All in Good Time
This book describes, in vivid detail, what it was actually like to live in the working class district of Belle Vue, Wakefield, the capital of the West Riding of Yorkshire, during the 1950s. Here is home life in a terraced house with its coal fire, its outdoor privy, its front room kept for best, and the challenge of tuning the living-room wireless. Here are the sights and sounds experienced by the young Wakefield Trinity RLFC supporter or patron of the local ‘t’Spit’ cinema. Here are the smells and struggles of learning to swim at the ‘old’ Almshouse Lane baths, the trials and tribulations of the 11+ and grammar school life. It was an era of delayed gratification: the interminable wait for a bike, a television set and a pair of long trousers. The big national events – the death of George VI and the coronation of the present queen – are recorded as they were marked by ordinary people in Wakefield. Individuals, as they were encountered at home, at school, or in the St Catherine’s church choir or cub-scout group, are brought sharply into focus: the talented and eccentric father, the no-nonsense mother, the straight-laced spinster aunts, the corner-shop keepers and the stern schoolteachers still made in the Victorian mould. Details include the names of more than 350 local folk, and there are over a 100 photographs, many from the author’s private collection. The epilogue looks at modern Wakefield and reflects on various changes in the city as well as the way of life in general; there are also new twists in the mysteries surrounding two separate tragic events that took place on 15 July 1951 when a fire destroyed Thornes House Grammar School and two West Riding policemen were murdered.