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OLD CHARACTERS OF KNOTTINGLEY

ADDED 2 MAY 2007

In response to the article on Knottla Nicknames, there were many and varied nicknames of many past generations who are now sadly just a memory but may I provide you with the information which I can remember of two of those within your article. Being born during the early part of the Second World War in Pickhill Garth, I can remember as a child, many of the old characters of Knottingley. The gentleman known by many in Knottingley as Collmosh was quite elderly when I was a child and lived in the cellar of one of the former lodging house's which was situated in the Back Lane. He was a small man, being only some 5ft 6/7ins tall, quite plump with a large white moustache, which through smoking was tinted ginger. He could be seen every day sitting on the public seats on the Flatts, as was the fashion in those days, indeed I have recognised Collmosh from a photograph featured on the Knottingley website.

The tramp, spoken about by many, who was always around Knottingley, was known as Buller Wild who had long hair and beard, and looked like what you would describe as the Wild Man of Borneo. But he was kind hearted soul, who lived in the Willow Garth or Bagley's Quarry. Percy Davis, who had the maggot farm/basket maker in the Willow Garth, used to provide him with a little bit of work to enable him to keep body and soul together.

My last memory of each of the above would be that in 1947 the Labour Government of the time created the National Health Service, part of which was the provision for the destitute and elderly who had insufficient means to look after themselves. In simple terms this meant that Buller and Collmosh were placed into Northgate Lodge, Pontefract (the Workhouse) nicknamed the "Grubber", now demolished. The institution was situated at the top of Back Baileygate and it was there that I can last remember seeing Collmosh who was standing outside of Horner's Shop.

Buller could be seen on Saturdays with his hair cut and clean shaven sitting on the public seats at the top of Horsefair near to Rose's wallpaper and paint shop, talking to the many Knottingley people who were visiting Pontefract for their weekend shopping. I trust that my memory of these two gentlemen will assist some of your readers.

John Vause
2 May 2007


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