LETTERS: Memories of Ferrybridge, regeneration and Town End, Pontefract

Town End traffic lights Pontefract
Town End traffic lights Pontefract

I have recently been reading about the closure of Ferrybridge C power station with mixed feelings.

I do not live in your area, I come from Newcastle, but have spent much time there all my working life and Ferrybridge C has been a big part of it. I was an apprentice with C A Parsons, which manufactured the turbo generators at Ferrybridge and, when I became 18, I was then eligible to work on sites and I was sent to Ferrybridge to do observations on the very first run of unit 1, which was Parsons’ first 500MW set.

Ferrbridge power station, West Yorkshire, has officially closed today, March 31 2016. The landmark coal-fired power station in West Yorkshire will officially close later today after 50 years in service. The closure of Ferrybridge C, near Knottingley, was announced by SSE in May 2015. It last produced electricity on 23 March.

Ferrbridge power station, West Yorkshire, has officially closed today, March 31 2016. The landmark coal-fired power station in West Yorkshire will officially close later today after 50 years in service. The closure of Ferrybridge C, near Knottingley, was announced by SSE in May 2015. It last produced electricity on 23 March.

I was with a number of other apprentices and we were on shifts to cover the tests 24/7. I earned good money there, I remember with my shift and overtime payments and lodging allowance I came out with about £17, a fortune for me in those days.

I saved up and bought my first car as a result. I stayed in the Rock at Glass Houghton and saved every penny I could, cooking a meal in a pan over a paraffin heater - the first course was tinned soup, the second course tinned sausage and beans, and the third course was tinned rice, all washed down with a cup of coffee.

Of course, I washed the pan between courses. Sometimes I’d push the boat out and have fish and chips, some of the best ever down there. I remember well the first time the unit ran up,

I happened to be on shift at the time and every man and his dog was there. My job at that time was to take the temperature readings at the bearings with the mercury thermometer, along with other readings along the length of the unit every ten minutes.

There was no meal breaks - just grab a cup of tea brought up by the tea boy and a sandwich, which I had to bring myself - during the full eight hour shift. It was very hot and noisy. I came back to Ferrybridge C to do the last year of my apprenticeship and was on the first run up of the last unit number 4. I then left the company to go to sea. I did not like that and returned to Parsons as a fitter on the service department and, lo and behold, my first site was Ferrybridge C again.

I returned to Ferrybridge a number of times over the ensuing years and I stayed in a number of places from digs to hotels. One family I remember was the Winghams in Pontefract, among others. My last site before I left the company after 40 years was, yes you guessed, Ferrybridge C.

It has been a large part of my working life - we both started and finished at about the same time.

It’s not just the local people who have connections with the site, in fact, many men from our area ended up living down there.

John Gregson




Carefully considered

In response to last week’s letter about works at Station Lane in Featherstone, I would like to reassure PD Roper that all works are carefully considered before they are carried out.

We are planning improvements to Station Lane for the first time in 20 years, including new paving, upgrading the pelican crossing and a pedestrian dropped crossing.

We hope that residents and businesses will welcome these improvements and that these works will help to improve the local area for many generations to come.

We will always work with utility companies and contractors to ensure that when roads have been excavated they are reinstated to a high standard.

The letter also referred to the new waste treatment facility in Glass Houghton. I would like to reassure PD Roper that thorough site assessments were carried out which highlighted that the size and type of this new facility would not have been suitable on the existing waste sites.

However, we do always seek to use existing resources wherever possible and we were able to reuse the sites at Denby Dale and Normanton for the other new waste treatment facilities.

The purpose-built, high-tech facility in Glass Houghton brings together a combination of modern technologies for handling and treating waste.

The centre reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill and increases the amount we can recycle.

Neil Rodgers

Service director for planning, transportation and highways for Wakefield Council

town end


It was gratifying on a personal level to read John Marsden’s letter Road campaigner deserves a medal (Express, March 31).

