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Years in Focus 1952




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

4th JANUARY 1952

"New Year’s resolutions is all mi heye and Peggy Martin," said ‘Erbert, "Speak the truth and shame the devil – that’s t’only resolution I ivver made."

Everyone nodded affirmatively, except ‘Arry, who said "B-b-b" - but as usual, no-one took any notice. ‘Erbert was on his best conversational behaviour, his nearest approach to the bedside manner. So were ‘Arry and ‘Enery for that matter - they had to be, for Judd was in that predicament described as "bad i’ bed" and they were in the sick room on sufferance.

In an effort to lower Judd’s blood pressure and accelerate his recovery, Mrs Judd had disconnected the wireless and sent away the man who brought the sports editions. Thus also she would undoubtedly have served ‘Erbert, ‘Enery and ‘Arry, but they had come to let the New Year in at Judd’s express behest, so she contented herself by enjoining them not to talk football.

‘Erbert’s topical opening was in deference to her instructions, but the invalid was not impressed. An air of tension hovered around the sick bed. "Look, lads" he broke in petulantly, "how about some news?" ‘Arry coughed and edged to the door, Judd ignored the interruption, "T’missus has taken all t’football papers away," he complained pointedly,

At the ominous word, ‘Enery arose and shuffled, ‘Arry let out a rasping cough which shook the windows, and incoherently asked to be allowed to go downstairs. Only ‘Erbert remained calm.

"Don’t be rude, ‘Arry," he warned, "remember yor browtins up, What’ll Judd think if his visitors go on like hooligans? You’re going to make him worse." ‘Arry sat down, abashed and nervous, but Judd is not the sort to let it go at that.

"I knaw what’d put me on mi feet as sooin as ‘owt," he hinted’

"And what’s that, Judd?" said ‘Enery, all solicitude and innocence. Judd leered round craftily above the counterpane, "If one o’ yo’d tell me how many points Featherstone won by." In the deathly silence that followed, Judd’s eyes travelled all around the room, Then they met ‘Arry's.

"Owd ‘Arry’ll tell Judd," he weedled; "nivver baulk a sick man. ‘Ow many ‘Arry?"

‘Erbert was shaking his head in a very obvious manner, ‘Enery was frowning, ‘Arry was tearing his hat to shreds. Then he started to speak - the others waited and watched in fascinated horror

"Th-th-th-they d-d-d-didn’t win Judd." Swift change came over the invalid; he sank back on the pillows. "Put t’leet off as you goa’ out lads." was all that he said.

As they went down the garden path, the storm broke on ‘Arry's head, ‘Erbert was beside himself. "Criminal, that’s what it is, I nivver seed owt soa cowd-blooded. Here’s me doin’ mi best ta make polite conversation an' head 'im off..."

A bubbling deep down in ‘Arry’s quaking throat indicated that the culprit had something to say too. "C-c-coudn’t ‘elp miself, ‘Erbert, it’s mi N-n-new Year’s resolution."

‘Erbert stopped in his tracks, "An’ what’s that?" said ‘Enery, with the voice of Nemisis. Cold and clear came the reply, without the suspicion of a stammer; "Speak the truth and shame the devil."

11th JANUARY 1952

Two Hundred And Fifty Old People enjoyed the first instalment of the Knottingley and Ferrybridge Old People’s tea and concert at the Town Hall, Knottingley, on Wednesday, A substantial meal was provided and many local people joined in the entertainment. Before tea, Lt. Evelyn Adams, of the Knottingley Salvation Army Corps, pronounced the blessing. Later, the oldest people present; Mrs Jane Holden aged 90 and Mr. Sellars, aged 87, each received an envelope containing money. The next oldest, Mr. Jest, aged 86, received a cake, and the oldest married couple, Mr. and Mrs Ryall, of Womersley Road, who had been married for 51 years, a basket of fruit. These were handed to them by Councillor J. Jackson, J.P., the oldest and longest serving member of the K.U.D.C.

There was community singing accompanied by an orchestra, and those taking part in the concert were Jennie Schofield, Messr’s W. Brocklehurst, B. Summerton, J. Smythe and Astbury, Mrs Branford, and Mrs Lightowler, and the ‘Kopec Follies’ concert party. At the finish ‘Just a song at twilight’ was sung by all the artists on stage. Mr. J. Schofield was the pianist; the compere was Councillor W. O’Brien, and Messrs. J and A. Stanworth, and W. Swingley, were the stage managers. Coffee and biscuits were served.

