A Birdwell clinic party from 1940

My street in the village of Birdwell was called Chapel Street, where I was born. One of 11, I had six brothers, four sisters and mum and dad, so 13 in all. Chapel Street is about a third of a mile long with houses on either side from top to bottom. It started with a pub, and finished with a pub – The Travellers Inn was on Sheffield Road and at the bottom was The Cock Inn.
On the other side was Rockley Lane. There were four butchers, two having bakeries, two slaughter houses and a bakery that baked and sold bread, buns, cold meats and bacon.
The butchers sold the eggs but during the war years most kept hens on the allotments. There was Mrs Farrand’s shop were you could get everything. You name it, she sold it. There was a cobblers where you could get your clogs re-ironed.
I remember a steel sign under the window of the cobbler’s advertising Colman’s mustard and Colman’s starch. There was Cooper’s the greengrocers, and you also had Joe and his horse and cart selling spuds, cabbage and carrots coming round fresh from the allotment.
There was also Mr Fletcher with his little van selling the same, he brought us our first bananas after the war. There was a chip shop or “chiphole”, and a shop selling sweets.
You had fresh milk from the farm straight from the cow. The Royal British Legion had a large building, I think it could have been erected for the Home Guard. The Birdwell Wheelers held their meetings there.
Of course, the chapel was the hub of things with a youth club, clinic, parties; it was the general meeting place, plus there were all the Sunday services.

A picture of a house in Chapel Street, painted by J Bell in 1878

Then there was the infant school for lessons. My teacher was Mrs Warbottom. It was the same as the chapel as it was a meeting place to hold parties. The Church Lads Brigade was run there by Captain Beaumont and Dave. The girl guides held their meetings there too. There was a stage so plays were acted out by the schoolchildren and where we did the Christmas nativity plays. I remember the milk times at school each morning – a small bottle of milk per child. It was nice in winter, summer it was sometimes a bit sour!
Yes, you didn’t have to travel far as most things could be found on Chapel Street. The main Barnsley to Sheffield road ran down the centre of the village so there were plenty of shops, two newsagents, a couple of barbers, some ladies’ hairdressers, a couple of off-licences, two garages and three “chipholes”.
Then there were always the regular buses to “tarn” – Barnsley, Sheffield and even one to Rotherham. Barnsley open air market was held every Wednesday and Saturday and was very popular.
Brian Waller, Wombwell, Barnsley

The article about Churwell in January’s Dalesman brought back many memories. I was born in 1943 and lived with my parents in the Cottingley prefabs (Dulverton Crescent).
Before any shops opened on our estate we used to shop in Churwell. Rankins grocers had a home delivery service in the late 1940s and 50s. There was also a butcher, newsagent, Post Office and barber, which were all good shops. When I was old enough I used to go drinking in the three pubs in Churwell known as the top’ole, middle ‘ole and bottom ‘ole (John Charles was landlord after he finished playing football). Happy Memories.
Ken Paley, Calverley, Leeds

In the November 2020 issue of The Dalesman, Stephen Roberts revisited Yorkshire during wartime. The article focused essentially on the Home Front during this dark period of World War Two. However, at the end of the article coinciding with the end of the conflict, Stephen alluded to a British Council film called We of the West Riding. This black and white film featured several cyclists from the Earlsheaton Clarion, which was based in Dewsbury, who rode in groups around various parts of the Dales extolling the virtues of this beautiful area. My father, Joe, features in that film although none of the family appeared to know anything about this until just after our Mam’s passing in 2002.
Being the curious family that we are, video footage of this film was located which we have all seen at various points, and sure enough Pa is there to see along with other recognisable people. The video is up north somewhere with a family member now but does appear to have more footage than the version seen on YouTube. Have any readers seen this film and are there any other recognisable faces from the current families of those intrepid cyclists?
I seem to recall seeing George Pollard on there. George went to live in Stafford although his daughter Denise was residing in Brighouse. We have some old photographs of around that time but any further information at all will be gratefully received.
John L.F. Hemingway, Alvechurch, Worcestershire

