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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Memories



I was born in 1928 in Ferrybridge, one of five boys and two girls. This was before the age of television, antibiotics, frozen food, videos, frisbees, mobile phones, Tinky Winky and La La. It was the days when women wore the ear-rings and men wore the tattoos. Fast food was what you ate in Lent, a Big Mac was a raincoat three sizes too big, and crumpet was toasted and eaten for tea. Coke was put on the fire, grass was what the cows ate, dope was the village idiot, pot was what you cooked a rabbit in and aids were for the hard of hearing. The law came in the shape of PC's Hansom and Stobbs. If you used strong language like 'piddle' and 'trump' you were told to wash your mouth out with carbolic. Now the F word is the norm in the press and on television. Parents use it to children and the children use it to parents and teachers, often the girls being worse than the boys.

I started at Ferrybridge School in 1933 where the teachers at that time were Miss Fisher, Dolly Shaw, Miss Cherry and Harold 'Daddy' Wrightson. Daddy Wrightson cycled to school every day in all weathers from Beal to Ferrybridge on a ramshackle old bike which squeaked every time the pedals went round. The headmaster was Mr. P. Pilgrim and a summons to his study meant only one thing - three strikes across the hand with his cane. The only pain I have felt like that was when Doctor Murphy lanced a boil on my bum!

In 1939 I gained a scholarship to the King’s School. I was one of five, the others being John Mason, Lionel Nicholas, Mary Jackson and Margaret Doubtfire. Five scholarships was a remarkable achievement for a small school like Ferrybridge. I started at King’s School in September 1939 where the dress code was very strict. I spent the whole of the war years at school and times were hard with the blackout and food rationing.

We used to shop at the Co-op in Fishergate, mainly because you could get stuff on tick and settle up later, and also because you got the 'divi' there. My mam's divi number was 1482. Funny how you remember things like that (my Royal Navy number was D/MX 810834). The Co-op manager was Tommy France and the counter staff were Harry Bean, Herbert Robinson, Vic Applegarth and Tommy Smith, with Peggy Rhodes on the drapery counter.

I was called into the Navy in 1946 and came out in 1949. I can remember a Mr Hogg keeping the Golden Lion, then Harold Norman and Mrs V, and then Lawrie Brown. The Magnet was kept by Syd Lee, Norman Ackroyd then Albert Norris. The only people I remember at the Three Horse Shoes were Harry and Dolly Beech. At the Greyhound were Mr Pollard, Alf North and Geoff Sutcliffe. Harry Beech was called up in the early days of the War and he never came home until it ended so Dolly ran the pub. Pubs closed on a Sunday and didn't open again until Thursday because of the shortage of beer. Henry Lomas' club in Fishergate only opened when the pubs shut. The tap room at the Golden Lion was strictly men only and it was full of characters such as Dave Owen, Mick Wood, Bob Evans, Chalker James, Quaddie Yeats and Enoch Thompson. It sometimes seemed as if they were competing to see who could tell the biggest lie.

There were three fish and chip shops; Wilson's in the Square, Tom Hubbard's ("THE BETTER OLE" said the sign - I can see Tom Hubbard now standing by the coal-fired range with sweat streaming off him, waiting for the time when he could join Charlie Blower in the Lion) and Oliver Briggs' on Pontefract Road. Oliver was a big man with a booming voice like Flamborough foghorn. He combined his fish and chip business with being the local undertaker. His son, Jack, married Connie Chapman and she was a teacher on one of your recent photographs of Ferrybridge School. Incidentally, I knew Alan Wood quite well as I ran the Leeds United Supporters Club during the 1950's and early 1960's and Alan was a member.

Across the road from the Lion was the Post Office run by Mrs Thompson. Then came Clem Bowers' café, later owned by Fred Atter. When the rumour went round that Bowers had got the sweets in, there used to be a queue all the way round the Square. Next came Mrs Charnock, later to become Bill Penty's bookies shop. On the corner of the Square was Amery's hardware shop where you got your accumulator charged up to run your wireless. This shop was later owned by Kitty Iddon. There was Don Riley's butcher's shop later to be owned by Fred Ellis and Lawrence. There were two barbers - Pete Sutcliffe and Alf Eccles. Alf was an Officer in the Home Guard with Walt Ellis and he had more than a touch of Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army. There were two cobblers - John Watts and Herbert Swales, fruit shops - Dick Preston and Hilda Bell, a draper's run by Edna Piper and Mildred Woodall, and grocers shops run by Mr Street and Mr Davis.

The main events of the year were the Feast, the Carnival and Infirmary Sunday. The Infirmary Sunday event was run by George Humphries and all the pubs had a collecting box. The pub that raised the most money for the Infirmary held the cup for the year.

Ferrybridge Amateurs was a football team to be feared, with players like the legendary Charlie Harrison, Bert Cotterill, Tabby Cawthorne, Sid Hunter, Clarrie Jordan, Wally Brown, Tom Pearson, Fred Johnson, Fred Sidwell, Bert Cook, Benny Taylor and Roly Hill.

The village was full of wonderful characters - Hannah who kept the lodging house, Clara King with her battered hat and pram, Teddy Kendrick, Billy 'Cush' Appleyard, Nancy Longmore with her clay pipe, Isaac Longmore, the two Jimmy Glen's, Charlie Shaw, the Reverend Shipley, Richie Wilson, Billy Blower, Tommy Law, Mrs Pizzey and Cynthia and many others. I always promised myself that if I was left on my own I would go back to Ferrybridge, but I reckon it's too late now. I scan through the obituary column in the Pont and Cas Express to see if there is anyone that I remember. If my name isn't there, I get up and get dressed! I look forward to my sister bringing me your magazine and I read every word. There's a fellow whose name escapes me but he wrote about the Knottingley Gunslinger and Disasters at Sea and he does go on a bit. He obviously researches his subject very diligently but it gets a bit heavy.

My son is married to the daughter of Raymond Oakes who was featured in your article 'Knottla Nicknames' with his nickname Pancho. His widow Lilian is a close neighbour and she disputes the story of the nickname coming from a comic book. She says that with his dark skin, jet black hair and gleaming white teeth that he bore more than a passing resemblance to Pancho Gonzalez, the tennis player, and that's how the name came about.

My regards to anyone who remembers me, although I don't think there will be many.

And to my brother, Ron, I was only kidding. I think you are very good - keep up the good work!!

Jack Gosney

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