Village Web Site Forum

Denis Marshall Pickles
Monday, February 18, 2013 18:50
Air Raid Wardens 1940
It can’t be 73 years since that photograph of the Sutton-in-Craven Air Raid Wardens was taken! But it is, and I can remember such a large number of them so clearly. Despite my protestation that I am not old enough to be as old as I am, I guess I must be! The photograph triggers so many memories of my childhood and youth in Sutton. Many of the men standing on the steps of St Thomas’ Hall were neighbours and fathers of the boys and girls I grew up with.

On the back row in the middle, there’s George Wilcock [not Wilcox] We lived next door to the Wilcock family in Hazel Grove. After service in the Fire Service and the Royal Navy, George and the family emigrated to Canada shortly after the war, . His children, Brian, Peter and Christine remained lifelong friends. Brian and I keep in touch - easily done these days of e-mails and cheap telephone calls. He still retains more than a trace of a Yorkshire accent so I always know it’s him on the line. Sadly Peter and Christine are no longer with us. Also on the back row is Harold Baker. For a while, probably when this photo was taken, I was of the firm belief that Harold would be my father-in-law. I was in the same class at the Council School as his daughter Mary when Mary and I became engaged. We were in Standard 1, Miss Padget’s class, and Mary and I were delegated to stay in at ‘play time’ - to fill the ink wells or something! Anyway, I was coerced into kissing her little finger and she reciprocated after which she told me that we were engaged to be married! I was scared stiff! I daren’t tell my mother. But I learned that you have to be careful of the opposite sex.
Also near the back, is Alf Mitchell who lived on Ash Grove. Alf was the chauffeur for Col. Bateman and it was Alf who taught me to drive as soon as I was 17 yrs old. In fact I could drive before I was 17. We were living in Bent Lane then and my father had a pre-war Wolsley 12 hp. Alf taught me in the field behind our bungalow [where Yeadon House stood] Excellent tuition - double de-clutching, three point turns, the Highway code. I passed the test first time. Next to Alf is Fred Birtwhistle who lived in Bent Lane. I’m afraid that we used to annoy Fred and Ida by playing ball against the cement rendered gable end of his terrace house. And then there’s Alan Barrett, father of Robert and John. They lived on Holme Lane. Robert and I were in the same form at the Grammar school. The Barrett family were ’big in t’ Chapel’ and very keen tennis players. Alan’s brother Frank from Boundary Avenue, also on the photograph, featured among the tennis players. I recall with much pleasure the times we spent on the tennis courts in the Park. Alan, Frank and Raymond Clough, taught youngsters how to play, encouraged them and organised tournaments for players of all ages and abilities.
Reg Allen lived in the detached bungalow at the bottom of Bent Lane. He had a grocers shop in Utley and a pre war Austin car - fawn in colour and polished to perfection. It can’t have done much mileage during the war, petrol being rationed, but it was kept in pristine condition. In fact the bonnet was polished so much that the top coat of paint had been worn away revealing the undercoat. His son Brian was one of the Hazel Grove gang and the proud possessor of numerous Dinky cars which travelled the earthen tracks which we carved and dug into Robinson’s Dog Field at the top of the ’New Road’ [Hazel Grove Road] Simple pleasures!

Cyril Midgley, the father of the twins Ruth and Jean lived in Hazel Grove. He was the manager of the Co-op. Ruth and Jean were about 5 years older than myself and I remember that when I started the Grammar School in 1945 I carried my books in a satchel which Jean no longer required. I also used to borrow the twins super-duper sledge whenever it snowed and used it both in Thompson’s field [near the 1900 bridge] and in Wallbank’s field up Crag Lane. Edward Greenwood, the Naturalist, was the father of my friend Peter Greenwood who sadly died when he was only 21yrs old. George Catterall worked in Bairstow’s Mill in the little gate office near the Sand Park. George was a Liverpudlian with a very strong voice - Alan’s dad. I think he served in the navy in WW1.
Donald Laycock lived in the terrace of houses near the bottom of Crag Lane. His son David contributes quite frequently from down under and his son Alan Laycock has had an illustrious career as an artist. Hugh Spencer and Walter Schoon lived in Hazel Grove Road. Sheila Spencer, she with the golden curly hair, was one of my playmates before the war. I wonder what happened to her?
Yes, it’s a great photo - one which for me stirs up so many happy memories.

