- Site Index
- About Me
- Book List & Themes
- Strictly for Adults Novels >
Tales from Portlaw
- No Need to Look for Love
- 'The Love Quartet' >
The Priest's Calling Card
- Chapter One - The Irish Custom
- Chapter Two - Patrick Duffy's Family Background
- Chapter Three - Patrick Duffy Junior's Vocation to Priesthood
- Chapter Four - The first years of the priesthood
- Chapter Five - Father Patrick Duffy in Seattle
- Chapter Six - Father Patrick Duffy, Portlaw Priest
- Chapter Seven - Patrick Duffy Priest Power
- Chapter Eight - Patrick Duffy Groundless Gossip
- Chapter Nine - Monsignor Duffy of Portlaw
- Chapter Ten - The Portlaw Inheritance of Patrick Duffy
- Bigger and Better >
- The Oldest Woman in the World >
Sean and Sarah
- Chapter 1 - 'Return of the Prodigal Son'
- Chapter 2 - 'The early years of sweet innocence in Portlaw'
- Chapter 3 - 'The Separation'
- Chapter 4 - 'Separation and Betrayal'
- Chapter 5 - 'Portlaw to Manchester'
- Chapter 6 - 'Salford Choices'
- Chapter 7 - 'Life inside Prison'
- Chapter 8 - 'The Aylesbury Pilgrimage'
- Chapter 9 - Sean's interest in stone masonary'
- Chapter 10 - 'Sean's and Tony's Partnership'
- Chapter 11 - 'Return of the Prodigal Son'
- The Alternative Christmas Party >
The Life of Liam Lafferty
- Chapter One: ' Liam Lafferty is born'
- Chapter Two : 'The Baptism of Liam Lafferty'
- Chapter Three: 'The early years of Liam Lafferty'
- Chapter Four : Early Manhood
- Chapter Five : Ned's Secret Past
- Chapter Six : Courtship and Marriage
- Chapter Seven : Liam and Trish marry
- Chapter Eight : Farley meets Ned
- Chapter Nine : 'Ned comes clean to Farley'
- Chapter Ten : Tragedy hits the family
- Chapter Eleven : The future is brighter
The life and times of Joe Walsh
- Chapter One : 'The marriage of Margaret Mawd and Thomas Walsh’
- Chapter Two 'The birth of Joe Walsh'
- Chapter Three 'Marriage breakup and betrayal'
- Chapter Four: ' The Walsh family breakup'
- Chapter Five : ' Liverpool Lodgings'
- Chapter Six: ' Settled times are established and tested'
- Chapter Seven : 'Haworth is heaven is a place on earth'
- Chapter Eight: 'Coming out'
- Chapter Nine: Portlaw revenge
- Chapter Ten: ' The murder trial of Paddy Groggy'
- Chapter Eleven: 'New beginnings'
The Woman Who Hated Christmas
- Chapter One: 'The Christmas Enigma'
- Chapter Two: ' The Breakup of Beth's Family''
- Chapter Three: From Teenager to Adulthood.'
- Chapter Four: 'The Mills of West Yorkshire.'
- Chapter Five: 'Harrison Garner Showdown.'
- Chapter Six : 'The Christmas Dance'
- Chapter Seven : 'The ballot for Shop Steward.'
- Chapter Eight: ' Leaving the Mill'
- Chapter Ten: ' Beth buries her Ghosts'
- Chapter Eleven: Beth and Dermot start off married life in Galway.
- Chapter Twelve: The Twin Tragedy of Christmas, 1992.'
- Chapter Thirteen: 'The Christmas star returns'
- Chapter Fourteen: ' Beth's future in Portlaw'
The Last Dance
- Chapter One - ‘Nancy Swales becomes the Widow Swales’
- Chapter Two ‘The secret night life of Widow Swales’
- Chapter Three ‘Meeting Richard again’
- Chapter Four ‘Clancy’s Ballroom: March 1961’
- Chapter Five ‘The All Ireland Dancing Rounds’
- Chapter Six ‘James Mountford’
- Chapter Seven ‘The All Ireland Ballroom Latin American Dance Final.’
