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BIRTHDAY PRESENT

ADDED 25 JANUARY 2006

Being a new reader to your magazine, (we didn’t find out about it until we had occasion to go to Pontefract just before Christmas), my son decided to buy all the back issues as a birthday present which I have found very interesting.

I was born in Knottingley in November 1925 to John Edward Scott and Beatrice Scott in Aire Street and we lived in some little cottages standing back from Backhouse’s bakery. They must have been very small as they were only two stories high. They had a metal stairway at the side and we lived in the first house up the stairs. Mam used to sew canvas bags with a big crooked needle for the farmers when bagging peas etc. I cannot believe Mam got a lot for the sewing.

I was the third child as I had an older sister Margery, a brother John who died young, and then myself, but our parents went on to have five more boys and another girl Hilda.

I cannot remember when but we then moved to a bigger house on Island Court behind the Palace cinema. I remember going to Ropewalk School when I was about three, and all the children sitting on chairs in a square and one girl was the hen and we all walked behind her flapping our arms and making noises like chickens.

Moving on we then got a house in Aire Street facing Backhouses bakery. Next door lived the Tunningley’s. I remember Alice taking me on the bus to Leeds to see ‘Mother Goose’ in pantomime – a treat I can still remember to this day.

We used to walk miles to Womersley or Kellington with Mam pushing the pram to go pea pulling. One of the biggest farmers for this was Mr. Beevers who would often come into the field on his horse which used to scare the children to death. When we got tired of pulling peas Mam used to make a ring of the full bags and we used to have to sit inside and keep watch over them as they wouldn’t pay out until the field had been done as some people who had got fed up would go home. When they arrived in the middle of the afternoon there was always a mad dash to get weighed in.

I liked it best when they were pulling peas further afield. We were told to be outside the Cherry Tree for 7am and a low back truck would come and every one got on. The children would stand at the front looking out over the roof of the cab and the women would all sing songs. Two I remember well were "Oh Play to me Gypsy" and "Carolina Moon" – those were happy days!

Dad worked at Bagley’s glassworks and also Fairburns the builders. Many a time I saw him pushing a handcart round Knottler. When we lived in Aire Street he had the keys for Backhouse’s on a Sunday night and if we were lucky we would go in with him and he would light the fires for Mr. Backhouse. I can remember the smell of the fruit was something I will never forget.

I wonder if any of the other older readers can verify that at the side entrance of the Palace where we used to queue up, as long as we had a clean jam jar you got in free on the first two rows? You couldn’t move your neck when you came out! I cannot remember if it was a regular thing or just a one off.

Well I had better close this now. If you think there is anything worth printing out of it I don’t mind. If not I have enjoyed living the past again with no regrets. We did move to Grove Cottages and Cattle Laithe, but that is another story.

Mrs F. Pawson (nee Scott)
25 January 2006


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