The Fighting Forties…Life in and around Brighouse over70 years ago…a presentation given by Chris Helme BEM…
The 1940s were marked by a sense of unity andpatriotism, even as thousands found themselvesdispersed around the globe, serving their countrywith honour and distinction. When the warended, these heroes returned home to theirsweethearts, jobs, farms, and family. Although someof the old stories from the 1940s are somewhat"heavy," many are encouraging, light-hearted andrich with life lessons learned.Through this presentation I hope to capture some ofthose moments from yesteryear…Thank you
The history books tell us that the morning of Sunday the 3rd September1939 was bright and sunny. At ten o’clock the BBC told its listeners tostandby for an announcement of national importance. Every fifteenminutes listeners were told that the Prime Minister would make anannouncement at eleven-fifteen.Music and a talk on "How to make the most of tinned foods" wasbroadcast in between, and then came the Prime ministers announcement:TRACK ONE
The realisation of a Second World War gettingeven closer to Brighouse had drawn nearer inJuly 1938 when a Home Office van drove upClifton Common and into Clifton. The time hadcome for the folks at Clifton to be shown how tofit and try their new gas masks.Whether it was a random choice or for someparticular reason Brighouse along with the rest ofthe Calder Valley had been selected as one of anumber of areas in the West Riding to implementAir Raid precautions, we don‟t know..Why Brighouse what did it mean? This was thequestion many people were asking. WasBrighouse on Hitlers master plan as an area tobe bombed first; was it the local industry thatcould be a possible target? These were just someof the reported comments and rumours doing therounds.
Austere times were ahead little did people know then for just how longTwo advertisements that would become very familiarduring the war years – particularly when rationing began on the8th January 1940
Parades through thetown centre were goingto be held quite oftenthroughout the waryears.This parade is in MarketStreet in 1940 and iswinding its way to theopen space where thetown centre market washeld and in later yearswas the site of the busstation and is nowoccupied by theWellington Arcadeproperties
Crowds gathering for open airpublic meetings during timesof national interest.(Left) Market Street c1940(Right) Thornton Square c1915
Brighouse Police Station 1950s – thiswas opened in 1865PC 747 Tom Denny was promoted to bethe Sergeant at Hipperholme Policesection during the war years
The Police Station in PoliceStreet in an obvious state ofreadiness and the samescene in 1969 when it wasdemolished . This street wasre-named Lawson Road afterit was re-developed, namedafter Alderman GilbertLawson MBE who was onBrighouse Borough Councilfrom 1929 to 1969
The Police Station is ready – the fast response vehicle is onstandby – note all the war time notices
The Special ConstabularyDuring the Second World War members of the Special Constabularywere trained to deal with a range of eventualities such as first aid, theinitial co-ordination of the security at aircraft crash sites, clearingpeople from the vicinity of unexploded bombs, handling of unignitedincendiary bombs and checking compliance with lighting regulations.
1949 – a presentation ceremony at the Brighouse cricket club forthe members of the Special Constabulary in Brighouse
The Brighouse Air TrainingCorps 1943This group of young men aremembers of the Brighouse ATC(Air Training Corps) with thosemembers that are still aroundwill now be well in to their 80sand they all played a part inbringing the Second War to anend. It was in 1938 when the AirDefence Cadet Corps wasformed. Towards the end of1940, the government realisedthe value of this cadet force andtook control of the ADCC. It wasreorganised and then renamedand on the 5th February 1941the ATC (Air Training Corps) wasofficially established with KingGeorge VI as the AirCommodore-in-Chief.
1942 – the boys of the 394 (Brighouse) Squadron Air Training Corps which didsuch wonderful work in preparing enthusiastic young men for the RAF. Thecommanding officer was Capt George Turner MC, the adjutant was MrHouseman (head master at Hipperholme Grammar School) and engineeringofficer was Sam Warhurst. Second from the right on this photograph is JohnShort who was the photography officer and was a specialist photograph atA.H.Leach photography at the time.
New recruits and officers for the Air Training Corps c1943
Auxiliary Wartime Fire BrigadeThe Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) was first formed in 1938 in Great Britain as part of CivilDefence Air Raid precautions. Its role was to supplement the work of brigades at locallevel. In this job it was hampered severely by the incompatibility of equipment used bythese different brigades - most importantly the lack of a standard size of hydrant valve.The Auxiliary Fire Service and the local brigades were superseded in August 1941 by theNational Fire Service. Members of the AFS were unpaid part-time volunteers, but could becalled up for whole-time paid service if necessary.
