West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
Pontefract Letters Page



I love the format of the new Digest Magazine.  I realise how difficult it must be to gather articles to fill each edition, so hope the following will help to jog reader's memories. How many people remember:

Hey Brothers of Old Church who made pop and brewed their own vinegar.  They also had a door to door delivery service.  One outstanding item was their ginger beer  which was sold in one gallon stoneware bottles, alas not seen today.

Schofield's, also of Old Church, who had a stall on the market selling cowheel, tripe and chitterlings, and also supplied most of the chip shops in the area with dripping (the secret of good fish and chips). Pontefract Laundries who were located in a side lane at the rear of the Crescent Cinema.  Their red vans were a common sight around Pontefract.  Of course in those days, not many people could afford a washing machine. 

Barker's, a few streets above the laundry, also made pop and supplied the soda siphons to most of the pubs.  At one time my late mother worked there, mixing the pop, and dad was their rep, touring the local hostels to sell their wares, a task for which he was amply suited.  Barker's had premises on both sides of the road, one half being at the end of Tanshelf Drive.  Then there was Sainter's of Back Northgate, wholesale fruit and veg merchants, with their red lorries.

Colley and Sons of Horsefair, also fruit and veg merchants, with their dark blue lorries.  Nothing can match the earthy smell of potatoes and the smell of fresh fruit intermixed.

Mr and Mrs Fisher, selling milk door to door.  Mr Fisher also had a field near Prince of Wales Terrace at the opposite side of the railway to the cemetery.  Wheat was grown in this field and at harvest time, I, along with others would go along to help pick up the sheaves of wheat and stack them in 'stookes' (in the shape of a tent), usually six or eight sheaves to a stook.  This allowed the ears of wheat to dry before threshing.  We were always assured of plenty of sandwiches, pop and jam tarts, supplied by Mrs Fisher on these occasions.  At the end of the day we were given a ride up into the town in the pony and trap.  Mr Fisher had a small stable on New Road at the rear of Keyzer's Store where he kept his pony and trap.  I understand that this field has now been covered by colliery waste.

Charlie Machen with his pony and cart, selling his fruit and veg was a common sight around Pontefract.  Charlie only had one arm and one leg but managed very well.  He went to school with my mum and the story is that they lived at one side of the railway and the school was on the other.  It was a long way round to school so it was common practice to take a short cut across the railway.  This they did on many occasions, but on one hapless day, Charlie was hit by a train which is how he lost his arm and leg.

Mrs Risbrook, who lived in Prince of Wales Terrace, briefly mentioned in one of your issues of the Digest, was a clairvoyant.  My late mother had many readings with her.  She could read either your teacup or your handkerchief.  This was done by crumpling a hanky, then straightening it out and then the reading was made.  I can only say that she was very good and very accurate.

The old bus companies, South Yorkshire, B & S, West Riding, Yorkshire Traction, Turtons.
Sandy Illingsworth's fish and chip shop and restaurant on Ropergate.

Joe Clayton's blacksmith's shop up Crown and Anchor Yard.

It is sad that if these memories are not written down they will be lost forever.  We will never see the like again.  I think it is what is called progress, but for myself, give me the good old days.  I prefer to remember PONTY as it was, not the nightmare it is now.

Bill Wood

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