MEMORIES OF BROTHERTON
was born on the 24th of November 1918, in the first of three cottages
(which are still standing) on the Old Great North Road, at the top of
Nancy Taylor Yard in Brotherton. My parents were Frank and Mable Milner
and I was one of nine children. We were Walter, Irene, Hilda, Edith Emma,
Winnifred (who died before I was born) Robert, Frank, Roy and Maisie. Only
Frank and I are left now.
went to Brotherton School and started in the old Church School, which is
now the De-Lacy motor club. This was used for Standards 1 & 2, whilst
the ``New school`` was used for Standards 3 to 7.
Headmaster was Mr. Hedley Goddard who taught Standard 7, Mr. Lawrence Wood
of Ferrybridge taught Standard 6. The other teachers were Miss Margaret
McGowen, Miss Kay, Mrs McMichael and Mrs Clark.
Goddard called me her ‘little artist’ in front of the whole assembly,
whilst showing off one of the drawings I had done.
Church school was later used as an Institute where folk would play snooker
day when I was small I put Dad`s young pigeons into a basket and took them
to the Fox and released them to fly the 400 yards back home. Dad wasn’t
very pleased as he usually took them several miles away before releasing
my friends and I would to go to Walton`s garage on the old Great North
Road. One dinnertime after school three of us went to the garage to have a
bit of fun with the drivers before going back to school. There was an old
Chevrolet bus standing outside. The driver couldn’t get it started. He
tried the starting handle but it wouldn’t start. I noticed that the bus
springs were protruding each side of the radiator making it awkward to
swing the handle. After a while the driver got puffed so I said that I
would have a go. He got into the bus and sat behind the steering wheel. I
began turning the handle clockwise from the bottom with a good strong
pull. Suddenly it kicked back trapping my arm between the starting handle
and the bus spring. The driver must have dropped the clutch in for the
engine to do that. He didn’t seem that concerned. My arm began to swell
up and throb, there I was on the floor nursing my arm and crying my eyes
out, I was only 8 or 9 years old. I set off to go home, which was about 50
yards away. How could I do my lessons in the afternoon with an arm like
this? I was almost home when our teacher, Mrs McMichael, passed me. She
was an old battleaxe and I thought that now she had seen me I would have
to go to school.
next to me in the front row at school, was Frankie Lowe, the policeman’s
son. He was always talking, giggling and acting about. He began acting and
talking when the teacher had her back turned. Suddenly I got a real clout
around the ear and me with all the pain I had. I was glad to get home that
day. My Mother took me to see Dr. Ward who put my arm in splints and I had
a sling around my shoulders. Then I had a couple of days off school.
‘Billy’ and Thomas Woodall were butchers. My mates and me would go to
Tommy Anthony Woodall’s yard helping out. We would clean out the pigs,
turn the handle of the mincing machine to make sausages and other odd
jobs. In return we would get a pig’s bladder and maybe a few greasy tab
ends to smoke. To blow up the pig’s bladder we would put a straw in the
neck and blow into it and then we would tie it off and then let it dry
overnight. The following day we’d play ‘footie’ for ages with it.
Bickerdyke had a butcher’s shop on Main Street and when he’d finished
his days work he would wash the floor, and then ask one of the kids to
turn off the electric lights. The light switch was an old brass type -
probably not even earthed. Because of this and the wet floor, the kids
would get a ‘tickle’, which he thought was hilarious. Mr. Bickerdyke
had a housekeeper called Miss Hardy.
Wood was on the right hand side of the ‘Folley’ between the Great
North Road and Tadcaster Road. We would often go along this narrow path
and climb over the wall into Bickerdykes Wood, then along and under the
railway bridge and into Byram Park where we would play cowboys and
Indians, go bird nesting, get blackberries etc.
to the Congregational Chapel on the North Road was an alleyway along which
we would help drive cattle, pigs and sheep to be slaughtered and be paid
with a pig’s bladder.
Crow and Wagstaff`s also had shops on Main Street.
