Echoes of the past: The unsung heroes of the school run

Walter Glover escorts Margaret Gill, Joan Clegg, Pauline Hirst and Kathryn Glover across Wakefield Road on 24 August 1956
Walter Glover escorts Margaret Gill, Joan Clegg, Pauline Hirst and Kathryn Glover across Wakefield Road on 24 August 1956

Standing out in the middle of the road in all weathers, dressed in high visibility clothing at a crossing near the school.

Venturing out into the middle of the road with the equally highly visible stop sign, stepping off the kerb sometimes taking their life into their own hands.

When did the first school crossing patrol officers arrive on the streets of Brighouse? The quick answer is the early 1950s, but when did the first ones appear on any road.

For that answer we have to go back to the 1920s in USA. In response to the ever growing number of children being injured and in a number of cases even killed. A number of small communities, were becoming very anxious about the growing number of incidents involving children just crossing the road to go to school. The idea of someone escorting the children across the road was tried out and was an instant success.

As with many things this idea found its way across from USA to the UK. This was in 1937, which saw the appointment by Bath City Corporation of Ms Hunt the first school crossing patrol officer in the UK . It soon became very popular, and as more and more local authorities adopted it and made similar appointments. In 1953 this concept of road safety was enshrined in law.

This week’s featured photograph shows Walter Glover, one of the first school crossing patrol officers in Brighouse. Here he is in 1956 escorting four girls across Wakefield Road Bailiff Bridge. So they can then continue their journey into Victoria Road to Bailiff Bridge junior school.

Walter, a well known personality in the village had worked at T.F.Firth’s until he retired in 1952, and was appointed a crossing patrol officer the following year. In his earlier life he was responsible for building the property what is now Kirklees Music on Bradford Road. When Walter had the shop it was opened as a fish and chip shop with a small cafe in the back. When he left that business he built the shop next door and opened it as a green grocers, today it is the fish shop.

In 1928 he helped to build the extension to the Ebenezer Church. The extension is what is now standing next to the fish shop and was recently sold and is currently being re-developed.

Returning to our featured photograph you can see that the sign Walter is holding is different from the one used today. The current sign that gave the crossing officers their nick name of ‘Lollipop men’ (and women) looks like a giant lollipop. With its distinctive colouring and the high visibility clothing these changes were introduced during the 1960s.

The four girls being escorted across the road are left to right; Margaret Gill, Joan Clegg, Pauline Hirst and Kathryn Glover.

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