

    I wish I’d stuck with music and played an instrument. I used to play the piano and the organ but then prams took over so I had to get rid of my piano, but I always wished I’d have stuck with music carried on playing something.

    I like artwork, embroidery, cross-stitches – I used to do a lot of cross-stitch.

    Did lots of people do that?

    I haven’t done many since I finished work full-time; I used to do them when I worked full-time in my lunch time and things.

    Was that just for the pleasure of doing it?

    Yes, just for relaxation, yes.

    Did you ever give them away?

    Oh yeh, most of them I gave away.

    Have you seen the old cards that they used to have – they must have been around in the First War, in the twenties that were all embroidered – they were like postcards.

    Yes, silky ones- I probably have some of those and I have a lot of the…they were like a bookmark, a silk bookmark for when people died in memory of them or something, and I’ve a lot of old clothes, me grandma’s bridesmaid things and the big family Bible.

    What do you think about what we’ve just done – we’ve talked for nearly an hour now I mean – what do you think about this type of thing?

    It’s interesting – it brings back memories that you forget all about doesn’t it?

    Do you think it’s important that other people hear it?

    Yeh, I think it gives other people an idea of how people lived and what it was like.

    Did you ever do the monkey run then ?

    No, that’s before my time. I used to like going on the motorbikes with tlads, well me brothers had motorbikes and we used to go – on a Friday night me oldest brother used to go all over Widdop and Trawden, and all round.

    Were there a lot of motorbikes?

    There were quite a lot of motorbikes up there, yeh.

    Well I suppose really that’s…those are the kind of things I wanted to ask you – is there anything you’d like to talk about that I haven’t asked about – things that you can remember?

    Jobs on a Saturday morning – black leading and cleaning the sinks in t’wash house; we used to have jobs to do.

    Was it every day or just on a weekend?

    Weekend – Saturday morning jobs usually, and shopping down at the Co-op. Special day were baking day.

    What day was that?

    Wednesday at our house with black-leaded and the oven at the side, but the little oven at the top – the old cat always used to liked to sit in their with a blanket ‘cos it were nice and warm, so that wasn’t used as an oven, the bottom one was used as an oven. We’d have onion and potato cake, tomato soup…

    Did you have an allotment where you grew your own vegetables?

    Me brother did, me oldest brother – he had an allotment down at…it wasn’t at the house, it was down at Colden Row which was…mentioning names – Lady Willy’s which was Willy Sutcliffe [laughing] and he rented a little allotment down there.

    What things did he grow?

    Vegetables and rhubarb and gooseberries.

    Did you really need all that extra food then, or was that just something he liked to do?

    I don’t know to be quite honest.

    Was he the one who became the farmer then?

    The gardener – he was the one who had his own gardening business and his daughter now has it and her husband.

    Actually it wasn’t at Willy Sutcliffe’s when I think Colden Row, it was at down at Fielden Farm near Heptonstall, it was quite a long way off was that allotment.

    Which one’s Fielden Farm?

    You go down from Slack Top – Slack Bottom nearest one to Heptonstall down the lane, it was down there. Do you know where I mean?

    Yeh, it goes down to Lumb Bank doesn’t it?

    Yeh it was down there, so he used to have to walk quite a way. Then we used to go and pinch his rhubarb and his bag of sugar to dip it in!

    There were a lot of mills down Colden Valley though at one time weren’t there?

    There was, but I don’t remember any of them.

    Had most of them packed in then?


    I was just wondering whether it was all smoky up that valley as well.

    No I don’t remember it; it was Hebden Bridge that was smoky and dark and Bridge Lanes was really dark, all behind Bridge Lanes – that was really dark.

    Well it’s gonna turn itself off in a minute now, so we’ll call that a day I think. I’ll take these off first [taking microphone etc off].

    **Now I need to get you to sign these really – one’s the release form; if there’s anything you want to change, like leave your name out or your address, or if you decide that you don’t want it to be published, and you can say for how many years because it will just sit on the shelf for thirty years if you want, then it would become public – or if there’s certain sections you don’t want repeated then you can name those sections, or if there’s anybody you’ve talked about and you don’t want their names, just to be anonymous, then you can leave…you can just write what their name is and they’ll just become a Mr X or Mrs X or whatever in the commentary, so if you do wanna change anything you can do. **

    And that’s the evaluation basically – those four are about what I’ve done while I’m here and those are about how you feel about that side of it. [signing forms]


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  • Interviews and Storytelling: Stuart Gibson

    [TRACK 1]

    Sorry some of it’s going back over old ground but we’ll just..

    …you just ask what you want and I’ll do my best – that’s all I can do.

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

    My full name is Stuart John Gibson and I was born actually in Halifax at the Royal Infirmary during the war in 1944 when they didn’t have home births because of the black out and various other things you know so it were a case that they had to go into hospital in them days to have their children, so my mother went there and I was born there just at the end of the war it was, in 1944 I was born. What date was that? 6th of October 1944 it were, I think the war had a year to go

    Did your parents live in Hebden Bridge?

    They lived in Hebden Bridge yes, they’d just moved into Hebden Bridge. They’d lived in the valley for a while; they’d moved from Stoke On Trent eight years before, I think it was 1934 when they moved when they got married. The job situation down there was pretty hopeless and my father and his brother-in-law it were, my uncle, they decided that they’d to do something about getting some work so they got a train to Manchester. When they got in Manchester they asked where there was work and they were told t’best place to go was Luddendenfoot, so they caught a train through and got off at Luddendenfoot. More or less next to the station there you’ve got Sagar Richards and it’s still there, and they just walked round from the station, walked in and just got jobs and both of them worked there until they died.

    What was the work that they did?

    It was in engineering, it was sort of non-skilled engineering to start with but my father was eventually classed as a semi-skilled engineer. He got involved a lot during the war with making moulds for gas masks, you know which became very popular I think – not through choice, but a lot of people were getting ‘em and he was a charge hand it was in the department that actually made the moulds. He made them during the war and then after the war they stopped making them for a year and as things got bad and the Cold War went on I think they became more conscious that there was likely to be a war again sometime that towards the end of the 1950s they started making the moulds for gas masks and they brought that back into production; he was one of the originals on that so he went back and he worked on that and he worked on that and he did about three or four years then unfortunately he died.

