James Baxter

From BaildonWiki

These are some of the things James, born 1947, has written about while reminiscing. They are not in any particular order - not by date written or periods covered.

Note that because of the way these stories have grown in the telling they may cover the same thing more than once.

A walk down memory lane after 60 odd years or more ..

This is just one tale what I wrote in 2014.

My friend David from my childhood days and I went on and along the places we used to laik about at Baildon in 1950s as kids. It was a wet and miserable day, but we did not notice it. From his house, in Collier Lane, which was just across from mine, we took a stroll up the snicket to the moors, this went up the back of my old house. We tried to remember all the names of most of the people that lived at the time, and of how their gardens looked. Up this snicket my father had a small holding in the orchard, where he kept a lot of poultry, off above the large house that was built at the other side of the very high wall, which was laced with broken bottles along the top to keep out trespassers. It was a large orchard at the time, with a long greenhouse with fruit wines in. When we were young there were no houses built in the fields half way up, just open fields towards the moors, but these days they reach to the top of the snicket, built in the 60s. The snicket now is all over grown and, by the looks of it, very little used, with weeds all the way up.

Along the field side on the right, was farmer "Harrison's" small holding. In our day the old iron fence, that was still in place, very rusty and brown, but still has strong as in the old days; this kept the pigs from escaping down the snicket. Once at the top, it opened out to more houses built on an open field that had been opposite.

Taking the road towards the moor alongside the edge of Hope Hill, where we had lots of hours sledging down the very steep hill on a Saturday morning and arriving home very wet through, then passing a house that in the early days was a Dog Kennels (Dove Hall) now a private house, but now a tarmac road had been laid, as in our day it was a very rough road of which, when we had a heavy rain, lots of the loose surface would create dams all the way down. Once passing this part of the road, to our left was the panoramic view over Shipley and Saltaire, and in the foreground was all the open fields we played in, bird nesting and collecting mushrooms. Many new buildings could be made out, in the distance our old school was still up, but not a school as we knew it at Saltaire.

Then we opened a metal gate to enter Baildon moors, in our days it was the five bar gate, that we closed securely. After heavy rain that following night the ground was very boggy on the moor, taking the well-trodden path to the right, we proceed along the side of the moor towards to the top part of the 18th hole, and passing the bullet hills, taking diversions of bogs we came across, but as young boys we just went through them in our wellies.

As we pasted many places we laiked about, we discussed many memories of the times we had in the bracken, playing many a game of hide and seek, and cowboys, taking the old path down along side of the houses built alongside of the moor, but in our days, it was all open with large fields giving us a short cut home. Today we had to keep to the roads back home, passing the golf house.

And once we arrived back to where we started you wondered where all the years had gone.

Days of shopping in Baildon

A few recollections from the mid 50s

I cannot remember what age I must have been at the time, but I must have been very young, every week I was taken to the chemist in Browgate to be weighed and measured. As I was thin as a stick, my mother used to collect the powdered milk I was having. Afterwards she pushed me up Browgate to the bakers, Feathers was the name of the bakers, to collect the bread for over the week. It came over the glass counter, ell of baking in the shop, I can still smell it now, even after all these years. Along the back wall was tins of loose biscuits, all at eye level for a youngster to look into. Through the glass lid, though my mother made most of our biscuits at home, I did at times manage to twist her arm, and get a few I liked, such as wafer types

Then we walked further up, passing a shoe shop, which was an annual event, for either new shoes or sandals in the summer, passing another grocer's shop, which mum did not go into for some reason, but I would have got into trouble, as I swung on his sun blinds every time I was going to school in the morning, then called at the grocer's further up for some other things. Mum was very friendly with Mrs Lancaster the owner, and had a little chat, must have known each other during and after the war, while rationing was on the go, and pay for the week’s grocery that she had delivered that week. After it arrived I had the card board box to play with each week which it came in. As I became older I made it into all sorts of things:- forts was my favourite, for my soldiers, Army trucks and tanks, cow boys and Indians too, later an office for all my bird books I had on the front room window sill (those that fly).