In response to the letter in Reader’s club, page 86, of January’s Dalesman, my name is Patricia D Fuller, nee Pilkington. I think my parents moved into Locks Cottage (now Greenberfield Cottage) about 1938-ish. My eldest brother Jack, now 92 years old, lives in Devon. Peter, born in 1940, died in Canada in 2016. I was born in 1943.
We had no gas or electricity, one cold tap and a bucket toilet. They rented the house from the Canal Company. My father worked at Rolls Royce, Barnoldswick. We always had some sort of animals on the land which came with the house: a calf, cow, sheep, lambs, hens, goats etc.
My parents bought the house from the Canal Company and that was when they discovered it was called Greenberfield. We got electricity about 1956 but didn’t get a proper bathroom and toilet until after I left home to train as a nurse in Leeds in 1960.
The family at the top lock were Mr & Mrs Cutler, and he was the lock keeper. Later Ray Wilkinson’s mother moved in there. I think she was a district nurse.
As far as I remember the bus that took the children to the new school started at Malham and joined the second bus at Gargrave. Then it was one bus for the boys and one for the girls. We didn’t live far enough away from the school, so I had to catch Laycock’s bus to the town centre and walk from there to the new school. I was very envious of the children from Malham and Gargrave who got transported to school. It felt a long walk on a wet day.
I cannot ever remember being called Pil (Pilk or Pilkie, yes!). If anyone called me Pat, my mother always added, much to my embarrassment “tricia!”. My parents sold Greenberfield in 1977 to Ronny Sainty, and moved next door to me in Halton, Leeds. I moved to Huddersfield in 1994.
If anyone remembers me and wants to get in touch, my email address is patriciapd1943@gmail.com
Patricia D Fuller, Huddersfield

Continuing on the rhubarb them from December’s edition. I too came from the rhubarb triangle, East Ardsley. My father-in-law was a rhubarb grower between East and West Ardsley, down Woodhouse Lane.
My late husband, who was pressed into service in the rhubarb sheds when it was being harvested in the warm, damp, semi-darkness, used to say how eerie was the sound of the rhubarb creaking as it unfurled in the candlelight.
Perhaps I should explain the early season pink forced rhubarb was grown in darkness and harvested by candlelight, this was the high value crop.
Another friend who worked for the railway told me that in the season which was early in the year a train called the Rhubarb Special ran very early every morning from East Ardsley Station for the produce to reach the London markets.
I believe that after the rhubarb had been forced it was then put out in the fields to recover, we always had a great crop of rhubarb in our garden years after.
Marjorie Ward, Doncaster

We Brits have a love/hate relationship with snow. We love the romantic pictures of crisp, clear blue skies with magical trees blanketed in snow but on the other hand the impracticalities of travel, tending to livestock, essential appointments etc makes us hate it.   
As an exiled Yorkshire lass I often think of the snowy days we had when I was growing up in Harrogate.  No school closures for us or inside playtimes. I remember the “big” boys, they were probably about 13, making a treacherous slide on black ice in the playground until someone broke a limb and the headmaster covered it in sand. Now in Gloucestershire we don’t get much of the white stuff but waking up mid-January to a blanket of snow I got to thinking about my childhood memories of it.
My favourite memory is of the big snow of 1947 which was not only very heavy but the freeze lasted for 50 days or more. My older siblings and their friends constructed a wonderful igloo, made properly with blocks of snow but as a little four-year-old I was not welcome! Overnight next door’s cat, Steve, left a calling card in their igloo and they were all horrified and went off to construct another shelter. My mum removed the offending object with the coal shovel and I had a beautiful snow house all to myself!  Somewhere I have a cute little picture of me digging in the snow with Steve, my hero!
Sue Marsland, Wotton under Edge

Len Markham asked “Does anyone know of another Yorkshire island” in January’s Dalesman. Actually, there’s one in the Humber. Although, technically, it’s now part of the mainland, it is still separated from East Yorkshire by a narrow creek. It is, of course, Sunk Island near Spurn Point. I believe it is supposed to have started around an ancient wreck which then silted up over the years until it was large enough to sustain buildings and farms!
Geoff Brear, Springbank West, Hull

My Dad, John Waddington Smith (Jack), born in 1901 in Manningham, Bradford, taught me this jingle 70 years ago which I suspect is a plagiarism of the 1840 children’s hymn whose first line it matches and which he would have known as a kid:

A little ship was on the sea,
a lighthouse on the land.
The Queen sat on a rusty wheel
with a pitchfork in her hand.

