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Years in Focus 1950

YEARS IN FOCUS

KNOTTINGLEY IN 1950

REPRODUCED COURTESY OF THE

Knottingley in the 1960's as seen in the Pontefract and Castleford Express

JANUARY 1950
OLD YEAR OUT

A very successful and enjoyable carnival ball was held in the Town Hall, Knottingley, on New Years Eve, by members of the Knottingley Branch of the British Legion. Mr H. Winterbottom was the M.C. and minerals, ices and cakes were served by women friends. About 80 was raised for the Branch's new building fund.

WATCHNIGHT SERVICES

Watchnight Service's were held at the Ropewalk Methodist Church and the Elim Four Square Church, Knottingley, on Saturday, and were conducted by the Rev J.J. Lewis and Pastor J. Gee, respectively. The service at the Elim Church was followed by a celebration of communion which was well attended.

GOOD TURNS

Weekly whist drives held throughout the year raised the money which has enabled the women's section of Knottingley Toc.H to provide comforts for the sick and elderly between Christmas and the new year. Between 20 and 30 people were visited, including a little boy in hospital; and food, fruit and other gifts distributed.

A PROMISE

Mr. R. Greenwood, and his sister, Mrs Thompson, have promised that when the building fund of the Knottingley local Labour Party reaches 380 they will make it up to 100, The gift will be in memory of their mother, the late Mrs Greenwood, who about 20 years ago contested a seat on the Knottingley Urban District Council, as a labour candidate.

CHURCH APPOINTMENTS

Mr F. Fozzard, of Knottingley, is acting as honorary lay reader at Christ Church, provisionally upon his being licensed later by the Bishop, says Knottingley's Parish Magazine. Mr. John Harker has been nominated by the Vicar, the Rev W. Musgrave, as churchwarden, to fill the vacancy at Christ Church caused by the death of Mr. E. N. France; and Mr S. Whitwell has been appointed honorary choirmaster.

5th May 1950
KNOTTINGLEY LOSS

Many people of the town and district whose schooldays were spent at the Knottingley Church of England School, will remember Miss Amelia Drinkwater, of 'Attenboro', Weeland Road, Knottingley, the former headmistress of the Infants School who died on Monday.

A member of the well known family, Miss Drinkwater was the eldest daughter of the late Mr John Drinkwater, a former Chairman of the K.U.D.C. Her first association with the school was when she was a pupil teacher there during the headmastership of the late Mr Mark Hill, in whose time the school acquired a distinctive musical reputation, In later years she she served it in several respects, and with a quite determination which covered much much solid effort and achievement.

'The National' was not her first school, however. After leaving Ripon Training College she taught at Leeds and also at the Northgate Girl's School, Pontefract, Then she became head of the Driffield C of E Girls School after which her health became affected. She succeeded Mrs Hill as headmistress of the Knottingley Church of England Infants School, where she continued until until increasing ill-health compelled her retirement about 12 years ago.

It will be recalled that Miss Drinkwater helped to found the School's former Old Scholars Association, whose activities added a great deal to the social life of the town several years ago, She was a member of the committee of the former association and also interested herself in the work of St Botolph's Church, where she had charge of the Girl's Friendly Society and was a member of the Parochial Council, Miss Drinkwater took a great interest in sport in her younger days, She was a fine skater, in later years her health became increasingly worse and for the past eight years she had almost been bedfast, There are three brothers and three sisters, the funeral took place at Knottingley cemetery after a service at St Botolph's conducted by the Rev W. Musgrave.

June 1950
YOUNG HERO OF RIVER RESCUE COOLLY UNDRESSES IN WATER

Recovering from a serious illness at her sister's home in Sussex, Mrs Iris Brown of Lilygarth, Ferrybridge, was not aware, at noon yesterday, that her seven year old son, Ivor, whom she left at home with his grandparents, had narrowly escaped drowning. Nor did  neighbours in Ruskin Avenue, Airedale, realise that 16 year old Ronald Crowther, the son of Mr Tom Crowther, who lived in one of the 'pre-fabs' in the Drive, had made a daring rescue.

Ivor was into the Square on an errand by his grandmother, Mrs W. Brown, at about 8 o'clock on Wednesday night, and 20 minutes later was carried home "half drowned". It is believed he fell in the River Aire from the mooring wharfe behind the Golden Lion Hotel, and that the current swept him towards the lock. Crowther was riding through The Square on his bicycle and saw the boy struggling in the water, and immediately went to the rescue.