I regret that I have not paid anything like the attention to the disastrous arrangement at Town End that it deserved. It is now shockingly obvious just how incompetent the people who commissioned, installed and, more importantly, maintained these traffic lights have been.

My initial estimates predicted an annual casualty and congestion cost of between £4 and £16 million pounds per year. It now seems that was a huge underestimate (I would now calculate congestion costs alone might be in the region of £45 million per year). Are these figures so gigantic that we just ignore them as fanciful?

Our councillors and engineers are supposed to be our servants. They have inflicted the single most damaging intervention upon us, and appear to continue to act against our best interests.

I call upon the council to explain who is to blame. We are not talking about it just being a nuisance here, we are talking about 10,000 years of life simply stolen, for no good reason, never to be returned. That is not accounting for pollution and casualties, which were all increased at least proportionally.

If our leaders will not explain such obvious and costly mistakes, our leaders and their supporters are not to be trusted.

Steve Kidd

Rookhill Road,




It is 21 years since my modest periodical The Featherstone Chronicle ceased publication and people still ask about it.

I have decided to put a revised version on the internet and fellow Featherstone historian Tony Lumb has agreed to provide photos from his extensive collection.

It will always be a work in progress but to see how far it has got type “The Featherstone Chronicle” (the quotes are important) into a search engine.

Irvin Saxton

Katrina Grove, Purston

Ian clayton

Good luck Ian

It is a shame that there will be no further Ian Clayton column in the Pontefract and Castleford Express.

Not since The Life of Riley and Ward’s World has there been such an interesting columnist on local issues, traditions and characters of the past, whom I identified so well with, those full of wit, warmth and unique wisdom.

His relationship with his granddad, a coal miner, so was mine, seeing my dad with an inner tube in a bowl of water looking for yet another puncture.

I’ve met Barry Hines and chatted with him about the last lines of Kes, how some writers can get away with such an ending whilst others can’t, as in a school essay. Barry said: “it depended on the story and the teacher”.

Ian’s articles have been a great source of inspiration to me as a poet, we have a mutual friend in Texas whom we have both visited, who once visited Castleford. We were doing a workshop at The Cratehouse, Ian nipped in to see us and, upon being asked, immediately made one up about an old woman, a cooking pot and a shoe nail.

My favourite article is where he said Liverpudlians are the most funny, something I disputed, putting an experience of mine into rhyme, it went down well on the Yorkshire poetry scene, it still does. Ian will no doubt continue to be successful as a writer and I, for one, wish him continued success.

Trevor Wainwright

Lower Oxford Street,



NHS and EU

I know I have written about the NHS a few times but it flabbergasts me that the people who work there in top positions are oblivious to the sneaky way certain groups are trying to break the NHS for their own financial favour.

I wrote to the pharmacy department at Pinderfields Hospital giving all the latest information I had collected - I have had first hand experience over the last two years of coming out of hospital then being rushed back in because doctors at my surgery refused to issue follow on prescriptions - they do not do this any more.

The answer I got was that there is an agreement in place between Wakefield Clinical Commission Group that hospital pharmacies are legally bound not to prescribe medications from prescriptions issued by GPs.

I would like to make a special mention to Helen Anderson for placing the poster I gave to her (and Featherstone Town Council) on Facebook so that we could reach more patients and inform them of their rights. Special mention also for the letter from the council stating they were looking into this matter with the district council’s cabinet minister for adult health.

I’d also like to say a few words on the EU.

I agree wholeheartedly with what G Lancaster and David Mosley said in the Express on March 31. There are just a couple of points I take issue with - it is not £13 billion a year it is £18 billion, and this year there is a further £2.5 billion to re-address what the UK has to pay from year to year owing to EU finances - that is £20.5 billion that we could use in this country instead of bailing out other countries which cooked their books before joining the EU.

PD Roper

Little Lane, Purston