West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
 
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Pontefract Memories and Recollections

PROSPECT FARM

HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED ON MONKHILL LANE.....

by MARION TOMLIN


Prospect Farm, Pontefract

My father Joe Raine standing outside the gates of Prospect Farm just weeks before it was demolished.
Photograph submitted by Marion Tomlin

How things have changed on Monkhill Lane, which some years back was known as Newtown. What used to be the farm known as Prospect Farm where I was brought up is now a housing estate and the only thing that remains is the duck pond which is now a feature that is fenced off.

My granddad, William Raine, ran the farm up to his death in 1954. It was then my dad Joe Raine took over and we moved in to the farmhouse where we had lots of happy hours. My brother Dennis worked on the farm along with my dad. They both worked very hard and long hours. My Dad Joe worked for my granddad from the age of 13 years old and worked the land with horses as it was well before the days of modern farm machinery.

From the start of our days living at the farm I remember my Dad going out in to the fields to hoe at 5 o’clock in the morning and being out in the harvest field until 9 o’clock at night. The only break he had was for dinner from 12 o’clock until 1 o’clock. My mother used to do a lot of baking and took apple pies and jugs of tea to the field late afternoon. He often used to come in at 9pm and go for a couple of pints to the Railway Hotel at Monkhill which was the old Railway Hotel then and I remember a couple called Teddy and Hettie Bastow ran it. I remember my Dad buying an old bus from George Beckett to store corn in but that never happened as me and my friends made it into a house and put curtains up at the windows and used orange boxes for chairs. I remember one day in the school summer holidays we decided to wash the curtains in an old bath of water that the horse used to drink from. We fixed a line made of string across the stack yard, hung the curtains out and within an hour my Dad and brother came in the yard with a load of straw to stack in the barn so we had to remove the washing dripping wet through.

Prospect Farm Pontefract

My Dad, Joe and my brother Dennis at work unloading with a tractor.
Photograph submitted by Marion Tomlin.

During the school holidays we used to have a picnic round the duck pond and when it was half-term in October I used to go potato scratting to earn money for the fair. If I remember correctly I got ten shillings for a weeks’ work but I can honestly say I enjoyed it. I also used to go out hawking with my Dad on the horse and cart selling fruit and vegetables – all the veg he had grown himself. I used to get half a crown for working Saturday. We went round Monkhill, Prince of Wales Terrace and Ladybalk.

I will always remember one year being a very good year for cauliflowers and because it was a hot summer once they were ready for cutting they had to be sold while still white and we went to Airedale one Friday night. I had to go knocking on doors selling them for three for a shilling and I must say we came home with an empty cart.

At that time in the 1950s the slaughter house was straight opposite the farm and sheep were brought down the road guided by a couple of men for slaughter. My dad used to keep a few cattle and pigs. When he used to take them to Doncaster market to sell I sometimes went with him but if I didn’t go, me and my mother would be waiting for him returning to see if he had had a successful day, which he had on a lot of occasions, but he had his bad luck days too.

He worked on the land with a shire horse called Tommy who he got from an advert in the Yorkshire Post from a lady called Mrs Newton in Leeds who rescued animals from slaughter. The agreement was to let her have him back when there was no longer any use for him. Sadly that day came when tractors took over and Tommy had to go back. When the cattle wagon came to take him away my Dad couldn’t bear to watch him go but in the end he had to assist the chap who came to collect him as he wouldn’t go in the cattle wagon until my Dad led him in, which was a sad day for us all.

My dad and Dennis still worked the farm even when my dad was in his eighties, but after losing my mother in 1993 he seemed to go down hill. My brother Dennis struggled to keep it going alone and he had to retire at the age of 65 where it all ended with a farm sale in 1994. By that time my Dad was confused and didn’t realise what was happening and he unfortunately passed away in 1996 aged 92, unaware, we believe, that it was the end of Prospect Farm.

Marion Tomlin (nee Raine)


 

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