A representative of 'The Express' yesterday found Ivor on the way to recovery, and sucking an iced lolly. All he could be persuaded to say was ''I just fell in. I am going to learn to swim".

Crowther was at work as usual; he started at 5.15a.m. underground, at the Prince of Wales Colliery, Pontefract. Mr Herbert Bowers, however, of Hawthorne View, Chapel Allerton, a garage proprietor at Ferrybridge, saw the incident:

''Crowther jumped off his cycle,'' he said ''left it in the road, and ran to the river bank. Kicking off his shoes, he dived fully clothed into the water and swam out to the struggling boy. who appeared to have fallen off the mooring wharfe. When he reached him...'', Mr Bowers recalled, ''...he grabbed him round the neck and turned him over on his back. Then holding the boy, he started taking off his clothing. With his one free arm he got off his coat, trousers and shirt, and left them in the water. Then he started to swim to the bank. I was waiting for him there with Mr Joe Colombine, who threw out a lifebelt, and I dropped a rope into the water. The rescued boy grabbed the rope, and we pulled him up a ten foot wall to safety. Crowther refused help to get out of the water. By this time a crowd had collected, and I think he was bashful because he was only wearing trunks. He swam up the river, and got out on the bank. Then he climbed through a kitchen window into the Golden Lion Hotel, had a bath there, and was given some food. I found clothing for him, and half an hour later he rode off home. It was a very plucky rescue,'' Mr Colombine lives at Sowgate Lane, Ferrybridge.

Crowther arrived home with 1 in his pocket, given to him by Mr and Mrs Brown, and he intends to use it to buy clothes, for his father has been out of work for 18 months, and there is a little over 8 to keep a family of five. His mother said, ''I'm glad he was passing, or the little boy might have been drowned. Ronald had been out for a ride on his bicycle, he had no idea he would be a hero before he returned".

7th July 1950
GIFT TO HERO OF RIVER RESCUE

Ronald Crowther, the 16 year-old Airedale youth who rescued a boy from the River Aire at Ferrybridge last week, received a cheque for 10 for his bravery, at the Prince of Wales Colliery, Pontefract, on Tuesday. He is the son of Mr and Mrs T. Crowther, of Ruskin Drive, Airedale, and an underground worker at the colliery.

Making the presentation on behalf of the Sports and Entertainment Committee of the colliery, of which he is President, Mr C. Hudson. J.P. produced a report from last week's issue of the 'Express' which described how Crowther had dived into the river to rescue 7-year-old Ivor Brown, of Lilygarth, Ferrybridge. Mr Hudson told Crowther, who sat shyly throughout the presentation, that he had won the admiration of every man at the colliery, and that the Committee had agreed unanimously to make a gift of 10. Also present were the Agent [Mr P.Davis] and the manager [Mr C.Appleby], who offered their congratulations. Mr Davis said that a youth who displayed such promptitude as Crowther, appeared likely to ''get on'' in the pit, and added:

''We are always looking for young men who can make their own decisions. In this case, Ronald did not wait for a lead to be given - he took action".  Mr Appleby endorsed those remarks.

In reply, Crowther thanked the Committee for its gift, and related again, the story of his adventure. He was away from work on the morning of the presentation because of an X-ray examination which, his father said, revealed a strained stomach muscle. Ronald added, however, "I'm going back to work tomorrow".

2nd June 1950
AN EYE FOR AN EYE

Beware of the vernacular and strange fishermen. That's my advice to anyone who likes to potter around in the flat lands east of Knottingley, I used to like pottering around that way myself - Birkin; Norman Church; 1066 and all that. But never since the affair of the odd angler have been able to look Birkin in the eye - or to be precise, in Old Eye.

The Old Eye was at the bottom of that business, right to the bottom. The layers of 20 years at settled above it. Probably before, but certainly round about that length of time ago, Knottingley lads had a favourite expedition, known as "Going over the Marsh". The interesting parts of it consisted of trailing one's hands in the water while crossing the River Aire in a dinghy, and dabbling for minnows at the other side.

