Tag results

You are searching documents tagged with "Midgley"

  • Interviews and Storytelling: Ruth Hair

    [TRACK 1]

    VARIOUS CHILDREN:

    First of December 2009, Scout Road School

     

    Do you still live where you were born or do you live somewhere else now?

     

    RUTH HAIR:

    No I don’t live where I was born. I was born in Chester, Chester Hospital, in 1966 and I lived on the Wirral for the first eighteen years of my life, and then we moved around various places, so I’m a relative newcomer to this area, I’ve only been here since 2004, so only five years I’ve lived here.

     

    Which street do you live on now and why?

     

    RH:

    Which street do I live on and why? Right, I live on Jim Allen Lane but nobody really calls it Jim Allen Lane, it’s a little road running through the village of Midgley which is up on the hill above Mytholmroyd. I live in a terrace of houses, back-to-back terrace which was built in the 1890’s and it’s Springfield Terrace and we live at number three and the reason I live there is because when I first moved here in 2004, I was trying to buy a house in Cleveley Gardens just down the road in Mytholmroyd because I’d enrolled my son in this school and I wanted to move in to Mytholmroyd, but unfortunately the people in Cleveley Gardens wouldn’t drop their price by enough money and so the negotiations just went on and on and on, and at the time it was quite a competitive housing market and so they should have really dropped their price, so we got within three thousand pounds of the price that I wanted to pay for the house and they were still holding out, so I just thought ‘do you know, I’ll go and have another look around and see what’s out there, and I got a text message from the housing agency, just saying ‘house for sale in Midgley’ and it was exactly the right price I wanted to pay, so I rang them up and said ‘right, I want to come and look at this house and I want to come and look at it now’ and she said ‘oh we’re just going there with somebody else’ so I got in the car, dashed up to Midgley, got out of the car and saw the view from outside the house that I now live in, as I say it’s across the valley, you can practically see it over there across the valley, I looked at the view and I thought ‘I want to buy this house, this house is beautiful, I want to buy the view.’ The view is absolutely stunning – I look across, I don’t see the valley bottom, I just completely look across the South Pennines and there’s a beautiful tree just to the right of the view which just frames it all beautifully, so I just thought ‘I want to buy this house, I don’t care what the house is like inside, I’m going to buy it’ and I walked up the steps and the other people were walking out and I just thought ‘you’re not gonna buy it, I’m gonna buy it’ and I said to the estate agent ‘that’s it, I’m putting in a price’ and it was all signed and sealed, and we moved in about five weeks later which is really quick for buying a house, but I was so determined that I was going to get that house, and we’re very happy there aren’t we Joe, I think! Sorry, I’m not supposed to be personal, I’m sure.

     

    Which school did you go to and why did you choose it?

     

    RH:

    I don’t suppose in those days you’d choose a school would you, you’d go where your parents kind of enrolled you. My parents lived in North Kirby which is right up on the north west side of the peninsula of the Wirral. They’d lived there for a few years. My brother who’s three years older than me was already in the school that they’d enrolled me in to. The school was called St Bridgette’s and was a lot bigger than this school. I’m not quite sure how many pupils they had, around about four hundred I think, four or five hundred, so it was a lot bigger than this school. It had a very very large catchment area and it was a fantastic school, I had a really really happy childhood at that school with lots of happy memories, and lots of serious fun.

     

    What secondary school did you go to?

     

    RH:

    Then after primary school I stayed in the same area because for about eighteen years I lived in the same place, and my parents only ever moved house once during that time, so we moved shortly before I was due to leave primary school, so I went to West Kirby Girls Grammar School which was rather a posh school really. Just girls there, no boys allowed. The boys grammar school was about a mile, a mile and a half up the road and so we were kept very much apart. It was a very traditional grammar school, mostly women that taught us, again very very happy memories, great school, fantastic personalities that taught us and we had a really good time, and the school’s still there, still functioning, and it is still a girls grammar school.

     

    Did you have SATS?

     

    RH:

    No we didn’t have SATS in the way that you do, we had what was called an eleven plus at primary school, which you have a similar entrance exam now.

     

    It’s called the eleven plus still.

     

    RH:

    Is it? Right, okay, no we just had the eleven plus. We didn’t have as much sort of yearly monitoring as you have now at all, we just had to work towards that getting in to grammar school type of exam.

     

    Did you celebrate Christmas when you were younger?

     

    RH:

    Oh yeah, we’ve always very much done Christmas. A very traditional family; two parents, a brother and sister and a dog, and yeah, we looked forward to Christmas enormously. We always had a huge Christmas tree; we had a nice big house; we have a small house now, but we had a nice big house which had a hallway so we always had a very large Christmas tree in the hallway, and yeah, absolutely loved Christmas. My dad was an academic so he used to work on Christmas Day, but we always managed to pull him out of his study and away from his computer to come and open a few presents, but the thing that used to really bug me with my parents on Christmas Day, and my mum would laugh if she heard me say this because I do always criticise her about it – my mum and dad would never let me open my Christmas presents the minute you get up on Christmas morning. They would all be put under the tree and they would all look beautiful, and because my mum and dad were very strict church goers, Church of England church goes, we would have to go to church first thing in the morning. My dad would generally go – because he was the church warden – he would generally go to the eight o’clock service and then he would come home, and then we would all as a family go to the nine-fifteen service and they had hymns and carols, so that would go on for about an hour and a half, then me and my mum and my brother would come home and my dad would stay on and go to the eleven-fifteen service. I don’t know why there were so many services, but I think the eleven-fifteen one was family orientated, so he would stay on and then he would get home about half past twelve in time for us to have lunch at one o’clock and we always had Sunday lunch or Christmas lunch at one o’clock, so in all that time we weren’t allowed to open any presents, so you can imagine, you know, you’d just be like itching, and I’d be there feeling them and wanting to know what was inside, trying to guess what was in them, and then we’d have to sit and have lunch and that would go on for like an hour and a half, and still we hadn’t opened any presents, I mean, you can imagine it, so we’d get to about two o’clock and we’d all formally sit down, and we’d have one present each, one by one and it was a great long drawn out thing which is actually fantastic. It’s probably much better than the way kids do it these days when they just rip them all open and it’s all over by like nine o’clock maybe and you’re all shaking your heads but you know, so it was all eked out and then of course at three o’clock we’d have to watch the Queen and so that was another half an hour when you couldn’t watch presents, and then…..my mum would just kill me with this; then she’d say ‘I think we should save some for Boxing Day.’ That was Christmas - it was wonderful.