The Auxiliary Fire Service – Hove Edge styleNote the ingenuity when it came to locating a suitable vehicle as a fireengine. The HQ for the Hove Edge wartime fire service was in the barnwhich used to be behind The Pond public house.
Brighouse Volunteer First AidersThe Brighouse volunteers were connected to theSt John’s Ambulance Brigade
Hipperholme and Lightcliffe Voluntary First AidersThe HQ for these volunteers was in the cellar of the Hipperholme Library.It was also from this cellar where local residents collected their gas masks.The air raid siren for Hipperholme was on the library roof.
No one was buying carpetsduring the war years so many ofthe girls at T.F.Firth’s were movedinto the six storey cotton mill atBailiff Bridge after it was takenover by G.E.C to make kit bagsand other important equipment.This is the canteen that fed andwatered these ladies during thewar years.Some of the ladies were broughtin from Coventry to manage andsupervise the local girls.
The Astoria Ballroom opened 16 February1945 and a reported 1500 people attended.The Mayor John V. F. Bottomley C.B.E., J.Pheld a ‘Victory in Europe Ball’ on the 2nd ofJuly 1945 and as far as available researchshows this was held at the Astoria and wenton to show a profit of just over £29.It was temporarily closed in 1949 but wasfinally closed in 1956
Aspects of Commercial StreetBefore and After 1943
Inside and outsideTaylor’s Chemist, Commercial Street -1943
Tate’s Corner at the junction of Bradford Road and King Street.A corner that was for many years occupied by the Co-opMenswear Department and is now the M&Co clothing store.
The first Take-Away in BrighouseThe Bow Window was in Briggate andfirst opened as what we would termtoday as a Take-Away in 1864. It wasoriginally opened by a lady knownlocally as „Sausage Sarah‟.In 1895 it was taken over by the Stakefamily and quickly became a placewell known throughout the Borough ofBrighouse particularly during the waryears.
Rationing in BritainDuring World War II all sorts of essentialand non-essential foods were rationed, aswell as clothing, furniture and petrol.Why was rationing introduced?To make the British weak, the Germanstried to cut off supplies of food and othergoods. German submarines attacked manyof the ships that brought food to Britain.Before the war, Britain imported 55 milliontons of food, a month after the war hadstarted this figure had dropped to 12millionNational Registration DayOn National Registration Day on 29 September 1939, every householder had to fill in a formgiving details of the people who lived in their house.How did rationing work?Using the information gathered on National Registration Day, the government issued every onewith an identity card and ration book.Register with local shopsEach family or individual had to register with a local supplier from whom the ration would bebought. These details were stamped in the book and you could only buy your ration from thatsupplier.CouponsThe books contained coupons that had to be handed to or signed by the shopkeeper every timerationed goods were bought. This meant that people could only buy the amount they wereallowed.
Those Were The DaysJuly 1938: A Home Office vancame to Clifton so residents couldtry on gas masks.Summer 1938: Trenches dug inWellholme Park, The Stray and inBramston Street RecreationGround.September 1938: Air Raidprecautions described as ashambles.July 1939: Practice in WellholmePark for ARP volunteers.3rd September 1939: Declaration ofWarJanuary 1940: Rationing ofButter, sugar, bacon, meat and tea.16th May to 4th June 1940: Theevacuation of Dunkirk andoccupation of the Channel Islandsresulted in a resulted in 300refugees and soldiers arrive in thetown.Potato PancakeCooking time: 10 – 15 minutes: 4 helpings1 lb cooked potatoes¼ lb sausage meat1 dessertspoon mint and parsley chopped together1 dessertspoon mixed herbsSalt and Pepper½ oz DrippingMethod: Mash the potato with the sausage meat, add herbs, seasoningand milk to make a soft mixture. Heat dripping and spread potatomixture to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry until brown and crisp.RATIONED RECIPESThe Radio Doctor Charles Hill says:You may have heard what thegreengrocer said when a criticalcustomer asked if his vegetablescontained vitamins, “If they do” hesaid, “They can easily be washed off”.“Well they can‟t be washed off, but theycan be cooked out and that‟s a form ofwastage”.After 14 years rationing finally came to an end at midnight Sunday 4th July 1954
