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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Memories



Thank you for publishing my letter in the Digest, issue 30, February 2006. It was nice also to see a photograph of Grove Cottage in that same issue. I wonder what year it was taken as we had a lovely garden when we lived there. The small one near the whalebone’s was mine to look after.

We also had a metal air raid shelter dug deep into the front garden and I remember during the night when the sirens had sounded, we would stand there looking eastwards towards Hull with the horizon ablaze. I had a cousin who was in the East Yorkshire Regiment at Beverley, and one night in about 1940 he said that Beverley had taken a very heavy raid and where the Post Office had once been there was now a very large hole.

Going back to the thirties when we lived in Aire Street we had some good times and bad, but certainly no regrets. How well I can remember going to Granny Scott’s house in Woods Square. You went down a passage between Hollingsworth’s shop on one corner and the Yorkshire Penny Bank on the other. On the right going down there was an archway and my Gran’s house was the first on the right. She would be sitting there in her rocking chair with her white apron on and underneath she had a little pocket in her dress where she kept her purse. And if you went down the passage there was either a club or pub with a snug on the side where all the elderly ladies went in their shawls to have a chat and a gill of beer. We had to go there with a jug for a gill of beer for my gran.

One night as we were making our way home to Aire Street, on the Flatts, facing Doubtfire's shop, was a trailer with a big screen on the side showing a girl of about 14 going through the snow and having nowhere to go. I think it was like lantern slides but it upset me so much I went home in tears.

Next door to the Yorkshire Penny Bank was, I think, Leeman’s Sweet Shop. I remember joining the bank one year to put in the halfpennies we got for running errands so that I could have a selection box for Christmas, which cost about a shilling.

On bonfire night Mr. Hollingsworth used to make a big Guy Fawkes for the bonfire on the Flatts and the women used to bring potatoes to roast and a few sweets.

On May 6th 1935 it was the silver jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary and the schoolchildren of West Yorkshire all presented with a bankbook containing a shilling, not to be touched until they reached the age of 16. On that day there was a carnival and sports day but I cannot remember where as I think I was the only one who didn’t go as I had a Bilious attack so stayed on the couch all day - and it was a beautiful sunny day!

I have a bible dated 1934 signed by Reverend F.C. Egerton for regular attendance at St. Botolph’s.

It was about 1936-1937 when we moved to Grove Cottages, Cattle Laithe and we lived in the house on the side at the top of the incline. We had a very big garden at the front where dad grew everything including vegetables, tomatoes, and gooseberries. If anyone called round who mum or dad knew they would always be given a bag of something to take home.

At this time my Dad was working at Fairburn’s Builders. He also had a round of people he knew who ordered vegetables from him which at the weekend he used to put in bags and my brother Dick and myself would deliver them for a few coppers. He also made a few more bags up to put in the pram and people used to come out and buy them. Well, later we moved over to the house on the front with the whalebones and I wonder, did a Mariner ever live there at sometime?

We had to go to Ferrybridge School passing the bone yard, which some days did smell. It was then on to the crossroads at Ferrybridge and past Glasby’s garage where we used to take the accumulators for the radio. I remember Mr. Pilgrim the headmaster and some days at assembly we had the hymn "To be a Pilgrim". You can imagine the emphasis put on the last word, more so by the lads!

Mr. Wrightson and Miss Knee took country dancing but as the trains passed alongside the playground you couldn’t hear the music so we had to stop until they had gone by. We also had to count the wagons and one or two were then asked how many there were, so lessons didn’t even stop in the playground.

They were very good teachers and it was nothing to get your knuckles wrapped with a ruler if you were doing sums or writing. The teachers used to walk round looking over your shoulder.

One of the things to remember was the school bell. It rang on a morning and afternoon for about five to ten minutes and woe betides you if you were not in the playground ready to get in line and march inside.

There was a house on one of the roads leading to Knottingley with a small garden at the front where they kept a baby fox on a long lead fastened to the railings. At dinnertime we would go and look at it and sometimes the bell would start – what a mad dash to get back there before it stopped.

It was about this time that our Dick who had not been well for a few weeks, was having our usual doctor to see him regularly, but one day a new doctor came who was helping out and realised he had diptheria. He took swabs of the rest of us and Dick, Peter and myself, finished up in the isolation hospital at Pontefract. Peter and myself were out within the space of about a week but Dick nearly lost his life and really was lucky to survive.

By now it was September and the war had started. All the schools were closed and as I would have left at Christmas anyway I never went back again. My mum used to work in the fields and Mrs Atkinson at Grove Hall asked mum if I would go round and help her out. The place had been almost taken over by the army with most of the grounds as well. There were also a number of Italian Prisoner’s of War there too.

When I was fourteen I got a job at Bagley’s in the packing side. My best friend at the time was Marie Ramskill from Womersley Road and also Doris Rowley, Lily Shay, Irene Foster, Winnie Frost and Eileen Hook who lived in Gillan Street. I remember her running out of Bagleys one day when it came over the radio that HMS Hood had been sunk. I believe she thought her husband was on it and who can forget. I hope this is her right name, if not I hope she can forgive me.

I also remember Tazza Belch or Belcher, who had one of the nicest voices for singing I have ever heard. She would have made a fortune today.

Dick by this time had a job on a farm at Darrington where he used to be given the smallest pigs out of the litter. We had two that grew enormous which mum and the lads took down to the abattoir in Knottingley.

Who can forget the dances at the Town Hall on a Saturday night – it was the highlight of the week. As Knottingley was surrounded with airfields there was often six or seven planes going out at once. What a sight to see and at the weekend the airman came in for a drink and a dance - there was never any shortage of partners and during the interval Marie and myself used to go across to the Anvil for a glass of beer. We thought we were very daring.

Well it was decided we had to do something for the war effort and I was sent to an aircraft aerodrome working on the planes and when one went out we used to be able to go and watch the test pilot taking them up. We had to get the Wallace Arnold coach from Hill Top at 6.45 in the morning and they would drop us off at about 5.30pm.

As the war was drawing to a close we had the choice of joining the women’s forces, ATS, RAF etc, the Land Army, munitions factory or the NAAFI. I chose the NAAFI and went from Baghill station to Derby (Sinfin Lane) where I met and married my husband and never came back to live.

We were hardly ever able to visit as it took nearly all day to get there. Mum used to come to Manchester by coach trip with youngest brother Graham and instead of going into Belle Vue, they used to spend the biggest part of the day with us. My sister Marjorie had met her American husband in London and they sailed to America in 1947-48.

Flo Pawson (nee Scott)

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