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Terrington 2020 Project - First interview with John Goodwill

Date of interview: March 2001
Interviewers: Bryan Wood and Gerard Naughton
Transcribed by: Susie Wildey

Listen to the recording:


The full transcript of the interview with John follows, running to 20 or so printed pages. You can select below one of a number of topics if you would like to pick out discussion of that particular topic. Also below are lists of names and places which occur in the transcript so you can search for any you are interested in.


Click on a Topic to show all Q&As in that topic in blue, with the rest of the text grey. Then click on any blue Q&A to move to the next one in that topic. Click Restore document to restore the original document.


The following names occur one or more times. To find occurrences of one of them, press Ctrl+F (Windows)/Command+F (Mac), type the name you want into the Search box which appears, and click the Down arrow or Next button.

Armitage, Brecon, Carr, Cooke, Estill, Farmer, Foster, Goodrick, Goodwill, Guthrie, Hartas, Hope, Hornsey, Hutchinson, Johnson, Leaf, Miller, Rhodes, Wimbush, Worsley


The following places occur one or more times. To find occurrences of one of them, press Ctrl+F (Windows)/Command+F (Mac), type the place name you want into the Search box which appears, and click Down arrow or Next button.

Castle Howard, The Cliffe, Coneysthorpe, Dewsbury, Easthorpe, Ganthorpe, Heslerton, Hovingham, Hull, Little Terrington, Malton, Menethorpe, Sheriff Hutton, Strensall, Wiganthorpe, Wombleton

Transcript of interview

Evening John. Can we start by talking about when and where you were born?

Well I was born in the village, at the bottom of the village, at Oakdene, where that was the family home for many many, many, many years.

Do you want to tell us when?

Yeah, 1935 – 5th July.

Thank you. And you say that was your family home for many years, so your parents lived in the same house as well?

Yeah, as far back as they can remember actually, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents, because they were joiners, wheelwrights and cabinet makers, and they had a business down there, so that’s where they lived, the joiner’s shops and everything were down there.

Both your parents came from the village then?

No my mother came from the West Riding actually, yeah she came from Dewsbury. What used to happen in those days, you see, new blood used to come into the village, there was these gentlemen’s houses, like Wiganthorpe and Castle Howard and places like that, and they used to get servants in to come, to work and that was new blood into the village. And of course these ladies married young men in the village and that’s how me mother came to be here, me mother worked at Wiganthorpe.

Wiganthorpe Hall?

Yeah, for Lord Holden actually in those days.

Right, was that before the Hall burnt down?

Yeah, that was a long time before yeah, me mother got married to me father in 1930 and the Hall burnt down in the ….. it wasn’t burnt down wasn’t Wiganthorpe it was demolished actually. It was bought by a man called Guthrie and the Hall was, the main part of the house demolished actually.

You say your family were wheelwrights, was that what your father did?

Me father was a joiner actually, he wasn’t a wheelwright, me father was a joiner and he, well he joined until he died actually, but he didn’t have a business in the village, the business terminated before the War and then he worked at Castle Howard as an estate joiner for many years. I mean the family’s done work at Castle Howard Estate for centuries.

Since the Estate started then?

Yeah, yes definitely.

You say that your family can be traced back in the village to …

About 1600 actually, but in those days they didn’t call ‘em Goodwill, they called ‘em Goodaille (he spells it) and there was a period when we were called Goodalls (he spells it again), there was one lot of Goodwells and then it got to Goodwill but they used to write it down. I understand that in the Church when they used to christen children they’d say we’d call them John Goodall and they’d write it down G O O D A L L because in the village we are, to the villagers, we are still called Goodalls, they don’t call us Goodwill, they call us Goodall.

So it was the way it was pronounced?

The way it was pronounced, yeah.

You say your mother worked at Wiganthorpe Hall?


Did she work there until …

She was … no she worked all over did me mother actually. She started work out at Birdforth, and then she went down to London and she worked up in Keswick and she worked at Wiganthorpe, and then she worked, I think she worked at Ganthorpe for a little while. But she had the chance to go and work for the Royal family but the pay was no good so she wouldn’t go and work for them.

And did you have any brothers and sisters?

Yeah, me father had 5 sisters, no brothers, he was the only one, me father.


And I was the only …, I had a sister, there was 2 of us actually. Me sister’s died, she died a few years ago.

She didn’t live in the village?

No she married a farmer and they lived out at Menethorpe, near Malton.

And did you get on with your sister?

Yes, yeah, I got on with her, she was a bit older – 4½ years older than me.

Grandparents – they would have lived in the village as well?

Yeah well me grandfather, obviously he was the joiner and wheelwright and me grandmother actually she taught at the school which was opposite the doctor’s surgery now, which was called a Dame School, that was sponsored by the Carlisles – the Countess, Earl of Carlisle – and me grandmother came from Hull and she actually lodged over the passageway of the old School House where Grace Hoggard lives now, there’s a bedroom over the passageway there, which is a garage. And my granny actually lived in there, slept in there. They called her Wright, and her relatives in Hull were a very famous whaling family in Hull.

So what brought her to the village?

Teaching, teaching yeah.

Was that at the village school?

No, no there was two schools, there was the one at the bottom which was sponsored by the Carlisles and then they built the one at the top here which was sponsored by the Worsleys, which is now the Church of England school.

Could the children in the village go to either school?

I think so yes, I don’t know how they chose, I mean it was a long time before my time (laughs!)

Going back to the house that you lived in when you were a child, can you describe anything about it?

Well yeah, I mean we didn’t have … we had cold water and we had electricity, but we didn’t have hot water and we didn’t have flush toilets. We had a toilet up the garden which you know, there was a bucket arrangement which had to emptied every week, which that was my job unfortunately and when I got older, not too pleasant but we didn’t get sewage into the village until 1960 or thereabouts,

As late as that?

‘61, yeah. That’s when main sewage came, but it was rather cold on a winter’s night, you know, if you’re not too well going up to the closet up the top of the garden.

I bet it was, and what about taking a bath, was that in a tin bath?

