THE FOSTER FAMILY OF BARNBOW PART 2 Back to the Main Historical Society page
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from The Barwicker No.74


In Part 1of the Foster Family we saw how Percy Foster came to Honesty Farm at Barnbow at the age nineteen to live with his grandfather and then took over the farm. Percy and his wife Hephzibah had eleven children, six boys (Craven, George, Frank, Tommy, Percy & Arnold) and five girls (Laura, Mabel, Dorothy, Joan & Betty).

Some Scholes and Barwick residents will remember the two eldest sons, Craven and George, who were market gardeners and had a greengrocery round in the villages during the 1950s and 1960s. They rented farmland at Barnbow and kept their farm machinery there all their working lives until 1981.

Percy and Hephzibah also had twenty-one grandchildren. As one of their grandchildren, who grew up at Barnbow during the 1950s and 1960s, it has been a pleasure to write this and the previous article of country life "down the lane". My thanks go to all those relatives who have helped and contributed in some way. Special thanks go to George Foster and his daughter, Rosemary and my cousin Susan, Frank Foster's daughter.

The Fifties And The Sixties When Percy Foster left Honesty Farm in 1947, his son Frank Foster was able to buy it from the owner, John Thomas Thompson. Frank Foster and his family then moved from Springfield Cottage into the farmhouse. Frank still continued to work for Mr Appleyard on the land near Lower Barnbow Farm, but also became George Foster's partner in the greengrocery round.

Lower Barnbow Farm had been owned by the Walker family since 1929. In addition to farming the land, they also grew rhubarb out of season. This ''forced rhubarb" was grown in brick sheds, which were dark with a low roof, and specially built for the purpose. The sticks of rhubarb tended to be thinner than normal and paler in colour. The rhubarb plants were unable to sustain the somewhat artificial conditions each year. Hence they were put outside in the field for a season and the resulting rhubarb left unpicked.

Percy and Hephzibah's third eldest daughter Dorothy, who worked in the office at Aberford Motor Company, married Tom Kitchen an architectural draughtsman from Seacroft. Initially they lived with Tom's parents before moving to Barnbow. In 1953 they set up home in a cottage, which they had built near the farm, and Dorothy continued to live there until her death three years ago. Dorothy was well known for her knowledge of the countryside and her hospitality with relatives and friends.

The early 1950s also saw a number of other new residents coming to Barnbow. The Claytons, the Shaws and Bert Harrison came from Leeds. George Young and his mother moved from Holme on Spalding Moor, having sold their farm there for building land. In 1953 Barnbow had electricity for the first time. At Upper Barnbow Farm Henry Nicholls and his son Arthur were now able to keep more milking cows, since they had electricity to run the cooler.

Before electricity came to Barnbow, Frank Foster's wife Peggy would cook and bake on an old black range in the farmhouse kitchen and boil pans on the fire. There was no hot water and bath time was a tin bath in front of the fire. The toilet was still an earth closet at the bottom of the garden. However the early 1950's saw quite an improvement in the amenities at Honesty Farm. A calor gas cooker and a gas boiler for washing were installed and the room above the kitchen was converted to a bathroom.
Frank and Peggy's elder daughter Susan has vivid memories of her childhood at Barnbow

"In the morning I loved going and watching the cows being milked. I had the cream from the top of milk on my cereals. I use to go mushrooming with my Mum. I can still remember how it felt - the mist across the damp dewy fields, the smell of the mushrooms and Mum cooking them for breakfast when we arrived home.
I use to love coming home from school when it was harvest time. There was a lot of activity and noise in the back yard with the threshing machine and all the men working hard. I remember taking drinkings consisting of tea, sandwiches and cake in a basket with tin mugs.
My Dad rented rhubarb sheds and a field next to Springfield Cottage from Mr Appleyard. I remember the feeling going into the dark sheds, which were very quiet and eerie and had an unusual smell."

Sadly Frank died of cancer in 1955 and his wife two and a half years later. Peggy's three children then went to live with her parents at Crossgates and the farm was sold. The new owners of Honesty Farm were Gordon and Hazel Duffill a young couple from Leeds. Gordon had a full-time job and only had time to work on the farm, along with his father, during evenings and week-ends. Despite this he achieved a great deal in the five years he was there.

In 1963 he had the chance to buy his uncle's farm near Malton. Honesty Farm was auctioned and bought by Terry and Edith Rafferty. It was during this time that a number of new buildings and pig sties were erected in the farmyard along the boundary of Barnbow Lane. The Rafferty family left around 1969 and there have been two owners since.

