The Nostalgia column with Margaret Watson

Margaret Watson.
Margaret Watson.

WHETHER we like it or not life is changing, and it will keep on changing because that is what life is all about.

The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, have all changed since we were children.

GREAT MEMORIES: A much younger Ronnie Ellis, seated on front row, is pictured with members of Ebenezer Methodist Church Drama Group, Hanging Heaton.

GREAT MEMORIES: A much younger Ronnie Ellis, seated on front row, is pictured with members of Ebenezer Methodist Church Drama Group, Hanging Heaton.

We wanted nice houses to live in (who doesn’t?) but this meant leaving our close-knit communities where everyone knew each other.

Then we started shopping in supermarkets, where food was cheaper, and so the little corner shops closed down.

Later, when televisions came on the scene, the local cinemas and theatres fell out of fashion, and so two theatres and five cinemas in Dewsbury alone closed down.

Sunday shopping became legal, and so we stopped going to church in great numbers, preferring to go shopping instead, and so many churches closed down.

Men stopped going to the local working men’s clubs because it was no longer their cup of tea, and so the clubs had to close.

The same happened with the pubs because it is now cheaper to buy drinks from the supermarket, and so the pubs closed down.

We stopped writing letters to friends because we could contact them more easily by texts or on Facebook, so most of our post offices closed down.

Today, when life is speeding up at a far greater speed than ever thought possible, thanks to computer technology, we sit back and watch the fabric of our lives being re-arranged brick by brick.

It is true that most of us have benefitted from many of the changes taking place – I couldn’t be writing this column without my computer and the Internet – but we have still lost a great deal.

And we cannot really point the finger of blame at anyone for the good bits we’ve lost because we did sign up for it.

These changes came and most of us threw ourselves wholeheartedly into them because they were improving our lives, just as our children are now doing with new technology.

But at least our generation can take comfort from remembering the good things of the past.

We can turn to nostalgia, writing our memoirs, or watching the old black and white films on our cinema sized television sets.

Over the years I have tried to cling to some the old ways, and it was only recently that I relented and bought a mobile phone for £30 at Sainsbury’s, and I still don’t possess a microwave.

But one thing I’ve stuck to tenaciously over the years, is having my milk delivered to the door, a tradition which has almost died out.

My milkman for many years was Ronnie Ellis, who now at the age of 90, still lives just round the corner from me in Hanging Heaton.

He still helps out at Ebenezer Methodist Church, where he once took an active part in their Drama Group productions, which I’m delighted to say is still producing concerts and plays.

This week, Ronnie has written of his memories of life as it used to be in Batley Carr, where as a youth he helped his dad on their family milk round.

It was reading his memories which prompted me to write what I have written this week. Here is what Ronnie writes:

“Batley Carr in my younger days in the 1930s and early 40s, was a village where you could buy almost everything you needed without travelling to Batley or Dewsbury.

“There were butchers, bakers, greengrocers, grocery stores, shoe shops, drapers, tailors, cafes, jewellers, hardware stores, post offices, barbers, newsagents, chemists, a cinema, off licence shops and numerous corner shops.

“It was a thriving community and employment in the form of woollen mills was on the doorstep, including Fentons, Newsomes and Joshua Ellis’s mills.

“There were also many rag warehouses, brass foundry and an engineering workshop, whose blacksmith was also a farrier who took care of the horses of local tradesmen.

“There were two dentists and a doctor’s surgery plus five churches and a pawn shop. The number of public houses in the area was quite unbelievable.

They included The Albion and The Clothiers Arms, situated on Bradford Road on either side of Town Street.

“In Town Street, between Dale Street and King Street, was the Carr Hotel, the headquarters for many years of Batley Carr Rangers Rugby Team.

“The landlords of this pub were former rugby league players, “Plonk Rhodes”, Joe Lyman and Billy Blan, spring to mind.

“Further along Town Street and on the corner of Mill Road was The Junction, and just off Mill Road and into what was known as the “Irish Fold”, was a small pub named The Globe.

“Off Mill Road and on David Lane was Batley Carr Working Men’s Club, always a busy place, and on the right hand side of Mill Road stood the Saw Inn.

“Turning back and up into Upper Road, on the corner of Lidgate Lane, was The Commercial, and on a side street on the right of Upper Road stood The Cherry Tree. At the top of Batley Carr was The Shoulder of Mutton.

“Last on the list at the bottom of Albert Street was The Cambridge Arms, which was the last call of the day on our family milk round.

“My father always stopped there and had half a pint before driving his horse and milk float back to the dairy.”

If you have any memories of the villages you once knew or photographs taken there, please contact me via email at tresham3@gmail.com.

I would be very pleased to hear your stories from past times.