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  • Interviews and Storytelling: Dennis Vickers

    [TRACK 1]

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

    My name is Dennis Edward Vickers; I was born in Newark in Nottinghamshire and then when? I’ll have to think about that – 12th of March 1929.

    Why did you have to think about it?

    Well, ‘cos I don’t like being old you see – I don’t like to be the age I am you know, I don’t fell the age I am you know.

    Do you feel younger?

    Oh yes a lot younger, yes. I feel about forty nine. Anyway, that’s when I was born – 1929.

    When did you move to Hebden Bridge?

    When I was five year old which would be what…’34, 1934.

    Why did your family move up here?

    Well there used to be an engineering works down here – not Browns, it was called Pickles’s. My father worked there and he used to work in engineering firm in Newark and Pickles’s bought the factory out – they brought the machines up here and they wanted some of the people who worked there to come and work them you see, so there was about…half a dozen families came. He came up first and they came and lodge somewhere on King Street I don’t know exactly where, and then he got that house to rent which is on the next block, number eight East View you see, and then he sent for us and we all came up and I can remember in the back of the furniture van up this road and that’s about all I can remember, yes. There was my sister, my brother and me, and my mother and father you see and I was five year old. I was the youngest.

    Can you tell me a bit about your family?

    Well, my mother and father, they came from Lincolnshire, Boston, a little village in Lincolnshire called Potterhanworth that’s where my father was born. I don’t know a lot about my family because they never talk about families in them days. My sister knows more about it ‘cos she’s older, about ten years older than me, so she knows. There was an older brother but unfortunately he died but Joan, she knows all about ‘em and when she comes to stay with us which she comes pretty often, she talks about families you see; aunty so-and-so, Aunty Lucy, Aunty Fanny, Aunty Alice, it was a big family you see, and that’s about all I know about my relatives, ‘cos being the youngest, they never talked to me much you see [laughing]. Anyway, that was it. I’m the only one in Hebden Bridge now left; my sister lives in Bury and my brother lives in Scotland, in Airdrie.

    Can you remember the house at East View?

    Oh yes, oh yes. It’s a bigger house than this, there were three bedrooms, no bathroom, three bedrooms and three rooms downstairs – a kitchen, sitting room, and what I suppose they called the dining room and a large cellar. Really good family houses and they’re still there now, they’re still being occupied – o for sale. I enjoyed living there.

    What was the kitchen like – did it have an have an old range…?

    It had an old sink if I remember rightly and it had an old boiler in the corner where they used to do all for the washing you see and there used to be a fire underneath and the chimney used to go up to the roof you see, but they had that taken out because it was full of mice and the mice kept coming in, so they had that taken out and they used to wash down the cellar with the old ringer and the old dolly tub and…I can’t remember what they called ‘em now – pegs; it was a wood with four pieces of wood sticking out and they used to swirl the water round in the dolly tub, and it used to take my mother and father all Friday night, well not all Friday night, but most of the evening to wash, and the cellar was absolutely flooded with water [laughing] ‘cos they were splashing about you know, then they used to have to wring them with the mangle and then when they were dry they used to call it mangling and I used to turn this, I don’t know why they did it, but they did and it took me two hands like this to turn the damned thing, but it was a happy house and of course we were there in 1934 then the war started in ‘39 and of course we lived there all through the war. My dad still worked across here at the engineering works and then my brother above me, he went to work there you see.

    What job did your father have?

    He was a turner in the engineering trade you see and my brother was a fitter, and they used to make woodworking machinery down here – planers, saws, all sorts of things to do with woodworking. Every Wednesday tea-time they used to have the furnace going and there were smoke and flames belching out of the chimney – our windows used to rattle! And then about six o’clock they used to douse it and there was steam coming out of the roof and all that sort of thing.

    Why did they have it going on the Wednesday?

    It seemed to be the Wednesday when they had the furnace going for some reason, I’ve no idea why. There was a lot worked there.

    How many do you think?

    I think there’d be about a couple of hundred, and they used to play football on the field down here you know – this field is where they used to throw all the waste stuff . I don’t know what it was but we used to play with it when we were kids, we used to play down there.

    What kind of games did you play down there?

