How my Grandma Remembers Garforth in the 1900s

(As a schoolgirl grandma was Edith Malkin)

Taken from work done by James? at the local Comprehensive School

My grandma owned a small holding in Main Street, it was situated almost opposite Fidler Lane behind the Liberal Club. On the small holding she owned three goats called Brenda, Bella and Stella, horses, chickens, rabbits and poultry. They had no running water so they had to use a pump in the Main Street. There were no toilets as we know them but there was something called a dry midden which was simply a hole in the ground.

There was a Fly Line to Aberford which consisted of one single track. There was a Catholic School in Garforth; otherwise the Fly to Aberford had to be used. To get to Leeds a pony and trap was taken to Halton and then a tram was taken into Leeds which cost 1/2d on the tram to Leeds.

To make money they used to go to Archer's quarry to collect scouring stone and then sell it from door to door. She used to say 'please do you want to buy any scouring stone? Two pieces for a penny or 5 for two pence. She made a large profit. Scouring stone was used to decorate steps. They had a tree on their land with a notice which read 'scouring stone for sale, scissors ground and knives sharpened, young rabbits for sale, fresh eggs, bicycles 2/6d to assemble yourself.

They also sold chips 1/2d and fish 1/2d. People used to ask for 1/2d (happorth-sic) of chips in two bags. They used to take the goats and horse, obviously on the Cricket Club pitch which is surrounded by Pinfold Lane. On every Sunday a brass band used to play at The Pinfold and that was why Fidler Lane is named so, as the band had to go up this street to get to Pinfold.

Instead of sirens in the First World War everything went black suddenly, no warning. They were told to run up Fidler Lane and lay under the hedges. The anti aircraft guns were situated at East Garforth near the Miners football ground.

When my grandma went to school you would leave at 13 years old; however if attendance was low then you had to stay on for another 6 months. She used to go to Garforth Parochial School at the corner of Church Lane and Main Street. Her first lesson was religious education and every week the vicar Mr Wilford would come and talk to them. People were scared of going to school as they used the cane too much, especially on the boys, even talking in class meant the cane. My grandma recalls being a bit of a tomboy at school as she used to climb onto the roof to fetch the boys' balls down. However one day she was told off and the teacher said "Edith Malkin came down from there at once".

She used to sell kippers at 2d a pair as her father was in the fish business. He used to sell many fish that we don't see today. He sold the fish on a flat cart with scales on the back. A lot of refugees came over and stayed in the cellars on Wakefield Road and she had to go down and sell them fish. Main Street mostly contained shops with only a few houses; one shop still here today is Pickerings butchers. They used to supply the whole of Garforth with fresh eggs. She remembers picking strawberries by the side of the fly line, which ran twice a day. The strawberries were so small it took a whole afternoon to fill one cup.

Mr Hawkins; one of her teachers, owned a shoe shop in Main Street, while Mr Thompson the Headmaster lived down Wakefield Road. She stressed how much school is different today than what it was, some pupils had to be dragged to school shouting and screaming. Pupils were sat girl, boy. There were around twenty or more pupils in each class. On days off school she would go to the turnip and rhubarb fields and eat them raw.

After my grandma had left school she went to work at the Pilot overall factory where she enjoyed the work very much. To get to work she would take the bus costing Id which was a lot then and so sometimes she walked or her father took her in his pony and trap. However at dinner time the bus ride back home and then back was free. There was no Old George roundabout but a cross-road. Behind the Old George were some steps which men used to mount their horses. There was also a little stream where trucks stopped to get water.

The Gaping Goose was owned by Mr and Mrs Hargreaves. My grandma went to night school with their daughter Bernie. The Newmarket was owned by Mr Thompson while the Miners Arms was owned by John Beaver.

On Saturday afternoons she would queue up outside the picture house which stood behind Pickerings. It cost Id to get in. With no sound the accompaniment had to be done live by a piano and a singer. The singer was usually Mr Archer's daughter who owned the quarry. The main film star of those days was Fatty Harbuckle, originally called Prosco. My grandma's brother was a friend of the owner of the picture house and he and his friend used to go upstairs in the picture house and sprinkle itching powder all over the audience; half of them left before the film was over.

The area around where Garforth Comprehensive School is now was the "posh" area of Garforth. The streets around Garforth were sometimes named after the churches which stood on them, such as Brunswick Gardens near the Pinfold. Brunswick was the Free Church. She used to go to the Salvation Army to help them cross the road. She enjoyed it there. Anyone killed in the First World War had their photograph hung up and there was a picture of General Booth. Underneath it read "Well done thou good and faithful servant". During the harvest festival straw was placed in the aisle and people would come with baskets of fruit to give to the poor. After this a person would come along and talk about how they had been reformed by the Salvation Army. One such person was Nancy Dickiebird who split a policeman's helmet when she was young. It was a big story and was on the front page of the Evening News.

In those days there was still the Midland Bank. The one in Garforth was in the confectionary owned by Mrs Thompson who had let them borrow a corner of her shop. She remembers Lyndon Avenue being built which still has the same name. However to get to Lyndon Avenue you had to go up Occupation Road which is now Barleyhill Road. Josiah Hewitt built it, he was a famous builder. She used to go and pinch the clay he used and shape it into balls, so he used to have to chase them away.