The bath was a tin bath in front of the fire and then we got really modern and we put a full size bath in the outside wash-house and we used to put the copper on to heat the water and tip the water out of the copper with a bucket into the bath, and then you got bathed in the wash-house, and in winter-time snow used to be blowing under the tiles into the wash-house you know, then you did a quick dash back to the house, after you’d had a bath (laughs!). And then we got hot and cold water in and obviously eventually mains toilets and what not, sewage.

All the village went onto the mains services about the same time then?

Yeah, sewage was put in, quite a few had septic tanks, and those septic tanks were just connected up to the main sewer.

Right. So when did electric come to the village?

Electricity came to the village, it would come in the ‘30’s actually. It came in the ‘30’s. I know my father, he, they had a lot of trouble, people in the village didn’t want electricity and they petitioned for it and like water, me father told me that there’s a house opposite actually, opposite Oak Dene at the bottom of the village, and one of the Wimbushes lived in that house and there was a pump in their back yard and me Dad had to go across there and get so many buckets of water before 8 o’clock, because after that Mrs Wimbush was up and about and she didn’t want disturbing. So on wash-days they had to go and get these buckets of water before 8 o’clock.

So was it their pump, or was it ….?

Yeah it was their pump, no it was their pump. Most of the pumps in the village were down the South side of the village, there were village pumps scattered all over, I mean I remember the village pumps and most of them were down that far side of the village actually.

There’s still one on the Plump isn’t there?

Yes, it doesn’t work, but there’s one, it did work oh yes, they all worked.

I just wondered if it was ever actually a pump or just put there for ….

No it is there, there’s a well there, yeah.

Were there any actual wells below the ground in the village?

Yeah, there’s one at The Wells actually, opposite … where Pam Reston lives, I think there’s a well there actually in the house itself, or there was, I think it was concreted over. But yeah there were wells around.

You would think that the village being quite high up, might be a long way below ground?

To get the water table, no I don’t think so.

Did you have a garden?

We had a large garden, we used to grow most of our own vegetables, you know for ourselves and we also kept pigs to kill and eat the bacon and pork and we had chickens and we had geese, and we had cows which provided our own milk, butter and things like that.

So you were quite self-sufficient?

Yeah, most of the properties, well a lot of the properties in the village actually kept and fattened a pig. You know this is sort of during the War years.

And did people kill themselves then?

There was a couple of butchers in the village who used to come and kill – Mr Estil was one of them, Charlie Rhodes was another, who used to kill, and Goodwills used to kill as well. And you didn’t eat the hams actually, you used to sell the hams on the black market to pay for the bacon, you never ate the hams, you ate the shoulder and the bacon you see. Somebody else ate the hams (laughs!), but there was no deep freezers you see and what you did, you all used to give each other what we called pig fries, there would be a bit of liver, and a bit of pork and a bit of this and a bit of that, because there was no deep freezers and fridges and you couldn’t just eat that volume of meat. The bacon was obviously salted down in pantries and a lot of houses today are suffering because you go into a lot of houses and they’ve got salt backs up the walls where there was salted bacon in the pantries, and that salt’s still in the house and you’ve got to knock it out or whatever. So it’s still causing a lot of problems is this salt in some cottages in the village and of course you couldn’t keep the pork so you’d give it out, you see, as pig fries and then when they killed their pig you got some back.

Right. And there was a shop in the village as well, was there?

There were several shops – there was a co-operative where Colin Stonor lives, there was Mrs Goodrick’s which is now the village shop, and there was Rhodes’es right at the top, which is now Diana Butler’s house, that was Rhodes’es shop.

Were they all general stores or …?

Ermmmm, yeah they were all general stores, yeah. And then there was the tailor’s shop which is now the dining room for the pub, that was Leaf's Tailor and Breeches Maker and that’s now the dining room for the village pub. The one with the bay window, he used to sit in there cross-legged and stitch his, he was quite famous for doing hunting regalia, hunting pink and hunting breeches.

Were there any mobile travelling tradesmen?

Yeah, we used to get people in ….. there was 2 butchers actually, Estils and Goodwills in the village and then there was about 3 joiners, there was Goodricks, Armitage, well our family were joiners, and then there was the blacksmith. So there was quite a few, you know, tradespeople in the village.

Were there any mobile shops?

Yup, we used to get the fish man and 2 or 3 bread men and greengrocer used to come in every week.

I don’t suppose many people had cars in those days?

Well they wouldn’t have, I mean my memory is sort of from the War on, you see I was born in ’35 so I started to become aware of things in the 40’s, of course there were very few cars during the War because petrol was rationed you see. But most people used the village shop, there was a bus service, Hopes’es had the bus services you see.

Go back to your garden again, and did you do any gardening yourself?

Oh yeah, I had to help. I mean you had to help with the digging and everything else, I mean that was one of your jobs you see.

What sort of age were you when you started doing that?

When I started digging? Oh I think I was about 8 or 9, I mean. I was milking a cow I remember me parents went to bed with flu and me sister, all in bed with flu and I was going to Terrington School in those days so I would only be about 8, so I was milking 2 cows twice a day at 8. You know you think of a kid now milking a cow at 8 and looking after your parents with flu in bed and then going to school (laughs!)

And did you use all the milk from these 2 cows yourself?

Yeah most, we did. We separated the milk and kept the cream, made it into butter, so we, you know, either drank the milk as whole milk or made curd out of it, made butter out of the cream, and then the rest of it went back to the pigs, you see, the skimmed milk went to the pigs.

What sort of things did you grow in your garden?

Ohhhh …. everything, you know. All types of vegetables, nothing fancy I mean, it was spuds, greens, peas, beans, cabbages, you know there was nothing like all this stuff that you grow nowadays, you know.

And with not having a freezer you wouldn’t be able to keep them?

No, no. No you ate sprouts in winter and peas in summer and

Whatever was in season?

That’s right, and it tasted better, and you got all the mud from the cows as well you see (laughs!)

You say you attended the village school, can you remember much about your school life?

Oh yeah quite a lot actually. ‘Cos I started, you see, when the War starts, I went to school in 1940, yeah I started school in ’40 and the War was on and I can remember actually the armoured convoys actually coming through the village, they’d start in the morning and some days they’d be rumbling through all day. And prior to D-day, no, no it wouldn’t be then would it…. oh yes, prior to D-day I mean they were going through the village continually. But they were all around us you see, there was a Camp at the bottom of the village which was ….. Land Army were down there. School – there was 2 open fires at school, there was no school dinners you took sandwiches, the children from Ganthorpe walked to school and there was no central heating or anything like that. And you got the cane regularly and …

So was there 2 classes?