It was while thus employed that wiseacres of ten or eleven years old would tell entrancing tales of how somewhere, away to the east, some other beck came wide and mysterious, in a place full of big fish, They called this place Birkin O' Dee, I never saw it then, but it figured in my youthful imaginings; and it was unfortunate, to say the least, that someone with a case history like this should meet the angler. He was one of those types one can meet in the flat lands cycling about, festooned with rods and nets, and exuding local colour, I was peddling around with no objective in view - until the colour of it caught my eye,

So then we exchanged the time, He was going to Ulleskelf perhaps? No, not Ulleskelf, Naburn then? No, not Naburn. He did not say where he was going. It was only after two miles and 20 questions that I discovered that he was going to Birkin O'Dee. My heart gave a jump. The boyhood memories flooded back and I persisted with my interrogation. After more miles and many monosyllables, I was able to make a startling deduction -i.e. that the mysterious O'Dee of yester-year was none other than the 'owd ee' of the vernacular; and that both approximated to the Old Eye as described in the Ordnance Survey.

So far as I am concerned, you can pronounce it how you like. I have my own opinion, however, it is shattering to be persuaded that one has been deceived by one's own dialect for 20 years. The shock of it must have impaired my judgement because in next to no time I was accepting a monosyllabic invitation to accompany the Angler, and promising to observe strict silence.

So eventually we arrived at an interesting collection of water within sight of Birkin Church. This was not the Old Eye but the Bull Tongues - though I gathered it was the same thing, more or less. The first half-hour passed in tense expectancy while on the mint-scented waters I regarded a red and white quill. Every time a shrew squeaked or a willow-wren twittered, I looked sharply at the Angler, but his face was as immobile as the red and white quill; and that was depressingly still. Flies buzzed and dragon-flies hovered. The summer sun beat down with some force, and the half-hour went by without any noticeable change in the situation. Another half-hour saw the edge of my curiosity somewhat blunted.

I had reached the stage of counting crows when there was a sudden whirl of movement from the Angler a ''plop'' a splash - as the quill and its appendages were plucked from the water. His tense frame expressed a crisis as the tackle came floating in. Then he relaxed, restored the whole contraption to its original position, and went on staring at the quill, without saying a word. I was so excited that I nearly asked him what it all meant.

To take my mind off it I resolutely counted up all the water spiders and extracted the square root. This occupied another half-hour. I was just starting on the dragon-flies when he stirred. He leaned slowly towards me, cleared his throat with infinite caution, and said in a hoarse whisper; "I saw it... it was a jack,... nearly had my bait".

I got the impression that the loss would have been irreparable. Silence fell again, but the communication had disturbed me and my feeling of malaise were considerably increased when, after what seemed suspiciously like another half-hour, he repeated it word for word. Then the end of the next half-hour approached, and I began to look covertly at my watch, I felt distinctly shaky. The tension was acute. Twenty nine minutes had elapsed when his body began to cant sideways. He gave his apology for a cough and I knew exactly what was going to happen. From then on it was sheer torture. The flies buzzed louder than ever, the odour of the water mint ebbed and flowed, the sun laid a heavy hand on all green things, including me, and the quill never moved an inch. After another twenty-five minutes my legs began to shake. When the watch showed twenty-eight minutes past, I could fell loads of sweat standing out on my forehead, as big as tapioca, It was exactly one minute and thirteen seconds later that I heard him cough, and something snapped in my head.

I lurched wildly to my feet, demoralising a couple of water hens. "That's right", I babbled, "you saw it; but it saw you, its probably got an owd ee." What he said to that I shall never know, because the dream seems to have ended there. But there was something else I did not dream. One day I was passing through Birkin just incidentally. Out of sheer curiosity, I stopped and looked across to the Old Eye. Two figures were silhouetted on the bank and one was canting confidently towards the other. A breath of minty evening air came to me across the darkening meadow, and the sound of a dry cough.... I reached for my bicycle and pedalled rapidly out of the district.

2nd June 1950
WHITSUNTIDE

A Sunday School Outing highly enjoyed by a party of 70 parents and scholars, was that of Christ Church, Knottingley, to Moss, near Askern, on Monday. Sports, for which prizes were given, were held in a field lent by Mr L.P. Luke, and tea was served in the Moss Children's Institute. The arrangements were made by Mr F. Fozzard, Miss H. Lawson, Mrs J.I. Nunns, and Miss A. Newlove.

