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A Shout From The Attic: The Trolley Bus And The Busy B

... Our next call was occasionally at Howarth’s vegetable stall for vegetables and sometimes fruit, then maybe to Fred Wood’s game and poultry stall to choose one of the scores of rabbits hung down, with their heads in little tin buckets to catch the gore, amid pheasants and other gorgeous but motionless colourfully-plumed fowls presenting a Dickensian view of what Christmas should be in times of plenty...

Ronnie Bray recalls shopping trips with his Mum in the Yorkshire town of Huddersfield.

For more of Ronnie's memories please click on A Shout From The Attic in the menu on this page.

Once boarded and safely perched on red leather seats, we rode the almost noiseless trolley as it whispered into Westgate where we disembussed before walking gravely along Market Street to Cloth Hall street, dancing down that thoroughfare, crossing New Street to tumble into King Street, and skipping down – mother did not skip, for when I knew her, her the skipping days of this care-laden twenty-something-year-old girl were long since past - to Shambles Lane, an ancient byway where crumbling, tiny Georgian architecture was overshadowed by robust Victorian confidence of the massive two-storied Market Hall, and shuffled our feet into the sweet-smelling sawdust of the Busy-B butchers shop, long and narrow like a snicket, full of bright clean sawdust, cheerful butchers, their whistling lads, good meat to wrap in crisp white, strong brown paper that made interesting parcels tied in a moment with flashing hands and string, before they were plopped deftly into the basket or, if that was already brimfilled, rustled into one of their thrup’nny brown paper carrier bags with string handles and the trade mark of a big black busy bumble bee.

In those early days, I failed to notice that the next business to the Busy B was the Unicorn public house. Many years later in that low ceilinged tumbledown place, I heard my father, George Frederick Bray, play the piano for beer money. His playing was more than adequate but his treatment of the beer that admiring topers piled on the piano top for him was even more admirable – if you like that sort of thing.

Our next call was occasionally at Howarth’s vegetable stall for vegetables and sometimes fruit, then maybe to Fred Wood’s game and poultry stall to choose one of the scores of rabbits hung down, with their heads in little tin buckets to catch the gore, amid pheasants and other gorgeous but motionless colourfully-plumed fowls presenting a Dickensian view of what Christmas should be in times of plenty.

Those errands completed, we scuffled back across town to Westgate and home again via the trolley with the mantra, “One and two halves to Park Gates, please” that rung so often in my tender ears that I cannot see the park gates without hearing my mother’s voice intoning that incantation and the snap and ding of the conductor’s ticket machine punching holes in the long stiff tickets covered with magic writing that one day I would learn to decipher.

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