There was 2 classes yeah, Mrs Coates she taught, she was the Headmistress, taught in the big class and a lady from Sheriff Hutton called Miss Wood, taught in the junior side of the school. And then Mrs Coates left and then we had a succession …. I left Terrington School in ’46 and went to Malton Grammar School, but before that we had a succession of teachers and actually Robert Goodwill’s mother, who was called Joan Breckon actually was the last person to teach me at Terrington School, she came as Head Teacher and so she was the last Head Teacher, but I think there was about 4 or 5 in about 2 years of different teachers. All sorts of things happened, I mean, we used to disappear from school and follow the foxhounds and get the cane when we got back and we were caught for smoking, I got the cane for that, and I was smoking at 8 and got into severe trouble at the school because the vicar came up and the policeman came up and I got the cane and then father found out 2 weeks later and I got a good hiding again, so that terminated my smoking career at about 8 which, I’ve always thanked them. No, never smoked since, no, no.

There was a policeman in the village, was there?

There was a policeman in the village, he lived where Dougie Hartas lived and I remember him as Johnson actually, the first policeman I remember was Johnson. He was a bit of a rogue actually was Mr Johnson, because there was a lot of poaching went on in the village and Mr Johnson the policeman was one of them, there was quite a few families in the village who were poachers, in those days. It was all different to what it is now, I mean, there wasn’t these organised shoots you see, you actually went out and shot pheasants to eat, you didn’t sell them, you just … you know because you were short of money you see, you were so short of money you went out and shot pheasants and rabbits and whatever and you ate them. But Johnson would very often ride up the village on his bike and he’d tell me father "there’s a couple of pheasants in a tree down there – one for you and one for me!" you see, so (laughs!)

How many children would there have been at the school when you were there, would you say?

Well what happened you see, we got the evacuees from Hull. When I first started school there would possibly be, oh maybe about 30 or 40, but then we got a big influx of evacuees from Hull and that really boosted it, I mean they came with their own teachers and I can’t remember what it went up to, but a lot, it was packed was the school. And then of course they were only here for a fairly short space of time then they all went back again, and I know it caused a fair bit of grief in the village at one stage.

Are you still in touch with anybody you went to school with, has anybody else stayed near here?

Errrr …. not many really no, there’s very few left in the village who I went to school with now. Dougie Hartas actually, yeah Macker was at school when I started, he’s older than me, and Dougie Hartas was at school yeah. Errmmmm …. younger than me and most of ‘em have gone actually. I mean the younger ones like the Peter Scalings they were there much later than I you see, Ann Hartas didn’t …. oh Jackie Hornsey I think she would just be … and Beryl and Edwin Cooke will be at school. He would just start when I was about to leave, so there are one or two, but the vast majority have gone out of the village, which is a pity.

What sort of places did you enjoy visiting, moving on to your youth now, what sort of activities did you get up to in the evening?

Well, we used to go dancing quite a lot, I mean, we had a Youth Club in the village and I used to enjoy dancing so I used to go dancing 3 or 4 times a week and we used to go to the pictures at Malton on a Saturday night, but apart from that that was it really, you know.

How did you get to the pictures?

On Hope’es bus. And that was a story in itself because Hope’es would run in those days maybe 5 buses and there was a pretty good service to Malton on a Saturday and the last bus out was, possibly about quarter past ten from Malton and they had a 26 seater and the gospel truth they actually had 92 on that coach one night. There was one or two in the cab with the driver, there was one or two sitting in where the front mudguard is at the side of the cab outside, it was packed inside the bus and they were actually hanging on the spout and standing on a rail which went down the side of the bus on the outside. There was 92 on it on that bus (laughs!)

Dangerous !


Was that after you’d been to the Palace Cinema?

Yeah there was 2 cinemas in Malton, there was the Palace and the Majestic, there was one down Norton, so you went there and it was about, I think, 1/6 to go to the pictures.

Where was the other one?

Down Norton actually, where the Polar garage is now, that was the Majestic. Where the Polar garage is, in Commercial Street in Norton. Go over the level crossing, turn left and the Polar Garage is on your right and that was the picture house. But there was a few things went on in the village, I mean, we had a Drama Group in the village, which I was in for a little while and we had the Youth Club, you entertained yourselves, we used to play football and various things. There wasn’t a proper football field, we used to play anywhere.

Where was the Youth Club in the village?

At the, it was ….. it started off down in the old Village Hall which is opposite the surgery and then eventually we moved up into the new Village Hall in 1953, at The Cliffe there, which is obviously now the old Village Hall. No, no there was nothing like that, no there was no snooker or anything like that.

So what did you do at the Youth Club?

Well, what did we do, goodness me? Played games, whatever you know.

What sort of age children went there?

Oh I would say maybe up to about 15 something like 16 ….. oh no there would be more wouldn’t there, there’d have to be. Yeah, they’d maybe 18/19 that age, yeah up to that age, yeah.

Were there dances there at the weekend?

Oh yeah, it was absolutely packed, I mean when they got the Village Hall going the Village Hall was packed dances on a Friday night.

With people from all over the area?

They came from all over, they were very famous were Terrington dances, yeah.

Seems strange in such a remote place?

Yeah, yeah.

What made them famous, was it music, or live bands they had?

I don’t know, they were bands, yeah live bands, not big bands, I mean they were local bands but they were pretty good, it was just the thing in those days, you know people danced. But going back to the War I found it quite worrying at times, because you know, you were always conscious that the …. you were at risk with the Germans coming across, you know, you were picking snippets up from your parents and I can remember we were surrounded by airfields and I can remember when they were doing the Thousand Bomber Raids they would all start to group up, you know at night, they’d get up there and you’d look up into the sky and you wouldn’t be able to find a square foot of spare area up there, you know sky, there were just bombers everywhere. And they were just circling round and the whole house was shaking and then suddenly they’d gone! They’d just gone! And then you’d hear them coming back you see, and you could always tell when the Germans came over because the German bombers always made a throbbing sound, the engine note was always different to a British plane. I could actually identify planes by their engine noise, I could identify British planes by their engine noises, which was quite remarkable really. But the Germans always gave a sort of voo, voo, voo, voom which was a different note from a German plane.

