The Pateley Bridge Mayor’s column with Chris Hawkesworth

Brian Hicks and the new o narrow gauge siding.
Brian Hicks and the new o narrow gauge siding.

I’m going to be steaming next Wednesday said Brian Hicks. I would like you to come and open the first railway siding to be built in Pateley Bridge for almost 100 years. Well, how could I refuse! Brian, has an “0” narrow gauge railway in his garden, and every year he has a Steaming Day.

It’s a day when he and other narrow gauge modellers bring out their meticulously made locos and trains. The locos really do steam. Their boilers are filled with water, heated by gas, and they huff and puff around the several 100ft of track.

Brian and team had built a new siding and would I unveil the set of buffers at the end of the siding to mark the finish of the work. Of course. With Brian’s wife Gill heading up the team doing the teas a good time was had by all. A real pleasure for me.

Then it was on to the Britain in Bloom judging. My wife Veronica, the mayoress stood in for me. The Nidderdale Chamber of Trade are leading on this, and they laid on their 1940s United bus to take the judges around both Pateley Bridge and Bewerley.

It was a great example of the town and Bewerley pulling together. The results will be announced later in the year.

A mayor’s life is never dull, and it is certainly varied, from toy trains and flowers I moved on to the retirement party given for Lynn Tee the retiring head mistress of Glasshouses Primary School. I have known Lynn ever since she took up the position 17 years ago. It was great on behalf of PBTC to give her a present and a card and to thank her for all her excellent work.

It was then on to a private invite for lunch at our Free Masons Lodge.

The brethren give a lunch in honour of their ladies and widows each year as part of their considerable charity work.

Next it was the funeral of local resident Anne Irwin. Anne ran a chemist’s and a gift shop in the town for many years, she was also a PBTC Councillor, a founder member of our first Britain in Bloom bid.

This weekend there was the 1940s spectacular. It is a Nidderdale Chamber of Trade organised event. The number of exhibits, re-enactments, locals in their best 1940s clothes and hairstyles. Fantastic.

I had the opportunity of greeting our official guests. David Kershaw the Deputy Lieutenant [DL] for North Yorkshire and his wife Elizabeth, John Hewitt, the Lord Mayor the City of Hull, Ann Jones, Mayor of Harrogate Borough, and her consort Steve.

At our war memorial, we had a short service and the laying of wreaths, to commemorate the fallen of both WW1 and WW2. But I would like to pick out one of the themes. In 1941 over 250 children, some of them orphans, were evacuated from the City of Hull and elsewhere on the east coast to Pateley Bridge, Bewerley and Nidderdale.

In 1942, 75 Years ago the then DL and Lord Mayor of Hull, visited Nidderdale to meet and greet the children. After the war, by 1947 the children had returned to Hull.

To commemorate the occasion Hull bought and installed a children’s slide in our playground. Though now removed, the slide had upon it a plaque. The original is on the wall of the Nidderdale Museum, but a copy made by Bewerley Parish Council was rededicated and unveiled by myself, the Lord Mayor of Hull and Paul Kirkbright one of the evacuated children.

It is very easy to dismiss these 1940s weekends as trivial. But to me the personal and family memories rekindled and the ability to see, touch, and feel the equipment and the clothing of the time in real life and not in films brings it all home.

Well done Chamber of Trade, well done Kirsty. 10/10.