David Laycock
Thursday, February 21, 2013 10:28
Hi young Denis,
What a great review of that photo. Yes, I also have it at home and I have looked at it many times to see who's who. It looks better on the screen?
Andrew Monkhouse
Hanoi, Vietnam
Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:41
Yes, an excellent historical account Denis adding more depth & meaning to this superb 73 year old photo. The fact that they are all named makes it that much better, a real piece of Sutton history.

They look to be a proud lot, many of them wearing their Great War medals, and look at the shine on those shoes!

One can't help but wonder what was going through the minds of these Great War veterans in 1940. To have served and survived the horrors of WW1 only to see their efforts for peace last for a mere 21 years must have weighed heavily within their hearts & souls.

Times were EXTREMELY uncertain in 1940 and nobody was welcoming war having already gone through so much during WW1. Plus there were additional lurid accounts of modern warfare in the press relating to the recent Spanish Civil War. Each one of them is wearing a shoulder strap-bag containing a gas mask. Worrying times indeed.
Terry Longbottom
Thursday, May 2, 2013 22:37
Denis. its not tommies hall its the institute steps.
Anthony Hattersley
Thursday, May 23, 2013 18:40
Nice to see someone who can place all the wardens.
Harold Baker was my step-grandfather and Mary my aunt. Sadly she passed away a few years ago although the man she eventually got engaged to properly and married Ed Moore lives in Gargrave. Her brothers Harry (Hattersley) Alan, and Harold (who taught at the Primary School) have also passed away.
Anthony Hattersley
Friday, May 24, 2013 08:37
Inadvertently missed off the list uncle Leslie Baker who left the village in the 1940's. Anyone remember him? I'm sure his children would like to know any memories of him
Denis Marshall Pickles
Friday, May 24, 2013 11:46
I'd almost forgotten this post. I re-read the original again today after seeing that there had been comments left by Anthony Hattersley and Terry Longbottom. Do you live at the Valley Farm Terry? The Pickles family were there prior to WW1. Sorry I got the location of the photo wrong. From memory, I couldn't think of any other place it could have been taken other than St Thomas' Hall, but I hold my hand up. I guess I was wrong.
I knew Alan Baker, Mary's brother, quite well although he was a few years older than me. He was a big lad who played rugby for Skipton and then after he moved away to teach, he played for Leicester. For a few years we were members of the YPF at the same time. I fondly remember a story relating to Alan. He was a contemporary of John Stanley Bell and Cameron Hill from Crosshills. The story goes that the three of them planned to have a day out hiking up the dales. They arranged to meet [I think it was on Holme Lane]. Alan and Cameron turned up suitably clad in shorts boots and sweaters carrying their lunch and bits and pieces in a haversack and waited for Stanley. He eventually arrived wearing a sports jacket and flannels and carrying his sandwiches in a carrier bag. Not quite the image of keen ramblers that the other two wished to display.
I don't remember Leslie Baker. Not quite old enough I'm afraid.
Denis Marshall Pickles
Sunday, May 26, 2013 21:05
Sorry Terry. I made a mistake. My family lived at Wood Vale Farm prior to WW1, not the Valley Farm.
Tony Ingham
Monday, May 27, 2013 07:58
Hi Denis, the 1911 census say's The Pickles family are living at Long House Farm. with SARAH SMITH WILLIAM PICKLES son in law
EMMA PICKLES daughter.
Denis Marshall Pickles
Monday, May 27, 2013 10:16
Thanks for the extract from the 1911 Census Tony. I had in fact made a mistake - they are becoming more frequent these days I'm afraid! My grandfather must have moved from Long House to the 'Smelt' sometime after the census was taken. The date of the census was 2nd April 1911 but on 7th November of that same year, in the documents which accompanied the sale of farms and land belonging to Miss Emma Hartley of Sutton Hall, William Pickles is listed as the occupier of Wood Vale Farm. Incidentally, where is Valley Farm?
Tony Ingham
Monday, May 27, 2013 11:15
Hello again Denis, where is Valley Farm?. It's on top of Valley Hill.
Up the Ellers turn left onto Strikes Lane then turn right 20-30 yards up Strikes Lane, and that brings to Valley Farm, where Terry will be waiting with a hot pot of tea, or something a little stronger.
Terry Longbottom
Monday, May 27, 2013 13:40
Hi Dennis living at Longhouse your predecessors had they lifted their eyes to the east would have had a good view of Valley farm. Tony is a little off the mark ”Adams ale” is all we have up here, I signed the pledge with Walter Thompson in the fifties, you had to if you wanted to watch the magic lantern show. butt you will still be wellcome.

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