    Did your mother work?

    My mother did yes, she did various jobs like but she worked in the clothing industry at Trim Turn and Fold I think they called it.

    What is that exactly?

    It’s when the trousers have been made – she worked at Scarbottom Mill when I knew it but she worked at various places before that. They’d been made had the trousers and they used to trim the edges and tidy them up a bit and then fold them to be passed straight to the presser so they could put them straight on the press and press them so they could look as though they were presentable to be put in a shop.

    Where was Scarbottom Mill?

    At Mytholmroyd, opposite what used to be the Fire Station, now it’s Pot Luck but it used to be the Fire Station. There used to be opposite there a bridge, I don’t think ithe bridge is there now any more. There were some upheaval there; they built the houses on the dam for what was Scarbottom Mill; like everything else it’s been taken over as building land, but when I was a lad I used to call round there because we used to be able to walk all the way round the dam but now it’s houses on there like and there’s a road that runs across, but the mill, I think it was a three storey mill and she worked in there.

    Did you ever go in the mill?

    Yes I went in a time or two, but my mother – well after we’d lived in Hebden Bridge we moved to Mytholmroyd and I carried on at school in Hebden Bridge but I used to make my own way to school and back home again which I think they’d be horrified these days if kids were doing that at six or seven year old, but I was doing it and sometimes if I got home and there’d been a bit of a mix up or something like that and I couldn’t get in to the house, I used to just walk down and go in and see my mother and she’d make sure I could get in.

    What was it actually like in the mill?

    I hated it – my mother never objected about it but it was horrible – the dust from the material you know that they were working with, it used to get up my nose, it were terrible – it made your nose sore. I hated it. I hated going in there.

    Which school did you go to?

    I went to Central Street School in Hebden Bridge. When I was born we lived at Osbourne Street and that was a family home then; I came home to there from Halifax where I was born. It was the end of the war again and my mother was working I think in the clothing industry, it was one of those jobs they needed, she was involved in making uniforms and such like for the military and my mother was involved with that a bit; she worked all the time through my childhood and of course then when they needed the workers in them days, they could afford a nursery as well. Where the car park is in Hebden where the market now stands, that was a children’s nursery many years ago and I went there for two or three years, I don’t know how long it was, maybe two or three years I would imagine. My sister used to pick me up from school and take me back down again, she was seven years older than me. After I finished at the nursery, they had a nursery section at Central Street School. My sister went to Stubbings School I was going to ask why you didn’t go to Stubbings when you lived on Osbourne Street – they had a nursery section there and my mother moved me from there into the nursery section at Central Street School and then I carried on going to Central Street when we moved to Mytholmroyd; it carried on and I went there all the way through till I was eleven.

    Whereabouts in Mytholmroyd did you live?

    First of all we moved to Nest Estate in a council house, which in those days they were building council houses and making them available, then after the war they were building more still. I can remember them building all Banksfields and all round there, and I can remember them building Calder High School as well.

    I suppose that was a big change – all of Banksfields, Calder High and all of that – was it all fields before then?

    Funnily enough I don’t remember the fields there, I can remember the houses appearing and I can remember Calder High School appearing there; I can remember some workmen putting a swing in a door that they’d constructed and they hung a swing in it, and we used to go up there and play on a swing in the door – I can remember that [laughing]. I wouldn’t be that old then like, but my sister was one of the first to go to the school, she was just at that age when they built it, about eleven or twelve. I can remember her going there and she was pretty apprehensive about it all the time but it was a new step and it was interesting to see how the school’s changed over the years, I mean I look at it now and I just think ‘wow’ – I look down and it and see the size of it…

    How’s it changed – just by adding bits on?

    It’s extended but it’s not only upwards a bit but it’s spread out. What were playing fields have been built on and all at the back of the school…I can remember going up and seeing my sister playing for the school at hockey and sitting on the wall at the edge there and watching; now there’s houses there – there’s Hullett Close and Hullett Drive and all those round there. It’s built up a bit, it’s not quite the open space that it was because both sides of Midgley Road across the other side of Foster Clough, they’ve built houses there as well; I can remember those being open fields as well. I can remember cattle grazing down there. There was a lot then in them days. I think our milkman it was had that field who used to deliver milk, it was Percy Sunderland.

    Did he deliver it in bottles – how did it come?

    The first time I remember milk being delivered it was when I lived at Osbourne Street and I can remember Matthews – I’ve forgotten what his first name was now – Matthews just on at Rowland Farm he delivered milk and I can remember him coming down in a horse and cart and of curse you could come down in a horse and cart easy enough but when it got to t’bottom where the school is before you go up School Street that were as far as he could get, he’d have his horse going. I can remember we used to have a white jug; my mother used to wash that out every day and I had to run down t’hill when I were a little lad and hand this jug over and it would get the milk put in, he’d secure the top on it and I’d be back of up the hill, and that’s how we got it t’first time.
    Then I can remember they went into bottles and they used to have cardboard tops on with a hole that you pushed through in the middle; my sister used to save them and she’d get some thread and wrap it round a few times through the centre and round the outside she went round, and cut through them round the edge and hang them up for decorations for t’Christmas tree then when it came round, so that was something that was going on all year round, making these bauble type things out of material and hang them up on the Christmas tree – nothing went to waste.

    Can you remember the teachers or the things you studied at Central Street School?

