Retro: A cave at Christmas

Dateline: December 1990


A family from Pudsey were being forced to live in a cave in Devon after being made homeless, it was revealed. Paul Isaac, wife Jean, and their three children, Fay, 16, Arry, 15 and Ashley, 12 left their council house in June after they were unable to pay the rent and walked 400 miles south, before taking up residence in a cave at Sharkham Point, Brixham.

Mr Isaac said living in a cave was better than tramping the streets, while son Arry said: "In reality, living in a cave is a pain. We would really like to be in a house for Christmas."

The family lived off 92 a week in benefits, kept warm using a brazier burning firewood collected from nearby woods, supplemented their diet by catching fish from the sea and collected fresh water from a leaking mains pipe a mile away.

The family's plight was highlighted by Leeds Labour Coun Mike Morley, who said: "This is 1990 and yet here is a family living a prehistoric existence."

The family discovered the cave while sleeping in a makeshift shelter on a cliff top during the summer and kitted it out with airbeds and duvets, supplied by a local holiday park.

Richard Parry, Torbay housing manager, said: "They had been picked up for sleeping in a field. My staff were agog when they refused bed and breakfast."

The family originally went to Devon because Mr Isaac was in the Devon and Dorset Regiment and hoped the serviceman's benevolent organisation might assist them. He was offered a job on condition he find a permanent address.


Leeds United fans formed a queue 200yds long for about 2,000 tickets on general sale for the clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford. At the very front of the queue was Andrew Beaumont, 20, of Lineham Crescent, Liversedge, who arrived at the Elland Road ticket office at 8.30am the day before tickets went on sale. He said: "Manchester United is the biggest game of the season." The match, played on December 8, was a 1-1 draw.

The House of Commons voted on whether to re-introduce the death penalty, a move supported by some Tory MPs led by Ryedale MP John Greenway - a YEP poll revealed 85 per cent of people in favour of hanging for murder. But the Commons plan was criticised by PM John Major and in the end was voted down.

Yorkshire Electric shares went on sale on Monday December 3 for 1 each and were expected to rise sharply to at least 1.30 before trading started a week later. The shares came on the market as part of the Government's 5.2bn privatisation of 12 regional electricity companies.

The YEP launched Pump Watch, allowing readers to find the cheapest four-star petrol prices during the Gulf Crisis, which began after the US threatened to invade Iraq over its annexing of neighbouring Kuwait. In Leeds, the price of a gallon of four-star reached 1.89 (42p a litre) at Asda, while it topped 2.10 (46p a litre) at the Thrust filling station on Otley Road, Bradford. Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein released all his 'human shield' hostages.

Films at the cinema included Young Guns 2, Pretty Woman, Little Mermaid, Bird on a Wire, Ghost and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

St James's Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary were given official permission to opt out of direct control by their local health authority. The plans were part of the Government's shake-up of the NHS.

Four men hijacked a bus in Halton Moor, leading to services being cancelled in that area. The police were called in and made four arrests, but bus company Yorkshire Rider said it was one of a number of incidents, others included stone throwing youths, and it suspended services to Halton Moor, nicknamed 'The Zoo' by drivers, indefinitely.

'Arctic' storms battered Yorkshire, causing wide-spread chaos on roads and even leading to some communities being isolated. Temperatures dropped to minus three degrees Celsius and Leeds-Bradford Airport closed. Still, it wasn't all bad news - members of the Leeds White Star Ski Club dusted off their skis and slalomed down the slopes at a snow-bound Roundhay Park.


Labour leader Neil Kinnock was at Leeds Civic Hall for a dinner in honour of East Leeds MP and former chancellor Denis Healey, who announced he was standing down at the next general election. Mr Kinnock said: "As in years past, so in years future, Denis Healey will be a citizen of the world." He also used the dinner to describe new Prime Minister John Major as "the son of a handbag."

Actor Burt Lancaster collapsed shouting "help me" and was rushed to hospital in Los Angeles, where he underwent a four-hour operation following a suspected heart attack. The 77-year-old star of The Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), Trapeze (1956), and From Here To Eternity (1953), had made more than 70 films. He eventually died in October 1994 of his third heart attack.


Channel Tunnel workers met for the first time underground, exactly three years ago to the day since the 7.6bn project began. The historic moment came at 11.13am as workers Graham Flagg, 42, from Dover and Phillippe Cozette, 37, from Calais, shook hands after the service tunnel link up. The dramatic moment was relayed on live TV to millions of viewers in Britain and France and was met with huge cheers from the scores of workers gathered on both sides. The two used hand-held pneumatic drills to create a door-sized hole to link the two tunnels and make it possible to walk between Britain and France for the first time since the end of the last ice age. The two men had been chosen from a ballot for the task.

Russian Garry Kasparov retained his title of World Chess Champion by beating fellow countryman Anatoly Karpov on December 31.


High street chain BHS defied Sunday trading laws and opened from 9.30am to 5pm on December 16. Shaun Clark, general manager of the Bond Street store, said they were opening to recoup lost trade, adding: "We have a reasonable number of staff who have volunteered to work." But Yorkshire Labour MP Bob Cryer said: "I have an ideological objection to lawlessness and deliberate flouting of the law. I will be asking law officers to prosecute BHS."

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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