My Childhood Holidays (Part 1) On Otley Chevin



Untitled-20My first memory of my childhood holidays at Otley Chevin would be when I was about five years old.

As a family would travel to Otley from Leeds Central station (which I think it was called then) and climb up the Chevin to a farm on an area called Surprise View.

What a site we must have been, carrying suitcases full of clothes and food to last us all the two weeks. Occasionally a van would come to the site selling vegetables and meat. We could get fresh eggs from the farm itself.

The family had a caravan on the farm site where we would stay for at least two weeks during the main six weeks school holidays every year.

As the family grew my Dad built a chalet type building on the site. We used the caravan to sleep in during the night and the chalet for day use and having meals.

There was no piped in gas or electric in those days, so light, heating and cooking meals was all done by Calor Gas. Even lights (mantels) where lit by Calor Gas bottles.

When my dad wasn’t working, we went by car to the Chevin. Certainly saved us carrying all and sundry up the Chevin.Apr27_0 (2)


Of course at the top of the Chevin we had a good view over Otley Town and Yeadon Airport (now called Leeds and Bradford Airport).

We as Children, me two younger brothers and my sister could see the aeroplanes take off and land at the airport.

On an evening as a family would go to a pub called the Royalty (still there today) as kids we played in the beer garden on the swings and snacked on pop and crisps.

The airplanes seem to touch the top of the pub, but of course they didn’t, but could only be about 12 feet off the top of the pub. Certainly the undercarriage would have been raised by then.

Apr26_8 (2)I remember Mum and Dad had a wind up gramophone which my younger brother would love to wind up and listen to 78rpm vinyl records. It didn’t matter who was singing my brother loved it. No TV at the Caravan so the gramophone and a radio was the only thing we had as a way of music and listen to the news.


As children we would spend a lot of time on the Chevin itself. There was a massive rock, which we gave a name to; we called it the frying pan, as it had a large indentation in the middle so we could sit there and again watch the planes.

Me and my brothers and sister would pick bilberries (now called blueberries) and blackberries. Mum would make pies and jam from these, if any leftover would give these to my Grandma, who also had a chalet on the site.

I remember one early morning there was a thunderstorm; this of course woke us all up and as kids fascinated to watch out of the caravan window the thunder and lightning.

Then an event changed the whole atmosphere of the storm. Watching out of the window, saw a giant thunderbolt roll down the hill from the field opposite through a gate which had been left open and hit a chalet next to my Grandma and Granddad’s chalet.

Of course the wooden chalet went up like a giant firework. My Dad run to the farm building to raise the alarm and the farmer called the fire brigade.

By the time the fire brigade came nothing was left of the chalet and my Dad told them of a Calor Gas bottle that now can be seen in the middle of the rubble and could explode at any minute and go off like a bomb. Anyway the brigade hosed down a now very hot Calor gas bottle, and managed to cool it down enough, as not to be a problem.

The chalet was insured, but the better bit of good news to come out of this is the couple were to stay in the chalet that weekend, but because one of them was ill did not make the trip.

I can’t see how they could have survived if stayed at the chalet.

I remember in later years I built a radio using a cat’s whisker, used to, believe it or not, listen to radio stations from all over the world.CatWhisker

Sometimes on a weekend there would be motorbike scrambling on the Chevin, as I got older one of the riders at the finish let me have a ride on his motorbike. I was hooked.

Later when I was 13 years of age me and my cousin bought a scrap motorbike and built it up to new. It was a Triumph 650cc Bonneville.

My Dad and Uncle were in the engineering trade, and were able in some cases to make the parts we needed.

We were too young then to ride bikes on roads, but rode legally on private land.

Later I would buy and ride many motorbikes to work, much easier to park bike at shop where I worked rather than a car.

Apart from the Cats Whisker all photos of family or Otley itself.


Coming soon: Part 2 My Holidays at Collys Cosy Camp, Scarborough. Anybody remember the camp? A poor man’s Butlins.


Watch this space.