Ralph Dickson

From BaildonWiki

Ralph has drawn several views of Baildon, many from memory, that can be seen here.

For a while he lived in Fountain Fold - the area that became the Ian Clough Hall and car park in the late 1960s and early 70s.

He has also written poems etc that are Baildon related.

CHILDHOOD MEMORYS POEM

Born in Baildon Lucky me
Fountain fold my home to be
I looked around and I did see
A cottage small surrounding me
One room down stairs an iron range 
Coal fire kettle black, seems strange
A tabby rug the old stone floor
Windows and a big thick door
The beams above with woodworm holes
Gas lamps with chains for its controls

The scullery with walls cut from rock
Stone sink lead pipes a brass stopcock
Concrete floor a window small
A rubbing board hung on the wall
Peggy tub and mangle too
Nothing hear that looks brand new
Scouring block, carbolic soap
Some washing hanging from a rope
Mum puts me in an old tin bath
The waters warm I giggle and laugh

Upstairs linoleum on the floor
A bucket I will say no more
A double bed my little cot
Big blue dummy I like a lot
Beams above me show signs of rot
Whitewashed ceiling with brown stained spot
Through the window stars I could see
A teddy bear to comfort me
So dark when the gas lamp was turned out
But for a candle shadows dancing all about

Sometimes a sirens warning wale
We sit beneath the table, faces pale 
Mum would hum a little tune
We’ll just sit tight, the all clear soon
To my house they never came
Somewhere else they let hell rain
My uncle he has gone far away
Mum said “he’ll come back we pray”
In India over the sea he’ll be
Perhaps an elephant he’ll bring for me

Morning breaks it is so cold 
I’ll be warm when the fire takes hold
Milk jug standing on the step
Covered with a beaded net
Man with ladle in his hand 
He brings the milk it tastes so grand 
I see my dad he’s coming home
He has brought us buttered scone
A bread man and a big cream bun
I’m proud to be a baker’s son

Ralph Dickson October 1994

Childhood Stories posted to facebook

Posted 29 January 2021

If James can write a story I'm sure I can,

My story starts in Baildon, West Yorkshire, the year 1937, people that lived there were very friendly, everybody knew everybody, a very close knit community. The first house my parents rented was in Browgate, very near the town center with its stocks and fountain known locally as the potted meat stick, there would always be someone waiting there for the buses that ran to Shipley then on to Bradford. In the warmer summer days there was always a few old men gathered round the stocks smoking their pipes and putting the world to rights, there were lots of shops grocers, cobblers, tobacconist, green grocer, barber, sweet shop the man who ran this was always seen in good weather sharpening saws outside while waiting for customers, there was also a butcher in every sense of the word the live cattle went in the back then he would sell whatever the customer wanted at the front, if you had the coupons and more importantly the money, there were lots of other trades plumbers Joiners and builders to mention a few, three pubs and two clubs all within a few hundred yards of each other, and amazingly three churches, there never seemed all that many people around but if for instance a fair came to town people would flood the town in their hundreds.

We soon moved from Browgate a short distance away called Fountain Fold which consisted of five cottages built in an L shape we moved into the corner cottage, the former occupier was a lady called Olive Toulmin a friend of my mum, Jack her husband their son John had managed to get a three bedroom council house at The Grove, just the other side of the town, John was the same age as me and we became friends in later years, the two cottages to our right were occupied by Mrs Gill and Mrs Craven on the other side a lady with a girl called Lorna then next to them Mr Bacon a retired school teacher, we would live here till I was eleven it was very basic with stone floor and beams on the ceiling just one bedroom at the top of a short staircase, the ceiling down stairs was very low, a small scullery where mum did the washing, the cottage was supplied with gas, we had a very primitive gas boiler for heating water for washing the cloths, another essential was a tin bath, mum filled the bath from a kettle and pans she boiled on the fire, it was hard work and a long job to get a bath filled, mum would bath me and tuck me in bed then she would get her bath, my dad worked nights so we wouldn’t see him till morning,

The fire had a built in oven, mum used to bake scones if dad brought home a little flour, the coal was stored under the stairs it was delivered every three weeks by Whitaker’s coal merchant, we had a small garden that could be accessed by climbing through the window which my mum did every washing day, our toilet was down the fold, on my second birthday my brother Kenneth was born things were a bit sparse has WWII was raging, the air raid siren went off now and then and although there was a shelter near the Town center only three hundred yards away, mum and I would hide under the table, mum would tell me nursery rhymes or sing songs I didn’t really understand what was happening being so young, just playing a fun game in candle light and the flickering shadows dancing on the walls from the coal fire, I was never once frightened, I always wondered why we never went to the shelter but looking back the solid stone walls of our cottage were three times as thick as the brick built shelter and the thick beams overhead nothing but a direct hit would have harmed us.

Posted 6 February 2021

My story Continues, Thanks to all you lovely people that Liked and commented.

My dad was a baker so exempted from military service the best thing that I remember he always brought bread men with currants for eyes and buttons home in the morning, our breakfast was toasted bread that was put on a long fork in front of the open fire, the milkman would call with a big can supported with a strong leather strap round his neck then ladle the milk from this into a jug that was always left on the step, jam and bread for lunch, there was a lot of poor families lived around the town and jam was a luxury for these people, they would survive with little more than lard on bread sprinkled with a little sugar, everything was rationed we had coupons to buy groceries, meat or sweets depending on wages if the breadwinner was sick and couldn’t work there was no money, if there was no work times were hard but people would scrape through, there was two doctors Dr Cooper had a surgery in the town and Dr Penn was situated at the bottom of Browgate they called Threshfield, everybody had to pay for treatment, if I remember rightly my parents paid half-crown ( ⅛ of a pound) if illness struck and a doctor had to be called, it would be July 1948 before the NHS started in England.

I started school at five, the year 1941, it was called Sandals about half a mile away, my mum had been taught there, there was a church school in the town not two hundred yards away from our cottage but sandals was a better choice according to mum, my first day was awful I didn’t want mum to leave me there, I was placed on a chair by the teacher Miss North I was crying, I didn’t like the teacher she looked really old and would take no nonsense, we all had a slate and piece of chalk, Miss North drew a letter on the blackboard then we had to copy it to the slate, play time came I climbed over a small wall that once had iron railings they had been removed for the war effort, I ran along the Green road to were my grandma lived she calmed me down then told me I would have to be a brave boy, she took me back just as playtime was over the teacher was blowing a whistle we lined up at the door and filed in to our classroom, my mum was waiting for me when it was home time she took my hand then we walked the half mile home, days went by I settled into the routine I never liked it in the nursery class the old teacher was very strict and to make me learn faster she would hit my knuckles with a short stick, some of the other pupils got the same on a regular basis, I made friends so playtime was very enjoyable there were some air raid shelters in the school yard we would run in and out it was dark inside and a bit scary, quite often there would be the drone of Lancaster Bombers overhead I would watch with amazement, the factory in Yeadon where they were mass producing these planes was called Avro about five miles away, I always thought I would like to fly in a plane, I did but that was many years into the future, we would laugh a lot with screams of joy, the folks who lived near the school must have breathed a sigh of relief when the whistle went, then all was quiet again,

Dinners were served in a room under the school this was always welcome there was nothing fancy about the food potatoes and veg with gravy, then a sweet semolina or bread pudding with custard, there was never any complaints we ate everything that was put in front of us, if there was somebody that didn’t like something I would eat there’s as well,

Time rolled on I moved into different classes I was never very bright but I managed to learn the basics, I never thought of the future or what I would eventually do for a living, I was always dreaming about what I would do at the weekend and evenings with my mates, near the school was a hill were there was some old quarry workings it was called the Bank, in the summer we would spend hours sliding down the Bank on pieces of cardboard on the dry grass, or exploring the caves and tunnels made by the quarry workers long ago, they were dank dripping wet places we never saw the danger just the excitement, our heads were full of imagination we were free and the world was ours,

Posted 14 February 2021

Part three of my ongoing story, thanks to all who have been following,

There was a great commotion one morning we thought the Germans had landed I remember running to the end of the fold to be met by machine gun fire coming from the door of the Angel pub were they lowered the beer barrels down to the cellar a soldier was firing at tanks coming into the village vie Browgate, it was the home guard practicing the defence of the Town, up till then it was the nearest I’ve been to real warfare,

The home guard would at Easter time, or some other holiday put displays on at the locale cricket ground Jenny Lane, mock battles and motor bike displays it was all very entertaining being a kid I didn’t understand the seriousness of it all, we saw plenty of soldiers and tanks rumbling through the Village the moor was a sea of mud and the army was on the firing ranges most days, but by 1943 the sirens were few and far between people went about their business unhindered, kids just found their own entertainment we never got bored there was a lot of derelict property all over the town and these were our very own playgrounds where nobody bothered us, as long as we weren’t up to mischief or annoying anyone, at this time there were few rules regulations or limits that we couldn’t go to for our enjoyment, if we did step over the mark then the punishment was harsh a good thrashing and sent to bed with no supper, we got a few thrashings but we deserved it, there was one time when we set a fire to some brambles on the tip by Mrs Mattocks shop, it got out of hand so we all ran away, there were some prisoners of war who were billeted in the old chapel in Browgate they were turned out to deal with the fire, we tried to shift the blame but my mother smelt the smoke that was in our clothes then the punishment began, but no grudges were held and we were back playing as normal the next day,

I had joined the scouts there was the bob a job week we would do anything from bringing the coal in for old people, digging for victory and running errands, the money was used to buy ropes axes sheath knives and tents, there was a campsite we used over the moors called Sconce, we went there some weekends, another place was Spring woods a good place to learn tracking skills, other scout groups would come and we would have welly throwing competitions egg and spoon and three leg racing, once built a rope bridge over the stream all good fun at that time,

I also joined the St Johns ambulance brigade we would meet once a week in the Moravian chapel, we would be split into two groups, one being all the injured that had all manner of broken bones, the other team would treat them, there were different techniques for bandaging certain types of breaks these would be inspected by our teacher who would award points, it was all good fun but I never did have to put the skills that I learned into practice, it was myself that needed bandaging when I broke my arm at school then it was my headmaster Mr Varley that put the splints on, two wooden rulers and bandages, my arm healed quite well with no complications to this day, I thought I would get away with not doing any writing because my arm was in a cast right up to the shoulder, my teacher had other ideas she made me use my left hand, by the time a few weeks had passed I was getting the hang of it, I was glad when the cast came off and I was back to writing with my right hand again, my desk mate was the local undertakers son David Birch he was a lot brighter than me so I used to copy the answers to the maths questions, trouble was he sometime got it wrong and after a while Miss soon cottoned on to what I was doing so she sent me to the headmaster who gave me a couple of strokes of the cane, after that I just did what I could no use bringing on the punishment, another time I was in trouble when my friends egged me on too kiss a girl in the playground, and like a fool I did she went straight to our teacher and told on me, when we got back to the classroom my name was called I was made to stand in the corner with a dunces hat on for the whole lesson, that put me off girls for some years to come, David was always infatuated with two lovely girls one was called Valery Spencer the other Diana Barker nothing ever came of it but every time I met him in later life he would mention them, School days were always a bit of a bore looking back I could have done much better but at the time it just wasn’t for me, I knew I would have to get some sort of job eventually, David would follow in his father’s footsteps but I couldn’t see myself as a baker so there was nothing to strive for, playing on the bank or making bogies out of old pram wheels and a few bit of scrap wood, or making a bow and arrows, I could always use my hands quite well and this sort of activity stimulated my brain more than all the maths and English classes, right now I’m thinking if only I had seen the man with the golden watches run by, but I let him run by on that occasion and perhaps a few more times in my life but when he’s gone there’s no catching him,

Posted 18 February 2021

Part four of my story, thanks again for your kind remarks,

Most weekends and evenings after school we would play down Kellcliff the houses under the chapel were derelict we ran in and out of the houses they were dusty places but that never bothered us, exploring the tunnel that the Barnsley beck ran through was a great favourite, we could always get a few candles together and a box of matches, it was a well-constructed tunnel and as long as the weather was dry we could walk at the sides, the bottom of the tunnel was slightly curved the water running down the middle, if I remember rightly it was a couple of hundred yard before we came to a waterfall it was too high and slimy for us to clime but we always planned to get a ladder and scale it someday hoping to get right up to where it came out at the side of Pennithorne Ave near to the golf house, It never happened but if a ladder had been available we would have navigated the whole of the tunnel,

Sometime my Brother and I would wait by Willie Greens sweet shop till Billy Bottomley came up Browgate with Dolly his horse he always took it to a field up Jenny Lane for the night, he knew we were waiting for a ride and would hoist us up onto Dolly’s back, I would hold onto the horses mane Ken would put his arms round me then Billy would lead her through the village it was great fun, when we got to the field he would help us down then we would run back home feeling very excited, this would happen on numerous occasions Billy was a lovely man and he certainly brought a lot of sunshine into my life,

It must have been holiday time because my dad was at home and decided to visit his aunt who lived in Redcar, mum packed a few things and we caught the bus to Shipley then walking down to the railway station, we boarded the train and got seated in a compartment it was very exiting I had never been on a train before when we went into tunnels the smoke filled the air the smell of burning coal in my nostrils it was a bit scary until we came out of the other side, the train was racing along the noise from the steel rails was like music, diddle de diddle die as the Iron wheels hit the joints in the track, we had to change trains at Leeds, while we were on the platform waiting for the east coast train, my dad saw the Salvation Army serving tea so he went to get us some, he returned empty handed they had told him the tea was for service men only, he said “he would like a cup for the kids” but it was none negotiable, from that day on our father would never give a donation to them when they came round collecting at Baildon working men’s club’ where he eventually ended up as a lifelong member, all for one cup of tea but when my dad made his mind up about anything he could never be turned, we did eventually get to Redcar I don’t remember how we got to his Aunt’s house but it can’t have been that far, when we got there it was near to the sea, his aunt made a fuss of my brother and I then showed us some buckets filled with black snails, they were winkles she took a pin pulled the snail from the shell and ate it, at first we wasn’t too sure about this new food, it was completely alien to us, I’m sure we were pulling a face but after tasting one they seemed a bit salty but they went down well, then dad took us to see the sea wow what a lot of water and a ship broken in half laying on a rock not so far away, this was the very first time we had been to the seaside, we played for a while in the sand then went back to aunties for our tea, the night closed in then another surprise the sky turned red, at first I thought it was the sun going down but as it got darker the sky glowed crimson, my dad came from Middlesbrough so he had seen this before and told us it was the blast furnaces in the steel factories at Saltburn and surrounding areas, at that time we didn’t really understand what was going on but later in life when a lot of these places were closed down after the boom time of turning out huge amounts of steel for the war effort we were sorry to see them go, we had a pleasant couple of day at aunties before we had to return to Baildon I never did have any more winkles but came away with lots of good memories,

We never went to the seaside again I would be working when I had that pleasure again, it was back to school as usual, I remember walking home one day I was half way up Browgate by the house on the left just before the chapel when I saw a ball rolling down the pavement I ran forward to kick it but at the last minute I jumped over it, if I hadn’t I would have been crippled for life it was a stone ball some kids had pushed it off the gatepost of the Moravian Church, they ran away into the village as I grew closer, I could see the left hand post was minus the stone carved ball, I’m wondering now, was it ever replace never took much notice afterwards just get a bit of a chill up my spine when I think back it was my lucky day,

Posted 21 Feb 2021

Another few lines from my childhood days, some of you requested more so here you are , thank you for all your comments I wish I was as good as you make out,

The war ended but rationing still was in place but things started to improve oranges and bananas were to be seen in the green grosser’s shop they were still a bit of luxury, I remember getting an apple and orange at a Working Men’s club Christmas party, what a treat as we never had fruit at home, in the late summer we could always get an apple or two but sometime we got caught, and when that happened it could be a serious matter my brother and I got caught in an orchard near to the graveyard, the gardener took us both by the ear and lead us to the masters house he knocked on the door we waited for some time he was still squeezing our ears and it was quite painful, nobody did come to the door so he gave us a swift kick in the backside and very sternly shouted if he caught us again we wouldn’t get off so lightly, well I think this put us off from becoming harden criminals but there were other orchards, but they’d have to wait for another day, there was just one other time I remember well while living in the fold, Mr Bacon had gone out leaving his window open he had a bag of sweets on the windowsill and they were like gold, our eyes must have feasted on them for some time until Ken reached in and took some, just then Mr Bacon returned unexpectedly he saw us in his garden and must have known instinctively what was happening, he picked up an axe and came through the window like a raging bull, we took off running through the village he was still close on our heels waving the axe over his head, we ran through snickets and passages until at last we lost him, our hearts beating ten to the dozen, he never mentioned it to mum or dad otherwise we would have got another thrashing, I often wondered what he would have done had he caught us,

Dad decided one weekend he would do something about the cottage walls they were looking a bit grimy from smoke occasionally coming from the fire, there was quite a few cracks as well, he made some flour past and commenced pasting a pile of old newspapers these he stuck all over the walls to make a smooth surface, next day when it was all dry he gave the hole room a coat of lime wash, it looked a treat Mum was very pleased, next morning we all were amazed, the ink in the paper had bled through the lime wash to reveal all the news print, we must have been the only house for miles around with the Telegraph & Argus headlines all over the walls, well it was different dad took a bit of stick from mum but it stayed like that till we left, my dad was rubbish at DIY but he could bake and decorate birthday and wedding cakes that would have been fit for the Queen,

I remember the midden men coming, or night soiled men is what they were called, used to work at night clearing the excrement from dry toilets Privies and Middens, Mrs Craven was sat outside and Mrs Gill watching them from the door, the midden had fallen into disuse we had metal galvanised bins now so this would be the very last time it would be emptied, there was a big wooden door in the wall opposite our cottages, the men climbed in and started shovelling the ash out then loaded it in a cart pulled by a horse, they worked at it all day finally cleaning the place of every bit of rubbish, the men wore clogs, one man did a dance on the flags for the old ladies making sparks fly from his clog irons, singing a song after all that hard work, you had to have a strong back and a small brain to do that job, even carrying the new bins was a job for Superman, they were really heavy when filled with ashes from our coal fires,

Some of the poor families were now getting rehoused some went into new Council houses that were getting built in various places in and around the town, it didn’t make them any richer but there standard of living was improved dramatically, hot running water and inside toilets, and their own bedrooms, baths and basins sheer luxury, like lifting people out of the stone age into a bright new future,

We had some bad winters the snow was so high at the side of the roads that I couldn’t see over it, we were still expected to go to school although our feet were soaking when we got there,

It was warm in school big iron pipes and radiators ran through every classroom, no houses that I knew of had central heating, we still had our coal fire, most of the new council houses were fitted with electric or gas fires,

We couldn’t wait for playtime when everybody engaged in snowball fights, our hands would be freezing but we hadn’t a care it was great fun, we would be wet through all over again, in the following days everybody would be sniffling and coughing but most pupils came to school, we all got over it when the sun started shining and the weather got a bit warmer,

My mind went back to summers gone when I would play cricket with my cousin’s on a bit of spare land in front of their house in Lane End only a few door from my grandma’s house, usually it was a birthday party their mum Kitty would bake a few buns or biscuits nothing fancy anything was appreciated and they were fun times for us, Kitty was a hard working woman she brought my three cousins up and looked after her husband my uncle Norman he was a poorly man and would lie on a bed in the lounge most of the time, on occasions he would walk to the door but that’s as far as he ever managed, I remember Kitty in the war years bringing bullets and cartridges home from Parkinson’s, my cousins and I thought they were great to play with as we didn’t get many toys, the winter was giving way to spring our birthdays would soon come round again then my cousins Gordon Bobby and David my brother Ken and I would be playing cricket again,

Posted 27 Feb, 2021

My story continues, thank you for the likes and comments you're too kind, step aboard my time machine and I will take you back to a Baildon far different from today.

My brother went down with Scarlet fever, the ambulance came, he was carried out of our house on a stretcher wrapped in a scarlet blanket, then taken away to the isolation hospital in Menston a few miles away. I remember going to visit him with my mother, not many people owned cars and my dad never learned to drive, buses were the only public transport in the village. It took us quite a while to get there but I didn’t mind, it was a nice change and the sun was shining, the place looked like an old mansion house. We were taken to where Ken was but we could only look through a glass partition, the nurse talked to mum we stayed there a while then left to make our journey home. There was always something Measles & Whooping cough were common. Polio was bad, a few kids in the school had irons on their legs after getting over it, eventually I remember getting some vaccine that was taken orally on a lump of sugar, also Small Pox but that was some years later after I left school.

I remember a film I went to see at Baildon Cinema I was nine, it was 1946, didn’t go there very often because I can’t remember getting spending money so it must have been a treat maybe my birthday. The film was called "The Beast with Five Fingers", staring Peter Laurie. Not a film for children but in those days there were no restrictions. It was all about a human hand he had nailed to a piece of wood that he kept in a safe. It escaped from time to time running about on its fingers like a spider. It was all in his mind really, he was as mad as a hatter. The hand strangled him in the end, it was a scary film and Peter Laurie was a weird chap. I must have been very frightened being able to remember it like yesterday for many years, never went there again after that.

Tong park was another playground that we would visit quite often. I remember Ken and I going down there with Mrs Craven’s grandson Brian and his sister Marina. Brian was the same age as Ken. Marina was a bit older than me. They both went to the church school; only took them a minute to get there as they lived in Manor Croft, unlike me and Ken having to run up and down Browgate every day. It was a warm sunny day. We tried to tickle trout in the stream then walked further up to the red brick dam. Brian was boasting that he had learned to swim, I’d never had the chance, Ken too, so after a bit of "I'll dare you to jump in the dam", Brian stripped off and was swimming round. We were all cheering him on. He didn’t stay in very long, the water must have been a bit chilly, he ran around a bit till he was dry enough to put his cloths back on then we lit a fire. We hoped we could catch a trout to cook but the trout were a bit fast for us. We played a game of tracking. Ken and Brian ran off into the wood leaving broken sticks or stones in arrow shapes like we had learned at the scouts, after a while Marina and I set off to follow them. The tracks eventually lead back to where our fire was, this is where everything went belly up. The fire had spread. Ken and Brian were trying to beat the flames out with their coats but they were fighting a losing battle, our only option was to scarper. Never heard anything about a fire burning spring woods to the ground, it didn’t stop us from lighting fires but I was always careful after that, learning a valuable lesson - always made sure the fire is completely extinguished before leaving it unattended. Ken got a bit of a thrashing for getting his coat in such a mess. Apart from that it was a day I would remember all my life.