Once I was old enough, about 6 years old, I was given the little red order book of the list of grocery, and put it through the letter box of the shop, while I was going back to school after dinner time. Having a Bbeech Nut chewing gum machine outside I always looked to see if it would give out two packs, rather than the usual one pkt, and use my last penny.

I sometimes, when a little older, went with my father on a Saturday morning trip down into the village. The first call was at the upholsterers, by the side of the Old Hall, top of Westgate, and up some very step stone steps with some eggs, as Mr Frank Dean was recovering our front room suite. We always paid in kind. When you opened his workshop door, the smell of furniture polish and furniture glue was all around, it was a very intoxicating sort of smell. I liked his small wood burning stove, keeping the place a bit warm at winter time, but it was the top of the barn, with a slate roof, and no under drawing.

After putting the world to rights we left, dad called again with some eggs at the electrical shop, I think it was called "Jeffersons", in the middle of the village, at the bottom of Westgate, it was for our 9” b/w television set he had bought. On the shelves were electric kettles, and other electric appliances, very posh looking electric washing machines lining along the floor to the counter, and many more goods, radios and tv sets in one corner. They did splash out for a "Teas Maid" one year, must have been paid in kind.

Afterwards he went to collect the weekly magazines, at Bottomleys, as we did not have our daily paper delivered; dad collected it when going to work, being first thing in the morning. When walking in there was that paper/ink smell in the shop as all the newspapers were laid out on show along a very long slopping counter. Dad had his Poultry World mag, Woman’s Own for mum, Dandy for me. Later I got the Eagle comic.

Then it was upwards towards home, Dad would call at the green grocers, collecting a few pounds of potatoes and some fish for dinner as they were too heavy for mother to carry home, then further up the road, to "Jowett’s", the butchers, for the Sunday joint, during the war years, they just lived up a few doors up the road, from the shop, so must have been good customers at the time, the shop always seemed covered in blood, along the side wall as he kept carcasses hung up all along the shop wall, of which he took down if a big chunk needed to be cut off, under them was a covering of fresh saw-dust.

These halcyon days still linger in my thoughts and think how things have changed to how we shop to day.

A tale of shopping in Baildon in the 50s.

Gardens and Gardening at Baildon

As young toddler in the early 50s, living at Baildon, I took interest in gardening, the first of my jobs was weeding with my parents. It was a pre-war semi-detached house, next door had many a lawns, all the way around there house, where ours had two small lawns either side of the pathway to the front gate, and a small one, which was in back garden, with a rockery. Having two clothes props at either end, made it just right size for the washing line to be placed.

Down the side of the house, dad planted about 18 blackberry bushes, which took up a lot space in its day, they must have grown greens, by its size during WW11 with rhubarb plants in the corner.

When the last person who lived at the house was an elderly lady, must have been her pride and joy, all around the lawns were shrubs that came up every year, with only small areas of soil where my father planted a few bedding plants, to add a bit of colour. At the back of the house there was a snicket taking you up to Hope lane and beyond to Baildon moor. The old fence was of a lattice work, painted a pale blue that had seen better days which he replaced with rustic poles for the climbing rose trees to cling to.

At the front garden, between the lawn and the veg patch was a display of climbing roses and a little bed of rose bushes. When it came time to prune them I gave my parents a hand using my small wheel barrow to collect the cuttings, and a privet hedge up the side of the road had a trim. On the other side was a square within a square, and a very large Fuchsia that must have been planted there since year dot by its size.

It would be about the time I was 8 years old I started to use the lawn mower, it felt so heavy when I was young, so I found it hard at first, 'til I got bit older ... mainly what I would do was cutting the lawn edging, and try to trim the privet hedge with some hedge sheers in the lower points.

During the 50s Baildon was such a lovely unspoilt village to live in, every one taking responsibility of looking after their gardens, even if it was only a very small plot in front of your cottage window down West Lane.

