To say I owe everything to my parents is a pretty obvious thing to say because of course they gave me life. However, for me it much more than just being born it is in the fact that though they have both been dead for several years I am still influenced by their parental teachings every new day of my life.
Mum was born Mona Thompson in Bradford on 29th March 1921. Dad Charles born in Grimethorpe, Yorkshire on 30th June 1913 was not at my birth. They married on Boxing Day 26th December 1941 at St Augustine’s Church, Otley Road, Bradford
My father was called up for war service in 1942. He served as an Aircraftsman in the RAF in North Africa. He was de-mobbed in 1946 so I would be three years old before we met for the first time .
I was born right in the middle of World War II. The date was 7th April 1943. The place 1 Stanacre Place, Otley Road, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England . To say I was born in the middle of a blitz would be untrue as Bradford was a good place to be during the war as it was fortunate to suffer only from a single bomb ( there were no casualties ) dropped on Lingards store by a German aircraft which they say had to get rid of all of its unused bombs after an extensive bombing by German Luftwaffe in an air raid over Liverpool. Liverpool as you will come to find out was the home of my Grandmother Janet.
During the war Dad served in the RAF and was awarded the Burma Star, Africa Star and campaign medals. Mum was involved in the building of aircraft at the Avro “shadow” factory next to what is now Leeds Bradford Airport (formerly Yeadon Aerodrome), north-west Leeds.
This factory employed 17,500 workers at a time when the population of Yeadon was just 10,000. The old taxiway from the factory to the runway is still evident. There is a “tale” that the factory roof was painted grass green and so to fool the German bomber planes looking for factories such as this to bomb. On the roof would be placed lots of life sized wooden cows and sheep. Each night factory workers would go onto the roof and rearrange the animals into a different daily pattern. It evidently worked as the factory remained intact the entire war and several parts of it still stand andare used this very day.
Dad never much talked about his war service. Probably his only tale he told me was of the time he was a jeep driver at an airfield in England when he picked up Wing Commander Guy Gibson and his dog Nigger of the Dam Busters.
I was their only child. My was I indulged. Even more so by my Dads two sisters Aunties Fanny (b 1900, d 1964) and Agnes (b 1901, d 1995). What ever I wanted I got. Trouble was it was the post war years so there wasn’t much to have. My parents first house was a small terrace cottage at 27 Hardy Street, Wibsey, Bradford. Just like my birth place it had an outside lav and the bath was a large tin in front of the Yorkshire Range. For being in the services my father qualified for a Prefab. So in 1947 we moved into 14 Birdforth Grove, Buttershaw, Bradford. This was one of the first houses to be built at Buttershaw which was to become, at the time, the largest council housing estate in Bradford.
The Prefab was a detached single storey building. It was made of steel sheeting off site then quickly assembled on site. With a large garden to each of its four sides. There was a large fitted kitchen with a gas fridge, large front room with a hallway to the front door two bedrooms and three piece bathroom. It was a Palace. I can remember the neighbours next door the Newalls, Archie and Doreen. The other side the Greaves family. Daily delivered milk was poured from the milkman’s churn into your own jug then put into the fridge. No outside doors were ever locked because nobody had anything to pinch. The only luxury item was a Cossor radio which permanently poured out the BBC Light Programme. Then one day Mum read in the Telegraph & Argus known locally as the T and A that Radio Luxembourg, a commercial station broadcasting from Europe, was now on a stronger radio signal on Medium Wave 208. So in the evening when the signal was at its peak the family would listen to 208 which was the first commercial radio station I heard. I joined the Ovaltineys the kids club sponsored by the drink Ovaltine. On the Light Programme I would be mesmerized by listening to Journey into Space and the daily adventures of Dick Barton.
