Allerton Bywater: October 9, 1960 and there was a new sound wafting over the waters of the River Aire.
Our picture caption from the time reads: “If you go down Allerton Bywater’s Main Street and turn into Boat Street, you’ll come to a dead end by the River Aire - a picturesque backwater where stands the 17-century Boat Inn, one-time calling place for Methley miners taking ferryboat trips to and from Allerton Bywater Colliery.
“Pop into the bar there and you may find 79-year-old Billy Guy and 80-year-old Walt Hepworth, both ex-miners with over 60 years’ pit service, supping their pints of old and listening to old tunes played from 20in steel records on a machine built in Saxony about the time they were born.
“This forerunner of the modern juke box is a Polyphone - a clockwork-powered form of musical box, housed in an ornate, penny-in-the-slot cabinet, which plucks dulcet music from a repertoire of about 20 steel discs.
“Found by the licensee, 33-year-old Mr. Arthur Thomas, stored away in a spare room when he and his wife Irene, also 33, took over the pub four years ago, the machine has been cleaned and ‘rejuvenated’ by him and is now able to play those of the records from which he has cleared the rust of age and whose dents he has straightened out.
“Soon the Polyphone and its records will have a permanent place in the river’s edge bar - gently churning out such oldies as Alice Where art Thou?, The Miner’s Dream of Home, While London’s Fast Asleep,The Gypsy’s Warning, Bonnie Mary of Argyle, I’ll be Your Sweetheart, A Little bit off the Top,Ye Banks and Brass” and They were very, very Good to Me.
“Walt Hepworth (seated) and Billy Guy, are pictured in a corner of the bar. Behind them is the polyphone, with licensee Arthur Thomas handling the instrument’s steel discs.”
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