I grew up in Ripon #1

I grew up in Ripon. The photographs are of me aged 4 and aged 10



From about 1951 when I was 5, until to 1957 when I was 11, my father was the Landlord of the St Wilfrid’s Hotel which was on the corner of  North Street and Allhallowgate .

Thinking about it now I realise how young they were. Dad was born in 1924 and Mum in 1925 so when I was 5 and he took over the pub he would only have been 27 and Mum would have been 26. This is their wedding photograph from 1945


Dad usually pulled pints behind the ground floor bar and worked there all the time in all the opening hours. There were cellars under the pub and the barrels were rolled down a ramp and piped up to the bar.


Our kitchen was on the ground floor behind the pub.

On the first floor was a large concert room with a bar which didn’t sell draught beer. The beer came in bottles and there were spirits, mixers and I remember the Babycham too! This Concert room was open on a Saturday night and Mum ran this bar.


There was a piano and a pianist playing all the popular songs of the time in this Concert room and it was very lively.  I remember Dad bought an electronic organ, a Clavioline and it played sounds of many different instruments. I believe it was a similar Clavioline which was featured on the recording of Telstar in the 60’s.

Ripon was, as it still is a Garrison town and there were usually lots of soldiers around and the pub was busy. Sadly I believe its just been announced the Army barracks is to close soon and I’m sure it will make a great difference to the City of Ripon.

Two floors up were our bedrooms and bathroom, with a gate at the bottom of the stairs on the first floor to let the customers know it was a private area beyond this gate. Thinking about it now this gate was really not much of a barrier as it was quite flimsy, only a yard high, with only a hook and ring to fasten it. Perhaps those were more honest times.

This photo is of me with younger brother Richard in about 1952 in the yard behind the pub

RAP n SGJ 1953

On this first floor was a spare room. When we first moved in I remember having a birthday party in this room but later it became a bed sitting room as we had a ‘Paying Guest’ called Blanche.

Blanche was in her early 70’s. She had no children and was widowed from her 2nd husband. This husband had not left money directly to her but had left his money in trust and she had a monthly allowance which she quickly spent. Old Blanche liked her whisky.

The solicitor paid her bills. Her room rent was paid and she had an account at Brown Muffs in Bradford. She could buy what she liked from Brown Muffs and the bill was paid by the solicitor. I remember Blanche would buy something, perhaps a suitcase, from Brown Muffs and then sell it straight away to get  more spending money.

When we left the pub and moved to a private house, so as not to leave her without a place to live, Blanche moved in with us and our front room was made into a bed sitting room for her.

Blanche whiled away the hours doing beautiful embroidery and she taught me to embroider. She was extremely patient to me as an 11/12 year old and I remember learning lazy daisy stitch, french knots, satin stitch etc.

Somewhere in the house I still have items Blanche had sewn as she was always selling her beautifully embroidered pillow cases, table clothes, tray cloths, pictures etc.

I remember once when Mum had gone to Leeds for a day’s shopping,  Blanche was left in charge of making my tea when I came home from school. She made me very precisely cut chips and on breaking the egg and finding it was a double yolk, Blanche proceeded to separate yolk from yolk and save half in a cup. I was mortified. It was quite a prized moment to be presented with a double yolked egg but it was not to be!

One day Blanche must have decided it was much too quiet being away from the pub and decided to leave, packed up without telling us and we heard she had gone to live in a pub in Bedale and I never saw her again.

Our front room became a front room again. Cream carpet and a wine cabinet. We had a large mirror over the fireplace and I can remember Dad gilding it with sheets of gold leaf using a paint brush to pick up the fine fluttering sheets of gold. We hardly ever used the room. After Blanche left the fire was rarely lit. It was lit only on special occasions and it was usually cold in there.

The house was as the side of the river Skell and when I return to visit Ripon I always go for a look at the house and look at the river. The railway track ran close to the house too. I told the time by the trains and I had to be out of the house on a morning before the 8.20 am train went past or I would be late for school. Beecham closed this railway and where the track was, now holds a road, the Ripon bypass.DSCN1231

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