Sometimes on Sunday when the village was quiet we would ride our bogies through the village. The starting point was by Emmin’s at the bottom of Hallcliffe, we called it Church hill, I know that Church hill was at the back of the church but Hallcliffe was always referred to as Church hill while I lived there. We rode on the footpath past Barraclough’s haberdashery, Denby’s the cobbler then Lupton’s the grocer, on the corner of the Mechanics building was Jack Carr’s green grocer then passing the home guard room and Dysons the Barber soon passing Willie Greens sweet shop and Wildman the Butcher the last shop was Mattock’s, the pavement got a little steeper now so we were going quite fast, then we turned left into the tip where the exit is from the carpark today, turning quite sharply to avoid going over the edge. This did happen to a lad that lived up the Grove, his bogie was rigged up with sacking nailed to a wood frame with a taxi sign on the front. He went over the edge and was rolled up in the sacking stopping at a twisted iron fence before he went into the Barnsley Beck, a couple of lads scrambled down the escarpment to help untangle him.

We had plenty of laughs and it cost nothing. Happy days.

Posted 6 March 2021

Another episode of my life looking back over seventy years, how time is flying by, Thank you those that are following my story, now verging on a saga.

It was my last year at Sandals School 1948, we had taken our eleven plus exams I didn’t get the marks to go to a Grammar School like my class mate David who went to Salts, I was destined to go to Bingley Modern School where there were excellent opportunities to be had if only I could grasp the rains,

The summer holidays were nearly upon us and our family had at last got a council house on Baildon Green with great excitement we moved to Hilton Crescent, these houses were pre-war but compared with the cottage it was heaven, a good sized garden back and front with a lovely open view of the Bank from the back of the house, all the houses were built in a circle with the Crescent joining to Enfield Road, inside there was a lounge and kitchen then upstairs two good sized bedrooms and Bathroom with toilet hand basin and bath sheer luxury, no more having to go outside to the toilet in all weathers freezing cold in winter, Ken and I had the smaller bedroom at the back and Mum and dad the front, we had the best view of the bank rising up steeply with the rocks in plain view this would be our playground for the next six years,

A builder lived nearby his son was called Jimmy his mother was a good catholic woman and attended church every Sunday, my Brother and I became friends with Jimmy right away, with the houses being in a circle we soon knew everybody who lived there, most people were middle aged with children some younger than me, and older people with jobs, it was the summer holidays so kids were playing in the circle all day, we got together a cricket team, the chap that lived next door was called Jack he worked at a mill in Shipley he used a lot of string for baling, he used this to make cricket balls, they were not as hard as a corky ball but much denser than the tennis balls we were using, he also made bats and stumps, joining in with us at weekends as umpire, some of the neighbours who kept neat gardens complained when the ball landed there, so we moved from the circle to the back of our house where there was some common land, there we set up a pitch, this was great and many happy hours were spent here when the weather permitted,

Other days were spent making bogies and riding them down Enfield road it was on a slight gradient we always used the pavement it was smoother than the road, I think the old people would have welcomed us using the road as there was very little traffic, Jimmy’s dad was the only person we knew that had a small van but hardly ever brought it home, looking back it was a miracle that nobody got knocked over, Gordon my cousin came to see the bogie as soon as he saw it he wanted a go so I said, “You get on the front and drive I will get behind you” we set off down the causeway he was very good to say it was his first ride, we did it a couple of times then Gordon said, “How about trying it out on Green road it’s a longer hill we might be able to ride right down to the Cricketers Arms,” It sounded a good idea so we both set off down the snicket then across the end of Sandals pond where at times we would catch newts and frogs, climbing up a slight grassy hill then we were on Green Road, Gordon was driving I was behind, we could see the road descending for about two hundred yards then the pavement ended, the plan was to keep going on the road down to the Cricks, we were rolling along quite slowly at first then we gathered speed, Gordon was keeping a straight course down the pavement, the end of the pavement was just feet away it had a curved end, one wheel of the bogie left the pavement this made Gordon lose control the bogie flipped over and dumped us onto the chippings of the road, we both had a bad case of gravel rash my knee was badly cut, we picked ourselves up then pulling the bogie homeward where my mum washed and bandaged us both, we never tried that hill again it was too dangerous, once bitten twice shy comes to mind,

Posted 12 March 2021

The sara continues I see by your comments last week these memories of my childhood sparked a few of your own, I'm glad you all enjoyed my story, thanks for your interest, Do you remember the long summer days?

Some Saturdays in the summer Ken and I would camp out with jimmy on his lawn, the tent was made from a bit of canvas sheet his dad used for protection against the rain on small building projects, with a couple of sticks and a bit of twine we fashioned quit a nice looking tent, we had to do a lot of improvising back then, most people had no spare money after buying the essentials and paying the rent, I remember we didn’t get a lot of sleep chattering and laughing half the night then dropped off for a couple of hours before daybreak, Jimmy’s mother would bring out a cup of tea and toast, then we had to accompany her to the St Aidan’s RC church, my brother and I were church of England but we went all the same, splashing the holly water on ourselves and going through all the motions, Jimmy would sometimes go to confessional we thought that was a bit strange, we would want to know what he said to the priest, most of the time we were in a world of our own so most of it went over our heads, just another experience we just might have come away better People.

Some days we would get geared up with matches and candles Knives and axes, a couple of crusts of bread some water in an old pop bottle then make for the bank, this was a magical place where we could do almost anything that came to mind, lighting fires was good fun then toasting the bread on a stick making up stories that we were trapped on a Plato where we had to survive on what we could find, we made bows and arrows by chopping the branches off the few tree that were growing in among the rocks, then spent lots of time whittling the wood, stringing the bows making flights for the arrows out of birds feathers found lying on the ground, then trying them out to see who could get there arrow to fly the furthest,

Exploring the many caves and mine workings was great fun we knew every inch and layout of all the rocks on the bank they had names like the Solomon’s no idea who named them but if we were talking about it at school everybody knew where they were, the Solomon’s was a big cave we could walk straight into, the daylight penetrated right to the back so no candles were needed, looking at the cliff face it consisted of three gigantic rocks piled on top of each other, I would say it would be eighty foot high, from inside the cave there were sloping passages behind these rocks just wide enough to scramble through eventually coming out right at the top of the rock face, years after in a rain storm the Solomon’s collapsed the three big rocks still lay there to this day, how lucky we were,

Another cave we called the Devils hole this was a shaft driven into the rock ending up in a cave with a central pillar that had long ago been built by the miners to support the roof of the cave, there were remnants of old rusted rails that small trucks would have run on to take the stone from the mine, all this amazed me and never once saw the danger we could be in, we got a few cuts and bruises and that was as serious as it got, we never seemed to get bored, the summer days to me at that time seemed to last forever,

A bit of good fun was building kites from canes and brown paper we could do this at home if it was raining then on a good day taking them up the Bank, if there was a good breeze our kites would fly high over the road putting small pieces of paper on the string then watching them clime up to our kite, many hours of enjoyment was spent in this way, just to build a kite and make it fly was an achievement in itself,

We decided to build a den on the common land over the fence at the back of our house we started to dig a large sized hole then put a roof on it with branches covered over with grass sods, then made a fireplace with a chimney from an old Iron drain pipe, we gathered wood then made a fire, it was quite cosy,

The next day instead of gathering wood we thought we would take our bogie to the gasworks in Shipley and bye a bag of coke, we got a few pence together and a sack then set off, we could all ride down the hills, were it levelled out Jimmy and I pulled the bogie ken getting a free ride, it was mostly downhill going to Shipley, so the mile or so seemed quite a short distance to travel, on arriving at the Gasworks we saw the man at the gate gave him the bag and the four penny’s we has got together, with a big shovel he filled the bag with coke, we put it on our bogie then back home we trundled, Thompson Lane was a steep lane to negotiate but with Ken pushing and jimmy and I pulling with many rests in between we managed to get the coke to the den, Now for the best bit getting the fire going, it took a while for the coke to take hold but it soon started glowing it started drying out the soil and the sods on the roof, steam filled the den the heat was overpowering the fumes and heat from the coke made it impossible to stay in there for more than a minute, all the time and effort getting the coke came to nothing but it was all good fun,

That project behind us it was back to the Bank there was an old abandoned shooting range the army used for target practise during the war, there must be lots of spent bullets just waiting to be found all that copper could be taken to the local scrap dealer then we would be in the money, armed with trowels and forks we made our way to the old range the ground was very hard the sun had baked it to a crisp, digging it was gruelling work we soon had blisters on our hands, we did find a few bullets but for the labour we put in we could see it was a none starter, while sitting there licking out wounds we thought that this place could be used as a cycle track we could have races here it would be really good fun, the only setback with this idea was none of us had bikes and due to their cost not likely to have any for the foreseeable future, now the idea was in our heads we had to fulfil our dreams, some days later Jimmy came up with a solution we could go to the local dump that was in Esholt a small hamlet about three miles from where we lived, one day we set off telling nobody where we were going our parents never seemed to miss us as long as we didn’t bothered them they never bothered us, it was a long trek to the dump but we got there at last, there were mountains of rubbish all manner of household waste and yes cycles, not in all that good a condition but we could see the potential in them, with a bit of work we would have them running like new, we got what we could wheel or carry it was a bit of a struggle but knowing that we had finally got a bike apiece kept us going, for the next couple of days we were kept busy stripping and cleaning the parts, Jack the chap next door supplied us with spanners and oil and some technical information, it was a new learning curve for us all, with a bit of trial and error we managed to get three bikes up and running, now all we had to do was learn to ride them, this took a couple of days I was getting the hang of it but if I turned a corner I would fall off, slowly we all mastered the art and soon we were riding round and round the circle like champions,

Posted 19 March 2021

Continuing this saga from last week, thanks to all those who are following my exploits and reliving those day long long ago,

Came the day we had been waiting for to take our prized machines up to the rifle range, the Bank was very steep so we had to push the cycles most of the way but we were not going to give up now after we had achieved so much, we had to help Ken a couple of times before we got there, we needed a rest so laid out on the firing position, this was covered in grass we had a good view over Baildon green and Shipley, we could see the mill chimney’s in Bradford, now it was time for the race, the track wasn’t all that smooth so we went round shifting all the loose stones away then we lined up and set off Jimmy went into the lead I was a close second and ken doing very well just behind, I can’t remember how many circuits we had set for the race maybe five or six, Jimmy was the winner my brother second my bikes back wheel collapsed the rim was rotten with rust and the rough surface of the track soon finished it off, I was a bit disappointed at the time this disaster would put me on my feet again until I managed to get another wheel,

The holiday had come to an end it was back to school, Monday morning I had to walk to Browgate that is where the bus was waiting to take me to my new school Bingley Modern, there was a lot of kids waiting at the bus stop some I knew from Sandals others were kids from the estate, the bus arrived we all piled on, we went down the road to Shipley then turning towards Saltaire finally pulling up outside the school on Wagon Lane Bingley,

This was a new experience for me the school looked massive there were lots more double decker busses there, pupils streaming like a wave heading for the entrance inside there was a long corridor crammed with kids I just got swept along turning right onto yet another corridor another right into a huge hall, here we were put into long rows until the place was full, a man at the front on the stage addressed us saying he was Mr Sanderson our head master, then introduced the deputy head and so on,

Some hymns were then sung after that all the pupils that had been there last year were told to file out to their classes, leaving all us newcomers our names were read out then we were given a class number mine was 13, unlucky for some came to mind, about thirty of us with that class number were gathered together and a lady showed us the way to our classroom, we hung our coats on hangers outside the door then we all got seated two to a desk, the lady told us her name was Miss Swift and she would be our appointed teacher for roll call. She called out our names, we replied, “Here Miss,” Miss ticking a book, after this we were given exercise books and told to copy what was on the blackboard into the first page, this would be our weekly time table starting Monday, English class 12, maths class 5, science class 10, then Tuesday and so on till all the week was covered, by the time we’d done this and Miss had lectured us on the curriculum the bell went at noon for dinner, we were told to return to the big hall there tables were set out in rows ten to a table, we took cutlery and a plate filled past the catering staff who apportioned veg and meat then still in a queue filled every table one by one, on the table there were condiments and a tureen of mashed potato this we had to help ourselves to, not forgetting the gravy, after that the sweet was served, it always amazed me how they could serve all these kids in the hour five days a week with no holdups the planning must have been spot on, after dinner I had time to look outside there was a big area of tarmac and then the playing fields that would fit two full sized football fields easily leaving room for tennis courts, there was also two big gymnasiums one for the boys and one for the girls, I felt very small just one little cog in a huge machine, very little happened that first day just getting to know the place it was mind boggling, the busses were all lined up we pilled on and were taken back to our destinations, I think I grew up a little that first day, could I really take the bull by the horns?,

Posted 26 March 2021

Another episode in my life second day at school Bingley Modern the year 1948, thanking all the people who are following this saga hope it raises a smile and a good memory or two of days gone by,

Next day same routine the busses dropt us we congregated in the big hall prayers and hymns were sung then back to class13, my desk mate was called Percy at that time I had no idea that we would be lifelong friends and also my brother-in-law, Miss Swift ticked off the register then for the first lesson, it was English we all made our way to classroom six all the rooms were exactly the same apart from Science, woodwork, metalwork, these were all fully equipped workshops, we settled down the teacher was a tall thin looking man, he introduced himself as Mr Fairbank we were given more exercise books, there were pens and an inkwell on the desk, Sir gave us a subject then we set about writing, this lessen would last till noon, then the dinner routine, Percy and I stuck together he told me he was moving houses and going to live in Hilton Crescent on the green, it was as though somehow our fate to come closer together, Percy was also amazed when I told him I lived there, the next lesson was Maths one of my worst subjects, the teacher was Douglas Lunn a small hunchbacked man who seemed to look at you over his glasses, he would shout out 7x9 point to someone and expect the answer right away, if it didn’t happen he would say work it out on paper, some of us would be in tears and he would at times give us a thump in the back to jog our memory, we knew after the first lesson that Mr Lunn would take no nonsense, we would have to pull our socks up or suffer the consequences,

I was glad to get home my mum would always have something ready for us to eat, then straight out to join the other kids in the circle, a game of hide and seek or Hopscotch, tin can-a-leaner just another hide and seek game but it started by kicking a can someone would run and get it, then put it back on a predetermine spot, while they did that all the other kids would hide, if you were seen then the game was up unless you could get to the tin before you were touched, we knew all the games and the rules, even as darkness fell we would carry on with our games under the lamp in the circle until we were called in for bed,

The rest of the week seemed to fly we got through all the weeks lessons, I took an instant like to Science the lab was like nothing I had seen before bell jars test tubs Bunsen burners, I was looking forward to using this equipment in the following weeks and years to come, the woodwork class I had always been good with my hands but never had the tools or the know how to make anything really useful, here there were numerous woodwork benches with a cupboard underneath with planes, chisels, set squares, everything that a carpenter might need, our first Lesson was knowing the tools and how to use them safely, I was looking forward to when we could actually make something, in the engineering classroom things were set out in a similar manor lots of benches equipped with files hacksaws and hammers, the teacher was Mr Duffield he always wore a grey smock, he showed us round the many drilling machines and explained how they worked, emphasizing the safety aspect of all the equipment, I had no idea what we would make here but I was sure Mr Duffield had something in mind,

It was Saturday Dad was having breakfast with us as normal we didn’t see a lot of him through the week by the time we got up he would be in bed after working all night, when we got home from school he was setting off to work or already gone, he said, “we should help him in the garden,” it needed a good clean up hedges to trim grass to cut a bit of digging round the boarders, I don’t think we were all that keen but something had to be done because it looked a bit run down, the Chap next door Mr Wheeler had a beautiful garden he was out there most days pottering about, we didn’t have much gardening equipment so dad sent us to see if Jack would lend us some tools, jack also had a nice garden and a greenhouse, he grew tomatoes and chrysanthemums he was very knowledgeable about taking cuttings of his favourite blooms, he was only too pleased to get us geared up with the tools that we wanted, Dad was never very practical knocking a nail into wood wasn’t easy for him, so I think that’s why Ken and I got very adapt and could use any tool known to man in later years, dad cut the edge Ken and I cut the grass using sheers, we didn’t have any power tools at that time, all went well till we started to dig the boarder this is where I brought the spade down on my big toe it cut through my shoe and I could see the blood coming out, my dad and mum were wondering what they should do, I wouldn’t let them take my shoe off in case my toe fell off, Jack heard the commotion and came running over, he calmed me down saying it was only a scratch and that when he was in the army he had parched up more serious cases in no time, I sat on the back step mum brought a bowl of water, Jack took my shoe and sock off, I dare not look fearing the worst, Jack washed my foot and when I opened my eyes it was covered with a towel jack was putting pressure on the cut he held it for some time, meanwhile my mum cut some bandage from some cotton cloth and a piece of lint that she always had for emergencies, in no time at all Jack had the bandage on and I was feeling better, panic over mum put the kettle on and we all sat in the garden drinking tea,

Posted 2 April 2021

To continue my childhood memories I think a lot of you will have done what I'm about to tell you, they were fun days and it was amazing how much pleasure could be bought for a shilling, thanks for your input,

We always went to the Saturday Matinee and a cut on the toe didn’t stop me, Jimmy came over about 12:30, dad gave me and ken a shilling each and we set of walking down to Shipley, there were four cinemas that were all showing different films they ran for a few weeks, The Lone Ranger was showing at the Deluxe, we called it the bug hole at one time it must have been a top class establishment most of the seating was very plush but the first four rows of seats they had been replaced by planks, these were for us kids they got the nick name ( four-penny planks), the cheapest seat in the place, last week the Lone Ranger was in trouble so we had to see this next episode, they always showed Pathe News first, showing what was happening in London, Parades or government ministers putting out their propaganda, it all went over our heads but the pictures were good to see all in Black and White at this time, it would be a while before colour film became common place, then came the film we had come to see, sometime the film would break we would stamp our feet and make a hell of a noise Albert the commissionaire would come down waving his flashlight to get us to be quiet, someone would complain about the rough planks, Albert would always have an answer he would say, “What do you want for four pence an armchair” then the uproar would continue until the projectionist fixed the film, our hero always managed to get out of trouble but by the end he was in danger again, the national anthem would play we would all stand still for this then run out onto the street galloping along on imaginary horses and shouting “Hi Oh Silver”, seeing who could get to the Pie Hockey’s first, it wasn’t far from the picture house a small wooden building has we entered there was a big metal basin over a gas stove it was full of steaming peas also a hot plate full of meat pies, Harold I think his name was would put the pie in a dish smother it with mushy peas, we would get a pint of Sarsaparilla then sit at a table in the back of the shop, this cost six and a half pence, nearest thing we had to fast food, we would leave there with our belly’s full, it was two Pence on the bus, only had two penny’s and two halfpenny between Ken and I, how do we get a ride home on the bus, easy make the halfpenny’s into a penny’s, but this sounds impossible, but when you know how it’s just a matter of waiting for a train, put the halfpenny’s on the railway track the trains wheels squash them into the exact size of a penny slightly thinner I will admit but there was plenty of well-worn coins about back then so no questions were asked, Thinking about it we should have been millionaires by now doubling our money every time a train went by another missed opportunity ,

Posted 10 April 2021

To continue my weekly story of memories of my childhood looking back over seventy years, thankyou for your comments I hope with my story will stir some good memories for you, for those who have just joined you can look back a few weeks by scrowling down, I was living on Baildon green and now schooling in Bingley, Read on,

We had been camping out on Jimmy’s lawn, we were expecting his mother to take us down to the church as usual it was late morning already, we packed the tent up and cleared the garden, jimmy’s dad Leonard we called him Mr Slinger we never used first names for older people, he came out and said, “ I’m going down to the yard,” then walked away it was always quiet on a Sunday so we just played around the houses, Mr Slinger was soon back with his little van, seemed a bit strange because he never left it outside his house, Jimmy’s mother told us they were going out for the day and if it was alright with our parents Ken and I could come with them, we ran home to tell mum she gave her permission so we had a quick wash grabbed our best coats and shoes and ran to the van, we kids piled in the back his mother sat in the front his dad at the wheel, it was a new experience for me and ken we had never before ridden in a motor Vehicle other than a bus, we could look over the seat and there was two small windows in the back doors so we could see where we were, we headed out towards Ilkley passing the place where Ken was in the Isolation Hospital, he didn’t remember he was only five or six at the time, after this I was lost we had never been so far away, Mr Slinger told us we were going to the Yorkshire dales, a place called Kilnsey, after getting through Ilkley then taking a sign to Bolton Abbey, the roads were twisting and turning water running across the road in places I wondered if the little van would get through but all was well, eventually arriving and parking near the village, his dad let us out it was good to stretch our legs after being bumped about in the van for over an hour, his dad pulled a shotgun out of a box gave it to Jimmy and said, “ Go see if you can bag a rabbit while your mother and I walk round the town,” Jimmy had fired the gun before so we set of climbing up towards the crag, the sun was shining with a few small clouds in the sky, it was great to be exploring the countryside we were at home here it was very much like the Bank but much bigger, we did see a few hairs and Jimmy had a go at shooting them but most were too far away and going at speed, so there was no rabbit pie for Mr Slinger this week, a lot of the time we just laid on the limestone outcrops or rolled in the grass, time went by so we headed back to the van, his mum and dad were waiting but never said where have you been, his dad grumbled for a while then joking about how three big boys couldn’t catch a small rabbit, we jumped in the van and set off back home the little van rattled along struggling up some of the steep hill but it didn’t let us down, getting back to Guisley not far from Baildon we stopped at a fish and chip restraint Called Harry Ramsdens, seemingly Harry had started in a small shed that was still there behind the new building, according to Jimmy’s dad this chap had trawlers to catch his own fish coming fresh every day from Grimsby, we were taken into the restraint the meals were brought out to us, this was unbelievable never had I been to a posh place like this carpets on the floor chandeliers on the ceiling, we always had a good apatite and cleared our plates, what a day we had I’ll never forgot it one of the best days of my life even in my old age I have fond memories of that day out Mr & Mrs Slinger were lovely people, it was getting dark by the time we got home we were all tired out I think we were in bed early that day school tomorrow how sad,

School days came and went summer turned to winter the dank wet days didn’t suit me I was getting up late, I knew I would miss the bus at Browgate so this particular morning I had no option but to walk, I set of down the Green towards Saltaire it was cold so running now and again I reached the Leeds Liverpool canal, ran on the towpath there was a dusting of snow underfoot but not enough to slow me down there was a few barges passing full of coal the Bargees stood at the tiller looking as though they were frozen stiff the only thing moving was the barge and the smoke from their chimneys, I ran on till I reached the Fisherman’s pub, then left the towpath for the road that went over a railway bridge, descended to where the school was situated, I arrived just as the busses were emptying, I joined the queue and nobody was none the wiser, most of the pupils were visibly shivering but I was glowing inside I hung my coat up went to the hall for prayers then back into class,