Saturdays when we all got our 1d pocket money, we would club together and
buy a packet of Robins or Woodbine cigarettes and a box of matches. There
would be Irvin Wales, Frankie Baker, Edgar Hewitt, Eric Bridgeland Arthur
and Walt Greenwood and myself. We would go down to the railway bridge so
on one could see us and sit in a circle on some big stones and have a good
smoke. We’d then go and watch the football match.
we would go and play near the pond next to the football ground. Once,
Derek Rhodes slid down the bank and went straight into the pond getting a
good soaking. Around the football pitch was a wire fence made from old
haulage wires from Fryston Colliery. During the matches we would swing on
the wire, and to stop us, an old chap called Mr. Steel would come around
and hit us across the fingers with his walking stick.
also had a good school football team, which was run by Mr. Wood who taught
Standard 6 at that time. We would play teams from Ferrybridge, Knottingley,
Airedale and Love Lane School at Pontefract. I played on the right wing
whilst our Frank played in midfield. One day Frank and Ted Greenwood were
given the stick and both refused to play for the team to get back at Mr.
this time I started to get some awful pains in my back and on my left
side. Dr. Ward told me not to run about. I would come home from school at
dinnertime, get down on the settee and cry my eyes out. Dad would play pop
with my mother, so she took me to see Dr. Ward. I had a scab on my knee
and he blamed that for the pain, but my Mother wasn’t very impressed
with this and told him so in no uncertain terms. The following week the
pains were still very bad, so my Mother put me in a child’s pushchair
and took me to the Clinic in Ferrybridge. This was supposed to be for
small children only and they were not very pleased with her. However Dr.
McCarthy examined me and decided I needed to go into hospital, but we
would have to get a recommendation from the Hospital Committee. Mrs Bell
got this for my Mother.
went to Pontefract Infirmary and was examined and x-rayed by Mr. Joe
Blackburn. It turned out I had Kidney stones (I didn’t know scabs on a
knee could cause kidney stones). I was operated upon by Mr. Blackburn the
Consultant and spent a month in the Hospital. My Mother didn’t seem very
confident that I would live very long, for she took out 4 insurance
policies on my life. The other kids in the family had just one policy
between them. I was soon up and about and back at school, but because I
had to "take it easy" I wasn’t picked for the football team
didn’t stop me from going into Byram with my mates bird nesting. Eric
Bridgeland was a good climber and he would climb to the top of the tallest
trees to get Rooks, Crows or Jackdaw’s eggs, any sort of eggs we could
find. Sometimes we would be chased by the gamekeepers in Byram. About
seven or eight of us were walking across a grass field, in the middle of
which was a small spinney with a mound on top. This mound had an iron
fence around it. As we approached the mound I noticed that two men,
gamekeepers, who were about 100 yards away, were coming towards us, but
were trying to keep behind the spinney so we wouldn’t see them. As soon
as I saw them I told the others to run. We set off running back across the
field towards the two woods. There was an iron gate about 8ft high, used
to keep the deer in. We scaled this gate or got through it and ran into
the next field which had a row of Horse Chestnut trees in it, and
clambered up the trees as high as we could get and kept an eye out for the
keepers. After about 10 minutes we saw them climb the gate and begin to
run towards the trees. A monkey couldn’t have got down that tree faster
than us. Jimmy Stones was the highest up the tree and was the last one
down dropping to his knees below the tree with the keepers only about five
yards away, but they still couldn’t catch him.
went into the next field, climbed the iron gate and went down into a
quarry and that’s where we lost them. We all must have done a
four-minute mile that day but it didn’t put us off going into Byram
the spring the woods in Byram would be full of Primroses, Bluebells and
Violets, whilst in the autumn we would go looking for conkers, sweet
chestnuts and walnuts. I remember going in to Byram with our cock spaniel
Robin, I took an old holdall with me and in four hours I had collected
about four stones of sweet chestnuts. Unfortunately, most of these trees
have now gone.
