Nostalgia 1976: Match made in heaven for collectors

Beer trucks spills load in Soothill, Batley.
Beer trucks spills load in Soothill, Batley.

Some people collect stamps, others collect coins, but in 1976 a couple shared their unique collection of matchboxes.

Melvyn and Brenda Mortimer, of High Street, Morley, started collecting matchboxes when they realised just how many different designs there were in the matchmaking world.

Married with four children, the pair worked as stewards at the South Queen Street working men’s club for two years.

They started collecting the boxes after noticing customers left behind some unusual designs.

The couple had around 250 boxes, which were glued to the door in the bar at the club.

They told the News customers regularly brought in boxes they thought the pair would find interesting.

Melvyn’s friends and family would also send the couple rare boxes from their travels around the world.

Brenda, who first started the collection, had the responsibility of mending the broken boxes and gluing them to the door.

She said: “It makes a good advert for Bostick because that is the only glue that will stick them on the door securely.”

The craze of collecting the boxes was being passed onto their children - 15-year-old Paul, Linda, 13, and 11-year-old Elaine.

Melvyn said their youngest child, three-year-old Neil, was too young at the moment but he expected him to soon be hunting for different designs for the family collection.

Children from across the district helped give a train station a new lease following a trip to Cleethorpes.

Heckmondwike Central Station had been closed for around a decade following the scrapping of the steam engine.

The former Yorkshire railway station took 200 children from Norristhorpe Primary School on the trip to celebrate the school’s centenary.

Revival of rail travel from the town was the brain child of vice chairman of Norristhorpe School Parent-Teacher Association Ronnie Taylor.

He hoped to prove that a profit could be made from outings from the station so eventually British Rail would take over the running of trips.

Mr Taylor had already begun plans for another trip to Scarborough for the youngsters.

Also in 1976, there was trouble brewing in Soothill after a beer truck spilled its load.

Residents witnessed the runaway lorry loaded with 1,000 gallons of beer overturn at the junction of Soothill Lane and Rouse Mill Lane.

The vehicle narrowly missed Jessops factory after it approached a sharp bend at speed.

Driver David Wilson and passenger Ken Field, both who lived in Leeds, were both flung through the windscreen as the lorry went over and hit a traffic sign.

Both men escaped with only slight injuries.

Chief Inspector H Jones said that the driver had lost control of the lorry as it descended the steep section of Soothill Lane.

He added: “He did well to avoid crashing into the wall of Jessop’s Tailors.”

Traffic was not seriously affected, but one lane was blocked for several hours.

Gallons of beer was spilled and flowed down the hill into drains.

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