Down Memory Lane 1912-26
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Down Memory Lane 1912-26
Barwicker No. 14
First I will take a walk down Workhouse Lane, inside the
railing. The triangular top-piece was made out of soft wood and any
graffiti was put on this top rail in those days. It was innocent
stuff, by pencil and knives, mostly initials of teenagers. Vie
always looked to see if there were any new names. My initials
were the only ones with three letters - A.E.H.
Then, at the end of the railing, I turned to the right, crossed
the lane and hopped over the stile. There was a footpath that led
to the foot-bridge over the bottom beck, but I went down the fence
because that was where the meadow-sweet flowers grew. To some
people the fragrance was too strong but not for me Also in this
field grew dog-daisies, a terrible name for marguerites. I have
never seen better in any garden. Then I cross the beck over the
footbridge and go up the fence that runs at right angles to the
beck. Here I stand under a large oak tree. I look up to see if
King Charles II is hiding up there. No, I can't see him!
I then go back to the beck towards the workhouse where there
is a tree with a small hole in the trunk. That is where I got the
biggest shock of my life. After poking my finger in the hole, I
was stung by a hornet. A bee's sting is bad, a wasp's sting is
worse and a hornet's sting is worse still. I go back to the hedge-
row where the oak tree is, go through an opening and to the spring
in Reed's field. I put my finger in the cold water and have a
drink. Then, I pass Reed's sheds, cross Dark Lane and head towards
the Leeds-York road. Dark Lane turns towards the workhouse. I go
ahead; between the path and the hedge running parallel to it; it is
about 20 feet in between. There are a lot of blackberry bushes,
also honeysuckle, yellow and white, and blue and white.
Then comes my special spring, hidden from sight and joining
another beck, that joins the bottom beck near Potterton Lane
Bridge. This is Copple Syke Spring, Joe Gelderd's "crystal spring".
It is that clear, just like crystal, and all the stones are covered
with green lichen. The water is so cold it affects horses in
summertime. It has a pumpimg system that sends water up to Syke
House Farm. The system works automatically. The water has to
drop a certain height to force the water up to the farm. The shaft
going down was overgrown. The pump, an Onga, made a bang as it
worked. That was more than 70 years ago and the firm still goes
on. Their motto was "An Onga pumps water for life!"
Now I cross the beck on stepping stones and start walking up
the Long Tongues. a narrow stretch of grassland between a hedge
and another small beck, covered with trees and bushes, running
parallel. The grass is 2-3 feet high, with just a path. In the
field to the right was where you could find mushrooms. The path
leads on to the Leeds-York road near Kiddal Hall.
|Dark Lane from the footbridge.
Next morning, it is near daybreak and I all! going to find
mushrooms and I want to be first. I am a bit scared going down
Dark Lane. I cross the beck, past Reed's sheds and go into the
first field and it is now light enough to see. This small field
belongs to Armitages and I always find a few mushrooms there. Now
Dark Lane turns round to the left, but I know how to get across to
the next field. I always do well in this field. One morning while
I was searching for mushrooms in this field, a man came and said
to me, "Why don't you go to the 18 acre field? I can see mushrooms
from here. Let me have this lot." The 18 acre field owned by
Kiddal Hall was the largest field in the district and only used for
grazing. I was only young and took his advice. The 18 acre field
was a quarter of a mile away. Although he was lying, I filled my
bag with mushrooms.
The hardest thing is to get to the 18 acre fieldj only a small
person could get through the hedgerow on one side and the stream
that runs down to the spring with the pump. Also it is owned by a
rather unpleasant man, Fred Brown, a farmer with an attractive
housekeeper. While Fred was in the Gascoigne drinking, some of the
local men would be having a drink with the housekeeper. Fred did
summons one man for trespassing but lost the case because he did
not have a sign board up saying "Trespassers prosecuted". So he
put up the sign where nobody could see it!
The most interesting walks follow the becks. That is where
the centre of the natural environment is. I go down the Boyle and
turn right to the pathway between Tankard's house and a row of
cottages, the last house of which I think was Stead's. On the left
side of the pathway is a house owned by Wildbloods. At the end of
the path is a field named "The Banks". It has a footpath on top
and a slope downwards to the beck and a path that follows the
beck. It is a large piece of land where nothing ever grew. It has
greyish looking soil. Now the beck has one deep hole where the
hardy ones could swim; Roly Lovett was one. Also some boys had an
imaginary fort amidst some trees and shrubs on the top, with the
beck below. On this stretch nearing Potterton Lane was a hedgerow,
running parallel. It was a very high hedge and it had some
plum trees in it. Alongside the beck were some hazel-nut trees.