Back to the old routine English Maths physical education the girls would be taken by Miss Swift the boys by John Rock, there were two gymnasiums boys and girls fully equipped also showers before going to the next class, we were fooling around a boy called Mortimer donned some boxing gloves I also we were sparring around just tapping each other when Mr Rock came in, come on he said, “that’s not fighting” Mortimer was twice my size getting spurred on by Sir he was making wild swings, if he had caught me I would have been knocked back to Baildon, I just danced about ducking and diving, all the rest of the class were gathered round cheering, I was no boxer but I managed to get a clean punch to Mort’s face it cut his lip and Mr Rock stopped the fight, he was treated by Sir it was nothing very serious, then we had to run round jumping over obstacle’s climbing the wall bars Mr Rock all the time urging us on, it was a cold day and when we entered the gym it felt chilly but now we were visibly steaming, then into the warm showers they were brilliant, then on to the next class meeting up with the girls again all refreshed and ready to go,

Posted 17 April 2021

My story continues with some of the things I remember I still laugh at the funny stuff, I wonder if you out there had a schooling anything like mine, I think I could have done without Percy but I'm stuck with him to this day, funny how our lives work out, hope you like this weeks on going saga,

School days came and went summer turned to winter the dank wet days didn’t suit me I was getting up late, I knew I would miss the bus at Browgate so this particular morning I had no option but to walk, I set of down the Green towards Saltaire it was cold so running now and again I reached the Leeds Liverpool canal, ran on the towpath there was a dusting of snow underfoot but not enough to slow me down there was a few barges passing full of coal the Bargees stood at the tiller looking as though they were frozen stiff the only thing moving was the barge and the smoke from their chimneys, I ran on till I reached the Fisherman’s pub, then left the towpath for the road that went over a railway bridge, then descended to where the school was situated, I arrived just as the busses were emptying, I joined the queue and nobody was none the wise, most of the pupils were visibly shivering but I was glowing inside I hung my coat up went to the hall for prayers then back into class,

Back to the old routine English Maths physical education the girls would be taken by Miss Swift the boys by John Rock, there were two gymnasiums boys and girls fully equipped also showers before going to the next class, we were fooling around a boy called Mortimer donned some boxing gloves I also we were sparring around just tapping each other when Mr Rock came in, come on he said, “that’s not fighting” Mortimer was twice my size getting spurred on by Sir he was making wild swings, if he had caught me I would have been knocked back to Baildon, I just danced about ducking and diving, all the rest of the class were gathered round cheering, I was no boxer but I managed to get a clean punch to Mort’s face it cut his lip and Mr Rock stopped the fight, he was treated by Sir it was nothing very serious, then we had to run round jumping over obstacle’s climbing the wall bars Mr Rock all the time urging us on, it was a cold day and when we entered the gym it felt chilly but now we were visibly steaming, then into the warm showers they were brilliant, then on to the next class meeting up with the girls again all refreshed and ready to go,

Once a week we had Religious Knowledge with Mr Chatman he was great, I don’t know whether or not he was very religious but he gave us a choice, we could study the bible or he could tell us story’s we went for the latter, he would say, “Open you bible at Mathew,” then he would commence, he told mostly story’s about the war period we had just come through, one that I remember was about bomber crews coming back from missions in Germany, when they landed some of the planes were shot to pieces hardly hanging together, they would get the dead and wounded out, then the fuselage would be hosed down to get rid of the blood, one time an airman alighted from a Lancaster Bomber that was well shot to pieces walked across the air fielded to a small chapel, when they went to see if he was alright all they found was his helmet goggles and leather flying jacket, this mystery was never solved according to Mr Chatman, he could hold our attention a few gasps from the girls from time to time, mostly we were all ears, and so quiet you could hear a pin drop, no other class was just like this one,

The week seemed to drag on the bad weather continued and it was always dark when we got home, we had little or no homework no TV we did have a new radio now we had electricity, the one we had in the cottage ran on accumulators these were like a square glass jars with acid inside, a man came to change them every week, all this was behind us now we had moved on, the best program we always rushed home to hear was Dick Barton Special Agent, sort of fore runner to 007, it was a series just like the one at the bug Hole, Dick had a couple of sidekicks called Snowy and Jock, what I remember of it they were always in danger and he would be always calling his companions for help, then came a voice, “tune in next week to see if our heroes can overcome the danger,” then the closing theme tune that stuck in my head for years, my dad by this time had got a job at Busby’s a big department store in Bradford still a baker still on nights so we never saw him through the week, we would sit round the gas fire mum might say let’s have a game of eye spy, we would have to guess what she had spied, whoever got the answer would have their turn, seems a bit boring now but then you had to make you own fun, time would roll on bedtime again I would have to be up in the morning didn’t want to be running on the towpath again,

The back end of the week was good we had Science Woodwork and Metalwork, in Science we were learning about plants and how different soil would get a different outcome, a few weeks before we had put some cabbage plants in jars one with clay one with a mixture of lime and clay, and one in top soil, these samples were put in front of the class we had to make a drawing and write about what we saw, Percy was giggling a bit and he was rubbish at drawing so kept handing his book to me so I could do a rough outline for him to follow, it never dawned on me but on the following lesson I opened my book to see Percy’s drawing were mine should have been rather than the good marks I was used to the teacher wrote very poor, you guessed Percy had switched books some pal, we still laugh about it till this day, needless to say it was the only time Percy had very good in his Science book,

Woodwork after a few lessons learning to use a plane, and saw marking gauge and so on we were finally ready to make a small lamp, we had to pay for the electrical parts so much a week or get your own, the wood was given to us, a square flat piece and another bit of square wood about six inches long, it was Mahogany, it was going to take a few weeks to construct, Mr Preston had put all the measurements on the blackboard and the order in which to work on the wood, marking the wood took up the first lesson, I enjoyed this and Percy was ok with it so no problems just yet,

Posted 24 April 2021

My saga continues thanks for your likes and comments hope your getting as much pleasure reading my story as I am writing it, I've been smiling to myself amazed at what we got up to and the things we got away with, school was never my thing but looking back I could have done much better, now lets go back to around 1952

Percy said “Let’s play truant tomorrow I will see you in Cliff Lane”, I thought that was a good idea at the time so I went along with it, we met as planned and made our way to the Bank spent most of the morning just larking about, playing in the caves and rocks, when it was noon we were feeling a bit peckish so we went up into the fields above the quarry where some farmer had kindly planter a field full of Turnips. We pulled one each and found a nice grassy spot under a outcrop of rock, then started munching on our meal, thinking back our stomachs must have been like leather we could eat anything back then, later we made our way back to Percy’s house his mother was working so all was well, Percy put the kettle on and got the chip pan out, made a load of chips and fried them in a pan then pilled them on a plate, they looked like a small mountain buttered a few slices of beard then cleared the lot, now we were well and truly stuffed, Percy brought out a rusty old Air Gun and commenced to strip it down cleaning and oiling the parts, he said the spring was a bit weak so we stretched it a bit, then began the reassembling, all went well until we tried to compress the spring and put in a bolt to loch it, try as we must then disaster the spring flew out and went right through the light bowl, glass flew every were the remnants of the bowl was dangling on three chains from the ceiling, I helped him tidy up a bit then legged it home before his mother came, I have no idea how he explained that one away, but it never seemed to bother him,

We had been progging a name we used for gathering wood for the bonfire on November the 5th, we noticed that a lot of the big logs had disappeared, there was another fire being built farther down the green so Jimmy Ken and I went to see if our wood was there, it was getting dark so we sneaked towards where the wood was piled up, there was a street lamp giving a faint glow and some kids had started a small fire, we recognised some of our wood, there were to many kids there for us to tackle so we went back home, Jack came out and heard us talking, “ What’s the problem” he asked, we told him what had happened, “Come on then what are you waiting for,” with that we all set off Jack walked straight up to the pile of wood picked up a big log that was ours we took as much as we could carry and then just walked away, all the kid just stood there in amazement one of their fathers was there, Jack looked straight at him but nobody said a word, we were happy that we had retrieved our wood, jack said, “We must set up a guard,” so on the following night Jack set up a film projector in his house, one of us stayed outside on watch, the others watched Jack’s cartoons, at regular intervals changed over, I think Jack was still in the army mode but he was a great guy and us kids loved him,

Back at school we were having an English lessen a boy called Whitley for some reason started arguing with the teacher, he was called to the front of the class Whitley still having a rant, we were all a gassed when Whitley threw a punch to the teachers head, he stumbled back he was not a strong man, then left the room returning minutes later with Mr McSavage a big Scottish man, everybody knew him as Jock, he took Whitley by the collar with one hand lifted him clear of his feet with a cane in the other hand commenced thrashing him soundly across the buttocks, our English teacher opened the door Jock walked away still holding his prisoner high in the air, Whitley’s screams soon faded away and that was the very last we saw of him, I believe the teacher asked if anybody would like to follow him there was not a murmur from the class, I don’t think we could believe what we had just witnessed, so ended this lesson,

Metalwork Mr Duffield, in the past few weeks it was all about safety of using the machines, but now we were given a piece of copper, out of this we would be making a serviette ring and a small bowl with a stand, I don’t know why we would need a serviette ring, he must have thought we were more upmarket than we looked, first he showed us how to anneal the metal for planishing, he did this then set about the planishing he was so engrossed in this that I’m sure he went into a trance and forgot we were there, when the bell went this seemed to snap him out of his trance we would be able to follow his example at the next lesson,

Percy and I got chosen for milk monitors, Percy wanted to do it more than me he said it was a real skive, all it entailed was to pick up the allocated milk for our class mid-morning when we had a short break, the milk was dropped in a yard at the top of one of the long corridors, we would know how many were in the class and picked up one crate full, they were small bottles one third of a pint each, we always got a couple of extra bottles and drank them before setting off back, one day we were swinging the crate between us, a prefect shouted don’t do that, this lad was a big chap and liked to throw his weight around in fact a bit of a bully, we exchanged a few words then he sent us on our way, well this monitoring had its perks as you can see, we also had to take the empty’s back after the lesson so giving us an excuse for being late for the next lesson,

John my lifelong friend also was at this school but in another class often used to meet up at playtimes, Percy never really got on with him but we hung round together on occasions, John still lived up the Grove so it was a fair hike for one or the other of us to meet up, John had a friend called Allan in his class he lived in the lane end, about half way between the village and Baildon Green, we were never real friends but I knew him to talk to, one day I was walking to class when I met Allan we were walking together when this big bully prefect intervened for some reason, he pushed us to the wall with his big body I was getting a bit worried when all of a sudden this chap was on his back, Allan had landed a punch right in his eye, I know this because for some days it was a right shiner, we both ran to the heads office thinking he might come after us, but he must have thought better of it, from that day he never bothered me must have thought Allan was my best buddy and he didn’t want to tangle with him again,

Sometime Percy and I would not go for dinner depending what was on the menu that day, just outside the school was a little shop at the side of a bridge, that River Aire ran under on its way to Shipley, the shop sold fresh warm bread we would buy a loaf and share it, I think if I ate something like that today I would be creased up with indigestion, but then our stomachs could deal with anything we pushed down our throats, we did this at least once a week so we must have enjoyed it, sometimes throwing small bits of bread in the river to watch the minnows come up to eat it,

Percy had moved onto Hilton Crescent with his mother and step dad and sister Rosie, being good school friends and living a few doors away we would now be friends for life, time moved on very quick we were leaving school and the time had come to get a job, I had no Idea what I wanted to do, and there were so many choices work was plentiful, it was summer and things were looking and feeling good,

Posted 1 May 2021

My story continues I have now left school and started my work for a Baildon based one man band, thanks for your input up to now

I'm taking you back to 1952 another step forward in my life,

Percy my school pal had got a job in Dying and breaching a firm in Charlestown Called the BDA, (Bradford Dyers Association), there was lots of mill jobs at that time things were booming, one day my dad asked if I had thought of anything, for some reason I told him I would like to take up an apprenticeship in Painting & Decorating, my dad being a club member had been asking round he told me to go to see a chap called Robinson his dad lived in the circle, old Mr Robinson had lots of sons they were all in the building trade, Leonard was a painter and was wanting a young lad to help him, when I met him he told me to get some overalls then arranged a day to start, I was a bit naive but willing to learn Leonard had an old Wolsey car, the first morning he called at his dads house I could see his car was outside I was ready to go so went out and got in the car Leonard came soon after, must have been thinking this young lad is keen, but didn’t say anything and drove to the Lane End were he had his paint shop, it was in a condemned cottage the very one that Mr & Mrs Robinson and son Alan had lived in not so long ago, we picked up what we needed then we set off again towards Baildon Village centre, again stopping to feed his hens that he kept in a field behind the WMC, it didn’t take long we were soon on our way again this was great the only other vehicle I had ridden in was Mr Slinger’s old van this was much more up market with leather seats and I was sitting up front with Leonard, we finally stopped outside a butchers shop in Bingley, we carried the paint in through the shop to a room at the back, Leonard had been here the week before and was in the process of papering the walls, Leonard had already made the flour past, he picked up a big flat brush as he called it and pasted some wallpaper that lay on a long pasting table folding it and placing it on one side, then told me to do the same, I was a bit slower but apart from some slight faults he thought I was very good, He hung the paper I watched, then pasted more paper, there was a cupboard built into the corner of the room with three shelves, Leonard gave me a brush and some scissors and trusted me to paper out the cupboard, also keeping a few lengths pasted for him they were only small pieces so they were easy to handle, I felt privileged being allowed to hang paper on my first day, it was late in the afternoon when the papering was finished we tidied up then got into the car, I was dropped off in the circle Leonard told me to be ready at 8:00 in the morning then went into his father’s house,

I went home mum had my tea ready Dad had gone to work Ken came in he was on his summer holiday break from school mum wanted to hear about what I had been doing that day, I had a lot to tell her I think she was pleased that I was so enthusiastic I was tiered not being used to manual labour my arms were aching a bit but I knew this would pass,

Leonard arrived next morning he always went in to see his dad then up Baildon to feed the hens then we would set off over the moor to Bingley, the paper had dried lovely, Len seemed pleased, the woodwork had been grained to look like wood but it still wanted a coat of varnish, he would do the doors and gave me the job on the skirting boards, telling me it was very important not to touch the paper otherwise the varnish would be drawn upwards staining the paper, He gave me a brush and kettle, not a kettle you would boil water in just a can that held paint, as you can imagine I was very nervous my hand was shaking but after a short while I was mastering the task, we were finished by lunch time, mum always put sandwiches up for me, Len got a meat pie off the butcher, I found out they were related and Leonard had worked for them lots of times before, after our dinner break that lasted an hour Len told me the outside was to do as well, he got a blow lamp out of the boot primed it with petrol and set it ablaze soon it was going like a jet engine, he helped me to raise a ladder up to the gutter he wanted me to clean them out and apply a coat of Bitumen, it was the first time I had climbed a ladder but this was part of the job so up I went, it was a bit scary when I got to the top with the kettle of Bitumen a brush and a scraper in my hands, the gutters were dry and apart from a few bits of cement I could apply the Bitumen I found it a bit difficult to move the ladder Len had to help when getting it round the corners of the building, I managed to get it all done by the time we were ready for home, Len had burnt off a lot of old paintwork and applied a priming coat of white lead, so we were ready for the undercoating next day, the days seemed to pass quickly the work was hard but I was enjoying every minute although I seemed to be getting most of the ladder work the gutters and the top windows were my job while Len did the doors and the shop front, he kept checking my work from time to time saying take your time make a good job it has to be right first time, I was a bit slow but this was only my first week Len put me right on a few occasions but on the whole I thought I’d done well, Friday came round we were well on with the job, the weather was good so that helped, the butcher had his name over the shop I remember it being Baxter it had to be done with Gold Leaf Len had done a few letters with Gold size then applying the Gold Leaf it was looking really impressive Len said he might be getting a bit short of gold leaf so sent me into the town to where another painter he knew had a workshop gave me a pound note saying get one book the chap I wanted to see was nowhere around, so I headed back to the job Len was not too pleased but I had done the best I could if the chap wasn’t there what could I do, Saturday came around it was part of a normal week back then 44 hours Len gave me my wages £2 – 10s – 00p or fifty shillings, Len had managed to get another book of Gold Leaf so he finished the job, all the woodwork was shining the colour Buckingham Green with County Cream putty’s round the windows, the gold sign glinting in the sun, when I got home I was so proud to give my mother my wage, she opened the small brown envelope then handed me the Ten Shilling note, I had never had so much money in my life, I would have to start a bank account very soon,

Posted 9 May 2021

I continue my story that I’ve been posting a good few weeks now it’s only been a few weeks since leaving school and I have taken up employment, apprentice Painter & Decorator, I refer to the circle a lot this is Hilton Crescent where I lived, thanks for all the likes and comments last week hope I can take you back a bit,

I Remember, I spent most of the weekend in bed not getting up till after 10 am in the morning then lounging round the house, my dad wanted a lift in the Garden in the afternoon just trimming the edge and lawn, dad mentioned that he would like a greenhouse but at that time they were not readily available most people built their own, my dad couldn’t do this for some reason he had a mental block when it came to DIY so unless somebody local was getting rid of one we were stumped,

Later in the afternoon Jimmy came across with his shotgun wanting me to accompany him to try and get some rabbits on the bank, I’d finished helping dad so we set off, we got to where the rocks were and walked along, we were nearly at the end approaching Walker Wood, when Jim spotted a rabbit he was a good shot this rabbit would soon be on the table, Jim said, “My dad will be pleased he likes a bit of wild rabbit,” we didn’t see any more that afternoon but a flock of pigeons flew over Jim pointer his gun straight up fired and a pigeon came tumbling down, it could have been a homer but when we retrieved it there was no ring, we made our way home after that, I plucked and cleaned the bird a skill I had learned by watching Len my boss prepare a few hens this pigeon was just a smaller model, my mum was pulling a face she was never good with foul and once put a bird in the oven with all its innards in-tacked that was a disaster, I put my bird in the oven and had it for my tea, it’s a strong dark meat and was always recommended for anyone recovering from an illness,

Jimmy had started working with his dad learning to be a bricklayer we hung around the circle talking about our Jobs and what we had been doing this went on for hours, lots of other kid were running about skipping and playing with whip and tops, it reminded me of the school yard at Sandals and that was a few years ago now time was flying, the girl at No 8 was called Margaret her dad Mr Baxter worked for the council a tall thin looking chap , another girl with the same name lived at No10 she lived with her mother Mrs Clegg she was a year younger than us, the chap that lived next door to Jimmy’s house was called Mr Rodgers he worked for the gas board he had a son Donald a lot older than us he used to swagger about with his shirt open with a gold chain round his neck, then there was Shirley across the road from him she was a lovely looking girl very friendly always popping into our house to chat with my mum, she was courting a muscular kind of chap covered in tattoos she did eventually marry him but they broke up not long after, Jim and I had known all these people they were part and parcel of our lives, we had made friends with a lad called Eric Metcalf we always called him Mecca he lived on the corner of Enfield and Glenholm Rd, he was a year older than us, he had taken up potholing so we never saw much of him at weekends, then there was Harold also lived on Glenholm, he was friends with a lad named Billy who also lived in the circle with his mother Mrs Sunderland, everybody knew everybody on the Estate, we all got on quite well and very rarely there was any trouble, My brother Ken Had found new friends that lived up Baildon near the village, we still played games with the kids but our lives were changing our childhood days were drawing to an end but didn’t realise it at this point,

Monday morning Len picked me up as usual he had won a contract from the council to paint the exterior of a row of bungalows that faced the pond only a few hundred yards from where I lived it was part of the estate built for old people, I could have walked there as quick, I got in the car, on arriving there was an old chap smoking a pipe carrying a little brown bag I thought he was a doctor, we stopped Len walked over to him then shook his hand, he introduced him as Sam he would be helping us for the next few weeks, I was to learn that he was retired he was an old WWI soldier, and when we had a break for a cup of tea or lunch he would tell me tails of the war, it was great for me because Len didn’t talk very much only if he wanted me to do something Sam would be doing all the doors Len on the windows and guess what I was doing the gutters, they were all metal I only needed a short ladder it was a nice day and the gutters were very clean so I set about painting them inside with the bitumen, after a while Len told me to make some tea, we had a kettle that I got filled up by one of the old lady’s put it on a couple of bricks and got the blowlamp going, while it boiled did a bit more on the gutter, I had a cup Len and Sam had pint pots Sam had rigged up a plank to sit on it was great sitting there with the pond and bank in plain view and thinking of all the good time I had had in among the rocks, Sam said he had been watching me and did I mind him giving me some advice well I was here to learn so I said, “What is it you want to tell me,” Sam then told me when he was a lad he would get on the roof to clean and tar the gutters, you will save yourself a lot of ladder climbing, Sam knew this job inside out so I knew he was only making it easier for me, so I gave it a go the roof was not steep and it was not far to the ground I could have easily jumped off and landed without harm, Sam new his stuff it was easy for me just shuffling round the edge of the roof and much quicker too, that done I had to undercoat the face of the gutters and the soffits these were all spare feet and slow going, the bungalows were built four homes to a block seven blocks in all, so it was a long way round and then round again with the gloss, Sam gave me some of his invaluable advice, don’t tell Len what I’m about to tell you, I was all ears just do a couple of yards like you have been doing then just undercoat the gutter and the ends of the spar feet, just stand back a bit it will look like you have done everything, you will get right round today, then tomorrow get some gloss out and once the underneath leave this front bit that you undercoated then if the council inspector comes he will see that and think it is all the same, it was going to save me a lot of work so I did exactly as he told me, I think Len was totally oblivious to what I was doing he never once pulled me up so this was the order of the day till the job was completed, the nice sunny weather continued I was getting better by the day with the paintbrush and my speed had picked up but I wasn’t getting a sweat on in fact I was enjoying the work, and when it was 5 pm I was home in two minutes, same in the morning I would just run round the corner Sam was there or I would see him coming in the distance, many a time the old ladies would have a cupper ready for me and Sam, Len didn’t always get on the job till 10 am he would be feeding his hens and later if he had a bad night, Sam was making headway on the doors, there were four front doors and four Patio doors at the back they were iron so Len was doing some of them with the windows, the colour was Buckingham green, there wasn’t a lot of choice then, green brown and cream were the colours we most used, even inside people hadn’t got around to white, that was for the ceilings which were all lime wash, some had distemper on the walls this was always cream,

