Well, not really, running away would be a more suitable explanation. But why on earth, after all the love and affection given to the children at Linton School by the caring staff, would anyone in the right mind want to run away? Three excellent meals a day, clean clothes, cosy clean bed, plenty of sport, beautiful environment, absolutely no worries at all. Well we were young. I personally loved Bradford, and as we entered Crossflats on the Bradford road when travelling on trips home, it was a joy to see the Bradford blue trolleybus at the turning circle. This said ‘welcome home’, welcome to Bradford!
Many attempts were made to run away and return to whatever kind of home one had, usually in the fair city of Bradford. Not just from the boys, many girls also attempted to get home. But just how many actually did get home is debatable. Most were picked up before getting anywhere near Skipton, some were actually heading away from home, in the completely wrong direction. A very good pal of mine at Linton and I decided that we had to prove that a home run could be achieved, with meticulous planning and attention to detail, not hairy fairy, impetuous, spur of the moment decision to run, as per Colditz POW’s had in the early days of the war, but a more detailed, well thought out plan, much as the Colditz Escape Committee would have done an later years of WWII.
My pal, Alan Waller, and I were very active in the camping club. I as Head Boy had the key cupboard key. (This was a small cupboard situated in the entrance to the main office, inside of which hung all the keys needed to keep secure the various school buildings.)
So, having this key means I could obtain access to the camping store room. This was the room situated between the Woodwork block, and the art block, a high ceiling room with many cupboards where an assortment of equipment was stored. All the camping gear, footy, oars for the canoe’s (stored underneath the art room) caving equipment etc.
Our idea was that a couple of chaps seen by the police, dressed in our anoraks, walking boots, and our rucksacks on our backs, walking innocently, day or night, in the dales, would attract little, if any attention at all. So we picked a day, identified a route, checked timings, distances expected to be covered per hour, all in fine detail. Thanks to orienteering we had good knowledge of map reading. Members of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme were participating in an orienteering exercise as part of their training, starting at Kettlewell, a 15 mile hike over the tops with just map references as a guide with checkpoints at various locations on the route. They were based at Linton for a few days, and Mr Barnard managed to find a place for Colin, Alan and myself, and we completed the course, beating some of the main contenders, and we got Dukes Award certificates. So we knew what we were doing and where we were going. We went to bed at lights out, getting up soon after we thought it was safe, went to the key cupboard, took the store room key, helped ourselves to a tent and other items need to ensure we looked the part if seen, got changed in the store room, replaced the key in the cupboard, and set off.
Our route took us over the wall just passed the main gate, down to the swing bridge, and followed the river till we were at Burnsall. Here we thought as some distance was now between ourselves and the school, we could take a chance on the road. So keeping to the Bolton Abbey road, then towards Addingham, and finally as the first light was approaching, we entered Ilkley. Some cars did pass us, but really not many, after all, there was not the car population like there is now, the car as a means of personal transport was still relatively expensive and beyond reach of most people. We arrived in Ilkley with the intent of catching a train to Bradford., but we did not bargain for the cost of a ticket, we did not have enough money, so the cheaper option was decided upon, and we caught the direct West Yorkshire bus to Bradford Chester Street bus station. This must have been a tad after 6.am.
When we arrived in Bradford, we caught the 17 Trolley Bus to Dudley Hill, where Alan lived just at the end of Rooley Lane, his large terrace house at the rear, overlooked the workshops of Bailey Motor Company, the Dudley Hill Austin garage. All now been swept away of course to make way for the Wakefield Road underpass. We thought that we would be made welcome by Alan’s dad, who had not yet departed for his work. Not a bit of it.
“Wot the blooming ell are you doin ere!”
So not the welcome home son, we anticipated. In fact Dad told us in no uncertain terms that we were bloody daft, and we had better get back to Linton before he finishes his days work! So when he had set off to work we had some breakfast from his more sympathetic mum and a hot drink. Now here my memory clouds a little bit. I seem to recall that we went on to a relative’s house, for some better quality understanding. I think it was his brother’s home. Later in the day we headed back to Rooley Lane, but realising en-route that we would not get a joyful welcome decided not to bother. We could of course had visited my mum who lived at the time I think in rooms on Ashgrove or some such place, but I instantly discounted that idea. Instead we decided to pitch camp at a little patch of greenery, set below the road, near the original junction of Rooley Lane, Mayo Avenue and Staithgate Lane. (Now incorrectly called Staygate) Just by the trolley bus turning circle, used by trolleys alighting rugby supporter’s visiting Odsal Stadium. This area is now totally obliterated with the M606 interchange. So here we put our tent up and slept in sleeping bags that we had carried in our top of the range Karrimor rucksacks, courtesy Bradford Education Department, and in particular, Linton School.
Early next morning we reviewed our predicament.
We had achieved exactly what we set out to do. We had made it back to Bradford. Not greeted as we naively thought, but, never-the-less, we had done it.
So, we decided we needed to go back to Linton, but we were penniless, and did not fancy the longer walk. So we went into to town and to the Education office that was situated in the Town Hall, on the corner near Town Hall Square. I think the BBC has an office there now.
We went in and calmly explained who we were, name rank and number so to speak.
The chap behind the office counter really did not know what to make of this situation, but on making a few phone calls, we were shown to a small room and told to wait.
It did not seem long before a big form in the shape of Mr Barnard appeared, red faced, sweating, and most annoyed that he has had to make this journey. We were shuffled into the back of his Morris Minor 1000 (?) and unceremoniously driven back to Linton, doing about 70mph on Bingley Road as we passed the Sharpes Factory. We arrived back for a stern talking to, and some marks on our bums, and of course the talk of the school! I think its called ‘street cred’ now!
So that is our story, I am sure other home runs were made, we could not have been the only ones. Why did we do it? I think it was not for the hatred of Linton or even any mild discontent of the school, more a school boy adventure. For Alan, the thought of seeing home would have been a justifiable cause, for me, well I also think the attraction of Bradford, a town that in spite of my own home life, I really loved at the time, looking back I now cannot see the attraction. But as I said we were young.
Back to Eggy Bread then. Cant be all bad!