October 2010

Posted on by Dalesman

Your letters


Richmond Characters

It was good to read about one of the characters who lived in my home town of Richmond (Aug).

Not only was Dennis Edmondson a stalwart of the iron-mongery trade in the town, he was also very active in the cricket arena as mentioned in a new book on the Richmondshire Cricket Club (Yorker Publications, Richmond).

Dennis had a wonderful rapport with another of the larger-than-life characters in Richmond, Raymond Clarkson, who ran the chemists on the corner of Kings street. The two shops were separated from Spence and Co by Burton’s Tailors. When new staff started at Clarksons they would be sent round to Dennis and told to say to him, “Mr Clarkson has sent me round for the long stand he has ordered.” The reply from Dennis was, “Just wait there and I will look in the warehouse.”

After a suitable period of time Dennis would re-emerge and say, “Go back and ask Ray how long was the stand he ordered as we have a number of different sizes in stock.” Sometimes the penny would drop on the unfortunate recepient before they returned to the chemists shop where they would find Ray with a broad grin on his face. Sometimes the unfortunate staff at Spence and Co would be sent by Dennis to see Ray with a request for improbable mixtures for Mr Edmondson’s unusual illnesses, none of which were ever listed in the medical books.

Spence and Co were allegedly the only stockists of rubber hammers and glass nails in the country.
Life in the sleepy market town was always a riot when such people were serving customers in the shop – you never new when the joke was on you. Such proceedings would not be tolerated in the politically correct modern climate, but it enriched the lives of all in the town.

Michael Cartwright, by email


Family Quest thanks

Could I please thank one of your readers very much for sending me an enormous amount of information, certificates etc., on my family.

I am absolutely amazed at how much information this person has sent to me. There is no name other than ‘A Dalesman Reader’ but could this person please contact me by e-mail with postal address as I would really like to reimburse them.

I am so appreciative of how much time and effort this must have taken, apart from the expenses which would have been incurred. Your magazine is obviously read worldwide as I have received information from so many places, from the UK to Oregon USA.

Through you I have found relatives I never knew I had. Thank you so much.

George A Hare, New Zealand


Riverside Fun

I wonder how many memories were stirred while reading the paragraph in the Dalesman’s Diary called ‘Save our stones’ (Aug).

My recollections go back to the middle to late 1940s when, as a child, it was our playground, especially in the long summer holidays.

We’d go down Iron Row to the mill and on past the goit to the right and then past the ruins of Greenholme Mansions on the left. That place really intrigued me and I always promised myself that when I was grown up I would buy it, restore it, and live there forever.

Then it was on down the incline to the river. If the mill was working the sluice gates would be up in place and the water directed up the goit to drive the mill workings. At these times we would fish for tiddlers and sticklebacks in the little rock pools left in the drying river bed. When the sluice gates were down, and the water flowing over, it was always a bit hazardous to cross the stepping stones with the water lapping around your feet.

It was slippery too; many a time I went home with wet socks and sandles. Some of the older boys would be swimming in the deeper parts over the Askwith side, oblivious to the colour and smell of the water sometimes. The river was a big part of our childhood, and I always feel very privileged to have lived my formative years in such a lovely village.

I wonder, is it still the adventure playground I remember ?

Eileen Thornhill (Cooke), by email.


Slabs and Stones

In September’s Can you Help? Mrs H Anderson of Ludlow asked about the projecting slab seen on some buildings.

The shaped stones are through stones to give strength to the random wall when it is constructed.

Laurence T Jones
(member of The Drystone Walling Association of GB and The West Yorkshire branch)


Yorkshire Motto

The letter from John Inson (August) triggered two memories. One was my first music hall visit to see the great Sandy Powell doing one of his well-known performances.

He started by looking over the heads of the audience and calling out ‘Can you hear me, Mother?’, which became a national catch phrase.

His act ended when he announced the Yorkshireman’s motto, which he sang to a catchy tune:

Hear all, see all, say nowt
Eat all, sup all, pay nowt
And if ivver tha does owt fer nowt
Allus do it fer thissen.

The second memory concerns a ceramic beer mat bought from a shop in Pateley Bridge, years ago. Around the edge of the top half was written ‘Tha can allus tell a Yorkshireman’, and around the bottom half was written ‘But tha can’t tell him much’.

This was much admired by visitors, and in the end I let an overseas visitor have it, in the belief that I could get a replacement. Despite searches of the many souvenir shops I have never been successful.

