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  • Interviews and Storytelling: Elsie Duerden

    [TRACK 1]

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

    It’s Elsie Marie Duerden and I was born at 19 Pine Road, Todmorden; that’s where my mother and father were at the time, then they got a house down here and I came down when I were about three months old.

    Whereabouts did you move to?

    I couldn’t tell you.

    In Hebden Bridge?

    Oh yes it was Hebden Bridge, one of the streets, but I just don’t know which one.

    What’s your birthday?

    Fifteenth of the eighth twenty-four.

    Can you remember anything about your parents – tell me about your parents?

    My dad liked bowling and he were dead keen on it. My mother used to take me to the silent pictures and you could go in what was the Co-op – they had two or three halls upstairs and those were silent films. The talking films had just come out, or you went to the Picture House and I, ooh thought it were wonderful watching people talk. When you thought about it afterwards it were all so stilted, [laughing] and the clothes were shocking but I enjoyed it.

    Can you remember any of the films?

    No I don’t think so…I mean there were such as…they weren’t really good films. There were Laurel and Hardy and all those, Buster Keaton…

    What work did your parents do?

    My father was a cutter in the sewing shop you know, material – and my mother was a winder in the mill.

    Which mill did they work for?

    My father worked for Sutcliffe’s up Regent Street and my mother worked at a few, but one was Acre Mill before it was turned into an asbestos place; it was cotton up there, and she worked at CWS on Valley Road.

    When you were young, what kind of games did you play?

    We played at all sorts but my favourite one were tag. [laughing] You used to tie two doors together and then knock – I used to like that. You got some strong string and a boy that were older than you that could tie it tight – ooh they did get annoyed!

    Did you ever get caught?

    No, but they knew who we were because we were giggling! At school I used to like athletics, you know the games…

    What kind of athletics did you do?

    Running long races and then there were over the horse…. I think there were hockey but I can’t remember going in for that.

    When you were at home, what did you do when you played out at home?

    We all had a small bike each…then we went living up Birchcliffe in a bigger house and I always remember one winter I were about eight or nine, and it had snowed and snowed. Do you know Birchcliffe Road? Somebody gave us an old tin bath; there were just a pathway where people could walk and the snow were on either side of it, and we were coming down from the top to the bottom, four at a time – it took about three minutes to come down and about twenty minutes to pull it back up; we enjoyed ourselves. Living up there, there were the woods – you know you could play hide and seek, and there were a dam up there at the bottom, I don’t know what it were called, I think it belonged to a mill or something, and you could go swimming in it. Was that Nutclough Wood? I don’t know – there was a pub in front of it…on the main Keighley Road just as you get to the top. I think they’ve drained that dam now.

    What school did you go to?

    I went to Central Street.

    Can you remember any of your teachers?

    Ooh yes, Mr Glue was the headmaster, and there were Miss Moorhouse and a teacher that lived up here – I think he was called Mr Baldwin. In the infants there had a Miss Doran, she were the headmistress there and a Mrs Uttley, and every time she spoke, she must have had some rotten teeth because they whistled! I can’t remember the youngest one but there were three teachers there.

    In those days they used to make dinners, but only for the children that came from the hillsides…and it did smell good when you were going home for your dinner; they might be having stew or fish or something like that you know.

    Did you like your school?

    Oh yes, I enjoyed it.

    What was your favourite subject?

    Maths, I always liked maths; maths and history, and I must have passed it on to my son because he did the same.

    What was the school like in those days? Was it different to what it is now?

    Oh yes, half the children – you don’t think of it at the time, but they used to come in clogs and hardly any clothes, everybody were very poor.

    Did you wear clogs?

    No, I objected. My mother said ‘what’s wrong with them?’ and I said ‘I aren’t wearing them’ and to have a bit of peace my father said ‘oh don’t buy them’.

    **What did you wear instead? **


    Did you live up Birchcliffe all the time?

    Till I think I were about thirteen or fourteen. My grandparents lived on Regent Street and my grandfather were ill, so we came down so we could be near him. There used to be three houses on Old Gate and we lived in one of those.

    Did you know the Greenwoods who lived there? It might have been after that.

    No I don’t think so.

    You talked about your grandparents- can you remember anything about them?

    Oh yes, but I don’t think I’d better tell you! It’s nothing bad really – my grandfather had his own business taking bales of cloth; they used to weave it in their cottages years since and they used to take these bales of cloth to Halifax to the Piece Hall, to sell. He had this horse and cart and when he came back he’d always had a bevvy or two and the horse used to bring him back! [laughing] My grandmother, she went up the wall!

    What were their names?


    When did you leave school?

    I think my gran…were only about seven; she went part-time in the mill, I should imagine my grandfather were the same but you see they had this business of their own so maybe he were helping.

    So she left school at seven to work in the mills?

    No, she didn’t leave completely, mornings I think she worked.

    Do you know how much she got paid?

    No, but I know what I got paid when I went in the sewing shop. I went in a few months before the Second World War started and…what did I get? Nine shillings when I’d been there twelve month.

    What sewing shop was that?

    That were Redmans on Valley Road.

    So what age were you when you finished school?


    Did you work in the sewing shop all your life?

    Oh yes off and on, but when the war broke out…when it were time for me to register – you had to register at seventeen and three months and by the time I was seventeen and a half, which you had to be making either munitions or something, I were in the Air Force.

    What did you do there?

    I was a nursing orderly.

    Whereabouts were you based?

    Oh all over, one end of England to the other; I never managed to get to Scotland but we were near enough. The last one was Northallerton, well you could go up to Scotland on the train.

    Did you like that?

    Yes, I served four years and I don’t think I would have like to have missed it, I mean at the time you never thought of being killed or anything but you had some close shaves at times, when they were dropping the bombs.

    Did any bombs come near you?

    Oh yes, because I was based…the Bomber Command were all down the east coast and Northallerton were quite close to the east coast. There were a lot of Air Force stations, Canadians and all that down that side and they used to come bombing you know. You used to dive quick for the air raid shelter.

    What was it like then, when the bombs came?

    Well, you thought ‘will I come out alive?’ but you see with being a nursing orderly and some patients were so ill you couldn’t leave them so at times you had to be in the hospital and it was very dangerous.

    Did you ever think of staying on and being a nurse after the war?

    Well I did, but I was married to Tom by that time and…we wanted a child but it didn’t happen, or I would have gone nursing. I could have got two years knocked off the nursing for doing four years in the Air Force.

    So you never had children then?

    I had a boy, Michael.

    What was your maiden name?


    Did the Sutcliffes have nicknames?

    Ooh, please don’t start!

    [Elsie doesn’t want the following section to be published]

    We had one, but to me it were very cruel.

    What was it and why was it cruel?

    Well, who is it…what’s she called?…Phyllis Henderson that lives here, she has a book full of them.

    She was going to come down today, but she can’t find the book.

    Thank goodness. Don’t put my name in.

    So you don’t want to talk about that?

    No. It were either my grandfather or my great-grandfather, he couldn’t pronounce his ‘r’s and…they had children in cradles in their gardens in those days gone by and this child had been crying nearly all day, and…he just looked up and instead of saying ‘rock ‘em’ he said ‘yock ‘em’…that’s it – instead of saying ‘rock ‘em’ and that name stuck; even today they’ll say ‘oh she’s one of yockems’. I think it’s dreadful, I mean some are very cruel names.

    I thought most of the names were because there were so many like Greenwoods and Sutcliffes that they needed a nickname to tell the different ones apart.

    Well probably they were you see because there were Sutcliffes, Greenwoods and Crabtrees; even Phyllis Henderson has said…’I don’t whether or not because some people might object’ so I said to Andrea when she were asking me, I said ‘well I shall object because…’

    That’s fair enough – we’re not doing this to make anybody feel bad.

    I mean one lot of Greenwoods – there were a lot of Greenwoods like the Sutcliffes -they used to call them Kellys because Mrs Greenwood, she were called Kelly before she were married and that’s how they knew them. I mean it’s wrong is that.

    Did you have your son after the war?

    Yes, a long time after….I lost a child and then we adopted Michael when he was seven weeks old; it were lovely. He died when he were twenty-three.

    Did you continue to go into the sewing shops after your son grew up?

    Well I went in the sewing shop part-time because you could work…when Michael was small and just starting school I could work from nine till half past three, so you know you could meet your children and they were wanting machinists in those days.

    So was that – the people who owned the sewing shop, they allowed you to just to work those hours?

    Yes, it were a regular thing in Hebden – I think every sewing shop did it.

    How many days did you work?

    I worked five days, and I were counting sewing shops up for you last night – I got to twenty-three!

    Can you remember them now, or would you like to write them all down for me?

    No I can’t write with my…to start at the top at Bridge Lanes, there were one called Hirsts then half way down there were another one calledHelliwells, and then you came down Market Street and there was Melbourne and Dewhirsts…oh and then Blackburns. Then going on Old Gate there were one called Pickles’s, then…I’m going round Hebden now…when you got off Old Gate there was one and I can’t remember what it was called but it were over a….they work with iron – what’s it called? An ironmongers? A blacksmiths?…[pause]I’ve forgotten…there were a big one…oh there were about three in Hebden, they employed a lot of people…engineering? That’s it. There were one over there as well…and the are you going down Hangingroyd Road now?…yes, or is this still Old Gate? I’ve got to Old Gate, but on Hangingroyd Road there were one called Crowthers…how many have I got to? About six or so I think. Anyway, after that you went on Hangingroyd Lane and there were Sutcliffes…and Astins, another one called Browns where when the war started they took that place over for the soldiers.
    The you went further on there were three little ones – Greenwoods…and I can’t tell you the other and a there were big one called Hoyles. You went a bit further and there were Redmans, then we turn back, we go up the road and there were CWS sewing shop, coming down the road there was one…I don’t know what they called it, there was one on Albert Street at the beginning and one right at the bottom as well but I’ve forgotten the names.
    Where else were there one? [pause] Then you came back and…there were one up Crown Street…over the shops. [pause] I can’t think of any more, but I know I counted twenty three.

    The one on Crown Street – which shop is it now…do you know?

    Well I think they’ve made it into…there’s a bookies underneath…and what was the sewing shop I think it’s now a hairdressers and something else, I can’t remember what.

    By Cheetham Street?

    Yes…oh and I know where there were another…can you remember the Co-op? Well they used to have a meat shop and some other building, and over the top there were another sewing shop there above the Co-op.

    So there were lots of little sewing shops above other shops?


    I thought they just had big ones, I didn’t realise they had smaller ones.

    Oh some of them, I bet some of them didn’t employ above a dozen. It were a right going business you know.

    Were there any characters around in those days?

    Oh yes there were…do you remember…well they called him William Holt but we always knew him as Billy Holt. I always remember, I was going on to see my grandmother one night, I’d only be about eight or nine and my mother came flying after me, she says ‘come on, we’re going round the back.’ I didn’t know what she were talking about [laughing] and it were Billy Holt, he’d joined the Fascists and he’d gone into the Hole in the Wall and…he’d been spouting about the Fascists. He had about four or five men with him and they were walking with a black shirt on a stick; all the men from the pub you know, they went a lot more than they do now, they were chasing them all on Old Gate – I kept peeping round and my mother kept pulling me back! I always remember that, and then later on in life he came respectable and I worked with two of his daughters, and he wrote some good books.

    I’ve read one of them. Was there anybody else like that about?

    Well there were another one – he used to be the chimney sweep, what were he called? He were always drunk and you always got t’same song – ‘Nellie Dean’ – he lived near us and he used to be coming from the pub about eleven o’clock every night with ‘Nellie Dean’. He played in the band – you know, the brass band, and he’d a great big drum but he never knew if he hit t’right note or not!

    Can you sing ‘Nellie Dean’ – can you remember the words?

    Ooh no – it was something like ‘there’s an old mill by the stream, Nellie Dean’…and he didn’t have give it ‘Nellie Dean’ you know! [laughing] You forget…

    Did you do things on special days, like at Wakes Week…?

    Oh yes, we always managed to go away for a week, generally to Blackpool or Morecambe, we couldn’t afford….not like going abroad now.

    Who went?

    Well my mother and father and myself then…when I got older a friend went with me and it were always Blackpool then, because there were a lot of things to do even though there was a war on, all the entertainment was there, still the dance halls and everything.

    Did you like dancing?

    Oh yes. I was in the St John Ambulance cadets, that’s how I got in the Air Force, and we used to have things going on there.

    What did you do at Christmas?

    Christmas…well, everything had to be closed by twelve in the war and…they used to have a midnight dance on Christmas Eve in the Co-op because that was the biggest place. You had to get a ticket by October [chuckling] if you wanted to go because everybody grabbed them, then there were an Ambulance Ball and that were New Year’s Eve; all the money went to the St Johns Ambulance. During the war the St Johns Ambulance and the Red Cross went together and it were always called the Red Cross then.

    Were you a church-goer?

    Oh yes, and I still am.

    Which church?

    I go to the Good Shepherd down Mytholmroyd.

    So you’re a Catholic?


    Did you go to the Cathocism or Sunday School?

    Yes, it were when it were St Thomas’s you know, where they’ve built those new houses at Fairfiield? Yes. To me, going to Mass was just as normal as getting up and going to work.

    Can you remember any of the fires in the mills?

    The only one I can remember was when Michael were about six and there were a fire on Stubbing Holme….I don’t know what the mill made, but it certainly burnt it all down.

    Did you watch it?

    Well I took Michael down because we lived over Fairfield then, and I just stood up on Horsehold Road with him so he could see it, but he were more interested in the water spraying on than anybody being burnt!

    Can you remember the floods?

    Oh yes – I got a house on Old Gate, in fact I rented it from the same landlord as my mother. I’ll tell you where it was – now, they have a garage that goes underneath the house. When we rented it, it had been a little sweet shop, an old man had run it but you see…coupons and one thing and another, he’d just let it go so I got that house and made what had been his sweet shop, I made it into a kitchen and I had the living room above. Tom had only been home a week from abroad and my mother were knocking at the door at seven o’clock that morning, saying ‘get up – thee river’s rising rapidly’ and we got up and by the time she’d got back home into her own house – they’d got the furniture up – they couldn’t get out, you know the river was that high, and they got out through the attic window, walked on the back and dropped down into our yard which were above water level.

    Amazing – did that sort of thing happen a lot?

    No, I only remember that. I know the water could just come across but no damage like that.

    Can you remember Buttress Brink in those days?

    Oh yes what was that like? do you know, I don’t think I’ve ever been in above one house on there – those houses were lovely and warm and the stone was thick and everything but you see they were all higgledy-piggledy and I suppose when these ‘know-it-alls’ said they had to come down, they pulled some decent houses down and put in what people called tin houses, they were part metal – that were up Dodnaze.

    So they moved the people from Buttress up to Dodnaze? Oh yes, unless they got a house on their own.

    Was it council then?


    What kind of social life did you have when you were a young woman?

    We often…well, my teenage…and like thousands before me, it were spoilt with the war at seventeen you’re in the services and I were twenty one when I came out, and I were making a home for Tom and myself then, going round all the second hand shops because you had to have coupons for everything.

    What kind of coupons did you get?

    Well one coupon said I could have three sheets – three sheets! And another said I could have about four yards of curtain material – well I mean, I ask you! In fact, my mother found me some really nice bedspreads and we turned them over into curtains for the bedroom…you had to have coupons for a three-piece suite and you could either have a dining room suite or a three-piece suite but you couldn’t have both; you hadn’t enough coupons. There were coupons for everything, clothes and the lot.

    Did you get those once a week, once a month, how did that actually work?

    Oh those coupons…you got for food, you got a book that did for twelve months but you only got one lot of those coupons I’ve been talking about for furniture, sheets and things like that you only got one lot of coupons and it had to do…unless you went on the black market…was there a big black market? Well there was round here where the cotton was – I got sheets and blankets and all sorts. I suppose you could sew them yourself once you’d got the material. Yes.

    Has Hebden Bridge changed very much – what’s the biggest change?

    Well…I used to like it when it were a quiet little…you know, backwater really. Even if you didn’t know the people that you met when you were going to work or coming back from work, or going to school for your child, everyone said ‘Good morning – nice day’ but there’s none of that now. I used to like it when I was coming from nine o’clock mass on a Sunday morning, because there were always you know these big mill chimneys throwing smoke out, but on Sunday there wasn’t and as you looked down the valley you could see little curls of smoke of their own fires, and do you know I used to think when I looked at that ‘I wouldn’t live anywhere else.’

    Is there anything else that’s changed – maybe some good change?

    Well yes, I mean a lot of it’s been for the better, the way they’ve done the roads and everything but…and there’s a lot more people living here – mind you, they have to live somewhere haven’t they? It’s not the same – it isn’t a friendly town now.

    Do you think younger people have the same sort of values as you had?

    No, I don’t think so.

    What’s the difference?

    Well, you shared more because we hadn’t much. If someone said ‘oh I haven’t a pair of nylons or a pair of tights’ you’d say ‘well you borrow mine’ – you wouldn’t get that now. When you’re walking on the street they aren’t Yorkshire voices, they’re all Southerners, well a lot of them, but they are very nice, the majority of them. It tickled me – I was in the Co-op in my wheelchair [doorbell rang]…and this young woman were in front of me and I thought ‘her shoes are dirty’ – she had trousers on and I thought she had a skirt on, then when she turned round she’d tied a dress round her waist and at t’back she had trousers and at t’front she had a dress. [laughing] I thought ‘well that says it all!’

    Can you remember any old Yorkshire sayings?

