Memories of Layerthorpe

Thanks to Sandra for the following contribution, which is full of fascinating details, and a wealth of memories. Please feel free to add your comments below.

. . . . .

Just a bit of reminiscing with my parents Kay and Dennis Durkin and a trip down Memory Lane!  They both have short term memory problems but can recall much of their lives in Layerthorpe.

My grandfather owned Nos. 58 and 60 Layerthorpe but these were purchased from him by York Corporation around 1956 by Compulsory Purchase Order to allow for the development of light industry in the area.

My father was born at 58 Layerthorpe to parents Martin and Dorothy Durkin on 1 March 1924.  My parents were married on my father’s birthday in 1948 and started married life in one of my grandfather’s houses at No. 60 Layerthorpe.  They then moved to 31 Redeness Street and later to No. 27.  My grandfather owned Nos. 58 and 60 Layerthorpe but these were purchased from him by York Corporation around 1956 by Compulsory Purchase Order to allow for the development of light industry in the area.

Dad recalls his father having a horse and cart which he kept in stables somewhere near The Ropery near Hallfield Road.  He was an upholsterer/antique dealer and that is how he transported the furniture.  He can remember when he was a child that the toilet was outside in the yard and that the toilet paper was squares of newspaper threaded on a string and hung on a nail at the back of the toilet door.  My father and his brother went to Bilton Street School, as did I until it closed in 1956.  The school had an entrance in Redeness Street.  Dad then went on to St Wilfred’s and then later to St Georges Schools.

On leaving school he worked for a short spell at Rowntrees, where his mother held a senior office position.  He later became a Window Dresser and worked in Goodsons in Pavement/Parliament Street.   Before joining the Army he was in the Home Guard.  He became a Chindit under General Wingate and served behind enemy lines. He served in many places including Singapore, Malayia, Burma, India, Ireland.

He recalls when a visiting circus paraded along Layerthorpe with their animals that my grandparent’s sheepdog called Lassie ran out of their house at 60 Layerthorpe and ran into the road and bit one of the three elephants and then ran back into the house.  According to dad there was pandemonium.

He says many families argued and fought publicly and he remembers such a fight once spilled into the road.

Jockey used to swim on his belly with a child on his back, to the middle of the river then tip the child into the water.  It was a case of sink or swim!

He tells me that Jockey Giles, already mentioned on this site, used to teach all the children of Layerthorpe to swim in the River Foss.   He thinks he was a Coal Mechant and lived at the bottom of Downhill Street.  His property had a wall next to the Foss and the kids used to jump into the river from it.  Jockey used to swim on his belly with a child on his back, to the middle of the river then tip the child into the water.  It was a case of sink or swim!

My dad recalls his best friend Jacky Waddy (Waddington).  His father was the Landlord at the George IV pub in Redeness Street.  When he and Jacky were young kids, Jacky took some money from his dad’s till and they bought a goat from a farmer at the Cattle Market in Foss Islands Road with it.  They kept the goat in the pub yard. The idea was that whenever they were thirsty they would milk the goat!  When Mr Waddington found out about the goat, they were both for the ‘high jump’.  My father was of course severely reprimanded by his own father,  who was a very straight and law abiding citizen.

Later when my mother and father met and were married my mother also came to live in Layerthorpe.  She was a southerner and it took a long while for her to be completely accepted as a resident of Layerthorpe.

She remembers some Coal Merchants, she thinks Blundy Clarks, who were on the same side as where her and dad lived.  She remembers a couple called Lila and Carlo, who lived at No 56 Layerthorpe she thinks.  They later moved across the road to the other side.  Carlo was a Cobbler.  Another lady, Rene Wilkinson and her husband and children Mary and David lived along here too, but later moved to Glen Road I believe.

She recalls a lady across the road called Lena Linfoot, who was very good at sewing and used to help my mother make dresses for my sister and I when we were kids.

The window cleaner for a lot of the houses was a chap called Matty Laverack who was friendly with many in the area and lived towards Heworth Bridge end of Layerthorpe.  My dad had a very good friend called Wally Laverack who he thinks was a relation and also lived at that end.

