Memories of pals at work and at play as a teenager in Halifax in the 1950s

Victoria Hall, Ward's End, Halifax, and Commercial Street.
Victoria Hall, Ward's End, Halifax, and Commercial Street.

WHEN I left school at 15 in 1957 jobs were easily come by and school leavers had a vast choice.

My friends and I chose to work at the one and only John Mackintosh’s, best known for Quality Street. Although we did not work among the toffees and chocolates we were quite happy, working in the cardboard box-making department. There was quite a lot involved in making the boxes but it would take a lot of writing.

There were five of us girls, all friends in and out of work. We all worked at the end of the conveyor belt where the final stage took place. Two machines called stitchers stapled a display card in place describing the product inside the box. Of course speed was of the essence but we still found time for a laugh and a joke.

Close by was a large window that overlooked the railway line through Halifax. Our building was so close that you felt as though you could jump across to it.

At certain times of the day trains would go by a sound their hooters and we would wave to the divers and passengers. It’s all quite a while ago but it only seems like yesterday.

My teenage years were happy in spite of the lack of money. They were the rock ‘n’ roll years, with Bill Haley, Elvis, Buddy Holly etc.

The gang – our group of friends, boys and girls – would go dancing or jiving or, as we called it, bopping at the Victoria Hall on Wednesdays and Fridays - no late stop-outs.

I still love to hear the golden oldies, which stir memories of sticky-out petticoats, ponytails and “bop” shoes – ballerina shoes, in other words. Oh happy days!

There were only soft drinks, milkshakes and whatever else teenagers were allowed to have then, if you could drag yourself away from the dancing.

There were teddy boys who took as much pride in their appearance as the girls, with not a hair out of place and sprayed to the extreme.

There were bouncers on the doors in case of trouble but I don’t recall any. Just maybe it was because of the sight of Shirley “Big Daddy” Crabtree and his brother, Max, standing at the entrance.

On Sunday nights, money permitting, we would go to the local cinemas, the Palladium at King Cross or the Cosy on Queen’s Road. The front stalls cost 1s 3d (6p) and there was always a good programme, well worth the money.

The downside was when the usherette shone her torch on us, warning us to make less noise or we would be out! Sometimes we shut up; sometimes we ended up on the steps outside. Not to be beaten we would go to the one and only coffee bar, share a milkshake and play the jukebox. As the Fonz would say: “Hey, happy days.”

l Doreen Jones lives at Royton, near Oldham.