Echoes of the Past: Shockwaves after King’s abdication

Margaret Ibbotson's party
Margaret Ibbotson's party

What a happy crowd of children these are. Looking at the girls gives it away a bit that, yes, it’s party time and they are all dressed in their best.

These children were caught on camera in 1936 in the front room at the Rastrick home of Margaret Ibbotson (front row left) who was celebrating her birthday.

These children were to grow up and see many changes in Brighouse during the 78 years since this was taken.

The big news of that year was the proclamation of two kings with the abdication of King Edward Vlll sending shockwaves throughout the country, the Dominions and the British Commonwealth.

Hipperholme Urban District Council had a celebratory spoon made that was to be distributed to each child in the council area. However following the announcement of the abdication the spoons were quickly, or the story goes, destroyed and were not given out. Or were they? I was given one many years ago and that person told me he had it given by one of the old Hipperholme councillors. This suggests perhaps they were not all melted down. It was pouring down with rain when the new King George Vl was proclaimed locally on December 14, 1936.

Locally 1936 was the fourth time in five years that Brighouse and Rastrick Band won the September Belle Vue contest (now known as the British Open Championships) with conductor William Halliwell.

Whilst the dark clouds over Europe were gathering there was a sense of renewed optimism in the town. Local trade was on the increase and the Co-op saw the signs of improvement with the building of a new emporium in King Street that was officially opened the following year. In the December of 1936 the town centre saw a first opened in Commercial Street when the Mayor John Cheetham opened Kendall’s milk bar.

Council house building was the topic of heated conversation at the Brighouse Borough Council Housing Committee meetings in 1936. Houses were eventually built and it was discussed that the use of local men on the site would help to reduce the unemployment level. With these first houses being built in Rastrick and then on July 15, Hipperholme UDC decided they too would build some houses in their area. These decisions triggered other councils to follow suit. The Halifax Rural District council decided to build 30 new homes at Clifton and Southowram UDC followed suit, all three stating the building would start when suitable sites had been found.

But these partygoers in this week’s featured photograph were not likely to have been interested in any of that. Pictured are (back row) left to right: William Ibbotson; Betty Holmes; Connie Muff; Mabel Radley and Kenneth Stake;. (middle row): Jean Mitchell; Barbara Kitchen; Audrey Venetia Binns and Muriel Harrison; ( front row): Margaret Ibbotson; Mary Kershaw and Betty Muff.

It’s thanks to Jerry Lefever for the use of this photograph - Audrey Binns is his mother and was born in 1925 and passed away in 2006 and was interred in Rastrick Cemetery. I believe that all these children would all have been born about the same year and for any that are still living in the district they would be in their late 80s or early 90s now. Perhaps one of your relatives was at that party?