My weekly comic papers were the Dandy , Beano and Eagle. Every week I would become Dan Dare and Desperate Dan. Also on the radio was my favourite Educating Archie starring Peter Brough and his ventriloquist dummy Archie Andrews. I was a fan club member . I believe Educating Archie was the first radio programme to mass produce merchandise depicting the shows star. There were Archie Andrews dolls, clothing and even Archie bars of soap. Mum bought me one of the dolls. It had a contraption inside its head and body which you worked and Archie’s lips would move. I became quite an accomplished ventriloquist to my family, friends and remember at aged about 10 performing at a junior school concert and rewarded with a miniature mouth-organ. Was no good playing that though.
Several years later my affection for Peter Brough was shattered when I saw him in a show with Archie at the Alhambra Theatre. To my amazement his lips moved while talking Archie talked. The radio must have covered up many a flaw of several artists. Suffice to say Educating Archie never made in onto television.
My first introduction to TV was watching the Queens Coronation on a neighbours 9” screen black and white set housed in a large wood box in a house next door to my aunties.
In 1951 I have a vague memory of visiting the Festival of Britain in London with my Aunty Fanny. Also seeing Buckingham Palace and standing on the steps of 10 Downing Street. I still have the commemorative crown that was cast to celebrate the occasion.
In 1952 we moved onto a new council housing estate at Odsal. The address 110, Elmfield Drive was a semidetached two storey three bedroom house with gardens on three sides. Over the back fence was a mill dam which supplied the water to Robertshaws Mill on Halifax Road. Over the years the mill was demolished, the dam filled in and houses built in their place. One of the houses was to become the home of my Aunt Agnes.
Odsal Stadium was Dad’s second home as he loved going to watch play there his beloved Bradford Northern. Northern as they were affectionately known have had a checkered career in that vast stadium. Now they are known as the Bradford Bulls and seem to be doing better in the Super League. Odsal Stadium could have become the Wembley of the North if correct decisions had been made by the council who owned the sitein the 50’s. Every few years we see in the T & A a scheme to transform the stadium into a super stadium come to light but inevitably the dreams are shattered.
Mum and Dad loved going out to the theatre, cinema and pub. Their favourite theatre was the Bradford Alhambra where they once took me to see Laurel and Hardy and the annual pantomimes. I can also remember going with Mum to see Mario Lanza at the St Georges Hall theatre. The tickets were one Guinea which was quite a lot in those days.
Their favourite pubs were the Coll at Coll Place, Odsal later to become Coach and Horses (now demolished) and the Beehive and Waggoners on Halifax Road. Both still serving. Mum would drink Timothy Taylors Barley Wine and Dad a pint of Bitter.
Two or three time a week I would be taken to the cinema. There were lots of them. The local the Cosy, Wibsey and a short bus ride to the Towers and Carlton, Manchester Road: The Birch in Birch Lane and the Low Moor picture house in Low Moor. For a treat we would go the New Vic later the mighty Gaumont, Bradford to see flics in CinemaScope. I remember the cinemas’ always being pretty full. Mum was a Hollywood Musicals fan. “Annie Get Your Gun”, “Carousel” were just two of the Rodgers and Hammerstein films I remember seeing. For her birthday and Christmas present most would buy her a book on films. The bookcase at home was full of them.
Mum told me that my name Adrian had come from a character from a film starring Stirling Hayden (Bahama Passage – Adrian Ainsworth).
Like most Bradford folk, all the family worked in the woollen textile mills in the Bradford area. Dad was a Warp Twister. He would attach the warp thread to the loom prior to the material being produced. Mum was a Burler and Mender which meant having to check the finished pieces of cloth and mend any flaws in the fabric. Aunties Fanny and Agnes were Weavers.
One day when Mum picked me up from junior school with her was a dog. “Bob” a wire haired fox terrier which was my first pet.
Mum and dad loved going on holiday and were the first of the Thompson/Hartshorn clan to go on a Europe package holiday. I remember loads of the clan gathering at Yeadon Aerodrome to wave them off. Travelling overseas then was a rarity especially on an airplane.
Dad died suddenly in 1993. My mother continued living in Elmfield Drive later moving to Baildon in 2003. She died suddenly in 2006. Their hearts just packed in.