To continue to follow the beck, we had to cross Potterton Lane
above the bridge. There was a gate painted white at the bottom of
the hill. This part of the beck was the most interesting of the
lot. It had deep pools where trout lived. The only one who ever
fished to my knowledge was Mr Kempton, the man who started the
tennis club. He had some knowledge of trout fishing, also he had
rods and lines, etc. and I showed him where the trout were.
In 1931, when my wife and I were in Barwick, I took her and
showed her all the interesting things. I would say, "If we go
slowly around this next bend, we may see a trout jump out". Some
fish we did see but not all trout. They jump out to catch flies
and other insects. Hence the fly fishing!
Another time I said, "Around this next bend, the grass is
different. It is a short type of grass and this is where the
ground birds nest and the best is the skylark." To see and hear
this small bird on a cloudless day is something I shall never
forget. It starts its journey upwards, going higher and higher,
singing all the time and beautiful to see. It goes so high that it
is hard to see and hear it any longer. Then it eventually comes
down, still singing, till about 15-20 feet from the ground, it
makes a swift dive. A sight for sore eyes!
Now we have come to the point where a footpath leads to the
end of Shoulder of Mutton Lane. Sometime in the twenties, an
aeroplane made a forced landing near this pathway. No-one was
hurt nor any damage caused. That was the only time we saw an
aeroplane. We did however watch for a balloon that used to go up
in the air from Roundhay Park on August Bank Holiday Monday. We
had to look from Hall Tower Hill to the right of the workhouse.
Sometimes we could see it if the wind was in the right direction.
Now back to the beck. I cross the beck on stepping stones
into George Schofield's farm. It used to be Dransfield's. On the
other side of the beck is a patch of what we used to call wild
rhubarb, exactly like garden rhubarb, only it was green. We could
crawl through it without being seen. George Schofield was Billy
Robshaw's uncle so I felt at ease on this property. There was an
apple tree, not a crab apple, but a bit smaller than an ordinary
apple. Also there was the best holly tree; it always had plenty of
red berries. I also used to know where you could find mistletoe,
but I cannot recall where.
Coming back to the beck, I go on to a willow garth, on the
same property, where we could get our bows for bows and arrows.
It was the only place in the Barwick district. I go on nearing the
place where the Potteron Beck joins the Cock Beck. Now I'm on the
edge of the Barwick area. So I cut across from Potterton Beck to
Cock Beck, where a ditch runs from one to the other. In this ditch
grows water cress. I always take some home for Dad and Mum. I
myself don't like it. Just on from the ditch is a piece of swampy
ground, with tufted grass, where the plovers made their nests. As
soon as anyone approached their nest, they would move to another
spot and fly up and down and make a noise to distract anyone from
Now I wend my way home on the Cock Beck side and reach the
Aberford Road above the bridge. Looking up to The Avenue, up the
slope with bushes, etc. is a fascinating picture. Before I end this
part of my story, I have to tell you about the water hens on all
the streams and becks, where they make their nests. The most
interesting aspect is that they are extremely clever in selecting
the most inaccessible areas and if disturbed they stay under the
The next walk I take is for a start to go down Aberford Road.
The first field on the left is where the football was played and
where the best crocus flowers grew. But I start my walk on the
field to the right where my stream starts. I follow this stream
down to Cock Beck, past the filter beds. The stream runs down to
the bottom of the garden allotments, so we had water laid on. My
father had two allotments and always had a row of rhubarb on the
bank. When the stream became low, in the summer time, each
gardener would dam the stream so that they could dip a bucket in.
Now I follow the Cock Beck towards Garforth. This is a very
interesting stretch of countryside. You have Parlington Woods on
your left, where the bluebells grow. On the slopes you can also
find violets. I keep on going till the beck enters Parl1ngton
Woods. Then I go up to the hedgerow where the pheasants and
partridges have their nests. This is where I saw Teddy Collett
pull out a rabbit. Then I wander back to where the lane starts
that comes out near the beginning of Garforth Road.
Flowers like primroses, cowslips and the tiny scarlet pimpernel
grew all around, also wild roses. My father would find a good
stock of a wild rose bush and graft a standard rose onto it. It
was not unusual to see herbalists from Leeds "fossiking" around the
roadside for herbs. Goodness knows what they would have found on
some of the walks. Many folk gathered cowslips, rhubarb, nettles
and parsnips to make their own wine. My father and John Ingham
made their own wine, also crab apple jelly.
My next walk is the one on the banks of the beck down Rakehill
Road. I start where the stream runs under the bridge near the
workhouse. The steep slopes on the left makes a perfect picture.
This is only a short walk but it is where the best fox-gloves
grow. I finish at the water fall, where the trout are plentiful.
So ends my everlasting memories of the Barwick countryside.
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