Leeds nostalgia: This week in 1946... miners stayed at home, forcing pits to close

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This week in 1946... a prison break from Armley Gaol sparked a nationwide manhunt.

George Marsden, 28, who was nine months into a four year sentence, went missing after being admitted to the jail’s medical wing just before Christmas. It was thought that he managed to obtain a length of piping, which he then leant against one of the walls, using the same to break his fall on the other side.

Mardesn was spotted in Leeds wearing “ordinary clothing” on Christmas Eve but the search had already been extended to London, Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham.

In Otley, traders decided to change their usual half day closing from Wednesday to Saturday in a bid to boost trade. The change was set to be introduced from January 1.

Horsforth Music Festival, last held in 1939, was set to be revived, being held at St Margaret’s Hall on April 26, comprising 25 classes for piano and one for a vocalist.

Unsold wreaths of holly at Leeds Market were burned, to the chagrin of some customers, who were put out over the “waste”, pointing out they had to pay a high price for it before Christmas. Council workers spent two hours cleaning up the holly, which was then burned on the “Tatters Market”.

In Yorkshire, over 70 per cent of miners failed to turn up for work on Saturday December 28, forcing many pits to close. At the Newmarket Silkstone Colliery near Wakefield, only six per cent of coalface workers turned up. The scene was the same in other areas, including Driffield and Staveley, North Derbyshire.

At Leeds Post Office, 5,250,000 letters past through franking machines, a 19 per cent increase on the previous year.

DROUGHT 1976

Julie Greensmith
Fir Tree Green, Moortown, Leeds

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