FERRYBRIDGE: THE WAY I SAW IT
MO HARRISON (nee Maureen Scott)
sometimes think of the children I spent my time with at Holes Lane School.
The year was from 1955 when I was six years old. Ferrybridge School couldn’t
take our family, so we spent out schooldays walking up from Pottery Lane.
Scott’s, Betty and Richard, with their four children, Maureen, Denise,
Melvyn and Pauline, moved from Springfield Avenue in Knottingley, to 18
Pinders Crescent Ferrybridge. At the time, electricity had only recently
been installed, a gas mantle in use, hung from the ceiling, and barely
reachable cupboards were painted in murky browns. The bold black lead
fireplace and oven, which dominated the room, would be replaced eventually
by a timid, cold, tiled fireplace as a centrepiece.
kitchen had a concrete corner boiler and the small fire underneath
it heated copious amounts of water, needed for the weekly wash.
Before the washing machine, mum washed with a Peggy tub and a
wringing machine. Washdays were cold and miserable, it always
rained and wet clothes sat continuously around the fireplace.
garden was a good size and we grew plenty of vegetables: beetroot,
cabbages, onions, beans and potatoes – picking off aphids and
caterpillars before they were spoilt. I warmly remember the purple
lilac tree at the bottom of the garden, banned from the house
because it was considered bad luck.
was superstitious, young and half-Irish. We kept hens which we boiled
potato peelings for, and these overlooked Johnny and Milly Fisher and her
family. Susan and I often shared a bag of XL crisps.
exterior house door was next to the outside loo, which meant buckets and
pots for the bedrooms through the night. We were tight for space and the
room downstairs was where mum and dad slept. The adjoining coal house led
a stream of coal dust into the kitchen, where a bucketful of coal was kept
under the sink. The small pantry window at the front was always jammed
partly open, after being stuck closed for years – this area was used
mainly for storage and bikes.
were eight children eventually with the additions of Stephen, Neil, Tracey
and Lisa, but sadly, Melvyn died in April 2004.
to Holes Lane School took us past the Ackroyd’s where Jean, Brian,
Sylvia and Ann lived. When Ann was injured on the road by a car, she had
to spend a long time off school. The children from Holes Lane made her an
abundance of get well cards. At the end of Pinders Garth, cows grazed
around wild flowers, which we passed to cross the road to Pollards Field.
To the left was Mrs Preston’s general food and vegetable shop, which had
an awkward chewing gum machine outside. We slipped through the side of
Pollards, which cut the corner off, bringing us past Harry Preston’s
fish shop, then alongside the old cottages.
shop was near the Vale estate; we bought OXO cubes sometimes. Christine
Bugg lived on the Vale; she had polio as a child and was confined to a
wheelchair. Her house and the neighbours had an alleyway between them
where we played and threw balls to each other.
Glue’s house was near the pottery. We were sure it was haunted and
always rushed past. Sometimes we called for Anne, Lynne and Pauline who
lived at the end of Aire View. We watched whilst their mum hastily took
the rags out of their ringlets, before running across the field to school.
We were often warned in class never to go near the River Aire or the canal
whilst at school, or without an adult. A new boy called Harry was drowned
and the family quickly moved away.
last leg took us to Mrs Maers who sold juicy pears from her trees. Her
sons David and Geoffrey sometimes served us. We would then cut through the
ginnel to school. I used to have nightmares about the toilet block – a
stone built area up steps with a wrought iron railing. It was a cold,
damp, dark and wet place with doors that wouldn’t close.
Heald was my first teacher in reception class. She was a tall, slim, dark
lady who was very resourceful at thinking up ways of trying to stop me
from sucking my thumb. I would still go back and see her after I had moved
on to Mrs Coates, who’s smart, blonde-grey hair was cut into her neck.
our milk in a morning we could buy eight small cheese biscuits or a jammy
dodger for one old penny.
Bannister taught us music. She had dark grey, wavy hair and wore glasses.