    No not really…my grandfather and my gran, they used to come out with all sorts but I can’t remember them all but I can’t remember what they said you know.
    One was ‘sithee, ere y’are’ which meant ‘here you are’. I don’t know what language that sounded like!

    Do you think you had any special talents?

    If I’d known I wasn’t going to have a child so soon I would have continued doing my nursing. I were always very good at maths so I might have gone in for book-keeping or something like that because they were very keen on night schools in those days just after the war, to get people who were in uniform back into civvy life really.

    Did you ever go mumming?

    No I didn’t no, they used to terrify me [laughing] when they’d come to t’door and you opened t’door and they’d come in mumming with these black faces; even when I were grown up I used to lock the door and I wouldn’t answer it.

    Did you ever do Maypole dancing?

    Yes, but it were at school you know.

    What was that like then? How did they organise it?

    We hadn’t really a correct Maypole, it were just one that were…a long piece of wood with all these ribbons on and we used to dance in and out so they all wound round this pole and it were very nice if it came off.

    Was there music that went with that?

    Oh yes, yes. And songs as well? Oh yes, but don’t ask me what they were – I’ve forgotten.

    When you got it all wound together, did you just drop it, or did you dance backwards?

    If you’d tried to undo that you’d have been at it all night; I don’t know what happened to it really.

    Did they ever tell you why they wanted you to do that?

    Well it was a tradition really, and the same as like on Good Friday when they do that St George and the dragon; that’s all tradition, going back hundreds of years really.

    Do you remember that from when you were young?

    Oh yes.

    Did you know anybody that was in it?

    Well they looked like men to me, but they were mostly boys from the grammar school you know.

    Did they used to ask for money?

    Oh yes, they came round and t’money generally went toaa good cause, either the hospital or something like that you know.

    What do you think of the Pace Egg?

    I liked it, I like Hebden.

    Can you remember any of the shops down Market Street?

    Oh yes, yes. You’d no need to go anywhere only up Market Street – you got everything you wanted, clothes and the lot.

    Can you remember what some of them were?

    Starting from the bridge, you know, the bridge over the river, there was…a shop that sold all cloth for dresses and things, and then there was another shop that sold bedding and ladies’ tights and…there were a shop that did the same really, there were three all close together. Across the road there was a painter and decorator and he also had a shop, and you could buy your own paper, you know – wallpaper; next to him was a cake shop, then there were a newsagent’s, and then a jewellers…a shoe shop – I’ll go up one way and I’ll come down t’next – a shoe shop and a newsagent’s…then there was a shop that sold hats – well you never see that now do you? There is one now, there’s a new one now she used to sell some nice hats…then I think the last shop, I think it were…I won’t be certain about this, but I think it were a greengrocers. Then the next one, there was a street that parted them; you went to Central Street School up there and there were a tailors – he had some lovely suits – Websters grocery store and they had a café over there, and then next to Websters [chuckling] there were Duckworths – from the ridiculous to the sublime…who else? Oh and then further up there were a shop that sold pots and pans and things, another cake shop, a then a children’s outfitters, you know – baby clothes shop, now what happened after that? Oh, there were another grocery store – two together. You cross the road again, still up the left hand side, where Melbourne was – that was their weaving shed then, at the side of them they had a sweet shop and if you were going on a coach, you could book a coach there, then there were a barber’s, and you cross the road again and there was this cake shop, he had about three that man and his bakery were there right at the bottom of Bridge Lane. There were a chemist, another shoe shop across the road – coming back now – there were a ladies outfitters and it were really nice, a greengrocers, another shoe shop…another jewellers, a butchers…after that what came then?…oh, a tripe shop [laughing], there were another shoe shop again, and there were a fish & chip shop where you go and could sit in, then after that another bakery…ooh you are wearing my brain out!…it were a nice bakery, then there were a tobacconists – you don’t see those now do you? And then next to the tobacconists was a dentist, then after that there were a shop that sold prams and toys and things, another grocery store…then a ladies outfitters again, another shoe shop, another butchers, then there were a bank, then there were another greengrocery store and you’ve got about all the shops, but you could see that you could buy everything there; you didn’t need to go off Market Street. I must admit the clothes that they sold were good and the shoes were good – you know they were modern as well as…were they a fair price? Yes they were.

    Did you ever go into Nicky’s café? I think it was Marshalls at one time.

    No I don’t think so, no.

    I’m just wondering if you know any jokes?

    No, I don’t think so. [laughing]

    Did you ever get the divvie?

    Oh yes, from the Co-op, it wasn’t much but they used to queue up for it, and I know one woman said to my mother – I were with her and I’d be about nine or ten – they paid it twice a year I think it was – she says ‘there’s only two Fridays we get steak for us tea.’ She must have bought best steak and onions, you know, and my mother says ‘what do you normally get?’ and she says ‘Chips.’ [laughing] But you know things were hard in those days…they were

    What about the transport – the buses..?

    Oh they were quite good. Donkeys years since the trams still ran from Halifax to Hebden and there were the buses; I can’t remember it, but my mother said Todmorden buses were only allowed to run as far as Thistle Bottom, they wouldn’t let them run into…so when my dad were courting my mum, he had to walk from Thistle Bottom- anyway they finally sorted it out; I always remember those buses, and they had some open-top ones.

    What do you think you parents or grandparents would say about times today?

    Well my grandmother would have gone spare, she would – she were very strict, well both of ‘em were. My mother’s mother were, but she weren’t as bad as my dad’s mother. He hadn’t to read a paper on a Sunday; she went to the Methodists, trail my poor aunty with her, my father wouldn’t go! He hadn’t to read a paper, he had to sit in silence – ooh it were wearisome, it were really. But I’ll tell you what – she were a jolly good cook.

    What sort of things did she cook?

    She sometimes made all her own bread…oh I used to like it when she’d baked…and cakes and things…she spent a full day baking, and it was one of those little ovens you know at t’side of your fireplace; you lit your fire then you put your coal on – she could cook though, yes.

    Did she have a special day for doing that?

    Yes, it would be Tuesday if she were going to do it, and she made enough bread; that bread was just as fresh in a week’s time.

    How did she keep it fresh?

    Well they had a…those bread things…they stood about [that high], like Ali Babas…with a lid on [laughing], but her bread were lovely.

    What did you have on your bread?

    Well you generally had it with bacon on, sometimes you had jam or marmalade, something like that – home-made jam; everything were home-made.

    Did you pick berries for her?

    Oh yes, we used to go and pick blackberries or bilberries because up Birchcliffe you know, there were no houses hardly, it were all a field, and there were lots of bushes you know – black berries, bilberries…[pause]

    Is there anything you’d like to talk about that I haven’t asked about?

    No I don’t think so.

    Can you…the first house that you can remember, is it the one on Birchcliffe?


    What was I like – how many rooms did it have, what was it actually like?

    Well it only had three rooms, but at the side of it there were…well they called it a cupboard, but it were wide enough to put me a single bed in, and I slept in there – my parents were in the main bedroom – and then as I got older they had to find another house with a proper bedroom for myself so that’s why we came down on to Old Gate.

    What was the house at Old Gate like?

    Oh it was nice, right thick stone was the wall and it had a decent kitchen, and a nice living room, two bedrooms and a good attic.

    Did you have a bathroom?

    No, but my mother had a bath put in the kitchen and…a big water geyser – whatever they’re called – over it so we could have baths, and when we didn’t use it, it was like a table top nearly that came over it so she could use it you know, for putting things on. We don’t know we’re born now, do we? It’s very different now isn’t it? Yes…

    Do you miss those days in some ways?

    In a lot of ways yes, but I wouldn’t have liked to try to live on what my mother and father earned. My mother used to go…one time she went back to Tod, winding – they asked her to go back, if she’d go, and she were only paid twenty five shillings a week, and she were working Saturday mornings and she had her bus fares to pay. I think my father were earning two pounds five shillings a week – well, I ask you…it’s not much is it? No. They must have had a struggle…

    What do you think about what we’ve just talked about?

    Well it’s just been natural hasn’t it?

    Do you think it’s important that younger people hear what life was like?

    Yes I do in a certain way, because I wouldn’t like to think that my son, if he’d lived, I wouldn’t have liked to think he’d have to go in one of the services – I think that’s the way it’s going now. They were talking about, last night, they were showing some that had been in they army – there were paratroopers and all sorts – and they were living on the streets in London. Did you see that programme? I did – it’s criminal really I think. Well I thought it were dreadful when I saw it. It’s a shame.

    If you had any advice to give to younger people, what would you say to them?

    Go out and have a good time [laughing] and let tomorrow look after itself.

    Did you have any brothers or sisters?

    No, I was an only one.

    In the sewing shop, what job did you actually do?

    Well as I told you, the war had just started therefore we were making uniforms, great coats and duffle coats for the Navy you know, and after the war, well they all went back to casual jackets and trousers; they were a lot lighter to handle.

    Was it piece work?

    Oh yes.

    How many did you do?

    Oh don’t ask…[sadly] they partitioned it off and I were putting flies on, and I had to put a hundred flies on for fifty-four pence.

    How long would that take you?

    Oh it didn’t take me so long – I did ‘em right, but oh you’d got them back, I mean we used to make for Marks and Spencers and if you hadn’t twelve stitches to the inch you got them back. They used to come…oh they made for the railway as well, and oh that fella that came from the railway, he were dreadful – a real monkey and him from Marks and Spencers weren’t much better but at least he were more tolerant than him from the railway.

    To do a hundred, would that take you a day or…?

    Oh no, it took me twenty or twenty-five minutes to do a hundred? Yes. That’s good going! Well I was trying to make my wage up. There’s a carer here, she worked at Redmans but she worked at Mytholmroyd and she says…she were a lot younger, she’s about fifty I think, and she says ‘Oh…in that sewing shop, it were heads down and bottoms up’ now what did she do?…oh she had to sew five thousand tabs on that told about…it said Redman Brothers…five thousand a day, and that’s not so long since.

    How did you meet your husband?

    At the Co-op dance hall, dancing.

    Did you ever go on the monkey run?

    Oh yes – it were a Sunday night pleasure were that.

    What was it like?

    It were just meeting boys and girls and having a chat, you know- maybe they’d say ‘would you like to go to the pictures next Saturday?’ or something like that, but it were just a nice thing really, but when the war…they kept it going for a while after the war started but it kind of gradually dropped off because I mean most of the boys of my age had been called up you know.

    Do you know why they called it that?

    No I don’t [chuckling]

    Did you ever do anything special on birthdays?

    Oh yes, we used to…well when I were working, there were four of us went dancing together…take them out for a meal you know, I mean there again there weren’t much you could have.

    Would you take them out somewhere in Hebden?

    Yes or maybe Halifax, then we’d go to the pictures for a change.

    What did you husband do – what was his job, I can’t remember?

    He was a baker. Then when he went in the Air Force – he were always good with his hands – he ended up as an engine fitter you know, he were a flight mechanic to start with and then he worked his way up.

    Did he go back to baking later on?

    No, he went…when I got that house down here and he…where did he go?…oh, he went to F & H’s you know, the wood place – he worked there for a long time. [someone came in to sit down -Colin]. Colin… I used to sit in the next desk to him at school? Yes [laughing]. He hasn’t heard you.

    What was he like?

    A pest! [whispering, laughing]

    You know the road that…you can come in at the bottom, there’s a gate – what’s that gate like? Is it one of those that you go like that? You push it backwards and forwards – it’s not a full gate, it’s two halves. But it would open out? Yes. because last week they were tarmaccing all that where you come down with your car and I have a wheelchair taxi that comes for me to take me to Mass on Saturday night and I stopped him coming because I didn’t know what that gate were like – I’d never seen, you know. No, it’s alright now, but they’re finished here now. Yes, it were only Saturday, and Saturday’s the night I go, ‘cos he couldn’t put me in for Sunday morning – he has a lot of bookings.

    Was there any of that that you would like to not let me use?

    Oh you can use it all except that about by-names.

    Okay – what I’ll put here is…there’s a restriction

    [END OF TRACK 1]

    Read more

  • Interviews and Storytelling: Kathleen Priestley

    [TRACK 1]

    Right then – you ready?


    First thing, can you tell me your name and where and when you were born?

    My name is Kathleen May Priestley, I was born at 19 Ribstone Street, Banksfields, Mytholmroyd.

    When were you born?

    1922, May the 7th.

    Can you tell me something about your family?

    Well my mother came from Great…well she came from outside Great Yarmouth; up here because there was no work down there and she went into the mill.

    Which mill did she go into?

    My father, he came from Leeds eventually you know, before and – no, I’m telling a lie, he was born in Otley in Otley? Oh right It was my grandfather that was born in Leeds.

    What type of work did your father do?

    Well he was out of work when he was younger, but when they were out of work, they found them work on the roads – you know, doing road work or clearing snow and various things like that. If they didn’t do it they got their dole stopped, so they had to do it.

    Did he work on the roads all his life then?

    No, no – he was a barman and cellarman at the White Lion Hotel in Hebden Bridge, then he went doing seasonal work at Butlin’s at Skegness. He started off as a waiter at Skegness- there’s one at Skegness, you know…Inglemells at Skegness; he was started out there as a waiter then he gradually got up to the head of Filey Dining Hall, York Dining Hall in Filey and he was there….you know eventually he worked hisself up and he had about five hundred people under him.

    Did your mother work at all?

    Yes, she was a winder….she was a winder in a cotton mill.

    What was a winder?

    Well they made things for warp, for the weaving.

    Right, okay – which mill did she work in?

    That Calder Mill that burnt down here.

    Oh right – just over the road – how long did she work there?

    Oh for quite a while, till…till she retired.

    What age was she when she retired then?

    …oh I forget now, I think…I don’t know if it was sixty when they retired at their age, or whether it was earlier, I couldn’t tell yer, but….

    So you were raised in Mytholmroyd mostly when you were young?

    Well yes, I was brought up with my grandparents.

    Which school did you go to?

    Burnley Road.

    Do you remember any of the teachers there?

    Yes, Miss Littlemore.

    And what did she teach?

    She…infants, and she had; one was a kindergarten teacher at Hebden Bridge and I don’t know if the other one was at Luddendenfoot – all teachers.

    What was your favourite subject at school?

    Well I liked art, geography and history.

    So could you draw and paint then?


    Do you still like to do that now?


    Did you have any brothers or sisters?

    I had one sister called Blanche.

    Did she go to the same school?


    Was she older or younger than you?

    She was younger, four years younger.

    What kind of things did you do out of school – did you have hobbies, or did you play out?

    Well we used to play hopscotch like they do now, and marbles…what do they call it…practically everything that they do now.

    Do you think that they still do those same games now?

    Yes, the play hopscotch and play French cricket and that and one thing and another.

    What’s French cricket?

    They have a bat and they put it against your leg and they bowl it like they do when you’re playing cricket, and if it hits a certain part of your leg you’ve to put the bat round where the ball hit you and bat from there. Sometimes it went to the back of your leg or something you know, or – it was a funny sort of a cricket!


    You didn’t have wickets – your legs were your wickets.


    Your legs were your wickets, yes.

    Did you ever play out, on the rivers, in the woods, or owt like that?

    Well – we used to go out, yes – oh, we played out when the moon was out many a time you know, in the dark. We used to knock on people’s doors and run away! I tell you what we used to do – they had knobs on their doors then, not snecks, and we used to get a clothes line, tie it to the knob of the door, tie it to a downspout and then tie it to the knob of the next door neighbour, knock on each door and they couldn’t open the door to see who it was!

    Did you ever get told off for doing that?

    We did when we got caught! [laughing]

    How old were you when you left school?


    Did you go into work then?


    What did you do?


    Which mill did you go into machining?

    Waterside, at the top of Bridge Lanes, it’s pulled down now – yeh, Waterside.

    What did you sew?

    All sorts – little boys’ knickers and everything, even things for the lunatic asylums, for you know when they put them in the straight jackets – right thick mole, white mole and when you’d finished, they were padded and when you’d finished them, they were like that – they were stiff and stood out as if a person was in them. They were awful to sew.

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

    Five and six a week (5sh 6d) and we worked Saturday mornings as well.

    So you worked five days and Saturday morning?

    Yes, from eight till five – no tea breaks.

    How did you get from Hebden Bridge to Mytholmroyd then?

    Well I lived in Hebden Bridge at the time, then; I came up to Heben Bridge when I was about ten.

    Where did you live in Hebden Bridge?

    …Now then where did we start off? Wood Street, what they’ve pulled down against the Fox and Goose, they’ve pulled that down, then we came down into Heptonstall Road to…what they call it – against The Bull Inn, you know that white building across there and they pulled that down, so eventually we went onto the river…by the river on Old Gate, we finished off there on Old Gate.

    Can you tell me what it was like – was it Wood Street next to the Fox and Goose, what was it like there?

    Well you had to go up Heptonstall Road, through what they called a ginnel and on to Wood Street, and it was on top of another house – there was a house underneath.

    Was that house on the main road?

    That was on the main road and we were above it.

    Can you tell me what the house was like – how many rooms were in it?

    Well the house had a very small kitchen, a small bedroom and a larger bedroom, outside toilets, no bathroom – we had a zinc bath.

    Did you have a range in the kitchen, or just an open fire – what was that like?

    We did by the fire, the fire was like a cooker at one side and a boiler at the other side, you know and it was…you’d to black lead it and we did most of the cooking on the fire.

    Did your mother do a lot of baking?


    What kind of things did she make?

    All sorts – apple puddings in cloth – practically everything – Yorkshire puddings and beef, rice puddings and all sorts!

    So you worked right across the street from where you lived?