Peter Haywood, Flackwell Heath, Bucks


The days of Middens

I write with reference to Brian Gott’s letter, Old times in Poet’s Corner (Aug).

In mid-July we had a family get-together, and my cousins and I were chatting about our grandma who lived at 56 Browning Street, Bradford, and after reading Mr Gott’s letter I could recall three more streets in the area – Seymore Street, Thirsby Street and Harewood Street – all connected to Browning Street.

As children we listened to endless tales of times past from our uncles and aunts, and about night soil men who apparently collected the waste from the dry toilets next door to the middens.

Grandma had thirteen children, three of whom died in infancy. Can you imagine in this day and age coping with ten children, and with one room with a large cooking range which needed black leading once a week and a side scullery with a stone sink, cold running water and a large set pot in the corner for heating water for washing?

Grandma even had a tiny garden as neat and tidy as the house. The middens were still there in the 1940s but with metal dustbins and an outside WC. It was quite an experience to stay at Grandma’s for the night and having a candle to light you to bed.

Dorothy Ruddick-Paylor, Northumberland

In 1947, when I was eleven, Mum and Dad moved the family into one of the large terrace houses on Tennyson Place in order to live with my grandmother.

The houses by this time were well past their glory days and it was a real shock to me to find gas lamps for lighting and only coal fires. Fortunately, we soon had the house converted to electricity.

Tennyson Place ran through the centre of Poet’s Corner, from Otley Road to Byron Street. Most of it has long since been pulled down but there is a small stretch of it still standing at the Byron Street end.

We certainly had a midden. Half of it was used to house the dustbin and in the other half we kept our bicycles. It used to be said that if you lived long enough you would be able to walk under the midden with a tall hat on.

It was the library on Tennyson Place that featured in the John Braine film Room at the Top. It was only a short walk for us to Eastbrook Hall, that magnificent Methodist chapel, alas no more. I can well remember the anniversary weekends when many people attended from the Yorkshire Dales, with Sister Olive appealing in the weeks before for food donations so that everyone could be fed.

Colin Thornes, Idle


Rarely used words

I was interested in the letter from Mrs Joan Smith (Aug) and her remarks on Waterton Hall Maternity Home, which was known to me as Walton Hall.

My daughter was born there in December 1962. It was a hard winter and the lake was frozen over. We, the mothers, were greatly entertained by the Canada geese which came in to land and slid on their bottoms for great distances upon the ice.

The surrounding trees were heavy with the frost which had built up since early November. There were visiting times when nobody came as the fog was thick and the roads icy.

Can I pick yer gowk? Can I chow yer cob? Do you recognise these phrases? It will depend on which part of Yorkshire you come from. I lived near Airedale, Castleford. My family were fortunate enough to have a large garden with an orchard and on the way back to school after dinner I would pocket a few apples to eat on the way.

In the playground I would be met by eager faces. ‘Can I chow yer cob?’ they’d ask me, meaning ‘can I have the core’, preferably still generously covered with flesh.

I had quite forgotten this until talking to a young woman whose mother was brought up in Hawes, North Yorkshire. The question there was ‘Can I pick yer gowk?’. I imagine there are similar words now rarely used from other parts of the county. I would be interested to hear more from Dalesman readers.

Ruth A Gamsby, Sedbergh


Hornblowing in Ripon

I was most interested to read the strange pub names article in July. It brought back memories of an article written by my late father Stephen Kirby, in 1940 or 1950 in which he mentions the statue of Hugh Ripley, the first Mayor of Ripon and its last Wakeman, which stands, or stood, in the corner of the cathedral’s nave.

His horn was presented to the city by King Alfred the Great and is, I think, still preserved somewhere in the city’s regalia.

He also told of a night sometime in the early twentieth century when both the then Hornblower and his deputy were ill and unable to blow. The custom was saved by the Hornblower’s young daughter who put on her father’s uniform, cocked hat and all, and blew the full seven regulation blasts, albeit a trifle short and feeble.

Colonel (Retd) C S Kirby, Halifax


Canal memories

I read with interest John Morrison’s ‘The magic of canals’ (Sep). My father was the managing director of the Calverley & Horsforth gas works from 1939 to 1948 when gas works were nationalised.

The gas works, now demolished, were supplied with coal by barge on the Leeds-Liverpool canal. One of the priority customers was AVRO at Yeadon (now Leeds/Bradford airport) who made planes.

I remember well the barges unloading, making gas from coal – I must be one of the few who could see inside a working gas works – and was once allowed with my father to drive into the AVRO factory. It was so large that you had to drive around inside – there were ploughed fields on the roof.

