Echoes of the past: Looking back at the old boys

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It was just a few weeks ago that I was writing about the Old Rastrickians Association annual get together.

Today, I was guest speaker at Baildon Men’s Forum and my digital presentation was about the world of brass bands. It was pleasing to see 68 of their members present.

Before the meeting started I was approached and given this week’s featured photograph by Arnold Gill a member of the audience. He was at the annual Rastrick get together and is a regular reader of the Echo.

The group is the second year class at Rastrick Grammar School in 1949. What makes this photograph better than many other similar group photographs is that all the names are show. They include: (back row L to R) K E Ellis, Arnold Gill, B Skinner; EG Leaper, B Mountain, F Surrall, B Firth, L Clayton, M Macdonald, T Wood and JR Harrison. Middle row (L to R) B Marshall, M I Aldred, G M Lane, R Chandler, David Nortcliffe, A Gardham, D Smith, E F Raine, F Hartley, G Firth and B Leek. Front Row: (L to R) B Jenkins, E Richards, RB Lee, W Bycroft, GN Nutter; B Cliffe, B E Wetton, M R Hepworth, B A Pinder and Rex Clamp, who lives in Canada. The teacher on the front row is Mr H N V Birkby.

These young Rastrick students have seen many changes since this photograph was taken. It was barely four years after the war and rationing was still on and would be until it was completely removed in 1954.

So life was still difficult - nothing from the sweet shop penny tray yet lads. Mind you some things were beginning to change - in 1954 Sunday cinema was allowed for the first time.

The cinema was still thriving in town with a choice of three - the Albert, which was often referred to as The Ranch because of the over playing of cowboy films. Then there was the Savoy or the Flea Pit or Bug Hut. I am sure many cinema goers over the years will have referred to the Savoy by those names but did they know why it attracted such names? Probably not - but in the dark and distant past someone did actually come round and give the place and some of its patrons a good going over with flea powder. The Savoy turned its movie magic off for the last time in 1959.

Then there was the, as we viewed it, the up market Ritz cinema. This was Brighouse’s first purpose built cinema which closed in 1961 only to be re-opened as a bingo hall but that closed its doors again in the September.

In 1953 people were just beginning to watch television - although not many households had one. It was estimated that during those early post war years only 14,500 households had a television and with the average weekly wage being £3 18s a TV was not very high on the local shopping list. Neither did many houses have indoor toilets or a telephone. The outside toilet was either in the backyard, bottom of the garden or even down the street. The fireplace and a roaring open fire was the focal point of the front room and all the furniture was arranged round it. It is interesting that once the television arrived all that changed.

As second year boys at Rastrick Grammar School they have certainly seen many changes.