FERRYBRIDGE LIBRARY CENTRE
Yes!, we had
a library centre in Ferrybridge. 20 years ago it closed down due to
council cut backs in 1984. We had over 700 members.
used to be housed in a big cupboard and boxes in a classroom of the old
school many years ago. Later it was moved to the Mission Room and in those
days Edie and Sheila Holbrook used to look after it. Then others! I started as
an assistant in 1962 working with Tony Branch, the then Vicar’s son. It
was run by the West Riding County Council in those days.
I can remember
going for an interview for my full time job at Stephen Toulson’s sand
and gravel depot one Saturday morning in July 1962. Later that morning I
had an interview at Knottingley library for the two hours per week
assistants job at Ferrybridge. Mrs Largent, the then librarian at
Knottingley, did the interview. Mrs Largent was very strict but knew her
stuff. I was given the job so each Tuesday and Friday evening, 6.30 to
7.30pm, I worked at Ferrybridge. Tony gave up his job soon after because
he was moving away so his Mrs Mary Cawthorne came from Knottingley to help
out. Later my very good friends (still) Doreen Leach, Winnie Wright and
Margaret Bramley, who worked at Knottingley library for many years, all
used to do a stint at Ferrybridge with ‘our Paul’ as I was known. We
all used to get on so well together and we still do.
I worked at
Ferrybridge from 1962 to 1984 when the Wakefield Metropolitan District
Council closed it down to save cash! It was a wonderful experience for me,
a young lad of 15. We had five cupboards fastened to the walls inside the
Mission Room. Two fiction, two non-fiction and one children’s bookcase,
all packed full of books. Not many people bothered with the non-fiction
books. The children’s section was always busy. As for the fiction, all
we needed were loads of Historical Novels, Catherine Cookson’s, Cowboy
Stories and Mills & Boon. We got so busy that the hours had to be
changed to two hours on Tuesday’s and two hours on Friday’s; 6pm to
8pm. When we had a book exchange one a month, all the customers loved it
and took extra books home. Many of the customers were at every opening
session, they loved the library. It was more of a village centre. We would
get lots of old ladies coming in and staying all the session, having a
chat, a bit of company and a cup of tea when we made one at ‘half-time’
If ever you
wanted to catch the Vicar Reverend Branch, he would always pop in at some
time of the evening. As a lad of 15 I learnt a lot about life from all the
folks and they are still all my friends. They used to say "If ever
tha’ wants to know ‘owt about what is going off in ferrybridge, call
and see Paul in the library – he will know!"
Room was a cold, draughty place in those days. Many of the windows were
full of holes. Mary Cawthorne and I, used to paste bits of old paper over
them to keep out the cold. The heaters were up in the ceiling and used to
be very temperamental and sometimes didn’t work, so we used to huddle
round an old gas stove to keep warm. But we managed to give a good service
to the community. In the summertime I used to have a big vase of lovely
flowers on the table in the middle of the room to brighten up the place.
For a few
years I was on my own but it became very busy. My friends, Paul Gordon and
Barbara Burton used to stay and help me put all the books away and tidy up
– they were invaluable. After a while we got June Johns (Langton) to
come and help. June also worked at Knottingley and was with me until the
We had lots
of real characters over the years, too many to recall. I can remember a
few. One especially was when the book Lady Chatterley’s Lover came out.
We had a long waiting list for it. It came to my dear friend Peggy Carter’s
turn. Peggy read it and brought it back and said, "That book is
disgusting Paul, you should take it off the shelves". So I said,
"Well Peggy, a lot of people like to read that sort of book, did you
read it all?"
Peggy said, "Yes – five times!" We did laugh!!
from Lock House was a local historian. She used to request many local
history books which we used to get brought in for her. I got many volumes
for her about Lord Houghton from Fryston Hall. I used to read them all
myself. Also Mrs Battye knew lots about the history of this area and used
to tell me a lot.
people forgot to return their books and had them out for weeks. There were
no fines in those days. Winnie used to say "It's time you wrote to all
those people about their books being overdue Paul" (but you had to
fill in three forms each time) So I used to say "Don’t worry I will
see them." I would often spot them in the village or at the church for
a wedding or a funeral. I would then say "Hey up, what about your
library books? Get them back to the library as soon as you can, or take them
over to our house if you can’t get in." They always did.
We used to
get paid once a quarter 1s3d per hour it was for a few years, £20 per
year. You had to fill in a form to claim that also.
children would walk in with their pets. They would say, "We have
brought our rabbit to see you Paul". Cats and dogs also used to come.
One time, someone brought a goat. Often when two people brought dogs they
used to have a fight and I used to have to say "Get those dogs out of
I could go on
much more but will save some for another time.
I hope you
have enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed working there. It was
wonderful and a laugh a minute.