With the lack of fuel in the war and very few lorries, the barges kept the essential gas supply to area and the factories possible.

J Macrae McLusky, Wotton under Edge, Gloucestershire


Fact or Fiction

Could I draw your attention to what is a disturbing matter in the August issue, namely the depiction of the Yorkshire Rose on pages 82 and 83?

Although I have been long departed from my home village of Grosmont where I was born eighty-six years ago, I am still proud of my ancestry and wear the Yorkshire Rose in my tie stud, but I wear it the correct way up.

I was told as a child that the rose should be depicted with two stamens at the top and one stamen at the bottom, thus indicating the letter ‘Y’ for Yorkshire. The stamens, so I was told, should be gold and not green to simulate the glorious sun of York that blinded the Lancastrian troops.

Rather a romantic description, even if I stand to be corrected. I wonder if other readers know of the legend, it would be interesting to find out and if they have been told the same story.

Mr V Pearson, South Shields


Family Quest

I am researching a local rector (Rev Robert Barry 1820-1904) of St Mary’s Church, North Tuddenham, Norfolk.

Robert Barry did a lot of work in and for the parish in the fifty-three years that he was rector. In 1852 he built the rectory, adding the coach house a year later. He made many alterations to the church, carrying on what appears to be a family tradition. Records show other members of the Barry family financing similar works in Yorkshire and Blisworth, Northampton.

He also gave the village its school and some cottages built with napped flint work.

Rev Robert Barry was born in Whitby, the second son of Robert Barry and Dorothy Heaviside. Robert Barry (the older) was a shipbuilder in Whitby and landowner, carrying on from his father, John, a second generation of shipbuilders.
His father (another John) started the business in the early 1700s. John (the son) bought the Fylingdales Estate at Robin Hood’s Bay in 1819, from Lord Hotham. On his death John left his estate to his son Robert and he in turn left it to his nineteen-year-old grandson John Warren Barry.

In 1904 in Norfolk when the Rev Robert died, his nephew John Warren Barry (who carried on from his grandfather after his death as patron) attended the funeral and negotiated the handing over to the Rev Armstrong, the new rector. We can only assume that all personal effects and records were taken back to Yorkshire or destroyed when John Warren Barry and Mary Ann, the wife of Rev Robert, vacated the rectory.

I would welcome any information, however small, but most of all we would love to know what he looked like. More of his story can be found on my website www.raytaylor.com.

Ray Taylor, 27 Moorfield Road, Mattishall, Dereham, Norfolk, NR20 3NZ.
Tel 01362 858203

The Dalesman website contains a comprehensive alphabetical section on people searching for their Yorkshire roots. Please click here.


Can you help?

Does anyone have any information concerning the League, or Legion, of Frontiersmen in West and/or North Yorkshire areas, particularly between WWI and WWII?

My granddad, Joseph Shooter, of Baildon (born 1895) was a member and I have two photos of him with fellow Frontiersmen in their uniforms. He was a brass player, he is holding a bugle on the photos. I do not know when or where they were taken.

I have made contact with a Canadian man, via the internet, who maintains records of the Frontiersmen, but he has no info about the Yorkshiremen. I have sent copies of the photos to him. My granddad was in the Royal Field Artillery in WWI.

I have an old postcard which includes Granddad, possibly dating from 1914/15, of Baildon village marketplace and the Royal Field Artillery men on their horses, outside the Angel pub. I wish I had the original photo.

I also have photos of Baildon Band (one dated 1895) of which granddad and his own dad were members. Also, they played sometimes for Burley in Wharfedale band.

Anyone with any info, no matter how small, please contact me. I would be so grateful.

Mrs Catherine Parker (née Shooter), Hall Farm Cottage, Royal Oak Lane, Aubourn, Lincoln LN5 9DT.

Email michael.parker38@btopenworld.com.

Tel: 01522 789166


I travelled through the Yorkshire Dales recently – Hawes, Leyburn, etc – and I noticed that the stone walls are built in a particular way i.e. a few random stones and then a tier of projecting slab-shaped stones, then another few random stones, then another layer of projecting slab-shaped stones.

I have never seen walls like this anywhere else.

Is there a particular reason for this style of construction?

Mrs H Anderson, Ludlow


We welcome readers’ letters, which should be sent to:
Dalesman, The Water Mill, Broughton Hall, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 3AG
Or email: paul@dalesman.co.uk

The editor reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity.

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