In this week 30 years ago: Microwaves, cassette recorders, videos and early computers were among the modern technology goods flying off the shelves in Batley during the run-up to Christmas in 1984.
And shopkeepers were predicting a busy last minute spree from customers in the final week before the big day. Stella Watson, manager of Wigfalls in Commercial Street, said: “We normally tend to sell lots of appliances such as hairdryers and toasters but people seemed to have moved towards the bigger things this year.”
Councillors in Spen blasted Kirklees Council for donating £30,000 to the Salvation Army which would be handed out to the families of striking miners. SDP’s Coun Ken Mathieson called it the “great council robbery” and said: “People are getting fed up with this.” But Labour and Liberal councillors noted that children from these families were being taken into care and prone to dietary problems.
The Christmas of 1984 would be a good one for the Popplewell family of Parkfield Crescent, Mirfield, when son Richard was due home after a kidney transplant operation. Mum Linda had donated her organ six weeks previously, and was looking forward to having her son back.
In this week 50 years ago:
More than 1,000 food parcels and grocery vouchers were being sent out in Batley so that pensioners did not go without over the festive period. CW Mitchell, chairman of Batley Old People’s Welfare Committee ,said: “If there are cases of old folk who are not getting a parcel and who could really do with one, I only hope that someone will tell me. Somehow, I’ll scrape the money together.” The Scouts, members of Cross Bank Methodist Church Youth Group and the Batley Christmas Benevolent Society also helped out local OAPs.
Pupils from St John Fisher Secondary School in Dewsbury carried out a survey to find out what Christmas really meant to the prominent figures in the district such as the mayor and their headteacher. The report read: “They were almost unanimous in their condemnation of the over-commercialisation of Christmas and alarmed at the earliness with which Christmas ‘propaganda’ seemed to start.
A man who wanted to make some cupboards and stock his cocktail cabinet for when he got married was fined £20 at Dewsbury West Riding Court. He pleaded guilty to snatching 34 wine and six beer glasses worth £7 from the Three Nuns Hotel, Mirfield.
In this week 75 years ago:
A Batley man’s death after being hit by a lorry and thrown under a bus was blamed on strict black-out rules enforced in WWII’s opening stages. The incident occurred in Owl Lane when painter John Garthwaite, 69, of Clutton Street, was leaving work at Shaw Cross Collieries, Dewsbury. The coroner said it was impossible to say whether the accident would have happened, even if there had been no black-out, but it was right to assume that the driver of the lorry would have seen Mr Garthwaite on the footpath and could have taken precautions if he thought he was going to cross the road.
In Mirfield, a double funeral went ahead after a husband and wife died just two days apart. Mr and Mrs Bartholomew, of Nettleton Road, had both been married before. John Bartholomew had been a member of Towngate Working Men’s Club and Mirfield Social Centre.
An Air Cadets Squadron was formed in Batley to train those aged 16-18 for the Royal Air Force. The decision was made at a meeting at the Town Hall in the Mayor’s Parlour. It was thought that youngsters needed to be trained to back up the war effort. A committee was appointed, with James Burrows as chairman and G Oldroyd as treasurer.