The 1950's and 1960's was a time when many pig breeders relied heavily on swill to feed their stock, and Barnbow was no exception. Leftovers from school dinners at Scholes school and from cafes would be collected on a daily basis. Certain vegetables such as small potatoes and beetroot would also be boiled in large vats. The main pig breeder at Barnbow was Eddie Clayton and his son George of Elmet House. Their weekday began with a journey in the van to Littlewoods cafe‚ in the centre of Leeds to pick up bins of waste food.

Craven and George Foster rented part of a field next to Honesty Farm from Claytons. They built wooden sheds there, using some timber from Springfield Cottage, which had now become a derelict ruin. They kept their farm machinery and equipment there until 1981. The sheds were then taken over by Chris Bowman, a local market gardener, for the next fifteen years before he moved to larger premises.

George Foster and his wife Norah.

In 1956 Craven became George's new partner in the greengrocery business. They bought a walk-in Commer van and the round grew bigger with a wider range of goods. They were delivering three and a half days week and working on the land two and a half days. They also sold biscuits and pre-packed cakes from the van. On Tuesdays they would go to Leeds fish market early in the morning so they had fresh fish to sell to the customers. As well as being brothers and partners in business, Craven and George were also neighbours for a number of years living in Nook Road in the Arthursdale district of Scholes until Craven and his wife moved to Lyndhurst Crescent.

They stopped the delivery round in 1970 due to legislation, which stated that they could only continue if they had a washbasin with a water tank to wash their hands regularly. The cost of equipping the van to meet new regulations was going to be too high. They continued to grow vegetables, but sold them to the market instead of private houses. When Craven had to stop work due to severe arthritis, George sold vegetables direct to shops and supermarkets and he continued working until he was seventy.

Craven and George were not the only ones to deliver to the neighbourhood. Jack Tillett, who worked for Wildbloods Butchers of Barwick, delivered meat on a Tuesday and a Friday. Laurie Tinsley, who had a grocers shop at Morley, also delivered groceries twice a week. Some groceries such as lard and butter were sold loose, wrapped in greaseproof paper. After he retired in the early 1970s, Laurie and his wife Meg moved to Scholes and lived opposite The Barleycorn. The younger generation of Barnbow would look forward each week to Laurie bringing packets of Smiths crisps containing the little blue bag. At that time the nearest sweet shop to Barnbow was Townsley's Garage, now the Tyresave Centre. The shop, which was at the back of the garage forecourt, was an old railway carriage.

Life in the countryside for the children of Barnbow meant roaming in the meadows, walking down Barnbow Lane and Bog Lane, with their abundance of wild flowers and playing in the streams - Carr Beck and Cock Beck. The journey to Scholes school was a two mile walk or bike ride. Although Barnbow is midway between Barwick and Scholes, and in practice there is a choice of schools, the children of Barnbow continued to follow in Craven Foster's footsteps for fifty-five years attending Scholes School instead of Barwick. This tradition was eventually broken in the 1970s when two families from Taylor Lane (Claytons and Staples) sent their children to Barwick School.

"I remember the opencast coal mine that started in 1956 on land belonging to Upper Barnbow Farm. (See 'The Barwicker' No 70). The mine employed a night watchman who was disabled. He used to come to work on the bus and get off at The Coronation Tree. He would then walk with two walking sticks along Bog Lane to the mine. This stretch of Bog Lane was not the country lane, with its overgrown verges and wildflowers, which we know today. Instead it was a dusty, worn access road, sometimes littered with pieces of coal that had fallen from the lorries. Sometimes we would pick up the pieces of coal and take them home for the fire.
On one occasion a large dumper truck tried to access the mine via Taylor Lane. We became aware of this when we noticed the mark it had made on the boilerhouse of Elmet House which is one of the narrowest parts of Taylor Lane.
From the back garden of our cottage we had a view of part of the mine. One day we noticed a fire in a workman's hut. My father and I rushed down the lane to see if we could help, but the Fire Brigade had arrived before we got there. On another occasion two lads from Seacroft had decided to explore the site. They came to our door covered in mud and one of them had lost his boot."

Now after over forty years there is very little evidence that the mine ever existed. The changed landscape is well established and the new trees that were planted are now mature. To a great extent, time has stood still at Barnbow in the last fifty years. The number of dwellings is more or less the same. The cottage near the site of Barnbow Hall was demolished about forty years ago. Springfield Cottage is now completely demolished and in the 1960's a bungalow was built on Taylor Lane as a replacement. None of the Foster family now live in the neighbourhood. George Foster, who was ninety-two last year, now lives near his elder son at Grantham in Lincolnshire. The remaining members of the Foster family live in various parts of the country. Two of them live abroad, one in Jersey and the other in Canada, and it is unlikely they will visit Barnbow again.


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