    I can almost remember every teacher all the way through. To start with there was Miss Sykes it was at first who had the junior end of the school, then when you went through to the primary section, I can remember going through there and the year I moved on into the primary section Miss Sykes left and Mrs Cushing came who stayed there and I can remember her being there long after I’d left school and that, and she was still teaching down there with Mrs Cushing, in fact I’m not sure whether she taught one of my children eventually. I remember her leaving there but I can’t remember exactly when it was so it must have been after my children were born I think if I remember her leaving because…it was Miss Smith I remember who I learned joined-up writing with and taken through all the procedures of doing that, [someone came in] then went on into t’second year and it was Mr Holt then, and he came from Todmorden, I remember that because he was a friend of a teacher that taught me later when I went to Sowerby Bridge Grammar School. I knew of this teacher through him and I can remember some interesting lessons with him, but then he went on and it was the big move to Phyllis Oakley’s class. She was a very what you might call ‘with-it’ teacher in those days; she used to take us out for lots of walks and that sort of thing and I remember seeing my first rabbit with myxomatosis while out on a walk with her, and that was a horrible sight to see. She stood us all at a distance and realised the distress this rabbit was in and sort of explained to us all about it, what myxomatosis was and why it had been introduced and what were going on and that but I can still remember it, it were a fairly traumatic experience really seeing this rabbit suffering and it was just in its last death throes sort of thing; it was a fairly big rabbit as well and it was on the hill as you go up to Horsehold. You can walk up there and just beyond I think it’s the last field on the left hand side there’s a path that goes through to Old Chamber and there’s a seat there, and it were just in front of that seat were the rabbit and I can still remember it being there; we were walking up Horsehold like, but we were all ushered past it so that we couldn’t avoid but see it but she made sure we understood what it was and I’ve thought about it since really and for our age group – I’d be about eight I suppose at the time, it was an important lesson in life that we all…

    So you finished Central Street School and went to Sowerby Bridge Grammar School then, that’s now the High School – what was that like in comparison?

    Oh it was a culture shock, that was! It was a bit too stiff and starchy for me at Sowerby Bridge but I know I’d been encouraged to work hard and pass my exams the Eleven Plus as they were then. Phyllis Oakley I think it was that actually went to Sowerby Bridge Grammar School when she was a girl, and of course she used to talk to us about the schools that we’d be going to later and I felt by the time I got to going to Sowerby Bridge that I was sort of pointed in that direction and I went there, but really I don’t think it was a suitable school for the likes of me with working class parents. I think my parents found difficulty in coping and understanding exactly what the ethos of the school was about, and I think it expected more, there were a lot of children…I mean I got along well with them, there were no problems in that way but I remember doctor’s children, solicitor’s children, clerical people in the church, their children that went there and they all seemed to be sort of geared through to going to university and that, whereas I mean nobody in our family had ever been near a university so I went through the school and I did fairly well at school, I mean I passed my exams at the end and left when I was seventeen but I don’t think it were an appropriate school really; think it would have been better for me I think if I’d been somewhere with lower expectations of me where I could have gone through to learn a trade or something like that.

    So when you left, what did you do?

    Well at the time it was unfortunate really, it was the time that my father was taken ill. Me and my father….. never worked….. – I left school and he had his first week the week that I left school. I got a job actually working as a Public Health Inspector and I worked in Public Health.

    Was that for the Council?

    That was for Sowerby Bridge Urban District Council as it was then.

    What did that entail?

    Well one of the main jobs I did was I was involved in a lot of smoke control in the valley; I learnt quite a bit about atmospheric pollution along the valley and where it came from, which properties were most responsible for causing the pollution and about the railways as well and how they were responsible for it, which they were in those days – the old steam trains and that. It was a mucky place was Hebden Bridge, I always think that and Sowerby Bridge was even muckier probably than Hebden Bridge, they were not very pleasant places in them days I mean, compared with what they are not, I think they’re beautiful now, compared with what they were then. I can remember the fogs we used to get, I mean we politely called them smogs but it were thick fog, pea-soupers they were and I can remember one day school when we had Christmas party and it was in the evening. I was at Sowerby Bridge Grammar School and we had the Christmas party in the main body of the school but the school canteen was across the playground; you had to go out and across and it was up a slope to it – we left the school when we were told everything was ready for us to eat and it was an ordeal getting from the main body of the school to the canteen. At the back of the canteen there used to be bins and in them days they used to empty all the slops into those bins but when the smog got round it, it sort of carried and made it into a really horrible smell and it really put you off eating anything, but we went into the canteen and we had a Christmas meal, the party, in there but it was horrible and all of us were sort of looking – ‘have we got to go back and face all that again? Anyway we managed to get through the evening but that night was the worst I can remember as far as how they used to smell sulphurous, it wasn’t just a bit misty or anything like that, it was a really sulphurous fog we used to get on the valley. I think it was the best thing they ever did was when they cleaned up the valley.

    Who were the worst culprits for producing smoke and pollution – was it the mills or the trains or the houses…?

    Well in terms of percentage contribution to it, the heaviest polluters were the houses; everybody had a coal fire in those days and everybody belched out smoke, and it was a pretty on-going thing; when it got to this time of year it were hard work to keep a fire burning and stack it up at night and keep it going through t’night so you had something in t’morning and sort of damp it down once a week a give the black leaded grate a polish; that were a Saturday morning job, but all council houses on the valley, when they built those, they all had the black leaded grates with the oven beside them. I don’t as many people ever used their ovens, I mean the only person I remember actually using an oven like that was when I met my wife Glenda and I used to go to her house and her mother was fairly well organised in that department and sheused to bake and put cakes and that at the side of the fire and she used to bank the fire up and open everything up, do what she were doing with it and bake cakes and that, and she were a good ‘un at baking cakes – it were interesting to see what she could produce out of that little black leaded doorway at the side of her fire! I think they were a fairly modern invention really were them in terms of houses, I don’t think they were part of the old traditional way of life or anything like that. Oh really – I thought they might have come back – I didn’t know that. Well Glenda’s house where she lived, they were probably put in at some time long after the houses were built – that was built some time in the late nineteenth century, it was up beyond Heptonstall, but I’d say that were as soon as they were put in to those houses. It was rather unusual that the council houses looked comparatively modern but had the old fashioned black leaded grate in them. I don’t think anybody by that time knew how to use them so they were just as something to be cleaned!


