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Barwick Highdays and Holidays

Barwicker No. 20
December 1990

Just before the First World War, the Chapel held a Sunday School picnic, the only one of this kind that I can remember. It was a one day trip to Scarborough, on a special train from Garforth. I don't know if other Methodist chapels were involved or maybe we had one carriage. I still remember the unusual smell of the sea; so beautiful. It was the only time that I saw the sea till I got on board ship to Australia. It was a wonderful day for us kids; a ride on a donkey, building sand castles and knocking other kids' castles down and following the swell of the sea and running back when the sea came in. When we got back to Garforth late into the night, Joe Geldard's son was there to meet his father with a pony and trap and I was that tired after such an exciting day that I could hardly keep awake, so I held onto the back of the trap till it turned off the road near Joe's house. I can't remember how I got home.

I recall the scene shown in the picture on Page 9 of 'Bygone Barwick'. I can also remember the driver Syd Wilson. The village school every year had a trip to York, cost two shillings, in a wagonette and four horses. Syd would bring the horses out and put on a big act, making the horses look like wild horses. 'vie would stay for a break at the Wild Man, half way to York. Then we would go around the main spots - York Minster, the railway station, the four bars of the city walls. On our return to school, we would write an essay on our trip.

Every year on the nearest Sunday to "All Saints' Day", Barwick Feast was held. There was a travelling show with swings, roundabouts, coconut shies, etc. They would use the small field past Reeds' sheds on Potterton Lane for the show, It was a good time for us to earn a shilling as it was potato scratching time for young boys and women at Leyfield Farm half way to Aberford. There were two men, Sam and Joe, who used to do the round every year and they camped in the blacksmith's shop in Helm's yard behind the Gascoigne Arms. They had a fire to do their cooking and were very good at relating stories. The show would arrive on a Friday, with their horse-drawn caravans. 'We would bring a few cloths which they used to polish up the brass work and for that, we would be given a free ride. What with the steam engines in the centre plus the stirring music they played, an exciting atmosphere was created.

They had the coconuts in large cups on the top at pegs. If you could hit one, you were given a coconut. The tent was dimly lit with one paraffin lamp. The idea was so you could not see well. (maybe Horace Robshaw) would sleep in the tent. I lit a lamp with the result run for that, as I was chased out of the show and disappeared into the darkness.

Another annual event was a troop of boy-scouts from Leeds, every Easter. They would march down the Main Street, with bugles and drums playing, then down The Boyle, down over the bottom beck, down Dark lane, then into Reed's field, past their sheds and camped near a spring of cool fresh water.

Eventually a boy scout group was formed at Barwick. Mrs Childe of Potterton Hall was patron, but it was not a success and did not last long. Roland Lovett and I were the last members. Mrs Childe had taken all the equipment and tents etc. and after a period of time, she asked Roly and me to pick up all the gear, and take it for own use. We made use of a large round tent and set it up near the spring. It had boards made to fit inside to place on the ground. So Roly and myself, Roly's cousin, Harold Wilson and another lad (maybe Horace Robshaw) would sleep in the tent. I loved sleeping there. One Sunday, we slept in and I heard the church bells ringing. They seemed to say, 'Come to church. Come to church. Come to church'. We thought it would be a good idea, so we went and continued going.

Another source of amusement was the silent black and white films at Garforth. We could go to the penny rush on Saturday afternoons or in the evening 8-10 pm.. Two shows for tuppence! They showed up to four or five different films like a one-reel comedy of Charlie Chaplin or a two-reel drama of Mary Pickford or a cowboys and indians film.

One Saturday afternoon, Billy Robshaw and I got a job to do for Uncle George Schofield in Potterton Lane, to clean out some pig sties, which had about two to three feet of dung. Well, we did not want to miss the pictures, so we had a snack, but there was not time to get washed and changed. Smoking was common and no-one was aware or were told about the harm that it did. As the crowd warmed up, they commenced to move away from us and as the smoke became more dense it became more difficult to see the screen and we sat there all on our own surrounded by people sniffing, smoking and coughing. Billy and I were that innocent, we did not know what it was all about. We were only kids. I laugh every time I recall the incident. Of course, if you want a good seat at the theatre, clean some pig sties out first, but don't change your clothes or have a wash.


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