My father’s mother had a sister called Lena Holmes who we both think was married to Dai Prosser who had the fish and chip shop in Layerthorpe.  They had a daughter called Margaret.  On that side of the road up near the John Bull pub was Mercer’s Newsagents, Lila’s haberdashery and Stirks Furnishers.  On the corner of Downhill Street was Mrs Clarkes shop that sold tobacco products, sweets etc. Then a little further along was Whitings Grocers, Prossers Fish Shop and Holmes Fruit and Veg Shop, later taken over by Marian, Terry Morrisons mother.  A little further along was the Frog Hall pub.

We eventually moved to Redeness Street. Between my mother and I we have identified the people who lived in the street at the time;
Joan and Alan Carr with sons Peter and we think Alan
Pam, Rosie and Frank Loftus
Frank and Mrs Herbert
Mr and Mrs Button and daughters Hazel and Diane
Mrs Sparks and Valerie Sparks
Mr and Mrs Claridge and sons Peter and Tony.  I can remember Tony getting married to his girlfriend Pat and seeing her in the street in her lavender colour wedding dress.  How beautiful I thought she looked.  I would only be 3 or 4 years old.
Sheila and Danny Maher and daughters Pat and Jacqueline
Joyce Clarke
Noel and Muriel Calpin and children
Mrs Walker and Daughter Jennifer
Violet Stewart and daughter Margaret
Mr and Emily Quigley
Ruby and David Cornforth
Doreen, Albert and Martin Horwell
Mavis Byers
Of course there will be others.
Down at the bottom of Redeness Street was a little street with very few houses called Cross Court which led into Bilton Street.
Tommy and Freda Hesmondalgh lived there.

Just off Redeness Street but further along towards the George IV pub but on the opposite side, there was a cobbled passage called Pump Passage with doors to a couple of houses inside the passage on each side.  My dad remembers his friend Jimmy Metcalfe and his wife Irene Metcalfe living in one of them.  They had a daughter called Jennifer.

We concluded our trip down Memory Lane, apart from my mother remembering a family in Bilton Street having 19 children.  The houses were only small two bedroomed terraced houses.

If anyone has spotted a mistake or can elaborate on names and families please feel free to correct or add to this.  There will be other stories and names that have escaped us but I will speak to my parents again in the not too distant future and see if we can come up with anything else.

Sandra

Update – April 2017

Sandra has been in touch with the following additions/corrections to the above:

My father has remembered that the George the VI pub in Redeness Street had a landlord by the name of George Waudby.

They are not sure if the lady mentioned previously was Lina or Ena Linfoot.

My father also served in Egypt.

My grandfather’s horse was kept in Stables in Laycock’s Yard, close to the Ropery.

Goodson’s was in Spurriergate opposite what is now the St Sampson’s Centre and not in Parliament Street as we thought.

A few more names for the mix:  Edith, Ruby and David Cornforth lived in a Redeness Street. A chap called Teddy Moat lived on the corner of Redeness Street and Layerthorpe.  Billy Arthur was a Bilton Street boy.  Also the family Drake, in particular I can remember, Maureen, Margaret and Alan.  In Redeness Street there was a family called Weedon, June and Bert and their family of three boys Colin, Terry and Andrew.  Another family springs to mind the Byers. – Desmond, Mavis, June and Alice.  Desmond was killed in action I believe.

47 comments

  1. Hi Sandra,just have to thank you and your parents for the memories of your times,born and bred, in Layerthorpe,truly fascinating.Particularly impressed by your Dad,-at 17 a home guard (ing) the gasometer(was he on top!)during the Baedeker Raid,same time as I (At 13) was on top of Rowntrees Dining Block,as a messenger/fire watcher,both of us aghast at what the “Nasties”we’re doing to our City.Later fighting as a Chindit,versus the worst the Japanese could dish out in Burma,and giving them a black eye for their pains! This truly makes him one of our heroes t be honoured and admired,
    Having live to a deserved ripe old age,with your equally deserving Mum.
    Well done to you all.

    • Sandra Wreglesworth

      Hi Stephen,
      Thank you.
      Yes dad was on the top of the gasometer and was only 17 years old.
      He can tell so many tales of his time as a Chindit. I only wish I had time to write a book! It really was such a ‘Special Force’. They were all so brave.