    I’m just trying to make a bit of a link now – weren’t you in the Boys Brigade?

    Yes, that was at Mytholmroyd.

    When did you start doing that?

    Well they used to have a junior section called the Lifeboys and I started – nine year old I think you had to be before you started there, so I was in the Lifeboys from nine until I was twelve then at twelve you went up into the Boys Brigade proper – you were one of the big lads then. There were some that went through until they were eighteen and they were still in the Boys Brigade; I remember Stuart Greenwood was there till he was about eighteen. We used to go camping, hiking and walking about the place and do various things through the chapel.

    Was it associated with the chapel?


    So if you were part of the chapel, quite often you’d join the Boys Brigade – is that how it worked?

    It was, yes. I think it was one of these class things – the chapels were more working class and the churches were more middle class, and if you went to church it was the Scouts and of course you had to buy your uniform when you went to the Scouts, I mean they had the short pants and the shirts and it was a full uniform that you bought whereas in the Boys Brigade it was a leather belt we got, we used to have to wear just sort of grey flannels and a blazer which was our school uniform anyway and you had a white sash that went round and we used to blanco that and keep that fairly smart, there were brass buckles on it and brass adjustments and that – we used to polish them up and make them look smart and that, but of course it were something that could be given and handed on from one to another so there was no expense involved really in buying a uniform as such, and that were the difference in the Boys Brigade like. I think it was a little bit more…puritanical shall we say was the Boys Brigade to the Scouts, I think the Scouts used to sort of pride themselves on their outdoor….you know, outdoor skills. The Boys Brigade wasn’t particularly too concerned about that, even though we used to go camping and do stuff, it wasn’t really part of the agenda to teach us all to light a camp fire or anything like that [laughing].

    Do you have any photographs of you in your uniform?

    Not when I was in the Boys Brigade, no I don’t.

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  • Interviews and Storytelling: Jelma Bates

    Jelma Bates’s Gallery can be found here

    [TRACK 1]

    [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.

    [END OF TRACK 1]

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  • Interviews and Storytelling: Thomas Harris

    [TRACK 1]

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

    Thomas James Harris, 22 Watson Street, Gateshead, County Durham.

    Can you tell me a little bit about your family?

    Well, family, yeh….me father was on bad times, out of work; he couldn’t find a job. We were in a proper run-down area and we were a bit neglected. Long shot, we got taken to an orphanage. Mother died…I never did find out when she actually died, and only thirty-five. There were three of us, two sisters and me and we were rather badly neglected, and oh they was out of work and getting his dole money twenty-three shillings a week but he could still afford to smoke and drink and make a real mess of his life you know, so we were taken away and put in an orphanage so that was the start.

    I see – when were you born?

    17th…9th of September 1917.

    So did you spend all your early years in the orphanage?

    From five to sixteen. As soon as you got a certain age they moved you somewhere else and then they moved you somewhere else.

    Is that right?

    Yeh, so I was in three different places as I grew older.

    Did you continue contact with your sisters?

    I’ve sort of lost contact with the first number of years you know, really lost contact, except me older sister ‘cos she was taken in the orphanage as well as I was, but me third sister she wasn’t.

    What happened to her?

    I don’t know – she just stayed with her father and that. It was a long time before I got in touch with her and I suggested to her she come down and get a job and we could get to know each other you know.

    After I came out of the orphanage there was no work to be had of any kind so…they found me a job down in Watford, Hertfordshire so I moved down there, and I got my sister to come down and she got a job and I gave her a sort of taste of life down there, and getting work and that.

    Did she come down?

    Yeh, yeh.

    What kind of work did you get down there then?

    Well I got a job in a kitchen cabinet factory and I was…at first of course I didn’t know anything, I was on a job what they called ‘pulling off’ – as the…they were doing the machines, making the moulding and stuff, and pulling off – you took if off from there, and then for a while, and then later on I got on to some of the machines – circular saws and band saws, things like that, yeh.

    Did you enjoy that work?

    Yeh, not too bad, yeh, but then they all joined a union and then six months later – I think I was there for five years, and after joining the union they demanded more money, and in the end I got sacked! It’s the usual way, then did one or two odd jobs and that till the war came along and I got collared for that.

    Did you volunteer then?

    No, everybody was given medicals and they graded you according to your state of health. I got graded B3 because I wasn’t all that…as athletic as some of them, because my early years was a bit bad you know, and in fact it might have done me a good turn because instead of being plonked straight in the infantry I got in the Pioneer Corps, and at 1940 I got called up, yeh – all over the place in England training and that, and then I went abroad when the first army went, the whole first army went out and landed in North Africa you know.

    Would you like to talk about what happened in North Africa?

    Well we was in a docks company unloading the boats and first of all they, when they dropped us off in Algiers then later on over night they took us up the coast because there were U-boats about you know; we landed at one place, Bougie, unloaded some cargo ships then they stuck us on a train and went further up the coast to a place called Phillipville with docks you know, then that was our job for the next few months – unloading the cargo boats of all their stores – bombs, ammo, petrol and everything. I had a few scary times there getting bombed at the docks, and eventually we landed in Italy and up through Italy through Italian campaign into Austria, just by the end of the war the…war ended and we was looking after the German troops who were giving themselves up. They weren’t called Prisoners of War, they were called SEPs – Surrendered Enemy Personnel.

    I married an Austrian girl [someone coming in]

    So you met an Austrian girl while you were there?

    Yeh, ‘cos I was in with Army of Occupation and course it lengthened me stay a bit with that and I was in there from forty-five to forty-eight, I was three years in Austria, and they shoved me…they moved my into a job at HQ Vienna and I didn’t like that so they had what they called a gentleman’s agreement. If you sign on for extra, to stay on a bit longer and if it didn’t suit you, you could say ‘Well I’ll have me cards, I’ll have me de-mob now’ and then I came back to England then.

    So did you wife come with you presumably?