Before the guests left they sang ‘Auld Lang Syne’ Members of the St. John’s Ambulance were in attendance and about a score of disabled people were brought and taken home by private car. Mr. W. Schofield gave four pounds towards the gifts for the old people. Another 250 people were to have been given similar entertainment yesterday. The arrangements were made by the Knottingley and Ferrybridge Old People’s Entertainment Committee under the chairmanship of Mr. B. Summerton.

15th FEBRUARY 1952

The ‘Wandale H’, a motor tanker launched from the Knottingley shipyard of John Harker Ltd., on Tuesday will be the second vessel built by the firm within a year to make a sea trip halfway round the English coast. She is for the firm’s service in the Bristol Channel area, and will be able to go up the River Severn as far as Worcester. In a few weeks she will leave on her long maiden voyage. Accommodating a crew of four in modern style, the ‘Wandale’ measures 135 feet by nine feet, carries a lifeboat and has a loading line which will enable her to ply between Bristol and Swansea. 

The launching ceremony was performed before a large crowd, which included many school children, by Miss Bagley, daughter of Dr. S.B. Bagley, C.B.E. J.P., who later received a commemorative powder compact from the Managing Director of John Harker, Ltd., Mr. G.L. Lyon.  The ‘Wandale’ is the largest type of vessel which can trade to Worcester, She has a 390 tons carrying capacity, Of two sister ships to be built by the firm, one is already well advanced.

15th FEBRUARY 1952

At all the Churches in Knottingley appropriate references were made to the death of the King and prayers said for the Royal Family. The Vicar, the Reverend W. Musgrave, preaching at St. Botolph’s, emphasised the example of family unity expressed in the King’s life and made a plea for more consideration for family ties and loyalties.

The Rev J. Gee, Pastor of the Foursquare Methodist Church, who at one time lived in the Windsor district, drew attention to the consistent example the king had set in church going. The Reverend R.B. Hyde, preaching at the Ropewalk Methodist Church, also made special references. At the Ropewalk Senior Modern School, the pupils were assembled in the hall immediately after the news of the King’s death was received and the Headmaster, Mr. S. S. Roebuck, conducted a service. Today, Friday, there is to be a Requiem at St. Botolph’s, and on Sunday a civic memorial service attended by the Chairman, Councillor C. Burdin, and members of the K.U.D.C.

14th MARCH 1952

The first sod was lifted on Monday to lay the foundations on the new site of St. Andrew’s Church, Ferrybridge. As already reported in ‘The Express’, the Norman Church is to be taken down and rebuilt in the field adjoining the Vicarage, in Pontefract Road. The ceremony was performed by the oldest parishioner, Miss Ada Hartley, who is 86. Introducing her, the Vicar of Ferrybridge, the Reverend C.H. Branch, declared that for 40 years there had been a pressing need for a more central church, and the past ten years had intensified that need. Since the last war, over 200 more houses had been built in the village. He described the lifting of the first sod as the "initial climax" of 40 years work. 

As if to augur success for the scheme, the sun shone on a gathering of about 30 people mainly women, who had taken time off from their morning tasks to see an event the like of which has not occurred in the village since about 1160. And this was not to be the building of a new church, but the bodily removal of an ancient one. Mr. J.C.S. Wood, of Messrs. R.A. Easdale and Son, Castleford, the architects for the project, also spoke of the need for a church nearer the heart of the village and expressed hope that everything would go smoothly in "these days of difficulties." After performing the ceremony, Miss Hartley was thanked by the Vicar’s Warden, Mr. J. Briggs, and the people’s Warden, Mr. W.H. Lund.

21st MARCH 1952

A man young in spirit was a description given to Mr. Henry Gregg, of Knottingley, who died in a Leeds nursing home on Monday, aged 75. Affable and engaging, and possessing boundless energy, Mr. Gregg was "hail fellow well met" with the majority of Knottingley people and many in the surrounding districts. He leaves many friends. The Senior Director and Chairman of the glass bottle manufacturing firm of Gregg and Co Knottingley Ltd., Mr. Gregg entered the business which was started by his father, the late Mr. Jabez Gregg and the late Mr. W. Chadwick, when he was thirteen. He began as an operative and worked his way through the departments. He lived to see the firm, which was established in 1902, reach its fiftieth year. When his father died Mr. Gregg became the senior partner, along with his brother, Mr. Alfred Gregg, and the late Mr. Chadwick. He took an active part in public life and was for seventeen years, until 1946, a member of the K.U.D.C. of which he served as chairman. His interest in education also took an active form and he was a member of the Pontefract Education Executive from its formation; Chairman of the Governors of the Knottingley Ropewalk Secondary School and of the managing body of the Knottingley Primary Schools and a governor of the Pontefract and District Girls High School. He was also a former member of the Knottingley Youth Council.

