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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Memories



I have a good memory about things a long time ago and I love reading all the stories in The Digest. We moved from Racca Green when I was about 12 years old to the Holes. After my marriage I divorced and moved to number 23 where I made friends with a lady called Mrs Radcliffe who lived in Pottery Lane. She told me that where I lived there was once a pub called the ‘Potters Arms’ where the husband murdered his wife. It must have been across from the Duke of York but I have asked all over and got books from the library and I can’t find anything about it.

My mum had five children to look after on her own but she lost a boy and a girl leaving her with three.

I don’t know if anyone else can remember but when we lived on Racca Green we had something called a ‘means test’ where we had to go to the top of Racca at the side of the Club (I think it was called the Low Club). There was a place there where sometimes my mum would be given something but if not we had to try to get something elsewhere because my mums husband had lost his arms and she only got ten shillings with which she had to feed us on. That was his pension.

We used to make our own rugs with Dolly Pegs and old woollen cardigans – I bet a lot of people can remember doing that.

We used to love going to the pea fields and we would sell the bucket of peas we brought home with us. We would get a sweet coupon and run down to the picture house and when we got back we would have peas and one of my mums ‘meat and tatie’ pies done in the old fire oven. The Palace cinema is a treat to see today and I am glad that someone is looking after it and it has not been demolished.

I can remember the old tom puddings weaving along the canal and stopping near Bagley’s. One year, Racca Green flooded and the water came right up to our dustbin handles, I was only about eight years old at the time.

My friends and myself used to play marbles behind Barker’s paper shop where there was a small piece of wasteland. One day I ran to see where mine had landed and among some grass I noticed something sticking out – it was a small bomb. A group of soldiers came and kept us all away from the area until they had removed it. My mum said that when we lived there it was just an empty house but when she was young there were soldiers using it.

Can anyone remember an old orchard near the Vicar’s house? The reason I am asking is if anyone can remember the tall, broad Vicar who was waiting for me at the bottom of one of his trees and who reported me to the school. I was about eight or nine years old at the time and I am only four feet ten inches tall now. He was well over six feet tall - big, broad and bold! I can laugh about it now but I never went up his trees again. I remember him so vividly because his surname was Musgrave.

I can recall Dr. Murphy on his own at Knottingley because Dr Kehelly had died. Dr. Fox came and then Dr. Scholie and when I was older I worked on Dr. Scholie’s farm. One day we were having our tea and heard a lot of noise. We ran outside and saw Dr Murphy and Dr. Kehelly fighting with each other before jumping in their cars and taking off. They both had black eyes and we were all gob-smacked.

Dr Murphy used to come and collect all the pregnant ladies and take them to his clinic. Nobody could say he did not look after us. I miss him and I bet I am not the only one. If he came to see us at home he used to walk out with my mums gas mantle in his hat. We could not see each other if it was winter and he used to walk back and put some money in my mums hand and tell her to go and buy some more. It used to be much colder in those days and often the canal would freeze over.

Down on Hill Top where they built the new Roman Catholic church, my mothers cousin used to have a small shop that made lovely marble angels and monumental stones among other things for graves. They were called the Fairbairn Brothers and the shop was situated next to the Swan Inn pub. I have pictures of the pub and I can remember having to go down some steps to find a way in for a drink of orange. I think the Carter family owned the pub and I wish they had left it as it was, that’s why it’s good to see the old Palace cinema still standing.

I like reading about the big block of flats at the top of Ferrybridge Hill that belonged to the Carter family. When me and my brother Billy worked in the crystal he had a lovely cottage in the grounds. I think it belonged to someone called Backhouse who used to bake and they had a shop down Aire Street. Someone besides me I bet, can remember the smell of the baking as we made our way to the flicks.

It has been lovely writing these few memories but I can’t write well these days so I will leave it to Michael and hope that everyone had a lovely Xmas.

L. Wayman

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