It obviously refers to the new bronze coinage with Britannia on the reverse introduced in 1860 and in use up to decimalisation for the penny and, until 1937, for the farthing and halfpenny when the wren and ship reverses respectively superseded it. Possibly my father heard it from my grandfather born in 1867.
Strangely, although I would be surprised if the jingle was known only in Manningham, I have found no-one to have ever heard of it and even the internet seems to be unaware of it. On the assumption that The Dalesman might be a better search engine, I would be grateful to know if any reader has heard of it and if it has a published source.
David Smith, Bristol

I was interested in the Jackson family name item in February’s edition of The Dalesman. I have been looking at my own ancestry over the past few years since retiring from the water industry.
My name is Joseph Peter Jackson and unlike the item in The Dalesman my family tree is very much in the North Yorkshire area of the county. I have traced back to John Jackson the artist who lived between 1778 and 1831 and some of his paintings hang in Castle Howard.
He painted many famous people including Wellington, and, as well as being paid for the painting, was presented with a cannon ball from the battle of Waterloo by the Duke. I still have that cannon ball, which I assume was French as we would have been on the receiving end!
It is some time ago that while working for Yorkshire Water as an electrical engineer I was involved in installing a new water pumping station at Lastingham. As the village is very proud of its links with the famous artist (the stone bridge in the centre of the village opposite John Jackson’s house was named after him) it would be fitting if a small stone plaque could be placed above the door of the little stone water pumping station.
I have made approaches to Yorkshire Water and I am awaiting to hear. I know it was something I should have done during its construction but at the time when working full time you don’t think about things like that and it’s only after you retire that the importance of maintaining links with the past becomes important.
Joseph Peter Jackson, Scotton, Knaresborough

Given Geoffrey Sharp’s long exile from the blessed county he is absolutely forgiven for his faux pas. He refers to our “Town Hall”. My late father, Peter Buckley, was a local government officer and worked for many years in the said building in Bradford. He would have gently reminded Geoffrey that Bradford is a city and, at its centre, is its magnificent City Hall.
Stephen Buckley, Anglesey, Wales

Geoffrey Sharp’s article with reference to the Hindenburg brings to mind being taken outside by my mother when we lived in Hopwood Bank, Horsforth, in early May 1937 to see this huge airship, with what looked like a railway carriage underneath, flying overhead going westwards. I was about 3½ years old and it is still my first childhood memory. Little did we realise that a few days later it would crash in the USA with considerable loss of life and mark the end of airship travel. I am now 87 years old but still vividly remember seeing this huge airship flying overhead and I believe at the time there were pictures in the newspapers of it flying over Leeds so I didn’t imagine it!
I have lived in Northumberland for the past 20 years but until Covid have always managed to regularly visit God’s Own County at least once a year. In the present climate, thank goodness for The Dalesman!
Robin Wilson, Northumberland

We, as viewers of Yorkshire TV programmes, like the Yorkshire Vet and All Creatures Great And Small. 
Well, we also love Our Yorkshire Farm with Amanda and Clive and especially all the children, and agree with Pat Dixon’s remarks about the sponsorship of the programme.
Having worked for a large and well known brand, Yorkshire Tea, we believe they missed a trick here in the sponsorship dealings.
Perhaps the phrase “let’s have a proper brew” does not travel south too well.
Terry Mason, Harrogate 

Shirley Moorse asks in the February Dalesman about a rhyme to help recall the names of Yorkshire rivers in north to south order. I was at school in Nelson in the 1950s and we were being taught the names of the major Yorkshire rivers. Another pupil who had recently moved to our school from one in Yorkshire told our geography teacher that they had been told the following aid at his old school that would help them to remember the rivers. It went as follows; SUNWACDD. This stood for Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe, Aire, Calder, Don and Dee. Our teacher had not heard this one before but suggested we remembered it and I, for one, certainly did. I hope that this is the one that Shirley is looking for.
Joe Midgley, Foulridge, Lancashire

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  1. Richard Hebblethwaite

    I would just like to say how much I enjoyed Chris Mason’s comments in July’s edition. I appreciate his honesty when appearing on T.V. The bonus for me reading his article was that he just happened to refer to an app. he had on his phone for identifying planes overhead. I had no idea one was available so immediately searched the app. store and found a free one. The first 72 years of my life was spent in Ryedale but we have now moved into Leicestershire to be near family. We are about 11 miles from East Midlands Airport so are in a good position to monitor the air traffic. Just a big ‘thank you’ to Chris.


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