Looking back through The Yorkshire Post’s pictures and archives, along with my own, I was surprised to find such a varied selection of illustrated features dealing with many aspects of Christmas.
But the festive period always provides photographers and journalists with a challenging opportunity to capture the Christmas spirit in a new and interesting way. So, I will share a few of the many pictures and stories from the past with you today.
Honley Christmas Lights
During a local switch on early in December, 1971 local tradesmen at Honley, near Huddersfield, said that 10 months of fund raising had been well worthwhile. The illuminations resembling snowmen, chess pieces, stars and other objects had been bought from surplus stocks of Blackpool Corporation.
‘We wanted to do something to brighten up the district and started working for these illumination soon after last Christmas’ said Peter Dyson, a member of the Holme Valley Chamber of Trade. In addition to fund-raising, chamber members had erected the lights at Honley and also in the centre of Holmfirth, where Vera Pearce, wife of the chamber’s president, was to perform the official switch on a few days later. ‘When we have finished the illumination will have cost us over £1,000,’ Mr Dyson added. Here are, left to right, Robert Combes, Mr Dyson and Alan Edmondson.
Thomas the Cat wishes commuters Merry Christmas
In late 1975, there was no doubting that Thomas the Cat was a favourite with commuters using Mirfield railway station.
Customers and staff kept him delectable morsels.
To show his appreciation a notice on behalf of Thomas – who was blind in one eye since fighting another cat a month earlier – was hung in the booking hall wishing all his friends a Merry Christmas. The picture of the notice also includes Thomas and porter Raymond Willingham.
Spurn Point lightship at Christmas
On the deck of the Spurn light-ship in the Humber estuary on December 23, 1969 Christmas fare was piled. The crew gathered round the Missions to Seamen chaplain the Rev William Down for a service. The chaplain was making his Christmas visit to the lightshipmen who were to spend the festival away from their families in order the safeguard shipping in the waterways. For the trawlermen who would sail out of the Humber, radio stations were handling thousands of greetings from wives and sweethearts. By the following day, Wick radio alone was expected to have transmitted 4,000. After guiding ships safely through the treacherous River Humber for almost 50 years, the vessel was acquired by Hull City Council in 1985. It has been turned into a museum and is moored at Hull Marina.
Bobby Knutt, panto king
With Christmas, the pantomime season begins. Countless children will scream to wildly colourful comic characters on stage ‘Oh no it isn’t’, or ‘Oh yes it is’. Veteran of 34 pantomimes, but now retired, is 70-year-old stand up comedian/actor Bobby Knutt. He has played all the leading roles and explained the excitement of pantomimes and how it all began for him.
‘I first went to a pantomime when I was about eight years old and saw Babes in the Wood at the Sheffield Lyceum. It was magic, there were lasses with long legs and wearing fishnet tights. And the Principal Girl, well, I fell in love with her straight away. I thought the whole concept of pantomimes was fantastic’.
Pantomime was his first introduction to the theatre and he suspects countless other kids undergo the same initiation. He argues that parents would probably not take an eight-year-old to watch an Agatha Christie play but they would to a panto. He understood, enjoyed and accepted pantos, leading to him appearing regularly in them in Barnsley and Sheffield. But the exhausting twice a day performances Monday to Saturday amounting to around 72 each year led to Bobby calling it a day about six years ago.
The Marples Hotel Sheffield December 1940
The run up to Christmas will always be remembered in Sheffield for the terrible Luftwaffe Blitz which occurred over several nights in December 1940. One particular tragic event was the bombing of the Marples Hotel in Fitzalan Square at 11.44 pm on Thursday, December 12. A German high-explosive bomb scored a direct hit on it. About 70 people died in the wreckage, but seven were rescued alive. It was the worst single tragedy of that terrible night.
‘For years we put a wreath on the site, and so did other people,’ said a spokesman for John Smiths Tadcaster Brewery. He was speaking on February 5, 1957 after plans were approved for the new Marples Hotel at Sheffield Brewster Sessions.
Doncaster Railway Works 1943
America GIs celebrate Christmas 1943 with Doncaster Railway Works staff on the cleared site of the Main Carriage Shop, which had been destroyed by fire on December 21, 1940.
Wath Main Colliery carol singing
Wath Main Colliery miners are depicted at the pit bottom on Friday morning, December 23, 1966.
Leeds Majestic Cinema toy appeal
On December, 5, 1966, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Leeds, Alderman Joshua S. Walsh and his wife are attending the launch of the Christmas Toy Appeal at the Leeds Majestic cinema. The event was organised in association with the Yorkshire Evening Post and invited people to place a toy on the Christmas tree to be given to children in need.