More affectionately known as Flash. I first remember him as a coal humper delivering sacks of coal (half cwt) with Neville Thompson. Hard and thirsty work filling the sacks at the Savile Landsale then toting them on shoulders before aiming them into waiting coal cellars, along with coal merchant Joe Thompson. Must have been a relief to get work underground at the pit and rapidly gain promotion to master blaster (shotfirer) and finally to become Training Officer at the pit.
I don’t think there were many could deliver a story quite like him – he was a raconteur par excellence. To match that there are many stories about the man himself and I am indebted to his daughter Carole for providing much of his background.
He was born in Methley in 1922, the family living in Denison Square before moving to St Margaret’s.
He joined the RAF at the age of 18 where he was a rear gunner, serving in Egypt, France and Africa amongst other places. It was a period that he never really talked about. However we know that his aircraft was shot down in 1942 and that he was lucky to be alive. He was posted back to the UK and after spending time in an RAF hospital he was medically discharged. After the war he was awarded the 39-45 Medal, the Africa Star and the War Medal.
Following his discharge from the RAF he went to work leading home coal and then Savile Pit. He later met Margaret Mellor who was serving in the ATS at Methley Hall and they were married at St Oswald’s Church. Enterprising, and always involved with something especially animals the move to Victoria house at the bottom of Mill Lane with a couple of small fields adjacent was perfect for him.
The family raised chickens, geese, bottle fed lambs, piglets and a calf or two. The first calf, Penny followed him like a pet but was not averse to exploration and had to be rescued by himself on numerous occasions.
The family left Mill Lane in the mid 60’s when Harry bought the greengrocers shop at the top of the lane. He was also Secretary for the Miners Welfare for a number of years.
His great passion was horses and he was one of the few to stable retired pit ponies along with his own ponies always a source of pleasure for the family. Over the years he broke and trained many horses, he loved a day at the races and never lost this interest or involvement through his entire life.