I am not certain just how many children who were sent to Linton actually knew fully the reasons why they were. We asked the question to a number of ex pupils interviewed on the DVD, and got a mixed bag of answers. Assumptions were made, and these might be correct or not. One chap simply said he was there because his elder brother was, and his parents wanted them both to attend the same school. Not sure how much acceptance can be given to this explanation in isolation. No matter what reason was given, if any at all, then we just accepted it, and that’s the way things happened, certainly it was like this in the 50’s and 60’s. I do not think there was much discussion or any negotiation, you were going to Linton and that was it. My own situation was a little complex compared to others I think, as I was already in the Care of the Local Authority, or the Children’s Department, and had been for a number of months. This was the case on my second spell at Linton, my earlier time, about 1958 was a little different in that I arrived direct from my mothers care, with my elder brother, Paul, and I was not yet in the care of the LA. Paul actually never was in care. I have no doubt that some children were at Linton purely on medical grounds alone, asthma, bronchitis, or simply malnourished. I probably fitted this description, suffering from a delicate chest and bronchitis as I surely did, but maybe it was a little more complicated, and perhaps the reasons I was selected were more diverse than just illness. I had a period in one children’s home in Bradford where I attended the school clinic on Manor Row in Bradford city centre, twice a week for physiotherapy. They tried to teach me how to breathe correctly, using my diaphragm. I attended Lapage Street School at this time, and would travel on the route 25 blue trolleybuses into the town using my pre-issued bus token as payment for my ticket.
My “problems” started at about 9-10 years old. I can best describe my home life as ‘unsettled’, being from a single parent family, with not much income, and moving house on a number of occasions. I reacted to these events by refusing to go to school, bunking off, and playing truant. I failed the 11-plus spectacularly while at Ryan Street School, and while my best pal Ted, was promoted to Grammar School, I ended up at Woodroyd Secondary Modern, which is probably where my hatred and shear fear of the school environment raised its head. My elder brother Paul had been a pupil here at this school, but I was 5 years behind him. Paul was also much tougher than me, both mentally and physically. If a chap today, had the phobia of attending school like I had, then it would be looked on far more sympathetically, and medically treated, certainly counselling would be offered, but we now live in a more enlightened time.
A new house move to a 4th floor council flat, at Thorpe Edge necessitated another new school for me, and this was to be the newly built Eccleshill Secondary Modern on Harrogate Road. (Since closed and demolished) I was enrolled here, but did not attend at all, the place scared me stiff, and that was just the outside. So as a consolation prize I went to Thorpe Garth School in Idle village, but not for long. The headmaster offered to collect me on a morning, in his car, but I avoided these attempts. This flat incidentally had a bathroom and inside toilet, the very first we enjoyed, and what’s more it had a telephone fitted, as the flat was previously occupied by a vicar or such. Of course we did not know a soul who had a phone, so we had nobody to call, and it was disconnected fairly rapidly.
I had already been to juvenile court for bunking at Woodroyd, and was to once again at Thorpe Edge. In fact I made a number of court room visits. I recall 6 in total. One occasion really stands out for me, and can remember it vividly. I was in the cells, strip searched, and taken up via the little stairway directly into the dock to enter a large dark wood panelled court room with 3 ‘judges’ sat on the bench.
My detailsand "crimes", were read out to the assembled mass, and I was ordered to attend a Remand Home for 3 weeks I think. So was whisked off to York, in a police van, and to a truly horrible place. There were some big blokes at this place, felons, burglars, arsonists and murderers, probably. I was frightened to death.
I was just 11.
All I had done was not got to school, honest, nothing else, my crime was just school truancy, and I was locked up in what seemed like a prison, the bedrooms were locked at night and all the outside doors locked during the day. In daylight hours there was some attempt at lessons, they were talking Algebra, Trigonometry, I could barely add one and two! But mainly we would spend hours cutting heavy logs of wood with a saw, some that big, with teeth the size of Sabre Toothed Tiger teeth, that I could hardly control. We were in a secluded yard surrounded by a very high wall.
I returned back to Bradford when I had served my ‘time’. And to yet another house move. After a short while I was in court again, this time the sentence was “to be taken from this place and enrolled into the Care Of the Local Authority”.
I was transported to a lovely building on Duckworth Lane, opposite the Royal Infirmary; this was the Springfield Reception Centre. There were another 3 or so children’s homes in the same grounds, and plenty of space to play about in. This was heaven compared to York Remand Home. What a contrast. The staff who looked after the children here were kind and very understanding, lovely food, and a clean bed. This was I think an assessment home where inmates would be analysed in a calm environment and homely atmosphere, and decisions were made as to their long term placements while in care. There was talk of my being fostered. I did not know the difference between fostering and adoption. I would argue that I could not be fostered as I had a parent, my mum!
I must have been relaxed as I actually went to school, with no argument, Drummond Road School, just off Carlisle Road, a short trolleybus ride. I think I was taken in hand by an older, regular pupil and resident of Springfield and eased into the school situation with delicacy, it worked, although I did have a little apprehension, I did attend, never missing while at Springfield. I do not know exactly how long I stayed at Springfield, but I was transferred to another more ‘Prison’ like home at the other side of Bradford, on Killinghall Road, this was a large detached Edwardian house on the corner of First Avenue, opposite Bradford Moor Park.