Those Were The Days1940: Three Spitfires appeared inthe skies over Brighouse as part offund raising for ‘Buy a Spitfire’.1940: Bombs dropped in theWalterclough Valley, no one wasinjured except one elderly lady whobroke her leg with the shock of theexplosions and fell down her stairs.1941: Women between the ages of20 and 30 called-up.1941: To help food rations go a bitfurther the first British Restaurantwas opened in Park Row.1942: Two more British Restaurantsopen in New Road Sunday Schooland Boothroyde at Rastrick.1942: Warship Week.1942: Blakeborough’s Male VoiceChoir formed1943: ‘Wings for Victory’ appealraised over £500,000. More andmore women were working torelease more men for the war.1944: £370,000 raised for ‘Salute aSoldier’.On Parade in Thornton Square
Those Were The DaysSeptember 1944: Compulsory firewatching and black-out restrictionswere lifted.December 1944: Home Guardstood down.7th May 1945: Germany surrenders– prisoners of war begin to returnhome. The Channel Islanders alsobegin returning home.1946: Worked started on the newhousing development at StoneyLane and this was just the start ofnew housing programmes in theBorough.1946: The British Legion branchdecides it is time to begin raisingfunds for a new headquarters inthe town. It would be 1957 beforethis was opened.March 1946: The last meals at thethree British Restaurants wereserved.8th June 1946: Victory Paradethrough Brighouse to celebrate theend of the war. This was followedby entertainments in WellholmePark and at The Stray.Members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service(ATS), later superseded by the Women‟sRoyal Army Corps, seen here on parade inThornton Square
Those Were The Days9th June 1946: Procession throughBrighouse to Wellholme Park for ashort Service of Praise.1946: The Brewster Sessionsreported there were 77 licensedpremises in the Borough and 18‘Off’ licences. Gradually many wereclosed.1946: Brighouse and Rastrick Bandwon National Brass Band finals atthe Royal Albert Hall London tobecome the Champion Brass Bandof Great Britain – the band marchedthrough the town to ThorntonSquare to be greeted by the Mayorand hundreds of supporters.June 1946: Brighouse Business andProfessional Women’s Club formed.February 1947: Before the war thefocal point for the community wasthe church and chapel a new spiritof community with the introductionof Community Associations one ofthe first being at Smith HouseEstate. After the war Waring GreenChapel was in the hands of theWRCC saw it converted into acommunity centre.The Ambassador Radio CompanyWhere did people hear about war news ? – newsreels at thecinema or on the wireless. Robert Noel Fitton was buildingand dabbling with radio sets in his attic at the agenineteen, once he had the confidence and felt it was time totry his hand at business he opened and began his firstcompany under his own name R. N. Fitton. His first businesswas in a property in Bramston Street on the site of the oldRamsden Baths. In those early days he had help from hisfather Robert Stanley Fitton, Jack Booth who in later yearswent on to be in charge of the assembly department andLeonard Riach. Many will recall the company when it becameThe Ambassador Radio Company.
Those Were The Days1948: A number of localcompanies decided to take agreater interest in their retiredemployees – Blakeborough’s beingone of the early ones. WithT.F.Firth’s soon to follow suit.1948: With advancement of healthdevelopments people were nowliving longer which inevitablycreated an even high agingcommunity. A rest room andshelter was opened inSouthowram for the aged men ofthe community. Otherorganisations and facilities soonfollowed this new trend.1948: A number of localcompanies decided to look afterthe interests of their retiredemployeesJune 1948: Brighouse Civic Week –Brighouse Accident PreventionCouncil awarded the inaugural titleof Miss Marie Coates (BrighouseGirls Grammar School) the SafetyFirst Queen. She was crowned bythe Rose Queen Miss MargaretRichards.1949: Waring Green CommunityCentre reported to be thriving..By 1943 the war dominatedeverything, but following bothRussia and America joining thefight against Hitler‟s „warmachine‟, the tide wasbeginning to turn.In that same year a Wings forVictory appeal raised over£500,000 and in 1944 £370,000was raised for the Salute theSoldier campaign. And then in1945 it was all over Germanysigned the unconditionalsurrender.