    Well we used to play football and cricket on the field and then we used to make things out of what they threw away – there was oily rags and like sandstone and we used to make cars and we used to make paths going round these sand cars. They were digging it up the other day ‘cos they’re proposing to build houses down here and they were digging – I saw all this black soot stuff coming up and it reminded me you know, but they were good days, and we had a gang down King Street and we used to be out from morning till night you know, we didn’t bother about being in at nine o’clock, we used to listen to the church clock and say ‘oh it’s nine o’clock, we’d better go home now’ and off we went, running about in the dark – nobody bothered us, it isn’t like it is today. We used to congregate – there used to be a little shop down King Street – a sweet shop, and then the Co-op shop used to be across the road which is now two flats, a little fish and chip shop next door, there used to be another little sweet shop lower down King Street there and we used to congregate round this little sweet shop, and we used to play up in the wood there; we were never at home you know. We never got up to any mischief or anything like that you know but yes, they were good days, yes. I often walk past this shop where the Co-op was and it’s now two flats as I say, and I used to take empty jam jars back; I used to collect empty jam jars take them back, and I used to get a bag of sweets; that went on for years and years you know.

    Can you remember any of the people in your gang?

    Oh yes, yes. They’ve all gone now I think.

    This sweet shop where we used to congregate outside was called Dawson’s, Mrs Dawson used to own it and they had about four or five children and one of them used to be in the gang, Geoffrey, he was the youngest. Then there was the Buckleys who lived lower down. All these houses have gone now, it’s all down the main road now. The Buckleys and…I can’t remember any more, but there was about seven or eight of us, and then we all used to play cricket on the field and then we used to have a bonfire at bonfire night down in the field you know, we were always doing something.

    Did you all go to the same school?

    Oh yes, we all went to Mytholm School which is a church school.

    Were school days good days?

    Yes, yes they were. They were hard and very strict and the cane was out and this that and t’other you know; you had to do as you were told but they were good days. I stayed there till I was fourteen and then left and I had to go out and find a job then. We sat for the Scholarship for the grammar school; some passed and some didn’t – I didn’t pass, they couldn’t afford to send me anyway because of the uniforms and what have you. One of my friends, he passed, and he lived up Eaves; he was very bright and he had to leave the grammar school at fourteen to go and find a job because his mother and father couldn’t afford to manage you see. He got a job in Lloyds Bank in Hebden Bridge and he worked there for nearly fifty years, not in this particularly branch but in other branches, and he became a bank manager; he’s still alive, he lives in Leeds and he’s been to see me once. He used to live up Eaves opposite the ‘rec and there was him and four sisters and his mother and father and they used lived in one of them council houses opposite the ‘rec. He was telling about his mother and father and how they struggled to feed ‘em and this that and ‘other you know. His mother lived till she was about a hundred and three; I went to funeral down at Salem and that’s when I saw him – I hadn’t seen him for about forty odd years. I said ‘can you remember me Clifford?’ and he said ’by…I haven’t seen you for forty five years or something like that’.

    And then he came to see me – he rang me up one afternoon and we must have been on the phone about two hours chattering away…’can you remember so-and-so’ and ‘where’s so-and so?’ and this that and t’other, oh and footballers that used to play with us you know.
    We used to play up Heptonstall whereabouts? Dawson City oh really? Do you know Dawson City? It’s along Slack isn’t it? Yes, White Hill Nook as they call it, just below Slack Bottom, yes. We used to have a team called Mytholm Old Boys under eighteen it was, they had a lee in Hebden Bridge and we decided to have a team, and we called ourselves Mytholm Old Boys and we used to play at a field called Nursery up Glen View, it was a bit rocky you know but we played there, then we used to go to Heptonstall, Old Town and Mytholmroyd. Then we joined the Halifax League and we went all around Halifax playing you see, all under eighteen, and they when we were over eighteen some of us went up to Heptonstall. I played up there for ten years and Clifford were t’same. For two years I was in the Air Force of course – National Service. We played at Dawson City.

    What was Dawson City like?

    It was alright, it was a nice little field, then we made another team and we then got a field on Slack Bottom on the left hand side going towards Blackshaw Head. One of our teams played there and then we played on Dawson City you see. [pause] We used to change at what they called the School House; I don’t know what it is now – it used to be broken down – we managed to get a second hand bath and we managed to get some water and have a bath. There were rooms downstairs and we used to have coal fires, one for the visitors and one for us – it was good. We didn’t used to go up on the bus, we used to walk up and walk back down again because we couldn’t afford the bus fare.

