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Work in Return for Toffees

The Barwicker
June 2015

This article is based on Tom Freeman's memory of life in the 1920s Aberford. It is taken from a newspaper, now looking dull and old and undated. So I have no idea of which paper printed it nor can I remember where it came from although I guess it must be from one of our members. So who was Tom Freeman? If anyone has any further information please let me know.
Whenever he could young Tom Freeman wouldjoin his Great Uncle to collect a ton of coal from Peckfield Colliery to Aberford. Their cart was pulled by a shire horse named Bonnie.
The journey began by going down Pump Hill crossing the bridge over the Cock Beck and past St Ricarius Church to the top of Bunkers Hill. After passing through Hook Moor following the road to the old village of Micklefield they went under the old echoing railway bridge which carried the trains from Leeds, Cross Gates and Garforth to such places as York and Scarborough. To a young boy in the 1920s such places sounded very distant and romantic. They then turned right off the Great North Road into Pit Lane.
Before nationalisation Peckfield was a thriving colliery. In his article Tom states that he was very proud to be able to tell the weighman every time they visited 'This is where my father works'. The front board 'seat' was removed during the outward journey and replaced with sacks to sit on. The cart was manoeuvred into the correct position under a chute. Great Uncle pulled a lever and a great cloud of black dust and coal fell extremely noisily into the cart. Some of the coal was as large as a football. They then took the cart back to the weighbridge to check they just had one ton.
On the journey back to Aberford young Tom sat on sacks between lumps of coal. One of the highlights of the journey was the customary stop at a little shop near the Bland's Arms in Old Micklefield. Pipe tobacco for uncle and a pennyworth of sweets for Tom. As with most children Tom always took his time in making such an important decision as to what to choose. However he always ended up with Mayfair Toffees, and got four for a penny; each toffee being individually wrapped.
Once back on the journey the road went uphill to Hook Moor and Tom had to be lifted down and walked. He was told it was to lighten the load for the horse but he had his own idea that it was to teach him a sense of responsibility towards animals as prior to mechanisation on farms people were reliant upon the use of animal power.
Once back in Aberford Bonnie would be unharnessed and led to the water trough for a well earned drink prior to munching her way through hay from the rack in her stall. Great Uncle and Tom would likewise cross the stockyard for their own lunch.


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