    More or less yes.

    How many houses were there in Wood Street?

    Well ours was number five, ours was the end house, but there were some further back (one two three) with another three at the other side.

    Didn’t there used to be a chippie there – a fish and chip shop?

    Yes, there was a fish and chip shop against the Fox and Goose.

    Was that always there?


    Can you remember it from being little?


    Do you have any idea when it closed, because it’s not there now is it?

    Ooh…war years, it closed down then about the war years, yes.

    So were they all big families that lived in those houses?

    Well, there was a family from Burnley in number two, they were a fairly big family but Greenwoods, they only had one girl next door to us, and there was me sister and meself.

    When did they knock those down?

    [pause] I think I was living on Old Gate at the time when they did it; I couldn’t tell yer what year.

    Did you work in that same sewing shop all your working life?

    Oh no, I went to….I’ve been up and down all over shop. I went to Browns and I worked there till they…they banked did Browns, then Hoyles took us because I was a younger one, and they took us ‘cos we made armour clad, a special sort of a trouser, thick trouser you know for winter, and they took us on at Hoyles, well I went into the Hoyles nursery and learnt everything the Hoyles way but my Aunty, she stopped with the Browns crowd and she made armour clad – they took the sale of the armour clad over, and then I went from there…I don’t know….I’ve been in a mill an’ all, I’ve been all over, I’ve done three or four sewing shops.

    Did you always sew the same material then?


    Did you like that kind of work?

    No, I wanted to go into the mill with my mother and eventually I did do, I went into the mill here.

    What did you do there?

    I was a dobbler.

    What’s a dobbler?

    They have a great big frame like that, and you put your bobbins on the top, you know, your cones on the top and then you make them into bobbins, and then when you’ve done that it goes up into the spinning room and they make it into hanks, what I did, but I did the other sort of dobbling; I worked in everything bah the devil hole. I worked in the spinning machines, you know with Jennies and carding machines, ‘cos I got my finger trapped in a carding machine, and I did the blending downstairs there’s a blending machine.

    A lot of young people won’t know what any of those jobs are at all – they won’t know what any of that is, so I’d like to talk a little bit more about that really. When you did blending, what did you actually do?

    Well I was in a room and there were shutes on all sides, and they came from the dead hole, you know, where they broke the shoddy up, it was the shoddy place – they made for mops and things like that, it was what they called shoddy, and I had – the boys threw the stuff down from different angles you know, I’d about four shutes and I was in there on me own, and oh they were devils! They’d shout me to one shute and throw a right lot of stuff down, and I’d be underneath it! [laughing] They kept doing that, you know tormenting me ‘cos I were a girl. I had to blend it all together.

    Was that on a machine?

    No I did it by hand.

    You didn’t have any tools?


    When you’d finished with it, what did you do with it then – where did it go after that?

    …I don’t know where it went then, I couldn’t tell you where it went….It went into…oh the spinning.

    Were you ever a spinner?

    I worked in the spinning with the Jennies, what go alternate; they should have gone alternate but one day I had a tin full of cops and I was going through, and I was nearly clear of the Jenny and he set them both off together and trapped me – he did it for a joke! He trapped me and I had this big tin in front of me like that and ‘Jenny at back of me – they were torments you know, they got up to all sorts of tricks, you had to have your wits about you!

    Did you give as good as you got then?

    Oh yes!

    What were some of the things you did to get back then?

    Oh I did all sorts.

    Are you gonna tell us a few?

    Hide their clothes and all sorts, put stuff in their shoes – put nails in their shoes [laughing]

    What’s carding?

    Well there’s a big roll at the back like leather and they go like that, and what they call it, the thing at the back – it was a great big roll like that and different ends you know, a bit like a bobbin of cotton only bigger, and they’d come through and it would make them round, make it round you see and it was flat stuff at the back, a bit like cotton wool and it come through, and when it come through it was all individuals, and they put them onto these…things at the front and made them for the weaving, for going into the shuttles.

    So when you carded it, it went into the shuttles?


    It’s and interesting work you did, because you did lots of different jobs in the same place.

    Ooh yeh, I worked at Acre Mill in asbestos.

    Oh did you? What did you do there?

    I was a service girl, I worked for the Home Office.

    So you were like an office worker?

    No, no – it was called the Home Office, you know we were paid by the Home Office.

    Oh right, I see – and what jobs did you do there?

    Well we were making extensions for civilian gas masks, it was that time when they were threatening you know to do gas war, and we were making green extensions for civilian gas masks, then I then went into the Land Army when I was younger,,,I’d be…about…no I wouldn’t be twenty, I went in in January….1942 or 43 I think it was; I went into the Land Army, I volunteered.

    Did you work on a farm?

    Yeh, I worked on all sorts of farms.

    What kind of work did you do on the farms?

    Dairy work, horticulture, agriculture, timber felling.

    Really – you chopped trees down?

    I went into about ten counties.

    So it wasn’t just in Yorkshire, it was all over England?

    Mmm – I went as far as Harrogate, well just outside Harrogate doing tomatoes, cultivating tomatoes and I got right down as far as Penzance.

    That’s a long way – what did you do in Penzance?

    General farm work and milking.

    Did you like the farm work?


    What did you do after the war then?

    …Oh I went back in the mill.

    Did you get married?


    Were you very independent then?


    What sort of things did you do on special occasions like Whit Week, Easter, Christmas time, birthdays, that sort of thing?

    I was in the St John Ambulance Brigade.

    So you could do First Aid?

    First Aid and Home Nursing, yeh.

    Did you do a lot of that?


    And what kind of events did you go to?

    Well I never went to any, but they used to go to football matches and all sorts of events that were going you know.

    Working in the mills, you would have had Wakes Week off – is that right?

    Oh yes, yes,

    When was Wakes Week for you then?

    The first Saturday in July.

    Did you go anywhere?

    We used to go to Fleetwood mostly, or down to Grandma’s in Great Yarmouth.

    So to the seaside?

    Well it was a little seaside village.

    So what sort of things did you do there?

    All sorts- go on beach and one thing and another, walks and various things.

    What did you do at Christmas?

    All the family used to collect at Christmas time at Grandma’s, all the nieces, nephews, in-laws – you name it, everybody used to come at Christmas time to Grandma’s.

    And where was that?


    Was that the same place – whereabouts in Mytholmroyd was your grandma’s?

    20 Jubilee Street, just up back of where I was born – moved to the other side.

    Can you remember Ted Hughes at all – do you know who I mean – Ted Hughes – he was a poet who was raised in Mytholmroyd.


    He went to Burnley Road School.


    So you don’t remember very much of him then?

    No. I’m not into poetry I’m afraid. [laughing]

    Can you remember any old sayings that you used to use when you were little, or your parents or your grandparents used – any sort of Yorkshire sayings?

    [pause] I can remember what Granddad used to say when he didn’t believe you but I don’t like telling yer! [laughing]

    Well I won’t make you say it – you can say it if you want to, I don’t mind but you don’t have to.

    Well it was – ‘I’ve heard hens break wind, well they didn’t say break wind, I’ve heard hens break wind before when the water has gone up their bum’ and I could never fathom out why hens went into water because they hate water!

    Were there a lot of characters around?

    Oh yes. We had a man come round every Friday with oatmeal, oatmeal cakes and people doing scissors, scissor grinders – all sorts used to come round with horses and carts.

    Can you remember any of their names?

    Meadowcroft were greengrocer.

    In Mytholmroyd?


    Where was the greengrocer?

    Well he had a cart, he didn’t have a…he had a cart and a place where he kept his things but he didn’t actually have a shop I don’t think.

    Were you a church-goer?


    Which church did you go to?

    St Michaels when I were down Mytholmroyd then I went into St James’s when I came up there.

    Did you do anything special at Whitsuntide?

    Well they used to have a lot of field days; the Co-op had a field day, I forget now what part of the year it was, for all the people that were in the Co-op, it were up Banksfields. The farmer threw the field open and we had races, stalls and one thing and another, but on a Good Friday we used to always walk over – we used to catch a bus to Turvin, that’s as far as it would go, then we’d walk over – this was when I was at Mytholmroyd – walk over the moors to Littleborough to the fair, there was a fair at Hollingworth Lake every Good Friday, and we did that every Good Friday, walk over moors to…it was a good stretch of moor an’ all!

    That’s a good walk. What did they do at the fair, what kind of things were at the fair?

    Well…coconut shys and all things like that, and rides – like there is at a normal fair now.

    So very much the same now as it was then?


    Was it all the family that went or did you just go with some friends?

    Oh there was a gang of us

    All girls together, or girls and boys?

    The family and friends, there used to be a bus load of us go!

    Did you ever go down the monkey run?

    Time and time again, but I’d to be in for half past eight.

    Can you remember what it was like on the monkey run?

    Oh it were crowded sometimes…

    Did you ever go on the prayer walks up Colden Valley?

    No, no. We used to go to Shibden Park a lot, Shibden Park at Shibden Hall at Halifax.

    What did you do there?

    Well they went on the boating lake and that.

    Did you like going on the boats?

    No, I didn’t like water – I’ve never been swimming in my life, I don’t like water, not to that extent anyway! [laughing] I don’t even like it to drink, never mind row in it!

    Did you go in the pubs?


    Which was your favourite pub?

    The Bull.

    Why was that good then?

    Because I was on the dart team.

    Were you good?

    Not bad.

    How long were you on the dart team?

    Oh a year or two.

    Did you ever go to the Fox and Goose?

    Yes, once.

    What was it like in there?

    Just ordinary people, not overcrowded. More people went to The Bull further down or The Hole In The Wall and places like that.

    Was it a better crowd of people in those pubs did you think?

    They were more friendly when you weren’t a crowd.

    Did you ever go to the Working Men’s Club on High Street – wasn’t there a Working Men’s Club there?

    My dad used to be a steward at Hebden Working Men’s Club when it was up Machpelah, that big house what’s standing on its own up Machpelah – you know where Machpelah is, well we used to have that and then eventually he went up to Heptonstall up there, and I used to go on Thursday nights so they could have a night off.

    **So you worked in the pub as well? **

    Mm – oh I were a Jack Of All Trades and Master Of None. [laughing]

    Did you used to go to any of the dances?

    Me sister was a dancer, I used to like sport. I used to like playing hockey.

    Did you play for the school team?


    What position did you play?

    Bully off.

    When you were younger, how were you expected to behave by older people – how did older people expect younger people to behave?

    Seen and not heard, and if you asked for a second helping, you got sent to bed. You’d to wait till the elders had their second helping and if there were anything left you got it, if there wasn’t you didn’t. You were taught to respect your elders.

    What kind of people were most respected – teachers, policeman, vicars…?

    Well we had to respect the police because if you stood on the corner of the street, if you were only talking in a gang they used to get hold of you by your collar and frog-march you off, tell you to move on; you weren’t allowed to stand on a corner of a street, you had to keep moving.

    What do you think about young people these days?

    Ignorant, a lot of them.

    In what ways?

    Well they don’t respect their elders. There are some nice ones, they’re nice ones in our church because they’re taught that way.

    So do you still go to St James Church?

    No, I’m a Latter Day Saint now.

    Why did you change?

    Well I was an Atheist, and my son – I had a son – he went on to the park and and he said ‘I’ve met some right nice boys on the park, mam. They’ve been learning me to play…you know that…baseball’ and he says ‘can I bring them home?’ I says ‘certainly you can’ – I was living on Old Gate at the time. When I came to the door, they were six foot missionaries, they were the missionaries – he’d brought the missionaries home! I had three lessons and I joined the church and I’ve been there ever since, since 1964.

    Do you prefer it then?


    Why did you become an Atheist, being raised C of E?

    Well I had a little boy and he was two and a half, and he double bronchial pneumonia and they were treating him for measles and he was in the infirmary, and he died within the week so I turned an Atheist.

    Is your other son still alive?

    Yeh, he’s a security guard at Burnley precinct.

    Does he live in Burnley then?

    No he lives about a mile and a half off where I live.

    Oh right – so he stayed in Hebden Bridge mostly?

    No, he’s in Todmorden with me.

    Oh right, so whereabouts in Todmorden do you live?

    At Ridgefoot – it’s a care home, it’s opposite the Calder College.

    Do you go into the Acorn Centre at all? Do you know what I mean – it used to be a pub, the Fox and Hounds I think it was called, but now it’s a Community Centre where you can do things.


    How has Hebden Bridge changed then from when you were younger till now?

    More commercialised – we were free and easy; we went to bed and we didn’t have tp lock the doors, we went to bed with the windows wide open and the doors unlocked, now you’ve got to lock everything. I wouldn’t live in Hebden Bridge rent-free now.

    Do you like Tod?

    I like Todmorden better, yeh.

    Is there anything that’s good that’s changed about it?

    [pause] I don’t know – they were friendly enough were the people that I knew but I mean there’s so many people come from outside that have more or less taken the place over, and they look down on the people that are ‘locals’ as they call them.

    I’d like to go back again now to when you lived at Wood Street – what was on the land behind there – was it just grass or was there trees, or did people grow vegetables there?

    Well me dad had an allotment. He had to go up some steps and he had a greenhouse and a small allotment.

    Was there a well there do you know?

    There was a well at the bottom against…I think there was one near the Fox and Goose at one time.

    Was it behind the Fox and Goose, not on Heptonstall Road but behind the building – was that where it was?

    No at the side I think it was.

    On the side? Oh right. The house there – did the house come with the job, working in the sewing shop?

    Oh no we rented it.

    Who was the landlord?

    I couldn’t tell you offhand now.

    Is there anything you would like to talk about that I haven’t asked about, that you think might be interesting to other people?

    [pause] Well one theory I have is that everybody should have Home Nursing and First Aid training.

    Why do you think they should have that?

    Because it’s essential for the people now that are getting injured and one thing and another, if anybody was injured or anything like that, you wouldn’t rely on the doctor mostly – they’d know what to do, and help the doctors more, you know by doing these things. It sits through your life, because I get into bed now – I went into hospital in Huddersfield and I’m eighty-four, well I wasn’t eighty-four then, I was about eighty, and I got into bed and the sister said ‘by golly, you can get into bed quicker than I can!’ I says ‘it’s my training through the St Johns Ambulance.’

    Do you think they should teach that in school?

    Yes, yes.

    When you did the St John’s Ambulance then, how long did you have to train with them to learn all the different things?

    We had a year. I did me First Aid and Home Nursing and got the certificates for both of them. I think it’s beneficial, especially if you’ve got small children.

    I must admit it would be a very useful thing to have for most people, particularly if you have children.

    Can you remember any of the shops down Bridge Lanes, from the Fox and Goose down Bridge Lanes?

    At the side of us was a paperer and decorator, then at the other side was Heys Greengrocers, then two doors up a house shop with sweets, there was a sweets and confectioners shop across from my house with big windows, a proper shop you know, and a small sewing shop there you know in the houses, then there was Waterside at the top then there was another sewing shop at the bottom, I that was Helliwells, there were quite a few shops in Bridge Lanes – oh, and the fish and chip shop near The Bull, oh and the Co-op at the top of here where you’ve got the car park now, that was the Co-op, a big building, the Co-op and practically… we didn’t have to go into town, you know Hebden for anything really. We hadn’t a butcher’s, we had one on Market Street – Master’s Butchers. I can remember where the war memorial garden is, there used to be four huts on there – one was a black and white UCP tripe shop, one was a café called Mrs Norland’s, one was where they did clogs, you know, put the irons on clogs and mending shoes – I don’t know who that was, and I forget what the other one was – I know there was four huts on there, all shops.

    Can you remember any other shops that aren’t there now in Hebden?

    Well I can remember Holts and Waites, they’ve practically all changed bah those two I think.

    When you were in the sewing shop and you did all the different jobs, what was your favourite job?

    Twin needling, making bib overalls.

    Why was that your favourite?

    Well I don’t know – it was a big machine and I liked doing it.

    Was it less boring or more interesting – what do you think it was, because you said earlier that you liked art and I thought maybe there was something more artistic about it that you liked.

    I don’t know – you’d got to have your wits about you because if one thread broke, you couldn’t carry on because you’d got to have the two. You know the seams in a bib overall, like that – there was a step on, like a propeller, half of the propeller your step was, well one piece of material went under there, one went on the top, and it made those seams, and you had two big bobbins of cotton, two big bobbins of cotton, and you’d two more bobbins of cotton for underneath you know. You’d got to have your wits about you, you know.

    Did you get paid more money for that job?


    Oh it was all the same. All the different jobs then, were they all the same pay?


    Oh really. Did men get paid more than women?


    A lot more, or just a bit?

    Me sister started four year after me; I’d be eighteen and she was fourteen and it had only gone up to ten and six (£10 6sh) from nine to five something you know, it had only gone up that in four years.

    Did you get a raise every year then?

    Well it just depended what you were doing.

    Can you remember anything about Helliwell’s?

    No I didn’t work at Helliwell’s.

    Did you used to sing any songs when you were young?

    All sorts.

    What were your favourite kind of songs?

    .…I forget now what they called it…I know it were a hit at the time…we used to sing ‘Blue Moon’ and that sort of stuff.

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

    Not a lot I’m afraid. I can’t remember having a teddy bear, I had a doll, and I had a Manx cat. I used to put a bonnet on her and a matinee coat, and put her in me pram and tek her round the block, and she’d lay there and let me! All her kittens had tails. [laughing]

    What did you call her?

    I forget now what they called her, I know I had a dog called Floss and a goat called Jeanette, and some bantams and rabbits.

    Did you eat the rabbits?

    Mm. Dutch ones, them Dutch rabbits.

