My Yorkshire childhood - Judy Lower

PUBLISHED: 15:39 05 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:04 05 April 2013

Judy with her mother Rene Marshall, photographed and hand painted in about 1938 by Alice Longstaff of Hebden Bridge

Judy with her mother Rene Marshall, photographed and hand painted in about 1938 by Alice Longstaff of Hebden Bridge

Judy Lower remembers, in remarkable detail, growing up in the Calder Valley during the 1940s.

I was born in a nursing home in Manningham Lane, Bradford on 5th March 1937. My parents Ronnie and Rene Marshall then took me home to Mytholmroyd, to the house shared with my grandfather Herbert Culpan and a live-in maid.

Dad was the works manager of Moderna Blankets and one of my earliest memories is of standing on a desk in his office, in a beautiful blue dress, singing Twinkle, twinkle little star to the mill staff. I also remember being taken to a garden party and falling in hot road tar down the lane, both breaking my doll and ruining a white dress with red smocking.


In 1940 my Dad was called up to enlist in the navy and spent a very cold spell wearing his boots in bed at Butlins in Skegness before being sent down to Gosport to work in the stores. Life continued to be happy for me, helping grandpa mix mash with hot water and bits of broken pots to feed the hens.


We were never short of food as grandpa boiled up old hens and an occasional pet rabbit in the kitchen. We walked down to the village for pies from Pinders the bakers, tripe from the tripe shop on the wooden bridge by the station (which we ate raw with vinegar), and - best of all - my weekly two ounces of sweets, when there were any, from Willie Whiteleys shop. There were apples stored under the maids bed, and occasional black market pork, when we kept the windows shut so that neighbours wouldnt smell anything.


My friends Denny and Peter Robertshaw from Cragg Road and my best friend Gertrude Popplewell used to love to come and play in our garden, especially in the summer where we were let loose in the kitchen garden to eat gooseberries from the 50 berry-laden bushes. When a semi detached house across the road came up for sale grandpa bought it for mum and dad for 500 - lock, stock and barrel (and even a condiment set!).


At five years old I went to Stubbins School in Hebden Bridge. Everybody respected Miss Stott the infant teacher who told me I couldnt sit at the back until I knew the alphabet.


I very much wanted a baby sister, but my mum told me that Rommel was marching across Africa, and it wasnt a good time to have babies. However she must have changed her mind because in December 1944 I was sent to stay with my cousins, Christine and Valerie Culpan, in Cragg Vale. Aunty Irene came into the bedroom one morning and informed us that I not only had a baby sister but a baby brother as well.


On Christmas Day 1944 dad brought mum and baby Edward home, Lynne wasnt thriving so had to stay in hospital longer. Mum had a nurse to help her with the babies but there were arguments as to who had the cream on top of the milk.


My cousin Valerie and I were then sent to Princess Mary Junior School in Halifax. At seven years old we caught the bus for the five miles to Queens Road, crossed the road and walked up to Parkinson Lane.


In January 1947, in the coldest winter of the century, the idyll ended when I was sent to boarding school in North Wales. For seven years I lived for the holidays when I could return to the Calder Valley, and home.

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