    I’d to find somewhere to live and that was a bit tricky you know – you couldn’t find… the council had about four or five thousand on the council waiting list and it doesn’t matter that you’d been abroad or in the army, that didn’t count you know – that’s why you put your name down soon – they’d say ‘you must be joking, how do you know you’re going to come back?’ Eventually I had a bit of savings and I managed to get a mortgage and get a house, yeh. The mortgage was seventy-three per cent in those days so it wasn’t too bad.

    Whereabouts was that?

    In Watford, yeh, I was in Watford for quite a long time yeh, but…I’d one daughter when I came back here, I had one daughter in Austria and I had another girl and a boy later on.

    So you lived in Watford for many years?

    Yeh, I lived in Watford from…oh I lived in Watford about twenty-odd years, yeh, and then…trying to think…my wife met with a fatal accident – she got killed; she was biking home from work; she had a job in a hospital, auxiliary nurse and she got run over, and was killed almost instantly and I had three children on my hands for a few years. I did marry again, yeh….

    So did you raise your children then?

    Yeh – yeh – yeh….it was..

    Was that unusual in those days?

    Nobody came to see or anything; you just had to manage your own way somehow.

    When did you come up to Hebden Bridge?

    I’d been in…I fancied a change and I saw these adverts about properties in Spain and I thought ‘I’ll have a go at that’ and I went…you could go out for a long weekend and they showed you all the different estates where they were building, and I thought ‘okay I’ll go for one of these’ and I moved out to Spain in eighty-six and…quite good, I enjoyed it but what I used to miss was the footpaths – there was no footpath signs or walks anywhere and they seemed to build along the coast and I tried going along coastal paths, and every now and then you had to go away – there was properties built and that, and I got a bit bored actually in the end with it and I sold up and came back in eighty-nine – three years I was there

    My son said ‘Where are you gonna settle down now?’ I said ‘Well, got any ideas?’ I said ‘It’s got to be walking country’ and he said ‘I think you’d like Hebden Bridge; he lived in Leeds, he’d gone to college and stayed up there from Watford, and…where was I now?…yeh, I came back and he said ‘Where are you gonna settle down?’ I said ‘well there’s got to be…I’ve thought about somewhere in Wales or Scotland’ but he says ‘oh it’s too far away is Scotland – you’re too far away for keeping in touch with one another’ he said ‘I think you’d like Hebden Bridge’ so I came house-hunting, I looked around and I picked out one up there and it was one of the bigger gardens you know, I had to have a bit of a garden and that was in ninety-one I moved up here ninety-one, and Calderdale, I think it’s fantastic is Calderdale, I fell in love with Calderdale and the first thing I did was join a walking club, the next thing I did was get a bus pass [laughing] and I’ve been exploring the footpaths of Calderdale ever since and still am!

    You said earlier that you lead some walks – is that right?

    Yeh, they make a syllabus out for the whole year you see, they have walks Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and you just pick the ones you want to go on. At the turn of the year, they ring you up and say ‘we’ve got a few blanks if you want to do a walk’ andi said ‘yeh okay, put me down for about four’ so…this time I’m busy trying out walks, I think I’ll manage a few more yet!

    Do you take people on your favourite walks?

    Yeh, yeh – I try and make them different; if I did a certain three or four walks in this area I try Todmorden area or Walsden area or Luddendenfoot or Cragg Vale, I try different areas which I didn’t do last year you know, so I try and find paths that I haven’t taken them on before so it gets more difficult year by year, because most of them are locals you know and have lived there all their lives.

    What’s your very favourite walk then?

    I did quite a nice one on Sunday – I went up…you know Knotts Wood? Yes. Up Knotts Wood, leading down that way and it comes down and there’s a path leading to…connecting with the Pennine Way where it goes up steeply up hill from Hebden and I thought ‘I won’t do the obvious Pennine Way’ I did…there’s one called the Wainwright Way – you know Wainwright? Hmm. And I did his walk, and it is a different way to get back on the other route you know, and I saw one walk I’d never noticed before, it was called…at the bottom it was printed ‘Alice Townley Loop’ – I want to ask Stuart if he knows about it – I’ve never noticed it before, ‘Alice Townley Loop’. We’ll have to ask him later. Yeh – then it goes right to Rawtenstall you know, and then down into Eaves, Colden Valley, then up the other side – it’s a real up and downer you know, they’re gonna bless me if I take them up there!

    When you do the walks, what sort of things do you talk about – is it about the nature, or is it about the history of the place, or is it just going out for a good walk?

    Yeh well, sometimes we might talk about the place, especially if there’s…talk about how they did the tracks in the old days when they used to go from village to village, like down the causies [causeways] and sometimes I like to write it in poems, like I’ve written about Calderdale and the dry stone walls and the causies, I’ve written a few poems about things like that. You’ll have to show me. I will yeh, I’ll bring it another time.

    Apart from the walking, what is it about Hebden Bridge and Calderdale that you like?

    I try and imagine when I go up the causie, I try and imagine what sort of….what they’d be carrying all the time you know – salt and coal, and I don’t know what else they’d be carrying – carrying lots of cotton stuff, like what they used to take to the piece mill once a week I think, took all the stuff there and I wonder what it was like, and like the one down….Hardcastle Crags, the old mill down there – Gibson Mill you know, and we were occupied in helping with that and it was very interesting, reading about how many mills there used to be; there was twenty-one up Colden Valley alone, there was mills everywhere. I’ve had Swiss friends used to come and they’d say ‘why are things so black’ and I’d say ‘so would you be if you was next door to a mill pumping out smoke all day long!’

    Do your children come to visit you here a lot?

    Not so much – I try hard, they want to go everywhere else but here! They have been you know – my son he lived in Leeds, and then he moved to Otley so he’s handy; he comes over perhaps once a month, sometimes I go over there; I get the train to Leeds and then I get another train to Menston, it’s just two stops from Leeds and he picks me up from Menston or usually, I prefer him to come out here because it makes a longer weekend you know. He brings his daughter with him.

    So you’ve got grandchildren?

    I have to think, I forget whether it’s eleven, I’ll have to count again – I think it’s eleven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

    Do you all get together then, like at Christmastime?

