"I have just read the article about you in Keighley News online and wondered if I can help out with a few thoughts. I have lived down under in Australia first and now New Zealand, for over 60 years and over recent years I wrote my memoirs of living in Keighley, Cross Roads and Haworth as a boy.
We lived in Alpha Street, Parkwood for two years from 1945-1947 and in my memoirs I have a few pages about Parkwood, the wood, the quarry, the path to Thwaites Brow, the games we played, the boys and girls I went Parkwood School with and who became my friends. If this is the kind of thing you are looking for just let me know and I can email a few pages to you. I also have a photo of a May Queen group at St Pauls Church taken in 1946 I think."
Here are the excerpts from Bill's memoirs ...
"I didn't finish at Lees school because at the age of 9 in 1945, we moved to Parkwood in Keighley, to 1 Alpha Street, which was a bigger house and we lived there for exactly 2 years. This opened another chapter in my life. As children you were never told the real reasons for adult decision making, you just went along and accepted what was happening, and you don't know or worry about owning a house or renting, you just lived there.
The shift to Parkwood was a real move out of my comfort zone. New home, new area to explore, new kids to meet. It was the summer holidays when we shifted and I was looking forward to it. Mam had painted such a good picture for us about a park being just across the street and beyond that a wood to explore, and she was right it was a great play area for me. I was always tall for my age and it was just as well as it was a tougher area and I was the new kid but I really didn't get picked on too much and when I did I was able to fight back so not too many tried it on.
I used to love to roam through the woods, maybe there is still a tree with the initials BW carved in it, and further to Bingley Moor - usually with a jam sandwich and a bottle of water but then we found a spring of iron water, at least it had rust in the soil, and we used to refill our bottles with that for extra energy, we thought. Bingley Moor was a fascinating place for me - there were old mounds of soil long grown over and somebody told us they were graves of Roundheads from Oliver Cromwell days - maybe they were! I still have a scar on a finger from a gash sustained on Bingley Moor. The main feature on the edge of the moor was Druids Altar, a huge rock outcrop where it was reputed the ancient Druids used to sacrifice people by throwing them off the edge of the rock on to the rocks below. The top of the rock sloped slightly towards the edge and we used to crawl face down to see how close we could get to the edge. How dumb was that? We loved to explore the rocks below and the caves which were formed by these rocks. We had great imaginations and no fear and if the weather turned nasty, we just crawled into one of these caves. We might be away for hours and it was not a worry. On the other side of the moor was Ferrands Estate (St Ives) which had a golf course in it. It also had a big stone wall to keep trespassers out - that didn't worry us, scaling a stone wall was second nature to us, but we made sure we hid behind trees or bushes if we heard anyone. Life was a big adventure. Sometimes we would walk all the way down to the river at Bingley from the moor, and it was there that I learned to row a boat. For about tuppence you could hire a skiff for half an hour and row it up the river and back - a great learning experience and I have since always enjoyed rowing. We would play out in the evenings, chasing, or kick can, or relievo or games like that. The girls would play hopscotch and skipping. Sometimes we would go up to the wood in the twilight and try to catch bats with our coats - there were a couple of delphs where the bats would flitter and twitter.
It was here where I first rode a big bike - borrowed. I had ridden a "fairy" bike, a small two wheeler at the Woodcocks, neighbours of Grandma Hampton at Haworth. Many years later, in 1955, I was to meet this family again in Australia and I have a very funny story about them involving a pet cockatoo. There was a big tarmac playground called the pitch behind Parkwood School which was a good flat area. This was a great area for riding a bike or roller skating.
Opposite the school was a sweet shop operated from a house. For a halfpenny you would always get something, a couple of cough lozenges, and a small quantity of kayli, like sherbet, in a bag - always something.
I guess this was a real learning time for me - it was at Parkwood School where I learned to dance Old Time - we had a lot of fun doing the Barn Dance and the Palais Glide or the Even Three step.
Some of the names I recall from those days were Brian Howe, Ken Patterson, a good bloke who was an evacuee from Manchester way, a cousin of Shirley Robinson, Ernest Ackroyd and his cousin Alan, Peter Harrison who was a year or so older than me, Stanley Cartwright who once dropped his trousers in class for a dare, Mavis Jones, the Houldsworth twins Betty and Olive and their brother Arthur, Betty Waterworth, Betty Suttle, Molly Burrows, Shirley Blouse, Eddie Watkins, known as Ginger, his sister Sheila, Ralph Brunskill, Brenda Leachman, Margaret Crabtree, the Whitaker brothers, Jim and Joe who lived opposite us in Alpha Street. Jimmy Feather was a big built lad my age and we sat next to each other at the back of the class. His dad had a tripe shop in the Keighley market and we used to tease Jimmy with a chant "Jimmy Feather sells tripe, three ha'pence a bite, if you don't like it, don't buy it, Jimmy Feather sells tripe". Jimmy and I met up again at Keighley Boys Grammar School and he subsequently came up to play cricket with us in Cross Roads when we won the Junior Championship in 1952 in the West Bradford Cricket League. I still have the photo. Jimmy also played rugby union for Yorkshire and went on to become a successful Real Estate agent in Keighley. I was looking forward to catching up with Jimmy in 1982 when I visited the Keighley Rotary club but unfortunately he was out of town on holiday.
Most of these kids went to Sunday school at St Pauls Church, Parkwood, where the minister was Rev Arnold. I have a photo of a crowd of us taken in the Church grounds about 1946. Some are in fancy dress; it looks like a Queen and her court. In fact I now know it to be a May Day celebration. In dress as courtiers are Ernest Ackroyd and Tommy Thompson. The Queen was Betty Houldsworth. One of her attendants is Glenis Jones, and other girls dressed up are Betty's twin sister Olive, and Betty Waterworth.