    When you left school, what work did you do?

    I went in the clothing trade; I had to go out and find a job – none of this here like they are today and this that and t’other – you had to go out and find a job yourself you see, and I got a job in the clothing trade at fourteen year old at a firm called John Lords at Croft Mill Yard which is now, there’s a car park there – it’s a red brick building and they made it into flats. I stayed there for nineteen years, less two years for the Air Force. I went to night school and learned about cutting you know and tailoring and various other things and…then I decided I’d been there too long and one of the ladies who was working the sewing machines, her husband worked at Melbourne Works which was on Market Street, which is nowwhere the Co-op is, a big concern it was. She said ‘they want somebody at Melbourne in t’cutting room’ you see, so I went on to see one of the bosses one Saturday morning and I thought it was marvellous. I went up these stairs in these big offices you know, because this was only a little pokey place, and he asked all sorts of questions and then he told how much he’d pay me which was sixpence an hour more than what I was getting and I thought ‘that’s a rare do’. Then he took me round and I knew the foreman in the cutting room because I went to night school with him and he put me a good word in you see, anyway I got set on there, so I went back and told my boss I was leaving and he said ‘how much are you getting extra?’ and I said ‘sixpence an hour’ he says ‘I’ll give you a shilling’ I says ‘you won’t -you should have done that years ago’ so that’s where I went, and I stayed there for twenty years, and then they made us all redundant.

    What actual work did you do in there – can you explain the kind of work that you did?

    I was a cutter and we used to get order sheets – there might be about six or seven hundred orders on these sheets you see of different sizes from thirty six waist up to forty six waist, different legs and we used to have to get the material we used to get patterns and mark them out, then we used to what they call pleating up – they might be thirty thick so you could cut about a hundred and eighty at once.

    Could you really? What kind of tool did you use to do that?

    I used to cut ‘em into bits with what they called a…you’re going back now, I’ve forgotten most of it, a Heesman – it used go on the table like that and there was a blade going up and down and it used to cut out like that – you used to cut ‘em into bits, pass ‘em across the table to a man who was on what they called a band knife similar to a woodworking thing, then he cut them out exactly, and that’s what we did all day. Different materials – sometimes there might be an order for twenty pairs of this particular…it was all trousers actually. Most of it was corduroy; when there was only a few you used to be able to cut them out yourself you see with this Heesman or with the scissors. [phone rang – Dennis went to answer it.]

    [Dennis showed Tony some photos] That was her ninetieth birthday – we had the neighbours in, we had a buffet and the family came you know. That’s our two girls and their husbands. The next door neighbours they came and Alan next door, he took that photo and he framed it, gave her one and gave us one.

    Right – I’ve forgotten where we were.

    You were talking about being in the cutting room.

    Oh yes that’s right – there was about eight of us in that cutting room and very very busy, always busy. They had eighteen reps out every day and they didn’t half sell some stuff. But it was like a combine with a firm called Redmans on Foster Lane, Foster Mill they called it and they had factories at Todmorden, Mytholmroyd and Cragg Vale. Our reps used to keep them going as well you see – it was a fantastic place to work, I should have gone there years before.

    What was good about it then?