     

    Did you go on any holidays? Where?

     

    RH:

    Yes, my mum and dad – my dad as I say was very much an academic – he worked as a Professor of History at Liverpool University, and so all our holidays were basically geared around my dad doing his research, and my dad taking forward some little projects that he’d have, so we only went abroad once; in the whole of my childhood, we only went abroad once and that was to Portugal, and the reason we went to Portugal was because my dad went to pick up some very important papers from an admiral in the Navy called Deshera de Mota and I just remember this guy, probably shouldn’t say this, but he handed me a – I was only about thirteen or fourteen and I thought he was like Captain Pugwash, he was this great big guy, so I have great memories of that actual one holiday abroad, it was like a coming of age thing for me; it was fantastic to go abroad, it was so exciting, but the rest holidays were the lovely, family orientated holidays. We’d largely go down to Herefordshire because my dad was doing a church history project which involved him touring round and visiting all the churches in Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and the old Radnorshireso we spent a lot of time going to churches, and eventually we ended up buying a static caravan. Initially my mum and dad bought a VW camper van, which if they’d kept now it would have been fantastic because it was like a proper VW with a push-up roof and it was just a fantastic car, and they thought that this was gonna be the way that we would have all our family holidays and it would be a cheap way for all of us to travel around, so we set off one weekend, the four of us with the dog and we were heading off down the road, and it was a horrible car to sit in the back of – it would sway you about all over the place, we didn’t have seat belts in the back in those days, and we had this smelly old dog with us and my smelly brother and we were sat in the back, and of course we started vomiting, being car sick and all the rest of it, so my parents were thinking ‘okay maybe this isn’t really working’ so we stopped at the caravan site and they put up – it was one of those with a tip-up lid – it actually pushed up completely, it wasn’t a tip-up, going-up lid, kind of concertina thing and it had two very basic bunk beds that then came down that had a gap in the middle, and then down below you’d fold out the seats to make a double bed in the bottom, so the people in the bunk bed could look down on the double bed in the bottom; well my mum and dad were very very private people, they were not at all like I am with my child you know, we just do whatever and get on with it; my mum and dad were very very very private you know, I don’t think I ever saw them in their pyjamas, they were those kind of people, and of course they had to sleep down below, with me and my brother, we spent the entire night giggling and looking down at my mum and dad going ‘there’s mum and dad in bed together downstairs’ so we thought that was absolutely hilarious and my mum and dad just thought ‘that’s it, this isn’t going to work’ – they’d spent all this money on the caravanette and it’s just not gonna work, so then they bought a static caravan so we could have separate bedrooms and we could be very sensible, so they bought this caravan in Erdesland, which is a tiny tiny little, very pretty village which lots of black and white houses in Herefordshire, and we had that caravan from, I think I was about seven when they bought it and they sold it just after my dad died, so it was long after I’d left home, and we basically, every holiday, we got in our caravanette – we kept the VW for quite some time, we’d get in the caravanette and we’d all go down and stay in this lovely caravan in Herefordshire, and it had a stream that ran through the caravan site, it was quite a small caravan site, it wasn’t one of these ones where you’ve got rows and rows of caravans, it was just a few static caravans round the outside, and it was run by a great farmer called Mr Griffiths who had a real ‘oo-aar’ Herefordshire accent, and that’s where we got our dog from actually; it was one of the puppies from that farm, so we became like locals in the summer; we’d go down three or four times for long weekends or for the whole summer holiday, and I was just a water baby and there was a river as I say running through the caravan site, and I would just spend my entire time, as much time as I could playing in the river, making little dams, and you know, pebbles, and there was a log bridge going across the river and I’d swim from the log bridge. We had a dinghy and we’d do all sorts of mad things with this dinghy - parents nowhere in sight, not like these days where parents can’t let their kids out of their sight or they worry themselves sick, we just went off with this river, throwing ourselves in all over the place, having an absolute brilliant time, and then my dad would decide that he wanted to go and do a piece of research at some church thirty miles away and we’d get hauled out of the river, and I’d say ‘no I don’t want to go’ [mopey child voice] and me and my brother would start fighting with each other and we’d be grumpy, and we all get piled in the camper van and off we’d go, being sick down the country lanes, off to go and study this church, and I always loved it, and when we actually got to the church, there are some absolutely beautiful Norman churches all round Herefordshire and we started getting into the kind of architecture and spotting – I used to like going in and spotting the sort of lead catches on the Norman fonts and things like that, and churches are very beautiful places when you go and visit them, so there you are – family holidays, and we just went abroad once.

     

    After being on the Wirral and you moved here to Mytholmroyd, did you go on any more holidays?