  2. Hello Sandra, Jockey Giles was a coal/firewood merchant & his wife Louie had a bookmakers shop. His full name was John Thomas Giles Peacock, his maternal grandparents being Giles with home I think he was brought up. Lila & Carmelo Pasquale (he was possibly an Italian Prisoner of War?). Matty Laverack was from the large family at 96(?) Layerthorpe – one of his brothers, John ran Gladstone Garage & was City Sheriff in 1978. Lena Holmes was Dia Prosser’s wife & her parents had run the fruit shop before Morrisons.

    • Sandra Wreglesworth

      Another few pieces into the jigsaw David! Yes, my grandma was a Holmes before she wed grandad. Grandad Martin came from Hungate before he settled in Layerthorpe and was there from being married until York Corporation re-housed them after they purchased his houses under the Compulsory Purchase Scheme. He was 103 when he died as you are probably aware.

  3. Sandra, re mention of the large family in Bilton Street – that was possibly Seniors at no.23. I am not sure about a family of 19, but I think they had at least 11 children & possibly one or two more. Your dad will remember Edward Brier Hardcastle who was the baker at no.55 Layerthorpe. When he died the shop was taken over by George Deighton. He should recall the Key family who had the shop at no.62 Layerthorpe. My grandfather owned 2 houses in Redeness St, one being no.14 where the Fenwick family lived. The houses were not worth very much when they were demolished !!

    • Sandra Wreglesworth

      Yes David, dad mentioned George Deighton, who was a family friend and I myself remembered Key’s shop on the corner. I also remember Ivy Fenwick, which must be the lady from No. 14.
      I also remember Mr & Mrs Donelly from the top end of Redeness Street, opposite the George IV. They had two daughters Pamela and Lesley, who were both nurses in York later on in their lives.
      I started Bilton Street School when I was three and a half. There were only two classes at that time. Mrs Peace and Mrs Holmes were the teachers. When I started work in 1965 at York Magistrates’ Court, the Policeman that looked after the cells in those days was PC Holmes, husband of Mrs Holmes, my teacher.
      I remember somewhere near the pub there were a pair of double, pale green doors, one of which was usually open in the evenings. Unfortunately my parents do not remember this but I can remember looking through the open door and seeing a flight of bare wooden stairs. I am not sure if that was the old Boys Club or not at the top of the stairs.
      Our house was on the same side of the road with a back yard with a wall and over the wall was ‘the playground’ with a set of swings and where there was a bonfire held annually. Oh David I could keep going but I think I have set the scene now!

    • I’m wondering if the large family, and the differences in the number of children remembered, is perhaps that one number relates to the number of pregnancies and that the mother maybe had many miscarriages? It reminds me of a conversation I had many years ago with someone from a large family, the siblings who hadn’t survived to be known were still ‘counted’ by that person. Just a thought I had I thought I should mention.

      Thanks for the comments on this page, good to read your conversations.

    • Patricia Taylor

      If it is the same i remember a Mary and Doris Senior

  4. Trevor Keeler

    I am sure the largest family in Bilton Street was called Senior. Not sure hominy of them tho. My wife remembers Rose Senior from school.She was always knitting socks for her brothers or sisters.
    The green doors were defiantly the entrance to the boys club. The stair case was very steep up to the entrance to a Hugh area that held two table tennis tables and a billiards table that was not a full sized one. There was a piano opposite the door and a small “canteen” in the room at the front.
    I do remember the Fenwicks, just up from them on the same side was a family called Thomas, theirs son was David who I was friends with.

    • My mothers family the nolans lived at 24 bilton street next door to the senior family I can remember some of their names they were albert Charlie Mary Doris and Rosie maybe David . Albert used to go round houses collectin swill for his pigs.

      • Iv just rememberd there was Bella senior as well she died just recently.i remember keys shop on the corner of redness street.my aunt dolly Sutherland nee Nolan and her husband lived at 24 bilton street were best friends with Kay and Denny Durkin from redeness street.

        • Iforgot to say my uncles name was jock Sutherland.i remember going round to see the durkins with my aunt once Kay had just had a baby.