    Yeh, I either go down to my son’s at Christmas sometimes, sometimes to me other daughters and change round you know, yeh, I go for a couple of weeks, and then we try – I keep on about having a holiday all together you know which is not very often, some years we never even made it, not all of us you know – there’s been somebody missing, but this year we managed it – we went to Whitby, then there’s one of them didn’t come this time, but my son and the other two daughters, they came so that was okay.

    I’d like to go back a little bit if possible to when you younger really, when you were raising your children on your own – were you working when you looked after them?

    Yeh, there was…where I lived in North Watford there was on the road, there was a pre-fab with a little family there and there was a disabled woman and of all the people….they used to go there till it was time to go to school. I used to take the boy on my bike, I had a saddle on my bike, I used to take him to one of these places where…a nursery I suppose you’d call it, I used to take him there and pick him up on the way back from work; he was on his own when I’d finished work.

    So how long did that last for, all of that?

    [pause] about…about three years I think, two or three years.

    I suppose because when you were young and you went to the orphanage, then when you had your children, did you feel as if you should be looking after them?

    I felt, no way am I gonna part company from the children, no way after my experience, yeh.

    Like I said earlier, it must have been a bit unusual in those days for a man to look after the children on his own mostly. Did you get any comments from people about anything, or no-one offered to help or anything like that?

    No, no – only this woman, this disabled woman, who you’d think would be the last one, you know. They just used to go in her place till I came back, you know. I’m just trying to think now [pause] lost my train of thought there [pause] they all used to – they often pull my leg you know and they used to say what kind of food we used to have, and I’d say ‘we knew nothing about healthy food in those days’ you know, it was…only come in the last, I don’t know – thirty or forty years.

    What kind of things did you eat?

    There was corned beef hash and things like that, and those sort of oval tins of herrings; it was good food I suppose. They always pull my leg about how I ate then and how I eat now, ‘cos I used to….I had a bit of bother the old veins you know, and I got into thinking about…I happened to read a health magazine and I thought ‘oh I’ll have a go at this’ so I changed my diet and got into what we call health foods, I mean that was getting on towards middle age before that happened, till I was fifty-ish, I got into healthy eating and whole foods you know, and that’s the way I’ve lived ever since you know.

    Do you think that’s been good for you then?

    Oh definitely, I think that’s why I’m still fairly mobile you know.

    What kinds of wholefoods did you eat then?

    Well I cut out red meat you know all together, I cut out tea and coffee and acidy things you know, lots of vegetables and fruit and so on you know, and I hate going to the doctor’s – I’d rather go and see about any homeopathic things than go to the doctor you know.

    Do you see a homeopath then?

    Well no I don’t – I’ve got a book on it you know, and I read it up and try it out for myself. I’ve got into making things myself, like I’ve got a holistic bible I call it and it shows you how to make things with things that grow in the wild you know, like nettle tea, nettle soup and I’ve made elderberry cordial, I made that and chestnut tincture, I make that from chestnuts you know, the kids are collecting them to make conkers and I’m collecting them to make tincture. I collected a bagful on Sunday.

    What do you use that for then?

    It’s good for the circulation, it helps the old arteries you know; as you get older your arteries tend to get clogged up, especially if you have too much fat, and I did…actually about five years ago I cut out dairy foods all together because you’ve got milk, cheese, these things – butter and you’re taking in quite a lot of fat you know. That’s some of the reason of the obesity about nowadays you know.

    Do you think the homeopathic remedies you make – do they work for you?

    They seem to, yeh.

    Do you recommend them to others then?

    Definitely, as a matter of fact sometimes, especially in the summer, they used to say ‘your legs are a bit red and swollen, does it hurt’ and I’d say ‘not pleasant, but it’s there and I still do my walking and that’ and then I did find out, I read an article somewhere in one of the health magazines that horse chestnut tincture would set it right and I tried it, and after about three or four weeks it worked, and my legs never swelled up any more after that so I know it works you know, and I used…they sell it in health stores, it used to be about six pound odd and it’s jumped up to seven ninety-nine now, but I found out that Suma had it, but theirs was only two eighty-five so I switched to them. I get stuff from Suma – you’ve heard of Treesponsibility? Yes. Well they do a sideline where they take orders to get from Suma you see, and then that was okay, then all of a sudden they discontinued it, so after that I could get dried chestnuts from Suma in a kilo pack, that went on for a while then that was discontinued so I’m left with the thing of hunting for chestnuts and making my own, which I’m doing and I’ve done ever since.

    How do you make it then?

    Well it’s a heck of a job to get the skin off – I soak them in water for twenty-four hours, it softens the skin then I chop it in half and peel the skin off, then take so much – perhaps a couple of tablespoonfuls and boil the water and soak it in the water for twenty minutes or so, drain it away and that’s it.

    And you just drink the water then?

    I just drink a teaspoonful with each meal three times a day, so I know it works.

    Does it have to be a certain amount, like a cup of water….
    It’s amazing how little you need because it says a teaspoonful…a tablespoonful of chestnut things to a cupful of boiling water, I mean I make enough to last me months you know, ‘cos there’s the season of course, so I’ve got to make a lot while they’re still going. September and October’s the month for most things anyway, collecting
    Also I make hawthorn tincture from hawthorn berries, they’re everywhere they are.

    What’s that good for then?

    Same thing, good for the circulation so I’m well into that you know. I told my daughters you know, I said ‘get out and do something’ she said ‘I’ll have a go’ I said ‘make sure you do’. I’ve got to find out if she’s taken any notice of me – she’s probably forgotten!

    It’s fascinating this – I know it’s much more common these days – health foods and homeopath and alternative things like that, particularly in Hebden Bridge there seems to be a lot of that sort of thing. What do you think then of the younger generation and their attitude to this sort of thing?

    Well when they’ve had fun days here and they lay on this that and the other, I’m sorry they’re still having the old fizzy stuff and crisps and all these fizzy drinks and everything, burgers and that and I think ‘oh crikey, I’m a lone voice’.