- Chapter Eight ‘The Final Arrives’
- Chapter Nine: 'Beth in Manchester.'
- 'Two Sisters' >
- Fourteen Days >
Thoughts and Musings
- Bereavement >
- Nature >
Bill's Personal Development
- What I'd like to be remembered for
- Second Chances
- Holidays of Old
- Memorable Moments of Mine
- Cleckheaton Consecration
- Canadian Loves
- Mum's Wisdom
- 'Early life at my Grandparents'
- Family Holidays
- 'Mother /Child Bond'
- Childhood Pain
- The Death of Lady
- 'Soldiering On'
- 'Romantic Holidays'
- 'On the roof'
- Always wear clean shoes
- 'Family Tree'
- The importance of poise
- 'Growing up with grandparents'
- Love & Romance >
- Christian Thoughts, Acts and Words >
- My Wedding
- Audio Downloads
- My Singing Videos
- Bill's Blog
- Contact Me
"The picture below which I recently came across, is of Cleckheaton in the year 1905. With the exception of the tram lines that are no longer there, everything else in the photo is more or less as I remember it as I grew up in West Yorkshire during the early 1950s.
I grew in Hightown, about one and a half miles from Cleckheaton, yet Cleckheaton for my family and friends represented a large part of their lives. The nearest Catholic Church that our family went to was in Cleckheaton; located a mere fifty yards away from the bottom right of this photo. Each Sunday, my father and his three eldest children would walk one and a half miles down the New Road to attend Sunday service and it would be lunch time before we'd walked back home again. My mother would cycle, or rather freewheel down the New Road to church and always arrive five minutes late. Mum would also leave church five minutes early to have a smoke outside. She always believed that an hour at church was long enough for an Roman Catholic to gain entrance to heaven. Dad,who was always much stricter and more religious in his catholic and church observance always ensured that we would be in our church pews at least five minutes before the priest had adorned his vestment garments. After church, my mother would always pass her bicycke to me to push back up the hill back home.
Then, for our Sunday afternoon activity, my parents would walk us three miles across the fields from Windybank Estate to the park in Brighouse, where the brass band played. By the time we had walked back home, we would be hungry and ready for bed.
'The Market Place' in Cleckheaton was the place where all the town's back-door business was done and the best bargains were to be had. It was often rumoured that even a 'hit' on someone could be arranged for the right amount of money up front. The Market was located to the bottom left of this photo. All the families from the estate would go there, where second hand clothes, poultry, almost anything one used, could be purchased. My very first bike was bought from the Market Place when I was 8 years old. My father paid ten bob for it. It was black and second-hand with one punctured tyre, an old, worn leather-saddle, a rusty frame and no mudguards or a front brake. I loved learning to ride on that bike up and down the avenue of my estate.
Whenever we needed to see a doctor, we would travel to the surgery in Cleckheaton. We were usually taken there by my mum, but when I was 9 years old, mum decided that it was about time I was able to take myself when I next needed to go. I recall going to the doctor's surgery on my own when I was ten years old and felt very important and grown up as I entered the building. I sat in the smoke-filled waiting room for fifteen minutes before my turn came around. When I went in to see the doctor, I told him that I was coughing on a morning and bringing up some yellow stuff from the pit of my stomach. He provided no examination of my throat and continued to smoke the remainder of his 'Craven A' cigarette that was smouldered in the ashtray on his desk. He then looked at me very authoritively and said, 'It looks like you've got catarrh lad,' he replied, adding 'This is a catarrh area, boy, and it's only to be expected!' That was the extent of my visit to see the doctor on that occasion.