    So your father had a greenhouse and he had an allotment and he had rabbits and he had chickens as well?

    Mm, and he had a nanny goat and bantems.

    Did you milk the goat?

    No, she…they got rid of her before she started milking.

    What did your sister do when she left school?

    She went in the sewing shop.

    Did she work there all her life as well?

    Well she got married when she were twenty-one and went living down Morton-in-Marsh down in Gloucestershire.

    A long way off. Do you still see her?

    No, she passed away last year; multiple sclerosis.

    Do you think you have any special talents?

    Well I’ve been in four choirs.

    So you do sing!

    [laughing] I’ve sang at Belle View with the mixed choirs twice or three times, I’ve sang at Keele University, I’ve sang at Loughborough University, I’ve sang with the Black Dyke Mills Band twice, oh really, the brass band, they’re very good, and it’s only up to press that I’ve stopped singing. I’ve sang in the Hebden Over Sixties Choirs and three Church Choirs, the Relief Society which were all sisters, and the State Choir which was mixed – we’d to have an audition for that though, and then I was in the Ward Choir.

    Are you gonna give us a song then?

    No [laughing] I were first soprano but I’m afraid I can’t reach them top notes now.

    What’s your favourite kind of music?

    I like them from the shows. Musicals? Mm.

    What’s your favourite musical then?

    Oklahoma and all them sort of things.

    Can you remember anything about your grandparents?

    Oh yeh – my granddad was the signalman at Mytholmroyd West Point box when I lived here. He was at Eastwood and then he went down to Mytholmroyd and I used to take him his dinners and he used to say, when he was having his dinner, he says ‘down train’s coming Kath’ so I had to pull the signal for him and they were hard going I tell yer! They’re big – if you’re little, they’re very big!

    So did he work on the trains all his life?

    mm. London Midland and Scottish Railways he worked for.

    There used to be a goods yard at Mytholmroyd, so there were a lot of trains in those days.

    I can remember one coming off at Hawksclough, you know – Maudes Clog Soles, what used to be Maudes Clog Soles. It came off there, and it was a vegetable train and we all went scrumping apples and oranges! All boxes were smashed to smithereens you know, and we got as much fruit as we could!

    Was anybody injured?

    No, I don’t think so, no.

    Did you used to go to the Mytholmroyd Gala or Hebden Bridge Festival?

    Oh yes, I used to walk in Gala for Sunday School.

    Did you make a float for it?

    The youngest went on a float and we had to walk.

    And it was for the church?


    What other things happened at the Gala then?

    Well there was all sorts, they had a Gala Queen and all that you know, plates – where you smashed plates and one thing and another, you know throw balls at plates and one thing and another, coconut shys and all sorts of stalls. I don’t know if there was a roundabout for kiddies – I think there was some roundabouts for kiddies.

    Did you do anything special on your birthday?

    [pause] Can’t remember…I think we had a family party, sort of.

    At the church, did they do anything special at anniversaries?

    Yeh, they used to have Harvest Festivals and one thing and another like they do now.

    The tape will run out in about three or four minutes – what do you think about what we’ve just done, how has it made you feel?

    Well, it’s very interesting indeed and maybe it will show the children a bit of respect for their elders; I wish they would because some of them are really cheeky.

    Were you cheeky when you were little?

    I was when I was out of sight! [laughing] I was good at home, but I let rip when I was outside – I’m afraid I was a tomboy! I went up scrumping apples one day with a friend up Banksfields, up Crabtree’s farm and she said ‘Crabtree’s coming’ so I shinned down the tree, never knowing there was a big rusty nail like that in the tree, I’ve got the mark on my leg – I’ve got a scar about that long down my leg, and I never went to hospital; me aunty took me upstairs in the attic and poured a bottle and a half of iodine in it. She took me up to attic so they wouldn’t hear me screaming, and I’ve still got the mark, and then I’ve got a faint mark down the side as it as though I’d had stitches in it but I didn’t, I never went to the doctor at all with it. I walked down from Crabtree’s farm down three fields, down through the village and home with a handkerchief round my leg! Laughing. I were a tomboy.

    Is there anything else you’d like to say at all?

    Do you know any good jokes?

    Well I can tell you a good laugh –I don’t know if you’d laugh or not. go on then, two of my friends were Catholics and I was up at Ibeginten it was an old vicarage and it’s supposed to be haunted, and I was going for my breakfast one day and they were going to early morning Mass in Penzance, and I’d what they call it….I’d just got for my breakfast and I heard somebody giggling and laughing, and it were my two pals come back – I said ‘mass has been over quick’ and she says ‘yes, we got kicked out of church’ I says ‘for why?’ she says ‘because there were a little parson and he had to stand on a buffet to see over top of pulpit and he kept saying ‘in a little while you shall see me, and in another little while you shall not see me’ and she said ‘he were saying that and he fell off buffet and fell down flight of steps!’ [laughing] Well they killed therselves laughing – they laughed all way from Penzance right up there on bus – they got kicked out of church for laughing!

    Well I’ve really enjoyed this, I hope you have as well.

    Oh I like a good laugh, I make everybody laugh don’t I?




    In fact when I fall over, I sit on floor laughing even when ambulance men are there; one of chaps said ‘you’ve missed your vocation missis – you should have been a comedian!’

    Everybody says ‘ooh I like coming to your house’ I says ‘aye ‘cos I’m daft aren’t I?’


    I’ve enjoyed it – it’s brought back a lot of memories about Hebden Bridge that you forget – all down Cuckoo Steps and shops

    [END OF TRACK 1]

    Read more

  • Interviews and Storytelling: Margaret Greenwood

    Margaret Greenwood’s Gallery can be found here

    [TRACK 1]

    Are these Yorkshire sayings?

    Yorkshire dialect sayings:

    There was these two old ladies walking along and there were another young woman walking past and she were covered in spots, and one of these ladies said to the other ‘wonder what’s the matter with ‘er?’ and this other one says ‘I expect ‘er’s been in some mack of a muck ‘oil and ‘er’s no bound to tell!’

    Then another one:

    ‘What ter doin’?’ That means ‘What are you doing?’

    Then there’s ‘nothing of the sort’ – ‘Nowt at all o’ sort’

    ‘Where have you been’ – ‘Weer’s ta been?’

    Then there’s ‘Go away’ – ‘Tek thee hook’

    Did your parents use those sorts of sayings?

    Well, not necessarily – my grandmother did, she was real broad Yorkshire and my grandfather on one side, on my mother’s side, but my father’s side they came from Bristol way, Leicester, so they didn’t talk like us at all. And like, the Yorkshire dialect is a different thing altogether than the Lancashire dialect isn’t it? It is. I can tell in a minute, yes.

    Did they have different dialects around here then, I mean did Hebden Bridge have its own and Todmorden, Cragg Vale or different places?

    Well Todmorden is more bordering on the Lancashire because the Town Hall, you look at the top of the Town Hall – half of it was in Yorkshire and half was in Lancashire, but yes a lot of people in Todmorden do have that Lancashire dialect.

    But the people in Mytholmroyd or Cragg Vale didn’t have…?

    Oh no, no.

    I would like to start by asking you your full name and then where and when you were born.

    My name is Margaret Greenwood; I was Margaret Smith before I was married and I was born on November 30th 1925 and I was born in some cottages straight opposite the Stubbing Wharfe Hotel, and I lived there twenty-three year before we got married.

    What was the address there, what was it called?

    Thirty King Street.

    And what was that house like, because it’s knocked down now isn’t it?

    Oh yes they knocked it down for road widening and a lot of the houses below the road, they got flooded. Well actually, all those…that row of houses belonged to Pickles’s Foundry which was behind, engineers, and they were all that little bit different somehow – oh they were old-fashioned and you know, you’d to go through one bedroom to get to another bedroom, there were no bathrooms and…no.

    You didn’t like it?

    Well we weren’t used to anything else really, I mean a friend of mine they got a council house at Fairfield and they had a bathroom, and I thought it was wonderful you know. No, none of them had bathrooms and as I say, they belonged to Pickles’s Foundry, and we paid three shillings a week rent.

    When was that – in the twenties and thirties?

    Yes, it would be – during the war, it would be, yes.

    Did your father work for Pickles?

    No, me father worked at Astin’s sewing shop and my mother did, where the doctor’s is now. That used to be Astin’s…sewing shop you know, they made trousers and what not.

    And what job did he do in the sewing shop?

    He was a Hoffman presser, and my mother was a buttoner.

    Was she on like piece work?

    No, they were on time because they did different things you see.

    Did you have any brothers or sisters?

    I had a brother, he was nine years older than me and he died three years ago. He was in the navy during the war and he had malaria and then when came home and he was just like a dead ‘un. He got over it you know, but it keeps recurring doesn’t it, malaria? It does yes, my father had it and it came back every once in a while. He was a stoker on a mine sweeper – I think it’s one of the worst jobs you could pick is that [chuckling] and he used to have to be chained to you know the back so that when the ship rolled they didn’t go flying against the boiler. You can understand that can’t you really? Yes you can.

    Did he stop in Hebden Bridge after the war?

    Yes, mmm. He was out in Lagos for a while, Nigeria [pause]. Yes, he was nine years older than me and we were never really close, you know what I mean, not like my children are.

    Those houses that you were born in on King Street, when were they actually knocked down?

    Now then I couldn’t really tell you that, I couldn’t tell – it’s a long time since, oh it’s…was it in the sixties or was it before that?[pause]I couldn’t really tell you when they were knocked down, I couldn’t really.

    Did you move out before they were knocked down? Did you move to another house?

    Well I got married from there you see and then my mother died there, and my father got married again, and he moved. [pause] It must have been in the…either the late fifties or the sixties they were knocked down when I come to think. The walls you know, you couldn’t paper because the walls weren’t like that [demonstrating] they were like this [demonstrating] and if you tried to you know, match your paper, you were about so far out [demonstrating] because they were bowed and all shapes the walls were and they were right low. We had gas when we went there and there were beams across you know, and then you were posh if you had asbestos put across the beams and then you’d a flat roof you know [laughing]. And then our coal place, you’d to go through the front and you’d to go into the kitchen and went up the stairs (there) and the coal place were (there), I know one Saturday morning – he used to come on Saturday morning did the coal man – Mitchell from Eastwood – and it were a new man he had with him, and he opened the wrong door and he put the coal into the staircase instead of the coal place! Ooh we had a mess! We had a mess! [chuckling]

    What was the kitchen like?

    Well, just one tap, we’d just one tap and we’d a kitchenette and then…the sink and then…a gas boiler and then a table ringer at the side and then the gas stove at the side o’ that, and there used to be a stone sink, well when we had a white pot sink put in, ooh we were posh!

    When you were young about that area, what sort of things, what kind of games did you play?

    Well, next door to us there was a shop – she used to sell everything – and she had a family, well all the kids used to join together and we’d play hide and seek; one would be looking in the shop window and he had to guess what such things were, and we used to play together like that, we were really entertained. And then behind the houses there was a big field in front of Pickles’s Engineers and we used to play football and cricket on there….

    Did it not bother you living so close to such a big works?

    Oh no, no – at tea time it used to file out just like a football match…there were a lot worked there, and Pickles’s had a few big houses round Mytholm. The house that…where you go into Mytholm Court, that used to belong to one of Pickles’s, and one higher up…that were built…a lot of them used to belong…well, they were well off. Mytholm Hall, that was Mytholm Court which is now, that were Mytholm Hall, and Hyram Pickles used to live there, that was the big man, and when we were kids we could see from our back, and they used to have garden parties and oh – we thought it were marvellous.

    What was he like?

    I didn’t know Hyram, he was sort of the big man but you didn’t see him. His sons sort of ran it for him.

    What school did you go to?

    Well I started off at Mytholm School and then I went to Central Street, that was it. I left school when I were fourteen. I started working at Waterside Clothing Company and Elizabeth were born in 1952 when I left, that was when we lived at Bankfoot Terrace and then I was four and a half year and I had Robert so I were at home another four and a half years and then I went working at Dewhirsts, that’s next to Central School, and then I left Dewhirsts and I went working to Melbourne and I finished there, and that was it – I was made redundant.

    Were all those jobs sewing?

    Sewing, yes.

    So what did you sew?

    Well you see I were taught to make through, straight from the cutting room to the machinist but as time wore on, it got to section work; it was divided up – somebody would make the pockets, somebody would put the hip pockets in, somebody would put zip flies in and such like but I didn’t like that, I liked to make through because there aren’t two machinists work alike; everybody’s that little bit different. It stood me in good stead because I mean I’ve made dresses and trousers and all sorts since you know, and it’s stood me in good stead, although I know once …Herbert Lumb (you wouldn’t know Herbert Lumb), he was one of the bosses at Waterside, and we were arguing about something one day and I says ‘it’s rubbish is this ‘ere job’ and he said ‘Margaret, you’ve got a trade in your fingers’ and I’ve thought about that many a time.

    So in the sewing shop where you were, how many women were there in there?

    Oh about forty at Waterside, yes. It was straight across (from here) and behind that there was James Simpsons Mineral Waters, then there’s Snow White Laundry behind that, as you go down Bankfoot Terrace just at the bottom there; across the river (here). Yes, I liked there.

    Was it a noisy place to work?

    Well you get used to it – it wasn’t anything like a weaving shed; weaving sheds are noisy – I mean I’ve never worked, my aunties used to work there and I used to visit up, chuckling, it was noisy to a certain extent but you got used to it – you got that you could sort of lip read a bit you know, well they did that in the weaving shed didn’t they, but…they did in the sewing shop a bit…I mean as time wore on, there weren’t a lot of machinists you know, and you could get a job anywhere you wanted; you could just leave one sewing shop and go to another if you wanted.

    What was your first pay in the sewing shop?

    Nine shillings and ten pence. [chuckling]

    And that’s when you were fourteen?

    That’s when I was fourteen, yes. Well, when we got married my husband, he used to drive for Moss Brothers Dye Works and his pay was only four pound something a week, and I used to earn three pound something and I put my money away every week; I used to save it every week, and if you worked Saturday mornings you had a bob or two extra you see, and we used to come home at Saturday dinner time and we’d go to Wakefield on the train. Happy days, happy days.

    How long would it take you – like if you were making a pair of trousers, from start to finish – how long did it actually take to make a whole pair of trousers?

    [pause] Well you could make a pair in half an hour to three quarters, something like that. That quick? Yes, but you didn’t used to get them in single ones, you used to get them in either twos or fours you see; you used to go up to a desk and there’s a lady there and she’d a big book with all the numbers in, and they were all piled up the work, and she’d give you what were next, book it in your own little book, book it in her book and then when you’d finished you used to finish ‘em and put them on to a table for the seam presser you know to press the seams, and then you used to go up to the desk again and get some more work you see. And we were all in the union. Which union? Tailors and Garment Workers. I have my badge now – a little pair of scissors, a right little teeny weeny pair of scissors like that [demonstrating] – Tailors and Garment Workers Union and the man used to be based at the Trades Club you know, up Holme Street, and if you wanted him you know, there was always one person that were in charge and they’d ring for him. I know one time we were arguing about something and he were there, this union man that they’d sent for, and I were arguing and he says to me in front of everyone ‘you’re nothing but a bother maker’ so I went to him after that, I says ‘you said that in front of everybody and you will apologise in front of everybody’ I says ‘cos I was only standing up for our rights’ and he had to do – he apologised in front of everybody.

    Were there a lot of disputes in the works?

    Well it were all over…they used to be paid in eighths of a penny and then it got to tenths of a penny – eighth of a penny – well you’d argue for an eighth of penny you know, yer it were a lot of money when it piled up you know, oh yes you did; that’s mostly what it was about, the prices.

    Was there like a set rate then that you had to work to?

    Oh yes, yes – it were all written down what prices…what pockets were and this, that and t’other; everything were in eighths, ‘cos you see some had two pockets in, some had belt loops on, some had fly fronts, some had button fronts, you know – that carry on. Well I’ve made all sorts beside trousers; I’ve made waistcoats, chefs’ jackets, dentists’ jackets, warehouse coats, and we used to make for Mackintosh’s at Halifax, the chocolate firm you know, oh and there were all sorts of fancy stuff; little caps, we used to make those as well, little white caps for the ladies.

    Did you enjoy that kind of work?

    Well yes and no. I always fancied going into an office because I’ve always been a writer, I love writing and my parents said to me when I were fourteen ‘you’re either going into t’sewing shop or going into t’mill’ well I thought t’sewing shop were a little bit posher than t’mill so I went into t’sewing shop, and me cousin got me this job at Waterside and I worked at t’side of her for years, and she put me in…well there were somebody there that showed you how to do you know, but she put me in there as well.

    How would you compare Waterside and Dewhirsts and Melbourne Works, were they similar?

    Well at Waterside, they got big orders; now when I went to Dewhirsts, they’d only small orders so therefore, and they made such a lot of different things at Dewhirsts, you could go almost a week and every time you went up for some work you got something different like that, [demonstrated] I didn’t like that at all; I’d rather have repetition…I liked at Melbourne, I did…but it was a big firm, a very big firm, a combine you know, and there was the weaving shed; the weaving shed was round the back, well Melbourne was where the Co-op is now and the weaving shed was up the other side, and my husband used to garage his lorry underneath Melbourne and then Moss Brothers, that were part of the combine as well, Redmans, Tommy Suts…but it were Redmans that started this section lark. A lot o’ young uns that worked at Redmans, they could just do one little bit and that were it, they were lost then. But as I say, there’s no two machinists work exactly alike.

    If you worked section, did you make less money or more money?