    It was the atmosphere and the people who worked there and it was a big concern, you could go and hide yourself if you wanted and go and have a smoke in the toilet you know, whereas in a small place you had to be knocking about you know. One of the bosses used to come round every morning at half past nine and he used to talk to me; I was the only one in the room he used to talk to because his daughter went to Calder High School and our eldest was in the same class so we used to talk about the girls going to school and stuff like that you know, oh yes it was good, yes. He used to say ‘do you know, you’re the only one that talks to me in this room!’ [laughing] All the office girls used to come and talk to me, I don’t know why but they did, perhaps I was just sociable, I don’t know. They used to come and hide and have a walk out and they used to come and have a talk to me, about their boyfriends and goodness knows what you know. [pause] I enjoyed every minute there; we did a lot of overtime as well. We used to work every Saturday morning, that was overtime to get a bit extra cash and some evenings till eight o’clock at night, not every night or every week but a fair lot; we thought it were marvellous, a bit extra in the wage packet, it used to be real because money was tight. – We lived down at East View where Chris lived for eight years and our eldest was born down there, well she wasn’t born there but…then we got this house you see – it came empty and the man next door used to own all the block; he got it at auction, he went to an auction at t’White Lion or something and he paid £1200 for the row [chuckling] and I came to see him, I says ‘what about this house next door?’ and he said ‘well I’m selling’ you see. He says ‘maintenance is getting a bit expensive’ you see, and he’d sold the end house to Irene and Geoff – ‘oh I says I don’t want to buy, I only want to rent – they didn’t buy in them days, only rich people bought you see. Anyway he says ‘well I’m sorry but I want to sell this house and the one next door and then there’s an under-dwelling goes underneath these two you see for £600’ and I says ‘well I can’t afford that’ so we left it, and then t’next night there was a knock on the door and it was Bill – ‘Nellie and me’ that’s his wife ‘have been talking and we’d like you to come and live next door to us because we don’t want any Tom Dick or Harry coming to live next door’ you see ‘I’ll let you have the house for £400’ you see, so I said ‘oh right’ he says ‘do you want to come and have a look at it?’ so we came up that evening ‘cos it was empty and the lady before had had two big dogs and they’d scratched the skirting boards, all the window sills and all and all in the other room you know, so he knocked me £25 off [chuckling], so I got it for £375, this house you see.

    When was that?

    [pause] forty seven years ago. My eldest daughter was three when we came here, she’s now fifty. Yes, forty seven years we’ve lived here. About ’59 would it be? Something like that, yes. We’ve done a lot to it and kept doing a little bit when we had the money you know and that was it. We’ve enjoyed here as well, we don’t want to live anywhere else – it isn’t the same now because we haven’t got the same neighbours ‘cos Bill and his wife they died then there was another family here and they died and there’s only us and Irene at the end – her husband died – so neighbours are going you know, so it doesn’t feel the same. There’s a young couple come next door; they’re sociable enough, but it isn’t like it used to be you know. Oh we’ve done all sorts in here – we’ve had all sorts of parties – children’s parties, grown-up parties, Ruby weddings, Golden weddings…

    I was going to ask you about any characters, individuals who were unusual?

    No not really, no – there were a few strange blokes at Melbourne with me, but they were just strange you know but they didn’t used to work in our room, they worked in the warehouse lower down. Then all the machinists were there, there were about sixty machinists but there weren’t any characters really; the characters came before them really. I can’t remember anybody that was…as I say they were strange; we’re all strange really, aren’t we?

    Do you remember any nicknames for people?

    We used to have nicknames when we were kids; they used to call me Bill for some reason, I don’t know why, perhaps because my father was called Bill and I think that’s how it came. [pause] I can’t think of anybody else. There were so many Greenwoods about and Sutcliffes; some of the families had various names. Yes they had, so you knew who you were talking about, but there weren’t any Greenwoods or Sutcliffes around here funnily enough; there was at school, there was a lot of Greenwoods and Sutcliffes there you see, but there weren’t any around here you know. When the kids came from Brighton and the Channel Islands there were no Greenwoods or Sutcliffes then you know – the Channel Islands were all like French names. Were these evacuees during the Second World War? Yes.

    How long were the evacuees here for?

    They seemed to be here a long while – five or six years; one or two of them played football with us. There was one family called Lenoah [Dennis spelt it] I think it was and then there was another one called Tissot or however they pronounced it…there was a lot of evacuees lived up Heptonstall Road – course all the houses are pulled down now – but they used to live at a place called High Street which was like a warren, built all on top of one another and it went down into Bridge Lanes as well you know. What was it like? I don’t think it was very nice actually, they were only little pokey houses with little alleyways and steps and things like that. In fact there’s a path now you can go on now where all the houses were, and they were all built down into Bridge Lanes, and then there were shops down Bridge Lanes; a fish and chip shop, a sweet shop, another branch of the Co-op, a butcher’s, a pub called The Bull which is now a house, the fish and chip shop’s now a house, another shop that used to sell everything; the chap there weren’t very clean who owned it so you had to buy things that were wrapped up so he hadn’t touched them! He kept putting some of the money in the till and some in his back pocket [chuckling] and they called him George and he had one eye…I can’t remember his second name but everybody knew his as George and he was open every day till about ten o’clock at night and Saturdays and Sundays. If you wanted anything, he had it. Was there a pie shop on there? Yes, Sammy Pie – Holroyd they called him, little Sammy – he was only about four foot two or three inches high you know, and he used to go round with a basket, he used to come round the pubs at night selling his pies; Sammy and his pies we used to call him, and his wife used to make them and he had a little shop up Heptonstall Road. Were they good pies? They were, yes, and he had one of these wicker baskets on this arm and another one on this arm, and he used to go round all the pubs selling his pies. What kind of pies were they? Meat pies, as far as I know they were just meat pies, I don’t think I ever had one actually. He was only a little fella and his wife was a big fat woman [chuckling] and they had three or four children, and there again they went to Mytholm School.

