We  have to report with great sadness that Jim Dunning passed away during the night of 7th Jan 2009. He was a kind and gentle man that we came to know when he used to walk down Finchcroft Lane as part of his recovery plan after an earlier illness. He walked most positively with his stick but always had time to pause by the garden gate to exchange observations on the world. He will be sorely missed. Jim wrote this article in September last year for the newsletter, and we feel it appropriate to restore it to the front page. [Bryn Jones] 

Being out of action since last November has given me time to sit and think.  The older one gets the more one goes back to the good old days, so here are some of my recollections of the 1920s and 1930s in Bishop Burton.  My apologies to Geoff Swann, Geoff Ellerington and brother John who I am sure will tell me I have missed something out!

I was born at Cold Harbour in 1922.  John is my twin brother and I have a younger brother, Andrew, who is still farming (aged 83) at Newbald.  From the age of five we walked to the village school (1.5 miles each way) with a packed lunch.  There was no delivering by car in those days.  Rene and Sheila, who lived next door, used to go with us.  The school was divided into two rooms;  the big one for seniors and the little one for juniors.  My first teacher was Miss Wales, and my main recollection of her was that she had a tendency to spit when leaning over your shoulder when checking your work.  She was a lovely motherly lady, who lived in the house opposite the little pond where Nigel and Mary Cutland now live.  Miss Allen was the headteacher and was quite frightening.  There ought to be more like her today!




There was Sunday School in the afternoon taken by Betty, the vicar’s daughter.  The vicar had a ‘cats whiskers’ wireless and he used to let us listen to it.  We had no electricity then and our wireless was powered by an accumulator which we had to get charged regularly at Mr Duck’s joinery shop (which adjoined the house where David and Jane Robinson now live).  The Ducks had a petrol pump that used to swing onto the main road;  there wouldn’t be much traffic in those days!

On Empire Day (does anybody remember it?) we all had to file past the Union Jack and salute it.  Just fancy doing that today!  And on Armistice Day we went to the War Memorial for a service.  The other red letter days were the Sunday School outings to Bridlington, the Pantomime and a party in Mr Huzzard’s field at hay time (this was at the farm where Ben Byass now lives).  A Rose Show was held at the Hall in the summer, and I remember being scared stiff of the skeleton of Blacklock, one of the famous racehorses of the Hall Watts, which was kept in a large glass case in the room where tea was served.

Our village policeman was Mr Gibson (the police house was where Mary Burr now lives), and his bicycle might have come in handy on mischief night. 

We had no water or electricity at Cold Harbour, just open fires for heating, an open range for cooking and certainly no electric blankets.  The drinking water was brought in a large wooden barrel by horse and cart from a pump in the wall opposite Joan Pillmoor’s house.  Incidentally, this would all drain through the churchyard before entering the well!  All the other water for the house and stock came from the roofs.  We had to lead a lot of water for the stock from the pump in the mere.  It was a full-time job for a man in a dry summer.

The weather seemed much more seasonable in those days;  proper winters with very hard frosts, tobogganing and skating on the pond and freezing thick fogs, and then the long hot summers when the sun always shone (or did it?).

Harvest was the climax of the farming year.  It could take anything up to six weeks depending on the weather.  Now it seems to last about a week and is a lot less work.  I miss seeing the rows of stooks.  We had to set them up running north to south so that they could get the sun on both sides.  They were supposed to hear the church bell ring three times before we could bring them home to be stacked.  My proudest day was when I was promoted to ploughing with a team of three horses and a two-furrow plough, when I had the pleasure of turning the earth over, and the companionship of hundreds of seagulls.

And then the war came and spoilt it all.  I was called up to the army on 1st September 1939,  finally coming home seven years and one month later.  How things had changed, even then.

P.S.  One last thought.  In those days, all the womenfolk seemed to wear black and tried their best to look like Grannies at half that age.  And cantankerous old men with walking sticks spent their time complaining that things were not like they used to be.  I’m sure we don’t do that now do we?  In any case I only have a zimmer frame!

(First published in the Bishop Burton Newsletter September 2008)

We used to look forward to the Christmas party in the school.  The squire’s wife used to come and we were warned to be on our best behaviour.  There was a nativity play which we all had to take part in.  We usually played on the green during break time;  the only problem was that John Ouston, who farmed at Low Baulk, used to bring his cows to graze on the green in the summer.  He left his two very good dogs in charge of them to stop them straying, whilst he adjourned to the Altisidora for a game of dominoes with the landlord, Mr Craggy.  Woe betide anybody who came in for a pint and interrupted them.  I guess it must have been an early case of ‘gentleman farming’.  The problem was that we had to be very careful where we trod after the cows had been there.  If we took something into the school there would have been fireworks from Miss Allen.

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