The Nostalgia column with Margaret Watson

Margaret Watson.
Margaret Watson.

THE best thing about readers submitting their own memories of old Dewsbury is that their recollections often remind us of things we may have forgotten.

Their reminiscences also prompts other readers to come forward with their memories, and soon, week after week, we are able to record some fascinating pieces of social history.

BATLEY JAZZ CLUB: The smallish man in the middle is John Kilburn. The man behind him looking as though he is resting his head on him is John Cooper. Tony Hudson is at the right of them in the white shirt and dark tie making an equal triangle of heads. Barry Jackson is on the extreme left.

BATLEY JAZZ CLUB: The smallish man in the middle is John Kilburn. The man behind him looking as though he is resting his head on him is John Cooper. Tony Hudson is at the right of them in the white shirt and dark tie making an equal triangle of heads. Barry Jackson is on the extreme left.

The other week, former Hanging Heaton milkman, Ronnie Ellis, delighted readers with his memories of the days when he and his dad had a milk round in Batley Carr.

He mentioned the many pubs which once existed there and also the shops and mills, which got a response from other readers eager to share their memories of Batley Carr.

Peter Gibbard last week wrote about the bomb which blew up his house in Old Bank Road, Dewsbury, during the Second World War.

Others have since written about another bomb which fell in Wakefield Road, killing a man working at Ridings Pit.

There was also another bomb dropped in Savile Town round about the same time which resulted in other fatalities.

It seemed enemy planes were trying to blow up the railway goods yard which once stood on land where stores like Sainsbury’s now stand.

Hopefully, I will be able to research more details of these tragedies and include them in forthcoming articles, all thanks to readers coming forward with their memories..

This week I received an email from Tony Hudson, a former Wheelwright Grammar School boy, who now lives in South Africa.

He remembers the rich culture which once existed in Dewsbury, and sends this delightful picture of a group of “Likely Lads” enjoying a night out at Batley Jazz Club.

Tony contacted me after reading Ronnie Ellis’s memories of Batley Carr which made him remember all the times he walked through this village on his way to his father’s place of work – A.N Cook – in Bradford Road.

Tony was born in Staincliffe in 1936 and moved to Mirfield when he was four years old, later attending Wheelwright Grammar School.

He did, however, have a strong connection with Batley Carr where his father, Eric Hudson, was a partner in the textile company of A.N Cook.

Many people who walked on Bradford Road in those days will also remember the firm.

I certainly do because I was always entranced by the lovely leaded window on which was inscribed the name A.N. Cook.

How many times did I wonder what these initials stood for, and now I know, thanks to Tony. They were the initials of his godfather, Arthur Norman Cook.

Tony writes: “It was with a certain degree of nostalgia that I read Margaret Watson’s article about Ronnie Ellis’s memories of Batley Carr.

“My schooling commenced at Dewsbury Wheelwright Grammar School in the kindergarten class which was situated in the girl’s grammar school. This later moved down the road to the boy’s school in Birkdale Road.

“It was from here that after school I used to cross over Halifax Road and wend my way down to my dad’s company in Batley Carr.

“After work, as a real treat, he would take me down to the Playhouse Cinema in Dewsbury where we had high tea in the cafe there.

“It comprised mainly of beans on toast or egg and chips, a real treat at that time served by a waitress in the standard black dress and white apron.

“After tea dad would take me into the cinema to watch the likes of Betty Grable and Harry James or early Abbot and Costello films.

“I remember some of the places I used to visit as I would walk from Dewsbury along Bradford Road.

“The first shop I came to was an “outdoor living” shop that sold tents of all shapes and sizes, primus stoves, knives, everything one would need to go camping.

“From this shop, for my birthday, I was bought a small ridge tent in which I spent many happy hours camping on our lawn.

“Just past this shop on the left side of the road was the company of S. Beaumont, another of our family friends.

“Apart from the textile activity in Batley Carr, there was also the cycle shop of  Bill Hargreaves who had an original Penny Farthing cycle outside his shop, and I always wondered if anyone knew how to ride it.

“As I grew older our school modified our hours of attendance which meant we had Tuesday and Thursday afternoons free, but had to make this up by attending on Saturday morning.

“A crowd from our form used to go to the roller skating rink on a Tuesday afternoon. It was closed on Thursday afternoon for skating as it was being prepared for the evening function –wrestling.

“Stars at that time were Jack Pye, Hassan ali Bey, The Farmer and the Farmer’s Boy.

“This eventually came to an end when the building was sold and became the site for the Batley Variety Club.

“I remember while at school experiencing all kinds of music available locally from the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra to brass band concerts and loud dance band music as I passed the record department f J W Thornes at the bottom of Daisy Hill.

“Best of all was a live session listening to the Johnny Dankworth Seven with an 18 year old Cleo Laine.

“This was above Burton’s Tailors in Batley. I guess the owners were jazz fans like me because I also heard Tito playing there with Terry Devon. How’s that for name dropping!

“From time to time I have to visit England and Dewsbury and I enjoy walking through the places I used to know and frequent.

“Even though times have changed I see that Dewsbury has kept pace of the times.”

l If you have memories and photographs to share, please contact me via email at