Behind Parkwood school was a large quarry. This was taken over by the Army for use as a rifle range and various gun activities. The Durham Light Infantry (DLI) had a unit based in Keighley and this was their training area. We were forbidden to go into the range of course, but we still managed to do ok for souvenirs. They used to set off rockets with flares and we would be up in the trees watching them come to ground supported by small silk parachutes. They were a good find if we could get them before the soldiers. We used to collect old shell cases and anything else we could lay our hands on. Favourites were .22 cases. These small brass cases would suck on to your tongue and you hid them in your mouth. We had a good swap activity in militaria. It was also at this time that plastic started to appear and we could buy strips of narrow coloured plastic at Woolies for a few pence which we would cut up into small pieces and pierce with a pin and make tiny sword badges which you would then stick into your jacket lapel or collar.
Another memory of Parkwood was going "mumming" on New Years Eve, where the boys dressed as girls and vice versa and we would go around the houses and sing songs for a few pennies. We got real brave once and went into the Working Men's Club on Parkwood Street and sang there and they took up a collection for us. This was only a few days after we had gone around houses singing Christmas carols, usually getting a few pennies. It was tradition and expected.
We lived at 1 Alpha Street and this was at the top of the street backing on to the first house in Leylands Lane. The house is still there, although the other side of the street no longer exists. In the house next door lived a girl called Joyce Chapman who was about my age or maybe a bit younger - Joyce was a pretty girl and we got on well together and although I used to see her occasionally around Keighley as we got older we never really had anything to do with each other except smile and wave when we saw each other. In 1945-46 though, we used to have a secret code and would tap messages to each other through the walls of our houses. When you are 9 or 10 years old that is a real big deal! I have never heard a word about Joyce since I left England - sometimes I wonder about my old friends and what's happened in their lives. I remember our first Christmas there - mam really made an effort and trimmed the place up with home made decorations which we helped to make and for the first time mam was able to get some silver tinfoil rolls which she really went to town with. The living room looked like a fairy grotto to us kids and the word soon got around so all the kids wanted to come and have a look.
The house was narrow but had four levels, a basement cellar/coal hole, and one living room with a large kitchen behind. Upstairs were two bedrooms and above those was an attic. The kitchen had a back door leading to a courtyard which is where the toilets and dustbins were located. Several houses opened to this courtyard ...
Dad got a job making lathes at Dean, Smith & Grace, which was located maybe 100 yards from our house at Alpha Street, at the bottom of a narrow, steep cobbled hill known locally as the "donkey hill". I recall a family at the bottom of the donkey hill had a couple of Pekingese dogs. That house is no longer there, and when I visited in August 2006 I walked up the donkey hill and stopped to look at the space and wondered just how anyone could build a house on such a small site.
I went to Parkwood Primary School for a year, and it was at this time that I developed bronchitis. It was so embarrassing - I had to wear a thermal type pad, it looked like a square of fibreglass insulation batts, modern description, but then it was just an orange square of cottonwool stuff which was strapped to my chest under my shirt. I also had to go to Victoria hospital in Keighley on a regular basis as an outpatient, for physiotherapy and breathing exercises. It was decided that I should attend the Open Air School at Braithewaite. This was a special school for children with health problems. I duly did and it turned out there were several kids from Parkwood went with me.
It was at Parkwood where I saw my first “one man band”. This chap played a variety of instruments all at once. I guess that nowadays you would call him a busker. We had never seen anything like it with a big drum on his back with drum sticks on his elbows, a pair of cymbals on his knees, a mouth organ on a frame over his head, and playing a trumpet with his hands. What a sight for us kids.
It was about this time I started to help mum with the weekly shopping and after a couple of practice runs with mum, I was sent off to the market in Keighley every Saturday morning with my shopping list, to buy the greengroceries. We still had food rationing of course, and I went off armed with the family ration books. This eventually led to what became a long standing family joke, when one day, when I had finished my shopping list and had a half crown left, I spotted a pile of nuts - remember I was about 10 years old, had read and heard about nuts but had never seen them because of the food shortages in the war. When I saw these I had to have some. I was so proud and knew that mum would be pleased with me, so I spent the whole 2/6 on a bag of nuts and proudly took them home to show mum. Imagine my disappointment when mum started to laugh and explained that these nuts really were nutmegs! She used these for years! It was also at this time I saw my first bananas - dried, horrible brown things!
It was at Parkwood that I had another growing up lesson in life. We had a pup, a bit of a mixture called Laddie, who was a brown brindle colour. He wasn't very old, just 3 or 4 months, when he started to develop distemper, an illness causing fits. As the "man of the house" I had to take him to the RSPCA in Starkie Street where a lady called Hilda Stell was the officer in charge. I had met her a year before when a few of us in Cross Roads had tried to run a "bring and buy" sale to raise funds for the RSPCA. I think we raised about 6 shillings and took our bus fares out of that, to deliver the proceeds! Well, Miss Stell was a tough lady and after she had examined Laddie, she said he had to be put down. She splashed water on him and then put him in this large wooden chest with sides that dropped down. She then attached electrodes onto the wet patches, closed the chest and pressed a switch. It was the worst moment of my life at that stage. I could hear Laddie flopping around in distress as he was electrocuted. I was 9 years old - I burst into tears and ran out of that place and ran all the way home, crying my eyes out. Miss Stell was there for years and I never wanted to see her again... "