Thanks to Sandra for the following contribution, which is full of fascinating details, and a wealth of memories.
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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
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
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.
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.