FURTHER MEMORIES OF TANSHELF
DURING THE LATE 1940s – EARLY 1950s
by MAUREEN HOLT
reading the first issue of the Pontefract Digest it brought back many
fond memories of Tanshelf.
was born in 1939 at 9 Colonel’s Walk, Tanshelf. I had a brother Terry
and a younger brother Michael. My cousin Gwen Unwin lived at number
thirteen. We all attended Tanshelf Church of England School where the
Headmaster was Mr. Lee (a very strict teacher!) I remember Miss Ackroyd,
a teacher who lived in Wakefield Road. Both she and Mr. Lee moved on to
Love Lane School. Mr. Lee was replaced by Mr. Wright. I still have my
school report from Tanshelf School dated July 1951, the form teacher was
Mrs Bridget McHardy.
had some happy times in Colonel’s Walk. Our house was two up and two
down, we had no hot water and the toilet was at the bottom of the yard.
I used to dread going there in the dark. We had no electric, only gas
lamps and candles. I remember Braunds Electrical Contractors installing
an electrical supply at a cost of £15-19-6d. I still have the bill. My
mother paid ten shillings a week until it was paid off.
had some good neighbours who all helped one another in times of trouble.
Tanshelf had a good community spirit.
street had a corner shop. At the bottom of our street was the fish and
chip shop where Mrs Bessie Beaumont and Mrs Mabel Ellis worked. You
always had a good laugh when you went in there. Opposite the fish shop
was Tonks shop. Many a time we had been playing rounders in the street
(men included) and somebody had sent the ball into Tonky’s shop and
knocked the pop bottles over. Another game we played was skipping, with
a clothes line the full width of the road.
Walk was all cobbles and every winter, after a fall of snow, it became
the venue for sledging from top to bottom. It was like a sheet of glass
until the council workmen came and salted it or one of our parents came
out with shovels full of ashes and threw them all over the road.
holidays were spent mainly on Pontefract Park. We would take bottles of
water and jam sandwiches and spend all day there. To get to the Park we
used to go down Colonel’s Walk, under the railway bridge and over the
farmers field. You came out near the new shopping area (Halford’s
etc). We crossed the road and climbed the stile into the Park.
favourite place was the Swimming Baths on Headlands Lane. It cost a
penny for the small baths and we were there as soon as they opened. Mr.
Coley was the baths Superintendent and the two Mrs Naylor’s took your
money. Many a time my mother had come looking for us and Mrs Naylor came
to the bath side and told us we had to come out. We used to pretend we
were Esther Williams. There were no doors on the cubicles, which were
round the bath side, so someone would stand in front of you with a towel
whilst you got changed. Happy times. They used to hold swimming gala’s
and water polo matches there which were very well attended.
Saturday mornings we always went to the Crescent Cinema on Ropergate. It
used to be called ‘Uncle Tom’s Saturday Morning Club’. He used to
have us all singing "I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts"
before the picture started. If we did not go in the morning we would go
in the afternoon to the Premier. It cost four pence at the front (you
always ended up with a stiff neck if you sat there) or six pence a
little further back. There was always a serial; Batman, Superman or
Flash Gordon, and of course a Cowboy.
in the morning the miners on their way to the Prince of Wales Pit used
to come down Colonel’s Walk. The irons on their clogs used to strike
the cobbles and make a ringing sound and then the ‘knocker upper’
used to come round with a long stick and knock on the windows of men who
wanted an early call.
in the August holidays we used to collect bonfire wood mainly from the
Park Side and drag it home where it was put on the roof of the coal
houses. We used to keep guard against ‘raiders’ who came frequently.
All the families used to congregate and everyone contributed mushy peas,
toffee, roast potatoes (skins burnt black from the fire) and fireworks.
used to go on Club trips (Ex-Servicemen’s and British Legion) to
Bridlington, Cleethorpes and Scarborough where we always bought a rolled
gold ring which made your finger go green and a ‘Kiss me Quick’ hat.
All the buses used to line up on Headland’s Lane. If your dad was a
member you received pop, crisps, and an envelope containing money (I can’t
remember how much) My dad was not a member so my Uncle used to put our
names down and my mother paid for us. They were wonderful days out.
first Thursday in November was Statis night. The fair was held on the
fairground in front of the South Yorkshire Motors Garage. Tesco’s and
the car park now occupy the site. It was a sight to behold, steam
yachts, wall of death, waltzer, big wheel, caterpillar and boxing to
name a few of the attractions. It was always well attended and very
enjoyable. The fair used to stay a fortnight and a lot of the children
from the fairground attended Tanshelf School. The same families came
every year and we made friends with many of them.
remember the Green paper as mentioned by R. Dawes in the 4th Pontefract
Edition. My brother played all sports and he used to run down to Mrs
Battye’s paper shop every Saturday for it.
now live in Knottingley and have read the Knottingley edition of The
Digest from the very beginning and thoroughly enjoy reading it, so I was
pleased when the Pontefract edition was published. Reading about
Tanshelf brought back a host of memories of the old characters and the
happy times we had down ‘Tansh’.
Maureen Holt (nee O’Hara)