CINE SHOTS

Cine Shots of Malham and the source of the River Aire were taken on Sunday on another outing from Knottingley to the Dales; that of the Crystal Glass Works engineering department. The party travelled by bus and visited the falls at Aysgarth and Ingleton, where they had luncheon and spent some time in the afternoon. When they went on to Malham, many of the party had their first glimpse of the source of the River Aire. The arrangements were made by Messrs Howdle and Whitwell.

LOYAL GREETINGS

Loyal Greetings to Queen Mary on her 83rd birthday on Friday were sent by telegram from the Knottingley Branch of the Women's Conservative and Unionist Association, who have received a reply from the Queens private secretary. At a social gathering of the Association yesterday week, Mr Golland, of Cridling Stubbs, was the speaker, Miss L. Hunter presided and thanks to Mr Golland were voiced by Mrs J.I. Nunns, Afterwards games were played and refreshments served by members of the committee.

A ROUND TRIP

A round trip of the Yorkshire Dales, occupying a full day, made an interesting outing for members of the Ropewalk Methodist Church Choir, Knottingley, on Monday. Travelling by bus, they had breakfast at Bolton Abbey, continued along upper Wharfedale, through Grassington and Kettlewell and Buckden, and over to Hawes in Wensleydale for luncheon. In the afternoon they continued through Aysgarth and Richmond to Ripon where members inspected the Abbey ruins and had an exhilarating walk to the surprise view there. There was a little rain during the day but not enough to interfere and the trip was greatly enjoyed.

30th June 1950
EXPRESS REPORTER 'SOTTO VOCCE'
WHERE THEY PAINT THE PAVEMENT - BRIGHT IDEA AT KNOTTINGLEY
 

Knottingley last week - end-painted its pavements - and then ceremoniously 'unveiled' the result. The idea was born in the deliberations of the Road Safety Committee for the town, and road safety slogans were the subject of the works of art. The artists were schoolchildren of the town; and when the Chairman of the Road Safety Committee, Cr P. Gross, who has been a painter all his life, unveiled five flagstones so treated on Friday, he gave high praise to the skill and talent of the children.

On the same evening the Road Safety Queen of Knottingley was chosen, and a graceful action preceded the final choice which was made by Lord and Lady Calverley, and fell upon 16-year-old Margaret Rose Finney, of Aire Street. The competition for the Queen was conducted during a dance at the Town Hall. As attendants to the Queen, Misses Doris Finney [no relation] of Middle Lane, and Sylvia Wallace, of Aire Street, who stood next in order of selection were appointed.

The painted flagstones are set in the pavement near the Town Hall and the illustrations well executed in hard wearing enamel, make an interesting show on the roadside. The slogans are taken mostly from film titles, thus, 'No, No, Nanette' shows a girl chasing a ball into the road; 'Destry Rides Again' a boy cyclist turning correctly at a junction; a still life group is entitled 'Putting safety first, There's still life'; a glorious show of flowers is 'Worth looking both ways for', and a man strolling in front of a lorry is 'The way to the stars'.

Cr Gross claimed that Knottingley is the first town to use the idea of painted pavements, and he pointed out near them, one of the towns worst accidents of recent years occurred, in which several R.A.F. men were killed. It is estimated that the pictures will withstand the weather for several months and ultimately others will be provided at other points,

Cr Gross, the committee, the children and their art master, Mr Alan Billbrough, were thanked by the Police Superintendant, C.F. Marston. of Pontefract. Councillors and officials were among the large crowd which watched the ceremony and Police and special constables directed traffic.

Knottingley 1950
FOR THE OLD FOLK

About 20, including donations, has been raised in Knottingley and Ferrybridge for the Knottingley Old Folks Treat fund, during the past week, by the N.A.D.S&S Club, Knottingley.

AN INNOVATION

An Innovation at the Ropewalk Methodist Church, Knottingley, is the production of a monthly bulletin, the first issue of which appears today. They are to contain a survey of the work of the church in all its departments, an editorial by the Minister-in Charge [the Rev J.J. Lewis], and items concerning the churches in the surrounding villages.

