Clare White - My Yorkshire childhood

Readers are invited to share their memories of growing up in the county. Clare White tells us in the first of this new series how glad she is her father captured those early years on camera

Home to me is Normanton, West Yorkshire. Dad was a policeman and one of my earliest memories is of the mid-1970s and being allowed to help Miss McNally operate the old fashion switchboard at Normanton police station.

At that time I used to pretend to type on the upturned layers taken from biscuit or chocolate boxes (they made just the right sort of noise). They doubled up as a good cash register too!

I played out in St John’s Crescent with all the other kids in the street and we played everything from making tents with old sheets and clothes horses to kerby and cops and robbers on our go-karts (home made of course) and bikes. My roller skates and Tiny Tears doll were my treasured possessions. Even as an adult, being out in the fresh air reminds me of ‘playing out’.

Sometimes when I think about school I feel as if I have one foot in a very traditional Yorkshire and another in a very modern Yorkshire. My first school was St John’s at Normanton, complete with real blackboards and outside toilets while my two young children go to a fabulously equipped, welcoming school.

I remember walking to school, over the railway bridge at Normanton with my dad on a winter’s morning, watching our breath in the cold air, pretending to be dragons and looking for the fairies hiding in the railway banking. I remember the smell of candy floss at Heath Common Fair at Easter time and the lure of fish and chips from Marshall’s Fish Shop.

And then there was the caravan waiting for us outside school on Friday afternoons in the summer. I remember mum and dad bringing us pop and crisps after a Saturday night at the Irish Centre in Leeds.

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I can feel my mum’s hand in mine, hands which were never manicured or painted, after washing our clothes in the twin tub. I wish I had more childhood memories of my mum, who gave me my sense of fun and the feeling of security and of being loved. She died suddenly when I was eight.

But I am glad to say my wonderful dad has many of my childhood memories in the photographs and the cine film he took.

Many of you enjoy writing for us and we hope you will continue to share your thoughts with us. This time we are asking you tell us about your childhood memories of Yorkshire.

Email the editor to find out more.

The print version of this article appeared in the January 2012  issue of Yorkshire Life 

We can deliver a copy direct to your door – order online here 

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