Nostalgia: From the archives

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In this week 30 years ago: Thieves stole irreplaceable antiques to the value of £3,600 from Red House Museum at Gomersal – a theft which left the staff baffled.

Detective Chief Inspector George McKeating, head of Dewsbury CID, said: “The thieves have been selective in what they took, but I don’t know if they knew what they were after before they took it.” The items stolen included a full-sized harp, a quantity of 19th century furniture, six china figures, a chess table, a dumb waiter, a teapoy, a nest of three tables, a grandfather clock and an 18th century globe with stand. The items were taken from several rooms, but no damage was caused. Assistant curator Stephen Chaunce said that although the stolen items were worth nearly £4,000, they were not the most valuable. Some were not even antiques.

Fresh applications for 5p TV licences for all pensioners were to be made by Kirklees Housing Services Committee which, if refused, could have been taken to the High Court. This followed the refusal of the National Television Licensing Office to grant concessionary TV licences to retired people living in council properties. Previously 5p licences were only available to OAPs living in sheltered accommodation.

In this week 50 years ago:

A 29-year-old Heckmondwike man, George Rose, of Top Hill Estate, was recovering in Batley hospital after an accident at work which one of his colleagues described as a “lucky escape”. Mr Rose was working in Cook Lane, Heckmondwike, for demolition contractors pulling down a property in the area. With workmates, he had secured a rope around the wall when part of the building came down sooner than expected, causing masonry to fall on Mr Rose. Swift action from workmates resulted in Mr Rose being helped into an ambulance which took him to Batley Hospital with head and shoulder injuries. A spokesman at the hospital confirmed Mr Rose was “quite comfortable”.

A local vicar claimed many people in Heckmondwike were paying excessive rents for sub-standard housing. The vicar of Heckmondwike, the Rev John Wallis, wrote in the September issue of the Heckmondwike Parish magazine: “The slums are being attacked, and will continue to be attacked with increasing vigour whoever gets in. “But people today are being charged excessive rents for sub-standard housing and have no redress. “I have come across this in Heckmondwike.

In this week 75 years ago:

Dewsbury’s public libraries were booming in 1939, as a report from a local committee said there was more demand for library services than ever before. According to the previous year’s annual report, library use would grow during 1938/39, and the Dewsbury Public Libraries Committee said its “prophecy” was coming true. More than 235,000 people borrowed from lending libraries in the town over the financial year – 39,587 more than the previous year, and more than 10,000 registered readers were on the books. The previous year’s report had predicted: “It was a year of outstanding progress in Dewsbury Puiblic Libraries, both from the point of view of reorganisation and the number of books consulted.”

Work started on the provision of public shelters in Batley for the possibility of future German air raids. The report claimed good progress was being made in the work of constructing six shelters on the Ward’s Hill Estate, which would accommodate up to 300 people. It was the aim to create enough shelters to cover five per cent of the population of Batley – about 2,000 at the time. Other sites that were being earmarked for the area included gardens and basements, including the cellar at Batley Public Library.