IN AIR DISPLAY

A.C.2 Leslie Robinson, the youngest son of the late Mr H. Robinson of Low Green, Knottingley, who is serving with the R.A.F. at Fassburg, Germany, has written home to say that he has been chosen to take part in the R.A.F. display at Farnborough, tomorrow. He will be a signaller with the 3in mortar Flight. He joined the R.A.F. in June last year, and was previously an apprentice fitter at Greggs Glassworks.

PRIZE DISTRIBUTION

The annual prize distribution of the Congregational Sunday School, Knottingley, on Sunday, attracted a large congregation in the afternoon. Mr D. Ingram presided, and after a programme given by the scholars and arranged by Misses F. Gardner and G. Heald, prizes were distributed to 50 of the children. A minister's special prize for full attendance was awarded to Doreen Simpson. On Friday a jumble sale held by the Sunday School, raised 11 for school funds.

21st July 1950
AT ROYAL GARDEN PARTY

Among Yorkshire guests at the Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, yesterday week, were Cr and Mrs A. Reynolds, of The Grange, Knottingley. They saw their Majesties the King and Queen as they moved about among their guests, and also Princess Margaret, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and the Duchess of Kent. The party listened to the bands and had tea upon the lawns and later saw members of the Diplomatic Corps presented to their Majesties. The visitors were able to see the salons and the picture galleries at the Palace.

A SUMMER PARTY

A Summer party given by the Girl Guides of the First Knottingley Company at the Vicarage, on Friday, included the presentation of a toilet bag to Miss B. Walker, gym mistress at the Pontefract and District Girl's High School, who is leaving to take up another post. She received the gift from Company Leader Mary Day and later Miss Walker presented proficiency badges won by Mary Day, Margaret Scott, Pat Higgins, Wendy Rhodes, Jean Fozzard, Anne Musgrave, Shirley Hannar, Shirley Rawlinson, Elaine Scott, and Janet Woodhall. A variety of games and competitions produced their quota of fun. Winners of a fancy dress competition were Janet Woodhall [Len Hutton] Wendy Rhodes and Ruth Jorden [Titania and Bottom] and Kathleen Moore, flower girl. The event was organised by the Guide Captain, Miss Ellis.

8th September 1950
YOUNG METHODISTS

Young Methodists from Beal conducted an enjoyable meeting at the Knottingley Salvation Army Hall on Sunday. They took full charge, gave the address, the scripture readings and said prayers.

STATE SCHOLARSHIP

Monica Backhouse, Of Knottingley, a pupil at Pontefract and District Girl's High School, has been awarded a state scholarship on the results of the recent Higher School Certificate Examination.

OVER TO PARIS

Feature of the holiday weeks for members of the St Botolph's and Christ Church Young People's Guild, Knottingley, has been the visits of pen friends from France and Germany, who have also attended the Guild meetings, Some half dozen young people from the continent have stayed with Knottingley families and visited places of interest in the district. One of them, a young girl student from Paris, who stayed at the home of Miss Audrey Peel, was to return by air on Wednesday, and Miss Peel was to travel with her for a fortnights holiday in Paris. [Are you still living locally and can remember this occasion, please write in and tell us about it],

SOCIAL EVENING

A Social Evening at Norfolk House yesterday week, was enjoyed by members of the Knottingley branch of the Women's Conservative and Unionist Association, Games were played and refreshments served. The M.C. was Miss L. Hunter assisted by Mrs J.I. Nunns.

11th August 1950
FIELD DAY

Knottingley's traditional readiness to help the Hull Sailor's Orphan Homes was emphasised again during the holidays, when a field day at Marsh End not only provided some good fun for children and adults but realised 70 for the Homes. The opening ceremony was performed by Mrs A. Theaker, of Pontefract, Cr P. Gross presided, and the event was organised by Mrs E. Kellett and Mr W. Wray. Races were won by Terry Davis; Tony Norfolk; Jean Ellerington; Alice Forsyth; Barbara Armitage; Maureen Emmerson; Marlene Pickard; Brenda Gillian; Jack Wood; Keith Schofield; and Brian Wiltshire; Fancy dress competitions by Jennifer Burns; Denise Backhouse; and Tessa Stones; Skipping events by Jean Edwards; Mary Pickersgill; Maureen Stones; Violet Lamb; and Cynthia Payne.

