Down Memory Lane 1912-26 Back to the Main Historical Society page
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Down Memory Lane 1912-26

Barwicker No. 14
June 1989

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 the nest.

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 nest.

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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