        • Sandra Wreglesworth

          That baby could have been me Joyce!! Kay and Dennis are my parents. I am one of four daughters. I am the eldest. Mother and father are still alive. Dad is nearly 92 and mother is 89 today. I remember Dolly and Jock Sutherland. They eventually moved to a flat in Navigation Road. You are right, they were very good friends with my parents.
          Was Gus part of the Nolan family you refer to? Gus was my dad’s best friend.

          • I don’t no if gus is related too us Sandra it must have been in the 50s when I came round to your house because your right auntie dolly and uncle jock moved to navigation road in the late 50s the last time I saw your dad was at uncle jocks funeral in the 1980s I wonder if your dad remembers me

          • I did not know Gus Nolan but there was a man of that name who for some years worked on Walker’s sand barge RECKLAW

            • Sandra Wreglesworth

              It’s not a common name David, I bet it is one and the same Gus Nolan. I do know he had a son named Michael, born the same year as me. I would imagine he still lives in York.

              • Sandra Wreglesworth

                David, do you remember Mrs Coates? She took over the corner shop from the Keys at the top of Redeness Street. Mrs Coates had a daughter who worked at the Council offices in the old Rates department, accessed through Library Square.

                • Firstly I spelt Recklaw wrong – it was REKLAW. I only remember the Keys at the corner shop & I think their daughter went regularly with a jug to the Frog Hall to get a night’s supply of beer to drink at home. I worked at 1 St Leonard’s Place all my life. What was Mrs Coates’ daughter’s name ?

                  • Sandra Wreglesworth

                    Hey, David now your’e asking! Her name escapes me at the moment, it will come to me though. I remember her well. My mother was an excellent and prolific knitter and Mrs Key’s daughter was good at sewing and one day in the corner shop she agreed to make my sister and myself (only two of us then) a mohair skirt if my mother knitted her a cardigan. Well those bloody skirts were as scratchy as hell with a piece of elastic threaded through the waistband. Sorry for swearing but writing about them brings back bad memories. My mother made us wear them, despite our protests ‘cos they looked very smart’. Ha ha. I’ll post that name when I can recall it.

                  • Sandra Wreglesworth

                    Hey that name David – Hazel Coates. Although that of course is her maiden name. It’s taken me weeks to think of that. Do you remember her?

                  • Hazel.

                  • Hi Dave, her name is Hazel Hamilton,

  5. Not quite sure where this info belongs but hopefully Lisa can slot it into the appropriate slot.

    I picked up a book today called The Story of the York Adult Schools by Frederick John Gillman published by Delittle, Fenwick & co 1907.

    In it is a small piece on the Layerthorpe Adult School which hopefully will bring back some memories from descendants of those who attended, or those who will have had memories of this place passed onto them. It doesn’t tell the location of the school or give any details of those involved on the teaching side, or those who attended but hopefully this small insight into what was a massive step forward in working class education will stir up a few memories. The transcription below is reproduced verbatim.

    ‘Layerthorpe commenced operations on the same day as SouthBank (October25th 19003). It’s formation was the immediate outcome of a visit to the city of Will Crooks M.P., who addressed a crowded meeting of Adult scholars in the Friends” Meeting House on October 11th, when the Lord Mayor presided. Some old Lady Peckitt’s Yard scholars, living in the Layerthorpe district, who had drifted away from the school, were present and were filled with a desire to see one established in their district. The early progress of the School was phenomenal, the membership in the first three months rising to about 300. Early in 1904 a Woman’s class was formed. In October 1904, new Commodious rooms for lads were added in the following year. Although the membership of this School declined of late, its influence for good remains great.’

  6. Trevor Keeler

    Is this what we knew as Bilton St. School?.

  7. David Poole

    Layerthorpe Adult School building became the York Boys Club who moved there in 1938 from their original home in Hungate. The address was 6 Redeness Street & was next to George IV public house.

  8. Hi all I remember York boys club very well. Can also remember being in the George IV on bank holidays when the adults used to treat all us kids to a money scrum. The adults to to take out of their pockets a handful of money and throw it in the air. The scrum was on. You can imagine what it was like. I will never forget those times.

  9. Gerald Skelton

    Ejoyed reading about Layerthorpe I lived in Fifth avenue went to Burnholme school when it was first built left in December 1950 I remember a lot of people from that area the Seniors the bookies shop the bookle was called Jock Cryle used take bets for my dad . Masons bike shop I think they had a daughter went to our school

    • Sandra Wreglesworth

      Hi Gerald, I think Sheila Blakelock (née Mason) is the daughter you refer to from the bike shop. Sheila has written many comments on the site. Have a look, you may be able to find them.