Posted 15 May 2021

My story continues from last week we are still painting the bungalows on the green, I'm enjoying old Sam's tales and I hope you get something from it too, thanks for all the comments, enjoy the read,

The exterior painting was coming on a treat with the new system Sam had taught me I was racing ahead to the next block, Len never bothered me until it was time to make the tea and now I had got one of the old ladies to do that so all I had to do was pick up the pots, if Len had been to the Club the night before he was always belching it sounded like Boy! Boy!, at first I used to run to see what he wanted but I got used to it after a while, we got a couple of rainy days when Sam didn’t come and Len took me back to the paint shop there I would try to get all the old brushes back to working order by boiling them in a kettle then with a wire brush give them a good scrubbing, also burning Kettles to get the paint out then cleaning and painting them so we could use them later, Len was always selling his hens to his palls at the club so it was not unusual when we were rained off for him to be plucking and reading these birds for sale, if there was nothing else to do he would leave me to lock up and go to the club with his birds, I knew he wouldn’t be back so I locked up and went to my grandmas just on the road , Passing my cousins house sometime I would see Kitty their mother or Norman there dad he had been poorly for many years he was a wool buyer in is younger days and they said he had caught a disease of it, Gordon was my age Bobby two years older they also worked in the wool trade, David the eldest was learning to be a joiner for a Baildon business that had a workshop at the top of Manor Croft,

My grandma was always pleased to see me she called me a British worker, always made a fuss of me Grandpa worked at a warehouse in Bradford he was a quiet man but later I came to realise that he had a hard time in the first world war like a lot of other men at that terrible time, he had been wounded in the thigh and taken prisoner on the Somme, My gran would always tell me a tale of that time, they received a letter saying he was missing in action and was fearing the worst, when one morning a few days later my mother who was only seven at the time came down from here bedroom and told my gran that dad was alright he was lying in a muddy hole and some men took him away, gran didn’t take much notice until shortly after received a telegram to say he was a POW, my mother was always a bit spooky when the topic of spirits and the like came up, Albert and Annie my aunt and uncle lived there as well Albert was a wool sorter he was in India fighting his way up to Burma during the 2nd WW grandpa said it would change him but he was just the same as before and stayed a confirmed Bachelor all his life, Annie worked for Marshalls the same bakery my dad worked at before he got the job at Busby’s, a chap called Ronnie Whitlam the brother of a friend of Annie’s came up from Norwich looking for work he was now lodging there, I said goodbye to grandma and went home,

It was still raining so there was nothing much to do, dad was home I thought that was a bit strange then mum said he had been sacked, “What for dad” I couldn’t believe it never before had anything like this happened, dad told us old Mr Busby had come in this morning early with a bee in his bonnet about something, the bakers were the only people there just getting ready for home after finishing there shift, Dad said “He just shouted all you lot are finished get out”, so it looks like I will have to find another job in the morning, just then a Busby’s Van came into the circle and a chap got out, dad recognised him as one of the managers he came in asking my dad to come back to work or there would be no bread in the morning apologising for Mr Busby’s outburst, dad went with him panic over, and my dad got the VIP treatment getting chauffeured to work, this did happen on another occasion old Busby must have been losing his marbles,

Work progressed over a few weeks Sam was always good for a laugh the tales he told me of the Great War some I can’t repeat here it was hard for me to believe, he was a driver in the Royal Horse Artillery, there were three drivers to a gun and limber they controlled two horses each they rode on the left with a steel plate down the outside of their right leg to protect them if the horses bumped together, he told me the horses could sense when the shells were coming in, they would slow down and rear up, he told me they had to whip them to get them to go forward, when the guns were in position they had to clean all the harness and burnish the chains, it seemed a bit much to me but he was there and lived to tell the tall, he made light of it all but I suppose he didn’t want to tell me the full horror of it all,

I was enjoying working now Sam was with us and I was getting to know all the old lady’s in each bungalow block, they would hand me biscuits or sweets out of the window, sometime just wanting a chat it must have got a bit lonely, there was a few that were man and wife but mainly lady’s living alone, another week nearly done Len gave me a shout it was time for me to go for the fish and chips, he always gave me the money paying for both me and Sam’s so I put that down as a bonus, the chip shop was just down the road near the bakery were my aunt was working I would get some teacakes from her then go round the corner to Skillicorn’s he was getting to know me always put a lot of scraps on mine, most times he would ask how many fish I wanted and always tested the fat to see if it was the right temperature by spitting in the pan it would make a loud sputtering noise then he would batter the fish and throw it in the pan, it might have put some people off but no germs would live in there, Friday was good because when Len had finished his dinner, he would be feeling a bit dry in the mouth then go for a pint at the club, he always said it was some business he had to attend to I believed him at first but Sam knew where he was going, Sam was right nobody could pull the wool over his eyes he’d lived to long, so Sam was now in charge I wondered if we were ever going to start work, Sam would get his pipe out light it up then he’d start telling his tales, this particular day he was talking about internal combustion he told me he had seen dustsheets that were stored in sheds go up in smoke and he would demonstrate this phenomena to me, get a piece of rag we always had a bit in our pocket for cleaning paint splashes or our hands, he put some White spirit on folded it up in a tight ball then put it on the flags in the sun, now keep your eye on that so I did, Len returned just after three burping as usual and making sounds like Boy! as he got the wind off his stomach, I thought Sam was right he’s just been supping beer, he didn’t do much in the afternoon just wandered off talking to the old dears, I was on the roof taring the gutters keeping my eye on the piece of rag in the sun but I never saw smoke or fire, Sam’s experiment failed on this occasion but it did get quite hot inside, I was always good at science so had a fair idea what he was trying to demonstrate,

Posted 22 May 2021

Another episode of my memories of working for a one man band Painter we were still on the council contract to paint the bungalows on the green, another day had come to an end,

Sam Asked me if I would do him a favour Len had brought a goose for him and it was a bit too heavy for him to carry home so could I help, of course I said took it from Lens car and Sam and I walked to Brooke Hill where he lived in a small cottage, his wife was pleased to see me, she’d heard all about me she said Sam has told me you’re a good worker, she showed me round it was only one room down stairs and a bedroom above even smaller than the cottage we lived in at Fountain Fold, Sam had been doing the walls with Lincrusta a very heavy wax type of paper that was grained over to look like oak paneling, Sam was very proud of it and I could see a lot of skill had gone into the work, I was about to go when Sam called me back he said take this putting a shilling in my hand, I’m very grateful for your assistance carrying the bird, I made a remark that the goose was a lot for them to eat, he laughed no its not for us, a chap I know is raffling it off to get money for the brownies this weekend,

I was just leaving when I spotter Jimmy and his dad in their builders yard just opposite to were Sam lived, they had just finished work, we will walk up home with you we are just locking up, setting off up Station road Mr Slinger was a big man I was nearly running to keep up, we got to where we were painting the bungalows, Jim mentioned in passing that that he thought we were making a real difference the houses were looking just fine, his dad didn’t agree he said the council had no idea everything is green if I had anything to do with it I would have red doors and black gutters the place looks like an army camp, we couldn’t stop him chuntering, but I suppose he was entitled to his opinion,

The summer holidays were nearly over the kid would be back at school in a few days and Len told me to enroll for a painting and decorating course at Shipley technical college in Saltaire, so after tea I walked down to the college there was a lot of young people in there waiting to be enrolled, I finally got seen by a young lady who asked lots of questions, what course was I taking who was my employer and so on, she told me to have a look round the department I would be in, it was a big room with desks and chairs not unlike any classroom I had been in already apart from a lot of cubicles round the sides, that represented parts of rooms, these I guessed is where we would practice paperhanging, the class would be run by a chap called Lesley Hudson, I didn’t know at the time but he was a relation of my cousin Winnie, there were other young men looking round also in the painting trade that I would be making acquaintance with as time went on,

The Council job was finished and it was the last time Sam would help us, he had learned me a lot and I was missing him, we started a job on Threshfield it wasn’t much farther away than the bungalows so this suited me, we had a lounge to paint and a small scullery to wash down, as usual first day we would whitewash the ceiling it was quite a big job then, we would sheet up then set up two pair of trestles if it was a big room, if not steps would be used, a plank placed between them then with a bucket of whitewash between us start to paint the ceiling with what was called a Flatbush, it was an arm aching job but eventually my muscles would build, it could take all morning to do the ceiling, it would look a bit wishy washy now but as it dried it was like driven snow, the walls were to be done with Distemper it came in powder form we just added water until it was a nice creamy consistency, we would leave the walls for tomorrow and concentrate on undercoating the woodwork most people had green or brown, this particular job was brown, so ended Monday’s work,

I was feeling the strain my arm was aching, I saw Percy in the circle he told me his sister Rose had a bicycle for sale she wanted five pound it was a lot of money but I had been saving up, he showed me the bike it had a blue frame and was in good condition the gear on the back wheel was fixed and toe clips on the pedals that were used instead of a back brake leaver, so I said I’ll have it, I thought it would save me a lot of time now I had night school now I would be able to get down there much quicker, Percy had a bike already so now we would be able to go for rides together not miles otherwise I would have aching legs as well as aching arms, Percy told me he had rented an allotment on Thomson Lane it had a shed his idea was to bread rabbits for showing so we arranged to go to Bradford market on Saturday afternoon,

Back on the job the next morning Len turned up after feeding his hens, so we mixed up the distemper that had soaked overnight in a large bucket, got the flat brushes, and started setting up the steps and plank so we could reach the picture rail that we had undercoated the previous day, Len got on one side of the plank bucket in the middle, the walls had been distempered before so they were quite hot, (a term used to describe the porosity of the surface and how quick it pulled the water out of the distemper) in many ways this was good the drying time was much faster, which would make life easier for both of us, then it came to the gloss on the woodwork moving the scaffold wasn’t easy with all the sheeted furniture piled up in the centre of the room, we had a break around ten the lady of the house brought tea and biscuits, then we pressed on till noon, I always brought sandwiches that my mother put up for me, Len on the other hand always sent me to a local shop for a sandwich or meat pie depending how he felt that day, Marshals the bakers shop was only a few yards away they did sandwiches so I was there and back in no time, Len said he would gloss the woodwork when we started again, and I could wash down the scullery with sugar soap, Len usually read a paper or had a quick nap, many times I had to waken him up, I wondered how he went on when I wasn’t there, after lunch I got a pale of hot water from the lady then went to the scullery it had been painted green a long time ago by the looks of it, I started scrubbing the walls with a worn flat brush, then sponging it down, I must have been in there a long time because I remember Len coming in and saying you better get of home its five-thirty, I’ll finish it off, wait for me at the paint shop in the morning,

To be continued,

Posted 29 May 2021

My saga continues back on the job as usual what had Len got planned for today, thank you all for the lovely comments

I think you will like this episode everything get out of hand at the at the tide field,

I was at the paint shop before Len the key for the door was always hidden behind a loose stone in the wall by the door, I let myself in and made myself busy cleaning a few paint kettles, Len turned up we threw a few things in his car then went up Browgate into the village there stopping at a house in Northgate near the WMC we unloaded the car and took the scaffold into a small cottage it was uninhabited at this time Len told me we had to decorate it from top to bottom, but first we would go to the hen hut behind the club this field was used as the tide field for holiday celebrations but for the rest of the time it was rented to Len, the hens were all in battery cages I always thought it was a bit crewel to keep them like that but Len disagreed he said they were happy, I asked how do you know that, he said, “If they wasn’t happy they would not lay eggs,” seemed to make sense but I had my reservations, he would gather all the eggs and box them, while I gave them water grit and corn, then we went back to the job, we started upstairs there was a large bedroom and a smaller one, I was getting the white-wash ready when Len said just get a bucket of water there is enough lime up there already, I was a bit sceptical but he was the master so I didn’t argue, we just brushed over the ceiling with the water and by the time we were half way across the ceiling it was starting to dry white as snow, it was noon I put the kettle on and Len said, “I will buy a pie at the butchers I have someone to see at the club,” then left, I ate my sandwiches then had a look at a newspaper that Len had brought with him, the time rolled on Len didn’t return so I went back upstairs moved the steps and plank into the small bedroom and started the ceiling, I kept looking out of the window to see if I could see him not a trace I was wondering had something happened to him, I carried on till three pm then put the kettle on mashed my tea, I was drinking it and Len appeared in the doorway he staggered in I could see he was drunk, he sat down so I made a pot of tea for him he was burping and shouting Boy! to get of the wind off his stomach, I told him I’d finished the small bedroom ceiling, he said something but it was so garbled I didn’t understand, I knew the Robinsons liked there beer but it was the first time I had seen Len like this, his brother Frank was a real piss head he lived with his dad for a while and every night he came home he literally crawled up the steps to the front door, he had two other brothers Jack a builder and Harald the town bookie, Jack liked a drink but I never saw him drunk, Len then said, “I think we have done enough for today,” well in the state he was in he wouldn’t have been able to climb the stairs never mind a pair of steps, we locked up he got into his car then I left him and made my way home on foot, I was home a bit earlier that day and when I told my mum what happened she laughed and laughed, I was wondering whether Len had made it home it was quite a long way to Cooper Lane, Horton Bank top in Bradford,

Next day I went straight up to the hen hut started to feed and water the hens, Len turned up looked to have a bit of an head ache, he started gathering the eggs as usual, then there was a bit of a commotion a ram from the moor had got into the field it was running about like crazy Len ran out to try to steer it towards the gate when the geese were spooked they took off flying towards Peels Mill, Len was still shouting at the ram, by this time I think his headache had doubled and it was about to get worse, I saw one of the geese hit the mill chimney and was falling like a stone into the mill yard all the others wheeled round the chimney and headed back to the field, I was amazed that there birds could fly they had never left the ground from the first day I started, now they were coming in to land first two slithered to a halt then one came in quit heavy hit the ground and tumbled over laying quite still then the tail enders arrive four all in a line feathers flying everywhere two more were badly injured, Len took them into a small shed hung them up from the roof pulling a penknife out of his pocked and with no hesitation cut their throats, there was blood all over the place, My white overalls were spattered all over, the ram that caused all the trouble had disappeared the geese that were left had settled down and were eating the grass, we finished feeding the hens then Len sent me to the Mill to retrieve the goose that had fallen, on getting back he was plucking the feathers and told me to do the same, well I just got stuck in feathers everywhere I should have been a butcher, it was nearly noon by the time we had got them ready for the table so Len said help me carry the birds to the club, I thought here we go again get Len in the club and he will be drunk as a lord by three, I put the two geese I was carrying down on a table in the passage Len said, “Leave me now I will see you at one”, I went to where we were working got the kettle on I hadn’t had a drink all morning I needed a cup of tea to wash down the feathers, after my break I wasn’t sure just what to do Len hadn’t given me any instructions so I went upstairs to see how the ceiling in the small room had dried, It was looking good I was quite proud the first ceiling I had done entirely by myself, I couldn’t believe my eyes when Len came up the stairs he was looking pleased with himself told me he had sold all the birds to the locale butcher apart from the one that hit the chimney it was badly knocked about but rather than throw it away he was taking it home, that episode over we could get back to painting all the walls upstairs with distempered , so we got stuck in managing to get them all done before five,

I had a right tail to tell my mum about Len coming with a thick head, then everything kicked off, she did say he could have given you some of his goose, I said, “That would have got him crying in his beer mum” She said I have some news for you your dad has come up on the pools wow how much has he won, £300,00 she said well that is quite a sum, I never knew what dad was earning a week but at a guess it was a lot less than ten pound, what is he going to do with the money, mum was all exited we are going to have a new carpet and a new suit, that will be nice I said about time we had some luck, dad was always living in hopes always having a flutter on the horses, but this was his only real win, not enough to retire on so he’s back on the job tonight,

Posted 6 June 2021

My story continues things seemed to have settled down so it was another fresh start I was hoping things didn't kick off like the past couple of days,

Next morning I was back on the job all had gone well with no incidents, Len was on top form seemed a bit more talkative, we started to undercoat the woodwork Len started to tell me about another brother he had that was in the West Yorkshire regiment during the war he was a Bren-gun carrier driver, he was home on leave when he had an appendicitis attack he was taken into Salts hospital and operated on it was a complete success so he was taken to a ward, the day after Len said, “He got out of bed and went into the toilets for a smoke this wasn’t allowed but he couldn’t do without a cig, he started coughing so hard that he bust the stiches, after that silly bugger got septicaemia and died”, I was sorry to hear that but it was a long time ago but just shows how things can go wrong then it’s too late, now all the undercoating was done so Len wanted to prepare the walls downstairs as they were going to be papered, so we wet and scraped what bits of old paper there was left and washed the walls down then gave them a coat of glue size it smelled like something had gone rotten until it dried, midday again Len popped out for a pie and a pint, I got the kettle on and had my sandwich, Len returned spot on 1 pm had he changed his ways, the ceiling was not to do it was all wood with beams holding up the floor above, let’s get the woodwork undercoated then we will start papering tomorrow, so we rubbed the woodwork down and gave it a coat of brown undercoat, we couldn’t do any more after that so we mashed the flower paste so it would be ready for us in the morning locked up and went to clean the hens out, there was trays underneath each pair of birds or as I had learned by this time they were White Leghorns, we had to pull the tray out scrap it into a barrow, it took quite some time there was about three barrow load in all I had to wheel it across the field then dump it in a pile, he had a few Rhode Island Reds in another shed these just ran about the field pecking all the day, I thought they had a better life than the battery birds, Len and I walked down the field Len disappeared into the club I walked home, calling into my grandmas she said, “ You look tired sit down I will make you a cup of tea,” uncle Albert came it from work he said, “I wanted to see you, I’m thinking of getting some budgerigars for breeding, so I wondered if you could get me some leadless white undercoat too paint the shed with”, I didn’t know whether or not there was a product like that I would have to ask Len in the morning, I drank my tea and left, on my way home passing the bungalows we had painted I spotter a couple of old lady’s talking outside they waved one said “Do you want a cup of tea” no thanks I’ve just had one I’m on my way home, “Any time your passing your welcome,” she said, I thought I’ve made a friend for life, then I thought afterwards she must be a bit lonely poor old lass,

I had to go down to the collage so I was a bit rushed, good job I had my bike otherwise I would have been late, we all got settled down Les handed us a paper with all the products for smoothing surfaces, write them down in your book then describe how to use them, we all knew about sandpaper Len always had a block of pumice I his bag I had seen him paint a door then thinking it was not smooth enough out came the pumice rubbed it over the door then ran his brush over job done, I had seen stripper blocks in the paint shop but never used one yet, then on Leslies list was cuttlefish bone this was a new one on me, at the end of the lesson I had learn something, it was more interesting now because this was knowledge I would need in the future,

Len was early he had fed the hens and was on the job when I got there, we got the pasteboard set up, I stirred the paste then thinned it with water, the wallpaper at that time wasn’t up to much most of the patterns were sort of a mottling effect, I started pasting and Len hung them, I was getting a dab hand at pasting but after a few hours my arm was feeling the strain we had our morning break, so it wouldn’t be very long before Len would be off to the club, I was hoping he would be still sober on his return or I would be pasting and hanging, all went well for the rest of the day we would only have a bit off gloss to put on the woodwork in the morning, I nearly forgot about the leadless paint Len told me there was an half gallon tin in the shop I could take it, what is the cost Len said, ”five shillings,” that was a quarter of one pound, I dropped the paint off at my grandmas, I had to wait a while till Albert got home he was pleased with my swift Service and gave me an extra shilling, Ronnie came in from work, “What you doing her Dickson,” he said, he was a strong chap he could pick me up with one hand and most of the time he was laughing and joking, he was now courting my aunt Annie so it looked to me he had got his feet right under the table, my grandma had their tea ready so I went on my way,

Saturday morning I was on the job early there was only the woodwork to gloss so I opened the tin and got two kits ready for when Len turned up he would be feeding his foul, I made a start upstairs I was getting the hang of things now feeling more confident and enjoying the work the place was looking a whole lot better than when we came, I heard Len down stairs I have got you some paint out, he shouted up to me that he would work down stairs, I made the tea at ten we sat down this is when he told me he was having a week of, my dad will help you with the hens, just go across on Monday morning, I thought this will be different, “How are you getting on upstairs,” Len shouted just the small room to do “Good I want to get off as soon as I can,” it was about eleven thirty I had finished and tided up Len was putting the tackle in his boot, he locked up and drove me home he went into his dads house and that would be the last I saw of him till the following week,

Posted 12 June 2021

My story continues I had Saturday Morning off Len had gone away for a week, it was market day after dinner I got changed into my suit then went round to see Percy, he was ready and waiting so we set off to catch the bus to Bradford, the bus stop was near the local chippy later called we it Mucky Franks they were doing a good trade there was a queue onside, the bus arrived there was plenty of people on it but we managed to get a seat, the bus set off it went round the New Estate then down to Lower Green stopping at the Cricketers Arms some people alighted here, the clippie took our money and gave us our tickets, we got a good speed up till we stopped again at Baildon Bridge spanning the River Aire, next stop was Shipley it was very busy there was a market here a lot of people got off, after a short stay we were off again soon we were passing Manningham Park, it was a popular place I could see lots of folk in there, some would be going to see the museum others would be boating on the lake or having afternoon tea in the cafe, soon I could see the Yorkshire Penny Bank we would be outside John’s Street Market in a few moments, we always made our way to Woolworth’s it was a good place to buy cheap tools or have a look at the new records that were out, then we would wander up the fish market it was a bit smelly but I liked to see all the different seafood’s, there was a stall that sold tripe he would cut it up for you on a plate a splash of vinegar and down the hatch, it was a nice day and there was hundreds of people milling round the stalls, there was always the chap we called doctor good selling the elixir of life, his spiel was that he worked at the B.R.I and helped a poor girl that had got herself into trouble, he had been struck off but he had discovered this magic formula that would change our lives, if your tongue is like an orange skin in the morning one spoonful of this will clean your whole system, only two shilling a bottle, it always amazed me that anybody would buy the stuff, but he was never short of takers,

Percy was looking for some nice looking rabbits so we made for the corner of the market were all the livestock was, there was plenty of choice all sorts of Rabbits, Pigeon’s dogs, cats, tortoises, mice, rats, budgerigars, canary’s and parrots Percy bought a pair of Dutch Rabbits, he was carrying them round looking at other stalls when a chap tried to buy them, this is what it was like if you had anything to sell just bring it and it would be off in no time, there was a rough looking woman I think here name was Annie we thought she was a Russian looked like she’d had a hard life, her legs were riddled with Varicose veins, I don’t know what she did but she was always there whenever we went, we made our way back to the bus stop waiting for a number 61 to take us round the green, there were plenty of buses one came everybody piled on with all the stuff they had bought all the big items like chairs and small tables were stored under the stairs of the double decker, the bus was busting with everything you could imagine, the conductor had a right squeeze getting the fares with all the people that were standing, there were drunks singing and kid screaming, sometimes a young mum's breast feeding her baby, and nobody raised an eyebrow it was just a normal Saturday at the Market, we alighted at Thompson Lane walked down to where the allotments were, there was a few people doing there gardening they were growing everything from Carrots to cucumbers, Percy will not go short on stuff to feed his rabbits on I thought, and if I know Percy he would be having some of it home for his dinner,

He put the rabbits in cages that he had constructed from old orange boxes and bits of wood that he had collected, it was a good sized shed with plenty of scope for more cages, he seemed to be very enthusiastic, the breeding cycle of rabbits is nine weeks so it will be Christmas before the young rabbits are anywhere near good enough for showing, that will be another story, we walked back home up the Green passing the Cricketers Arms there was plenty of singing coming from the door I could have drunk a pint of beer but it would be another two years before we were eighteen and eligible to partake in the merrymaking, Percy and I were always laughing and joking about something, we’d had a few laughs today I was ready for something to eat and Percy too, so I said “I’ll see you later” then went home,

Dad was up so we all had tea together he mentioned that it would be nice to have a greenhouse by next spring, he had been on about it for months, I agreed that we must make a start, “If the weather is mild I will mark out where we shall build it” I said, Ken had already got some wood that we could use, after tea dad got suited up and went out to the WMC in Baildon, that was his only pleasure mum wasn’t a drinker she was happy just to stay at home, I drew some plans of what I thought the greenhouse should look like, then to bed.