11th August 1950
BALLOON VOYAGES

Word has been received this week from many parts of Lincolnshire of the arrival there of balloons released from Knottingley during the Road Safety field day, reported in the "Express" last week, In view of the distances covered, The Road Safety Committee is to keep the competition open for a month to allow more to be traced. Prizes in kind are offered for those who retrieve balloons. In the field day already reported, the Chairman of the K.U.D.C., Cr W. Burdin,J.P., took over the ceremony of crowning the Road Safety Queen.

OFF THE BLOCK

About a dozen years ago a landmark disappeared from beside the 'Jubilee' footpath when a mulberry tree behind the N.A.D.S&S. Club - one of perhaps two in the district - was chopped down. And that, thought most people who knew about it, was the end of the Mulberry. Then an elder tree began to sprout from the old stump a seed probably having lodged in a crevice full of soil. It took root and hid the stump completely. Meanwhile, hidden by the elder foliage, the mulberry stump has come to life again and strong shoots which it has sent out are now fruiting.

6th October 1950
NEW SOCCER CLUB

A new soccer club in the Castleford Under Eighteen Association Football League was the recently formed Knottingley Albion, of which Mr F. Slater is chairman and Eric Slater and Jeffrey Briggs, captain and vice chairman respectively. The team have played three matches, lost two and won one.

CHAIN OF PRAYER

Friday, Michaelmas Day, was observed by members of Toc H throughout the country as a national day of prayer. At Knottingley, members of the local branch maintained a chain of prayer from 7.30 in the morning to 12.30 pm in the afternoon, each member setting aside an allotted quarter of an hour during their period. Pontefract members joined in a concluding evening service conducted by Mrs D. Ingham.

6th October 1950
PROBLEM PICTURE

Now on show at the N.A.D.S.&S Club, Knottingley, an interesting scene comprising old limestone houses, with red-tiled roofs and a path leading from them to a gateway, has aroused much controversy among the viewers. Many people think they know where it is; others are not to sure. It is strong in local colour and atmosphere and has been given by the Knottingley artist, Mr Robert Jackson, to raise funds for the Knottingley and Ferrybridge Old People's Entertainments Committee. The only clue at the moment is that the scene is within a radius of two miles of Knottingley but the Committee will shortly announce the answer.

20th October 1950
BALLOON RACE

Mrs. F. Gross. was the winner of the Knottingley Road Safety Committee's balloon race, with a distance of 62 miles. Her ballooon was returned from Carleton, near Louth, Lincolnshire. The runner up also came from Lincolnshire - Moortown, near Caister, a distance of 42 miles and secured the second prize for Miss Lewis.

ROYAL VISIT

The Royal Visit To the works of Bagley & Co. in 1938, and a Knottingley carnival procession of 1935, were recalled by films shown to members and friends of Bagley's Recreation Club, and members of the retired worker's club on Monday. The films were shown by Mr C. Drinkwater. Mr H. Pickard, who presided, gave a brief outline of cine photography and projection, which had been his lifetime hobby.

A BULLET TORN BOOK

A piece of coral and pictures of a converted voodoo priest burning his stock in trade, are to be seen in a missionary exhibition dealing with culture, history and evangelical progress of the West Indies held this week by the Rev Lewis, of Knottingley. With several years service in the West Indies, he is fully qualified to make the exhibition and the accompanying lantern lecture highly interesting. He started a tour of the district with a visit to the Newgate Methodist Mission, Pontefract, on Saturday; was at Norton on Tuesday; and on Wednesday the exhibition was at Cridling Stubbs and the lecture given at Ferrybridge.

FOUR CONCERTS

Four Concerts for good causes in the course of a week is the record of the "K" Sisters, [ Misses Marjorie and Pamela Kellett] and their troupe, who have raised large sums for charity over a number of years. Yesterday week they gave a variety show before a large audience at the N.A.D.S.& S. Club, Knottingley, on behalf of a fund for Mr. W. Wood, former secretary of the Rugby League section of Bagley's Recreation Club, who has been in hospital for many months. During the evening the sisters received powder bowls in appreciation of their good work. The presentations were made by Mr. L.G. Creaser.