     

    RH:

    Ooh, wow! How many holidays have we been on since moving to Mytholmroyd? Once I’d left home I became a complete traveller, I guess maybe it’s rebelling against your parents or maybe I’ve just got some kind of gypsy blood in me I don’t know, but I decided as soon as I left home that I wanted to travel; I wanted to see the world, I wanted to go abroad, and so basically I go abroad every year. I do some fairly big, exciting trips. Since I’ve lived in Mytholmroyd I’ve been trekking across the Sahara with my son, which was quite a good holiday I think, don’t you think…on a camel, we’ve been…..where else have we been? We’ve been to Switzerland, walking on the Eiger Trail, yeah, I mean, yes, I’ve been on a lot of holidays, very exciting, dramatic holidays. Diving in Egypt.

     

    How many different jobs have you had?

     

    RH

    Erm, I won’t give you a number, shall I describe a few of them? When I left University, for some reason I did a Planning degree. I didn’t really mean to do a Planning degree, I just sort of fell in to it, and when I came out at the end of that Planning degree I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I just got a planning job and I got a job firstly down in Ebbw Vale in South Wales which I lasted eleven weeks because it was a horrible horrible horrible job, so I just thought ‘I didn’t do five years at university just to stay in this job’ so I walked out which is a really naughty thing to do – never do that – so I walked out of that job and immediately got another one at Leeds City Council which I really enjoyed actually and I was going to stay there, but I was only on a temporary contract so I ended up applying for another job in South Wales in Brecon, which is a beautiful, beautiful market town with the Brecon Beacon mountains behind it as a backdrop and it was a really good job and it was on another pay scale, really stepping up, so I applied for that and I got so I left Leeds; quite sad about leaving Leeds and went down to Brecon, and I stayed in Brecon for twelve years, and there were various times when the council re-organised or there were major sort of government re-organisations and I changed job title, but I stayed there for twelve years, and then I went off and worked in Africa for two years, then I came back and worked for a short period again in South Wales, and then I went on a round the world trip with my son when he was two years old, and then I came back and vaguely kind of stuck a pin in the map and ended up here.

     

    Did you like your jobs?

     

    RH:

    Did I like my jobs……I work with communities a lot. Initially I was working with Planning Policy, making decisions about where developments should go, so I got a lot of people ringing me up, not very happy with me, that was the nature of my job. They would ring up and say ‘we don’t want houses built in that lovely field opposite us. Why on earth are you doing this? You’re going to ruin our lives because of this development’ or I’d get people who actually owned the land ringing up me up saying ‘I want this land to be developed because otherwise I’m not going to get an income, I’m not going to be able to keep my family’ so there were always a lot of very hard decisions to make and you can never keep everybody happy all the time, so I think when you work in that kind of environment, after a couple of years you start getting what they call burnt out. It’s quite hard if you care about what you do and you care about people you’re doing it to, it’s quite hard to keep liking your job for a long period of time, so yes, generally, I really liked my job at the beginning but I’d get to the point where I felt a little bit burnt out and I had to try and do something different so that I’d keep myself happy again. The current job I’m in I absolutely love, I’ve really enjoyed doing it for the past year, and it’s a very good job.

     

    Was that your favourite job then?

     

    RH:

    My favourite job actually would have to be when I spent two years working in Mozambique because that was the most amazing experience of my life. I worked for the Provincial Government there in M’Bala which is the second largest city in Mozambique, and Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world, and it had just been through a really horrid period of Civil War where they’d been killing each other, fighting with each other, and you know, just a very unsettled, unpleasant atmosphere to walk in to and to try to work within, but I think my favourite job was definitely to work in Mozambique, which was an astonishing experience.

     

    When you went to school did you wear a school uniform?

     

    RH:

    I did – I think school uniform’s fab, I think it’s really great, and it’s one of the reasons I put my son in Scout Road, because you have a really nice school uniform, although you might not think so. But yeah, I had sensible shoes, always flat, sensible shoes, woolly tights, and a really beautiful one hundred per cent wool knitted skirt that you had to keep clean at all times – none of this running about in the mud you know, it wa8.42s a beautiful piece of clothing, and then I had…..I think I had blue aertex shirt a bit like yours, but I had a blue blazer as well and then we had, I think we had a boater type of hat initially but then they phased that out and it became a beret and it had a school badge on the front. I’ve got a hideous photograph of me sitting on a swing, you know how your mum probably took a photograph of you on your first day at school in your school uniform, and I’d just got a really big – well I’ve probably still got a big belly, but I’d got a big stomach sticking out of all this beautiful clothing, and I’m there with my teddy bear, so yeah, we had a school uniform at primary school, and we also had quite a strict uniform at secondary school, which again was navy blue, always been navy blue, the same as your school, and the had summer dresses which were checked things and they had those elasticated belts, you know the ones that’s got those metal things that link together? We had one of those and a checked skirt for summer, and in the winter I think again it was blue – yes, a blue cotton shirt with sleeves and a collar, not like the aertex short sleeve thing and a blue jumper, but as you got older, you know, the lengths of your skirt started getting shorter and shorted because you just wanted to wear a little mini skirt and things like that.

     

    When you were young, did you have any religions?

     

    RH:

    My mother won’t be pleased if I say no I didn’t and I still probably don’t actually but I did go to church regularly. I was a member of the church choir, I went to Sunday School. My parents as I said were very religious and they went to church; my mum still goes to church every Sunday, but I haven’t followed in their footsteps in that respect. I find that when I want to be spiritual I go up in the mountains, that’s my church.