It was a reasonable Sunday morning with a hazy sunshine Ken and I got a couple of spades an started digging out a flat area we thought about 8x12 foot would be a good size, Jack had a few bricks he said we could have then we scoured the wasteland over our back fence and found some blocks just enough to make a base, dad was pleased to see we had made a start he had been asking at the club if anybody knew where some glass could be acquired, one of the members was a gardener he said he could get agricultural glass just had to let him know the quantity and he would deliver, he also told dad the size of the glass so that would help us when building the frame, we didn’t have time to do any more that day, we could now picture what it would look like and feeling a sense of achievement,

On Monday I went across the circle to were old Mr Robinson lived, very soon we started walking to Baildon, he walked with a stick and had a slight stoop when we got to Browgate the road rises up quite steeply into the village, the old man slowed down, half way up there was a low wall by a cottage he put a newspaper down and sat on it, got his pipe out and light it up the smoke smelled nice to me, the old boy started coughing then spat over the wall this seemed to clear his chest, after some time stood up retrieved his paper and we carried on up the footpath until it leveled off coming into the village the time by the Mechanics clock was coming up to 9 am I was thinking at this rate it would be dinner time by the time we got to the hen hut, we did eventually arrive the old man was puffing a bit, I got him an old chair from the shed he put it in a sunny spot and got settled, I went into the hen hut there I started feeding the birds they always started clucking and dancing about on the wire floor of their cages, Len always said they were happy to see us that’s why they acted that way, the feeding took me quite a while, I took a watering can to the tap about ten yards from the shed I noticed the old boy had dropped off to sleep, I carried the water back topped up the troughs in all I made about five journeys like this before the job was done, then I collected all the eggs there was about sixty hens so on average they would lay five dozen a day, I put them in egg trays and stacked them up in the corner of the shed, Old Mr Robinson was still asleep so I shook him, he woke looking a bit startled then he put his hand in his waistcoat pocket pulled out a watch attached to a gold chain, “it’s after twelve noon” he said then got up took his stick then said, “come down to the club with me” I locked the shed and ran down the field after him, I had my sandwiches as usual he said ”Sit thee sen down the’r I’ll get thee a drink”, I sat at a table just inside the main door old chap came back with a pint of beer and half shandy, ”Get that darn thee lad” I was eating my sandwich when Harold his son came in went to the bar and brought two pints back, gave one to his dad, the old man asked Harold to put a bet on for him then sat with us there were a few other people came giving him money, Harold wrote it down in a book, this was all new to me only time I had been in here was for the Christmas parties, it must have been 2 pm when we left I thought that was it, but the old man had other plans for me, to be continued,

Posted 20 June 2021

My story continues from last week thanks for the feedback after leaving the B.W.M.C we went back to the hen hut old Mr Robinson got settled in the chair, He pulled out an old dinner knife with a worn bone handle from his pocket, he pointed to the docks that were growing in the field, “Go cut them down we this here knife” I was a bit surprised but I was getting paid so I did as he asked, it was hard work and the knife wasn’t all that sharp but I persevered, I saw him look at his watch and shout me over “Get a drink of water thee is doing well have a minute” he wasn’t much of a talker a bit like Len I thought to myself, he took out his watch “Time for thee to do a bit more,” there were hundreds of docks in the field and I was not making much headway but I just carried on, round 4 pm he came down the field, “We will go now lad thee has done champion,” he put the knife in his pocket and we left for home, “same time in’ t morning lad” then he disappeared indoors,

Mum had the tea ready as usual Ken was talking about his day at school, he had dropped a beetle down a girls blouse in the playground she freaked out ran into the school and told a teacher, when lessons commenced he was sent for by the headmaster who caned him on both hands he still had the marks to prove it, mum said “He thoroughly deserved it that will teach him not to do that again,” brought back a memory that I forgot to mention, I was caught making fun of a teachers walk, I was behind her unknowing to me Mr Widows the music teacher was behind me he took me by the ear marched me to the head and I got the same as Ken, at that moment I felt Ken’s pain.

The days were shortening so we didn’t have much daylight left, we went outside to look at the wood Ken had managed to acquire for building the greenhouse, we took some measurements then wrote them down on the drawing I had made, that’s about all we could do until next Sunday,

The rest of the week was much the same old Mr Robinson and I, I was thinking good job Len is coming back next week or his father would be pushing up daisy’s, Browgate was just getting to much for the old chap, he was getting slower every day and resting longer on the wall of the little cottage by the chapel, by Friday my hands we covered in blisters from cutting the docks with the table knife, on Saturday old Mr Robinson told me to go and make sure the hens were fed and watered so they would be fine till Monday, this suited me I mounted my bike and apart from having to push it up the steep bit of Browgate I was at the hen hut in fifteen minutes, I made sure the hens were well fed, the geese always got a few handfuls of corn, they ate the grass and sometime the locals threw cabbage leaves over the wall, I had taken some of the eggs to Mr Wildman the butcher during the week but there were still lots left so I thought I would take half a dozen home for mum, Len never thought to give me any, I’d done what was asked of me so I went home, I was early and not to make old man Robinson any wiser I stopped round the back of my house and lifted my bike over the fence, mum was surprised when I produced the eggs, she said “You’ll get shot if Leonard finds out” I said” I think I deserve something look at my hands,” mum was shocked when she saw them my right hand had a nasty broken blister right on my palm, “You should have had gloves on,” a bit late now I thought, mum made something to eat then I went round to see if Percy was going to the market, “Yes” he said, “I know another lad he will meet us in Shipley at 2 pm they call him Billy Lovett,” more the merrier I’ll see you in an hour, ken was looking through the wood for building the greenhouse, “Why don’t you clean it up get all the nails out it will save us time later,” I got washed and changed then Percy and I went to catch the bus we arrived in Shipley and a few people got on, Percy said “There is Billy he has seen us,” a thin faced fair haired lad came and sat in front of us, he said, “Hello,” we shook hands, Percy started talking to him they were laughing and joking, I though he seems a happy sort, I got on with him in no time, we did the usual rounds Woollies was the first call don’t remember buying anything, I saw what I thought was Percy looking at something on one of the many stalls, I crept up behind him and said “Hey light fingered Louis” this chap turned round looking a bit startled then ran off, well that tickled Percy he was doubled up with laughter so was Billy, it’s a wonder we didn’t get thrown out of the place, there were crowds of people it was a busy city at that time, the many pubs with the pianos playing the sights sounds and smells are still stuck in my mind, after visiting the market we caught a bus home, Billy leaving us at Shipley but that wouldn’t be the last I saw of him,

Ken had done a great job the wood was ready for use, he had even cut some pieces to length he was chomping at the bit, I said, “We’ll give it another go tomorrow the two of us should make some headway,

Sunday morning was not looking very promising there was a few dark clouds about and a wind was blowing up the Green, it didn’t seem to bother Ken he was raring to go, I hadn’t had a good night my hand was hurting and it looked like there might be some infection, my mum put a soap and sugar poultice on then bandaged it, we worked out a plan to make the two ends of the greenhouse first, by midday we had built one end then started on the other, but it started to rain that was all we could do that day, I was glad in a way because my hand was throbbing,

My Mother wanted me to go to my grandmothers and get a recipe for some buns she was going to make, so I got on my bike and rode there passing Sandals school on the way, I was thinking of the day I first started the air raid shelters had been taken away the playground had new tarmac and looked so much cleaner now, arriving at my grandmas I saw Ronnie in the garden “hello Dickson what are you doing here,” he always greeted me in this fashion, “I’m here on an errand for my mum,” I pushed my bike up the path and went in the back door, Nan was glad to see me as always, grandad was sitting in the chair sniffing snuff up his nose, he was half way to a sneeze but it went off when he saw me, when we were young he would get us to sit on his knee then he would rub our cheek with his whiskers, he called it giving us chin pie if we were into mischief he would threaten us with chin pie if he caught us, Albert was reading a book not taking any notice of what was going on around him, Annie was helping gran get the tea ready, Nan already knew what I was here for handing me a piece of paper I guessed it was the recipe so put it in my pocket, she said” what have you done to your hand” seeing the bandage, I told her what old Mr Robinson had me doing, “let me look” I took the bandage of mums poultice had brought it to a head, Albert looked up from his book I can lance that with my penknife, that sounded a bit drastic to me Nan told me to go to the doctor, I thought for a minute then said “I would”, Nan gave me a hug then I headed back home,

Posted 26 June 2021

My story continues still on the job but the weather is closing in, thanks for all your comments and likes last week read on,

Monday came round again Len turned up spot on 8 am rushed in to see his dad and was out again before I reached my gate, he told me he had a job at Oakworth so he wanted to get off as soon as possible, we stopped at the paint shop put the ladders on the roof wracks, he could see I was struggling, saying “what’s wrong with thee hand” as we were loading I told him the whole story we got in the car then we were off, I told him I was going to the doctors when we got home he had to agree it was best, it took a long time to get to Oakworth, I hadn’t a clue where we were, it was a nice new built house in a good position, there were fields and gentle hills all around, Mrs Summers lived there on her own, she had fallen down the stairs recently now recovering from a broken hip she was lucky, a lady lived nearby that came to do her cleaning on the Monday and found her, she had been laying at the bottom of the stair for twenty-four hours,

We got all the tackle of the car, it was the exterior we were painting so I was up cleaning the gutters moving the ladder with my bad hand it was a tricky job, difficult climbing the ladder with the kettle of bitumen and brush, I’d only done a couple of shifts when Len called me down for tea, Mrs Summers had put everything on a tray the cups were bone china as well as the teapot a plate of scones and biscuits, I didn’t have long to drink it Len wanted to press on, the time moved on it was a cold day but with the pleasant surrounding and running up and down the ladder I kept warm, we were on our way home now and I was glad, my hand was hurting more than ever,

The doctor had a surgery from six till eight, I got there just before seven, there was about four people before me, I picked up a magazine to read I finally got in, It was Dr Cooper he was usually at the Baildon surgery he said, ”Take of the bandage” so I did then laid my hand palm up in front of him it was puffed up now, “You should have come sooner you’re getting blood poisoning in the wound can you see that red line going up your arm”, I hadn’t noticed until he pointed it out, then without any further to-do pushed a metal needle in it and ripped it open, puss came streaming out I was in agony trying to pull my hand away but he held it firm, then he got the bundle of bandage that I had put on the table threw it onto the puss closed my fingers over it then said,” Go down to Salts hospital first thing in the morning,” I was thinking my uncle Albert with his penknife could have made a better job, by the time I got home it felt easier it wasn’t hurting quite as bad, mum made me bathe it in Detol, more blood and puss came from it, mum put a bit of lint over the wound and bandaged it, after that I just went to bed,

I turned up at the hospital has the doctor ordered, I was shown straight in to a small room, there a nurse undid the bandage, my arm was laid onto a table then the nurse put up a small screen so I couldn’t see my hand a doctor came in, he told me he would be administering a local anesthetic I was hoping it was going to be as painless as possible, I didn’t feel a thing, when the screen was taken away it was all bandaged up, the doctor said “ Come back tomorrow at the same time” then I set of to walk home,

Mother had told Len I had gone to the hospital she said, “He didn’t seem too pleased when I told him it was his dads fault so he would have to deal with it,” I will have to go tomorrow morning so that will be more bad news,

I couldn’t do much so just sat in our lounge listening to the radio, I soon got fed up of that so I went next door Nelly was a Burler & Mender, she had a young child to look after so couldn’t go to work, so they were bringing her pieces of cloth from the mill to do at home, she had a big table in front of the window, she was working on it when I called, she was a lovely lady with blond hair always smiling, she kept working away pulling the long piece of cloth over the table stopping now and then to rectify any faults she found, she said, “Why are you home today,” I told her all the story she was a good listener but when other subjects came up she could talk, her young son was asleep he was called Allan , David her other son was at school he would be home soon, she would have to start making the tea so I said, “I will get out of your way,” come round anytime you have been a bit of company you look after that hand,”

Dad was up he was getting ready for work, he was telling mum that he had a wedding cake to decorate at the weekend, he was going to bring the cakes from work over the next couple of days, so I thought we will have to keep out of his way, I was hoping me and Ken would be able to work outside on the greenhouse,

It was collage this evening so after tea I rode down on my bike, it was math's a subject that I hated, we all assembled at our desks Les talked about papering rooms and having to measure area to find out how many roll of paper we would need, well this was a practical exercise it started to make sense to me why I would need this mathematical knowledge, He talked of quantity and the spreading capacity of different Paints, it was getting quite complicated, somebody said, “This information is on the tin,” “Yes it is” said Les “But you still have to know the area you have to cover otherwise you will have too much paint or not enough, you can guess but this will cost you money so doing a few sums your estimates will be much more accurate,” I could see the point now so I would have to get my act together,

I was at the hospital early although there was no pacific time I had to be there, a nurse asked me to wait a few minutes then called me into the same small room I was in the day before, the doctor said, “How are you today any trouble with your hand,” “I’m well and my hand has felt a lot better,” he took the bandage off there was no screen this time I could see my palm was still swollen, the doctor had a pair of tweezers in his hand he latched them onto what I thought was skin and started to pull, a piece of bandage was coming out of my palm with all the puss clinging to it I thought it would never end then it came away cleanly, he flushed the wound with water from a syringe, then put in two stitches, the nurse redressed it then told me to keep it clean for a few days if I had any trouble come straight back here, I felt a lot better now knowing all was well and hoping I would not have to come back,

Everybody I knew was working so there was nowhere I could go so I just stayed home, mum had gone out shopping and maybe called into her mother’s so I lay on my bed, the next thing I knew Ken was coming into the bedroom I had been asleep for hours, I jumped off the bed and went downstairs, mum was getting the tea ready, I said “why didn’t you wake me,” “you needed the rest,” I must have done I never before slept in the middle of the day,

I turned up for work the next day I think Len was glad to see me It was well into November the weather was getting worse and we were working outside, the only good thing about this job was Mrs Summers, she was a lovely old lady she was always giving me chocolate biscuits and sweets, Leonard had been concentrating on the doors and window I was still on the gutters, but they were easy to do no spare feet, I finished undercoating and managed to get a few of the top windows done they were cream so it made a change from green like the last few jobs we had done, I was hoping this job would be done by the end of the week then we might get a job inside with a bit of luck, the weekend came and went, Ken and I didn’t get much done on the greenhouse, Saturday Percy Billy and I went to the market as usual, it rained on Sunday so it was a wash out as far as the greenhouse was concerned,

Len told me on Monday that we were going back to Oakworth to paint the cleaners house, I hope its inside, It was only a hundred yards from Mrs Summers, there was a little bathroom to do my heart sank when Len told me the outside was to be painted also, the good news was it only had four windows and one door there was a small garage opposite with two big wooden doors, everything in green, well it was up the ladder again, I did the front gutter it was clean inside but wet so I left the taring for now, I soon had the front gutter done then went round the back the land fell away so the ladder only just reached, the wind was blowing cold it came in gusts moving the ladder along the wall it was scary a couple of times I was half way up and the ladder moved a foot sideways then I had to run down sharpish, if I had been a heavier man the ladder would have stayed still I was only nine stone seven at that time, thinking back I could have put a couple of bricks in my pockets, I managed without killing myself so somebody up there was looking out for me, what a day that was trembling with fear and hypothermia, Mrs Arkwright did look after us she made a nice cup of tea plenty of biscuits and we could sit in here lounge by the fire, we had the outside undercoated the first day, and the next day I started glossing outside and Len started in the small bathroom it wasn’t big enough for the two of us, the wind had dropped so I didn’t need a sky hook’ (this was a painters term for an imaginary hook that stopped you falling to the ground) I made good progress although my hands were freezing, I was running short of paint and still had the garage doors to do, Len looked in the boot and brought out a gallon of boiled oil added it to the paint I had left, “stir that up then get it on that garage door it will shine like a new shilling,” I made a start but it didn’t flow very well it was breaking my arm to spread it out I went up to the bathroom to tell Len how difficult it was, he said, “Look here,” opening a door to show me the hot water cylinder, it was made of copper and Mrs Arkwright had polished every inch of it, it was gleaming I had never before and since seen anything like it, I could see my reflection in it, about the paint Len said, “Get the blowlamp out and warm it up that should do the trick,” it did make it spread better and I warmed my hands up a bit at the same time,

The job was finished that day and was I glad, I’ve always had fond memories of Mrs Summers And her cleaner Mrs Arkwright lovely people, lovely surroundings if it had been summertime I would have loved every minute, I never saw those people again, one day I’ll visit Oakworth again just to see those houses on the hillside and maybe see another young man struggling with the elements,

Posted 3 July 2021

Thank you all once more for your comments and likes hoping you get as much enjoyment out of my story as I do writing it,

My story continues 1952 was coming to a close, read on,

A few more weeks slipped away Jobs were getting fewer, we spent a lot of time in the paint shop cleaning brushes kettles and painting the scaffold, I was still going to Collage twice a week, we were learning about the hazards of the painting trade such as Lead poisoning, we used lots of white lead for priming outside woodwork it was lovely to use it went on like snot of a duck lip, then there was Colic stomach cramps serious caused by lead intake, solvent inhalation causing dizziness and balance problems, Asbestosis, these were some of the diseases Painters could get, apart from one solvent problem I managed to dodge the rest,

Christmas was nearly upon us I was looking forward to a few days off, Leonard began a killing spree he had lots of customers for geese and chickens, the geese were a bit of a struggle to kill Len would hold its feet they were flapping their wings and making a hell of a racket squawking and honking it’s a wonder that half of Baildon were not running to see what was going on, I had to help by holding a rake handle over the gooses neck then Len would hold it down with is feet at the same time pulling on its legs till its neck broke then he would hang it up and cut its throat to let it bleed out into a bucked, seems a bit draconian now, would have seen the RSPCA breathing down our necks, then came all the plucking and cleaning the hens were much easier, he held their feet and pullet there neck with his free hand, I was a bit squeamish at first, and I don’t think I would be able to kill a bird, but I learned to clean and prepare them for the oven, although this was the only time I used these skills, we took some of the foul down to the paint shop to run the blowlamp over them to get rid of the little feathers and fluff we had trouble getting out, Leonard took most of them to the club where he had customers waiting and some went to the local butcher never once did he give me a chicken,

We had always got some kind of present although my parents never had a lot of money and what they had was spent on food, I never remember anything round our house that looked brand new, may be things will change in the New Year, dad having won some money, and hopefully mother would get her new suite and carpet,

Christmas was a quiet time just relaxing for a few days, the food rationing was still on so there was no big blowout, our meals were the same as any other time of the year, the weather was cold, so most of my time was spent sitting in front of the gas fire, drawing or listening to my dad’s tails of when he was a young man and got his first job in a bakery, at that time his family of ten children, mother and father lived in Middlesbrough, times were hard there was a depression the Steelworkers were all laid off, his father my grandfather, was a chief engineer on a passenger liner that went to and fro, England to America, my dad said, “He was paid £1,000 for the six weeks he was at sea,” that was a lot of money in the 20s, Dad had been working at the bakery for a while when one day his boss said, “Billy I want you to take the bread to the shops this morning,” my dad was over the moon he always wanted to drive the van, it was horse drawn the bread was loaded into the van dad took the rains and proudly pulled away, all went well till he turned into O’Conner street, a man walked out into the road and held the horse by its head, people came out of the houses from both sides of the street then emptied the van of its bread, shame faced he had to go back to the bakery telling his boss what happened, surprisingly he got the job again the next day, but this time with a police escort, it must have got really bad around that time dad remembered gunboats coming up the river and the navy carrying out martial law on the town, he made us laugh and we were thankful that we had something to eat and a roof over our heads,

The year was now 1953 it was a very slow start jobs were coming in but we hardly had a full weeks work, Len and I was always going around farmers markets and auctions looking for battery cages trouble was they were in lots so to get what he wanted he had to take lots of what I called rubbish because he threw a lot of this away, this went on till Easter then the decorating picked up we got a job at Seaton, the other side of Keighley the house was called Longlands, this chap somewhere down the line was related to Leonard’s wife he lived here with his wife and daughter, Louis Scargill was his name he had a printing works in Keighley according to what Len told me, this place was a bit more up market than the cottage houses Len and I had been working on up to now it was a large house with a big garden, looked after by their gardener Mr. Summers, Len told me he was a POW on Java during WW11 and was not treated well by the Japs, we had the staircase to decorate Len had bought some Walpamur a cut above distemper he told me, we were going to use it on the ceiling but first we had to line the walls we were going to do a mock oak paneling job, it came in rolls the trade name was Lincrusta, it was very heavy with a waxy feel to it, I set the paste board up the flour past had been prepared the day before it had set up in the bucket so I added some water giving it a stir then commenced pasting the lining paper, after it soaked a few minutes Len started to cross line the walls, lunchtime came so we had our sandwiches with Mr. Summers in the garden shed, he had chairs and table in there plus an electric kettle, I had never seen one of these before, we all sat down Len asked him about the war, Mr. Summer said “I must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said “after Singapore fell it was just a matter of time before they came to Java, they started bombing the place we heard they had landed at Batavia then taken Bandung City, then it was all over, he told us he was a prisoner there for three and a half years, I could have listened to Mr Sommers tales all day but we were here to paint the stairs so we started again, by 5 pm the lining was complied,

