KBGS Old Boys' Forum

A place to discuss Keighley Boys' Grammar School. 

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A Keighley Childhood

I write to draw your attention to a personal account of growing up in Keighley in the forties and fifties that I wrote a few years back. A couple of OBs who've seen it suggested I post it as it is 'likely to touch a few chords' for many in our community. It is filed under Topics - thanks to Chris's ever-capable management of the site.


Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1951-58

Re: A Keighley Childhood

Well it certainly "Touched a few Chords" Doug . What a wonderful read for a old youngster of the 30's and 40's. Ah the memories , Allotments were a big attraction around West Lane . Your account of a game of "Taws" is superb. Wish that I had your grasp of the language and also the recall for names .The tale about "the History of England " series had me scurrying to the book shelves and there I found 3 volumes . Bought in 1943 from Woolworths , "The Story of Saxon and Norman Britain", "The Story of Mediaeval Britain" and "The Story of Tudor and Stuart Britain" [All told in Pictures ] . Pity you didn't see them when you were over here . I reckon they must be yours !! They look as interesting now as when I first bought them . You really should get this work published , How about putting it in the Mag " Best of British " It would go down very well with the nostalgic older readers.
So thanks for the memories , Peter would have loved it too.


Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 43-46

Current location (optional) Tasmania

Re: A Keighley Childhood

Thanks Mike for your kind words. When we were with you, if you remember, we didn't have all that much time, given that we had to make Strahan that same day, but I do remember your bookshelves, which were directly behind where I was sitting at lunch, and wishing there were time to browse them. Perhaps as well there wasn't or I might have 'reclaimed' three of my lost books! I don't think I've set eyes on any of that set since I lost my own. I don't think they were on sale all that long, certainly not after my own tragedy. They are undoubtedly the same - and certainly came from Woolworths.

At Chris's suggestion I have now hunted out the photograph with which my memoir starts and he has appended it to the 'story'.

Thanks too for the suggestion about 'Best of British'; I'll look into it and see if they are interested.

Current location (optional) East Yorkshire

Re: A Keighley Childhood

A really interesting and memory provoking piece of work, Doug, for which many thanks. There were two aspects of the piece that impressed me most. The first was that I could identify personally with so much of your story. The books, the stamps, the games all part of my life also.I am eternally grateful to the lady teachers of Eastwood for the priceless gift of literacy. The second aspect was the whole piece, unbroken by chapter headings had a continuity that captured that particular aspect of childhood. For me there was a time when I always seemed to be eight years old and life was shaped by the seasons. Again thanks very much

Re: A Keighley Childhood

The dalliance with Evey reminded me of a poem of mine " Butterscotch? The reference to madeleine is an allusion to Prousts novel a la recherche du temps perdu where he recalls his early childhood when he eats a piece of madeleine soaked in tea.

Butterscotch is my madeleine.
As it clatters round my mouth
and melts to a silky cloy,
then darkly, grim streets rise.
Out of the vagaries of memory, shouts ring,
where children with grazed knees and scuffed shoes
played in sooty canyons,
relieve-o, kick-can, stroke-a-bunny.
Pale sunlight over close ginnels and ash-tubs
illuminated furtive explorations
of the possibilities of Eden
in the narrow ways;
sent me skipping with a skirl of clog-irons
through lines of cracking white sheets,
billow-white in the dazzle and drift of the morning;
perfumes of soap, the scours of carbolic,
home to the beckon of bread and fried onions.
Cloven hoofs on cobbles chimed
across all those early days,
when my world was shared
with some wan Eve
and time was a stick of rock
with ‘wonder’ all the way through

Re: A Keighley Childhood

Nice piece of poetry, Arthur. I thought I had read all, or almost all, of your 'stuff', but this one is new to me. I've since read it through two or three times and I sensed that 'I was right behind you!!
With regard to the 'Madeleine moment', Arthur. This phrase cropped up on TV sometime over the weekend(I forget the programme), but the programme presenter said that following his 'Madeleine moment', Proust went on to write 7 mighty tomes, more or less on the same subject. David

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945-50

Current location (optional) Keighley

Re: A Keighley Childhood

Never realised till now, Arthur, that you, me, and Adam had all had a bite at the same apple!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1951-58