the summer months we would go to the large pond in Byram, situated in the
wood on the right hand side of the Tadcaster Road. It was called the
Coppering Kilns and was a relict of the old lime burning days. The wood
was called the Copse. The pond had a quarry breast on one side about 20ft
high but the other side was almost flat and we would spend many a happy
hour fishing in that pond. There were Roach, Tench, Gudgeon, Perch and
even Brown Trout, but some idiot put in Jack Pike and they soon ruined the
fishing as we knew it. A lot of Brotherton kids learned to swim in that
the summer we would collect piles of wood and go swimming without any
towels to dry ourselves, we would come out, light the fire and laze around
until we were dry.
later, just before the war, some Castleford people rented the pond and
turned it into a Lido. They put up a wire from the top of the quarry
breast to the lower side. Folk would slide down the wire until they were
over the pond and then let go and drop off into the pond. On fine days the
place would be packed.
there we would cross York Road, go over the railway by Stanacre Bridge and
go into the ‘Dale’. This was owned by the Airedale Colliery Company.
It was a wood which had grown up in the old lime workings. Near to the
bridge was a siding that was usually filled with empty coal wagons. One
Sunday afternoon our Frank and Eric Bridgeland were gathering the small
alpine strawberries that grew in abundance on the embankments. They
crossed the railway line and climbed into the wagons to eat the
strawberries. Eric climbed up by using the buffers at the end of the
wagons but our Frank decided to climb up the side. There was a square door
at the side which hadn’t been fastened properly and when he was about
half the way up, the door came crashing down, hit him on the head and
knocked him through the frames where the brake lever was, splitting his
head open. He ran back across the railway line, up the embankment and onto
the road, where a man on a motor bike and sidecar tried to grab him to
take him to hospital. Frank was too fast for him. I don’t know how long
it took him but eventually he staggered into our house. My Mother took one
look at him and almost fainted and she was pretty tough. Mrs Steel took
him to Dr. Ward who put stitches in his head. He was left with a groove
along the top of his head.
sunny days we would go onto the Marsh fishing for sticklebacks using a
stick some black cotton and a bent pin. Mother would sometimes take us for
a picnic along with Mrs Adelaide Sharp and her family who were from Marsh
Croft. Molly was my age, Rosemary her sister was about two years younger
and Tommy their brother was at the junior school. I thought both these two
girls were really pretty.
all the kids from the Yard would go onto the Marsh via Sutton Lane. We
would go as far as Sutton Hall, down a cart track called Milking Lane,
over a bridge and onto the Marsh. On hot days we would take our clothes
off and go into the drain, but if we were there too long and the cattle
couldn’t get a drink, then Mr. Lister, the farmer, would chase us all
away. It was said that he put broken glass into that drain, but I never
saw anyone with cut feet. They were long hot days and we never seemed to
bother about our meals.
would walk back up Dish Hill, onto the Coach road and into the ‘Rec’
where we would play on the swings, play football or cricket. Sometimes we
would watch the men playing ‘piggy’. The piggy was a piece of wood
that had been shaped at one end to look a bit like a pig’s snout, they
would place the piggy on a big flat stone. They would flick the end
causing the piggy to jump up and would then take an almighty swipe at it
(hopefully, hitting it) and try to send it as far as they could. The one
that knocked the piggy the furthest was the winner. No doubt it was played
you walk up the Great North Road towards Fairburn from our house at the
top of the Yard, there was a pair of semi-detached houses directly
opposite the garage. In the first one lived Constable Lowe with his wife
and two sons, George and Frank. Next door to them lived a widow Mrs Scott
and her daughter May. Mrs Scott used part of her house as a bakers shop
where she baked bread, tarts, buns and cakes. Many times I would run
errands for her and would get a few sweets or stale buns as a reward. She
also had an alsatian type dog with floppy ears called Peter. Everywhere
Frank and I went Peter would be there with us. He was always fighting
other dogs especially Steel’s dog. On wet days he would be in and out of
our house making a real mess and Mother would play heck with us and make
us take him home and chain him up.
day Peter was missing and we couldn’t find him anywhere. Frank searched
everywhere for him. Eventually we found out that Mrs Scott had had him put
down. She had asked Mr. Steet, from down the yard, to shoot him with his
12 bore shotgun. We were both heartbroken but we later discovered that he
had been ill and had to be put down.