My feature on the Cowlersley Gang in the 1950s certainly stirred up some memories.

Thank you to those who responded to the golden oldie photograph of the gang.

It was nice to catch up with one or two old friends, including Peter Radcliffe (not pictured in the gang) who featured quite a bit in some of our mischievous moments back in the early 50s.

They included sneaking into the Milnsbridge Palace cinema for the Saturday matinee.

Peter, who is 76 this month, told me that he is single now, settled and happy in retirement in Dudley in the West Midlands.

I also spoke at length with Steve Whitwam, who was in the picture. He told me he is living happily on his farm in Linthwaite and enjoys playing guitar and singing.

He correctly identified the last young man on the Cowlersley photo as Graham Hurst, who lived at the end of our block at number 8.

From our archive photo box another 60-year-old gem popped out — this one is of a group of budding thespians who performed their own unique play.

The drama was written by my sister Dixie who was a prefect and house captain at the time at Crow Lane School.

The school was a civic youth club five nights a week and had its own gym club.

Crow Lane School in Milnsbridge
 

It was performed in the youth club and later broadcast throughout the school on their PA system. The photo shows them in one corner of the school hall with its brown tiles and surrounding cupboards — very familiar to all school and youth club members who shared this iconic building.

This hall has seen all kinds of a drama since it was built and opened originally as a boarding school in 1896 — the year of the first modern summer Olympics in Athens. But can anyone identify the name of the play the group performed?

Included in the shot is Glenda Walsh who was a senior club member and voluntary helper. I clearly recall her trying to encourage us kids to learn to ballroom dance. There I was with bike pump pushed down one leg of my wellies and my front lamp, (with new Ever Ready battery) in my PT shoulder bag, clinging on to a tall Glenda, as I embarrassingly trudged around the floor waltzing to ‘Answer Me’ by Frankie Laine.

Oh, how our grandchildren would have laughed their socks off at my first futile dance lesson!

Then, just as the dreaded foxtrot was about to start, the bell rang at 9pm precisely and a loud voice announced “juniors home time!” and I dashed for the door.

How come I can remember things like this? Yet when my wife Elaine asks me to collect a few items from the local market near to where we live in Spain I need a list as I am sure to forget something!

Crow Lane School was quite forward-looking in those days. The much respected yet feared headmaster was Leslie Wrestle, who stood for no nonsense and anyone seated outside his office was usually in for a good whacking. He quickly brought us Cowlersley lads under control.

The school had a vigorously contested house system, its own school orchestra and we always fared well at the annual schools athletics championships held at Leeds Road Playing Fields.

Another teacher who doubled up later in the evenings as an assistant youth worker was the much-liked science teacher Sid Boothroyd. His fearsome punishment took the form of an old two foot ruler which he affectionately named ‘Aspa Jasper’. Me and Aspa came into contact quite frequently!

One third of the main hall was taken up by a full-sized snooker table which some years later was moved downstairs into the basement from which the ‘cavern’ like youth club was created.

The club took over from the domestic science and woodwork rooms. How it ever cleared health, safety and fire regulations I will never know ... but it did and was packed every night.

Some of the many acts which performed there were The Elizabethans (now Smokie who are still touring), The Swinging Blue Jeans and The Casuals who went to number two in 1968 with Jesamine.

I have to say there were some of the most treasured memories of my life between the early 50s and the mid-70s — the friends I met, the amazing people I had the pleasure of working with and the atmosphere that the old building exuded.

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