  10. Michael Waite

    I was born in The John Bull Pub Layerthorpe 1n 1948 the youngest of 6 dad Fred and then mum Molly ran it from 1935-55 dad died because of war service when I was 6 years old mum had to leave the pub despite much local protest because John Smiths disapproved of ladies running their pubs. I remember so many of the names mentioned all of the shops recorded in the wonderful memories of like me proud Layerthorpe people.

  11. Robert cattle

    My father Robert Alrxander Cattle was born Bilton Street in 1902
    His parents Arthur cattle ( worked Rowntrees) and wife Amy Agnes Denmark cattle, sister Amy and Fred, and Ethel
    Also in the road Ada cattle ( Wales) and husband Richard.
    Ada was a bit of a girl! “X ‘ children
    Robert cattle entrepreneur builder, race horse owner became Lord Mayor of York in 1962. Me! Robert Cattle son Nuclear chemist international and Director of UK part of a massive French Multinational. Has a few patents to his name ……..not bad from Bilton street to international Concorde traveller!
    Would!

  12. Omg i remember all those names in Layerthorpe ..i was born in the terrace houses in front of the gasometer opposite the original LayLayertho clun in Layerthorpe ..i then moved tl Hawthorn Street an went tl Bilton Street school ..i remember Jockey Giles ..Lilas shop and Prossers fish shop .their daughter Margaret lives in my street now …fabulous memories …

    • Sorry for the spelling mistakes

    • Omg i remember all those names in Layerthorpe ..i was born in the terrace houses in front of the gasometer opposite the original Layerthorpe club in Layerthorpe ..i then moved to Hawthorn Street and went to Bilton Street school ..i remember Jockey Giles ..Lilas shop and Prossers fish shop .their daughter Margaret lives in my street now …fabulous memories …

      • Sandra Wreglesworth

        Hi Pat, when were you at Bilton Street School? I was there 1952-1956/7.

        • Patricia Taylor

          Bilton street was my first school so i would have started 1952

          • Sandra Wreglesworth

            Pat, perhaps we were in the same class, as we are obviously similar ages. It was my first school too and I was 3 when I started there. Do you remember we used to have a nap in the afternoons, on canvas camp beds. My maiden name was Durkin. I only recollect two classes and remember Mrs Peace and Mrs Holmes, the teachers. Think Mrs Peace was also headteacher, although Mrs Holmes was an older lady. Do you remember them?

  13. Patricia Taylor

    Yes Sandra i remember the camp beds and remember Mrs Holmes ,i was very friendly with a boy called Les Pickard , i think i remember you Sandra and your mum and dad did they live on Fourth Ave the end nearer to Burnholme school

    • Sandra Wreglesworth

      Yes, my mother and father are still alive 90 and 93 respectively and still live in the same house! Do you live close to them? What was your maiden name? I remember Joe Harrison and Vera Todd.

      • My maiden name was Coyne i knew the Todds and Joe Harrison and everybody else that has been mentioned ..no i dont live near them i live in Osbaldwick but i remember coming to their house ..memories

        • Sandra Wreglesworth

          They have dementia now but can remember a lot about their lives whilst living in Layerthorpe. Its great to hear of other people who lived there. Do you remember the fruit shop and Marion Morrison? Her son Terry has posted on this site. We went to the same junior school. My grannie and grandad on my dad’s side, also lived in Layerthorpe and grannie was a relative of Mrs Homes who owned the fruit shop before Mrs Morrison. My grandad incidentally, after a very hard life, lived to be 103!

          • Sandra Wreglesworth

            *Mrs Holmes

          • Patricia Taylor

            Sorry to hear they have dementia but they have done well getting to that age ..yes I remember every body isn’t it funny that all those memories come flooding back ….I remember going to the old Layerthorpe club with my dad ..and going to all the shops along Layerthorpe .also going to Prossers fish shop on a Friday .and to Lila’s shop for wool and stockings..also the Coop ..never thought about it all before ..we lived in Hawthorn Street …but was always down Layerthorpe ..

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