There must have been a lot of air activity overhead then was there, for you to become such an expert?

Well there was, oh yeah, I mean it was over all the time, there was yeah, aircraft flying over you all the time. I mean there was airfields all around you see. The nearest one was Wombleton.

What sort of planes did they have at Wombleton?

They were, I think, they were Lancasters actually and when it became operational there were Canadians at Wombleton. There was a bomber actually crashed up here in Lou Howard’s field, it’s just up on the left, and one Saturday afternoon this plane was coming across – I saw it actually I was down the village – I saw this plane come across the top of the village and it was on fire, and it came down and it caught in some trees down near the lake, there’s some very tall pine trees down there and beech trees, and it hit these trees and it crashed actually into the field just above Lou Howard’s farm on the left. There’s a stone wall, it’s the second stone wall up and it crashed there, and all the crew were killed. Me father went up to see if they could do any good, but they were all dead.

That was on its way to Wombleton?

It was, yeah, they’d got it all armoured up, I don’t think there was any bombs on, but there was banging, it was burning all night and there was all these explosions, but there were not big ones, it was ammunition, it was machine gun ammunition I would have thought, and it was going, blazing all night. I think it was all ammunitioned up, apart from the bombs, ready to go off and they were just doing a test flight I think.

So was that the only aircraft that crashed?

Oh no, no, no they crashed all over. I mean, there was a Dornay 217 crashed at the back of the wood near Peter Goodwill’s farm actually and the German crew gave themselves up at Coneysthorpe searchlight camp which was near the crossroads. We went down on the Sunday, it crashed on the Saturday night, and me Dad took us down on the Sunday and the pilot’s revolver was actually hanging in a tree and they walked down, one of them was wounded, and they walked down to the searchlight site and they woke the Guard up and gave themselves up. And then there was one crashed on the way to Malton, on the right hand side, there’s a place, there was a quarry but they dump straw there now, one crashed there. There was quite a few crashes round and about.

Was there a plane once dropped bombs on Little Terrington?

Oh yes, yeah, yeah there was the bombing of Little Terrington. Rumour has it that this German bomber was going back and he wanted to jettison his bomb load and he flew, sort of, from over from Peter Goodwill’s direction across Little Terrington and headed over in that direction and dropped the string of bombs and all the bombs on the north side of the hill exploded. One hit, I think it was Carrs’ lavatory actually, and demolished a toilet, outside closet, and then the others dropped on the other side of the hill and we went next day, and I was only very young and we picked these incendiary bombs up and carried them back in to the village and laid them on the policeman’s front lawn, which he was quite horrified about, but we never thought anything about it! But the other thing of course, was all the ammunition huts too you see, we had ammunition huts right up into the bottom of the village and those ammunition huts were all through the woods of Castle Howard, and they went right back to Malton, in actual fact the last hut was just before where those new houses are on the right as you go down Castle Howard Road to Malton, the last ammunition hut was there, and they were semi-circular Nissen huts open at each end and down there they had naval shells in, and there was 5 shells to a hut and they were about 15" in diameter and I can see them as if it were yesterday. They were the full width of the shed, they were about 15" in diameter and they were all painted yellow and they had rope on the driving band at the end, they had a big piece of rope round to protect the copper driving band, and then of course all the other huts had every type of ammunition you could think of, you know, high explosives, guncotton, rockets, everything.

And these were all unguarded?

Unguarded, all unguarded and there was a camp constructed specially at the crossroads at Welburn there to service all this ammunition. Yeah

And moving onto friendships from school, or after school, perhaps? When did you meet your wife?

Errrr … well after I’d been in the Forces actually, there was quite a jump there, I did me National Service and I’d been going out with a young lady before that and like a lot of lads in the village when they did the National Service and they came back they all changed their girlfriends, it was quite noticeable actually. I think every one of them changed their girlfriends and I’d been to Janet’s (me wife’s) 21st birthday party years before and with someone else actually, and Janet came to work in Malton, because she worked for General Accident, and they opened a branch in Malton and she came to work in Malton, and I worked in Malton in those days and we met up and she actually comes from Wintringham – Janet came from Wintringham, which is out near Rillington.

Well, that’s took us nicely into the next section about work for Nobby? Right, thank you very much. I’m Gerard Naughton, universally known as Nobby and I’m going to do the second part of the interview with John and I’m starting on the work part of the interview. You already said John that you were working at a very early age, you were actually milking cows and digging gardens at the age of 8

Oh yes, yeah I used to help me father, me father was an undertaker and I used to help him to make coffins as well. I can still make a coffin if necessary, if you want one (laughs!)

And was it a regular job you had with your father making the coffins or did you just …

Oh no, well I mean it was regular when anybody died, you know, I mean he did quite a few in the village, I mean Billy Goodrick also did funerals, so you know, he would get half and me father would get half you see.

Did that sort of supplement the family income?

Yes, yeah, they had no money you see, people’s priority – everything was different in those days I mean your money, you paid for your food, you got your clothes and that was basically it, there was nothing else, you didn’t go on holiday, you couldn’t afford to go on holiday. You know there was no spare cash, you didn’t have televisions and videos and everything else, you had the bare essentials and food was the top priority, then you were kept clothed, nothing extravagant and that was it. You were so short of money, me father in those days was on £6 a week.

Mmmmm, and was he employed by Castle Howard?

At that time he was an estate joiner at Castle Howard, yes. He had to supplement the income, yeah, that’s why he had the cows, the pigs and the chickens and everything. We didn’t buy any milk, any eggs or anything you see.

So what was your first real job then?

Well I started off, after I left the Grammar School and I started off as an ….. I served me time as an apprentice electrician and I served me

Where did you do that?

I did it at Malton for a company at Malton and I did 5½ years apprenticeship, well I did 5 years and then it were turned into 5½ before I went into the Forces and then I did 2 years in the National Service in the Signals, Royal Signals, and then I went back to that company actually, as an electrician and then I left them in 1961 and I went to work at Electricity Board. I went there as an electrician actually for a year and then I got a staff job and then I got an engineer’s job and I moved to York, so then, you know I mean I’d got qualifications in the Army which enabled me to get an engineer’s job.