     

    Have you changed from when you were young?

     

    RH:

    Changed? I’ve got bigger, I’ve got older, I’ve got grey hair [laughing]…have I changed? Of course you change, you grow, you get more happy with yourself.

     

    Have you started to like or dislike things as you’ve grown up?

     

    RH:

    I never thought I’d have children and I did have a son, and I love having a son so that’s great fun. I’ve always been quite loud and bossy, a bit like my son [laughing] so that hasn’t changed, so I don’t think you change your fundamental character. I think you get older, you get wiser, you get to like yourself more as you spend more time with yourself, and by that I mean that you accept the fact that you’re not perfect, you never will be perfect [school bell] and you just get more at peace with yourself, and in that way I’ve changed.

     

    Did you play any games at school?

     

    RH:

    Do you mean sports or do you mean games in the playground, because one of the games that I remember playing in the playground that I think’s a shame that you girls, I don’t want to be sexist, but it was largely girls. We used to play elastics. You don’t do that at all now do you? You get a piece of elastic, a certain length of elastic, you tie a know it in so it’s basically just a ring of elastic, and then you’d have a person at either end, and you do various set movements, so it would start off around your ankles and you would jump over it, jump over to the other side, then you’d jump in the middle, then you’d jump on it like that, then you’d jump to the side of it and then you’d jump out, and if you did all that without tripping up, you’d got through that bit, and the elastic was raised to the back of your legs, then you do the whole thing again and then it would be raised to you knees and you’d do the whole thing again, and then it would be raised to the tops of your legs, and eventually it would go up to your waist, so you can imagine trying to jump on to pieces of elastic when it was round people’s waist, but that was a fantastic game, all the girls used to play elastics. I don’t know what’s happened to it, it’s just

     

    We used to play it in like Year Three and in Year Four.

     

    RH:

    Did you? It was just brilliant, I remember being completely hooked with that, and the other one in the school playground was jacks, which they have brought jacks back haven’t they? I used to love jacks.

     

    With the bouncy ball

     

    RH:

    The bouncy ball and you’d pick up the metal things, but the elastics was just brilliant, but in terms of sport, I was completely useless at sport. I used to be….I can’t remember whether it was at primary school that I got engaged in sport at all, but at grammar school they made me the sport secretary for our house, because we had houses just like you have houses, and they did that just because they knew I hated sport so much; all my friends voted for me to wind me up, and I became the sports rep, and I hated sport, absolutely loathed it. We had to play hockey, as all girls grammar schools did, and I always used to take my clothes off so slowly so that I would be the last person to actually go out on to the hockey field, so that I would be made reserve, and if I wasn’t made reserve I would insist that I went in goal, in the hope that my class mates were so rubbish, or so good I suppose, that I would never have to fend off a ball because it would never come near the goal. I hated sport, I really did, and we did netball as well and because I was tall and thin – you love netball – because I was tall and thin they always used to make me goal shooter or goal keeper, and I was rubbish, I was complete rubbish. If a ball comes towards me I just go like this – I just shut my eyes so I can’t really catch it. I was rubbish at swimming, completely hopeless, so I enjoy sport because I wasn’t until I actually got to university that I discovered that you can play sport without worrying about winning. If you play sport non competitively and you just enjoy the taking part, then it’s fantastic, but so many people – at school they really pressurised – well at my school I felt pressurised that I had to achieve, and of course I couldn’t achieve because I was completely hopeless, so I never really enjoyed it…..but now I do. I don’t do much though.

     

    Do you have anything else to say?

     

    TONY WRIGHT:

    Do any of you have any other questions?.......what I’m going to do now, I’m going to ask a few questions and then if you’d like to join in and ask other questions about that thing, then just go right ahead.

    You said earlier that the reason you came to this area was almost like sticking a pin in a map. Did you actually literally do that or how did it happen that you came here?

     

    RH:

    I wanted to be relatively…I had decided to leave Wales for various personal reasons and I went off on a round the world trip so I left my house; I sold my house, I left my job, I sold my car, I sold a lot of things – I cut the ties completely with the Brecon Beacons, and I went off on this round the world trip for a year with my son who at the time was eighteen months old and came back when I was three, and…..I didn’t know what I was going to do when I came back. I was coming back to no employment, coming back to no house, so I was coming back to start again really, and I wanted to do something completely different, but I didn’t end up doing something different, I ended up going back in to the same area of work. I wanted to be relatively close to my mum who’s in her seventies now, so when I came back she was in her sixties and she’d lost her husband who she’d been married to for her entire life so it was a very difficult time for her, so I wanted to be close to my mum, so it wasn’t a case of ‘Im going to go to Aberdeen’ it never was that or ‘I’m gonna live in Plymouth’ it was somewhere in the middle of the country, and I actually landed in Sheffield before I came here and I lived in Sheffield for eight or nine months and then the job came up with Calderdale Council, so it was largely job related that I came to live here. The reason I live in Midgley, again, as I said, I love living here because of the open fells, the open vistas and the amazing landscape you have here.

     

    TW:

    So is that the main reason that you like it around here – the landscape or are there other amenities that you think are good?