    Well we weren’t on section a right long time; you see, when Redmans…Redmans took over Melbourne at t’finish up and we were just going to start section work there, but it never came to that because we were made redundant.

    I’d like to ask you about special days, the sort of things you would do at Wakes Week or Whitsuntide or Christmas, those sorts of times?

    Well, we always used to go to Blackpool – everybody did – we used to go to Blackpool and we stayed at the same place on the front, Mona it were called, the Mona, I think that’s pulled down now, and I think I told you before, this girl, she were about my age, and we were right pals, and she came from Liverpool and that’s her dad that worked at Liver Buildings, and during the war she was evacuated to us, and then we sort of lost touch till…it would be ten year or more since. A young man that I know, they called him Lloyd Green but he’s dead now, he says ‘Margaret’ he says ‘you know me don’t know, we were in t’same class at school’, I said ‘yes’ he says ‘well’ he says ‘there’s a lady been in Hebden Bridge and she asked me if I knew you and I said ‘yes’ – she left me this note’ and it were from Audrey at Liverpool, and we’ve sent letters, and I got a letter, a Christmas card from her the other day and she’s been to visit me and we’ve been to visit them, and they live right at the end of the M62 motorway; it’s lovely where they live. Robert took us. She hasn’t altered – she looks older, but she hasn’t altered. She put a letter in her card and she’s got cataracts, she’s gonna have an operation. I said ‘well you’ll not be in the hospital long ‘cos there’s about four or five of you and you all sit in this room together, then they shout and you aren’t in less than ten minutes to have these cataracts done. They don’t put you out or anything, just…that’s it. I haven’t had it, it were my husband that had it.

    Did it work?

    Well he allus thought he should have had the other eye done as well but it never got to that you know.

    Did your whole family go to Blackpool?

    No, my brother never used to go – ‘cos he were nine years older than me and Mum and Dad and I went, and Grandma and Granddad, and when we come back the kitchen was full of pots that wanted washing up [laughing]…yes, he stayed at home on his own.

    What was it like in Blackpool? What was the attraction to go there?

    Well I mean, then there weren’t all the amusements that there are today; we used to be content to play on the sands and we used to go in the Tower, and we always used to go to the Tower Circus – that were lovely, and there weren’t the shops there are today, but it were nice, it were nice.

    What did you do at Whitsuntide – did you do anything special then?

    Well not particularly, no.

    How about Christmas?

    Well we just used to have family that’s all, because the four or five of my Father’s relations lived up King Street and we used to…you know, together, oh it were nice, yes. My grandmother had a…my grandfather had a fish and chip shop and it used to be the Co-op on (this side of the road) – there are flats now and that used to be King Street Co-op, and they had a fish and chip shop next door but before that they kept the Robin Hood up Pecket Well. Oh did they? Did you ever visit up there when they had the pub? Oh I were only so big [chuckling] and they’d give me that buffet and I used to…it’s all altered now – I used to sit behind the bar and I were weaned on Ramsden’s Stone Trough Ales! [laughing]. It were before I went to school, and at Saturday nights we used to go up and my father used to help behind the bar you know, and it’s a mile in’t it from Pecket to Hebden, and course t‘buses didn’t run late then and I remember I was as tired as a dog and he used to carry me down Hebden on his shoulders and I weren’t so old, before I started school…and that’s all been altered. I know at this side it used to be an open space and all up the back it were all those tub lavatories [shudders] but now the toilets will be inside I suppose now, and my grandfather used to keep hens and chickens up this side – that’s the car park now.

    Do you have any old photographs of when he was there?

    No I haven’t…well I have somewhere, but…yes I have, and I were just stood in t’doorway and I were only about so big [demonstrated]; I couldn’t find it now, it’s in and among hundreds of ‘em.

    At Christmas time, did you have a tree, or did you make decorations – what sort of things did you actually do?

    Well we used to have a tree, not one of these artificial ones, Elizabeth has an artificial one only it’s dropping all over the floor – no, I don’t know what they were made of then, they were only about so big [demonstrated] about four of five foot? no, not so big, not so big, and then we’d decorations from the corners you know, twisted paper, so you made your own decorations? well you had to do. It were all that crepe paper and you cut it into pieces like that [demonstrated] and twisted it, and it were like that [demonstrated] when you’d finished. Oh no, there weren’t the decorations that there are today. I still have a bowl up here, a glass bowl what I used to keep me…when I were a kid, I used to keep me Christmas decorations in a little bowl thing you know, a little silver thing, I still have that – I wouldn’t part with that for the world.

    Can you remember – you said it used to flood a lot down there; was the a regular thing?

    When the river was high, yes – as the river’s been this last week, it would have definitely flooded, because down below…just a minute…what I call the Foundry Lane which you go up to Pickles’s Foundry, just a bit higher up, the houses there wree below the road, you know – you’d to go down a step because the road had been highered over the years, ‘cos the always said King Street – King Street was King Street before Hebden Bridge was Hebden Bridge; now we lived up a couple of steps you see, so we never got flooded.

    Can you remember any of the floods and what they were like for people?

    Oh it were terrible, yes they’re terrible, and they used to be trying to shovel it out you know, and oh no – you see they all had little grates in front of their house and that’s where it used to come up from the river. We could tell exactly – well I can tell now – we could tell exactly when the water was going to come out, these certain stones – you could tell; I can tell now down here when it’s going to come out. Well, a few months ago, I were in bed and t’phone rang at quarter past eleven this night, I thought ‘who in the world is that’, well you’ve got to answer because you don’t know – it might be somebody that wants help, and I answered it and it was a floor warning. I thought ‘oh fancy waking me at quarter past eleven at night’ – anyhow I got up and looked, but there were no water on the bottom, but I’ve seen, when I worked at Waterside, it’s up there like – you can see – and this was in 1946; that was the biggest flood, and the road on here and the river were just like two rivers running down; that was in…September 1946 oh really? yes it was. And there’s…wait a minute…where that pub is, what’s it called?….The Railway, and then there’s another, a restaurant in’t there? It’s called Moyles now. Moyles, yes – on one of those gate posts there’s a line and it tells you the date of the flood and it shows the line where it came up to. Oh really? I’ve not seen that. Yes it does.

    And the shops on Market Street were flooded out – there were a shop called Haigh’s which were a ladies’ outfitters, and they said the dummies were floating up and down in the water! [laughing] oh yes…September the…I don’t know what date it were, but it were September ‘46, I know…just after that we went to a friend of mine, to his twenty-first birthday. It must have been t’early part of September, yes it was definitely, and I think that was one of the worst floods round here.

    Did you get floods every year or was it just every…

    Oh no – not every year, no, oh no – no, they might have had a little bit, but nothing compared with what that was, no, and we…my friend and I, we worked at Waterside and we could see a policeman carrying ‘em across that – you know that iron bridge on ’end here – there were a policeman and t’water were over there, and policeman were carrying you across, course we thought this were real so we went out and we were carried across and we were carried back again! [laughing]

    Yes, my friend, she lived…she used to live up Fairfield and we went out together since being fourteen, she worked at Waterside as well, and she got married and she went living in Austria – he was a Yugoslav actually, and she lived in Austria, near Klagenfurt, the Airport, and she’d two daughters and then eventually she went living in Fuerteventura with another daughter that lived there, and she died out there last year. We’ve kept in touch every since – lovely person she is…and she used to go back to Austria when she were poorly, she’d go back to Austria and she was in a nursing home, she says ‘it’s beautiful’ she says ‘it’s right up in the mountains’ she says ‘it’s gorgeous’ – I could just imagine it, you know! Aye, she was a lovely person, Joyce.

    What sort of social life did you have – what sort of things did you do after work?

    Well when I were in me teens I used to go down to the library when the library was…the library was where…you know where the Hole In The Wall is don’t you? There’s a car park there, the library was there, that’s part of the council offices now – we used to go up some steps; I used to go down there and my father would say ‘you do read a lot – where are you going?’ you know – seven o’clock at night – ‘where are you going?’ ‘I’m going down to t’library’ – so at ‘finish up I said ‘you never bloody ask me where I’m going at seven o’clock in a morning!’ [laughing]. Yes, the library used to be there, and then the fire station was round the front, you know – where they hold the jumble sales now. There’s the thing up on the wall where they used to keep the what-is-it, and I told you my uncle used to drive the fire engine and he used to drive the ambulance as well oh that’s right – you were telling me about that hmmm – and they used to keep the ambulance up where Shepherd’s Garage used to be – the ambulance was garaged there, but the ambulance – if you got two phone calls, the ambulance came first and Albert Hitchen used to drive the fire engine.

    Was he the one that had the one-way phone?

    Yes. Just the phone…it was incoming, you couldn’t ring out but it was just a bit of a thing like they have way-out west, yes, he used to have it in the bedroom and…he used to go straight away, no hesitation; he had a motorbike, and he used to keep it round the back, motorbike and sidecar actually – a Brough Superior it was.

    And I told you that Ted Hughes’s grandma used to have that sweet shop – the first shop – didn’t I? This end of King Street, this end of King Street. Yes. She had a little sweet shop, Mrs Hughes. The Fox and Goose end? This end, yeh – Hebden end, and Ted Hughes was her grandson and he used to come and visit her, and he were all poshed – he were a bit younger than me and he were all poshed up you know and we used to think ‘oh in’t he posh?’ you know.

    Did you ever speak with him?

    Well sort of…not really ‘cos he didn’t sort of mix with us kind of thing, I think he thought he were a little bit better. His father had a tobacconists down…Crown Street, and his wife – his first wife were Sylvia Plath, she’s buried in Heptonstall. They say they didn’t get on and then he went living at…I forget what it’s called now…up Mytholm, somewhere at t’top of Mytholm, up ‘Steeps there Lumb Bank Lumb Bank – that’s where he went, Lumb Bank, then he died didn’t he? I’ve heard ‘em say he was a bit of an oddity, you know some how, an oddity; he were even an oddity when he were a kid. They lived at Mytholmroyd because there’s a plaque – I’ve forgotten what street it is, there’s a plaque where he used to live at Mytholmroyd.

    Did you ever meet him when he was little?

    Well we’ve seen him come to his grandma’s, you know, as I say, he was that little bit posh somehow – an oddity he was, I can’t say anything else.

    Did you like to go dancing or anything like that?

    I’ve never been to a dance in my life, no I haven’t, no.

    Did you go to pubs then?

    We used to sneak if we could, you know! [laughing] I know a few of us went up to a pub at Tod, I forget which one it were now, and t’landlord came round – he says ‘I think you lot had better go – you’re under age aren’t you?’ we had to sneak out again, you know!

    Later in life, did you go to pubs at all?

    No, I’ve never been a drinker. We used to go…we used to go, ‘appen a Saturday and we’d have a couple of drinks, you know in t’car – we used to go up Norland and all over like that. Ooh, Mrs next door, she’s had her fireplace knocked out and she’s a do-it-yourselfer, and she has been doing-it-yourself this week an’ all; I see the lintel is knocked out, it’s in the yard – I don’t know what she’s propped t’chimney breast up with.

    I hope it doesn’t fall down.

    Sellotape or summat like that! You can hear her can’t you – she’s a drill or something.

    How has Hebden Bridge changed then? Have there been good changes or bad changes?

    Well I should say bad. Do you reckon? As I say, you could walk on the street and you could say ‘hello’ ‘hello’ – you don’t know a soul; I’ve been down Hebden this morning – I haven’t spoken to a soul that I knew. There’s all southerners.

    Anything else?

    [pause] No I don’t know really…and I mean all the shops are all different. I can’t remember any of the shops that’s the same as they used to be. There used to be where who-is-it is now – Max the Jewellers, that used to be Tom Blackburn’s and that was an ironmonger’s, and they always used to say ‘that shop could do with coming down’ and it still could do with coming down because the cars have to go right round haven’t they like that, and then there was a photographer’s there as well – Alice Longstaff’s – she was buried in a garden…lived up Slack somewhere and she were buried in the garden, yes…we had our photograph taken there when we were married; you used to go and have a group photo – they didn’t used to come with their cameras outside church like they do today, you used to have to go to Alice Longstaff and have a group photograph; some of them had that many relations it were like a football match…I know I got the flowers from…it’s the curtain shop now, Booth’s on t’corner of Crown Street in’t it? that’s right it were Lillian Spencer that had it; they were t’Foursquare lot religion and she said ‘what sort of flowers do you want?’ I said ‘I want red roses’ I says ‘but they tell me they don’t show up on a black and white photograph, red roses’ she says’ if you want red roses, you have red roses!’ and I had red roses! Yes, there were a gang of them and they were called the Foursquare – it were some sort religion you know, I know they used to live up Unity Street and she were one of them and I tell you they used to grow all the flowers up…right at t’top of Glen View, that were Spencer’s…yes, they grew all the stuff up there.

    And there was a stream runs right down there, runs through that wood, across underneath Savile Road, down another field and diagonal across Pickles’s Foundry and it comes out at the…bottom of Foundry Lane, where the turning circle is there. That’s where it all floods – it comes out there now, just a bit, ‘cos it holds it back, you know.

    Were there any other shops then around the King Street area?

    Well there was King Street Post Office, there was a Co-op, then there was Mrs … tape stopped.

    [END OF TRACK 1]

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  • Interviews and Storytelling: Phyllis Henderson

    PHYLLIS HENDERSON: born 1911Interviewed by Tony Wright: 8-9-06 and 9-3-07

    [TRACK 1]

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

    Where I was born?  I was born...I was Phyllis Crossley and I was born at the Buttress in Hebden Bridge, which is no longer there.

    Was there a particular number?

    There was six children; I was the youngest of six children and my eldest brother was twenty…well he was married actually before I was born.  My mother was forty-eight when I was born, I was the last in the family so I was spoilt being the youngest, so the others said. My four brothers were in the First World War; one was a sailor, he was the married one and he went all through the war.  When the war was over he had to stay to sweep the seas…was it of mines? and he was going out to get the mail in to shore and the boat was pushed into another boat and he was thrown overboard; never got him out, they never found him.  He had left two children, he had two children and he was the only one.  That nearly killed my mother, yes – she was so upset about it.  One of them was taken Prisoner of War in Germany, the youngest one, so they all came back apart from the eldest one.

    When were you born Phyllis?

    I was born 1911.

    What was it like living in The Buttress?

    Well it was very happy really, I remember running about and up The Buttress really, and I mean there were a lot of children about in those days; there were quite a lot of big families, most people had quite a few children, and I went to Central School.  My youngest brother used to take me to school and we used to have…now in those days, which they don’t do now, you were encouraged to save and you could put a penny in the Yorkshire Penny Bank every week.  You had your own little bank book and you could put a penny in.  Now if you had a lot if children you couldn’t afford to give them all a penny could you to put in the bank, so if you could afford more they did.  Now my mother put in for me what she could afford and when I left school at fourteen, she said ‘Now whatever’s in that bank book is yours, but carry on trying to put a little bit in – carry on’, which I did and when I got married I’d about thirty-five pounds in the bank and I’d no..my parents, my mother had died and my father had married again and left, so no-one to buy me anything and provide so I had to spend it and bought my own wedding outfit with my thirty pound which I’d started saving from school.  

    The house that you lived in in The Buttress – how many rooms did it have, what was it like?

    Oh there was only one – there was just a sitting room and a living room, and my mother did cooking in the kitchen for eight people.  There was a big square table where we all sat around which I can remember.  She’d just a little partition, that’s all and then there was t’cellar steps going down from there which if you’re not careful you went down…[laughing]

    How many bedrooms did it have?

    There was just one big bedroom which was parted off from…my sister and I lived in one part of t’partition of the bedroom.  All the boys were all upstairs in a big attic that went all over and the boys were all up there, my sister and I were in a partition from t’bedroom from my mother and father.

    Was there a bathroom there?

    No way, no!  The bath was one of those long tin ones [chuckling] and of course there was no hot water or anything; there was a big outside kitchen where we used…actually mother, my father made ice cream…my mother made ice cream and my father went round delivering it with a little horse and cart, but my mother did all the boiling over an open fire in the kitchen, a big pan, so big - and she boiled it over there, and that was it.  Then she took it to the out-kitchen and there was a freezer there - no there wasn’t a proper freezer but there was…there used to be blocks of ice which they chopped up and put round this thing and then they had to keep turning the handle to keep it freezing you see; that was the old way of doing it, not the modern way.

    Where did you get the milk from?

    I don’t know, I can’t remember that but I know that it was supposed to be the best ice cream you could possibly have!

    Did you eat loads of it?

    I still love ice cream………..[laughing]

    What job did you father do?

    Well, actually he did work at – he was what you’d call a cord cutter in the mill and whether he left the mill to do this job I don’t know.  He used to do little odd jobs; he had an uncle who was an auctioneer and he used to go help out there weekends you know, to sales and things but I can’t remember a lot really.  And then they took a pub; they took the White Swan Hotel in Hebden.  When I was about four I would say I went down there.

    So both your parents ran that pub?

    It was better down…mind you, the boys had all gone then.  They’d either got married or...so there was just my sister and I and mother and father down there, but my brothers always used to come and help in serving and t’evening they always came, and always came Sunday mornings with their wives to clean; they used to come and clean every room out, their wives as well.

    What was it like living in a pub?

    Well I mean it wasn’t like it is today, I mean there was stone floors in those days.  You had to get down on your hands and knees and scrub them ready for opening time on Sunday morning.

    Did you ever go downstairs into the pub?

    Well I mean it was fairly…there was a nice bathroom there, yes that was very nice and then there was a place out at the back; toilets out at the back and everything but I can’t remember any more….

