Keeping ‘In touch’ with our history

Bradford Road outside Lister Kershaw's nursery c1920
Bradford Road outside Lister Kershaw's nursery c1920
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Every Tuesday morning from 11.15 for just over the hour, I am the facilitator for the reminiscence group at ‘In Touch’ who meet every Tuesday at the Maurice Jagger Centre which is in Winding Road opposite the bus station.

We talk about the past – living through the war years, how society changed when the NHS came into being.

First community Queen, Smith House Estate, Miss Pat Owen 1952

First community Queen, Smith House Estate, Miss Pat Owen 1952

What was the one gadget that made life easier at home for the lives of a busy mum? And of course wash day – with all that steam and then on a wet day washing hanging from the ceiling on a creel or on that clothes horse.

Of course the clothes doubled as the tent for the small boys who were camping in the Amazon jungle – well you can pretend you know, as I am sure you did.

Everyone remembers going to the ‘pictures’ – the Saturday matinee, Dan Dare, Flash Gordon and then back down to earth with Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Those are just some of the many subjects were have looked back on over the seven years I have been with the group.

Another subject we often talk about are the street traders we all used to know, those street to street, door to door people whose services or products made some aspects of everyday living much easier.

When we were children on the estate whilst I don’t recall seeing the travelling knife sharpener man, or the man on his bike selling onions but I do recall the old rag and bone coming round as I am sure many of you will with his familiar cry which alerted everyone that he was about.

We all looked round the house hoping to find some old items of clothing just so we could get the goldfish in a bag of water from him as payment.

I certainly recall one lad in our street taking his granddad’s allotment jacket and receiving his fish and then suffering the consequences when granddad looked for his jacket and discovered what had happened to it.

There was the ‘pop-man’ – Corona pop stacked in wooded crates on his wagon – ‘try the American Sarsaparilla it’s new’, the pop-man said.

It was so fizzy it made your fillings tingle. I think most will remember the ‘tea-man’ who used to travel round the Lightcliffe, Hipperholme, Bailiff Bridge and Hove Edge areas with his Bedford van and there was the Rington’s tea man.

There were so many including the fruit and veg man, some may remember Mr Wilson a familiar site with his Granny Smiths, bananas and big cabbages, the milkman who used to pour it out for you and of course the children’s favourite the ice cream man.

How many can recall being told when you heard the familiar ice cream man’s bell sounding, ‘ No you can’t have one he only sounds that bell when he has sold out…’

What about the insurance man – ‘knock-knock’ and he would then open your back door and walk straight into your kitchen, I bet he caught a few out having a strip wash in the kitchen sink more than once.

I am sure you will remember many more of these traders who we all became friendly with. If you want to be a bit nostalgic and would like to come to the reminiscence session at the Maurice Jagger Centre then give me a ring on 01422-205763 or e-mail me on

In our second featured photograph it shows Bradford Road, with Elm Cottages on the right hand side. The greenhouses on the left might puzzle a few readers, this was the area used for many years by Lister Kershaw for is nurseries. But I am sure many other readers will remember it better as the offices and builders yard for John Jagger Builders and across the road was their joiners shop.

The builder’s yard was later demolished to make way for a small housing development that was given the name of Oakroyd Close when it was finished. The mill in the distance was Barker and Butterworth’s Silk mill in 1906, but I am not sure who occupied the mill when this photograph was taken.

Judging from this photograph whilst life was definitely a lot harder in those days, the pace of life was all together a lot slower that it is today.

With an emphasis on re- building the community spirit after the Second World War, small scale local galas were held in many parts of the old borough.

But as the old communities were being swept aside and replaced with new housing estates on green field sites, the old neighbourhoods disappeared which meant quite a lot of people found themselves living next to and amongst strangers.

The new resident associations swung into action to help bring the residents closer together by holding community events such as the annual gala, and if the weather was fine, this was a great way of bringing the community together.

Whilst many adults and parents were probably a little hesitant at first to speak to their new neighbours the ice was soon broken by the children.

Showing no inhibitions unlike their mums and dads, the kids were straight in building new friendships, actions that did gradually bring parents together.

In this featured photograph we go back 60 years to 1952 with the first Community Queen Miss Pat Owen at Smith House Estate.

This young lady did not only have the honour of being the Community Queen for 1952, but she was the first and was something really special.

Joining Pat in this photograph are her two attendants Joan Collins and Dorothy Ellis with Page Boy Roy Wood – I bet Roy got a bit of a telling off by his mum that day for looking at whatever distracted him at the point the photographer clicked the button on his camera. Sharing the limelight with Pat and her retinue is the Queen and retinue from the Forest Cottage Community Association in Halifax.