    Don’t you think you can convince some of them?


    But you’re a walking example!


    What do you think about young people in general and their values – were they the same sort of values that you had when you were younger?

    They’re so….cock-sure that they’ve got their rights, you can’t touch them, you can’t punish them in any way hardly and they’ve got their rights, you know, also I think there’s a lack of discipline nowadays I think, yeh.

    Do you think that comes from parents or society in general?

    Well you could say it starts off with the parents really. If the parents bring them up the right way the children usually follow them you know, but if the parents are glad to get rid of them for a while and push them onto somebody else…they’re not all the same, some are okay but on the whole I think there’s a lot of them want to see some discipline and respect for older people. A lot of them don’t seem to know what dustbins are for – they chuck their rubbish everywhere. You want to see the playground sometimes when they’ve been there.

    I’ve travelled a bit and I have friends who have come from different parts of Europe, like in Ireland and Germany and various countries, and they seem to be incredibly clean countries and do lots of recycling and that, so don’t you think perhaps it’s the society here or the government who don’t ask people to do it properly?

    We’re top of the league in untidiness, binge drinking…girls getting pregnant – we’re top of the league in all these things we shouldn’t be!

    In the time that you’ve been in Hebden Bridge which would be about – would it be about seventeen years? Fifteen years, yeh. Has it changed in those fifteen years?

    I think it’s got worse.


    The kids, they’re roaming about…vandalising and writing stuff all over everywhere, on bus windows, on doors and shops you know and it’s costing the council a fortune to remove all this stuff, and it’s money that could be better spent elsewhere.

    Have there been any good changes do you think?

    [pause] The schooling’s getting better, I think education’s getting better, and healthcare is getting better in that respect, yeh.

    Have you met any of the people in Hebden Bridge that you might call character, or a little bit unusual shall we say?

    I was a member of Treesponsibility for while but it got a bit much because I used to go with the planting and that, but the planting’s got that it’s usually on steep hillsides and it’s getting really hard, so I haven’t done any since a year ago. I’ve had enough to do with my – I’ve got an allotment you see and my back garden’s a vegetable plot as well, so I’ve got plenty on my hands without sort of doing the tree planting any more. I do, if there’s an easy one, I might go on it, ‘cos it’s not only going up these steep banks, it’s carting the stuff up there, you know – the plants and all the things that go with it, and I think one person I really, I really think she’s terrific was Penny, Penny Eastwood – she used to be like, who does all the spadework and organising the thing, I think she’s a real fantastic person you know. We used to meet one day a week and go up to where they were planting trees, and they’d finish about three, and she always made certain I got a lift back home you know, and she’s really good that way. Penny, Penny Eastwood, yeh.

    Do you think that’s a good cause, what she’s doing then?

    Yeh, it’s causing the old climate, the old stuff, the carbon dioxides in the air you know, and the more trees, the better it absorbs it all you know.

    Have you ever heard any of the like the old sayings around in Yorkshire, Yorkshire old saying – have you heard any of the locals say any of them, that struck you as being funny or different, or you weren’t quite sure what they were to begin with?

    I’m trying to think, I know what amuses me – they say ‘hiya’ and ‘see you in a bit’ [laughing]

    Do you go to any of the events that they hold around here; I’m trying to think of a few – some of the fairs, the galas, some of the parades or the Christmas singing, any of these sort of things?

    I went to a…I went to a thing in the Town Hall for veterans – people who’d gone through the war and that was interesting, yeh, that last year you know.

    Was that organised by the Council then?

    Yeh, it was good. I think you had to put your name down because there was only a certain number, I’m trying to think how many there was – probably about a hundred, might have been more. A group sang all the old songs that you used to sing you know, Vera Lynn and all those sort of songs, and some of the old First World War songs – I’d love to get those old songs like that – a long way to Tipperary, The Old Kit Bag, Maid of Trallee, things like that and Very Lynn you know – I used to like to hear those old things.

    Do you like music then? Do you sing or play an instrument?

    No, I’ve got a croaky old voice, I’m hopeless at singing – if you’re in with a crowd it’s not noticed [laughing] sometimes I listen to Sundayt evening, the old Songs of Praise and try and sing but I can’t keep on the right chord!

    Did you used to go to church then when you were younger?

    Well in the orphanage it was crammed down you three times a day on Sunday, I mean you know it was rammed down your throat.

    So did you give it up as a bad job?

    Yeh, I think of nature, I think of nature and I like to think somebody created nature you know. I look over and say ‘there’s people stuck indoors, they can’t see what I’m looking at now and seeing the sweet little countryside’ and it’s fantastic scenery. My neighbour, he said once ‘oh I’ll go with you sometime’ but he never did, his limit is going down to the pub every day and that’s his entertainment! He doesn’t walk back either – he walks down, he doesn’t walk back! [laughing] Can’t blame him – it’s a bit of a slog coming back up.

    Have you read up about the history of Hebden Bridge then?

    Well I’ve got The Century of Change, I’ve got that.

    What do you think of that?

    It’s good, you get to know the history of the place and how hard they had to work…what things were like, yeh. They had it tough, yeh. When you think that the cotton mills supplied the world with cotton in those days.

    What do you think then about what we’ve been talking about – do you think it’s important to pass on your experiences to the next generation?

    I think it’s good for them to know what sort of lives they led, I mean I was unlucky not to have a family life and they need to see how lucky they are to have their families around them, how lucky they are you know.

    Would you give any advice to people younger than yourself?

    [pause] Well, try and eat well, healthily…and try and mix in with the local activities, like this community. Sometimes it’s hard getting the older ones – they’re all busy with their own attractions and so on.

    Outside of this community centre then, is there a broader social life that you’re involved with in this area?