    How long did they have the pub for?

    I think about…now they were there all during the war - they must have gone there about 1914 because I would be about three or four and they were there until I would be about ten or eleven, so they must have been there about six years, because actually I have some cards here that came to them, and to let me show you them.  These were all sent during the war.  [showing cards to Tony]

    Those are lovely.  Are these postcards then?

    They were but I mean they’ve been stuck on – they’ve been, no – they’ve been stuck in a frame, all stuck together in a frame.  This is one that I’m particularly proud of because this was sent to my husband from his father during the First World War, and if you read the back I think you’ll realise why I think it’s great: [pause] ‘I send you this copy of the Grand Old Flag.  Honour it always and when you grow to be a man… when you grow to be a man prove to the world that England can still bring forth men of worth and honour.  Be truthful, obedient and loving to your dear mother and God will bless you always. From your loving father.’ And that was it.  

    And these are the others of course that they used to send during the war; these sort of things, these postcards?

    Yes, because there were a lot of these about at one time.

    ‘Best of luck on your birthday’ [looking through cards]

    Yes they’re very nice.

    Of course they’ve got in a state after all this time, they’ve been handed round so many times.

    Was Jack your father?

    That was my father-in-law who was in the war.  

    These are beautiful.

    Because my father was too old I think he would be in those days; he’d be fifty-odd when I was about four.

    These are embroidered aren’t they?  They’re lovely – lovely work.  Do you think I could make a copy of those?

    Which love?  Some of these?

    Yes some of these, and a few of these as well.

    Would everybody know who they were from?

    Oh I see what you mean.

    All those who knew that will have gone by now; I don’t think there’ll be anyone living when we had that pub – they’ll all have gone.  I mean I remember as a little girl running about in the pub and all the men being there you know.  I used to run up the passages, it was all stone floors, everything, yes…but they didn’t do the catering like they do now, I mean my mother used to make a special one for the local…shopkeepers it were, if she used to make a special one, and one of the butchers provided the meat and she would cook it and do a special dinner for them.

    When you left school, what did you do?

    I went straight into – it was either weaving or clothing and I went and looked in a weaving shed and the noise terrified me so I decided I would go in and I hated it from the first day I went in.  My sister taught me and she was very good at the job, and she thought I should get it straight away but I was a bit slow in the uptakes and I was miserable; I used to go home and cry, and say to my mother ‘I don’t like, I don’t like’ and she would say ‘well just try a little bit longer’ which I had to do, but I stayed in all my life and I hated it in weaving? No in clothing - sewing, and believe me, it was slavery, absolute slavery.  We once went on strike for an eighth of an old penny – an eighth of an old penny and we struck one afternoon.  We lost everything we gained – we did get it eventually but we struck for two hours; during that time we lost anything we’d gained in that eighth of a penny.  They talk about slave labour today abroad; I can’t think sorry because we’ve done our slavery here in this country and that’s why it’s like it is, because we worked for slave wages.  My husband was in the clothing – he was…well he did the cutting trade and they were on three days a week when he was a young man and they worked nine to four which was six hours a week – no it was more, it was eighteen hours was it? Eighteen hours, a shilling and ha’penny an hour.  He’d eighteen shillings, and seven shillings and six pence from the dole money for three of us, so we were paying seven shillings a week rent so we were virtually living on one pound per week.  It’s not a lot.

    What was your first wage when you started?

    My wages – well personally I had to go out to work to help, because they just couldn’t live on it and I went, and my first wage was eighteen shillings; that was when I went to a new place that I didn’t know, I’d to pick all the new ways up and I paid ten shilling to have my little girl looked after, and when I had eight shillings left for myself I thought I was in heaven.

    Which shop did you work at?

    I worked at a place called Waterside…I first of all worked at Redman Brothers at Foster Mill, and then I went to Waterside Mill at top of Bridge Lanes which was near home.

    What was Foster Mill like?

    Foster Mill was a huge place; we’d over a hundred machinists there.  I know my sister’s number was 103, yes she was.  I can’t remember my own, funnily enough! [laughing]

    Can you describe the work that you actually did?

    Well I mean we made…at Foster Mill they had what we called the Railway Order and we made everything for the Great North…GNER Railway I think it was, or the Great North Western Railway whichever, and we did everything – we did trousers, jackets, sleeve vests, overcoats; I think we got eleven pence for making an overcoat and it was lined, a lined overcoat.  We made jackets as well – sleeve vests with about four pockets in, I can’t remember what we got for that – we didn’t get much and for trousers we got about four pence a pair. 

    So it was piece work?

    Yes, just one pair.  Mind they were cut out, we didn’t do the cutting you know; they came from downstairs; the men were downstairs cutting.  They’d piles like that on what they called a band knife that could go straight through them and round.  A fella worked it and it was going by electricity, and he just put it through like that.

    How long did you work there?

    All my life…unfortunately.  

    When did you retire?

    I retired when I was sixty four I think I was.  I went on four years after and I did part-time for four years after because my husband died of cancer and funnily enough it wasn’t cancer that killed him; he had cancer on the top of his head and it was caused through knocking it and he was bald and it took the skin off and he kept sort of going to the doctor and then the doctor said ‘well I’ve done everything I can’ – he’d cauterised it, did him…he says ‘you’ll have to go away’ so he went and he saw someone from Leeds who was a surgeon.  He said ‘you’ve had that bugger a long time’ he said ‘yes I have, I’ve suffered with it’ he says ‘can you make Leeds on Monday?’ my husband said ‘Yes’ he says ‘right, we’ll have the bugger out by Tuesday’ and they did, he was true to his word and he lived twelve years after that, and he’d a great big hole on the top of his head.  They put him a skin graft on, they didn’t put him a plate; they took it from…he said he’d more pain from the skin graft than he’d ever had on his head.

    After you left Foster Mill, what was it like in the other place?

    Well I was at home, I’d have had my daughter then; I left to have my daughter, just one daughter and I left, and then as I say I started working again when she was about four.  She was old enough to go and she was looked after by one of my husband’s aunts so I knew she was all right there, yes; that’s what we had to do.  

    So did you do the same work there at Waterside?

    I worked there until I retired from there, yes.

    When you were a young child, what kinds of games and toys did you have?

    Well I was dancing mad, absolutely dancing mad!  I used to go and watch football; there used to be football on Calder Holmes which is the park now.  The local lads they used to be a good football team, in fact I used to have some good photos of them, but like you are with everything, you throw them away and think they’re no good.  I had a lot of old newspapers with the Titanic in, taken then you know, but we threw them all away.  They were all folded up, wrapped up by my mother probably but I just threw them, I thought ‘these are no good’ – you can’t keep things forever.

    So did you have any toys then?

    Well I did yes, I had a black doll, all that sort of thing when I was young – oh yes – prams, dolls prams and that sort of thing, and I used to play…when we were in The Buttress there was ground at the back and we had a big hut, and one of my brothers was very keen on pigeons so he had pigeons there and he also had a magic lantern which I used to go and watch.  Oh yes, we used to all go and congregate in this palce, this wood hut and watch the magic lanterns going through.

    How many people do you think lived in the whole of The Buttress?

    Oh I wouldn’t like to say about that – you mean The Buttress, the building that was – no I didn’t live in that part of it, I lived in a cottage on the opposite side, which is still there; the one on the right hand side as you’re going up The Buttress - it comes to a sort of a point at the end, well that was the one, and the land at the back, and my mother kept hens and there was a little bit of a garden.  I had a little garden with nasturtiums in; there was everything going on there, we had a seat in, you could go and sit in if it was nice weather.  It was lovely.

    Can you remember any old sayings?  

    Well I can’t just think off-hand really, because my father was I mean a Yorkshire man really – I mean they didn’t talk broad Yorkshire – I mean today, if you talked broad Yorkshire like they did in those days…what my husband used to say when we were away anywhere, ‘let’s start talking broad Yorkshire – they’ll think we’re foreigners!’  [laughing] 

    Can you still talk broad Yorkshire?

    Oh I could do if I want, yes – any time you want me to do!  Oh yes, lots of words that probably wouldn’t recognise.

    Like what?

    I can’t remember off-hand!

    Well if you think of any while we’re talking, just stop and say them!

    Did people from Hebden Bridge talk differently to other people round and about?

    Oh yes, yes – even from Tod, Lancashire I mean, if you want to go on to the border in Tod people had a sort of little different twang from ours.  My husband was very fond of Amateur Dramatics and he was President of The Little Theatre in Hebden Bridge a long time and he used to produce plays and he also drew a design for the front of the programmes which they still hold.  There’s one on there now, and they still use it and they have a thing inside – a sort of a window with coloured glass in and it’s this figure of the woman and the idea was, she was holding up to the public the art of coming to the theatre, and they ran that theatre all during the war when people couldn’t get out anywhere, and they used to run it over a thousand people – they used to run it a week, and the matinee.  They first started from the Hebden Bridge Literary and Scientific Society, and a dentist who was called Edward Binny Gibson, he was one of them and my husband and a man called Clifford Sutcliffe, they were the three, they away from the Lit and Sci and started this Little Theatre and then they got other people to join who were interested, and that’s how it was formed from then.

    Where was it originally?

    Where was the Theatre?  It was in what we called The Old Band Room and it was a wooden building where the band did practising and also held dances which I used to go to as a girl, well a young girl I mean really because I used to take trifles which my mother had made – a big trifle to take to put on the stall, and she used to say ‘now take a dish and in the interval get some trifle and bring me some, but you’ve only to get ours, don’t get anybody else’s – you’ve got to get the trifle I’ve sent!’  [laughing]

    Where was that building?

    That building?  Oh it’s knocked down – you know where the children’s pool is?  It was just there, about there.  You’d had to go over that bridge and you could go either end of the building, in at one end and out the other.  They built a stage on weft boxes, big iron…wooden boxes, built a stage; my husband was there every night and the same when he started producing, three nights a week, I never saw him – he was just straight home from work, have a wash and shave and off – I don’t think he ever saw his child for the first few years of her life!

    What was your husband’s first name?

    James Henderson – you know, quite well known owing to being in the theatre because he did the acting as well; he was very keen.  If there was anyone coming to Halifax of note we always had to go and see them because they used to run a repary [reparatory] company in Halifax, it was very good – it was called Charles Denville and they put a different play on every week so we used to go quite a lot.  Mind you I don’t know how we made the money, but we did somehow – I don’t know how we managed to go really, but I think that my husband was helped a little bit by his mother, I think she used to subsidise him a little bit because he only used to take half a crown (2sh 6d) a week spending money and my spending money was a night at the pictures – nine pence and thre’pence for a bar of chocolate, that was a shilling - that was my spending money.

    Did you used to wear clogs then?

    Did I wear clogs?  Yes.  Yes, but now…the Co-op had their own clog place; they made them - you went in and you were measured for them and the man there had the pieces of wood and he used to do it by hand, shaving them away until they got to the shape.  We used to go and play in the shavings as we called them, we used to sit in them and play with these shavings – all wooden shavings - when we were kids, watching him make the clogs and he made them all by hand – one man made your clogs, but I always wanted - I didn’t want those with - like everybody had, I just wanted one with a strap over and a button at the side, not one where you fasten them together like that, I didn’t like those.  We used to do that kicking in them and making sparks fly you know! [laughing]

    Did you walk to work?

    I’ll say – and back at lunchtime because my mother had died and my father was still at home, and we used to…we used to make things beforehand and he used to - if we made dumplings, we used to tell him what time to put them in, to cook them and that sort of thing, or what time to put a pie in the oven for when we were getting home.  We used to walk all the way from Foster Mill, all along Bridge Lanes and back again and I think it started at quarter past twelve to quarter past one, we’d an hour for lunch.  We used to wear more shoes…I used to always be having to have my shoes repaired because it was such a long walk, and believe me, once when we were on part-time - it was sixpence to go into Halifax on the bus - I used to walk to Luddendenfoot to save thre’pence, it was only thre’pence from Luddendenfoot, we used to walk to Luddendenfoot so that it would only be thre’pence on the bus instead of sixpence.

    It’s a long walk as well.

    We did walk every weekend over the moors, we used to walk over Haworth Old Road every weekend nearly when it was fine; we used to sit on the top looking over on towards Oxenhope and Haworth, have our packed lunch and then carry on from there.

    What did you do during Wakes Week?

    Well, after my father…my father got married again and he went to live in Blackpool, so when it was holidays we could always go to Blackpool, and I’ve gone to Blackpool, I think we went once, I think we’d about twelve pounds to go on holiday with and of course we hadn’t to pay for bed…we were fortunate, they didn’t have to pay for bed or anything so it was just spending money really, twelve pound and we thought we were very well off and lucky to do that.  

    Did you do anything else at Wakes time, oh sorry, not Wakes…Whitsuntide?

    Well no, it was always walking – walking, yes. We always spent holidays walking.

    Were you a church-goer?

    We once walked all round the Ribble Valley, we went into Clitheroe and walked all the way round there and stayed overnight at different places, and we got nearly to…we got nearly to Preston and it was next to the last day, and we decided we’d come back home then the next day we went to Blackpool and we’d been nearly there the day before on a walking…! [laughing]I remember at holiday time when the lads used to all go to a camp on the Isle of Man – was it Cunningham’s Camp; it was well known, all the young men used to go there and when it was Friday night they used to go off on what we used to call the Boat Train, and all the lads from over Stubbing Holme which is quite a lot over there, houses over there, they all used to be on this train and we used to go out and watch them and they’d all be waving and their mothers used to come out and wave them on the street and they could see the train going past, it was a real sight watching them go you know.

    Did you go to church?

    No, all my family all went to church but I went with my pals, so they all went to Methodist Sunday School so I joined them there.  I went to about three different ones; I started off at what was called Foster Lane and they were all Methodist funnily enough and yet my mother and father went to church, and then my next friend went to…yes I started off at Foster Lane and then I went to Cross Lanes which is on the top there, from Cross Lanes I went to…Salem at the bottom, and my husband…the man who wrote this, he was the Superintendent in the Cross Lanes one, the Sunday School Superintendent but my husband never went; [laughing] I think he was scared of my father being the Superintendent!  I’m afraid that my daughter scared all her three children off by taking them round to so many museums and churches and old buildings that they will not look at one now, but she carted them round everywhere - everywhere they went, we had to go into this church or see that building or that museum, and they just loathe it now – they will not do it.

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

    Oh I don’t think so – I mean, I thought it was lovely when I was young, but I don’t know – today I don’t…it’s horrible.

    Can you remember any sort of characters?

    Characters? Yes.  Yes I can!  [laughing]

    Can you tell me about some?

    Well we used to call one lad…there was one boy, they called him Richard…Richard Holden and he always used to dress as Tarzan, he used to go about [laughing] have you heard that before from somebody? We called him Tarzan because he’d go [noise Tarzan makes] he used to go about knocking his chest you know - he was a little bit odd, but he did – he used to go about wearing like a skinny little something and go about….he once came to our door where I lived on Bankfoot Terrace there and he told about he’d seen me with a boy, he told my mother, he says ‘I saw your Phyllis with so-and-so’ [laughing].

    Which number at Bankfoot did you live at?

    Eighteen, eighteen - that’s underneath that was the bottom, the last one.  Yes, it was a big house with eleven windows because it had been belonging to a dye works that there was there and it was the cutting place for the cord, where they cut the cord, like my father did cutting cord at the Co-op Mills – CWS, they did it there and it was all windows you see.  They converted it into this house, but it was at the end of the row so that it was away from the houses but when they converted it there were three bedrooms, three windows in one bedroom and one in a little bedroom – two in a little bedroom, not one.  Downstairs there were three windows in the living room, two in the kitchen and that came to eleven all together– we got so that we couldn’t get window cleaners, and my sister used to sit out you know  – they all used to sit out because they were those sash windows and I used to hold her legs while she went.  I daren’t go out, I wouldn’t have dared do it for my life, but she used to get out, put her head out and then ease herself on - sit on the window ledge and I used to hold her legs, and that’s how she cleaned the windows, pushing them up and down…what a life we gypsies lead!

    What dye works was it at the end there?

    Well I can’t remember…I don’t know – I can’t remember what dye works – do you mean up Bankfoot? Hmm I can’t just remember - it was a factory because it was always empty when we were living there , it was empty but down on the ground floor there used to be…we used to say ‘if you die here there’s everything’ – there was a joiner’s, there was a laundry, there was…there was somebody who did confectionery; you could have everything you wanted in that place without going out of it.

    Did you ever go to pubs, apart from living in the one?

    No…no I don’t think so, I can’t remember…

    You never went in the Fox and Goose then?

    I did go in with my husband, we used to the Fox and Goose when I was six.

    What was it like in there?

    Oh it was alright, it was very nice, it was only a little place you know; it was actually only a beer house at the beginning I think – they didn’t...because my father used to be very friendly with the man who kept it.  They were in what they called the Licensed Victuallers, they used to meet all together but my mother hated drink; although she was a landlord she wouldn’t touch drink, she didn’t like it at all, no she didn’t. 

    What was the man’s name who owned the pub then?

    The Fox and Goose? Yes. They called him Butterworth and then someone called Jagger took it after that, I remember two of them, but the one that I remember most ‘cos they were a younger couple and they were very good, but they came from Lancashire and they used to speak with a Lancashire dialect and it used to tickle us, the way this lady used to talk in the Lancashire dialect which was quite different from ours. She would say ‘yes luv’ you know - it was different altogether.

    Didn’t there used to be houses along the side of that?  