This home was run by a large, really fat, constantly snorting man, and his diminutive wife, Mr and Mrs Wood.
I can only describe these two as evil and sadistic,certainly to me they were. My time spent with these people was horrendous, and I hated every minute of it. They did not call me by my name; instead they would shout for me with the words, well, I don’t want to repeat it here. They would shout for all and sundry to hear. They would shout at me using abusive language, inside and out.
Food was not good, and particularly Sago milk pudding, which was rather solid, and needed cutting with a knife. I had left mine on one occasion refusing to eat it, as it was making me gipp. At the next meal, it appeared in front of me, nothing else, just the same dish of cold, set hard, sago pudding. I could not eat it. I was left alone in the dining room with my bowl of cold sago, while all the other boys had gone. After a long while, Mrs Wood stormed in, snatched the bowl from the table and shouted for me to get out. But it turned up at the next meal, and the next, and this went on for some time, until I was saved by a member of the kitchen staff who took pity and disposed of it, and told me to tell the Woods that I had eaten it.
We had underpants inspection parade.
We all had to line up with our underpants opened up in our hands, and as the Woods walked down the line, any boy had had any trace of skid marks, was singled out. His punishment was to scrub the floors on his hands and knees. In order to avoid this embarrassment, I would sneak into the toilets on the night before the next morning’s inspection. If there was any hint of a mark on my pants, I would wash it off with a bar of soap, and dry the pants on a nearby radiator, this way I avoided any floor scrubbing for the duration of my stay at Moorville. For the first time in my life at Moorville I occasionally wet the bed. Woe betides any one who wet the bed.
You had to wash the offending sheets in your own bath water.
As soon as I noticed during the night that my sheets were wet, I would sneak into the toilet and wash clean the offending stains, and dry the sheets on radiators, standing for hours with them in my arms, so to hurry the drying process, making sure that the window was open so the whiff would dissipate.
It was during my stay at Moorville that I attended Lapage Street School, and the school clinic on Manor Row in Bradford
I really cannot say for certain how long I was at Moorville, but it seemed like an age. I would lie awake at night wondering what evil I had perpetrated to be sent to this hell hole. I was told that all the available children’s homes were like this.
Tracey beaker would have had a dicky fit.
Just up the road from Moorville, by the Harrogate Road junction was what was classed as a working boys home. This was where school leavers, who were still in the care of the LA were housed. Usual school leaving age was 15 years old, I do not know of any situation where any offers of further education was available of if any of my contempories actually stayed behind and did GCSE or what ever the equivalents were. So, as I understood it, if you were still in care at age 15, and became available for work, then you lived in one of these so called working boys homes, the thought of which filled me with dread. This led me to taking the decision when I eventually reached 15, and left school behind, to work on a farm, living in, with all found.
At some point, after a medical, the news was broke to me that a place had been secured for me at Linton, frankly I did not know what I was getting into. Institutions had so far filled me with fear, and dread of yet a new one scared the crap out of me. Yes, I had been to Linton in the 1950’s with my brother Paul, but I was very young and could not remember a single element of that time, good or bad. So I was sent of to Linton, and I need not have worried, as it was not that bad. Don’t misunderstand me, it was not all rosy and sunshine. It was not bad, and the more of Linton I had, the easier it became. Linton had more of a homely atmosphere, though what was considered homely eluded me somewhat, at the time, as mine was far from homely!
Linton staff were generally understanding and loving, though there were one or two exceptions.
After I had served my time at Linton, at age 15, I had to leave to start my working career, and there were really only two options open to me. Join the Army as a junior leader, or, work on a farm. You see, I was still in care, and would be till I was 18 years old, so having left Linton, it was to be yet another institution for me, and having heard horrible stories about working boys homes, there was no choice, it was as they say now, a no brainer. The Army option was never a serious contender. The talk was of a seven year contract. In fact my pal at Linton did this and signed on for 7 years. The Army was not for me, I figured that if I could stick it out on a farm for 3 years till I was 18, then I could leave and do something I wanted to do, and be out of the LA’s grasp.
The last day at Linton saw me, and many others, delivered by West Yorkshire bus, to Great Horton Road, just outside the technical college, where I alighted, said a brief hello to mum who had come to meet me, and also introduced by my social worker to my new, first employers, who were also waiting, in their ex army land rover. Mum could not understand why I was not travelling home with her, to where ever she was living at the time. But I was whisked away to a farm in Shelf, near Halifax to begin my working life. This childless couple by the way, were really, really, nice and kind, I had my own massive bedroom, and was treated as one of their own. Sadly, the arrangement did not last. I was not really fair to them. I was after all using them for a stepping stone, for my own selfish ends. They knew that I was never going to be a farmer. This was the start of my working career, at just 3 weeks into my 15th birthday, this job was to be just one of 39 positions I have held since 1964! I must add that when I got married at the tender age of 20, I did settle down into work much more, after all with a young family of my own by now, I had to become much more responsible.