Once I joined the scouts, after leaving the cubs, during "Bob a job week" I did little tasks in gardens. Now I was asked by a few of our neighbours if I could do a few jobs in their gardens, and be paid to do it, so that was right up my ,to earn money for yourself. Using the hedging shears was a favourite of mine, and once you had finished, I stood back, and was really chuffed in what I had done on the hedges. Our neighbours, being pensioners, they were very gratefull for the work I did for them, at the end of their garden was a Hawthorne bush which was growing out of control, and by the side of the drive it made the drive way very slippery when it dropped it berries.

It was now I began to learn more about different plants and flowers so my parents left me to it. We did not have a green house, but an old shed, in which I grew a number of easy growing seeds. My favourite flowers were nasturtiums. They were so easy to grow.

These days, being retired, I enjoy cutting the lawns in the back and front and growing sunflower plants in the back garden. And in the front, with sweet-peas making a lovely display. I have a very small veg patch, that has potatoes, courgettes, carrots, and peas in the back garden. Along the drive way, there are many small tubs and troughs with pansies and other bedding plants in.

These days I enjoy the gardening, but I'm not able to get stuck in as I soon loss all my adrenalin, and having a dodgy back thrown in that does not help at all ... so a mowing I enjoy ..

A dozen hens to a poultry farm 1950 to 1965

My life was mapped out at a very young age, when only a few months old, I was lacking in health and very thin, and so it was decided by the doctor I needed a lot of vitamin “C” and protein in my diet, and so my father brought a dozen hens and kept then in a hut in the garden, then a small shed .. later on he brought for along side it, and bred day old chicks, having sold the surplus eggs at work, he could have afforded to buy the shed.

I was having eggs every day, and mother was baking all sorts of cakes to buns.

It was a year later my father built a battery cabin for more hens, out of old telephone boxes he got from work [as he was a telephone engineer]. And for the roof, he got old fruit boxes from the green grocer in the village, breaking them down and reusing the old nails as well, very little was thrown away. Having a bit of money from the eggs he sold at work, a concert floor was laid, and breezeblocks was used for the side wall, facing the garden.

Once this was up and in place, he set too in making battery cages for the hens he was going to keep, it is years ago so I can not say how many, but up to 50 hens at least.

All the hen manure went at first along to an allotment by the side of Baildon moor, some where close to the Golf club, as the Hoppy who had helped father build the batter house, had a plot of land there. Then the following year, dad took the manure up Collier lane to a field that belonged to Strathmore farm.

The plot of land belonged at one time to "Bob Scott, who lived at the top of Cecil ave.. he built all his own poultry hut, from old bricks from the green houses, other huts made from fruit boxes from the green grocers in the village, we were happy there, until houses were built at the other side of the stone wall/snickit.

I kept my first pigeons in a loft I built my self, and sold the young ones down in Bradford market, making a few bob for myself.

Those days taught me so many things in life.

Baildon St John's Infant and Junior School

During the summer of 1951, was the time I started school.

I have vague memories of been taken by my mother to school that day, I had new cloths on to start the day, in my short pants and tank top, and a blazer made by my mother.

It was a ten minutes walk to the school from our house, down into the centre of Baildon, and up a road called Church Hill. Towards the parish church which was at the top of the road. The school was built alongside the church.

The first thing you saw was the green iron railings at the front of the playground, once you had gone through the school gates, to the left was the school hall entrance, so on the steps I stood, around the side was the entrance to the school, to the cloak room. There was many pupils meeting up in different parts of the play ground, who I did not know, and it made me very shy not knowing how to introduce myself to them. So I just stayed by the side of my mother who was chatting away to a friend. But it did not take long before I found friends that day, but I was not one to be in a gang.

A teacher came out and blew a whistle, [Miss Skinner] and told us all stand still that must have been the first time discipline entered my life. We walked in putting any coats in the cloak room; there was large steel pegs on a large red metal beam.

