| Cottingley In The News | Live News | Newspaper Clippings |

Many Memories Of Life In The Old Days

A picture of Cottingley Town Hall, taken at the 50th anniversary.


Many memories of life in the old days

Mr. Fred Fielding of 18 Hollings Street, who was born almost 80 years ago, and has lived all his life in Cottingley, still remembers many of the amusing and intersting events he saw as a youth.

He has vivid memories of two floods. As a schoolboy in the first years he then lived at 2 Herbert Street (now demolished) at the bottom of Main Street. "I remember it well," he told the "Guardian Chronicle," "because there was three feet of water in the house, and we couldn't get downstairs at all."

But this was no excuse to miss school. Round to the house came Mr. Joe Verity in a horse and cart and Mr. Fielding used to have to jump from an upstairs window into the cart to be taken to school. He and his family put up with the inconvenience for a week.

The only amusing event was at the Fielding family's sweetshop, where stoppers on glass bottles full of "khali" blew out and the reaction between the "khali" and the water caused an "awful froth" to spread over the water.

Mr. Fielding thought the second flood was in 1916. His most vivid recollection was of dead pigs from a sty at the top of Hollings Street floating on the water. Others were swimming and Mr. Fielding with Mr. Edwin Taylor, the owner, had to go into the flood water and rescue the animals.

No-one seemed quite sure how or why the floods started, Mr. Fielding, however, thinks it was a combination of flooded streams, becks and burst land drains which swirled down from the raspberry gardens.

Bystanders thought they would by swamped, but the water swirled into houses, flooding to a depth of three or four feet. Particularly bad were 2, 4 and 6 Herbert Street.

The village was a "shambles" for a week, but Mr. Fielding asserts it could have been much worse if the wall by the old Sun Inn (shown on the picture) had not given way - allowing hundreds of gallons to escape. Otherwise, the water might have reached Cottingley Mills and caused havoc.

Another memory he retains is the original status of Cottingley Working Men's Club. At one time this was Rowany House - otherwise known as Cottingley Vicarage where the Rev. R. Simpson lived with his housekeeper, a Miss Gurney.

In the more expansive days, the occupiers of Cottingley Hall were Sir William and Lady Priestley, and numbers 2, 4, 6 and 8 Hollings Street were occupied by Sir William's gardener, under-gardener, coachman and footman.

Sir William, who was in the army when he died in Algiers, was buried in Bingley cemetery.

The Hollings Street houses were built specially for Sir William's servants. The gardener's daughter, formerly Miss Harriet Webb (now Goodchild) of Cottingley, is still alive, as is the coachman's daughter the former Miss Alice Wood, who lives in Bingley.


Every Whitsuntide Monday, there would be a procession from the town hall, with Sunday school members taking part, down to the bottom of Cottingley, up to New Brighton, and, after visiting a family called Gawthorpe, back down to the Sun Inn and to Cottingley Hall.

At the hall there was an assembly on the lawn. Visitors were given a conducted tour of the Hall's greenhouses, and on leaving, each person was given an orange by Lady Priestley.

"Darby and Joan" were the popular names for the two lodges at the Ferrands gateway on Bradford Old Road when Mr. Fielding was a boy. One lodge was used by the occupants during the day for eating and "living in," and the other was used only at night for sleeping in.

Mr. Fielding with other small boys used to hide by the "living in" lodge and watch as the occupants came out carrying a candle, and walked across the entrance to the estate to their sleeping quarters.


Whenever there was a court morning, Mr. Ferrand, who was a magistrate, would drive from the "big house" and travel three miles by carriage and pair to the court room.

It takes a man with a good memory, like Mr. Fielding, to remember the characters of the village 40, 50, 60 and even 70 years ago.

There was "Taylor" Heaton, who conducted his business on the third story of a house on Main Street, and who also ran the village's horse-drawn wagonettes and cabs.

There were Cottingley's "King" and "Queen" - King Wood, who lived on Smith Street and Queen Rebecca (Nicholls), of Main Street. Both were "characters," and once when the two met face to face, King said: "Behold, the King and Queen meet."

It was King Wood who was supposed to have taken the words of a friend too literally and taken his shoes, Mr. Fielding recalled.

Once while in the Sun Inn, Mr. Joe Moore told King that when he commited suicide, King could have his shoes.


Shoes were valuable commodities, so King took his drinking partner at his word, offered to go with him and led him down to a whirlpool in the river.

King watched some distance from the whirlpool as Mr. Moore took off his shoes and tested the water with one toe.

Finding it too cold, he decided to postpone his end, but on turning round was just in time to see King walking away with the shoes.

King's attitude was apparently that Mr. Moore had failed to carry out his promise and should stick to his side of the bargain. Mr. Moore had to walk home in his bare feet, and the story does not say whether there was a sequel.

One of Cottingley's better known characters in Mr. Fielding's younger days was Mr. Joe "Slen" Oaten - so called because he was tall and slim. Gallons of wine used to be made each summer by a Mr. Harrison, who lived on Quebec.

"Dicker Paul" was the firewood man who lived with his wife and donkey in a house where Lynwood Terrace now stands.


An argument with a barber once cost Mr. Joe Heaton a greengrocer, some of his best cabbages, recalled Mr. Fielding.

It happened when Mr. Heaton went to Mr. Gordon Wild's barber's shop on Main Street, on a site now occupied by Mr. Trevor Atkinson, the greengrocer.

Mr. Heaton and Mr. Wild quarrelled, and another man in the shop was accidently struck.

The man wandered away, apparently unconcerned, but when Mr. Heaton came out of the barber's shop, he found his horse, which he had left standing patiently outside, had been turned round in the shafts of the greengrocery cart and was casually eating all the best cabbages!