Both teachers took the second year. I loved Saturday mornings with Mrs
Bannister when we had choir practice. Learning the new songs – ‘Who is
Sylvia’ and ‘Oh for the Wings of a Dove’. We sang in Pontefract Town
Hall where I saw the wall impression of ‘The Battle of Trafalgar’ for
the first time. The hall was hot and sticky and we were all ready to
burst, but they were good nights. After choir practice the rag and bone
man was outside, selling tortoises, balloons, crayons and books etc. You
could either buy them or give him a good quantity of rags.
learned how to do double writing with Mrs France in the third year and it
was then that I became friendly with Linda Drury who wore lovely hand
knitted cardigans. She lived near the flour mill round the corner from the
school and always looked perfect. Her chubby round face and healthy, dark,
shiny hair was held back with a ribbon in the style often used. Sometimes
I went with her to take her dads ‘pack up’ to him at the pottery where
the fourth year it was Miss Parkinson who taught us. She had hot water
with a slice of lemon for her elevenses. She married and became Mrs
Pearson. Her Morris Minor had leopard skin upholstery. I can still
remember the lovely smell of her car. She was a very stylish woman of the
fifties who wore swingy tent coats. I had to round up three or four
siblings after school, sometimes we lagged behind and occasionally she
gave us a lift down to the bottom of the lane. She soon began to realise
we were dawdling too often.
Mrs Pearson’s class I sat with David Wright who was softly spoken. We
would read together. David Haigh had blonde hair, perfect nails and white
teeth. His sister Christine worked at the jewellers in Beastfair. Ian
Hargreave’s mum and dad ran ‘The Duke’ pub near the school. Ian was
good fun and always had a smile on his face. His task sometimes was to buy
things from the pub for us, or get change for the teachers. Rita Fowles
was always smart with a proper school uniform and we would stop off at her
grandma’s occasionally and sample a biscuit or some of her baking.
the way home from school, dad would creep up behind us as a treat and give
us a lift on his steamroller; so funny when you think…….. He was
called Dick or Dicky by his friends.
the council painted the doors in Pinders, ours were always dark blue. It
could have been red, blue, green or yellow; I would have much preferred
Dean and her boys lived opposite us; we chatted sometimes. Her kitchen had
a stone paved floor. I can remember going in and thinking how clean and
well scrubbed it was. Everywhere was simple, none of us had much, but her
house was spotless. I once permed her hair when I was about twelve or
thirteen - it was very fashionable at the time. The products were harsh
though and the result was frizzy, but she was kind to me.
of our old neighbours still live in Pinders today including the Wathen’s,
Malpas’s, Walshaw’s, Emily King and the Williams’s. In the past I
have known Thorpe’s, Waite’s, Flower’s, Escriett’s, Hinchcliffe’s,
Albert and Violet Jones, Long’s, Silverwood’s and Daphne, Brian, Sadie
and Tom who lodged with them. The Youngman’s lived next door – their
son Keith was killed driving his car near Wakefield; it was a great shock.
I often played with Susan Youngman, with her sweet shop and post office
set. When they moved out, Alice and her family moved in. Our other
neighbours were the Smiths who moved in when the Bedford’s moved out.
One of my friends, Carole King and I had some nice times playing in her
garden where her mum would lay a blanket out for us and our dolls.
remember from The Holes, the Rooke’s, Alfred and Ronnie, and the
Oldfield’s, especially Mrs Oldfield with her basket of potted meat
sandwiches and goodies that she brought to school for Christmas parties
and other occasions.
fifties were a hard time for some of us. I would not want to feel again
many of the feelings I had as a child; the cold winters and shortage of
money for fuel, food and clothes, thus creating a loss of dignity. There
was bound to be a lack of nutrition, sleep and security whilst battling to
survive. We never questioned, only accepted our predicament and believed
that everyone else was the same, whilst actually feeling inferior. The
cramped and overcrowded rooms and the ever present undercurrent of
discomfort and anxiety not fully understood, but one that distracted the
child from schoolwork.
recent years, our old house on Pinders Crescent has been up for sale. It
is much smarter now, in fact all of Pinders looks prosperous, mainly owner
occupied, not council property anymore. I occasionally pass through when I
call on my sister Denise. Easily remembering the old rickety wicket fences
and re-enforced gates where we gossiped. The ice-cream cart pulled by a
man in a thin white coat, the rag and bone man who made regular stops and
the old black lamp-post across from our house, shining bright, promptly
was a sad day when Holes Lane School was demolished. What remains is an
unbelievably small area of land. It is difficult to believe that it held
play areas, gardens and a school. The cloak-room to Mrs Pearson’s class
where we queued for our school photographs, the toilet block, the wall
separating the school from the swings and rockery gardens, and the fence
and wall barring the canal and river, all long gone. Many of the children
I knew then will be grandparents now. Some will have moved far away and
some will have remained local, but like me they will have their memories
from 1955 at Holes Lane School.
Mo Harrison (nee Maureen Scott)