     

    RH:

    I mean, sadly we’re very close to some fantastic amenities which means that we’re really congested, and the thing that really gets me around here is the level of traffic congestion, and just, I mean when you look at that whole swathe, when you look at the map at that whole swathe between Liverpool and Hull is very over developed, well not very over developed, it’s a very developed area of the country and I came from, you know, South Wales, Mid Wales where if you’re driving somewhere you get into fifth gear. Here you don’t drive anywhere….but the public transport is fantastic but if you drive anywhere you don’t get above thirty miles an hour generally, you’re moving your car about between obstacles. I find the congestion – both people congestion and traffic congestion just generally, because everybody’s siphoned in to the valley bottoms, I find that very very claustrophobic and I yearn sometimes to go back to South Wales or to move up to Scotland where there’s much more open space, and so one of the reasons I live in Midgley is because at the back of my house I’ve got Midgley Moor and I can walk for miles, I mean I can walk all the way up the spine of the Pennines basically from the back of my house if I wanted to, and I get that feeling of open space and, you know, seclusion and sort of wild space that I need in my life, but I do like being near Leeds and Manchester, you know, we have fantastic public transport that takes you to these places, we have excellent schools in this valley; there’s a lot going for it, I mean quirky places like Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, they’re great places to be near, but I didn’t want to live in a town, I wanted to live in a much more sort of open village atmosphere.

     

    VARIOUS CHILDREN:

    You know you said that you wanted to live near your mum – where does she live?

     

    RH:

    Well my mum still lives in the house, you know I said we only moved once, so I’ve had two family homes and they were both within five hundred yards of each other, so my mum still lives in quite a large four bedroomed family home. She’s very attached to it obviously because all our family memories are there, memories of her husband are there, so she still lives there, but she’s getting older, it’s getting more difficult for her to live there, it’s very expensive to live there because she’s one person in a very large house, so I don’t know what’s going to happen to her in the long term, but she still lives there. She’s very happy to live there, it’s a beautiful house, you’ve got lovely views over the Dee estuary and towards the Welsh hills, and she’s about an hour and twenty minutes drive from me, so that might not seem near to you, but when I was living in South Wales it would take three and a half hours, four hours to get to her, so at least now I know during the day it’s very easy to do, so I’m not really that close to her. You might have your mum and dad or grandma and granddad living in the same – they might live in Mytholmroyd now, but to me that’s quite close. Do you?

     

    My mum and dad live here.

     

    Do you ever go on public transport?

     

    RH:

    I do, yes. I use the buses and I get the train. I wouldn’t dream of going in to Leeds unless it’s on the train because it’s hideous; I hate the M62 with a passion, so yeah, if I can go on the train, I do.

     

    Was there any public transport when you were younger?

     

    RH:

    I didn’t need to use public transport when I was younger because I walked to primary school, it was a fifteen minute walk through the park so that was very nice, and my walk to secondary school was down the hill and in to the main part of town – lovely walk – you could go via the beach as well, it was a beautiful beach where we lived and again that was about twenty minutes, so again, I don’t remember using public transport when I was young. We had a….one of the reasons my parents chose to live where they lived was because my dad worked at Liverpool University and always did do from when I was born onwards. He used to go in by train every day, and West Kirby is actually at the end of the line, it’s a kind of local commuter line, so that’s one of the reasons they lived there and my mum and dad would always use the train. I didn’t go in to Liverpool very often, it was like a really big thing to go in to the city for me.

     

    Did you ever get the chance to go on a tram?

     

    RH:

    ….no, not when I was a child. When have I been on a tram?.....Manchester actually, was probably the first time I went on a tram. I went on a small….in Hong Kong I went on a tram. Hong Kong has got a tram line that runs up from the middle of the city to I think it’s Victoria Mountain. Is Victoria Mountain in Hong Kong?

     

    TW:

    I don’t know.

     

    RH:

    I can’t remember. So I haven’t been on many trams, no.

     

    TW:

    You live in Midgley. Can you tell us what it’s like there because it’s a very old sort of little town isn’t it? Much older than Hebden Bridge or Todmorden or the others.

     

    RH:

    Yes, it’s not really a town. I’d call it a village; I think it’s got a population of about nine hundred if you add them all up. It’s a beautiful little village, mostly houses built in the late 1800’s, some quite a lot earlier, obviously. The reason I chose to live there – one of the reasons I chose to live in Midgley is because it’s got a very very active community. It’s got a community group forum called Midgley Matters. They all got together about four of five years ago – it must have been longer now because it was before I moved there, but they had their the Post Office shut, the pub shut, the village shop shut and as a result they all got together and said ‘our village is dieing’ in the way a lot of villages are, and they decided to open up their own community run village shop and it’s still going, in fact they’ve just bought the old Co-operative building to make it into a community room and to move their shop in to it so they’ve got bigger premises, so it’s an incredibly lively community. It’s sometimes a little middle class I would say; they like to have their pudding evenings and progressive dinners, but they do have a lot of very good events that they put on, so it’s a lovely place to live. It has a wide variety of people living there because of the different sizes of housing, so there’s still back to back terraces up in Midgley and we live in one of those. I have some fairly mad neighbours who live up there, and it’s a great little old village to live in.

     

    VARIOUS CHILDREN:

    Could you name any of the activities that they do?

     

    RH:

    Well every Christmas they do…we have a very good Christmas tree and lights up there, I don’t know what the history is behind that one. It always amazes me that a little village like ours gets such fantastic lights and the big Christmas tree at Christmas, so every year they put on a horse and cart and have Father Christmas through the village, the kids get rides on the cart and we all go along carol singing, and we stop at all the houses of people who are in their seventies and eighties and give them presents and sing carols to them, and then we all go back to somebody’s farmhouse where Father Christmas sits in his little grotto and dishes out presents and we all have mince pies and sherry – fantastic event, and it’s a regular annual thing. We have an annual barn dance that we’ve been to which was great fun, and every year the villagers, I haven’t been on one yet, but they get a whole charabanc, they basically hire a bus and they go off to places like Llandudno and Scarborough and just have a day out as a village as a whole. I’m missing something…..oh, regular quiz nights but unfortunately I don’t get to that because I’m just hopeless at quizzes, but yeah, they have a lot of really good stuff.