Later that year, I fell in love with Winifred Healey who went to my school in Heckmondwike. I was 10 years old and Winifred was going on 11 years. I wanted to impress Winifred enough, so that she'd forgo all other boyfriends and wait for me to one day marry her. The way I chose to impress was to give her a solitaire diamond engagement ring. Having no money to buy a diamond ring, I stole one from the home of my best mate, Peter Lockwood. His parents would frequently invite me to have my tea with Peter and on the evening in question, his twenty-year-old sister, Margaret, took off her engagement ring while she washed up. I seized my opportunity and stole it before making my excuses to leave. It took the local bobby who investigated the theft two days before he questioned me. When I saw the bobby appoach our house, I opened the back window of the lounge and threw the stolen ring in the back garden. I was subsequently taken down to the nearest Police Station in Cleckheaton and given a verbal telling off by a burly looking sergeant after we had spent the better part of an hour finding the ring in the grass.
My first job was at 'Bulmer and Lumbs Textile Mill', one quarter mile beyond the town centre, in the direction of Heckmondwike; which at the turn of the 20th century, was probably the textile capital of the world when it came to the manufacture of carpets. Of all the jobs I ever had in my life, my years in the mill of 'Bulmer and Lumbs' shall remain the happiest and most memorable. The first time I ever had my trousers 'involuntarily'pulled down by a woman was at the age of 15 years during my first day at the mill. Although this experience would not be the last time a female would remove my trousers, this first time was the most embarrassing of experiences I ever encountered. Part of my job specifications was that of all new boys. Our job was to run errands between one foreman and another. This task nearly always took one through the spinning and weaving sheds. Little did I know on that first day of work that all newcomers would be subjected to a textile baptism by the women of the spinning and weaving sheds, the very first time they walked by their machines.
Believe me, having one's trousers forcibly removed by twenty or more laughing females and having one's todger pulled and poked, is an humiliating experience that a young man never forgets. One must bear in mind that working class males of the 1950's rarely wore underpants during the working week. After my textile baptism had taken place and I'd been accepted into their ranks as a work mate, I later asked one of the woman why they had this degrading ritual. Her reply was, 'To get to know thee better, lad, and to see what tha made of. Once we've seen thee tackle up close, it's easier to know whether to sit beside you on the work's annual outing or not!'
The first shop to the top left of the photo was Sladdins' clothes shop. This shop was like an upmarket version of Greenwoods and one's first suit would often be bought there. None of the boys from the estate ever liked getting measured for a suit there as the effeminate speaking owner always took a month of Sundays measuring the boys' inside leg. At a time when any homosexual act landed the perpetrator in prison, it seemed that the only way a certain type of man could get their thrills was to work as a male nursing attendant in a hospital or in a tailor's shop that made up suits.
The farthest pair of buildings at the top of the photograph were the two cinemas next door to each other, 'The Palace' and 'The Savoy.' Every Saturday morning as a growing boy, I would attend the matinee and watch a cowboy film. If anyone had no money to get in, one of their friends would open the fire door near the toilets and let them in. So it was perfectly normal to see one boy visit the toilet, only to have two boys emerge a few minutes later. Every week the film would break down and until the projectionist had restored it, every boy and girl would shout at the top of their voices, clap and stamp loudly and throw all manner of objects at other patrons. The cinema was also the place where often girls and boys had their first kiss and fumble, and the back row was always reserved exclusively for those older girls and boys who wanted nobody to see what they got up to in the dark.
Fifty yards beyond the bottom left of the photograph was the bus station, which features in some of my adult books. As courting couples waited for the last bus home after a night out, but couldn't wait a moment longer for their goodnight kiss, young men and women would slip behind the back of the bus terminal. As the last bus came in, one in the queue often saw a couple emerge from the darkness, still hurriedly rearranging their clothes.
To the top right of the photograph was the Town Hall. The Town Hall was the place where all the young went to bop on a Saturday night. Invariably, one of the regular features at the Town Hall would be that a fight between different groups of boys would break out, and before one knew it, the entire dance floor would be fighting in lumps. I once was having a fight upstairs in the Town Hall and me and the other guy went over the fifteen-foot-drop balcony. He broke a leg and fractured an arm and luckily, I escaped with mere bruises when I fell on top of some other chap beneath, minding his own business.
