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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Memories



I have spent my past 58 years in and around Ferrybridge and was brought up in the Square in the 1950's in one of three cottages directly next to the Post Office, which in those days was run by Jack Hirst. It was situated opposite the Golden Lion before it’s move to where it is today. When passing it now I can’t help but glance at the old cast iron drain pipe at the side of the arch, which I used to shin up to get onto the roof of the cottages.

I have many fond memories of my childhood in the 'Old Square', such as putting out the sandbags whenever the river looked like it was going to overflow. When it did the sandbags did not help a great deal in stopping 6 inch of water coming under the front door, not to mention the surface water coming up through the drains and accompanied with raw sewage. I remember one year when it was particularly bad to the extent that we 'The Boys of the 1950s' acquired from somewhere an old boat and spent many happy hours, until the river level subsided, punting across the Square.

During the summer months we had the 'Haystack Den' in Jess Lumbs stack yard, which was swallowed up by the new A1 along with just about everything else such as Len Whites Hardware shop, Rolfes Sweet shop, Stan Jones the Chemist, Ellis’s Wallpaper & paint shop, Fred Atters Café, Hubbards Fish & Chips, and my dad’s favourite, Bill Penty’s the bookies. Winterbotoms is built on the site of France’s newsagents, and nearby there was George Shay the Cobbler. Over the road was Dick Preston the greengrocers, where I had a Saturday job, further down there was Judy Bell’s. In the morning and evenings I delivered papers for Alfie Spires, and during the summer we would earn extra pocket money by going pea picking, in the Autumn it would be 'Taty Scratting' For Jess. The Chinese Takeaway on the corner used to be Burlands, and the Chemist in the Square which as long as I can recall, had always been Billy & Maud Pipers clothes shop.

If there is one childhood recollection that stands out from the others, it has to be the Landlord of the 'Three Horseshoes' Harry Beech, with his bag of sixpences & tangerines doing the rounds of all the kids in the Square and Pinders on Xmas morning, making sure we all got one of each.

Fog Hopping from the old A1 bridge was my speciality, We used to look forward to foggy days and nights with some excitement, in those days it was real pea soupers, and the lorries travelling up and down the A1 would only be going at crawling speeds We "the 1950s boys" would meet up on the old bridge and jump onto the back of a suitable flatbed lorry, and have a free ride down the A1 as far as Oxleys garage which was situated where the A1 and Knottingley flyover now is, and in reverse doing the same thing on a lorry going North where we would jump off at the Old bridge. Not the safest of practices, but boys will be boys and of course our parents were never aware of our exploits. Although "P.C. Dickinson" was, and he was never afraid of giving us a good telling off and in some cases a clip around the ear for good measure.

I recall one night in particular when it was very foggy, we jumped on the back of a lorry going South expecting to jump off as usual at Oxley’s garage, but things did not go to plan. The fog suddenly cleared, the lorry we were on picked up speed and by the time we got to Oxley’s the lorry was going too fast to jump off. We ended up somewhere down the A1 past Darrington, before we were able to jump off after going back into fog. It was a long and cold walk back to Ferrybridge.

I feel I should mention the 'Ferrybridge Boys of the 1950s and early 60s', some unfortunately are no longer with us but all I feel sure all put their mark in some way on Ferrybridge.

The Boys from the Square:

Ray & Mal Lingard, Kenny & Winstone Draper, Gordon "buster" McGavin, Johnny Bickerdyke, Derek "Snowy" Shackleton, Terry Skelcher, George Long, Frank Rose, Albert Murgatroyd, Brian Ackroyd, Mick Tennant, Stuart Adams.

The Boys from the Tarens:

Dave & John Hughes, Jack Yates, Trevor & Terence Faunch, Farnell Rowbottom, Johnny & Les Smetherhurst, Billy "cushy" Carr, Billy Dobson, Derek Dobson, Harry Hemsworth, John Fox, Freddy Wilkinson, Sid Willis, Fred & Billy Hutchinson, my apologies to those I have missed.

Those very happy youthful days may have gone long ago, but they are never forgotten.

David Box

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