West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
 
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Pontefract Memories and Recollections

PONTEFRACT MEMORIES


by GWEN ULLMAN

I now live in Colchester, Essex, but until I was 15 years old I lived at number 13 Colonels Walk, Tanshelf. From 1948 until 1954 I attended Tanshelf Church of England School and then from 1954 to 1958, Northgate School for Girls. It was here that I had my first cigarette along with three or four other girls out of my class. We were caught in the toilets. Consequently we were lined up in front of the Headmaster and my mother was brought to school and we were reprimanded. My dad was never made aware of this; if he had I would have been in deeper trouble.

On the very first day at Northgate School all new pupils were presented with a bible and on leaving some four years later all class members signed it. This bible is still in my possession and the class members are as follows: -

Audrey Clegg, Anne Beevers, Olive Higgins, Patricia Wood, Wendy Bairstow, Shauna Hird, Patricia Kelly, Valerie Velland, Jean Senior, Marion Raine, Crystal Brown, Myra Abbot, Sheila Ratcliff, Betty Smethurst, Margaret Wilde, Helen Hartshorne, Jane Griffes, Georgina Milton, Georgia Cherryholme and Annie Stanley. I wonder if any of the above remember me?

My first job on leaving school was at Hansonís clothes shop in Castleford Market. A lady named Maureen Wallis was in charge and on the first day she gave me some emery paper and a cardboard box containing hundreds of rusty hatpins and told me to clean them. I enjoyed working there and had many a laugh trying on all the hats and coats etc.

I remember Colonels Walk had a wide pavement and we used to play all sorts of games there. Easter time was whip and top season and we used to colour the tops with different coloured chalks and then whip them so that they spun fast and created a beautiful pattern. Another game was hopscotch. We were allowed to chalk numbers one to eight on the pavement in squares and then we hopped from one square to another picking up a piece of stone in numerical order. We always had to swill the chalk away when we had finished and woe betides us if we didnít! Kick can and leapfrog were other favourite games, Happy Days!

On Sundayís we attended Tanshelf Mission in Newgate. The Superintendent was Mr. Kendrick and the Sunday school teacher was Mrs Thrall. The highlight of the year was the Sunday school outing to Roundhay Park in Leeds where there was an open-air swimming pool, which we thought, was marvellous. Then there was the Sunday school anniversary which was held once per year when we learned new hymns and every child recited a poem in front of an audience.

My mother Hilda Unwin, was one of two cooks at the Red Lion Hotel for many years, in fact one or two women from Colonels Walk worked there. The proprietors were Mr. and Mrs Smith and the Housekeeper was Miss Thursby. Many well-known celebrities stayed there and I got quite a few of their autographs. My dad worked down one or tow of the local collieries until he had to come out through ill health. I remember him organising a street party on Coronation Day. He collected money every week towards the party and all the children in the street were given a coronation mug and memorabilia of the day. Not many families had television in 1953 but Mrs Battye at the local newsagent had one and a lot of people went into her house and watched it there. I was one of them.

Referring to Mr. Hardcastleís letter in the July edition of the Pontefract Digest, my Uncle Dick Pugh, used to drive one of his fatherís lorries for many years until he went to live in Blackpool. Uncle Dickís family still live in Blackpool and they also read the Digest which they find very interesting and informative.

I married a soldier and have travelled extensively and now live in Colchester but I visit my relatives in Pontefract quite often. I still love the smell of liquorice and love to stand outside Dunhillís breathing in that lovely aroma. I have the Digest delivered every month and thoroughly enjoy reading it. Congratulations to every one involved with it and long may it continue.

Gwen Ullman


 

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