     

    The Father Christmas one – is it for anyone?

     

    RH:

    It is – anybody who can come. It’s not Mytholmroyd, it’s not Midgley, anybody can come. I’ve taken friends from completely out of the area.

     

    The shop – do volunteers go there and go behind the cashier?

     

    RH

    They do; very exciting that shop, it’s very exciting what the community have achieved actually, and they’re just on the brink of buying this new property. Basically at the moment they lease a very small shop within an old barn, and the owner of that barn now wants to convert it to houses which is fair enough, so they have to find new premises, and so they put together lots and lots of funding bids to get enough money to pay…to buy the old Co-operative building, so all the volunteers are going to work either this week or next week helping to strip out this building, so that the builder can come in in the New Year and refurbish – what they call refurbish it – do all the new plastering, like you’ve had done on your school; make it all beautiful and then the shop will go in there, it’s gonna have a much bigger space, it’s gonna be bigger, so it’s gonna sell a lot more local products from local producers, and sell a lot more basic brand lines so the villages can really rely on it as being a place to shop, and then we’re gonna have a whole new community room so we’ll be having loads of parties.

     

    I’ve seen that the old Post Office shut down in Midgley. Do you know when that shut down?

     

    RH:

    I think that was just before I went there in 2004, that’s when the whole shop concept came from so I think it was 2001, 2002 that the Post Office shut, and that was just the thin edge of wedge really, you know, the villages had just about had enough at that stage and so they all got together and said ‘right we’re gonna do something about this’ and what an amazing achievement that is, what an amazing achievement, for those people to have successfully run the project over that length of time, but also what I find with community projects is that people run out of energy after a while. Everybody’s really enthusiastic at the start and says ‘yeah I’ll put in two hours a night or whatever and the years roll on and you think ‘I’m fed up of putting in my two hours a night’ maybe. Not in Midgley. In Midgley they go from strength to strength, and they’ve got a group of about forty, fifty volunteers which I’m going to be one, my son’s going to be one when they move to the new premises because it’s near enough to our house for us to do that, and it’s an amazing achievement for a very small community.

     

    TW:

    Are you involved in this project about looking at the use of the land and farming in the Midgley area, because they have records from the Second World War and from the beginning of the nineteenth century, and I think they want to talk to the farmers who are still around now. Are you part of that?

     

    RH:

    I haven’t got involved with the Historical Society. I would very much like to, but my problem is that they meet at eight o’clock, that’s what my problem has been, they meet at eight o’clock Wednesday or Thursday evening, and I’m a single parent, full stop, I mean that’s all I need to say really. I can’t out at eight o’clock of an evening and leave my son in the house on a weekly basis. It just becomes too expensive from the child care point of view and all the rest of it. As my son gets older it will give me more freedom which is why I’m now gonna be part of the volunteer groups that work in the shop, because now that he’s a bit older I can do these things more freely. But yeah, it’s a great project. They’ve produced their own book on the history of Midgley that’s again been an amazing achievement for a small community.

     

    TW:

    These neighbours that you have that you say are a bit crazy. Are they real eccentrics, or what kind of characters are they? You don’t need to name names.

     

    RH:

    No I won’t name names, but…..I think…they’re an interesting mix really. On one end I have a single man who’s quite reclusive, then there’s me who’s completely barking mad, at least I think I am, then on the other side of me I have a young man who…..he’s just a very interesting character, I think he’s quite traditionally West Yorkshire, and I’d like to see hi going out more, I’d like to see him having more of a social life; I worry about him. And then I’ve got a very zany sort of couple in their fifties who are just completely barking mad, go to every single event that’s going and are just very, very, very sociable, and I really enjoy that fact that I’ve got really good neighbours that I have connections with, because I think in this day and age a lot of people don’t interact with their neighbours, they don’t know their neighbours. Certainly I didn’t have such a good experience; I never had such a good experience as I do living here. I never counted my neighbours as being really good friends, and one of the reasons down in Brecon was because I lived in small terraced housing. A lot of the people around me were elderly, sort of retired people, and so I didn’t have anything in common with them, but I’ve got a really good mix of people up there because they’re small houses and we’ve got a really interesting mix of lower income people who are probably a bit more eclectic than your average bunch of neighbours, so I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve enjoyed it in Midgley. I don’t want to move at all.

     

    TW:

    The pub up there that closed down about eighteen, twenty years ago, something like that and another one’s never opened. Do you think if there was one there would be more of a social focus?

     

    RH:

    We do have…we do have a bar in the existing community room which is quite small, and we sell local beers whenever we possible can. It’s very real ale focused, again as I said, we’re all a little bit middle class up there – we like our real ales, we like progressive dinners, but we do….we do have a bar but it’s not regularly opened like a pub is. We’ll continue that facility when we get our new community room, so it’s there for organised events. When we have a quiz night and things like that there is definitely a bar and there’s definitely more of a pub feel about it, but of course we have, five minutes down the road and down a fantastic footpath as well, we have the Lord Nelson at Luddendenfoot, so we kind of use that as our local now.

     

     

    VARIOUS CHILDREN:

    When you say there’s a bar and it sells lots of ales, does it sell an ale called FLOCKING Ale?

     

    RH:

    I think it does actually. Are they in black bottles with a like bright coloured label?

     

    Yeah.