    I found a photo not so long since of the class that I was in at Mytholm School and the headmaster was Mr Rushworth; he always used to wear a dickie-bow. One of the teachers was called Miss Greenwood funnily enough.

    Did you go on holidays at all?

    No, we couldn’t afford holidays. We used to spend all the school holidays out and about you know; up in the wood or down in the field here, just wandering about you know. Nobody went on holiday – if they did, they were well off. There were no cars on the road, only one or two and when they came down, they used to wave like the Queen Mother! [laughing] There’s a big house up there called Acre House, it used to be called Woodville but then Acre Mill bought it and they called it Acre House. There used to be a tennis court up there and very Saturday afternoon they used to have tennis parties, and they were all dressed up in their whites. Some of the balls used to ome over the fence and we used to grab them and they’d come down – ‘have you seen our tennis…?’ ‘no we’ve never seem them’. Acre House they called it, it’s just up the road there going up to Savile Bowling Club, there are one or two houses up there now but it all used to be gardens and allotments at one time.
    They were all bosses of these clothing factories who used to come to these tennis parties with their wives and daughters because the bloke who had the big house up there, he had a clothing factory on Albert Street – they were toffs you know.

    I’ve been reading a book called ‘The Road To Nab End’ about this bloke’s childhood in Blackburn and it’s just like my childhood or near enough, not quite as bad, so it brought back memories to me reading it and he used to call the bosses ‘toffs’.

    Did you not do anything on Whitsun then, or Wakes Week?

    They used to have what they called a Whit Monday Field belonging to the church, well I didn’t go; I don’t think any of our gang went – they used to have it on this field that we made into a football field. I think they used to go to Eaves ‘rec sometimes but I never went. There were no processions or parades or anything like that but that’s what they used to call it – the Whit Monday field, they had games and races and stuff like that.

    What did you do on Bonfire Night?

    We used to have the bonfire in the field down here. We used to start building it in July when we were on holiday; we used to go up in the wood and chop trees down , this was when you could chop trees down, and we used to carry ‘em down, and then there was one or two blokes who lived on King Street who used to come and stack it up for us – oh it went on for weeks and weeks. We used to take these jam jars back to get money for fireworks you see and run errands, anything for firework money because our parents just didn’t have the money to buy fireworks you see, I think it took them all their time to feed and clothe us you know, but we managed and we had fireworks. All the people on King Street used to come and sit round the fire; we used to do potatoes and things like that you know. We made a guy and we used to go round singing ‘penny for the guy’ whatever they used to call it, then they used to give us pennies and ha’pennies, sixpences…and that’s what did towards the fireworks. We used to sing something like…I can’t remember now, it’s gone!

    Was this a song that you sang about the guy?

    Yes…if you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do, something like that…

    Did you ever go mumming?

    Yes I think we did, I can’t remember going but a lot of ‘em used to do. They used to come and clean the grates and things like that people used to give them a penny, sweets or cakes or something but I never went.

    Can you remember any events such as floods or fires?

    Oh yes, I remember lots of floods down King Street, it was always flooded – we used to think it was marvellous, wading in wellingtons. There’s a picture next door, they have it on the wall and it shows the flood in King Street and all the people upstairs looking out of their bedroom windows because downstairs was flooded. They used to have some houses on King Street where there were two steps going down and all the water used to rush in there. It went on for days – all this field were flooded and the one next to it were flooded. The buses used to go through and make waves, and more and more water went in the houses, ‘cos there weren’t a lot of cars then – we thought it were marvellous, but it wasn’t very nice for them at all. We were all right up here. That’s about all I can remember about the flooding, but they have a picture next door a bit like that one there [Dennis showed Tony some old pictures of the area – Savile Road, East View, Prospect Terrace, main road at the bottom]. This was before this bungalow was built – they used to hang their clothes up on that land there to dry, they all used to have a pair of wooden steps and prop ‘em against the wall and climb up.

