West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
 
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Pontefract Memories and Recollections

MICKLEGATE YOUNG PEOPLE
IN THE 1950s


by RICHARD MOSELEY

Micklegate Methodist Church Youth Club Pontferact

This wonderful photograph above tells a lot. A happy group of young people and close friends about to set off for the day to Scarborough in 1955, all belonging to a thriving Youth Club and Church. The church is the one that burnt down in August 1965 and which has now been replaced by a lovely modern building. I would like to thank two close friends from that period; John Hanson and Max Bradley, for their assistance in completing the names. I think we got them all right. There are a few not named and sadly, one or two that have passed away. If anyone can correct any errors or fill in the few gaps, please let me know. My apologies also to the ladies, as we decided to use maiden names.

I feel sure that most in the photograph would testify that this period in the church and youth club was a very happy one; very meaningful and very influential in our lives and taking many precious memories into all our futures. I suppose everyone would say that teenage life and one's early twenties are always influential but we were so lucky to have so many enriching experiences and to be part of the group that was to become known as 'Micklegate Young People'. Here I list very briefly some of my experiences and memories and maybe one day I will write in greater detail about some of them.

Firstly there was the Youth Club on a Tuesday and Thursday. The activities would probably sound a bit boring for 14-20-year-old’s today. Table tennis and badminton played to the sounds of Elvis Presley and Bill Haley. However, it was much more than that. The galley of the church was practically full at the Sunday evening service and everything was organized so well that we went on many trips. Visits to Scarborough (photograph) Derbyshire and North Yorkshire. We went down a local colliery once! On Good Fridays we would walk to Brotherton, near Knottingley, by the scenic country road and help to take a special afternoon service in the little Methodist Church. A wonderful tea was provided by the locals, and then of course, there was the long walk back. On Bank Holiday Monday, which was then always on Whit Monday, we would take a coach to a place called Cliff College in the Derbyshire Peak District, to mix with thousands of other young Methodists in a series of services held in large marquees. Maybe it doesn't sound exciting, but it was; very thought provoking and it was also a lot of fun. Many of us went on holiday together, to places like Christian Holiday Homes in Saltburn by the Sea, Cromer, Isle of Wight, the Isle of Man and Conway in North Wales. Later on, some went for a number of summers to Porthcawl in South Wales. This was organised at first by the Reverend Walter Newby who had been the Methodist Minister at Knottingley. As well as having a wonderful holiday, many young people gave testimony to the faith they had found.
You may ask how on earth did all this get organized so well. The answer has got to be that we were lucky to have so many committed and dedicated leaders. In the photograph are Reverend Alf Beardsley and his wife. Mr Beardsley was the Minister at Micklegate at the time of the photograph. For me, and I'm sure for many others, he was the most wonderful, inspiring and Christ-like man I have ever met. His gentle personality and love of people was awesome. I remember many Sunday evenings when he would invite us all back to his house after the service. How so many of us, thirty or forty people, got in I'll never know, but it was a lot of fun and a happy, enriching time. Later on, Madge and Bob Hill did the same at their home on a Sunday and they too dedicated their lives to the service of the 'Methodist Young People' in so many helpful ways. Mr McCarthy, who is also in the photograph along with his wife, ran the Youth Club. He was an incredible worker, totally dedicated to youth work. He was a very caring and approachable person and he had that ability that many people find difficult, to actively become a personal friend of teenagers in who you could share your problems in confidence. Many did and that confidence remained inviolate. A bubbly and very likeable man, he ran the Youth Club very well. Later on, Mr Norman Buckle ran the Club and continued the good work. We were so lucky with our leaders.

As I write, more memories keep flooding back. Things like the incredible Christmas Variety Show we put on. Fairly obviously, 'Micklemania' became the name. There was even a chorus and song, words and music written by David McCarthy, our leaders son, which we sang at the start and end of the show. We performed the show for two or three nights each January, playing to packed audiences. Many of the fun sketches and musical items were of very good quality. David produced the show and it is no surprise that he went on to become quite famous with his music in the national field and taught music in a famous Public School.

Finally, I've got to mention carolling on Christmas Eve. It is almost difficult to believe that thirty or forty of us would walk almost all the way round Pontefract from 6 or 7 in the evening to almost 2.00am the next morning, singing carols outside the homes of various people. We even walked as far as Carleton! I guess it must have brought the spirit of Christmas to many people. (I'm sure it was also the start of a few romances amongst us - but I won't go in to that!)

Well as you can guess, it was a wonderful time and this photograph has brought back so many memories. I've just recently retired from my Government job as a School Inspector, and now live in the Lake District but it has been so good to find this photograph, revive the memories and of course to be a regular subscriber to this amazing magazine. I visited Pontefract Micklegate Methodist Church a few months ago for the first time in about forty years. It was so good to find it still thriving, full of many good people (some of them old friends, with not too much emphasis on the 'old') There's a new building programme planned with lots of new ideas in the pipeline. If you are in the photograph and you haven't been to Micklegate recently, you'll find a great welcome and a warm fellowship. I think I'm allowed just that little bit of unobtrusive evangelism! If anyone out there would like to share some memories, do write or e-mail me. In addition, why don't you write an article or send a photograph to the new Pontefract and Knottingley Digest Magazine.

Micklegate methodist Church Pontefract

In conclusion, I found this other remarkable photograph (opposite) taken in exactly the same place but at least 30 years earlier, perhaps in about 1923. I can see my mother and two of my aunts before they were married, as well as my Grandfather, George Sainter, who was Mayor of Pontefract in 1932. Do you recognise anyone? It would be great if we could name some more people and find out the reason for the photograph.

Richard S. Moseley
Email: ckm (at) ukgateway.net


Digest Magazine for Pontefract and Knottingley in West Yorkshire Micklegate Young People in the 1950s by Richard S. Moseley was published in the Digest Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2, August 2007.

 

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