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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Memories

MEMORIES OF

THE SALEM CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
THE CROFT, KNOTTINGLEY

Now the United Reformed Church

DOROTHY POSNETT (nee Robinson)

It is about 80 years since I was brought by my parents to this Church and to which I am proud to be a Member. My mother and family had been members long before that time.

My earliest memory is of starting Sunday School along with my younger brother Jack. My older sister Mary was already a member of a very large Sunday School. When mum asked us about it later, Jack said, "I have been sitting next to a man with ‘thick feathers" (the gentleman obviously had a lot of whiskers).

This gentleman was old Mr. Heald. At one time we had no resident Minister so all baptisms were put on hold until Reverend Williams arrived. (He was Moira Boulby, our present Church Secretary’s, grandfather) Baptism’s were then restarted. I can clearly remember Mary, Jack, Peter and myself being baptised by Rev. Williams. I recall standing at the front of the alter table. I would have been about 8, Mary 13, Jack about 7 and Peter 3.

Worshippers at Church all those years ago always sat in the same pew, as most people do even today. Underneath the pews were drawers in which our hymn books and bibles were kept. Many people bought their own. I still have mine and Jack’s from all those years ago.

There were many social activities within the Church as Churches were the main focus of life at that time. We had Sunday School Anniversaries every year when we learnt new hymns and visited and shared anniversaries with the rest of the churches in the town. All the children would walk to other churches in a crocodile, dressed up in our Sunday best clothes. Most of the girls wore hats.

We had a Sunday School treat every year. Very often we took a barge down to Whitley Bridge Lock. On the way, every time we went under a bridge we gave an almighty cheer and because there were so many of us, it must have almost shaken the bridge. On arrival in the field we played games and had races and various other things. The highlight of the day was of course tea-time. We were each given a bag of buns and we had pop. The ladies made tea in a large urn. A good time was certainly had by everybody. I remember on one occasion a boy falling into the water and he had to be fished out.

When we were in our teens we had a Girls Together evening every week. We called ourselves ‘Busy Bees’ and made ourselves badges with B-B on them. We sometimes had fish and chip suppers which were very enjoyable and purchased from Wiltshire’s Fish Shop in Aire Street and probably cost about 3d. We made little novelties for our Bazaars which were held in the Town Hall and were grand occasions. They were held on two consecutive days with an Evening Concert.

The highlight of our young lives were the Social Evenings. On looking back I remember the games we played. We had dancing as we got older and it was all great fun. Fancy today’s young people being content to play spinning the plate and Postman’s Knock. I think they would laugh at us which is a pity because it was such fun.

All these things took place in our Old Sunday School (demolished many years ago). Lifelong friendships were formed then, and Bessie Tranmer (nee Dixon) and Marjorie France are dear friends to this day. It had lots of rooms which we were able to hire out for various other things. I know that one room was turned into a billiards room. Ladies were not encouraged in this room. One room was hired out to a Friendly Society.

Somewhere in the middle of all these memories I recall as children going round the town on a dray on which a piano had somehow been hauled and we sang hymns. I also recall that when ever there was a funeral at the Church, black pulpit falls were used. Three weeks after a funeral, a Commemorative or Mourning Service was held.

Mrs Edith Arnold, who was a lovely lady, was our Organist. She played with great gusto and enthusiasm and I recall her beautiful new outfit which she had every Whitsuntide. She always wore a hat, as did most ladies in the church. The organ had to be pumped manually and I recall on several occasions the boys doing the pumping, let the wind out so there was no music.

Some of the families closely involved were the Healds, Wakes, Beevers, Northrops, Sweetings, Woods, Collins, Rhodes, Durhams, Thompsons, France, Dixons, Gardiners, Cowards, Lloyds, Billbroughs, Miss Flemming, Pickards, Robinsons and Cawthornes to name but a few.

We had lots of ways of making money. For our Church Sales or Bazaars, the men of the Church (of which there were many in those days) had a hardware stall. They got their goods from a shop in the town on a sale or return basis. They did quite well. The ladies did lots of sewing, crocheting, lace and embroidery.

I remember on one occasion, a lady who was a bit on the stout side, wore a black dress with a voluminous skirt in which were a hundred pockets. In each pocket was a small item for sale for a copper or two. She was very popular!

On occasions we had little booklets printed. I still have three of them. One was a little Cook Book, another Nursing do’s and dont’s and the third was a home remedies book. On the back of each book was a little poem –

‘Please buy our little booklet, 
Your pocket it will fit, 
Twill only cost a trifle, 
But will help us on a bit’

Knottingley Congregational Church wartime effort – To Keep the Church Flag Flying
.

We had a thriving tennis club for many years. We also had members from outside the Church Family. My sister Mary (Cowling) and her tennis partner John Dixon, were very good and often won prizes locally. I wasn’t that energetic and preferred the ball to land at my feet rather than to have to run after it.

These were for me and our Church, extremely happy days. Over my lifetime I have seen many changes but I am proud to be part of the Bicentenary Celebrations. The activities within our Church are now of course very different – we live in a very different time, but we have moved on and our Church still offers a very varied and full life to anybody who cares to join us.

Dorothy Posnett (nee Robinson)
May 2004

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