So it was really that that gave you the opportunity to …?....

Yeah it was actually. I always appreciate the Army, it was great, I enjoyed it and I was an instructor you see and I ended up being electrical instructor, well electrical mechanical, because we taught mechanical, you know all about engines and generators and fitting and all that type of thing, you see.

And where were you based?

Well I started at Catterick, I did me basic square bashing up at Catterick and then I came down to Ripon – Royal Signals Five Trainer Regiment at Ripon. Then I stayed there as instructor for the rest of me service.

So what jobs did you work on as an electrician?

Every type of work actually, it was a very good contracting company at Malton called Yates Snake & Wood and we did all the gentlemen’s houses, you know, we did Hovingham Hall, and Heslerton and Easthorpe and we didn’t work at Castle Howard, because they had their own electrician. But we did all the major works in Malton, like the breweries, we used to do Rose’s Brewery and Taylor Saunders (?)

Sounds like you did a lot of industrial work. You were saying earlier that the electricity was introduced into the area in the ‘30’s so presumably most of the things were fairly new, what kinds of thing …..?

Ah well you see, wait a minute, you see in 1951 the electricity companies decided to take electricity to all the outlying villages and farms. It was called the Farm Electrification Scheme, so in 1951 we started wiring up an awful lot of farms and outside villages, you see like Easthorpe and Menethorpe and smaller hamlets that had never had it. So we got a fair bit of that sort of work and then we used to work at Bright Steels at Malton and BATA and we did all the sewage work pumping stations and all that sort of stuff, so we got a very very good cross section of work, you see. You got a very wide base of knowledge and information.

It was quite the high tech introduction of its day really?

Well it was actually, yeah, I mean it’s all old hat now, but it was all electrical mechanical, it was contactors and relays and stuff like that, you know.

It must have transformed the country you must have seen a tremendous transformation with electricity and sewerage coming into the village?

We did you see, the farms that I went to, if you went to a farm and it had a turnip cutter and a milking machine it was a big farm, whereas I mean now I’m still working, self-employed, but I mean I go onto farms now where they’ve got 50 horse power fans, and 50 horse power irrigator pumps and big motors, you know, whereas you never thought about that, and as I say if you went to a farm it had a 2 horse power or a turnip cutter and a milking machine it was a big spread was that, you know!

How were you received when you first went to work, I mean were you an apprentice made to do ….

Very strict actually, you got hammered regularly if you didn’t do what you were told. The chap I worked for the first two years with, was an excellent craftsman but he was a very, very hard taskmaster and if you didn’t do it right, you got walloped. And at the time it didn’t go down too well but in retrospect he did me a good service, because he made you so particular, you know, you did a very good standard of work, and I always respected him for that. In fact, a few years ago I went back to see him to renew the friendship and he couldn’t get over it actually and he broke down and he cried when I went to see him, and shortly after that he died, so I was always very pleased that I’d gone back to see him.

Can you remember how much you earned?

Yes I started at £1 a week, I started at about £1 a week and then when I got to 21 I was on £10 a week and that was pretty good, because I mean a joiner in those days would be on about £8 and I went in the Forces at 21½ in 1957 and I went back to £1.50, £1/10 shillings sorry, in those days. When I came out of the Forces what with one type of payment or another I was on about £5/10 shillings. I then went back to work and this is quite remarkable actually, because I went into the Forces in ’57, I’ve a wage slip for 1963 and in 1963 it was only £13, so it had only gone up £3 from ’57 to ’63 in what …. 6 years! So inflation was nil! And of course after that, you see, it went up quite dramatically after that, but from ’57 to ’63 it had only gone up £6 a week.

So you think conditions have changed now from those days, drastically?

Oh yes, yeah, drastically, I mean the way that people learn their trades, their attitude towards their job is different, standard of living, the money I mean, I just didn’t have the money. I wanted to buy a motorbike – a BSA Bantam – and it was, I think it was £60 brand new and I couldn’t afford it, so I never got … I used to threaten the father that if he didn’t let me have the car I’d buy a motorbike, I couldn’t have afforded it, but that was the threat, so I always got the car you see (laughs!)

Did you have a vehicle for travelling around in your job?

Oh yes, well we didn’t to start with, we had a carrier bike, we used to bike all over, we used to think nothing about biking 8 miles and it was a carrier bike and you’d carried all your tools on the front and you’d carried all the conduit, and stuff and wire and everything strapped onto the bike. I always remember one day we were doing a job down Norton and we stopped at the level crossing and I did a silly thing actually, I got off the seat and there was so much gear in the carrier that the bike tipped up and it spilled all its contents into the railway lines (much laughter from John & Nobby). And then we got … we didn’t have vans, we had cars actually, because there were no new vans after the War you see, in the early ‘50’s you see, I started work in ’51 and we had an Austin 18, we had an old butcher’s van, and we had a Javelin and all makes of cars, you didn’t have vans, we all used to pile in the cars with all your gear, you see, and put the pipe through the sunshine roof and whatever (laughs!) Happy days actually we had a lot of good fun.

Were there any organisations that you belong to, like a professional body, or an Association of Electrical Engineers?

Oh no, no, no. I was in…. oh yes there was, there was National Inspection Council eventually of electrical contractors which is still on the go and the company I worked for were obviously in that, I mean as far as I was concerned I was an indentured apprentice and you know that was the thing you had to do and I went to Tech School for so long, which I found it difficult because I couldn’t get to at night, because there was no transport. Welburn Lane End was where the bus service ended, so you know, I couldn’t get to Tech School very often but I made up for it when I got in the Forces and I went on technical courses there.

What about unions, were there any trade unions?

No I was never in the Union, no wouldn’t join the Union. There was unions, eventually but unions were never mentioned when I first started work, we didn’t know what they were. It was only when I got to the Electricity Board that they talked about unions and joining the unions but unions have done a good job but the problem with the Union was it it gave a minimum wage, it did nothing for the good man who was a good craftsman who was a hard worker, it ensured that the man who did just what he had to do was guaranteed a job and he was guaranteed a minimum wage, and it didn’t go down too well, because you found that the good men were dragging on, the lame ducks, and it wasn’t until I got an engineer’s job that I joined a union and I joined that for professional purposes for protection and insurance and that, you see.

