Harold was born in 1899 and lived at 58 Bewerley Street (off Hunslet Hall Road) with his parents and three sisters.
His father worked at a Foundry on Dewsbury Road and then at Hathorn Davey also on Dewsbury Road. He firstly attended Bewerley Street Infants School in Hunslet Hall Road (now the Social Services office) before moving to the school in Bewerley Street when aged 7 years.
When he was aged 11 he got a job delivering groceries after school, and every night he worked from 4:30 until 8pm. He had a pair of wheels for delivering, going as far as Tunbridge Road behind the Infirmary.
One day he had a large earthenware bread bowl among the goods but he lost his grip on the wheels and the bowl fell off and broke. The owner of the shop said it would come out of his wages, but his mother stopped him working there. He left school when aged 13 going to work at Manning Wardle’s Boyne Engine Works in Jack Lane, his pay was 4s 6d (22½p) a week and from this he was given 3d (1p) pocket money. His working day started at 6am with no paid Bank Holidays or Holidays.
After the First World War he was unemployed for a time before working for a milkman at just over £2 per week. He collected 17 gallon milk churns from the milk train everyday. These were emptied into smaller ones, and milk when delivered to the houses, would be ladelled out in gill and pint measures into the housewives bowls and jugs.
In all the time he delivered the morning milk to the doorstep he was never known to miss; even when ill he managed to drive his little van so that his wife could do the legwork. Unfortunately, he was forced to leave the milk round when his employer wanted the job for his son.
His next job was at the Post Office as a ‘Temporary’, this meant that he could be ‘knocked up’ if any of the regular postmen didn’t turn up for work. It also meant that he had to work all over Leeds including Harehills and Woodhouse.
He started work at 5am sorting out his first round, then delivering it. When this round was done he then had to sort out the dinnertime and teatime deliveries. If he was quick he was able to get an hour or two at home during the day between deliveries.
He remembered an old, retired post office worker who would stand at a post-box in Tempest Road, where the last collection was 9pm, with his watch in his hand. When Harold arrived to empty the box he would say, “You’re two minutes early. It shouldn’t be emptied until 9 o’clock.” Harold would answer, “By the time I get this lot out I’ll be two minutes late.”
When Harold was working at the Hunslet Sorting Office one of his deliveries was to the Yorkshire Copper Works, an hour’s walk each way. At one time he delivered to Armley Jail, here he had to wait for the door being opened, then step inside and sign-in, hand over the mail, then sign-out and leave. When he said it was a right waste of time he was told, “If you step through the doorway you sign-in.”
When working from the Holbeck Sorting Office he delivered to Wood’s Farm opposite St. Anthony’s Church. He then went along Old Lane, which at this time was a dirt road, there were no houses except for two whitewashed ones in a field near to where Moorhouse’s Jam Factory was later built. He then went on to Tommy Wass (which was an ice cream parlour) then nothing until he got to the water tower at Middleton where he went to deliver to Miss Maude, he would have to walk all that way to deliver a couple of letters.
On his return journey he walked back through Middleton Woods until he came to a tree marked with the letters HK (Holbeck Sorting Office Code), here he turned right towards the main road where he caught the tram back to the Office. One day a “Temp” was sent on this delivery and they had to send out search parties when he didn’t return, he had missed the sign and the turning.
Harold bought a Jowett car for £25 and one day giving Father O’Connell a lift from Millshaw, Father O’Connell said the car would not get over the bridge. “But it did,” said Harold proudly. “It was a grand little car.”
Harold was over ninety when he died, but when he was taken out for a walk by his family it was like a royal procession. He once said he never got as far as the Park because everyone was stopping him to talk. He was certainly one of the characters of Beeston.
This post was written by Ken Burton
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