    Do you know what year that picture was taken?

    …No idea.

    Is that one of the Alice Longstaff pictures?

    Yes. They have a few next door, they have a Bed and Breakfast place next door so visitors come who are interested in things like that.

    **Hebden Bridge has changed quite a bit hasn’t it? Oh, tremendous.
    What do you think about the changes?**

    I think it’s more well known than it used to be. When you used to say you came from Hebden Bridge, they looked you a bit vague as much as to say ‘where’s that?’ When I was in the Air Force, my mother used to send me the Hebden Bridge Times and some of the lads from London used to laugh their heads off at this Hebden Bridge Times; they’d never heard of Hebden Bridge, but they have now. We go down to Eastbourne every June for a holiday and we talk to people from different parts of the country and we say ‘we come from Hebden Bridge’ and they’ll say ‘oh yes, I’ve been to Hebden Bridge’ or ‘I know where Hebden Bridge is’ and that’s a good thing with it being altered, but there’s a lot of what they call off-comers. I go down to the Co-op every afternoon to fetch the evening paper and do a bit of shopping, and I never see anybody I know nowadays, I suppose they’ve all gone now you see, and they’ve all got different accents – down South and Scotch… I’ve talked to other people my age and a little bit older than me who I do see occasionally and they all say the same – ‘you’re the only person I’ve seen to speak to.’ I don’t know if it’s changed for the better or not.
    There are too many motor cars for a start; I’ve never had a motor car, I’ve never been interested in cars, but there’s far too many up and down. I have a job to cross the road down here – it takes the best part of five or ten minutes to cross the road but I think that’s the only thing that’s wrong really, all the motor cars – it’s the same in every town, in every street. My wife plays pop about them parking outside here but it’s a public road and we can’t stop it. We haven’t a car so there’s a space there, so everybody pops into it you see.
    Then of course all the industry’s gone – there isn’t hardly any industry now. There used to be a clothing factory in every street and there used to be two big engineering places, this one and one called Ormerods on Foster Lane somewhere – that end of the town. You used to see everybody walking down the street at half seven or quarter to eight every morning – you don’t see a soul now. I stand at the window many a time at quarter to eight and don’t see anybody. There also used to be a load of buses coming down, bringing people to work but there isn’t any of that now. That’s the only thing that’s gone wrong – the industry’s gone.

    Do you think young people today have the same type of values that you had when you were young?

    No I don’t think so…they’re different altogether. We had to make our own enjoyment for a start, own entertainment, whereas they’ve got it all on a plate – videos, computers and stuff like that you know. They’re carried here there and everywhere with their parents in cars and this that and t’otherwhereas we had to walk and we enjoyed walking. I don’t think it does them any good anyway, but their parents won’t let them go out on their own because there are so many queer people about, so they say. There might have been queer people when we were kids but we never bothered. For instance, we used to go roller-skating at Hardcastle Crags but we didn’t go on the bus or in a car, we used to walk – up Eaves, up the hillside and come out at Popples where we used to play cricket and then drop down into Hardcastle Crags valley. We used to roller skate for two or three hours and then walk all the back. We thought we’d had a good afternoon then; they wouldn’t do that today. I have no time for children today – they aren’t like ours were and have no discipline or anything like that, I mean we used to get caned and smacked but you can’t touch them today can you. Then of course we went in the forces we and got disciplined then as well. We were called up, we didn’t volunteer – we had to go. I didn’t go till I was twenty because I was going to night school and I got deferred so I didn’t go till I was twenty. That was another good time I had for two years; I went in for eighteen months but when I had three weeks to do, they put another six months on because of the Korean War or something so I had to stop another six months but I didn’t mind at all; in fact they wanted me to sign on. There was a squadron leader there and when he knew I was getting de-mobbed, every day he used to say ‘now are you going to sign on? I’ll make you a sergeant straight off’ – I was a corporal then; I did think seriously about it but I was going out with Margaret, now my wife and I don’t think she’d enjoy it at all. He said ‘I’ve been all around the world and all free – free houses, free furniture, free health care, everything’s free’ he says, which it was – anyway we shook hands when I left and he says ‘we’re sorry to lose you’. Then the day after I went back working where I had been before; I couldn’t wait to get back.