Having my surname which began with “B” I was one to be up front in the queue to walk into the class room. I remember having my cloths peg, for my pump bag very near the door way. On one side of the class room was very tall windows looking out of the class room window, you looked over the grave yard and across to Baildon bank.

There was tables at the back of the class room but no desks, at the front of the class room a large mat cover the bare wooden floor that we all sat on, during the first week, where we were taught to tie up our shoe laces. The following week we did P.E in the school hall, doing physical jerks to a teacher on the piano which was opposite to our class room. During this time I made many new friends in the class. In the class room was a “rocking horse“ where I seem to notice the favourites of the teacher got most turns on. I spent my time painting pictures, with powdered paint, on large pieces of paper, I was very good at painting fields and trees, and playing with plasticine of many colours, with all the modelling tools, which I never had the chance to do at home. I found you were rather limited to what you could do in the sand pit. As it was different as laking about in a pile of sand in our garden of my father’s at home.

At break time, I enjoyed the bottle of milk, then play time. I never stayed for school dinners, as a auntie who lived with us, picked me up from school. In the next few months, we were taught how to cross the main roads, down in the village centre, and from that day on wards [5 and half years old] I walked to school by myself, home at dinner time, and at home time again. Being a only child I was very independent in everything I did at home and at school.

Unfortunately no class photos of the time.

Life during my school days

As a lad aged 4 years old and having no sisters or brothers, I was the only child. I had all the freedom I wanted at home, but my father took no for answer, and discipline in my life, was in my fore front of most things. I had only 3 playmates, who lived very close by. In Baildon at that time, there was very few cars, if any that came up the road, we would play to our hearts content.

Then one day, my world fell apart, it was the year I had to go to school. Summer 1951

I remember having to put on my best cloths, and looking the part. Walking to the school, I really enjoyed, then there it was, built alongside the church, of which the last time I was in was to get christened.

The playground was alongside the grave yard, and had iron railing around it. In the yard was all my new school friends, who I would eventually get to know. At first I was very shy, it was in time, I start to learn their names and where they lived, At first I was bullied a lot, I was pushed into the girls toilets many times, and some of the girls made a right song and dance about it, One day I had my fill of all this grief, and opened the window at the bottom of the line of toilets, and escaped into the grave yard, and hide at the back of a gravestone 'til the whistle was blown. And it never happened again.

As you walked into the school, along a concert floor, on passing the doorways, in to the school hall on your left, to your right was the cloak room, with rows of Red cloth pegs, painted red was so you didn’t crack your head open if being naughty with your school mates, there was a row of sinks [wash basins], to wash your hands, and clean cuts you did in the playground by the teacher. Or if you were covered in paint during a lesson.

I can still remember the day I walked in to that class room, our teacher was called MISS Skinner, a rather thin lady, so tall, it’s a wonder she made it through the class room door, and very stern looking The class room floor was made of wooden boards, that had been scrubbed so much they looked white and smelt of bleach or something., on the floor was a large coconut type mat made up of sisal, that we sat on, that left marks on your back side, if we had long lesson’s, goodness knows what it left on the girls, who had skirts on. Miss Skinners desk was near the window on front of the class room wall, as was the alphabet, with pictures i.e. A for Apple B for Bird and so on, the black board was on wheels On the back wall was number’s. counting to ten, I remember the walls being paint a very light blue, By the side of the door was a very tall mirror, no excuse of looking like you had been "pulled through a hedge " when coming into the class. Down one side was a "rocking horse" for all the goody goodies to have go on, next to that was a sand pit, about a couple of feet off the wooden floor. Down the other side was a excellent view of the grave yard, and beyond you could see Shipley, in the distance.

When we were given our exercise books out, the first thing that you wrote was the date at the top right hand side of the page. Now dates began to mean something to me now, when I began to get bored, I used to look out of the window, and in doing so read the dates on the grave stones, It was the first time I was able to paint, using large full scrap sheets of paper, and powdered paint, I really excelled myself, having a few of my paintings put up on the wall.