    Yes, there were houses all up the road there, two on each side; all Bridge Lanes was all crowded with houses, and they just went up like The Buttress was – you went through tunnels to get to the back and then there went another street on the back.  They should never have pulled them down you know; they’d have been fantastic today, it would have been a real draw; there’d have been thousands of people coming to look at them.  Because I mean in Paris I mean, that’s where they got it from, The Butts; there are The Butts in Paris and that’s The Buttress you know, that’s what it is, that’s where it got its name from.  I didn’t know.  But the building of it – they were builders in those days believe me, these would be stone – there’d be stone struts holding up another area of houses, one on top of the other, it was fantastic, and there were little paths going up around and then you went around and then there were some more houses there; you’d go up a few steps - another lot of houses.  It went up to about four storeys from nothing.  The building was fantastic.  They’ll never build like that again, never.  It would all be hand labour, they wouldn’t think to lift, like when they built this place ( meaning Mytholm Meadows), they wouldn’t do that sort of thing.

    Can you remember any of the floods or fires or anything like that?

    Yes, ooh fires – if there was a fire anywhere, we’d run miles to watch a fire. [chuckling]  We even went up Cragg Vale to watch Cragg Hall on fire.  There was a little fire up at…Savile Bowling Club, I went up there to watch that, we went anywhere there was a fire.  It was funny, we must have been fascinated; everybody went, even went from work when I was young, not when I was older – when I was really young.  There was a fire up at Charlestown and I remember going up there and I used to have an old newspaper with ‘an accident on Charlestown curve’, a train came off the lines and I had all that, but it’s gone. 

    A train came off? 

    A train came off the lines at Charlestown curve up here.  

    Was anybody hurt?

    I don’t remember love I’m sure I can’t remember that, no…but it came off the lines and I had a photo of it you know showing it coming off  the line ‘cos there is a real curve there – I always think when I go on a train, I’m always glad when we get past Charlestown curve!

    So how has Hebden Bridge changed then from when you were young?

    Well there used to be – I should - I could count fifteen pubs and at least twelve butchers, I mean there’s nothing now like that; they’ve all gone.  There used to be three butchers from the top of Bridge Lanes to the bottom there were three butchers; there was a little one at the top that was the Co-op butchers and then there was another at the bottom and then when you went on Market Street there was another one and then you’d to go a long way, and then when you got into Hebden there was the Co-op butchers which had a pork butchers and a beef, you know ordinary…, and then there were two more on there besides that, and going into the square there was another one in St George’s Square, oh there were butchers everywhere.  And yet people hadn’t the money, how on earth they made…I do not know how they survived, I don’t.

    Has anything else changed? 

    Well [pause] well it isn’t the little place like that it used to be, I mean everybody knew everybody, but not any more. They’re all ‘off-cumdens’ as we say now. [chuckling]

    Do you know any jokes?

    Any jokes? [laughing] Yes I did know one but, it was about…well they always used to say, it wasn’t true but they said that there was two lads, one who lived in Pecket and the other lived in Old Town and they used to meet at Pecket Bar and they were only getting on sixteen, and they thought they’d go into the city - Hebden, for their night out so they decided to meet at the…where there’s a wall, so one of them said to the other ‘if ah’m theer first ah’ll put a stone on t’wall’ and th’other said ‘well if ah’m theer first ah’ll knock it off!’ [laughing]  Yes, that was a local one.

    Did you ever give anybody nicknames or did you have one?

    Oh I have a book full of ‘em!  Go on then!  But you don’t know who you’re calling because they may still have relatives living you know - there used to be a lot from Heptonstall because one lad – what was he called?…there were so many Greenwoods and Sutcliffes that you didn’t know who they were talking about and they always called them by what we called by-names and they’d all different ones, now there were some who lived up Heptonstall Road – there were Bushes that were Greenwood, Cappies that was Greenwoods…oh I can’t remember, there were so many of them, there were Greenwoods and Sutcliffes…now there were some…there were Johnties,  that was Greenwoods, Pillings - I can’t remember them all, there’s so many to remember, but every time I think about one I write it down and some time I’m going to have a fresh do and start and do all the Greenwoods together -  they’re mixed up just now.  Probably that couple that came from…that couple – the lady in the wheelchair – she’ll probably know a lot from Heptonstall because they have a lot of relatives - my father, I’ve heard my father tell about a fella called ‘shipinth’attic’ because he said he’d built a ship in his attic [laughing] and he couldn’t – did he tell you that? he couldn’t get it down!  And then he had one…a fella who had a cat and this cat…his wife was trying to get it out and it went through t’door and he held t’door open for it and instead of kicking t’cat he knocked it and he said, ‘I left fur on Mary’ and it was on his toes, he meant.My father used to be able to tell a lot of tales about different ones because he used to follow Hebden Bridge Band as well, he used to be the big drum in the band and I used to go to all the band practices, I used to have go and watch so I used to get to know a lot about music – what was good music and bad, and one of my uncles was an adjudicator of brass bands - my mother’s brother - and my mother’s family, they used to keep what was called The Old Hole In The Wall in Hebden Bridge which was a little old – I have a picture of that as well -  a little old building in those days, and…I mean she had three sisters and their father, he was a right sportsman, he used to go shooting and what not and he once had something hung in the cellar, and he took some fellas down; I don’t know what it was, it was some joint or bird or something, and they must have served this up some time at a meal and [laughing] when they looked at it, it was going green of course because he was hanging it like they did then, I don’t know just what it was, but anyhow when he told them what they’d eaten and he told them it was that thing that they’d seen in the cellar, they nearly all passed out!And then of course there was when…my father used to tell about that – would they have mentioned - that lady who fell from the bridge up into Blake Dean when they were building…not Gorple Reservoir, Widdop Reservoir would it be or the other one?  They built a bridge across for the railway to go from one side to the other and a woman…because you could walk across and she was walking with some friends and she fell from the bridge down below.  That was one of the tragic things, yes…so that was awful.And then there was a murder..was there?…a murder at a farm somewhere on the hill tops oh was there?  What happened? towards Mytholmroyd way – Black…I can’t remember what it was called.  There’ve been lots of things going on in this area. 

    What did you do at Christmas?

    Christmas – oh heavens, oh always like everybody else – we always used to go and listen to the band at midnight of course, that was one thing you had to do.  At twelve o’clock the band struck up in the square and everybody from…all came in to listen to it; the square was absolutely packed full of people, it was.  

    Did you do anything else special?

    Only dancing!  Go to dances.

    Where did you dance?

    Everywhere; I used to go to Todmorden, to the Town Hall in Tod, or the Co-op Hall, and the Weaver’s Institute there used to be, and then there used to be the Co-op Hall here and the Victoria Hall, and the bandroom which they did dancing, and then I used to go to Sowerby Bridge to one there and Halifax, I went to all the valley – I used to go somewhere every Friday and Saturday night, and when we used to go to the Trades Club it might finish at twelve and then they’d say ‘right, shall we have another hour?’ you’ll have a collection and they’d pay the band, have a collection, they’d pay the band and they’d stay another hour and we’d stay on…I once stayed and I didn’t come straight home; somebody walked me home and it took me a long time.  When I got home, my sister - my mother was ill at the time and she had to have her bed down in the house and my sister was staying up looking and I was late, they expected me home – well when I got in my sister - I just got kicked upstairs, I got kicked up the stairs – I hadn’t time to get in the doorway before my she was calling me all the names under the sun and I was kicked up the stairs! [laughing]

    What was the Trades Club like in those days?

    Well it was where the Labour Party met.  They’d offices and what-not there, that was upstairs.  Downstairs was a billiard – I think they had – it was a billiard hall, a little billiard.  You know where the Picture House is, next to there, did they tell you about that?  There used to be a wooden building called The Royal Picture Place and that was all wooden, and we used to go there and we used to sit on [someone coming in] we used to sit on wooden seats you know and I think it was tuppence at the front, on the seats in front and they used to say ‘push up there’ and you used tohave to keep pushing up to hold as many as you could, and I always remember I once went….you used to have to come ‘docking’ in this field – gathering docks for dock pudding – and I used to have to come running home from school, have my tea and then come and then if I got a bag of docks I could have thre’pence to go; this is when I was younger, at school, I could have thre’pence to go to the pictures – well I was once so long doing it that when I – by the time I’d got it and I got to the pictures it had started and I was fuming!  I was thinking ‘rotten beggars, rotten beggars, having me going docking when I could have been here!’ [laughing] I can remember that to this day, how I felt about that, that I’d missed some of the picture because I’d been docking – the rotten beggars!  Oh how do you remember these things, I don’t know

    Do you remember your grandparents at all?

    I don’t remember me grandparents no, I know that me grandfather – I’ve heard me mother say he came to see me when I was born, and put me a five shilling piece which my daughter still has as a brooch, a five shilling piece for me on the pillow.

    Did you do anything on Good Friday or at Easter?

    Do you mean a Pace Egg?  No, me brothers used to be in the Pace Egg Players and that then but it wasn’t commercialised like it is now, I mean they just went round in little gangs to everywhere; there might be two or three of them going to different places.  

    What were they doing then? Why did they do it?

    I don’t know really, it was just local interest I think.  I don’t know how they did it.

    Did they get paid?

    No, ee no, they might get - somebody might throw them copper out of the windows, because they used to go before people were up; they’d go really early on in a morning you know and perform outside, like outside the…Buttress, I mean they’d stand in the square at the bottom and there’d be houses open, they could always throw something out you see – they might throw stones at ‘em an’ all!

    What part did your brother play then?

    I don’t know, I don’t know.

    Did you watch him?

    No, I wasn’t really interested.

    How old was he when he did that?

    Well it would be my younger brother, it would be my younger brother that did it I know…I shouldn’t be very old I don’t think when they used to come round – I wouldn’t be very old, but I do remember it.  I think it were when we were up The Buttress, it was before we went to…moved to The Swan I think.And they used to sledge down Buttress you know, down the proper Buttress that’s still there that comes down the lane and the boys used to come down there, well I used to have to be content with going over the old bridge into the pub where we lived you know, and my mother used to say ‘mind th’orses’ - mind th’orses in those days - not cars! [laughing]

    I just want to ask you one thing – since we’ve been talking, what do you think about what we’ve been talking about?  How does it make you feel, talking about the old times?

    Oh I don’t know – it’s too late to bother about anything, I’ve given up bothering about anything anymore.  I just can’t be bothered, I mean as I get things through the letter box I think ‘oh what are they bothering about now?’  I just feel I haven’t got the patience to bother about it; it doesn’t matter – you can’t, you just can’t do the same when you get this age.

    Do you think younger people or middle-aged people will find this interesting?

    Well I wonder sometimes when I’ve gone into Halifax which I hate now - I used to go every Saturday shopping – I hate Halifax now, there’s gangs of youths about and they’re always… these ‘ere what do they call them? they’re around eating and I think ‘don’t they get anything to eat at home?’  They’re always eating in the streets you know and you get that horrible burger smell and it smells horrible to me – they smell horrible to me.  Mind you, I have to be content now to have ready meals myself I mean, but I’m a little bit particular what they are – I couldn’t eat burgers.I will say this – kids are a lot taller than they were in our days you know; I don’t know whether it’s because they’re eating all this or what, but they are definitely taller, all the girls and most of them are a lot…I mean I’m only little and I used to think ‘oh I wish I had longer legs’ but a lot of us…we used to put it down because we were in little low…people were brought up in little low houses and there wasn’t room to grow!

    Did you live anywhere else besides Bankfoot?

    Yes, we moved into them high-rise flats which was awful.  When I first went in at the beginning, a lot of local people had gone moved in thinking they were going to be in nice modern flats; well by the time some of them had left or died away, they started bringing people in from Halifax - rough areas of Halifax, young ones; well over the top of me I had a couple and they had reggae music on you know ‘boom boom boom’until two or three o’clock in a morning.  I could not sleep and I eventually came after one of those over there and I said ‘if you don’t get me out of this place, I’ll go mad’ I said ‘you’ll be taking me away because I just can’t stand it any more’.  Next door there was a couple with a baby and the fella used to sit up until the two o’clock feed and he used to play darts, and it used to be on the wall next to me and there would be ‘plonk, plonk, plonk’ until two in the morning; believe me, it nearly drove me mad, I thought I was going crazy and when I said something to him of course I got a mouthful so I didn’t – I didn’t anymore, and after, when they left, they got a girl in who was having fellas coming, different fellas, and she had a child, a little boy, and I’m sure she locked him in a cupboard ‘cos he used to scream murder.  Oh it was awful, that place.  It’s a good job they’ve pulled them down and put those up.

    Have you thought of any of those nicknames yet?

    Sammy Pie, Sammy Pie was one and he had a little pie shop.  He was called – but his name was Holroyd, it wasn’t either Greenwood or Sutcliffe and then there was somebody called Billy Sutcliffe, we called him Billy Plonk and that was one name.  And…who else was there?  Charlie Swallops – I don’t know where they got that name from, that was Charlie – Sutcliffe I think he was called, Charlie Swallop.  I can’t just remember, no I can’t – but there were a lot of names.

    I think this is gonna end very soon – oh it’s still got a minute or two yet  to go I think.

    Can you remember your teachers at school?

    Teachers?  Oh yes rather, from being in the babies’ class it was the…headmistress was Miss Moses and then was Miss Livermore and Mrs Uttley.  Mrs Uttley used to whistle; she was fascinating because she always whistled when she talked, a proper whistle came out with it, I was really fascinated by that.  It was lovely – they had a big rocking horse in the corner and if you were good you got a ride on the rocking horse if you did anything clever.  And then there was a swing that they used to have; you could fasten it up and have a swing, it was lovely.And now as I say about bank books - we had a bank book, even then in the babies’ room, because I remember once running home because I’d left my bank book, I hadn’t taken it - ran straight into the caretaker’s ladder.  He was coming round the corner of the building with a spike; I ran straight into him and it went into my forehead, fortunately it wasn’t my eye – straight into him, I don’t just know which side it was - I had a mark on or a long time, and the spike went in and the teacher had to carry me to the doctor’s and I got two stitches put in.  I remember that very well, running into that!

    Did you like school? 

    Yes, yes I did like school but I never went in…I didn’t go into further education, I don’t know.  I mustn’t have been bright enough but I could write – I could write composition but I wasn’t very good at maths I’m afraid.

    Somebody told me that teachers had to be unmarried.  Is that right?

    Well yes, well, we did have – yes, when we got into what we called the Big School there was Miss Eastwood…oh yes, Miss Smith…oh yes and Mr Lellow, Mr Rushworth and the headmaster was Mr Glue, because at that time there was Mr Potts up at Stubbings, Mr Wager at the Grammar School and who was here.  We used to have a …Mr Potts broke a pot, Mr Glue glued it, Mr Wager paid the wages, Mr Somebodyelse did something else – we had them all off one after the other, what they did! [laughing]

    Were there any shops down this end of town?

    Oh I’ll tell you what there used to be - they used to run a…to Hardcastle Crags, to the Lodge gates…a wagonette from the White Lion, a horse with a wagon, a one horse wagonette.

    [END OF TRACK 1]

    [TRACK 2 – commentary on the images of the envelopes from the WWI letters]

    Right – shall we begin?

    What I’d like to do, is talk to you about these letters from the First World War that were sent to your family, and to talk about the characters who were drawn on the front of them.  Were they all written by the same person?

    Well the man who did them, he was a cartoonist for a newspaper – I don’t know what.  He was a cartoonist.

    Did he live in Hebden?

    Yes – yes.

    Was he a friend of one of your brothers?

    Yes, that’s right.

    Did you know his name?


    The cartoonist.

    I think he’ll be dead by now, even if he hadn’t been drowned at sea – he would have been over a hundred.

    Do you know some of the people that he drew?

    Not on this one I don’t – well, he’s put a sailor on hasn’t he, and we always had a cat, and he always puts a cat in – always puts a cat in.

    Do you think that he drew them according to what your brother told him about the family?

    Yes.  I know some of the characters that are on but like I say people today won’t have a clue.  That’s  Lillian me sister, and he’s doing the washing in the kitchen outside.

    [looking through photos]

    So is that your sister in that one?

    Yes I had a sister, she died at thirty-six – cancer.

    What was her name?


    So that was written to her?

    Yes, that was hers.  I wish I could print like that!

    It’s very nice…who wrote that letter do you think?

    My brother wrote the letter to my mother, ‘cos she was always ill and she had someone looking after her, and she wasn’t very good so my brother’s wife – I think he mentions it if I can remember, that ‘Sarah Lidworth will look after mother’ that was it – that’s it.

    So there’s another one.

    Well this is supposed Blackpool isn’t it, with t’wheel and I can’t see me mother doing on a donkey at all [laughing] but that’s what it is.

    They’re just acting silly on that aren’t – is that Ramsden’s fivepenny, five pence a pint beer?


    Ramsden’s it was…oh that’s when – my mother always wore black skirts, black silk skirts in those days.
    And this was a fella who used to be a regular visitor and he was a very gentlemanly type of person, and they’re of course having a drink with him.
    And there’s a cat again [laughing]

    Did you always have a cat?

    Always, yes I’ve always had a cat – they called it Verdun after the Battle of Verdun.
    That’s another fella that used to come – the cat’s there again.

    Can you remember any of their names?

    I think he was called Mr Cunliffe I think, if I can remember his name – mind you I was only about four years old then; I think they went in when I was three and came out – they were in all during the war and then they came out after the war, but they did keep in all during the war.  If the lads came home on leave we used to have a real happy time then.

    Did they own it then?

    My father?


    No, not own it – he were a pub landlord but it belonged to the brewery of course, yes, in those days.