22nd December 1950
SIZING THEM UP

Knottingley people have a faculty for sizing people up, But one man has been around the place for the past twenty years and has never yet been completely sized up. That is Mr L.P. Luke, the headmaster of the Ropewalk Secondary School, who retires this week. There are several reasons for the omission, but the chief one is that you don't size up people like L.P. Luke - they size you up. Not wittingly, but as part of a gift they are endowed with which makes some of them teachers - though sometimes they might have liked to have been something else. And then for another person there is the difficulty of fitting all the pieces together, Any number of people who have known L.P. Luke in the past twenty years probably would not have imagined him as anything other than a teacher. Everything points to a generous and positive vocation

But this 60-year old educationalist - using the word in its fullest sense - who faces you squarely, and whose quiet exterior mounts a penetrating eye, does not always look the part. At times he looks as if he might be a naturalist; or perhaps an author; or maybe a journalist; or again a showman. And he might have been any one of them, for he has tried his hand at each and it has not been a bad hand.

Take the showbusiness as an example. It is fifteen years or so since he first showed that hand in Knottingley, and Knottingley immediately sat up and took notice. It laughed at itself in "The Ropewalk Review", a variety show composed entirely by schoolchildren and produced by Mr Luke. People had not seen children perform quite like that before. The hand had all the aces.

And so the first sizing up began. They said that L.P. Luke should have been an impresario. I asked him about it. He smiled, and said, "A lot of people have put a lot into this show". In later years I asked him about his interest in wildlife. He is well known to fanciers and breeders of showbirds, and the books and articles he has written on those and other subjects, but I only asked has a matter of course. I was becoming used to the smile and lack of information which came from Mr L.P. Luke about Mr L.P. Luke. It was the same again when I asked him for biographical details for the present occasion. I haven't had them; and Knottingley people and the teaching profession must essay their sizing up without them. It won't measure up with any exactitude, but some idea may take shape of the man who has guided many Knottingley children towards a knowledge of their own capabilities, And it is surprising what those capabilities can be. The grace and line of fine pottery ware-mentioned in another column - made by children of the school, shows one facet. The respect in which dozens of former boys hold their former "gaffer" shows another.

But Mr Luke is a firm believer in free expression, and he will tell you that the pupils have "done it all themselves" Yet who introduced ''potting '' to the school? Who arranged exhibitions of fine art which stimulated the minds of young people and developed their tastes could be coaxed to the realisation of natural bent? Don't ask Mr Luke, I have tried it, and the answer is a turn of the conversation. That is why half the things he has done have not found their way into any sizing up. Nevertheless in the past twenty years Knottingley has had a man of ideas at work in its midst. Those ideas have borne their  fruits, after Knottingley says "Goodbye, Mr Chips"

Now the "gaffer" of the Ropewalk School takes his leave as quietly as he took his welcome, but strict injunctions about "fuss" could not prevent the expressions that have come from the school and the staff, fro parents and councillors, and from others throughout the town. They are all sorry to see him go and if it is goodbye to "Mr Chips" it may be hello to Mr author or Mr Naturalist; or even, down on his holding in the country at Moss, Mr Farmer. Whatever activities occupy his retirement, it will be interesting and he will be enjoying it. The facility is a secret, perhaps he learned it as a young boy, when he helped turn out a newspaper, worked late at night, and walked home through the early hours of the morning, but he learned it.

15th December 1950
THE HOPE

"Frantic efforts are being made to realise peace and avert war" writes the Rev J.J. Lewis in the Ropewalk Methodist Church magazine, "but we have no guarantee. The only hope is in the Christ of whom we preach."

AUTOGRAPHED FOOTBALL

An autographed football bearing the signatures of the England Rugby League team that recently met a team of other nationalities, in Wales, and also those of the present Wigan team, is awaiting some Knottingley enthusiasts, prominent among whom is Mr G. Jackson, of Gander Haven Farm, who are taking part in a movement to help Billy Batten, the former Rugby League star.

CHRISTMAS CANTATA

A Christmas Cantata, "The New Born King", was given by the choir at the Knottingley Congregational Church, on Sunday. Solos and duets were sung by Miss G. Heald, Mrs Stratford, Mrs Coward, Mrs Ramsey and Miss Sheard, and the organist was Mrs E. Arnold. Mr T. Etherington gave a seasonable address.

 

 

Years in Focus is researched by Maurice Haigh and reproduced 
with the permission of the Pontefract & Castleford Express.


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