The next class the teacher I cannot remember her name, but I knew where she lived in Baildon, had "school desks ", to sit at with a ink pot in the top right hand side, and we were given out "dip" in pens to write with. If ever I managed to get a pen with a brand new nib in, I would hide it in my desk, I was terribly at spelling. When it came to writing out a page of text, I was really in my element, I would write for hours. Doing sums, took some time to understand, but once I got the hang of fractions and stuff, I was not very academic at all.

My very best subject of all was geography, I think by the time I was 9 years old, I knew just about every part of the world, and what goods came from the countries. History was my second, but remembering kings and queens I was rubbish on. And I never got past the 1800’s during my lessons, so all the wars, I never had any lessons on.

I Enjoyed doing P.E in the school hall, but when it came down to games out side, I was less enthusiastic about, being a only child, I did not have that team spirit in me, but anything I could do myself, I shone at. Like long distance running in my secondary schools.

I had only one lad who took a dislike to me, in my third year, so one day I stuck his desk lid down with some "beechnut " chewing gum. And he never found out, I believe he did get some punishment, for eating in class.

During all my school days, I always went home for my dinner, which to me was a promise of freedom. During morning break, when it was milk time, I was never a helper, but I was excellent at downing a bottle in less time than most of my class mates.

I went through all my school days in the third form of my year, and the top half of the class. You could say, certain subjects, I was a thick as two short planks with.. Having failing my 11 plus, I was sent to Saltaire secondary school, it was the same old story, and I was never a teacher’s pet, giving out the pencils. But I had many friends, and bullies gave me a very wide berth.

The lessons were more or less the same, except I had a choice between having wood work, or metal work, thinking to myself that before I was 11 years old, I had made rabbit hutches, and my own pigeon loaf, so would I ever get a chance to play with metal, so I was learning about cutting metal with really accurate markings, using solder, fluke and acid.

When returning back to school after dinner, I often dropped off some baby guinea pigs at the pet shop along the road, in so making some profit.

On the whole I enjoyed my school days, or in another term, I put up with them, to my advantage, making many friends

My very first job after school, was working with my father, on our poultry farm. It was called "J& J Baxter and son" Moat field poultry farm.

I was paid, one pound a week, working seven days a week. Why you may ask, I had all my meals free, all my cloths brought for me. And anything else I cannot remember,

At the end of the day, the farm would be passed on to me..

On leaving school, I had not one qualification to my name, in all the 40 odd years I had been at work, I was never out of work. And I never had a C.V. even to show to anyone.

Tong park Dam and Red Brick Dam

Water in my life....... .

While I was a very young boy of the age of 7 years old [1954], I played around Baildon all the time, my parents never knew what I was getting up to, and it was through this I learnt to swim, after coming home one Saturday afternoon, being out all morning playing, in my hands I had a jar of frog spawn.

There was then the question, of where I had got them from, Red brick Dam …, was my answer…. From my father came the stern answer, from now on you are going to learn to swim no buts or if's about it. And so every Saturday afternoon I was taken down to Shipley baths, to get lessons from my father, and in no time at all, I was swimming like a fish. Flaming freezing waiting to catch the bus home .

After school, when I was at Sandals school, I could catch a bus down to Shipley, and have swimming lessons during the week. By a proper swimming instructor. Mrs Birch she was called.

Down at Red Brick dam, again, we used to send logs across the dam, and bomb them with bricks, I never fell of the red brick wall, more good luck than management .. then off to Tong Park dam with my mates, yep those two again …we did some fishing, well we emptied an over flow that caught trout going over it at night time, into the stream, after been caught into, took a few home to be grilled, dead nice they were…other times we took out our cheap rods in the evening, we didn’t have a license or anything, nobody took any notice of us any way, but being able to swim, my parents felt if I fell in, at least the daft sod could pull myself out again. Also The Leeds Liverpool Canal was a favourite place to go. But we stayed clear of the locks gates .

