Letter - Leeds was ‘best deal’

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READING the latest episode of Norman Hazell’s schooldays I cannot help but consider that many folk are seeing them from a perspective based upon how they live today.

When I went to secondary school in 1963 not one of my schoolmates was ‘delivered’ to school by a parent in the family car.

One was ‘delivered’ by chartered taxi, from his home in Burton Salmon, the remainder of his mates from the village junior school being bussed to Tadcaster Grammar.

As Norman stated he attended a grammar-standard school in wartime when most private cars were either immobilised or taken for war work. Many auxiliary ‘fire-engines’ were an ex-private car towing a pump with the firemen crammed inside.

Tough luck on them if it was an Austin 7 with a tip-up extra seat, what the Americans called a ‘Rumble-Seat!’

Likewise others were converted into everything from ambulances into utility vans, WVS mobile canteens etc.

Britain’s reality, even before Dunkirk, was that there was only so much fuel refining capacity. And the pre-war refineries now had to produce fuel for army, navy and RAF besides civil defence needs.

Private users were well down the priority list. In any case you couldn’t obtain any spares.

Most car factories now were making tanks or aeroplanes. And the various commercial vehicle builders were building service vehicles besides tanks.

Railway workshops only did what essential maintenance that locos and rolling stock needed.

Otherwise they too were building military hardware. When Supermarine was bombed Spitfire production was dispersed around the Southampton area. Into everything from a bus depot to a furniture works.

So Norman probably got the best deal at a time when Leeds was an evacuation area.

Bill Houlder

Queens Avenue

Pontefract