You don’t think that it led to an improvement in conditions then?

Yes, it did, it did actually. There had to be unions because the working conditions were terrible way back years ago, which I can’t quite remember, but they went too far and I didn’t agree with …. I mean they used to threaten you that if you didn’t join the Union they couldn’t guarantee you a job and I always maintained that if I couldn’t keep a job with my hands I would pack it in.

I think Brian’s covered how you met your wife. I was interested to hear that your, was it that you said, your grandmother came from Dewsbury?

Me mother came from Dewsbury, yeah me mother, she was married in St John’s Church in Dewsbury actually.

Well I’m also from Dewsbury

Are you really?

But it’s interesting when you were saying that people came into the village from that time for in service

That was the only way you see, there was new blood that came to the village, otherwise it was very sort of incestual wasn’t it, everybody was intermarrying.

But don’t you think the same thing’s happening today, that new bloods coming into the village, You said that one time you knew everybody in the village, but now you only know 60% of the people, do you think that’s for the better or worse?

Well you can’t keep up with the movement of people in the village, you just can’t keep track of it. I mean the village has moved on, it’s entirely different to what it was when I was young, but it had to move on, it had to move on. And what I will say is that the people who have come into the village, a lot of them contribute a tremendous lot and if it wasn’t for the new people in the village there would be nothing, because ….. well it’s difficult but a lot of the people who have been born and bred and brought up in the village do virtually nothing to promote anything, any organisation, any sport, any passtime in the village, they just sit back and it’s the new people who’ve done a lot to promote it

Why do you think that is then? Because when I look back at the history of the village I see lots of bands, processions, sports days, drama groups, all kinds of things that were going on. Do you think it was the fact that lots of people left at one point, take employment elsewhere, that it destroyed the community spirit?


Do you think it went down, was it a kind of rural decline?

Oh yeah it certainly went down, I think it went down.

Was that to do with introduction of farming machinery and that kind of thing, meant there wasn’t the employment?

Farmers decreased, they became bigger units with less workers and machinery took over. And of course people had to move away to get the money, and rather than live in Terrington and commute to York to do a fairly menial job they lived in York, because there was the travelling between, so they would move to York and a lot of, lot of lads out of this village live in York, went to live in York.

What did they move to do?

All kinds of work, joiners, factories, all manner of work, they just went away.

Because farming became less labour intensive?

Well it did you see, and the blacksmith didn’t want a lot of labour, and the joiners didn’t want a lot of labour, you see it all sort of declined.

Do you think it changed with things like that they were no longer riding horses, so there wasn’t the work for the blacksmiths?

Well that was one of the things, yeah, and I mean, he hooped carts didn’t he, and he made ironwork and there was all a manner of things he did, you know. I can remember when they used to, Billy Goodrick the joiner, used to do a lot of cattle wagons, he used to convert cattle bodies onto wagons, and the local blacksmith made all the iron work, he made all the hinges and the catches and all that sort of stuff, well that’s all bought in now you see.

Don’t you think there’s a bit of a legacy of it with people like Pete Scaling and Scaling Trailers, it’s still there?

Oh yes absolutely it’s still there, it’s changed hasn’t it, you know.

And still the farmers, I can still see the same names, even though the large labour force has gone, the actual farmers are still in position

Some are, the Goodwills, and you see Marnie Estil is still there, Marnie Foster, they’re still on that farm, but you see Castle Howard took over a lot of their farms, they took a lot back into the estate farm and there’s not many of the old farming families left, Millers – they came into Ganthorpe, they’re still there.

And the other work that you’ve been involved with is the petrol station at the bottom of the village.

We had a filling station, me Dad started selling petrol in the 1920’s in 2 gallon cans and then he went very bold and he sunk two 500 gallon tanks in the yard down at Oakdene and I think that would be done round about the ‘30’s, somewhere round about there, it was before he was married because he got married in ’30 and those pumps, we put electric pumps down after the War in 1947 they converted, they were all hand pumps that used to pump with the handle, and there was 2 glass jars and the petrol used to go up into the jars and then were they full they’d give a click and they used to siphon out and go into ….. so there were 2 jars and you were filling one and one was empty and you had to pump it you see like this. And then they went really modern and put two electric pumps in and that was a doddle then, you just stood on, switched it on, and stood on the roadside and pulled the handle you see.

And who did they mainly serve the petrol to?

All local people and 75% of ‘em had accounts so were all on credit, and only 25% paid cash so all the farmers and everybody got

It would be mainly farmers using it for their machinery?

Well everybody, but yeah, it was because tractors in those days, the Fergies, Fergusons ran on petrol you see and they used to, with the petrol paraffin tractors they needed petrol to get ‘em started and they used petrol engines on turnip cutters and generators and all manner of things you see. Other people would pay cash for their petrol and me mother, me father died in ’65, and me mother continued with that business right away on until oh the ‘70’s, well into the ‘70’s late ‘70’s. That was to supplement me mother’s income you see.

Did farmers get preferential treatment on petrol?

Oh yes, during the War they had red coupons and they used to get a lot of coupons, and after the – well the pumps were closed down during the War. What happened was the Army, the Military seconded them, and they used them for so long, they used to pull up with Bren gun carriers and wagons and fill up with petrol out of our pumps but we had nothing to do with them because they were taken over by the Military. Then it was closed down completely and then me father opened up again after the War in 1946 and of course petrol was still on rationing then, you see, and the farmers had the, they had red coupons and they got all this petrol, and such as you and I were minimum petrol, you see, so the farmers would deposit their coupons with me father and he ran a kitty, I mean there was nothing, he wasn’t making money out of it, all he was doing he was shuffling excess petrol from a farmer to you, if you were a bit short. I mean he was just playing with the coupons, I mean it all balanced at the end of the day and he wasn’t Black Marketing it, he was just fiddling the coupons around (laughs!) like a big card game and it was brilliant. He used to have all these coupons on the table at night, once a week, and we used to have to shuffle them, you know we were working out all the gallonage, ‘cos when you got a tanker load of petrol you had to give the driver all the coupons for that volume of petrol, so it was quite a performance really.

