The Nostalgia column with Margaret Watson: More tales from old Reporter files

Margaret Watson.Margaret Watson.
Margaret Watson.
My article last week, which consisted of a collection of small articles from old Reporter files, received a warm reception from many readers who asked for more.

Therefore, I publish another collection of stories which in themselves are too small to form an article but put together make interesting reading

They all give interesting glimpses of life in Dewsbury when the town was able to run its own affairs and even choose its own chief constable.

The following articles cover the years 1928 to 1955:

Wonder clock comes to Dewsbury

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In the window of Diss’s jeweller’s shop in Dewsbury, is a clock which winds itself up and needs no attention except once every 150 years.

This amazing clock runs for generations without any form of human aid, least of all winding, and must not be oiled or cleaned or interfered with in any shape or form.

It is called the “Atmos” clock, and once it has been delivered it is simply placed on the mantelpiece and the clock can be relied upon to do the rest.

The only thing the clock doesn’t do is to go on an hour when summer time comes into force and go back when it ends.

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These are the only two occasions during the year when the clock should be touched. It doesn’t lose time or gain time and behaves itself perfectly.

The secret of this remarkable timepiece is that it “runs on air”. A change in temperature of two and a half degrees centigrade is sufficient to provide 41 hours power for the clock.

The first clock of this particular type to be brought to Dewsbury can now be seen in Diss’s shop window, Market Place.

Dewsbury man’s proud record

Mr James E. Hemingway, of Stonefield Street, Dewsbury, who retired on Thursday from the service of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, boasts that during his 45 years service with the company he has never been absent a day for sickness.

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A native of Dewsbury, he has been employed by the old Lancashire and Yorkshire and London, Midland and Scottish Railways as a goods porter, checker and goods foreman.

He says he still feels remarkably fit, but when asked if he could give any advice as to how to maintain good health, he smiled and produced a tempting apple saying: “I’m very fond of these. That is all I can say”.

More police needed

Acting on the recommendation of the chief constable, Dewsbury Watch Committee resolved to appeal to the Home Secretary for sanction to increase the strength of the Dewsbury Force by the addition of ten men.

The strength of the Dewsbury Force at present is 64 men and nine officers, but more are needed due to the increasing demand of the police for road duties caused by new regulations.

Lamplighter walked 150,000 miles

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Mr George William Sykes, of Back Russell Street, Westborough, has been a lamplighter for 46 years, succeeding his father, the late Mr John Sykes, who lived in Dewsbury Moor, and who took up the occupation in 1860, and followed it for over 30 years.

Mr Sykes, who is to retire, said in an interview that he started with the “stick” when he was 20 years of age but his working career had begun when he was only nine when he went to work at Fenton’s mill as a piecener and stayed working in local mills for the next 11 years.

“The lamplighter’s job seemed to appeal to me and I began assisting my father who lived until he was 87 years old” he said.

“I was appointed a lamplighter to the Dewsbury Corporation 45 years ago and have rarely been off duty for ill-health.”

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Mr Sykes’ district embraced the greater part of Dewsbury Moor and Westborough, and in recent years he lighted and extinguished 74 lamps daily.

The work involved walking four-and-a-half miles a day, and he estimated that during his service he walked no fewer than 150,000 miles.

He said he had never met with any startling experiences, but often he had been wet to the skin.

By reason of his occupation Mr Sykes is one of the best-known figures in the Westborough and Dewsbury Moor districts.

Pit disaster survivor dies

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One of the last two survivors of the 1893 Thornhill pit disaster, Mr John Garfitt, of Wells Road, Thornhill, died on Saturday.

Mr Garfitt, who was 82, was born in Thornhill and lived there until his death. He worked in the pit until 1913 when, as a result of an accident had to retire.

In his younger days, he played cricket for the Old Roundwood, Thornhill, Thornhill Edge and Denby Grange.

He was also a member of Thornhill Edge Working Men’s Club and Thornhill Parish Church.

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In the accident, when 139 miners were killed, Mr Garfitt was thought to be dead, and it was two days before he was brought to the surface.

The only survivor of the disaster now is Mr Friend Senior, formerly of Thornhill, and who now lives with his daughter in Buckinghamshire.

○ Send your memories of bygone days around the Dewsbury area to [email protected].

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