    Not really no, apart from Halifax Ramblers, apart from them. I used to…I used to do a bit of…I did one day a week for people with learning disabilities and that was down Church Lane you know, I used to really like it there and I had two or three with me and I used to make dinner for them as well. They shut that down and moved it to the…Vale Centre and then I did meals-on-wheels, I did a day on meals-on-wheels as well, I did two or three years at that, I did Todmorden area and then somebody had been finished what they’d been doing and they wanted to put it on a full-time basis so somebody took that after and they said ‘would you do somewhere else?’ I said ‘Yes, as long as it’s not to far away I’ll do it’ I said ‘I’ll do a day a week at Mytholmroyd’ so I did that for a couple of years, and I got a bit fed up – a bloke, he was a real – once or twice I got there…we had to meet at the Vale Centre where they collect the stuff with all the meals in, and I’d come on time and he’d already been and gone, and I got a bit fed up with that because he must have been in a hurry to go somewhere, and although I was on time, he’d still gone early, so I stopped doing that and another I didn’t used to like – he used to exceed the speed limits and when he’s doing a job like that you know…he thought he was Stirling Moss sometimes! So I said ‘oh well – if he’s in a hurry, he can do it himself or get somebody else’ so I stopped doing it then, but I used to like it, but I’ve sort of got busy and what with gardening and walking, I’m pretty full up.

    There was one who used to walk – a young woman you know, and she used to belong to Treesponsibility and I said ‘do you do any walking?’ she said ‘Yeh’ I said ‘if you fancy a walk, I’m harmless – you could do one or two with me’ so I did used to do, and she moved to Halifax so that was the end of that.

    Do you know any jokes?

    I might know some – it’s trying to remember them – the memory plays tricks, it does as you get older sometimes.

    My neighbour, he said ‘do you make’ – he had some feverfew in the garden and he thought it was chamomile. He said ‘do you make chamomile tincture?’ I said ‘I’m afraid it’s not chamomile, it’s feverfew – if you get a headache, that’s the stuff you want, feverfew.’

    I’ve got nice neighbours you know, but they’re not walkers. Maureen next door, she’s a nice person, and Cedric her husband, he’s the one that says ‘that’s your exercise –walking down to the pub down Albert Street’, that’s his exercise! And Rita the other side, she’s a bit frail, she used to try…I said ‘are you gonna stop smoking, it’s not doing you any good you know’ – she even tried them tapes but last time I saw her, I said ‘you still smoke then? You’re killing yourself!’

    Can you understand the accents up here?

    Oh yes – me first school was Sawley School in Bolton-by-Bowland, that was where I started off in the orphanage and I was there until I was fourteen, so I’m not entirely a foreigner! It was at Grindleton, Sawley School was, and I’m not quite sure where the border was ‘cos it’s about three miles from Clitheroe and that’s in Lancashire, but the school was in Yorkshire, West Riding, Sawley School yeh, and I went with my daughter, my eldest daughter one year, and she said ‘you know, be nice to see where you were’ so we took a week, we went to a youth hostel for a week and went to look at the orphanage, and went to see the headmaster and secretary, he said ‘yeh feel free, have a roam around, it’s still just exactly as it was’ it was you know, apart from one addition they’d put on the side you know, but…and then we went down to the school, as luck it was open, it was not a school any more, it was used…it was used for different women’s groups, what do you call it, women’s voluntary groups and we went inside and I said ‘I went to school here so-and-so long ago’ he said ‘like to come and give a talk?’ I said ‘I’m afraid we won’t be here tomorrow! [laughing]

    Did you enjoy going back – did it bring back memories?

    I enjoyed it, yeh, it was just the – I thought it was just the same, you know.

    Were they hard times then when you were young there?

    Yes. You were lucky if you saw a thre’penny bit in your Christmas pudding, that was your luck if you got an apple and an orange and that was about it, [laughing] and a bit of coal.

    You got coal for the fire?


    Did you have your own room there?

    No, no – there was twenty-six; half in one dormitory and another half in another dormitory, so you can imagine what went on in there – there was pillow fights, woe betide if we got caught!

    Was it all boys?

    Boys one side and girls the other, one thing about those days – never the twain shall meet, oh crikey – you never came into close contact with the girls yeh, you were kept far apart yeh, apart from when you went to school, we had…we used to call them sisters, they were just people looking after us, I don’t know their proper titles but we had to call them sister, there used to be two of them take us to school, marched in twos to school, in clogs, we wore clogs, yeh.

    Did you like clogs?

    They were good for slides!

    Did you like school, did you enjoy school?

    Yeh I enjoyed school, I really enjoyed school, yeh. I remember getting a certificate once for the best essay in the class you know. The school was up to fourteen, elementary school as they called them in those days and….iron gates, boys’ entrance there, girls’ entrance the other side of the school; their playground was at one side and our playground was on the other, never together; they were very strict in those days, yeh very strict.

    Can you remember your teachers?

    Yeh, it always brings a tone of sadness when I used to think she’s a lovely teacher, and she was riding pillion on a motorbike and she got killed, I remember going to her funeral – it was sad that was, she was a lovely teacher, yeh.

    We’d play football with clogs on, it was a bit risky!

    Did you like football then?

    Yeh – yeh, I used to play football – I used to play left back when I was in the bigger teams to the last orphanage, I used to play football yeh. Used to play football when was stationed at Preston for a while, we went up to….Caister, got called up to Caister on Sea, then we moved up to Glasgow and then we moved for training, learning the mysteries of arms drill and foot drill and all that, and then we moved down to Preston.

    So you went all over the country then?

    Yeh, then we went to East Ham…got bombed out there.

    Were you ever wounded?

    I was wounded, I was on the…when we went in Italy we had to march to the site of the dockside and it wasn’t a docks, it was just where the landing craft used to – we got on board this landing craft and went out past the Isle of Capri of all places and when they landed on the Anzio landings on January 2nd 1944 yeh; then we was on..you know what a duck is? they used to come with stores, ammunition and everything from the ship ‘cos the beach head was all under shell fire so they had to unload on to these ducks – they’d come up the beach with ammunition and we were unloading then with ammunition and petrol and stores and that, and I happened to…one landed nearby and we got hit with the explosions and I woke up on a hospital ship and I got


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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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