The War is over –Germany signs theunconditional surrenderon Monday7th May 1945
Brighouse Home Guard Band in celebratory mood at the backof the Prince of Wales (now The Ship) public house in BackBethel Street (now West Park Street)
Residents in Back William Streetoff Gooder Lane, Rastrick alsoget in the mood to celebrate
Victory at Last – the celebratory flags are out in Larkhill Terraceoff Church Lane – this street along with a section of BartonStreet was demolished many years later to create theParish Church area car park
Some of the folks from Hipperholme seen here at the side of the DominionMachine Tool Company, Denholmegate Road. Like many others they toohave a celebratory and commemorative photograph taken.‘…The war is over at last…’
Victory in Europe – VE Day – on May 8th 1945, a day that was declared as a publicholiday and although it was not the best of weather for outside celebration it didnot stop the victory celebrations. VE Day was marked in Brighouse by a parade fivedays later with a procession from the Town Hall to Wellholme Park for athanksgiving service this was followed by a march past outside the Ritz Cinema.The salute was taken by the Mayor Alderman J. V. F. Bottomley and MrsBottomley, and the senior military officer in the area Colonel R. H. Goldthorp. Thecelebrations were marred by the wet weather and the failure of some localorganisations to take part. This photograph was taken outside the Ritz Cinema.
The Victory Follies –started in Clifton by ErnestHudsonThis concert party was to beseen on stage many timesat Sunny Vale during thewar years
Mildred CrossleySunny Vale was verypopular throughoutthe war years
It was now time to rebuild broken communities, with many local familiesloosing loved ones. The sense of loss that families had experiencedbetween 1914 – 1918 was once again felt by another generation ofBrighouse residents.The town had like everywhere elseto make a new start
The 1946 / 47 Floods(Above) Wood Street(Right) Millroyd Street
Just as before the war when family life was verymuch centred around the local church or chapel so itwas in the early years after the war. Then with manyof the old communities beginning to disappearedfollowing the new housing developments societyand its needs were beginning to change.
The Prefabs arrived in Crowtrees Rastrick in 1946
The early changes to housing came in the form of the PrefabricatedHouses or ‘Prefabs’ as they were known. The first ones arrived atChapel Croft, Rastrick in 1946 and more soon followed at Whinney HillPark.
Housing fit for heroes - greenfield sites were picked out fornew housing development -Stoney Lane at Lightcliffebeing one of the first .
People were encouraged tolook at this model of thehouses to be builtThe real thing –Fairless Avenue junctionwith Heathcliffe Grove
Houses of the FutureJunction of AysgarthAvenue looking upFairless Avenue
Gradually the newhousing estate began totake shapeThe top and bottom ofFairless Avenue
Nunnery Farm was swept aside for the land tobe re-developed for housing
The vast open greenspaces were also to bedeveloped into what isnow the Field Lane EstateHighfield Road withSmith CrescentSmith Crescent
As more an more peoplebegan to move into their newhomes on the estates thisinevitably saw the break-up oflong standing communities2nd Rastrick Girl Guides 1948Most children who movedinto their new communitysoon made new friends
Smith House and District Residents AssociationIn the early post-war era the old communities that once thrived in themyriad of back to back streets were gradually being replaced with the newestates. The new residents were now being encouraged to form communityassociations.Smith House Estate was built between 1919 & 1921 and led the way with itscommunity association. Seen here with the estate gala procession in 1948
Brighouse and Rastrick Band awarded the title of ChampionBrass Band of Great Britain on Saturday 19th October 1946 andreturned to a civic reception.…and some of the band’s best days were yet to come…
The successful 1946 band included a16 year old Brighouse born cornetplayer Derek Garside. At the age of17 he was appointed as the principalcornet of the CWS (Manchester)Band and developed into one of, ifnot the greatest player of hisgeneration . Derek now aged 83 livesin the Bingley area but has notforgotten his family’s roots which areentrenched in Brighouse. I am surethat if you look amongst the crowdsat this year’s Hymn and March brassband competition you will see Dereksat amongst his old friends, watchingand reflecting on contesting days ofthe past.
The New GenerationThe war is over, whilst many have lost friends, relatives and lovedones. These are just some of the first generation of Brighousechildren born after the war – a new start….
If you would like toread a little bit ofBrighouse history Ihave a selection ofmy books availablefor purchase heretoday
The EndThe Fighting Forties – a period in historywhen everyone in our town andcommunities pulled together to over comeadversity