I think other kinds of work that you’ve done, haven’t always been paid in the same way, have you taken a part in local politics or local ….?

Well yeah, actually I always thought ….. it was no good, people used to criticise people coming to the village and I was, in 1968, so I was what 33, yes 33, and I thought it’s no good criticising people, you want to get in there and do something yourself, it’s no good sitting out there and playing hell about it all, do something. So I put up for the Parish Council and there was Charlie Farmer, the postmaster, and myself, and we put up for election and it caused an uproar, because it was the first election in the village for 30 years. There were 7 nominees for 5 places and Charlie Farmer and I were elected and 2 of the old, other people were off, so that was the first election there’d been in this village for 30 years, so I became a Parish Councillor in 1968 and I very quickly got involved, through unfortunate circumstances, to get a playing field, so I was instrumental in getting the playing field. I stood as guarantor for the money, well a third of the money, and I worked in on the Parish Council and then I was Secretary of the Playing field for 18 years, and then I was Chairman for a while and then I was a Committee member, well I still was, until it was amalgamated with the Village Hall. And then when the Village Hall, I was never on the Village Hall Committee, but on the old Village Hall, but when the new one was mentioned I thought that I had certain skills that I could, and contacts, that I could use to benefit that project. So I became involved with that and that was a big job actually, that was a big job! It went on a long time did that and it was very wearing actually was that. But it was good, it’s there and it’s done.

Were any of your relatives before you were involved in the Village Hall?

No, yeah, me father actually, in those days there wasn’t the Social Security and there was the Grand United Order of Oddfellows and they met in the village pub and me Dad was Secretary to the Grand United Order of Oddfellows and that was, that was like a …. what was it ….? It was a society where they contributed money every month or whatever, and then if someone was ill or you know, in distressed circumstances, they used to get money out of "the Club" as they called it. There was the Buffalos and there was all kinds of Clubs around wasn’t there and the Oddfellows were just one of them, and they met in the village pub I think.

Like a village Social Security in itself?

It was, it was and there was going back to me grandmother actually, there was the poor box and they used to have, me Granny used to do a lot of nursing in the village, she sort of was looked upon as somebody who knew a bit about nursing and they had a box that when anybody was going to have a baby this box used to go with all the bedding and the linen and everything they wanted. This box was taken to the house and that was maintained by the village as well. And there was a village bath chair actually, which was over in the old Sextons hut at the cemetery and that was one of these basket things with big wheels and a handle on, and instead of a wheelchair, you see, and that was there for people who wanted to use it.

So when people became infirm there was a, sort of, communal resource?

That’s right, yes, yeah.

What other organisations were there in the village that you can remember? I know there was there a British Legion, was it?

There was a British Legion Club yeah, that was formed after the War, which they had the Club up, Club room, on the side of the Village Hall and they had a licensed bar and everything and then that became the Village Social Club, but there was the WI and the Mother’s Union and that type of thing, I mean what there is today almost, but there’s an awful lot more of it today, isn’t there you know. You’ve got the Wine Society, flower arranging, arts and ….

Were sports very strong in the village?

Not really, no, no, no.

I was just wondering why you were so involved in the creation of the sports field, because you felt there was a need then?

Ah well there was then, yes, ah well we’re jumping about in time. Yes there was, there was a football team in the village then. Well first of all the Parish Council were petitioned to provide a cricket field, because the cricket field was provided by the Howards and it went, and I’m not going to go into that because that’s history and that’s another story. There was a petition round the village for the Parish Council to provide a cricket field, so we set about providing a cricket field, and by the time we got the cricket field, and it took a long time to do this it was very complex. By the time we got round to providing a sports field the cricketers had gone to play at Castle Howard, but there was a football team and they were playing among cow pats at Ganthorpe, I mean they were playing in Hutchinsons’ fields and wherever they could and they had to shovel the cow pats off before they could have a game of football. So as soon as we got the recreation field purchased there was a football team straight on to it, plus the fact that down here there was an old grass tennis court just down at the bottom here, above the Surgery, which nobody would maintain it and grass courts takes a lot of looking after. So there was tennis courts on there straight away, so we not only had a football team, but we had a tennis team as well, you see. And I mean, it’s just gone on from there, I mean there’s 2 tennis courts now, no football team is there? There’s no football team now.

Only in the last year?

Last year yeah, yeah, which is a pity.

I was wondering what vision you had of the village for the future, looking back on the past you’ve got a tremendous amount of experience, you’ve seen an awful lot that’s changed, it’s still changing now. Do you have a vision of where you’d like to see the village go in the future?

Yeah I wouldn’t like to see it get much bigger than it is, because I think at this point in time the village people who are still here can cope basically with the influx of new people. I think everybody, you know I said I only know 60%, it’s still small enough to know most of the people, if you get big like Strensall or Sheriff Hutton then it gets out of hand, you can’t, it’s neither nowt nor summat, it’s neither a village or a small town. You’ve got to have a certain amount of development but it’s got to be controlled, but you’ve got to keep the facilities and the services going in a village, you’ve got to keep the shop going, you’ve got to keep the school going, you’ve got to keep the pub going, things like that. It’s important because that makes a village, and to keep the school going you’ve got to have young people and if you’re not careful young people come into the village, buy a house, and they stay here. And they grow old in that house, you know, which some do, some don’t, some move on again. So we’ve got to keep this steady movement of people if it’s at all possible, it does bother me when I see people who’ve been born in the village and who would like to stay here, have to move on. You know they want to stay but they can’t, because they can’t afford the houses, they’ve got to go and buy one somewhere else, where they could afford it and do their jobs. Which is a pity, because it is changing, the characters of the village are changing as well, you know you’ve got at the present time, well you remember Alf Walker, well he was a real character, there’s Arthur Fugil, Macker’s a character isn’t he? These people are going and they’re not going to be replaced, and there’s people gone before them who were very famous characters – they’ve gone! But there’s nobody taking their place now because what with moving around to be educated, you’ve got the television where people speaking differently, acting differently, you don’t get the dialects. You’re not getting the broad Yorkshire dialect that I used to live with.

I know in some villages they’ve actually set up schemes where people can be encouraged to stay by buying half of the house

Yes, shared ownership, yeah.

Do you think that you might see that in the village?