    [still looking through]

    They’re all on there aren’t they, all them boys.

    That’s supposed to be me! [laughing]

    Is that all your family then?

    Yes, that’s me mother and father standing – ‘Welcome Home’ when they were all coming back home.  That was sad about him not coming home when the others all did, and he was the man who was married.

    How many brothers did you have?

    Two children he had and they’re both dead I think – I never kept in touch, they just went away and I never heard anything again till…they’ll be old chaps by now.

    So how many brothers did you have?

    Now then…Willie, Percy, Harry, Sam, Tom – five.

    Did they all go to war?

    No – Tom didn’t; he was the youngest, but he died.  All those at home afterwards, they all died in their sixties.

    Were they all in the navy?

    No there were three of them in the army; one of them was a prisoner-of-war actually, in Germany.

    Do you know which prisoner-of-war camp he was in?

    No.  We did have a letter that was supposed to be from George the Fifth about welcoming back home after being in prison during the war, but he [Percy] always said that they used to  - he said ‘we used to have potato peelings food but the Germans were no better off than we were – they were having the potato but they were having the peelings.

    How long was he in for?

    I don’t know – he tried to join up when he was sixteen and me mother had to fetch him back, and he went two or three times, determined to get in the army and then she gave it up as a bad job, and I think he went in when he was about eighteen, but he did go all through the war.

    Is that you again in that one?

    Yes, blowing bubbles, soap bubbles!  We used to get clay pipes you know, make a mixture and then just blow them through the pipes, and there’s Mr Cunliffe again – very smart man always, and the cat every time – never misses the cat.  Somebody must have a big tub – someone looks to have a big tub in here.

    He has some weight on that chap.

    [pulling curtains open to let light in]

    There’s a chap with a parasol.

    That’s me sister again, and that’s supposed to be Peter because he was rather smitten with me sister I think.

    Did they get married?

    No – he went - we never heard anything much after the war when me brother had got killed, well he got drowned – we didn’t seem to hear much afterwards about him; well he went back to Ireland, he was an Irishman.

    They are a dirty mess aren’t they?

    Oh that’s when they’re going back…that’s probably him that’s waving, Peter probably waving.

    Who are those people on the corner there – is that you again?

    Yes [laughing]

    Is that your mum?

    That’s my sister, well she was fourteen years older than me.  I think she would be well in her twenties there, and she never got married.

    And who’s this chap then, with the red nose?

    I think that’ll be Peter – I used to have my hair in ringlets, what they put up in rags you know – he’ll be serving on.

    So how did you put you hair up?

    Oh we used to have long strips of cotton calico, strips- used to cut them to about that width then you used to put them in, then you used to wrap your hair round ‘em and then tie them at the bottom to hold it, and then when you got up in the morning you pulled them down and your hair used to come down

    How long did it last?

    Eeh I don’t know!

    Was it all day or was it weeks?

    Well everybody wore them I suppose in those days – it was one of the things they were doing.

    Did you like curly hair?

    No, I never really – I knew curly hair didn’t suit me because I’ve tried wigs on and they do not suit my face – curly hair does not suit my face – I always used to wear my hair up in a bun and I just suddenly decided – I mean I wore it unit…not so many years ago but it had got such a nuisance to put it up, and my arms used to ache [getting tangled in wires] and I used to get so irritated with it, and I thought – one day I was just in Hebden; I was my with me niece and I said ‘I’m going to get this bun cut off’  ‘ooh’ she says ‘you’re not!’  I said ‘I am’ so anyway I did – I was determined and it’s been easier ever since; it wants cutting now actually.  There’s a hairdressers downstairs you know; I have been once but she didn’t tek enough off.

    Is that all your brothers do you think?

    …no – well me father used to be in the Hebden Brass Band and he used to play the big drum because a lot of the bandsmen, they used to come to the pub and I think he joined in the band just to play the drums.
    Me cat looks to be dancing - me father used to do what was called a cat dance and it’s like the Russians do  - bent and throwing his legs you know, backwards and forwards and going around the room – he was very agile in that respect.

    Why did they call it a cat dance?

    I don’t know – it must be the way – you know, when you’re bent down in two and your two legs going at the front – I don’t know really – no, I’ve not idea about that.

    Was he good at it?

    Oh he was excellent – he used to go down the passage in the Swan doing it [laughing]   - just like the Russians do; when the Russian dancers came, a few of them they went all round – oh, just like me father used to do

    Was that something that other people did in Hebden?

    I don’t know – I don’t’ – I don’t suppose everybody could do it; he must have been very – you know, his legs must have been easy to manoeuvre.

    It’s a hard dance to do.

    The old people used to say that he looked like and Italian – father was very dark, very dark and they used to say ‘ he just looks like’ – because he always wore…what they call ‘em…Homburg hats and very smart; he always wore like black and white shoes; black and then white as well, he was always very smart.

    Like correspondent’s shoes or spats?

    Yes…oh there he is you see.

    Yeh – playing the drum

    And that’s a fella that we called ‘Little Normy’ – he was only a little dwarf fella.  Is that Ramsden’s five penny it says on there?

    So who was that little fella?

    This one – that’s little Normy.

    Did he live in Hebden?

    He came from Mytholmroyd – Normy Helliwell he was called and I was as tall as him you know; it used to be funny talking to him.

    So he was in the band as well?

    Yeh.  Just like me father – he was so straight, even when he was eighty-eight years old he’s a really straight back, and he always used to be saying to all of us ‘get your backs straight – get your shoulders back’ – he was always saying that to us…

    Oh that’s when they’ve been on leave again- Mr Cunliffe; I think he smoked a cigar mostly 

    Was he a regular in the pub?

    He was a very nice gentleman, probably treat them a lot when they came on leave you know, because he wasn’t without a penny.

    Do you know what he did?

    He lived in Mytholmroyd at Hawksclough and he had a house-keeper as well so I don’t think he was without a bob or two.

    Do you know what he did?

    No, not before he retired, no.

    Is that him again?

    To catch the post – no, I think that’s supposed to be me father really – I think that’s supposed to be me father, and I don’t know – I couldn’t say – he looks to have a moustache; well me father did have a moustache because I know once I went home from school and I was going to have my tea and my father was sat at the other side and he suddenly lifted his head up, and I said ‘he’s had his moustache grabbed’ because he’d had his moustache taken off, and it was very dark you know – a little moustache and I thought – well I didn’t like him without his moustache.  
    Being the youngest of the family, the others always said I was spoilt to death. Well this isn’t much – I don’t know who this is connected with, except they used to put papers on the wall didn’t they?

    Is he a window cleaner?

    I don’t know if they put any on the front of the pub, no – but somebody, I don’t know who that fella is supposed to be – I don’t remember him at all, but it’s quite a neat little thing in’t it that?  Yes.  Very neat – I wish I could do that sort of writing.

    It’s a big skill, that.

    Yes – very good.

    Ah yes – you’ll know that one.

    Yes, he’s doing it on that – that’s right, yes, with Mr Cunliffe watching him.

    So that’s the cat dance.

    And that would be Peter because he was a bit of a boy you know – full of spring and I think there was a dog and a cat looking very shy [laughing] with the dog – yes that’s a good one actually of me dad doing that dance – hands on hips you know.
    That’s me sister – we used to have a kitchen sort of built on to the back of the pub and she used to have cooking in there, so he’s cleaning shoes while he’s waiting for his dinner, and it’s fish. The cat knows.

    Ah right – last one there.

    Oh yes – now you see those are in fashion today, fur, those scarves because my daughter bought some, no her daughter bought her one and a lady here’s got one I noticed, so they’re in fashion – old-fashioned things again you see.

    They’ve come back.


    Are they feathers?

    No they’re not feathers now – they’re made from a sort of nylony soft stuff, a bit shinier – I don’t know what it is they’re made from.  You see he’s put Miss Lily Crossley, well that wasn’t her name, it was Lilian.  They say from Harwich, so they must have been, they must be stationed at Harwich when they came back to England.

    Where were they?

    Well they were – anywhere, I don’t know; on the high seas, anywhere – I don’t know where.  They probably wouldn’t be able to be told where they were in those days would they?  Like secret service.

    That’s true, yes.  

    I feel dirty after handling those cards – they are a dirty mess

    Oh they’re not too bad.

    Well it’s wallpaper that’s at the back because they were all in a glass – they were all in a big pitcher you know, all together and I think they hung them up when they came back, that’s why, and one of me brothers got hold of it and he kept it so that’s how he come to have them.  Probably I would have thrown them away long ago, I don’t think I would have kept it.

    You’ve forgotten your tea – I bet it’s cold.

    No, it’s spot on!

    What a shame – that much gone on a cold day, because there’s a cold wind I think today isn’t there?

    There is a cold wind.

    There looks to be – I can tell by the trees moving, and I cannot get those branches taken down; they will not come and do that – I wish they would, because when they’re in leaf I can’t see a thing, they just cover all the window. They’re getting nearer and nearer; we’ve been on to them now two years.

    They are getting closer and closer.

    We’ve been on to them but they don’t take any notice.  It’s not the trees I’m bothered about – it’s the branches and little thin branches; they’ve got leaves on them, it’s surprising.

    Oh the buds are out.

    I mean it’s been lovely to be able to see other people’s houses – Savile Road, well when those trees are out I cannot see a thing – I just feel to be on my own completely.

    Is it the council you have to talk to?

    Well no, it’s Pennine in’t it?  I can’t understand it – one thing is connected with Pennine, the other is Calderdale Council so who is responsible for everything, I do not know, but somebody had had some trouble with the ceilings – some coming down or some cracks or something, so they had to get someone in so she asked how much it was and they said ‘well we can only allow you fifty pounds, and it was a hundred pounds but she had to pay the fifty so they’re not responsible for that, which is silly really because I mean the size of them – to get anybody in to decorate these places, it will cost the earth.  I think a big council like we have, I think they could have a permanent staff of decorators to go round and do their property up, instead of having people to depend on, see who they can get and how much they’re gonna pay because it’s going to cost a heck of a lot.  I see they’re alright for two – they’re just right for two people could live very nicely here because I mean they’re big – the bedroom’s big enough for two but I think there are only about three couples in, and they’re old – they’re not young couples, because they wouldn’t accept young couples because they’re supposed to be for older people really, so I don’t know.  With not going out into – I don’t go and join the crowds much, and you get to know anything if you don’t go and talk to people; it’s the only way to get to know what’s going on really.

    That’s true.  Well we hope to come back in May I think and tell some stories about all the different people that we’ve interviewed.  We’re gonnna take different bits of each one and do like a pretend, like as a one-person

    The only thing is that you’re sat looking at the kitchen aren’t you?  I mean that’s another thing that doesn’t appeal to a lot of people I think – being an open kitchen because you’ve got to try and keep that kitchen pretty tidy – I mean you can’t just leave everything!

    So you recognise Staithes then – well my daughter lived on top of this cliff facing down there and I think he’s boats on – he has a boat, I think it’s that one there, but he’s sold that now and gone in for a greenhouse; I thought ‘he thinks he’s got too old to go out to sea so he’s converted to land now’

    It’s a beautiful picture

    It’s lovely, it’s a pretty little place – do you know nearly all the cottages were booked up for Christmas?  People going there for Christmas to a place with little to offer anyone you know, to do, except if you like a drink – there’s a pub, but not everybody wants that and it would be too cold for kiddies to go on the beach, I mean they couldn’t do that, so how they spend their time I do not know, because it’s a jolly cold coast I think is t’east coast.

    It is.

    I was surprised when they said they was going to live up there, but they both seem to like it.

    Well at Christmas...

    Well Mike’s mother and father lived in York so they thought they were nearer both of them, and me when they came up here so that’s why they arrived up here, so that’s why they arrived up here – I said ‘ooh I don’t know why you’ve gone on the east coast, it’s the coldest coast’  I said ‘you please yourself’ – I think I should have been going abroad like more people do nowadays, a little place abroad, in the sun.

    Would you like to live abroad then?

    Yes, I’ve had some good holidays, but not necessarily sun holidays.  We’ve mostly gone to – well my husband was very fond of art so we went to Italy especially, we did like Italy and we liked Germany for a happy, good, jolly time there’s nothing to beat Germany.  We had a real time when we went there, and of course my brother was living there – he couldn’t bear to speak of Germany, I said ‘I don’t know what you’re going there for’ [laughing]

    So the brother that died just after the war, what actually happened to him?

    No me brother that died that was lost at sea, no that was Willie, t’eldest one, yes…and my niece went to either Portsmouth or whatever down there, down south in Devon or Cornwall and there’s a memorial to all those who were lost at sea and his name was on it, yes it was really funny to see his name – someone had told her that they thought that it would be him, so she went to see and she said ‘yes it was’ and it was right and everything.

    Is his name on the memorial gardens here in Hebden Bridge, because they have a monument in Hebden Bridge don’t they?

    Oh yes, yes but I don’t think his name’s on that, perhaps they’re all soldiers – I don’t know, I don’t think so, I don’t know that – too self-centred I think.

    Well thanks very much for that Phyllis -  that was quite fascinating talking to – well these drawings on these envelopes to do with your family and friends from the past.

    The one who mostly wrote to my mother I should say of all of them, he was the one who wrote most – the one who was married.  He was the sailor, and they always say that that killed my mother, when she got to know that he’d been lost at sea and he was in sea boots or something and the weight of them would pull him down; they never found his body.  They searched for it but they didn’t find it, and I don’t know if he was particularly fond of swimming before he went even into the army, I don’t know.

    How did your father take it?

    I don’t know really, although I was supposed to have been my father’s girl – it were always ‘oh your father – spoilt to death, you!’ they used to say, ‘my father spoils you’ especially when I came on the scene because they’d only one girl and she was spoilt by her brothers of course, so when I came on the scene I put her nose out!

    And I was always playing with boys- I liked boys’ games – whip and top and that sort of thing you know, and marbles – things like that I always used to love playing, I did used to like that because there were some boys that lived on Bridge Gate and I was always with them – two brothers; they all kept shops and they used to be on the back, there’s a ground at the back and we used to go and I remember playing at cards you know – football cards, and you’d to guess the names, and I used to love all that sort of thing.  Skipping ropes as well and big round things you know – hoops and that as well; they don’t seem to enjoy things like that nowadays.

    Did you know any skipping songs?

    Yes I suppose we did but I can’t remember any…but I can remember a lot of old songs when I was older, because when I get to bed sometimes they just come into my head and I just go one after the other, really old songs, and the words were lovely words to the songs – they’re nothing, just noise, but they were always lovely little songs and the words used to be lovely you know, and sentimental but still they were lovely, they were.

    What songs did you like?

    Eeh I can’t remember, but I know they do come back to me…there was one – ‘You’ll Never Know How Much I Miss You’ – really nice words, very sentimental I would say, and then of course the American ones – they were always on about things in America and that sort of thing; they were different songs to ours.

    Did you sing Irish songs?

    Can’t remember, can’t remember – no…can’t go back so far!  I can go back a long way, but when you’re on your own you can sort of think about things, and especially if you can’t get to sleep – you do then.

    Okay – we’ll finish off then.

    I think there’s nothing else I can remember, but I do remember that we used to have – well we didn’t have to save but we were taught to save in those days; they don’t do anything like that now, do they – no encouragement to save.  It’s all spend – ‘it’s only five hundred pounds’ you know – everything is ‘only’ – if it’s a thousand pounds, it’s ‘only’ a thousand pounds – it’s marvellous.

    Well my husband worked for eighteen shillings a three short day week, eighteen shillings, that was his wage – seven and sixpence at home for three of us, just half a crown each, and my niece, she went working and she worked five and a half days a week for seven and six – all the hours, early morning till half past five and Saturday mornings till perhaps half past eleven.

    Where was that?

    They was doing the clothing trade – all the clothing, there was nothing else here – there must have been a dozen clothing firms in those days and they all went – there’s nothing left of them, all gone – they’ve all been converted into flats nowadays – where are they all coming from, these people?

    I don’t know.

    They’re coming from away aren’t they, they’re not locals.


    No, they’re not locals.  Mind you, I suppose families today – they split up quicker don’t they, I mean they’ve been married two or three times and moving house, so they will want more houses won’t they naturally?  I don’t know how many people there are in this valley now, but I’m sure it must have doubled or trebled.

    Do you think so?

    Yes I think it has, and yet you know, quite a lot of shops – Bridge Lanes, we had everything you could think of; three butcher’s shops in Bridge Lanes alone, and a greengrocer where you could get everything, fish and chip shop, two – you could just get everything in Bridge Lanes.   Three pubs, I think there were three or four up Heptonstall Road alone – marvellous, at five pence a pint – but there were no catering, the only catering – me mother used to do a dinner for the local tradesmen and it were just in a little room that we had at the back and she used to put it in - and the butcher, who live in St George’s Square, just where he used to provide the meats so it was always good, and me sister used to help with the cooking as well so they managed a little bit between them, but she only just did it as a favour really to them because they’d supported the pub, most of them.

    When was that – how often?

    Ooh I don’t know – a long long time ago.

    Did she do that every week or..

    No, no – just occasionally, just a special tradesman’s lunch, dinner it was [someone coming in – talking about getting a new manager for the home]

    [END OF TRACK 2 - letters] 

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About Us

Wild Rose Heritage and Arts is a community group which takes it's name from the area in which we are located - the valley ("den") of the wild rose ("Heb") -  Hebden Bridge which is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

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Pennine Heritage Ltd.
The Birchcliffe Centre
Hebden Bridge

Phone: 01422 844450
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