     

    Someone who works with my dad makes that.

     

    RH:

    The community association’s got a policy of trying to source as much as it possible can from local producers.

     

    Is it child friendly? Do they sell soft drinks in the bar?

     

    RH:

    They do.

     

    And crisps?

     

    RH:

    Well they sell crisps in the shop don’t they?

     

    In the bar?

     

    RH:

    I don’t know, I really don’t know, sorry! [laughing] We could always take our own crisps

     

    TW:

    It’s about five years you’ve lived here then, so has it changed in those five years at all?

     

    RH:

    I think the traffic’s getting a lot heavier and there’s a kind of congestion feeling to me; that’s got worse.

     

    TW:

    Anything else that you’ve noticed?

     

    RH:

    Well I could get political and say that some of the developments that have happened in the valley are poorly designed and fairly shocking in terms of siting in the flood plain, in terms of the quality of the…housing that they’re actually providing and the quality of the design and the quality of the environment around those houses. I think there needs to be more concern about the landscape we have here. I’m not a nimby; I’m not at all about not allowing development but I think we have such an amazing top, top quality environment that it should be…it should be regarded as one of our prime assets and without getting too boring for the children, but in the whole kind of idea if city regional planning, the whole area is not seen as an amazing asset, it really isn’t. It’s seen as been the countryside of West Yorkshire, it’s not seen as somewhere that has formed our urban areas. What’s happened here and the story of the Calder Valley has formed Manchester and Leeds and their historical basis, and we should be preserving that and looking after it and cherishing it, and not just seeing the rural area as somewhere to stick a whole load of lego houses [laughing] I’ll now get shot by Calderdale Council!

     

    VARIOUS CHILDREN:

    Would you like suggest any improvements?

     

    RH:

    Improvements to Midgley? I would like to close the road so people stop using it as a rat run. [laughing] In the last five years the amount of traffic on that road has so significantly increased, and because it’s a very narrow road, it gets wider at one point and then it narrows, people park their cars, people drive down it like complete loonies, they have no idea of the width of their car, and so I would like to see traffic management in Midgley if possible, but I know it’s not gonna happen. We are not living in a culture of the current time of persuading people to get out of their cars; it will happen in time, but at the current time it’s not happening, so I think that’s the only improvement in Midgley, I mean it’s a beautiful little place to live.

     

    Would you like…would it be nice to have parks….

    RH:

    No, we have a fantastic recreation ground at Midgley. I don’t know if you’ve ever been up there, but we have a beautiful fete up there in the summer. It’s a huge field, I think it’s one of the most beautiful playground in Britain because it’s right up on the tops, oh it is Joe, but the view from up there is just astonishing. You’ve got this three hundred and sixty degree view, part of which is down the Calder Valley so you’ve got this amazing woodland sort of valley setting, part of it is across to Oats Royd Mill and so you’ve got the history that’s connected with the view of the large chimney and the large mill, and then you’re looking down towards Sowerby Bridge and across towards Norland Moor, so you’ve got a sort of long…and you can see all the way down to the Peak District in effect, the Peak District hills, so I think it’s the most stunning location for a playground only it’s very very windy. We have a limited amount of play equipment there – yeah, in an ideal world you’d have loads and loads like in Hebden Bridge but you know the money’s not there to do that kind of thing. It’s the most beautiful setting, it’s very well used, the football club use it every Saturday and often Sunday and so we don’t need a park, we just need to love and cherish what we’ve got, and do come up to the fete. It was a real traditional English type of fete, and I just walked in there and thought ‘something horrible’s gonna happen, it’s too nice’ it was so lovely, it was like something out of ‘Miss Marple’ – have you ever heard of ‘Miss Marple’? They’re always set in perfect English villages where everybody’s always perfectly English, then a murder happens and then it’s all [groaning sound]…well it was just like that, it was just so perfect you kind of expected Miss Marple to be out there to come out of the beer tent and say… ‘there’s been a murder!’ Obviously that didn’t happen, but yeah, we don’t need any more parks, that’s one thing we don’t need, we’re very lucky.

     

    You mentioned the woodland. Do you ever go down there and…

     

    RH:

    Look for trolls?

     

    Yeah.

     

    RH:

    We have beautiful woodland, yes, it’s very characteristic of this valley. In the lower parts of the valley you have some absolutely outstanding woodlands, mixed woodlands, and we have a very beautiful wood just below us at our house, it runs the length below Midgley, lots of bluebells in spring time, stunning bluebells when you walk through. There’s an old pond down there full of tadpoles and frogs, and there’s some craggy bits with caves where I used to take my son and some of his children, not some of his children, some of his friends, and scare them silly saying that was where the trolls lived, and actually I took some of my son’s friends who burst into tears the minute we went in to the woods because he obviously thought that was where the trolls lived, but we love the woods.

     

    How come you took your son to Scout Road School and not like Midgley School?

     

    RH:

    Well as I said earlier on, I was trying to buy a house in Cleveley Gardens when we actually had to enrol our children in schools, but the reason I was trying to buy the house in Cleveley Gardens was because I wanted my son to come to this school. The reason I wanted my son to come to this school was because he was doing pre-school at a school in Sheffield. It was a large inner city primary school. He was very badly bullied to the point where he came home and he’d been hit quite badly and he was starting to wet himself and show the signs of quite significant signs of distress at being bullied, so I was determined that we were going to go to that type of school. My friend Amanda Topham who has lived in Mytholmroyd for about fifteen years and her children have come to this school – she’s had four children – and three of her children have come to this school, the fourth is just waiting to come this year, so I knew it was a great school, so I was buying a house because I wanted my child to come to this school. But then of course, the deal fell through and I went to live right opposite Midgley School but I wasn’t gonna move him because he was happy here.