It was nearly 6 pm by the time I got home but I had plenty to tell mother about the lovely house at Steeton and the tails Mr. Summers had told us, mum had left her umbrella at my grandmas, so I got my bike out and rode up the road and down the snicket to where the bungalows were that we painted last year, then my eyes started to go all sparkly I had to stop, then I threw up I sat down for a while my eyes started to clear just as I was feeling better I started with a blinding headache, I pushed my bike to grandmas, I went in Nan said, “You look pail have you seen a ghost,” “No but I’ve got a rotten headache,” Nan brought me a glass of water and Aspirin, I just wanted to go home and get to bed, “I will be alright in the morning,” I took mum's brolly and left when I arrived home I told mum what had happened, she said, “I don’t like the sound of that you better go to the doctor when you come home tomorrow, with that I went straight to bed,

Next morning I didn’t feel much better still had a thick head, but I went to work, we got there about 9 am, we started on the Lincrusta Len had got a ready mixed paste it was very sticky but it needed to be this was heavy stuff the first piece was the longest down the stairwell, Len had rigged up a plank that he could stand on then lowered the Lincrusta down to me Len kept saying, “Be careful this is too expensive to spoil,” Mrs. Scargill came with our morning tea, I was glad my head wasn’t right yet, I was getting a bit worried in all my life I hadn’t ever had a headache like this one, we got a few more pieces on before lunch, then joined Mr Summers in his shed, he was a nice man I took to him right away he’d had a bad time in Java so the gardening job was more of a therapy than a job, “Back to it,” Len said so I picked up my pasting brush and got cracking, I was beginning to feel a bit better now but it was a slow job and I could see it was going to be late tomorrow before the Lincrusta was hung,

That evening I walked onto the Doctors there were about five people waiting so I sat down to take my turn, some people were in longer than others but my turn was getting near two or three other people came then I went in, it was Doctor Cooper again I was hoping he would not jab me with his needle, he asked about my hand then had a look he said, “they made a good job of that it has healed very well what is your problem now,” I told him what had happened, “migraine I’m afraid you will just have to live with it,” “Is there anything I can take,” “Only Aspirins I can give you something stronger if need it but in my opinion they don’t work very well for this complaint may be in the future a drug will come onto the market,” so I left feeling a bit let down but relieved it wasn’t more serious,

The job went on without incident managing to get all the Lincrusta hung then there was the strapping that came in a roll like boarder, this was glued on using a product called Dextreem a very strong glue, the straps were coated with this put in position then with a small metal roller press them down, the idea was to make panels, the ceiling was finished with Walpamur it slid on lovely much better than the whitewash I had used up to now, then the whole wall area was painted with a grounding coat, the colour would be determined by what sort of wood the customer wanted, this particular job was light oak, to get this effect a scumble was applied by brush then another brush called a dragger was pulled over the surface to make a grain, (as in wood), I was allowed to try my hand in places that would not be prominent although Len kept a close eye on me,

Mrs. Scargill wanted some paper sticking back in one of the bedrooms, Len told me to go and see to it, I took a stepladder some ready mixed paste and some tools, when I got to the bedroom in question there was a young girl Mr & Mrs. Scargills daughter I can’t remember her name she was laying on the bed, I was a bit embarrassed, I said, “Sorry shall I come back,” the girl said “No carry on,” she was very scantily dressed, I was visibly embarrass I felt her eyes burning into my back, it was only a small job so was I glad when I got out of there,

The job was drawing to a close all that was left to do was the Varnishing, one panel at a time from the top of the staircase to the bottom, the fumes were stifling there was only one small window we could open, I was glad when break time came around so we could get some fresh air too purge our lungs, Len was more tolerant of it he said, “after a while you won’t notice it” I was thinking I’m never going to get used to this, we left the door open over lunch break this helped clear it a bit, the staircase was looking great I was quite proud to have played a small part, and the experience I gained would be invaluable in later years,

Posted 10 July 2021

Another week gone by so quick so it's time for my story to continue thank you for the likes and comments hope I can keep your interest, read on,

We did a few more small jobs that took us to late spring, then Len told me Mr. Scargill had given Len a printing job at his Keighley printing works, Albert Robinson Lens nephew would be coming to help for a few weeks, I was thinking it must be a big job, Monday was our starting date,

Saturday was always market day we got on the bus then Percy started to tell me of an incident that had happened while out riding his bike with a lad called Tommy Robinson no relation to Leonard, seemingly they were riding down a gradient when Tommy must have lost control, I can’t remember all the details, seemingly Tommy crashed into the side of a car, well this tickled Percy he was doubled up laughing, he got me laughing it was hilarious people must have thought we were where a couple of crackpots, Percy was always one to see the funny side, most of the time it was himself that caused the problem, but on this occasion, I think it was Tommy’s brakes,

In the market there was always something to wonder about, a chap selling glass cutters he could cut glass in all shapes and sizes, his demonstrations were so good that he sold dozens of glass cutters, I remember buying one myself, but when I had a job to do the glass broke anywhere rather than were it was supposed to break, then the chap cleaning carpets he would sprinkle soot on a piece of carpet it was filthy, then he would say, “One spray with this ladies and gentlemen then he would give it a rub it looked even worse than with one sweep of his vacuum it would be as clean as a new pin, then the chap that could peel a carrot in two seconds or dice an onion in half that time, we have all bought these things then there sat in the cupboard for years never being used, in the end we dump them in the bin, I never bought any of this stuff I always wondered was it like the glass cutters, I will give you one thing it was entertaining and on a good day there were hundreds of people there, and if you didn’t buy anything it was still a fun day out,

On the Sunday Ken and I started work on dads greenhouse, it would be super if we could get it built in time for dad to grow some tomatoes, some of it had been put together but no part of it had been erected yet, Ken although he hadn’t left school yet was good with his hands, he would have a go at anything and most of what was achieved up to now was due to him, the weather was good so without any interruptions we should make good progress, we told dad to order the glass, I would get some putty off Len next week then we would not be held up if we managed to get the frame built, Ken had made one end and a side, so we set about making another end, this would be the end with the door in it, we laid the end Ken had already made down then followed the same profile, the only difference this would have a door casing, with the two of us working together we soon had the end and another side complete, we were both enjoying the work, mum made us a sandwich so we took a break dad was in the front room icing a birthday cake he would be glade that we were occupied and out of his way, we made another start lifting the rear end into place, Ken held it in position while I brought a side then with a bit of a balancing act hammered a couple of nails in, it was now standing by itself, Mum came out making a comment, “It looks bigger than I thought it was going to be, ”I said “ It will be mostly glass so once you get used to it you will hardly know it’s there,” with that she went indoors, Ken and I fixed the other side in position then the front, at this rate we will have plants growing in it very soon, that was all we could do we were short of a long piece of wood for the ridge, then all the spars could be fitted but that would be another day,

Leonard turned up early so I went across I knew he would want to get cracking, we had to pick some ladders and planks up at the paint shop, we drove round the corner into Enfield Road picking Albert up then loaded the car at Lane End then went over Baildon moor to Keighley, It was an old railway warehouse very near the town centre, we unloaded the tackle, there was some big printing machines in one part that was operational, we were about to start at the opposite end here there was some big roller shutter doors were the railway tracks entered the building, now disused and were going to be filled in and the floor levelled for more printing machines to be installed, This looked quite a daunting job to me being used to cottage house work, Albert was a strong lad in his thirty’s he worked at (Butlin’s holiday camp) in the summer this job would just tide him over for a few weeks, Between us we haled the planks up onto the roof structures, then Albert and I climbed the ladder with our tools and two kettles of green undercoat, we started dusting down and giving the ironwork a scrap here and there, we were on the low shift so we could sit on the planks then as we moved across the bay we would stand then sit again at the opposite side, we had masks on but after the initial dusting we didn’t need them, Albert was telling me about Butlin’s and how he had worked there for six seasons this year would be his seventh, he said, ”He was looking forward to it, just like being on holiday” this was all new to me even this job but it was good to have somebody like Albert it made the day go by very quickly, we didn’t have a cup of tea that morning because the time was getting on and Len wanted to make a good start, it was soon noon Len shouted us down, Len and Albert went to a transport café across the road he said I could go with them but I had sandwiches, I found a place where there was a small kitchen used by the printers, I didn’t see anybody about so I put the kettle on made a pot of tea and had my lunch there, the machines were not working but they still had lots of wrappers with Margarine printed on them all ready to be packed up and sent to the company that ordered them, the rolls of greaseproof paper at the other end of the machine were colossal they must have been forklifted into place,

Len and Albert came back, Len said, “Don’t bring sandwiches tomorrow come to the café with us the food is good,” walking away giving a big burp and shouting boy, I ran up the ladder to join Albert who was moving the planks for another shift, I said to Albert, “I’ve never worked has high as this in a building before” jokingly he said,” you can tell your mum you’ve had a rise today” he was a good bit of fun and I felt really settled for the first time since starting in this trade, it was time for tea so I went to the kitchen put the kettle on then went to see if Len wanted a drink, I found him in an office complex, he was painting the walls, “A cupper Len,” “Yes he replied” so I went back to the kitchen, I took Len his tea, then Albert and I rigged up a plank between two stepladders, he talked a lot about his family, he had three brothers and a sister, they were all younger apart from Jack but he had died, I knew his sister she was my age Maureen was her name she always looked to have a well-tanned skin but all the boys were white I wondered if she was adopted but Albert and Len never made me any wiser, we did another couple of shifts then it was time to head home,

The nights were getting longer so Ken and I wanted to get on with the greenhouse but we were stuck, still looking for a piece of wood for the ridge, mum wanted to go see her mother it was here birthday, so having nothing to do we walked with her, grandma was pleased to see us, we wished her happy birthday then sat round the table, the kettle went on, nan had made some scones she was a good baker, after that we just talked mum said she had caught Ken smoking, nan said, “You naughty boy, then Albert said, “If the lad wants to smoke let him, I tell you what give me a minute” with that he left the room, he came back in a little while carrying a pipe wrack and a pouch, he took a pipe filled it with tobacco then handed it to Ken, he then asked me, I said, “No thanks,” he said, “go on it won’t hurt you, “I’ll have a few puff then” Albert lit his pipe then held a match over Ken’s pipe, “Just keep drawing then blow the smoke out,” he gave me the matches to light mine, there was plenty of smoke in the room Ken seemed to be enjoying it but it wasn’t very long before his face looked a bit pale green, he rushed to the door and was as sick as a dog, I followed very soon after that, Albert mum and nan were all laughing, that was the last time I took up another of Albert’s offers it put me of smoking for the next couple of years, It might have put our Ken off for a few days but if he saw a big tab end in the gutter he couldn’t resist picking it up,

Posted 25 July 2021

Hello everybody my laptop is up and running again so I will continue my story, for those that may have just joined I am apprenticed to a one man band and we are curranty working in Keithley, thank to all those that have been following my story for many weeks now, hopefully things are now back to normal, read on,

Len was always at his dads before eight, he had already fed the hens and was chomping on the bit to get to Keighley, this morning was no different, Albert was just coming round the corner from his mother’s house when I was coming out of my gate, we got in the car and the next thing I knew we were there, I must have dropped off, this was very unusual for me I never did it before, I put it down to the pipe smoking it upset my stomach and I didn’t sleep well, Albert and I soon got settled sitting on the plank doing the low shift, Albert said, “Do you believe in ghosts” “I have never thought of it my mum does I think she’s always been a bit spooky, why do you ask,” “Do you remember I told you Jack had died in the army” “Yes you were on about that the other day” then Albert said, “Well one day a few weeks after he died, I walked into the bedroom and there was Jack as large as life” I said hello Jack how are you, “I’m fine” he said, “Then he just faded away,” I didn’t know what to say I could only take his word for it, he seemed very sincere why should he lie about something like that,

It was lunchtime I had no sandwiches so I followed Len and Albert to the transport café, Len said, “Get what you want I’m paying,” “the steak and kidney pie is nice,” said Albert,” I’ll give that a go then, it was nice and became a regular order, finished with a sponge pudding by the time we had to leave I was stuffed, we walked back into the printing works passing the big printing machines, there were always plenty of Margarine rappers on the end of the machine but the machines had never been working since we arrived, Albert said, “They might be working on a night shift until we get the job done”

I suppose it would make sense it would be a bit dangerous for us working above them, my muscles were building up now I could work all day and my arms wouldn’t ache as they used too, it was a no-pressure job I would be thinking what am I going to do tonight or the weekend, I was always dreaming that I would take over from Leonard and run the job myself, it would never happen but being young all sorts of mad ideas passed through my mind, Len shouted up when you have finished that Bay I want you to start and gloss this section because some builders are coming to fill in the loading bays and make good the end of the building, “Right Len got that,” “We would make out till the end of the day said Albert if we have any time left we will move the scaffold ready for tomorrow,” we did get squared away and moved a few boards but there was not enough hours in the day to get everything as we would have liked it, “But there is always another day tomorrow” said Albert,

It was collage night so after tea I got on my bike and rode down the green passing the Cricketers Arms, the road had been tarred and chipped, a side wind caught me instinctively I went for my front brake this made things worse I was flying through the air then landed face down my nose top lip and chin landed in the chippings, I was in shock but after a short while I picked my bike up and pushed it home, when my mother saw me she said, “My god have you been in an accident,” there was blood running down my shirt, I didn’t feel like talking very much I just wanted to wash my face, I could see then in the mirror I had lots of small cuts but the bleeding was stopping, well that was my collage night ruined also my good looks,

It felt a bit sore in the morning but I turned out for work just the same, Albert and Len wanted to know what the other chap looked like, what made it worse some builders had turned up to put a wall up at the end of the loading bay, they started to knobble as soon as we got there, one said, “Looks like you have gone five rounds with Henry Cooper” Albert said, “leave the lad alone he fell of his bike, he wants to get a three wheeler was the reply, this went on all day even the man at the transport café was laughing when we went in, “You better have soup today and I’ll give you a straw to suck it up with,” I was getting used to it by this time I just let it go over my head, I was glad when we were back on the job glossing the steelwork, nobody bothered me up there, albert never mentioned it again he was telling me Shirley Martins brother Colin worked at Butlin’s, he looked after horses, he always wanted to be a jockey he was of slim build but as yet never had the chance, I knew Colin used to see him in their garden, he was older than me and unlike Shirley he was a quiet chap,

We had done well with the gloss coat, doing three bays that day, giving the builders plenty of room, they had brought some wood on the job, I said to one of them a young chap called Joe, “I could just do with that twelve-feet piece of wood you have there,” Joe Said, “I will put you a piece on one side, “the big gaffer is here today I’ll let you have it tomorrow” that was very good of him you get nothing if you don’t ask,

Home again, I had some good news, “Len told me today mum I was getting a raise up to £3,00 this week” mum was happy for me, I said, “I’ll give you another five shillings,” You keep it she said you’re working hard for that money, put it away there might be something you want in the future,” well I offered and mum deserves something she has always been there for Ken and I, I thought I might buy her something when I get my wage, mum told me that dad was finishing at Busby’s at the weekend he had got a job in a textile mill in Bradford, his brother Ronnie worked there he told your dad the job was his if he wanted it, he was getting too old for the night work, dad always called Ronnie his brother but Ronnie was dads sisters child born out of wedlock , I have no idea what happened to his dad, but Rachel his mother died young, Ronnie was brought up by an old couple called Mr & Mrs Dukes, they lived in the same street as my dad’s family in Middlesbrough, dad and Ronnie were only a few years apart, my dad being the youngest of ten brothers and sisters, Ronnie and dad played together they had a bogie, the family nick named them Push & Shove, the name Push always stuck to Ronnie, and from that time on he was always called Push,

The Keighley job was progressing slowly Len was nearly done in the office, we would have another week on the ironwork in the roof, Joe came good with the wood he promised so the greenhouse frame would be completed this weekend weather permitting, the builders started filling in the loading bay, the job was a hive of industry,

Albert was looking forward to going back to Butlin’s for the summer season, he told me about all the friends he had there and said, “It’s a holiday with pay for me” I thought it must be nice having a job like that but I was happy enough at least I was learning something useful that I hoped would stand me in good stead for the future,

Noon again after we had our dinner I went back and sat with the builders for a while, Joe told me the concrete was coming tomorrow to level the floor, it would have to be barrowed in, I was thinking that would be hard work, I don’t think I would have lasted long as a builder everything they did was heavy work bricks and blocks to shift, I would have trouble with a trowel of cement it would break my arm I’m sure, I will stick to the brush for now,

Albert came in so we made our way to the ladder, Len seemed to be in a bad mood because he had found a pair of steps propped up near the door he shouted at me to get them moved saying “Don’t leave them like that anymore they could fall onto somebody,” I couldn’t see what he was making all the fuss about but moved them just to calm him down, I made my way up the ladder and climbed onto the plank where Albert was working, I asked him about his brother Frank, “ Our Frank is a drunk he’s been like that since Jack died took it a bit hard,” I said, “I thought there must have been something I had seen him crawling up the steps to his grandads house where he had a room for a couple of years,” Albert said,” “Saying that he works with my dad and by what he tells me he is a good builder and he never misses a day’s work,” I was thinking if I got home in that state I’d be going no were next morning, Albert was a good talker so the time flew by very quickly, we had our break in the afternoon then did another couple of shifts and Len was shouting us down, then back on the road home,

It was collage again some reps for a paint company had come to demonstrate a new product, it was called Valspar, it came in a big range of colours and according to the reps even after a year, a wall painter with this product could be touched up and there would be no difference in colour, this was amazing news we had until now not been able to do this, every batch was slightly different, they had boards with them that they placed on easels in front of the class, a volunteer was picked to demonstrate, the board was Yellow and said to be a year old according to them, the volunteer was shown a dozen tins of yellow emulsion paint, he picked one at random opened the tin gave it a quick stir then applied it to half the board, it looked a good match and by the end of the night it had dried the colour matched perfectly, this was the start of a new era in the painting trade, but like any new produce people are sceptical the old saying comes to mind “ It was good enough for my dad so it’s good enough for me,” and that’s the way it stayed for a long while,

The next day I told Len while we were driving to Keighley about the demonstration at collage and how this new emulsion paint was the thing of the future, it was ready mixed in a range of colours that would always be the same match, Len wasn’t carried away he said, “The price would be out of the window, things are never as good as there seem, probably a load of rubbish,” well what could I say it looks like we’re just going the stick to the whitewash and distemper, and we did just that all the time I was with him,

The Keighley job was winding up, the builders had done their work and more printing machines were being installed, Albert would be leaving us and I would never again see him, seemed like another chapter of my life had come to a close,

Posted 31 July 2021

Another week just about gone how time flies, my story continues thanks for all the likes last week and the comments one was from my old friend Joyce Rhodes who I hadn't seen for nearly two years I called in on her today how well she looked and what a lovely couple of hours we spent catching up, read on

Things settled down to the normal apart from one big change Len sold the battery cages and some of the White Leghorns in favour of a system called deep litter, this meant filling the shed floor with shavings we got from a local joinery shop, Len had bought more (Rhode Island Reds) they were placed in the shed we built a row of nesting boxes just off the ground down one side, he told me the idea behind this system, corn was thrown into the shavings on the floor the hens would have to go round scratting in the shavings looking for the corn this kept them active unlike the battery hens, therefore they would be fitter and happier and lay more eggs hopefully,

On the work front we were back to the cottage house jobs nothing very exiting most people we worked for were old ladies their husbands had passed away so nobody to do the jobs round the house, they were all nice people and always looked after us with tea and biscuits, when the better weather came we started on the outsides, burning the old and cracked paint off then coating the bare wood with white lead, most people favoured the exterior wood to be grained so after a ground coat was applied this would be grained over with scumble then finally finished with a coat of yacht varnish, if done properly this system would last for years and it wasn’t unusual to go back wash it down with sugar soap then re-varnish, I liked the outside painting if the weather was good the paint fumes were really heavy when working in a kitchen with the walls being glossed, it was like going on a trip people thought I was a junky at times, I’m sure we were walking a bit wobbly and my headaches were getting worse, I found that when they were coming on if I lay down for ten minutes the headache was much reduced, but I couldn’t always do this,

The weekends were spent at the market on Saturdays still hooking up with Billy, we had been doing this for a couple of years now and we still did the same things, we seemed to laugh at everything but after working all the week it felt like real freedom, later that day and Sunday we manager to get the greenhouse finished, now dad could grow his tomato plants, the textile job he got didn’t suit him so he was looking for another job, Ken would start work in the summer when he finished school he knew a local plumber, he had confirmation that he could have the job there if he wanted it, things seemed to be moving on so fast, just at this moment I was the only one bringing any money home, I was now getting £5,00 a week, I gave mum £3.00 put a pound in the bank. and a pound in my pocket, in fact the pound in my pocket stretched the whole week, I always had a few shillings left, the only time I spent any money was Saturday, I would get fish and chips through the week, Len would pay if it was through the day, so all taken into account things were looking up,

Monday morning was like any other we went to feed the hens, this new system was working the hens were laying well and were much happier in my opinion, but having everything on the floor attracted mice, the mice always ran to a hole near the door so Len always opened the door quietly the mice would run around the edge of the shed, Len had a block of wood to hand he held it against the door frame then judging the distance the mouse had to travel to the hole dropped the block of wood, it was amazing to watch, Len had the timing to a tee he never missed all the time I was with him, so this helped to keep the mouse population in check,

Len had got a job at Horton Bank Top, on the outskirts of Bradford we loaded the tackle we needed and set off, he said, “My dad is going the look after the hens, I want you to come by bus I came this morning so you would know your way,” he took me on the bus route showed me the stop at Bank Top it was at the bottom of Cooper Lane, “You will have to walk from here” then he drove up the lane to where the job was, It was a semi the front room was empty no carpet just bare floorboards, we still put a few sheets down then set up the steps and plank, the ceiling was in good condition Len had brought some Walperma so we used that, it took us till noon, Len took me to his house where his wife had made him dinner, I had sandwiches that my mum had put up, Len’s wife said, “I will make you some dinner tomorrow” she seemed a class above Leonard they were like cheese and chalk I wondered how they had got together, saying that they had been married a long time, we got back on the job the walls had already been striped we rubbed them down and applies a coat of size, then we started undercoating the woodwork it was white for a change the finish coat being cream, but that would be tomorrows Job, it was nearly 4:30 pm by this time we had done what was needed to do, Len said, “Get off home now lad try not to be late tomorrow” I left to walk to the bus stop there were some people waiting so I knew the bus would not be long, this bus would take me to Chester St bus station where I would have to change to a Baildon bus, I did get home in the end, I’ll just have to hope all goes well in the morning,