Cricket was his chief sporting interest and he was for many years President of the K.T.C.C. and a familiar guest at the dinners of the West Riding league, His gifts to local cricket include, the Jubilee Cup and a set of medals for the Knottingley 11 which completed the League double in 1951. Mr. Gregg leaves a widow and one son, Mr. W.H. Gregg, who, with Mr. A. Schofield, will carry on the business.

28th MARCH 1952

From a land where petrol is 1/8d a gallon and sea bathing a chief recreation comes Mr. William J. Middleton, formerly of Sunny Bank, Knottingley. Although it is not two years since he went to Trinidad, where he is works manager of a glass factory, he renews with a shock his acquaintance with rationing and prices in this country.

There is food and fruit in abundance where he is, and working conditions are not quite what might be imagined in a glass trade in a semi-tropical land. There is much less of a contrast for the men coming away from the furnaces into the colder air and at the same time the trade winds keep the atmosphere fairly fresh. With the exception of Mr. Middleton, the general manager, and maintenance engineer and the electrician, the personnel of the factory are drawn from the island. Mr. Middleton’s former colleagues will be interested to hear that the factory uses the Monish bottle-making machines, well known locally.

Mr. Middleton has been around quite a lot since he left his employment at Bagley’s Knottingley, some years ago. He worked for two firms in London; then with four other men, operated a glass works at Bishop’s Stortford. When he began in the West Indies he did not forget the days when he played for Bagley’s Recreation football and cricket teams. Almost every kind of sport known in this country is played on the island including Rugby Union. Mr. Middleton soon had a works team of West Indians playing ‘soccer’ and they won the district cup. He has not touched cricket yet but there seems to be no need of coaching in that sport. "They seem to be born with a bat in their hands out there," he says.

Mr. Middleton followed another Knottingley man, Mr. David Skelton, who is now working at Mombasa, to the works at Trinidad. His father died recently, but his mother still lives at Knottingley.

4th APRIL 1952

As in most places in this wide world, there are Knottingley Scots ‘wha hae wi sassenach’s dwelt’. And to the lasting glory of their begs and bens, so they remain. Over a period of years, contact with the natives might have brought some Anglicising influence, at least on their sporting pursuits; and in a centre such as Knottingley, their conversion to Rugby League football, or pigeon racing, could scarcely be held to constitute a flaw in Scots character. But diamond has cut diamond, and Knottingley must acclaim the tougher gem. So, far from succumbing to the lure of Sassenach’s sport, the Scots have implanted their own and with such effect that Knottingley, without knowing it, may now have an international reputation.

For what? The question is answered in a hut in Jackson Lane, where the stage is now set for the game of carpet bowls. A little while ago some twenty Knottingley people would have acknowledged lamentable ignorance of a Scots institution. Now they are wiser, happier and considerably more skilful people. They are also members of the Rose and Thistle Recreation Club and Anglo-Scots - or, more intimately, Knottla-Scots - a body devoted to the pursuit of carpet bowls. This thing has possibilities; it is only three years since the first players in Knottingley got together at the home of Mr. M. McLauchlan and used his carpet. Now they tread one of their own at Jackson Lane. Mr. McLauchlan and another Scot, Mr. J.G. Baird, are the founder members of the club. The secretary is an Englishman, Mr. B.J. Reeves.

The carpet is 24 feet long and you bowl through an iron hoop towards a ring. There is no bias on the woods and those who finish nearest the centre count most The game is about 100 years old, and was invented by the Scots for something to do when they were not curling or playing golf. There are 198 clubs in Scotland and something over 50 in England, mostly in the Bolton and Manchester districts. Mr. McLauchlan says the game is strongly established among miners in Scotland and hopes to introduce it to Featherstone. Meanwhile, Knottingley remains one of the only two clubs in Yorkshire.

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

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