     

    TW:

    What’s it like on Midgley Moor then? What’s so fascinating about that area?

     

    RH:

    Midgley Moor has an astonishing history. It has a couple of ring stone archaeology on there, it’s also….you know, the history runs on from there. It’s also an extremely well managed moor for grouse shooting, so the heather is beautiful, absolutely stunning, it’s totally under grazed, unlike where I came from in the Brecon Beacons where those little white fluffy things nibble everything to death and you don’t get any of that kind of biodiversity that you get up there. You get curlews up there and you get grouse up there. When it’s a Bank Holiday and you go to the Dales or the Peak District and you’re walking between the car park and you’re listening to other people talking as you’re walking, you don’t get that on Midgley Moor. You get a complete sense of isolation up there, it’s very rare you meet people up there. It’s a very well used moor by the people who know it, but not everybody knows it so it’s the best kept secret, and part of my job at the moment is to raise the profile of the South Pennines, as a recreational place in its own right, and I always say, tongue in cheek, you can always come her, but not to Midgley Moor nobody’s coming to Midgley Moor, but I’m not a nimby (not in my back yard), but you know, on a Bank Holiday, whenever places are stuffed full of people, you can go on Midgley Moor and you can almost have it to yourself; it’s a wild open space and it’s just got something astonishing about it; it’s got astonishing views, there’s standing stones up there, there’s Churn Milk Joan and all the history about…you stand on the stone, you put money on the top and there’s a sort of bold depression on the top, you put money on there and other travellers come along and take the money off there….you know, it’s just got an amazing connection with the past and it’s got a real sense of place about it. When you’re standing behind Milk Joan….and you’re standing to the east of Churn Milk Joan and you’re looking across the whole of the Calder Valley, so again you can’t see the sort of urban sprawl in the valley bottom, which is…what, you know, the economic power house of the railway and the canal and the road system but you can’t see that in the bottom. All you can see is the valley tops and the large expanses of open moor leading down to the peaks, leading up to the dales, it’s the backbone of England, and the sun goes down, so the sun’s rays are split by Churn Milk Joan, that’s when you get a kind of sense of open space and peace and it’s beautiful up there, but please don’t put this on the web or anything because I don’t want anybody else going up there…it’s mine!

     

    TW:

    It’s one of my favourite places I must admit, yes. How are we…we’re getting towards the end. Do you have any other questions, or anything else that you would like to say?

     

    CHILDREN:

    I’ve been to Hardcastle Crags and it’s nice to walk through the woods

     

    RG:

    One of my favourite places is from my house, up past Churn Milk Joan – do you know what Churn Milk Joan is – it’s the standing stone – you have to go up there if you haven’t seen it, it’s lovely, you can walk it quite easily, it’s about twenty minutes walk from Midgley Village and you can walk all the way along the top, up to I think it’s called Blackhill and then you drop down in to…..oh God….the name of that valley….not Lumbutts is it…

     

    TW:

    Crimsworth

     

    RH:

    Hardcastle Crags, up to that waterfall…the name’s completely gone out of my head, anyway it drop down in to that valley

     

    TW:

    It’s Crimsworth, Crimsworth Dene isn’t it?

     

    RH:

    Where that big waterfall is

     

    TW:

    Yeah, Lumb Falls.

     

    RH:

    Lumb Falls, that’s it. You drop down to Lumb Falls and then you walk down the valley to Hardcastle Crags, back to Hebden and you go to a pub or a tea shop and then you get a bus home and that’s an all day walk, it’s lovely.

     

    TW:

    Is that it then…….okay, is there anything else you would like to add that has come to mind in the conversation or

     

    RH:

    No I don’t think so; very interesting questions and I’ve really enjoyed the project.

     

    TW:

    Okay, I will stop now, and I’d just like to say… how did you feel about answering these questions

     

    RH:

    I think this type of project is incredibly important. I’ve looked on the web site at some of the stuff that’s been done previously and I find it absolutely fascinating and quite moving to listen to people who have maybe already passed on, I don’t know if they have or not, talking about their history, talking about their lives…their very interesting ordinary lives. We hear a lot about extraordinary people, we hear a lot of about sort of rather glib famous people these days, but actually hearing about somebody, particularly from activities that have now gone and lost, activities in the mills, I know that’s traditional, people might think, you know, an obvious target, but that is an obvious one to use as an example. I looked particularly on the web site at somebody who had in a mill, and I did find it very moving for her to talk about her work experience, and then I thought about my own work experience. You tend to think of your own life as being very benign, very ordinary, very typical, but actually things are moving so quickly in this current day and age, so rapidly, things are changing so rapidly, we have so many challenges ahead of us that recording point of time, and also, purely from a personal point of view, I do this for my child – every year I write him a letter; he hasn’t seen any of these things, but I generally write him a letter saying what he’s done in the last year, saying what he was like, saying what cheeky little things he did, things that I will forget, little expressions that he used, little habits that he had, just writing down the things that I will forget so that he’s got a little record every year of what’s happened, so I do these kinds of things as standard practice in my own life, because hopefully he will be as sentimental as I am and be interested in the past. Some people aren’t, but I am interested in the past, I’m interested in the future, I’m interested in the present, but I think these type of projects are totally invaluable.

     

    [END OF TRACK 1]

     

    Read more

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.

Get in touch

Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge
HX7 8DG

Phone: 01422 844450
Contact Us