West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
 
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Pontefract Letters Page

OLD DAYS IN PONTEFRACT

ADDED 22 DECEMBER 2007

I recently received the March 2007 copy of the Digest, and was very interested in the story of the Barnbow Girls by Maureen Byram and the reference to an educated 'coloured gentleman' who lodged in Old Church. This reminded me of my early childhood and listening to my parents talking about the old days in Pontefract.

I was born in Tanshelf in 1934 and my early recollections were of my father being the herdsman in the Park for Pontefract council before the war and until 1958 when we moved to Australia. Prior to the war there was a golf course and clubhouse in the park in approximately the same position as the current one and I remember going into the clubhouse with my father and also sitting on the tractor when he mowed the grass, presumably the fairways. The 'greens' were fenced to keep the cattle from damaging them.

I met some of the members and knew Dan Kinsey who was a neighbour, and he may be remembered as being the curator on the park, responsible for the cricket and football pitches. Jack Valente was another name that comes to mind. I believe he was an insurance man, and 'Charlie Olivera' from the West Indies. I think they formed a club and held their meetings in the Queens Hotel. The club and course disbanded during the war and the army took over that part of the park. It was not re-formed after the war presumably because there was the golf course further up Park Lane. However the clubhouse remained for many years after.

From what I remember hearing my parents talk, Charlie Olivera was a West Indian cricketer, I do not know at what level he played but he was engaged by Col. Shaw to play in his cricket team and I believe he also worked in the office at the pit. My parents did not seem to know what happened to him; whether he died or moved from Pontefract. Maybe researching the archives of the 'Express' around the years of Col. Shaw and any reference to his cricket team plus the obituaries may provide further information about Charlie Olivera and if he is the same person mentioned by Maureen Byram.

Eric Pashley


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