By Sid Pickersgill

The war years brought changes. Rationing tops the list. We had Air Raid Wardens, to make sure that there were no naked lights showing at night. Arthur Pickersgill was Head Warden. There was also the Home Guard, who practiced on the pit waste at the top of the hill. Mr. Palfreyman was the Commanding Officer.  

Here I must bring in the Pigeon Fancier, Jonny Durham. I loved to get into his home and see the photos of his prize winners. Others were Joe and Jack Illingworth, Mr Jones, I forget his first name, Peter Dacre, and Frank and Bill Craven, the Kale Brothers from Moorhouse, and Des Spur. I have just been for my hair cut, and on the way I met Patricia Abson. I don’t know her married name, she was born at number 4. We had a good chat about the old Village. I told her how I used to give Polly Butterfield’s door a knock and then run down the village, until one night I got to the Chapel gates and this white figure grabbed hold of me, “got you, I’ve waited a long time for this.” I was shaking from head to foot, remember there was a black out, and her in  a white pinafore did not help. She did tell my parents, that was another bad experience.  

My Mother who was born in Norfolk, arrived in Yorkshire as a chaperon to the wife of a retired Ranking Army Officer, who acquired the house on Aberford Road, now a nursing home. When the war came, he was recalled, so Mother had a choice to go back home or stay as a chaperon to the new people who were moving in, a Dr Tocher and his family. He wrote and asked her father to let her stay and he agreed to the delight of my mum who was now walking out with my father. They married   and went to live in 2 Bottomboat Road. The next doctor to arrive was Dr. Merrick.   

At the age of 18, I was called up to do national service or seek employment at the local mine. I chose to go into the Army. I had to report at Sternal Barracks in York and after my training I was sent on a course to Black Moor Camp, Great Melvern. When I returned I was put into my own shop as an equipment repairer, with promotion to L/Corporal In the 1st Battalion THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON REGIMENT, now the YORKSHIRE REGIMENT. My two years increased to three because of the Korean War.

I returned home and resumed where I had left off, returning to work at the now William Lambs Footwear Company and we were now making a lot more heavy boots than when I left. Next came the football boots, I wish I had as many pounds as pairs of football boots I have cut out. Then came the children’s sandals, and men’s shoes.  Coming back was just like re-joining the family. Here I met and married my first wife and lived at number 43, next to the Post Office, now run by Eric Dale. My next door neighbour was Mr. thorp. We had two boys while living here, Martin and Terrance. From this address, I emigrated to Australia for three years, returned and another son Robert was born. The family had now moved to Outwood. I was now working at the New- market Colliery where I enjoyed the comradeship of the other miners. When I left, I started work at the West Riding Automobile Company. I Parted from my first wife and remarried my present wife, Joyce, 41 years ago.  I’m sure, like me, many others have pleasant memories of their Bottomboat childhood days. I can still put names to everyone in the village at that time. Mr John Jackson had the first television and he allowed the local children to watch it on Saturday afternoons.    

I once visited the home of Mr. and Mrs. Heaton. On the end of the sideboard near the door was an ornament of a man’s head with a face on both sides, one was smiling the other frowning. I asked why? She said her husband smoked a pipe and when he had no tobacco in the jar he would turn it to a frown to let her know. When she put some in, she would turn it round to the smile. I was a lot older when I realised how devoted this couple were.

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