We’ve tried it, we did do …. the Parish Council did do a survey, but we couldn’t justify it, there was nobody who was prepared to, sort of, do it. Plus the fact that you’ve got to have somebody who’s prepared to give the land. If they’re going to build cheap houses they’ve got to have cheap land.

And the land is at a premium in the village presumably. In fact a lot of the land that was, say, spare, that had chickens on it and things when I first came …

Has been built on, that’s right.

I think things like the pigs going out here, built …

That’ll be, see Barkers’ farm will be built on eventually.

It will be a shame. I do know as well that you’ve been a Magistrate for a number of years. How did you get involved in that?

Well, someone approached me and said, in 1982 actually, well 1981 was when they approached me and they said "had I ever considered being a magistrate?" because I was involved with, you know, with society and people and meeting people and I hadn’t actually and they said well if I was thought about it, they’d put me name forward and they proposed me and somebody else seconded me. And I was interviewed and I was appointed in 1982 to Malton and I sat on the Bench at Malton, and in those days it was quite different, it was called the Aristocratic Bench at Malton because Lord Middleton, no not Lord Middleton …. errrrrm…… They were all titled people, there was Lady Middleton, there was Sir Marcus Worsley, there was Lady Westbury and it went on and on and on, all these people were on the Bench, and it’s changed has that you see, because now we’ve now been, we were taken over by Pickering which was called Ryedale Bench, so we used to sit at Malton and Pickering as Ryedale, and now we’ve just joined up with Scarborough, we’re now called Scarborough Bench so I sit at Scarborough, Whitby, or Pickering. They’ve closed the Malton court down which is a pity actually. It’s quite different to what it was when I first started being a Magistrate, the penalties ….. it’s getting more and more difficult to impose severe penalties for crimes that need severe penalties. There’s a lot of accent on community service and paying back society for your wrong doings and so on. I remember when I first sat, if you got a drugs case it was oh, it was you know, oh we’ve got a drugs case today, but we’re getting drugs cases all the time, every court you sit on there’s a drugs related case either it’s stealing to maintain their habit or they’re supplying or whatever, but there’s always, every court there’s a drugs case in there somewhere, and it’s getting quite disturbing actually, it’s getting quite disturbing. And … errrmm under-age drinking as well is coming more up than it ever was before, which is quite disturbing as well.

How does the drug problem compare with alcohol abuse, because I would imagine quite a lot of people end up in court as a result of …

Well it used to be that 75% of all crime was alcohol related you see, but it’s now alcohol and drug related. I wouldn’t like to say what the split is actually, I would say it could almost be getting to 50/50 actually


It could, but you see a lot of them on drugs and alcohol as well you see, so …

How often do you sit on the Bench?

Errrr…. I sit, I’ve got do a minimum of 25 sittings a year, which is 25 half days, but I chair the courts, I chair courts when I go, I’m not the Chairman of the Bench, but I Chair courts. So I sit maybe about 35-40 sittings a year, if I go now it’s a full day that’s classed as 2 sittings. I also sit at York Crown Court on sentencing and appeals against sentence and I chair one of the Licensing Benches, which is dealing with licenced premises.

And have you had to undergo extensive training for that?

Yeah, you do quite a lot of training, quite a lot of training, you’re not a lawyer, you don’t know the law, you know a smattering of the law, you have a Clerk, you have a professional who knows the law, you’ve got to listen, you’ve got to be able to come to a decision as to whether people are guilty or not guilty, you know you’ve got to have a lot of common sense. Got to be ….. weigh up you know, right from wrong and if they’re telling pork pies or if they’re not.

Do you feel optimistic about the way the law is operating today or do you think is better in the old days?

Well they bring laws in and they can’t maintain ‘em, I mean they bring laws in and they can’t police ‘em for want of a better word. There’s too much time spent on traffic offences, I think they should get the police out of traffic and I think they should get a private agency looking at traffic offences, they’ve spent a lot of time looking at seat belts and speeding and the real criminals who are going round robbing and beating and raping and that sort of thing, you know, I think the police ought to spend more time looking at that, and get away. Because I think they upset people with charging them on, you know, traffic offences. You see you get a young man who’s a salesman and he’s got targets, he’s got a call in York and one at Scarborough and one at Manchester and he’s got targets to meet and deadlines, he’s going to go like mad, if it’s a fine summer’s day he’s going to go down Malton Bypass at 80/90 mph an hour, he’s wrong, he’s out of the law and it’s dangerous, BUT you know is it really so bad, is it really so bad?

Yeah, compared to more serious crimes

And your seat belt, if you’re not wearing your seat belt it’s your neck that goes through the window, you’re gonna cost the state some money to put it right, if you’re lucky, but you know, seat belts really, I sometimes wonder if it’s ….. Don’t put this on national television

The last thing I was going to ask is about your hobbies?

Oh blimey hobbies …… well I like shooting, I do, because I’m a craftsman I can do joinery and I can do building, I can do a lot of things. I mean, we built this house, me father and … well me father was a joiner and Goodwills, Nigel Goodwill’s father did the wet trades, and me father did the joining and I did everything else, the plumbing, the wiring, everything else, so I can, sort of, turn me hand to a lot of things. Errrmmm …… I’ve never had a lot of time for what I would call real hobbies, because I’ve always been doing other things (laughs!). I’ve got a computer now, and I spend quite a bit of time on that and I enjoy that but I use that for me work, you know, I use that for business, and I also use it for social work.

Do you do things like photography?

No, I have a camera and I’ve done a bit of that, but I’ve now joined the photographics organisation, so yeah, yeah. No I’ve never been a photographer, no I’ve been a happy snapper.

Yeah, well I think most people are aren’t they?

I quite enjoy gardening, I like to see a nice garden, you know you either beat it or it beats you, there’s no halfway with a garden. So I like to see a tidy garden.

What will you do when you retire?

What will I do when I retire? I don’t know really, I haven’t got round to thinking about that yet (laughs!)

Well you’ll have all the time for the things that you’ve not had the time to do …? Most people I think feel that they’ve got less time when they actually retire

Well I certainly have, because I do more and more things now than I’ve ever done.

Well thank you very much John, that was very good, we can end it there.


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This page last updated: 21st December 2021

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