A Childhoold in Lightcliffe

Kathleen Briggs was born Kathleen Heaton in 1915.  Her parents had married in 1904, when they lived opposite Kathleen’s mother’s parents at the bottom of Bramley Lane (pictured).  In 1913 they moved to a new terrace of houses ‘under the lydgate’ at Park View (the long terrace in the illustration on p.3).  These had been built by Brookes Limited, who originally asked for rent of 4/6d. per week, but reduced this to 4 shillings (20p) when they had difficulty finding tenants.  The houses had constant hot water and an inside toilet, luxuries in those days.

Kathleen recalled her days at Lightcliffe National School, which began on 12 July 1920, the day after her fifth birthday.  In the following year she was ill with scarlet fever and spent some time in Clifton Isolation Hospital.  One day she was given a piece of cake and told that Princess Mary had sent it so that Kathleen could help celebrate her wedding.  The six-year-old was delighted – “Fancy a real princess knowing all about me!”

Kathleen also remembered the opening of The Stray on 9 September 1923.  The previous evening she was taken by her father to watch workmen fixing the huge granite war memorial in place; they were having difficulty and had to work into the night under the light of arc lamps to ensure that all was ready for the following day’s ceremony.  Soon after, the swings and roundabouts were erected, and proved so popular that many was the day Kathleen and her friends were late home for meals.

At about the same time the Yorkshire Electricity Company, for a charge of £16, connected houses to the electricity supply.  Kathleen’s mother bought an electric iron and a vacuum cleaner, and Kathleen remembers no longer having to take a candle up to bed and find the gas holder.  “We just switched on!”

Also at that time was another significant event – ‘the coming of the buses’.  The first service along Wakefield Road, Lightcliffe, wasn’t Halifax-Leeds, but travelled between Birstall and Hipperholme Grammar School.  The young Kathleen found this a huge help because, for a ha’penny, she could visit her grandmother, who now lived in Bailiff Bridge.

Kathleen concluded a wonderful reminiscence by reflecting that she had enjoyed an “idyllic” childhood in Lightcliffe.

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