PICNICS AND GOING TO THE PARK.
During the war years, holidays were out of the question even if we had had the money to go away. We as children did not feel that we were missing out, we had never been on holiday, it was a classic case of what we never had, we never missed.
We did have days out and our favourite place was the small picturesque village of Cawthorne, approximately four miles from Barnsley. It really was a chocolate box village, it still is for that matter, but in my early years the beautiful park which was part of the Cannon Hall Estate, had not been vandalised by the National Coal Board, which in its wisdom decided that Cawthorne park was a prime site for open cast mining. As I have grown older and understood more it still beats me, why part of this beautiful area was stolen for coal, when there was more than enough coal underground.
Whilst our dads were serving overseas, it was a regular event for my mum to take me, my two cousins, Jack and Tony, and any other children who wanted to come along, to Cawthorne Park. To me it was the most magical place there could be, I dont know how many acres the park covered, it seemed endless. It was created on a very gentle slope and Cannon Hall crowned the top of this slope, it is still open today as a museum. When we were regulars during the war, it was requisitioned by the War Office, for the housing of Canadian soldiers, even though to my young eyes it was a huge house, some portable annexes were to appear somewhat later, for the increasing numbers of soldiers who were billeted there. I have the feeling that it was some type of convalescent home, for men who had been injured, and were on their way to recovery. The Hall in its heyday was owned by the Spencer-Stanhope family, who were connected to Diana, Princess of Wales.
Cawthorne Park was a must for us on any Bank Holiday, although we did go there between these high days, sometimes my aunts would go too and off we would troop to the bus stop, carrying our sandwiches, wrapped in newspaper and our bottles of water. Jam sandwiches which had been wrapped in newspaper was food for the Gods as far as we were concerned. Sometimes, we would have the luxury of a bottle of pop, to share, although I preferred my own bottle of water. Ginger beer was not quite as palatable as it might have been, having been handed round a few mouths, each of which had managed to deposit breadcrumbs in the bottle. I was always the last to have a drink, because I was our Marty and only a girl.
Sometimes we would be waiting ages for a bus, as the transport was rationed due to the shortage of fuel, this did not deter us in the least, it meant that we had longer to anticipate our visit.
When we eventually arrived in Cawthorne village, there was always an argument between the children, which entrance we would use, to gain access to the park. I preferred the main entrance, where there was a keepers cottage, which looked like something we read about in our Grimms fairy tale books. Strangely I usually had my way regarding that issue, no doubt I would pay for it by being pushed in the (shallow) river, accidently on purpose by my two cousins. They thought it great sport for me to become soaked, and even better if I still wore my shoes.
Once we were safely inside the park gates, we would thrust our sandwiches and drinks on to my long suffering mother and run, it was absolute Paradise to us, all that space and so beautiful with the trees and shrubs. We would run to the top of the hill and press our, by now grimy faces on to the lower row of windows, trying to peer inside the hall. It never occurred to us that this was wrong, it did if my mum caught up with us, we would be rewarded for our cheek, by a short, sharp slap on the bottom. Did we care? Not on your life, we were at Cawthorne. We wandered around the outside of the hall, and once my mum had established into which direction we had wandered, she would find a shady tree, by the side of the river where we would camp for the duration of our stay. We would return to her, as she sat placidly knitting, when our throats were parched and our stomachs rumbling flop down on the grass, to eat our picnic and re-charge our batteries. Nothing ever tasted as good as those jam sandwiches, sometimes, we even had an apple each, and we ate every scrap including the pips.
Our next venture was paddling in the river, and I would tuck the hem of my skirt under my knickers take off my shoes and socks, and walk into the deliciously cool water. It was perfectly safe where we paddled as there was a small waterfall which trickled over three broad tiers of bricks. This gave us plenty of room to splash our feet and anyone else who got in our way, and as I have said earlier, no harm would come as the river was so shallow at that point. I can remember one of the times I was helped on my way into the river, by one of my cousins or both, my shoes filled with water. Norah (my mum) was not amused, but of course I did not tell tales
( perfect little horror that I was) my cousins did not own up (not so perfect little horrors), so I was chastised for soaking my shoes and after they had been drained and wiped out with the newspaper, which had wrapped our sandwiches, they were hung on a branch of our tree to dry.
That was all well and good, it was a hot day, but it wasnt so good when we were nearly at the bus stop wending our weary way home, when we realised that my shoes were still decorating the tree and I was bare foot.
Norah, yet again was not amused, in fact she was really mad at us, she rushed back for the offending shoes, with dire threats of fate worse than death, if we dared to move from that spot.