Dad had got a Job at the Coop dairy delivering milk, this was a bit of a change for the old man, he would be starting early but would be finished in the afternoon, so he could do his cake decorating with nobody to bother him, that’s if he isn’t too tired with all that walking,

There were a few kids playing in the circle, I saw Jimmy so went outside to talk to him, he was working with his dad learning the building trade, we exchanged story’s and the funny things that happen only on building sites, his hands were rough with handling the bricks, he was no longer a child, those day had slipped away a new chapter in our lives was unfolding, we must have talked for hours the light was fading, the circle was quiet once more, I bid him farewell, as he walked away all the memories of our childhood seemed to wash over me, that was the last time we had a long talk, in fact, it would be years before we would talk at length again,

I was up at six the next morning didn’t want to be late then having to put up with Len moaning all day, caught the bus at seven, it arrived at Chester street just after half-past, the bus for Horton Bank Top was waiting eventually it pulled out, by the time we reached Cooper lane it was nearly eight, so I had to sprint to the job, getting there just as Len pulled up outside,

We gave the woodwork a light rub down dusted then got the gloss out, I got the picture rail and skirting boards to do, Len started on the window, by lunchtime it was all done, we made the flower paste then left for Len’s house, his wife had made us a nice dinner with a sweet to follow, I was thinking Len might let me go home but he had other ideas, he wanted me to look at the gutters on his house a joint at the front had been leaking so he said, “Put a bit of putty in it lad and while thee up there tar them out” after a big dinner I was feeling a bit bloated, but he was paying me so up I went it was a bit breezy but I’d worked in worst weather at least the gutters were dry so I had no trouble getting the tar to stick, Lens wife kept the tea flowing so that was a bonus, when I’d done all around the house the time was 4 pm, Len said, “Get thee sen cleaned up then get off home,” he didn’t have to tell me twice, I washed my hands sharpish then set off running down the lane for the bus home,

I had to wait for a while at Bank top, after that no trouble I was home for just after five, Mum was a bit surprised when I walked in, she said, “Your early I haven’t got your tea ready yet, “Don’t worry mum I will get washed and changed I can still smell the tar on myself,” I was feeling a lot fresher when I finally sat down for tea I was missing dad, mum said, “He’s in the greenhouse doing something” that was good to hear my dad never did have any hobby’s outside his cake decorating, he was useless at DIY so if growing tomato’s becomes an interest I was happy for him,

Posted 7 August 2021

Hello again I have come to an end of my childhood stories but I have thoroughly enjoyed reliving my early days those that have been following my exploits I know by your lovely remarks that you too have got some pleasure out of this I did work for Butterfields Engineers for some years so being a Baildon based firm I think it appropriate for me to write a few story's about my experiences there, you have all been great and thank you all for the feedback, read on,

Later I called for Percy then we went out on our bikes, we never went farther than Shipley but this evening we went along Manningham Lane towards Bradford on the way back we were passing Lister Park when a police car pulled us, I didn’t think we were doing anything wrong, we were both wondering what was the problem, the policeman came towards us he Said, “You were exceeding the speed limit, I am giving you a warning,” well we had no idea of the speed we were traveling at, we were very polite saying “Thank you, officer, it won’t happen again,” with that he walked away, Percy just burst out laughing then I started, we couldn’t believe we had been doing more than 30 mph. after that we took it easy in case he was looking out for us, we never got pulled again on our bicycles funny how a thing like that sticks in the mind,

Time moved on the Horton Bank Top job was finished, we were back doing cottage housework, and nothing seemed to change whitewashed ceilings the woodwork was either brown green or cream, the graining was interesting there was still a lot to be learned in this field, Leonard was stuck in the past there were new products coming onto the market that would make our job much easier but he could not change with the times, I was looking forward to that but it would be a few years before it happened for me, Len had taught me all he knew

I painted the staircase at home the woodwork was grained to represent limed oak, the wallpaper had a bit of a pattern with a light background there were very few choices of paper at that time, I was proud of what I had achieved and I think my mum was pleased the future was bright the old dark colours had to go,

Kenneth left school and did go into plumbing with a local tradesman called Alan Gill, he was an old-time plumber who worked with lead pipes all his working life, there were still joints to be wiped but things were changing plumbing like painting was heading for a revolution the old tradesmen were finding it hard to adapt, now it was the apprentice that was taking the rains,

The summer seemed to fly by I was doing a few jobs for family and friends looking back I don’t know where I found the energy, work, work, work, but it never bothered me, I had plenty of money and nothing to spend it on,

My call up papers had come through everybody had to do National Service it was 1955 I was eighteen I could have got deferred till I had completed my apprenticeship but I decided to do my army service it would be another adventure, the painting trade would be still there when I had completed my two years so I packed my bag and left Baildon and all the lovely people that I had met and made lots of friends with, Percy joined in the Duke of Wellington’s regiment he would be sent to Cyprus this was a war zone at this time, Billy joined the Military Police, spending most of his time in Hong Kong, I was sent to Germany to join the Royal Horse Artillery, this will be another story in my life, we all play our part in this great big world we all make mistakes and we miss opportunities but life goes on, it’s been a struggle so far but I am thankful that I’ve met so many lovely people, they will stay in my memory always,

So as the ship pulled out of the dock all the girls were waving and not a dry eye that I could see, all I had to look forward too was two years on the Russian front, I know I'll be missed but I'll be back, only kidding thank again for your likes and comments,

Working Life

As promised another story begins. Posted 14 August 2021

I had left the army some years ago the year was now 1965 I was married to Patricia with a son called Paul he was five months old he couldn’t keep his milk down the doctor examined him and said he had a blockage in his stomach called a Pyloric, he was in the children’s isolation hospital Bradford for five weeks so it was a bit of a worrying time for us both.

I was working for the Co-op decorating dep’t I decided I would get another job that was different, so I went to Parkinson’s Engineers. They had a factory by the canal in Shipley, I said I was looking for work so this chap took me into the building showing me a metal turning lathe we will train you to operate this machine if you want the job you can start in the morning, I thanked him and left.

Walking down Ives street towards the River Aire where there was a foundry called Robson’s here there was piles of black sand and furnaces, a chap who was showing me round said, “We provide you with overalls and there are showers so you can wash off the grime at the end of the day,” the men that were working there looked filthy and the showers were disgusting. The whole place looked like the black hole of Calcutta, he said, “you can start in the morning,” I was having misgivings about even coming to look at the place at all.

There was another place I’d tried a few weeks before but they didn’t want any painters so I thought I would try again. The firm was in Baildon, W.P. Butterfields engineers, I went to the gate house on Otley Rd and told the security guard I was looking for work, what do you do he asked, “I’m a fitter” I told him, “Wait there I will get somebody to interview you,” not long after a chap came out introduced himself as Stanley the fitters Forman, then he took me into a big shed it was full of tankers all in rows in various stages of completion, he Said, “Where have you been working,” the first thing that came into my head was, “I worked for the gas board,” He said, “Do you read drawings,” then showing me a drawing of a tanker that was getting fitted out with pumps and pipes, it was all new to me I’d never seen a drawing in my life, never mind read one, so I had to say, “No I just work it out in my head,” “Come with me,” he said, “I’ll show you a job where you can use your loaf,” Taking me into the next workshop, “Do you think you could fill that with water?” pointing at a large tanker stood on metal bolsters, “Certainly could,” “well that’s settled you can start in the morning,” I thought I’ve done well today three jobs on offer, I ruled Robson’s out right away so it was between Parkinson’s and Butterfield’s, both jobs were paying the same money £11,00 per week.

I went home to tell Pat the good news, she seemed pleased, now I had to make up my mind just which job to take, we visited Paul every evening. He was doing well so that was a big weight of my mind, the next morning I got on my motorbike and set off to work, I made my mind up by not wanting to be a slave to a machine, I would take the Butterfield job. I rode in through the gates parked my bike and went to the security guards office. They gave me a card and told me to clock in, this was new to me but I would have to get used to it, then I made my way to where the fitters boss Stanley had showed me the tanker, there I met a chap called Reggie Cooper and another man called Frank Cookson both testers they told me to go to a small cabin where the boss would tell me what he wanted me to do. On entering the cabin there was a chap with a brown overall siting at a table writing, I introduced myself, he said, “I’m Bill sit down have you had any engineering experience before coming here, I had to say no to that question, then he told me what the job would entail, after some time he took me to a stainless steel tanker, we climbed inside carrying an extension lamp, “I want you to test these fairings for leaks, you will need to put some air pressure in from a boss on the outside of the tank then get some soap and water and brush it round the welding of the fairing if you see a bubble mark it with chalk, when you have found all the leaks get the welder who did the job to come and fix it,” well that seemed easy enough so I said, “Leave me with it boss,” I coupled an airline to the boss, checked the PPSI that I was told should be three, made some soapy water and climbed into the tanker, it was a bit less noisy inside away from chaps with air chisels chipping the slag from welding then grinding, the sparks were flying in all directions, other chaps were hammering the whole place was a hive of activity, break time came at ten. Reggie had put a kettle on we mashed our tea then got our sandwiches out, we all sat on a plank that was set up along the side of the workshop wall, Frank got his paper out and commenced doing the crossword if he didn’t know the answer he would read it out this was a regular thing when the Sun newspaper crossword was done or we couldn’t get any further than we would start on the Mirror, there was two more men on the plank, Raymond Smith a small chap with a very baby face he looked young but he was a good bit older than me, and his mate Charlie Wright they worked on the planishing, they all seemed nice enough and made me feel welcome.

Back to work I needed a welder, Reggie told me to go to a small office were a clerk would tell me which welder did the job, when I went in with the tank number the clerk told me the welders name was Colin, then told me to come and tell him when I started a job and when it was finished, I was slowly getting the hang of it but it was only my first day. The welders were on bonus so Colin wasn’t too pleased to see me wanting him to fix his leaks, but he did come eventually, it was no skin off my nose I was just on a set wage so I had no worries, he did the job than I started the test again Colin was a good welder so all the leaks I found he made good. The next step was to move the tank farther up the shop to were Reggie was working, it was placed next to the one he was testing, now valves had to be fitted to couple up water pipes, with a bit of advice from Reggie I soon had water gushing into the tank, it was a five thousand gallon tanker so it took a few hours to fill, this gave me time to explore my surroundings, and meet a few more chaps that worked in my department. So ended the first day.

A bit of information that might be of interest to some people, Butterfields used to use mains water but this was expensive, so a bore hole was drilled that went into a vast lake that stretches under Charlstown we pulled thousands of gallons a day even in drought conditions it never went dry.

My time at Butterfields part two. Posted 21 August 2021

Thanks for all the interest last week hope I can keep you entertained.

Time moved on, Paul my son was getting stronger by the day a vast improvement since we brought him home from the hospital, there was still lots of jobs round the house to keep me busy, makes me think how did I manage to fit everything in. I built myself a greenhouse at the bottom of the garden and started to grow tomatoes, it must have been watching my dad and Jack that gave me the urge to try my hand at gardening, the house we lived in only had a very small garden at the front. Raymond who did the planishing at work made me a small railing and a gate this improved the look of the property.

There was a yard at the back with steps going into the cellar. I levelled these out so I could run my motorbike inside, Mrs Farrow, our next door neighbour, complained about the noise when I rode out, then a chap came breathing down my neck from the council to investigate. After looking round I was surprised when he said it would be permitted to keep my bike down there but on the safety front I would have to double plasterboard the ceiling to make it fire proof. It wouldn’t have been a big job for me but I would still be getting earache from Mrs Farrow so I chained my bike to the railings outside, I felt I was bending over backwards for this woman but I didn’t want to cause her anymore stress and her husband wasn’t well and died some time later.

Workwise things were looking up, the firm had landed a big MOD order for a couple of thousand five compartment water tankers, the first five tankers had landed on the testing bay. I was to start to do the testing with another two chaps that had been employed; Jack Carr an old soldier that was a POW for a couple of years, Tommy Cullen was about my age, he was an Irishman, a bit of a rebel and always waving the tricolour and singing rebel songs.

My brother Kenneth came out of the army so I got him a job, after a while Jack and Tommy went on night work and me and Ken did the day shift. With every tank there was a set of five pipes to test, this was shared between us. Frank and Reg gave a hand if they were waiting for the big five thousand gallon tanks to fill with water. I had learned to weld by this time so calling the welder back was my choice. I had a deal with three of the welders, this was crossing my palm with silver, they were on bonus so it was worth a few quid to them not to be broke off, there was only one welder who didn’t want to part with any money so I got him back to do his own repairs. It was a nice little earner for me and tax free.

We had to get inspectors to pass the tanks off as watertight, the chief was Ernest Sutcliffe he was a real gentleman he was an officer in the Gurker Regiment involved in the fighting in North Africa and mentioned in dispatches, another was Charlie Pullan a lovely chap then a younger man Lesly Walker, great guy, and Alf Layland, he got my back up a few times, it nearly came to blows on one occasion, he really knew how to rub me up the wrong way, I learned to bite my tongue so the jobs went slowly forward.

Everything went like clockwork on a normal day but now and then things got a bit scary. Ken was testing the tank next to mine, the trim that ran round the top of the tank that later would be fitted with a metal mesh walkway, it was full of holes so putting three-pound pressure to test it was useless, Ken put full ninety-pound pressure on when he soaped it up there were bubbles everywhere, the welder was called back, he had made a bad job so Ken wasn’t going to do all the hard work. The welder finished the task, Ken put the pressure on again, making the mistake of not dropping the pressure back to three-pound, the tanks trim started to groan instead of turning the valve off at the wall he commenced unscrewing the nozzle from the boss at the end of the fairing. I was shouting for him to get out of the way fearing the welds would split and metal would be flying in all directions, but he did manage to undo the nozzle with a big rush of air making a loud whistling sound, the fairing was looking more like a sausage compared with the other tanks, that didn’t worry me, all I was bothered about was Ken he could have been seriously injured. The repair job took Raymond and Charlie a good few hours but in the end, it was passable.

In this environment we had to be alert all the time with all the things going on around us there could be an accident just waiting to happen, I did get my fingers trapped behind a chain while rolling a tank over I was hoisted in the air the overhead crane driver Harry Wright couldn’t see me I was shouting but nobody heard me over the noise in the workshop, I was lucky this time the tank was lowered to the floor and when the chain went slack I still had my fingers, a lesson learned don’t put your finger under the chain.

Another scary moment I was trying to start a welding machine they had a small leaver that had to be pushed forward the welder would start running the leaver was then pulled down it should lock-in and the machine would carry on running, on this occasion it didn’t happen. I tried several times with no joy, then while winding it up I thought the plug might be loose so with the other hand I pushed it in, my hand stuck to the plug and I was captured between with the current running through me, it seemed ages before I pulled myself free, I had to sit down for a while. I just felt drained of all my energy, when I came round I went for the electrician to give it the once over, he told me there was a wire in the plug that had become disconnected and was shorting against the plug itself. I had made the circuit when I toughed the plug, the electrician told me it was four phase it gives a shock but very unlikely to kill, Well I'm still here so I will try and write some more next week,

Episode three of my time working for Butterfields Engineers, holiday time. Posted 28 August 2021

Work went on quite normally the MOD contract was great and we were meeting the target of five a week so everybody was happy,

Things on the home front were getting better, Paul was doing well, Pat seemed to be happy enough. I was getting regular holidays so we hired a Standard ten and booked a place at Flamborough Head. We took my mum and dad with us, thinking back I don’t know how we got all the luggage and five of us in that small car. When we got to the site we were looking for our caravan and when we eventually found it we were a bit taken back, it was a converted railway carriage. On entering it smelt a bit damp and there was an infestation of moths. That was my first job exterminating them, after we had cleaned the place up a bit it was adequate for our needs, it wasn’t far to the beach the weather was good and we spent a lot of time there Paul loved it playing in the shallow pools, it was the first time he’d been to the seaside, Pat had a blue and white spotted bikini and spent most of the week sunbathing on the sand, we did get down to Bridlington for a day, we all enjoyed it but like all holidays the time went fast, soon it was time to leave, I didn’t miss the old railway carriage but the memory of that holiday lingers on. We returned by way of Garrowby hill it has an elevation of 607 feet I had engaged low gear and by the time we got to the bottom the clutch plate started burning, the inside of the car began to fill with smoke, my dad fearing the car was on fire was on my back trying to get out the door I stopped, to let the clutch cool then opened all the windows to get rid of the smoke, after fifteen minutes or so we all got in, I was hoping the clutch wasn’t burned out all together we were still going downhill so it rolled away no bother, my fears were calmed when we did come to a small incline the little car chugged along without a hitch we all got home safely but that little incident always reminded me of that time.

Mr Burris sold the fish shop and moved into a house not two hundred yards away, they were nice people and sorry to see them go but glad they hadn’t moved far away so we could still keep in touch, we wondered what the new people would be like Mr Burris told me the new people had bought the business so things would be much the same, he had retired now but had a few ideas that would create a small income,

A chap called Keith Baxter moved in next door but one he also worked at Butterfields and some mornings I would give him a lift on my motorbike, he was a store-man so I always had priority if there was something I needed, I always said, “It isn’t what you know, It’s who you know that counts” he was a jolly sort of chap and we got on fine.

My boss came up to me one day he said He wanted me to operate a new machine called a Wadkin Router it was for cutting Aluminium plate into parts used for building Aluminium tankers they had started a line in 104 Dep’t, “The job will not be full time and when you are working the machine you will get another sixpence per hour,” well it sounded good so I said, “I’ll give the job my best shot,” Later that week I started on the new job it turned out that I had to cut the horns there the supports that stiffen the sides of the tankers there was twenty in all to cut,

I was given a wood template that I screwed down on the Aluminium sheet that had already been roughly cut to size on the guillotine, it wasn’t heavy work like if I was using steel, I got the router running brought it to the edge of the alloy then guided it round the template, I had done about ten when I snapped the cutting bit, I went to the store and got a new bit, then finished the job, I made it last the day it was a steady job no one bothered me so I was looking forward to the next time, this was about two weeks later, horns to cut same as last time, again I broke a bit and the store-man moaned about me breaking bits every time you’re on that machine, he said, “I’ll have to report it these bits aren’t cheap you know,” I didn’t think any more about it I wasn’t doing it on purpose, over the next few months I kept doing the job off and on, then one time my boss said there is a chap coming from Wadkin to show you how to use the machine, I was thinking he was a bit late but he might just give me a few pointers, The chap turned up I set the machine up he was impressed with my work, soon it was ready for cutting he swung the router into position. We had an audience, the store-man, his boss and a couple of inspectors. The Wadkin man started the cut and broke the bit, the audience disappeared. We put a new bit in and this time he did the job, nobody after that complained when I went for a new bit, the Wadkin man had done me a favour and he left me six new bits so I always had a spare.

More fun and games next week cheers everybody thanks for following,

Part four, back on Butterfield's shop floor with danger all around. Posted 4 September 2021

Please don your safety helmet not forgetting the toilet paper and read on,

There was a couple of incidents happened over the next few months, Arthur Staniforth and a fitter called Ken, were taking the manhole cover of a gas tanker just outside 108 Dep’t were I was working when Ken came through the door I thought he had seen a ghost he had a scared look on his face he was shouting, “Evacuate the building there is a gas tanker on fire” now the door was open I could see flames belching out the back of the liquid gas tanker, everybody dropped what they were doing and ran to the other end of the shop then out into the yard thinking at any minute there would be an almighty explosion, after a short time two fire engines came in through the main gate then around the side of the workshop pulling up sharply when they could see the tanker blazing, reversed all the way back to where we were all standing, two of the firemen strapped CO2 canisters on their backs ran towards the blazing tanker and within seconds the fire was out, everybody breathed a sigh of relief and returned to work, this accident happened because one of the fitters was smoking and as they lifted the heavy cover off, the cigarette ignited a small amount of liquid gas that was still lying in the bottom of the tanker, the two fitters got away with no more than singed eyebrows this time, it never happened again lesson learned,

A few weeks later Kenny Taylor the chap that did the acetylene cutting at the other end of the shop from where I worked, I had seen Acetylene bottles on fire but they just give off a lazy flame and makes no sound but this time it was Ken’s oxygen bottle, it had ignited with a stray spark where a leaking pipe was fitted to the valve on the bottle it was screaming like a jet engine, the whole workforce just dropped their tools and ran out into the wreck where the units were stored, there was only one man left in the shop it was Kenny with a spanner in his hand walked up to the screaming bottle amid shouts of get out Ken leave it to burn out, he did after a while close the valve then there was silence, there was no way I would have tackled the bottle of liquid oxygen, Ken was a hero that day,

Charley Wright had taken sick and it didn’t look like he would return to work so I was asked to take his place, it was a bit more money this meant I would be swinging a hammer planishing out the damage caused on the production line, Raymond had been doing it for a lot of years he was an expert when it came to planishing so he always made the job that much easier by knowing were the stress points were in the metal, the job involved repairing tankers that had been in accidents or the driver had drained them without checking that the tank was vented or in most cases the vent valves had got clogged with fat or chocolate or the valve had just ceased up causing a vacuum sucking the sides of the tanker in, these jobs were very interesting, the first rule was, Last in first out, it was futile just trying to jack out the big bulge from the middle because the whole lot just locked tight then we would have a battle on our hands the only way out of this problem was to cut the tank open to relive the stress, nobody wanted that if it could be done another way, starting on the last bit to be sucked in, then on many occasion it would just pop out again by itself,

I remember a chocolate tanker coming in there was a large amount of chocolate that had gone solid in the bottom we hacked a few big blocks out and all the workforce were eating it or taking it home, after that it was taken for steaming out so we could get to work on it, unknowing to us all, it turned out to be laxative chocolate so for the next couple of days the toilets were crowded everybody had the runs,

We made such a brilliant job of this tanker that the firm sent a thank you letter Ernest the chief inspector came to congratulate us and showed us the letter he said, “They also have sent chocolate to give to the men who worked on it,” we gratefully declined we’d had our fill of chocolate for some time to come,

Beer tankers seemed to attract the boozers, I remember one, in particular, they were queuing up with their mugs and filling them straight from the tankers drain valve, until the boss found out then he came with a dustbin not that he wanted more than anybody else, the bin was full of sawdust that put an end to the drinking spree,