When I reached the age of 11 years old, my swimming instructor got me to go with one of her friends she knew, and I tried doing some outdoor swimming in a reservoir just outside Keighley, but it was far too cold, and I gave it up after a few weeks sod that for a game of "cowboys", I thought, so I improved my freestyle strokes and diving in the warm baths at Shipley

I used to go about once a week to the baths, and it gave me chance to make other friends, where I would have missed out otherwise, yep and with the odd girl friend too. Thrown in ….

My second school run ....

Baildon Sandals junior School

Baildon Bank

So this was my second school I went to. It was a lot different to my last school. The teachers seemed to be much stricter, and so you paid much more attention in class.

It had a large playground at the front, and a small play area at the back. The girls were at one side, and we were at the other. In the front playground was a very low wall that separated us from one another.

The bottom of the building had the infant children, then on the floor further up, there was another four class rooms.

When I was sat at my desk, you could look right to the top of Baildon bank, and there on many a day, I could see Auntie sitting on the seats, enjoying the view. Then the next two class rooms were at either side of the school, of which the last one can be seen in the photo below.

The large building on the right of the photo is Sandals primary school.

My teacher was called Mr English [what a strange name I thought at the time teaching English] we had other teachers too, who would give out lines as punishment if you got up to mischief in the class room, of which I got a good few pages to do, but i never got the ruler [we didn’t have a cane there]

When going to school you could either go down a load of steps from the top of Baildon bank, or go along a slopping path from the top of Westgate, and along Bank walk, passing Houseman’s dairy [where Mum used to work during WWII] and down a sloping path, which can be seen at the top left of the above photo.

A favourite passtime, during the summer months was sliding down Baildon bank on a stiff piece of board, I did it on a piece of tin one day, and cut open two fingers, they were bleeding rather badly but it was lucky I had a hankie- chief in my pocket. I rushed home and got a couple of plasters on them, and ditched the hank chief.

There was some mention of what I had done to my fingers during tea time but I didn’t give them the whole story, otherwise I would have had a right royal lecture off my father when he came home from work.

I did one naughty thing, that I did, was when I rolled a rock down the bank, with a school mate [who I will not name] and it hit a car by accident, the car just turned up from nowhere. Nobody was hurt, except my back side off my dad. I never did it again.

It was put in the local paper [T/A] of what had happened to that a car, it had been hit by a bolder on Baildon bank, but nobody was hurt. I don’t think I would have been found out, except some big mouth in the class split on me. That was the first time ever I got mentioned in the local paper in my life. I had hit the big time.{pardon the pun}

At the top of the bank walk, along the slopping path, up to wards bank walk, there was a hollow banister, and at the top you could put live fireworks [bangers] down it, so when someone was coming up, it gave them a shock when it went off as they were holding the hand rail rather tightly.

I used to get a ride to school, from a lad called Tony who lived up the road, above us in his dads bon Mini car, but after frightening the living day lights out of him by dropping a firework in to the banister he told his father about it and I had to walk to school again. That taught me a lesson, to behave myself, you must be kidding.

When i went back to school, at dinner time i used to always walk along West Lane and down another road, then go down the steep zig zag steps to the bottom of the Baildon bank, it felt i was getting there much quicker being gravity feed.

Once, hearing the school bell being rung, i just about flew down that bank as there was no tomorrow in those days.

On the way home i mostly went up the slopping path, it made life much easier, and not as tiring after being sat at your desk all afternoon. And it gave you a bit more time to play about with your school mates.

There was a big flat stone at the top, of the path and if i had been getting any grief from a school mate in the class room that day i used to put his initials (= somebody else) on the stone. The following day, the culprit found out, and i had a great laugh; i really liked to wind people up, and nobody knew who had done it. And whoever it was kept asking who had written there name, in initials on the stone. I just kept strum.