West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
 
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Pontefract Letters Page

MAYPOLE YARD

I was born in Tanshelf in Coburg Street in 1920. My dad, a miner, worked at the local Prince of Wales Colliery for fifty years. My mum, dad, myself and my baby brother, moved to Maypole Yard when I was about five years old. The Maypole was a shop whose main produce was butter. It came in big barrels and the staff used to mould it into a shape very much like a brick and then stamped a cow on the top. Kids spent hours watching the cow being done.

Our part of Maypole had only five houses with one tap outside our house for everyone to share. We had a midden into which all the rubbish was placed. At the top of the yard were about four steps that led into Star Yard where we moved again. Woolworth’s was not built at that time.

There was a small shop that sold savoury hot ducks and my Dad’s favourite meal on Friday’s was these ducks so I used to go with a jug and get two hot ducks and some hot gravy for tea. To this day I never found out what was in the duck but they were 2d each. The shop was later demolished when Woolworth’s store was built.

In Star Yard, lived Benson, the local gas lamp lighter. He went round town at night putting the lights on and putting them out again in the morning.

The fire station was outside the Town Hall opposite Boots. When there was a fire a siren was sounded and a glass was smashed to get a key for the man to open the doors. Men came running to get to the fire. Mr. Dibbs lived in Star Yard and he would race down the road with all the kids running after him like the Pied Piper to watch the thrill we all got from seeing the red engine.

No one seems to remember that there was a cannon on display in the grounds of Pontefract Castle just before the Second World War but there was; I had my photograph taken against it when I was nineteen years old. At the time it was believed to have been used when Cromwell stormed the castle but it was removed during the war, presumably to be melted down in aid of the war effort.

Beatrice Thorpe (nee Evans)
October 2005


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