I'm still here so I will be back next week with another story,

thank you all for the likes and comments last week,

Episode five. Posted 11 September 2021

I had been at Butterfields a few years now and managed to save up to get my first car it was a Morris Minor with a split windscreen and canvas top, for the grand total of twenty-five pounds, sold my Motorbike to a lad at work for ten pounds, this helped with the road tax and the insurance, it needed a bit of work but I soon got it up to scratch, after a few months I purchased some canvas from our new neighbour he used to have a wagon with canvas sides that he replaced and had loads over, my brother Ken being a cobbler made patterns from the old one, then made a replacement it was green and looked amazing when the hood was fitted,

We bought a tent so when the holidays came we pilled everything in the Morris, Paul sat in the back seat then we went where we pleased, stopping at campsites along the way, one Easter we went to Wales my brother Kenneth came with us, I remember the camp was at the foot of Snowden, the weather was atrocious with lots of wind and rain, when we arrived other campers helped put up the tent stopping it from blowing away while we got the pegs in, everything was a bit of a struggle the first night water came in under the tent sides Ken was lying in a puddle so he rolled over to our side we didn’t get a lot of sleep that night, next few days the wind died, there was some hazy sunshine we were at the side of a lake the mountain rising above covered in mist, I felt relaxed away from the din of the workshop the bad nights behind me it was heaven,

For our main holiday going further south to Summerset it was a place Raymond and his family had been to many times so we tagged along, it was a farm the farmer Mr Stuckey met us when we arrived, I said, “Do we pay you now,” in his southern Summerset dialect, He said, “No there will be plenty of time for that later,” he directed us to a field, “If you want anything eggs, milk, for instance just come up to the farmhouse,” We thanked him then drove into the field pitched our tent next to Raymond’s,

It was late in the day but the sun was still shining, we got our gas stove set up and made a meal then sat out in the fresh summer air, the sun went down I was ready for bed as I had driven all the way down without a break, we all slept soundly till morning, it was another beautiful day we made breakfast then we walked around the farm to get out bearings, farmer Stuckey was feeding some piglets in a field he said let the lad come over the pigs won’t hurt him, Paul would be about six I don’t think he had seen a pig before only in books, he was surrounded by them now and seemed to be enjoying the experience, I had a camera with me so took a few photos for the album, Later we went to a pub to try out the Cider they called Scrumpy Pat had a few glasses she was feeling a bit tipsy, it was the first time I’d tried it, it looked a bit cloudy but it went down well we both had a headache the next morning,

The rest of the first week we went to a beach nearby there was miles of sand when the sea was out it went right out and when it came in again the beach was so level we had to run to keep dry never been anywhere before or since where the tide came in so fast,

Other days we visited Western-Super-Mare and Burnham-on-sea, we set of to go to Minehead but the road was chocked with traffic so we returned to the farm, Cheddar Gorge was nice we just had to see it while we were down here, Paul enjoyed it and I took a few photos, the weather was amazing all sunny days so far, towards the middle of the second week we were on the beach with Raymond’s wife Nelly and his son Rodney he was a bit older than Paul, we were sunbathing Raymond was in the sea we noticed he was waving so we waved back but he just kept on waving so I went to see what he wanted, he was making his way towards us and when we met he said, ”I don’t feel well I have a pain in my chest,” so I helped him back to where the others were sitting, he didn’t improve so we went back to the campsite, he lay in the ten a while we were getting worried by this time so I said, “We must get him to the hospital,” we helped Nelly get him in the car then she departed, it was a few hours before she returned with the news that Raymond had suffered a heart attack and they had kept him in, this was not good news it put a bit of a damper on things, and it did get a lot damper on the Friday the heavens opened, we decided we would pack up and make for home, first I went up to the farmhouse to pay Mr Stuckey he had never bothered us or asked for payment all the fortnight, I told him we were leaving because of the rain we had a lovely holiday he was a lovely chap, I paid him then said, “Goodbye and thanks for all your hospitality,” he waved us off and that’s the last I ever saw of him, it was a long drive home and it rained constantly all the way, the new hood never let a drop of water in my brother had made a real professional job, I couldn’t get Raymond out of my mind I knew I was going to miss him when I started work on Monday things were not going to be the same without him,

Episode six back from our lovely holiday. Posted 18 September 2021

I’m still hoping Raymond would recover and looking forward to his return to work, On Saturday I went up to my mother’s dad was working my brother had gone out somewhere, I gave mum a small present from our holiday then came a knock on the door I answered it there was two chaps one said, “We are police officers inquiring into a burglary at the conservatory club could we come in we would like to ask more questions,” I said, “No,” for some reason I wasn’t feeling all that welcoming, one of them said, “Who are you” I replied, “ this is my mother and I’m her son we have nothing to do with the burglary I don’t want you upsetting my mother so would you please leave,” after that they walked away, my mum said, “You shouldn’t have sent them away,” well we know nothing about it Just because my dad was helping out behind the bar when the steward was on holiday they are trying to pin it on us, mum was laughing about the whole incident, It was a few days later when I heard they sent some uniformed police asking would your son appear at the Baildon police station, you can see what was happening they wanted me, but as my brother lived there so he went instead, Ken said later, They looked a bit puzzled when I walked in they asked me a few questions and sent me on my way,” I don’t know whether they caught the real culprits but we never heard anything more after that, Ken had no idea they were after me at the time but we had a good laugh about it later,

Back at work everybody was missing Raymond I carried on the best I could but most jobs I had to do were impossible on my own so Frank stood in for a couple of day then they set a young lad on, he did very well but I could tell his heart wasn’t in the job and only lasted a fortnight, then David Toulmin, my lifelong friends brother said he would like the job, David was with the polishing crew but he had got a bit fed up with that it was a mucky job and hot work in summer polishing the stainless steel tankers on the inside, David and I made a good team and got on reasonably well, David had a few mood swings so some days you just couldn’t talk to him, on other day I couldn’t stop him talking, the work was going through so all went well, we were straitening a mounting David was swinging a seven pound sledge hammer, I was holding my hammer against the mounting David made a swing missed the mounting and hit me on the right side of my face it began to swell up, David helped me along to the ambulance room, the nurse was a nice chap he said, “Sit down I will have you sorted out in a few minutes,” I didn’t know until then that this chap was a masseur he put some cream on his hands and started massaging my cheek he was quite gentile and within fifteen minutes the swelling had gone I felt much better all the pain had gone I walked out of there feeling like a new man, we still had the mounting to straighten but this time there was no mishaps.

Jack and Tommy were still doing the night shift on the MOD tankers, Reg told me that Jack must still think he’s a POW the way he carries on have you seen his vehicle tax disc, I had to admit that I had not, look in the car-park in the morning you will have to be early before the night shift finishes, you will see he has a Guinness label stuck in the windshield, well I couldn’t believe he would do that, “Just you look it's true what I’m telling you,” the next morning I did turn in early I thought I must see this and right enough it was a Guinness label, Jack had survived the war and I wondered how many more tricks he had up his sleeve, I went into work with a smile on my face that day, Reg and I had a bit of a laugh, I said, “ Good luck to Jack if he can get away with it I’m not going to shop him,”

Things were getting a bit unsettled the union was going in for more money and it looked like there was a strike looming, it was not just us the power workers were already on the verge of walking walk out, we kept having meetings and in the end the vote was to walk out, they picketed the gate, I went down a couple of times there was no trouble although a few broke the strike, some kind of settlement was agreed and we were all back working within three days, but the power kept getting disrupted so we had to go home when there was no power than return later at 21:00 hours till we got our time in somewhere round two in the morning, the night shift carrying on as normal, it was good to see more of Tommy and Jack, everything seemed out of sync with the odd hours we were working, we were asked to help the fitters put frames round some container tanks this was a bit different to what we did normally, we would have to crane the frames into place then we would measure and clamp them in place drill a series of holes then bolt or rivet them together, David and I were enjoying the change and the money everybody was working for the good of the firm the union kept quiet and the production kept flowing, round about this time health and safety seemed to take a turn for the better, we were supplied with earmuffs face shield and helmets, this made a big difference in this noisy environment, we had never seen earmuffs until now, just so you can appreciate how noisy it was, the people living in the houses on Baildon Road half a mile away from the factory would complain that the noise was unacceptable, they should have been on the shop floor then they would have had something to complain about, Thanking those that are following my story it has been a pleasure for me and I hope you have got some insight of what went on when Butt's was a big employer in the area for over a hundred years,

Episode seven Butterfields Engineers. Posted 25 September 2021

There was always a few accidents a welder was inside a petrol tanker that had come in for repair he started to weld the fairing unknowing to him and overlooked by the chaps that cleaned them out before work was carried out, there was still petrol trapped in the fairing, it flared up and set him on fire, he was pulled out of the tank then walked to an ambulance that had been called, luckily he only had superficial burns to his upper arms his apron helmet and gloves had protected most of his body,

I had a splinter of metal in my eye, Raymond was a wizard and on more than one occasion taken these splinters out, he wasn’t back to work yet so I went to the ambulance room when I went in the ambulance man was treating a lady from the canteen who had spilled hot water over her legs the shin was just hanging off made me shudder just thinking of it, she was rushed off to the hospital, the first-aid man took the splinter out of my eye, I was thinking myself lucky after seeing that poor woman she must have been in agony, You never know what’s around the corner, I had plenty of sleepless nights with flash burn to my eyes, the lads used to swear that a couple of used teabag was the best cure, just some of the hazards of working in a engineering factory,

The talk of further strikes had come to an end the unions seemed to be happy we were all glad to get back to normal working hours, one day in 1968 some of you will remember this awful storm, all seemed well until the sky turned black all the lights in the factory were turned on, flashes of lightning lit up the darkness then more rolling thunder, the rain came down in buckets the heavy manhole lids in the yard started to pop open and were dancing on the gushing water, the factory was right on the river bank the water kept on rising until it was level with the workshop floor, thinking it would be coming in the shop we rushed around getting electric cables and tools of the floor, I climbed up onto a tanker at least if it had come in I would have kept my feet dry, as luck would have it the rain eased and the water after a while began to recede, the sky cleared the lights were switched off and everybody breathed a shy of relief,

We heard later that Bradford centre had been hit hard the underpasses were flooded shops and work premises were also flooded, causing a great deal of damage,

The firm started to crack down on late comers all those that were persistently late got a warning, my brother was one, and a couple of welders one of them was always early but sat in the car park reading the paper then sauntering in half-hour late these guys were on bonus so they knew how much money they could make and wasn’t bothered about when they clocked in, but it had to stop, it was crunch time get here on time or get the sack, well a few heads did roll and one was my brother, our gaffer Bill came to me and said he was sorry Ken had to go but it was out of his hands, I said, “Don’t worry about it Ken only had himself to blame if he couldn’t get up in the morning so be it,”

Ken was a cobbler by trade so he was not out of work for long he got a job on Commercial Street Shipley working for McVay they had a big contract with the MOD repairing hundreds of army boots, this was right up Ken’s street he had done nine years in the RAOC he was a Cpl. In charge of a workshop that employed civilian workers, in Tobruk,

Everything settled down again after the purge they did set another tester called Denis on he was a mate of Ken’s so I took it that Ken had told him there was a job going, there was plenty of jobs all over the district at that time but as you can see they could sack you at a moment’s notice, Hire and fire was the name of the game back then, but if you could do the job and turned up in a morning you were laughing,

Thanks for taking the time to read this story I appreciate it,

Episode eight, Butterfields Engineers. Posted 3 October 2021

bit late this week time is overtaking me,

They started to bring in time and motion men, to cut out the wasted time and get production moving, they tried to organise our job but every tank was different so as much as they wanted to get a set price it didn’t work, so in the end, they left us alone, I don’t know if it saved the firm any money, soon after they sold the underground tank side off, then the cryogenics and gas tanks, they started to build more aluminium tanks so I was busy on the Watkin Router, wages had quadrupled since I started, and this was good news I doubled my mortgage payments so I could get my house paid off in ten years rather than twenty, prices were still rising in the shops so any extra money I could earn was a bonus,

Round this time the firm seemed to be taking in more repair jobs than usual some had been in crashes some had just been sucked in, so we always had a job in fact it was quite interesting every job required different techniques we made jigs and devised different types of leavers that made the job easier, we got a few letters from firms saying they couldn’t tell the tanker had been damaged the beer firms also sent bottles but we didn’t see any of them, I think the inspectors sided them away, talking of inspectors Raymond came back it was good to see him looking so well, planishing would have been too hard for him so the firm made him into an inspector, he knew most of the jobs inside out so there was no fooling Raymond, if a job was not up to scratch he would tell you, and also tell you how to put it right unlike some of the other inspectors, so if I wanted anything passing off I would always get Raymond, or Earnest he was the head man he had been an officer with the Gurkhas fighting in Italy during the second world war, he was a real gentleman and lived in the flats just across the road from me,

I came across a song called “D-Day dodgers,” so I said to Ernest the next day, “Ernest you were one of them D-Day dodgers skiving in Italy when you should have been on the Normandy beaches,” he was a bit taken aback by this so I explained about the song that the lads over in Italy had written because a politician named Lady Aster, while making a speech said, “the 8th army were D-Day dodgers,” this as you can imagine didn’t go down very well, Ernest didn’t know anything about it so I gave him a cassette tape, the next day Ernest was over the moon he loved the song and told me it had brought many sad and happy memories back and had played the tape over and over again, I was also happy for him I had made his day, we got on very well from that day on and stayed friends for years after,

Alan that was now working in the testing bay had gone into 109 Dep’t looking for a bit of scrap wood to chock up a tank that he was about to fill with water, the laggers has they were called used lots of wood to put a frame around the tanker before they lagged it and covered it over with stainless steel sheets, Alan picked up what he thought was a bit of scrap wood and while carrying it away the laggers Forman George Delamare shouted across the shop floor, “It’s my wood!” Alan tried to explain that he needed the wood to support a tank he was testing George was having none of it and told him to leave the wood where he had found it, he did in the end find something that would do the job but could not get over George’s remark, “It’s my wood,” this went on for weeks then out of the blue George who had been part of the firm for many years got made redundant, well as you can imagine George was gutted he lived only a few houses from me and I saw him most day, he confided in me saying all these years and they just give me the push without warning, but that was the name of the game hire and fire at a minutes notice there was nothing to be done, George took it hard I said, “Sorry to hear the bad news,” he was getting near retiring age so that was the end of the line for George he never worked again, Alan thought he had got what he deserved the best thing that could happen still chuntering on about the wood George denied him, saying, “It’s my wood,” over and over again, funny how something as trivial as a piece of wood could cause so much unrest,

Eddie Kinsella the palters boss gave me a job to put some walkway brackets on one of the MOD tanks all his platters were busy so he gave me the drawing and the brackets all I had to do was measure the position and tack them onto the tanker seemed to be a simple job and I had worked on hundreds of these since starting at Butt’s many years ago now, I got everything marked out no problem but then for some reason cut all the brackets to short, Eddie wasn’t too pleased but there was nothing he or I could do but get some more brackets, there must have been thousands of these kicking about but we could not find them so I had to wait for them to be cut and folded, I was thinking I better get it right this time, when the bracket came Eddie gave me a few pointers and left me to it, I did get it right this time and did a few more after that with no trouble, after that Eddie kept giving me and Dave the odd job another time it was some manhole necks to be fitted I was wishing I had taken more notice at school having to calculate the length of the neck to fit the hole using Pi or π never thought at school I would ever in a million years need π but strangely enough between us we were getting the calculations right the necks when rolled and welded and fit the holes near on perfect,

If you would like to listen to the D-Day Dodgers song you can find it on Youtube,

Episode nine, Butterfields Engineers Baildon. Posted 9 October 2021

just a few recollections of things getting out of hand because things don’t always go exactly as planned,

David and I were called into 109 Dep’t one of the tanks had got through with a distorted mounting that had been discovered by the laggers that could not fit the wood frame, we set about the job by first cutting the mounting plate to relieve the stress with an acetylene torch this part went according to plan we then used leavers and hammers to align the mounting, now I began to weld it together again a spark set fire to some of the lagging on the side of the tank and began with a small flam getting bigger by the minute Raymond was passing grabbed a fire extinguisher that was hung on the wall, it was of the type that had a cap on top that was removed turned upside down, bump it on the floor and the contents would be sprayed on the flames through a small pipe, for some reason in the panic to put the flames out Raymond screwed the top completely off, me and Dave just stood there, I said joking, “It’s a fine time to start doing maintenance on that extinguisher Raymond,” we were all Laughing by this time, Raymond realizing his mistake began franticly screwing the top on again, the flames by this time were setting the wood on fire, then a fitter came with a CO2 bottle and snuffed out the fire in seconds, Raymond never lived that down we had many a laugh at his expense, but just shows what can happen in an emergency, a clever chap like Raymond making a right orchestra stall of a simple thing like getting an extinguisher to work, there’s a lesson to be learned here if you have a tool always read and understand the instructions it might save you some grief at a later date,

On another occasion we were standing near the door to 109 Dep’t in bay 1 Arthur Boil tested tanks by filling them with paraffin sometimes the paraffin would spill over and shavings were spread on the floor to soak it up this was easy to ignite just a spark from somebody welding nearby and it was burning Arthur was getting it under control so we went to help and finally got it down to a small flame by the door, we were thinking we had done a good job when the door opened a chap coming in saw the flam ran and kicked the pile of shavings with the draught from the door and all the shavings in mid-air it caused a big ball of flame that spread everywhere, nobody was burned so now we were back at square one, Paraffin burns with a very lazy flame so by sweeping it gently together then smothering it with sheet of thin metal or board we did get it out in the end, it was no big thing it happened all the time there was nothing to burn only the sawdust or shavings the floor was concrete and the structure of the building was mostly metal, we could have just done without the idiot that thought he was Stanley Mathews , just another example of how thing can go wrong quite quickly, I had a pushbike and when the weather was good I would ride to work on it this particular day I went to Shipley at lunch time for some reason I cannot remember on my way back to work down Otley Rd I was passing the Odd Fellows Hall, (now demolished) then heading towards the Junction were the road goes left into Shipley center, just here a bus passed me and turned left in front of me knocking me off my bike and running over it luckily I was not injured, the bus only stopped because a passenger alerted the driver who had not seen me, This Passenger then alighted she asked if I was hurt she gave me her name and address, it was Mrs Drake of Threshfield Baildon, I had never met her but her husband was a well-known Plumber called Edwin some of you older readers might remember him, Mrs Drake said, “contact me if you have any trouble,” I thanked her and the bus pulled away the driver never left his seat,

I went back to work carrying the bike I was late clocking in but I had a good excuse and the bike to prove it, without luck on my side I would be in the BRI, by now, I rang the bus station when I got home and a chap there said take your bike to be mended and send us the bill, it was Saturday before I could get to Ellis Briggs I told the chap there what had happened and gave him what was left of the bike, he said, “Come back next week it will be ready for you,” the bike was there waiting when I went to pick it up on the following Saturday, it looked like a brand new bike the frame had been sprayed it had new wheels handlebars and seat it looked nothing like the wreck I took there the week before, the bill was round £50:00 just over half of a week’s wage at the time, the bill was settled by the West Ridding bus company with a little extra for my inconvenience, I will always be grateful to Mrs Drake she was the good Samaritan that day,

It was getting near Christmas and the firm always had a party for the shop floor workers in the canteen on the day we finished for the holiday, we would stop work at lunchtime then there would be food and as much drink as we could pour down our neck, Frank liked a pint and when out regular I once accompanied him with my wife at the “Old House at Home” this pub is still open today, I was never a drinking man but we had a good night I well remember, at the party I was drinking Newcastle Brown, By the time five O Clock came I was well oiled, I remember trying to ride my bike home it’s a wonder I didn’t get arrested, well the bike and I must have got back home because I’m still here to tell you the tale,

Episode ten Butterfields Engineers Baildon. Posted 16 October 2021

The writing was on the wall a few years later, I had been there ten years now and got my gold watch, redundancies were happening every week, David had been in a syndicate that had struck gold and came up on the lottery His share was a six figure sum so he was sitting pretty, Raymond had to retire his heart was in a bad way I was sorry to see him go he had learned me a lot and was a great guy also a true friend, there was only Frank and myself left at the top end of 108 Dep’t we were doing a bit of everything, testing one day and doing some planishing the next, most days we just sat on the tanks doing the crossword puzzles that we had done the whole ten years I worked there, Frank loved them I will always remember one in particular nobody could think of the answer, it began with M the clue was, A certain kind of churchman, in the afternoon Frank said, “I’ve solved it the answer is a masochist”, everybody fell about laughing but Frank stuck to his answer, the next day we all wanted to see if he was right or wrong, the answer was Methodist, Frank took some stick over that for a long time, it made the day go by we could all smile while all around us there was welding flashes, grinding sparks, hammering, air chisels chattering away loud enough to waken the dead,

Finally, our turn came they were closing down the road tanker buildings in Baildon but a new factory over the other side of Bradford under a new name, M1 Engineering producing all aluminium tanks so some of the workforce took up employment there, I was now on the dole I received £2000,00 in redundancy pay so that would help for a while, I was sent to a spring making company but after talking to the boss he said, “He needed a special sort of engineer the last chap only lasted two months he threw his spanner at the door and walked out,” I gave him my card to sign and sprung back to the dole office, a week later they sent me to a wire bending place this was a job I thought I could do with a bit of practice but the boss of the place wanted a man with experience, so I got my card signed and left, I was contemplating going back to the painting trade but in the meantime, I was talking to my lifelong friend John he was working for himself doing property repairs, and invited me to join him, I said, ”I’ll give it a go, John, anything’s better than the dole, so another chapter of my life closed and another opened, hope everybody that has been following my story got something out of it, I’ve really enjoyed writing it and it brought a lot of memories back for me, some I had nearly forgotten about then something at the back of my mine clicked and the story continued, thank you all just for taking the time to read it, your remarks have been encouraging,

Just before I sign off, I would like to mention a few names that worked there at that time that I haven’t mention till now, my memory for names is not all that good and some fifty years has passed since I worked there so there’s a lot of people that I can’t recall, most have now passed on good friends that I was proud to work with,

  • Kenny O’bank- Plater Forman
  • Harry Wright - Crane Driver
  • Arthur Boil – Tester
  • Philip Toulmin – Plater
  • Jack Hillary - Lagger
  • Bill Mitchel - Tinsmith
  • Charlie Pullen - Inspector
  • Graham Pullen- Plater Forman
  • Melvin Brigg’s - Draughtsman
  • Pat Farrell - Clark
  • Brian Clavin – Coach Painter
  • Colin Bentley – Welder
  • Harold Emmet – Store-man
  • Patrick Lamb – Slinger

Thank you all again for the feedback that has kept me going for a few month Butterfields is just a memory now swept away by so called progress. Maybe Baildon is a better place without it, at least the people of Charlestown will get a good night’s sleep now,