Eventually, we were all mustered together standing at the bus stop, not quite as patiently as when we set off, we were tired and grumpy and although we would not have admitted it, in a thousand years, ready for our beds.
AN AFTERNOON IN LOCKE PARK. ~ BARNSLEY.Locke Park, situated in Barnsley, was a beautiful place to visit. The land had been donated to the town of Barnsley in 1861 by Mrs Phoebe Locke, for the purpose of a park being constructed in memory of her late husband, Joseph, who had died in September 1860.
Joseph Locke (not to be confused with the Irish tenor) was a local man and an accomplished engineer, after the death of Mrs Locke, her sister Emily donated the money for the construction of a tower to be situated in Locke Park, in memory of Phoebe. I must say that Locke Park is still there, sadly it became neglected and lost a lot of its former glory, however, I understand that plans are afoot to restore the park. The tower at the moment, is supported by scaffolds and is not safe to enter.
Lock Park was my second favourite place, the first, as I have mentioned earlier, being Cawthorne.
Living in the town centre of Barnsley, meant that we could walk to the park, which was great, not being dependent on public transport. My mum loved taking me there, and as usual my two cousins, Jack and Tony would come along too. There were two types of visits to the park, one would be a dressed up occasion and the other would be the ragamuffin type of visit. I must admit that I enjoyed both, Sunday was the favoured day of the week for the dressed up visit. Usually it would be late afternoon before we set off, mum dressed to the nines in an air force blue checked costume, as they were called in those days. I would wear my best frock, which at that time was a dark gold satin, and I loved it, it may have started its life as a pre-war bridesmaids dress, which my Auntie Mary would have skilfully unpicked and given it new life as a frock for me.
I was always awe struck when we arrived at the gates of Lock Park, there was a beautiful display of flowers in a huge round bed, flanked by borders of other flowers and shrubs. Surveying all this, was a statue of Joseph Locke, I was scared stiff of that statue, it was so imposing, the fact that Jack and Tony told me that Joe Locke climbed down from his plinth on the stroke of midnight to take a drink from the drinking water fountain, terrified me. (they were little devils, those too, but I loved them to bits).
Like a lot of children even though I was scared, the statue fascinated me too, although I used to dread that Joe might get the time wrong and climb down whilst we were there.
We would slowly meander to the to the part of the park, which was on a lower level, equally as beautiful, with all manner of plant, flowers and shrubs. I think that this was my favourite part of the park, it was so beautiful, it was built in a circle facing us across the circle, were the Alphabet Steps, simply called that, because there were twenty six steps.
Two huge stone lions, one on either side of the first step, stood permanently on guard, these did not scare me one bit, I loved them.
We used to have great fun, climbing those steps (I think this proves how easily we were amused in those days), sometimes I would forget that I was dressed up and took up the challenge of racing Jack and Tony, to see who could reach the twenty sixth step first. I never did beat them.
Locke Park Tower
This photo is how I remember Locke Park Tower, my mum and dad climbed up the tower in their "courting" days.
From the top of these steps, there was a breathtaking view of the parkland, lovely old oak trees which must have stood there for centuries, beautiful well kept grass. There were plenty of forms (benches) scattered about for us to sit and regain our breath, sometimes the Park Cafe would be open, but because it was war time, there would be very few refreshments on offer. More often than not we would slake our thirst from a water fountain, these were fascinating too, all you had to do was bend your head, press a button, for want of a better word, and lovely clear water would be ours for the drinking. My mum always supervised us at the drinking fountain, as it was quite tempting to splash each other if we had the slightest opportunity.
Every so often music could be heard coming from the direction of the bandstand, and we would eagerly go and listen to the band, I never knew whether these were military bands or maybe colliery bands. Where ever they came from, it was the icing on the cake for us, as we are all music lovers.
The childrens playground was a popular attraction at the park, although, if we were dressed in our Sunday best, even we rascals knew not go on the swings, see-saw, three penny bit or the big slide, which was best of all. ( we were not deprived every time, because sometimes we went to the park, mornings, wearing our playing out clothes).
Another thing which always drew me, was the greenhouses where the gardeners grew all manner of plants, it was rumoured that there was a banana tree in one of them. If that was so, we certainly didnt see any bananas, in fact we had no idea what they looked like until after the war was over.
It was always a very happy experience going to Locke Park and years later, I took my brother John and little sister Elizabeth, who had made her appearance when I was eleven years old.
I am glad to say that the cafe has re-opened and attempts are being made to restore Locke Park to its former glory, in its heyday it was certainly a credit to Barnsley.
music ~ "All I Ask of You"