Summertime – 1914


One overgrown garden, an old cab, a family of four lively children, plus as many neighbours’ kids as could be collected, a shallow bit of the river roped off by my father, two loads of sand tipped beside it (2s 6d a load) and tents made of old curtains.

These were the basic ingredients of our summertimes during the Great War.

There was no money for seaside holidays, and no one to take us anyway as our parents were busily occupied making meals for horse-drawn wagonette parties. Thick home-fed ham, one, two or three eggs, as much home-made bread and butter, jam pasties and as many cakes as one could eat (1s 6d).

With the river our sea, the sand our beach, the tents our dwellings, the cab our transport, who wanted a seaside holiday. In imagination we travelled hundreds of miles as cowboys, prospectors explorers, you name it.

Then the highlight of the long holiday – Bingley Tide. A ringside view, the arrival of the “Cockerels” and swings and, oh pinnacle of envy for the girls at least, two glamorous girls who danced a sort of can-can to lure visitors to the “Bioscope”.

The Funeral of Edward VII came year after year compared by a stentorian-voiced attendant who announced the identities of the mourners. I never knew there were so many kings!

No money but we had what so many of today’s children lack – room to play. And our cup over-flowed.


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