    Can you remember what your first wage was when you left school?

    Thirteen shillings a week, I remember that. My mother said ‘you can have that’ the first week but then after that I used to give it to her and she gave me some spending money, I can’t remember how much. That’s what you had to go out to work for – to help to run the house.

    Did you ever go into Nicky’s café?

    No, I was a little bit too old to go into there at that time.

    Was it a certain age group that went in there?

    Yes, younger teenagers than we were; all we did was to go to the cinema twice a week in Hebden Bridge and it used to cost us thre’pence in the front and we used to have to have somebody to take us in, so we used to ask everybody that came in to take us in; some of them would say ‘yes, come with me’, then you went and sat where you wanted. We used to have the same blokes to take us in. Nowadays they’d think it were a bit queer; we’d say ‘can you take us in?’ and we’d be panicking because it were gonna start any time you see…and it used to cost us thre’pence, sixpence for adults, that was in the front. When we got older we used to go at the back, I think it was one and ninepence (1sh 9d) or something and they used to be queued up all the way round the cinema.

    Did you wear clogs?

    No, I never wore clogs – I used to wear boots and my father used to mend all our shoes down the cellar. He used to get these thick belts that went round the wheels to run the all machines at the engineering works, and he used to bring bits home to sole our shoes. He used to go to Woolworths to get all the nails for them and blacking to go round the edges. I never went to a barber’s till I was sixteen because he used to cut our hair. We never had a bathroom, we used to get bathed down the cellar; we used to have an old bath and a boiler at the opposite side and he used to carry buckets of water across to the bath and we all used the same water, then he used to empty it, trailing backwards and forwards with the buckets to empty it down the sink.

    Can you remember any old sayings?

    [pause] No, I can’t remember – no.

    One thing you were saying earlier about going into the Fox and Goose – can you remember what it was like inside?

    There was two rooms – what they called the bar and then a tap room; they still have a separate room now. There used to be a coal fire and we used to drink Whitbread’s Forest Brown in bottles. We used to tap the table like that when the bottle was empty and she used to bring us another. [laughing] It was a beautiful blazing fire, goodly and cosy. The trouble was, you had to be careful coming out of the door, it’s very dangerous isn’t it down there. We didn’t do a lot of drinking because I wasn’t brought up to drink; my mother and father never drunk, I don’t think my mother and father ever went in the Stubbing. I did a bit of drinking and smoking when I was a teenager; we used to go up Horsehold on that seat up there with a packet of Woodbines and smoke ‘em, then we used to feel sick! [laughing] Then we used to go to the sweet shop down here and buy some peppermints so our mother and father wouldn’t smell our breath.

    What do you think about what we’ve just done now – do you think it’s important that your experiences are passed on to other people?

    Yes, it shows them how we used to live and how different it is nowadays to what we had to do, but we were happy doing it and never thought anything else about it, like getting washed in the kitchen because we hadn’t a bathroom. We hadn’t a bathroom when we came here – we had one put in. I used to come home from playing football and I used to get washed in the kitchen – muddy knees – we never thought anything about it. I think it’s good to let people know how we used to live.

    Is it getting nearly finished?

    I think there’s another minute or two.

    Did you have any special activities that you did at Christmas, or any rhymes?

    Not really no – we didn’t have much at Christmas. If it wasn’t for my sister, I wouldn’t have anything; she used to buy us things for Christmas. We used to have an apple, an orange, one present and that was it. It was a red apple, I always remember that – a red apple; I think she used to polish it and make it look a bit better you know. I remember my sister bought me a leather football and I went down to the field Christmas morning and it was frosty; I was upset because it was all scratched. I remember when I was a kid they bought me a fire engine, a big red one – that’s about it. We got one or two books when we were older – annuals and things like that.

    Did you ever watch the Pace Egg?

    No, I’ve never watched the Pace Egg ever, it’s never interested me.

    Were you a church-goer?

    No, we used to go to chapel, Sunday school – we used to go to Cross Lane.

    [END OF TRACK 1]

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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
HX7 8DG

Phone: 01422 844450
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