To the bottom right of the photograph, about five yards further on, was a cross road junction. To the left was road called Peg Lane. At the start of Peg Lane was a large waste ground, which for two weeks every year, a visiting fair would park. I'll never forget my first time visiting this fair without my parents. I was fascinated by 'The Big Wheel' which was the most popular ride by all the courting couples. As one's coach got to the stop, the Big Wheel would stop for a few minutes, making some think it had broken down and they'd be stuck there! The courting couples loved the ride because the higher up the coach went with two people occupying it, the more hanky-panky the couples engaged in. Just before I made a move to go back home that fateful night, one of my mates older brother fell out of the Big Wheel after it had stopped at the top. Down he went , only to have his life spared by the poor girl he landed on and who cushioned his fall. The girl died instantly and my mate's brother was left crippled for the remainder of his life; which strangely never prevented him riding a 500 cc motor cycle. A number of years later, he too was killed doing 'a ton' along the road to Blackpool as he raced another motor bike user along the twisting roads.
Along the Bradford Road about a few hundred yards beyond the Town Hall was the best pub in Cleckheaton at the time; 'The Commercial.' This pub was where I had my first illegal pint of beer during my 15th year of life. It was also in the near vicinity to the place where I first lost my teenage innocence to a 17-year-old Heckmonwike girl whose name I never knew. The Commercial was highly popular because it was one of the first Cleckheaton pubs to have Rock and Roll groups entertain its customers. All the other pubs had some elderly pianist who would play singalong songs from the 1940's.
As an 11-year-child, a lorry ran over me and left me with extensive injuries. A Cleckheaton solicitor eventally secured £1200 for me, which was kept in trust until my 21st birthday. Between 11 and 21 years, interest accrued on my compensation, bringing the amount up to well in excess of £2000. By the November of 1963, when my 21st birthday arrived, I wanted to throw one of the best parties that my friends had ever been to. It seemed very important to push out the boat with a cheer as I was booked to emigrate to Canada in December 1963. So I booked the best Rock and Roll Group in Yorkshire for the princely sum of £45, which represented two weeks wages at the time. The going price for the group at the time was £30 for the night, but I agreed to pay them the princely sum of £45 if they didn't have as many intermissions/breaks as usual. We arranged that the group would start playing while the rest of us bopped the night away, and that they were not to have their first break of the evening until I indicated they could.
I was the first in the pub that evening to receive my guests as they arrived. As each person came into the dancing room of the pub, they bought me a short to celebrate my birthday and like the fool I was, I drank them down one after another. The upshot was that the band started doing their turn at 8.00 pm, but by 9.00 pm I was at home in bed, drunk as a skunk. I learned the following day that after I'd left drunk, the other lads continued to have a good time. I also learned that the Rock and Roll group that went on stage at 8.00 pm didn't stop playing and singing until 10.45 pm, when a fight broke out. The fight started with one drunken youth throwing a part eaten pork pie at someone and then that quickly escalated to a real slanging match where even chairs were tossed, along with glasses. Two mates were taken to hospital and George Minite was later found hung up on the washing line out back. When I called around to 'The Commercial' the next day after having heard the gossip, the landlord charged me thirty-two pounds to cover the damages and barred me from the pub!
With regard to women and courting, my mother's advice was, 'Billy, when you marry, marry for love, but if you love 'em and they also happen to have rich parents, don't dally. And whatever you do, don't ever marry a Heckmondwike girl because they're trouble!'
After I came back from Canada and was ready for settling down, it wasn't surprising at all when my girlfriend, whom I later married, lived in Cleckheaton with her widowed mother and younger sister. About seven years after we'd married, the marriage started to go downhill and it was only then that I discovered from my mother-in-law that my wife had been born in Heckmondwike!
I will always think kindly of dear old Cleckheaton as being the consecration of my development. It was the most influential town in my life. It was the place that I enjoyed many of my 'firsts', and it will always hold a lasting memory for me; and to think that I never actually lived there, but passed many landmarks of my development there. Long live Cleckheaton or Cleckheckmondsedge as my old friend Richard Whitely used to call it." William Forde: October 6th, 2016. (Amended and added to April 2018).