FAIRBURN
September 1979 - February 1982
Fairburn Community Primary School, 2007
When I first landed in Fairburn, age 7, it seemed like the middle of nowhere. Light years away from my old family home in Castleford, down a winding country lane that had no streetlights and no speed limit. As it turns out, it’s only a couple of miles away, but back then it might as well have been another country. It was, at least, another county. Or at least, it was supposed to be. Everyone told me Fairburn was in North Yorkshire, as opposed to West Yorkshire, where I’d always lived, and the Wikipedia page will tell you no different. But since the nearest town was Castleford, itself in West Yorkshire, it has a West Yorkshire postcode: WF11, part of the Wakefield postcode area. Which all makes sense until you realise the postcode for Castleford is WF10, and WF11 is the postcode for Knottingley, which is slightly further away.
FAIRBURN ONLINE
Fairburn Ings “An exciting site for serious wildlife watching”
Fairburn School “We aim to create an environment where our children love to learn”
Fairburn on Wikipedia “A small village and civil parish in the Selby district”
Ledsham Parish Church of England Diocese of York
Wildgoose Gallery “Fine Art, Fine Giftware, Bespoke Framing”
Fairburn on Facebook Posts about Fairburn, North Yorkshire
Pictures of Fairburn in the county of North Yorkshire
Waggon & Horses Real Ales Available
TERM 1 A day-by-day account of Waen’s first term at Fairburn School
ENGLISH 1 A few tentative steps into a world of terrible writing
TOPIC 1 He knows the names of all the dinosaurs
HISTORY 1 Sept 1979 - Oct 1981
Darth Vader An autograph from a genuine stand-in
MY ADDRESS (from Sept 1979 to Feb 1982) 2 School Terrace Fairburn near Knottingley (not Castleford, which is closer) West Yorkshire WF11 9JX School Terrace is a small row of three-storey houses at the top end of Gauk Street, where it meets the Great North Road. So-called because it overlooks the school (see below). My bedroom was in the attic right at the top of the house. My favourite colour was red, so we painted the walls bright red (or rather bright reddish-orange - the exact shade was poppy). I also had a pair of bunk beds all to myself, which was pretty cool. Not because I liked having people to stay - I didn’t. I just liked sleeping higher up.
LOCAL AMENITIES AND ATTRACTIONS (1979 - 1982) FAIRBURN INGS - a protected bird sanctuary and wetland nature reserve, just outside Fairburn. Down a windy country road that didn’t have a pavement, so we rarely went. And yes, as it turns out, ‘ing’ is actually a real word, which means pasture or water meadow, or a marsh which floods WILDGOOSE GALLERY - purveyor of fine art, fine giftware and bespoke framing. Also very angry about the parking situation ST JAMES’ CHURCH - a 19th century C of E church with a long history, and a graveyard which houses a war monument and the remains of prominent past Fairburnians. The vicar back then (who I think was called Ernest but I can’t be sure) ran a Christian youth club called the 7-11 Club, which I often went to A CRICKET FIELD - with goalposts, just in case, a set of swings (built on concrete - I once spectacularly fell off one and landed on my face) and a large-ish building we used as a community centre, for discos and other exciting village events A FARM OR TWO - one of them used to be called Swales Farm but it looks like now maybe it’s called Bay Horse Farm Limited. I have no reliable memory of what they farmed, but it might have been horses. Or hay. I don’t know much about farms A COUPLE OF GARAGES - you know, for fixing your car and that. Actually, it might just have been one garage A POST OFFICE - which also sold sweets, if I remember right. But not comics. You had to go to a completely different town for that Not one, not two, but THREE PUBS, all horse-themed - The Three Horse Shoes and the Waggon and Horses, which are still open today. And The Bay Horse, visible from the A1 and therefore probably the busiest for passing trade. Sadly this was bulldozed many years ago. The Waggon and Horses was the one most of the locals went to, and the only one I ever went inside (mainly because it was run by my mate Jason’s grandparents) A SCHOOL - see below
FAIRBURN COUNTY PRIMARY SCHOOL (now Fairburn Community Primary School) was a small Victorian building with two classrooms, a dining room, an assembly hall and that’s it. There were probably only about 40 or 50 pupils in the entire school, from the ages of 4 to 11. Three years’ worth of infants (ages 4 to 7, which these days would be called Reception and Years 1 & 2) and four of juniors (ages 7 to 11, or Years 3 to 6). My class teacher (and the school’s headmaster) was called Mr Geraghty. I wish I remembered his first name, because he’s so important to this story, but I can’t. It might have been Stephen. He was an affable, middle-aged guy with slightly greying hair. Engaging, funny, but also deadly serious when he needed to be, and not afraid to clip you round the ear if you didn’t stop talking when he asked you to (these were the days when that sort of thing was still pretty much expected, even from progressive teachers). I remember him in corduroy jackets and muted, earthy colours, but I don’t know if that’s because I’ve been watching too many gritty documentaries about British education in the 1970s. I remember the name of the infants teacher - Joan Cunniff. Miss. Twenty-something with long, straight, dark hair. Slightly hippyish, dressed in dark greens and browns, like a forest. Softly spoken, projected a sense of warmth and kindness - the kind of person you wished was your Mum. These teachers were basically just nice people who loved teaching kids. It all sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? This tiny little Yorkshire village with its quaint horse-named pubs and its lovely little school. That’s probably because I forgot to mention the A1 running right through the middle of it.
The Three Horse Shoes “known for its fun and happening events”
THE SCHOOL
THE VILLAGE
WAEN SHEPHERD Who was this strange little boy?
SCIENCE 1 Sept 1979 - Mar 1980
GEOGRAPHY 1 Sept 1979 - Feb 1981
Clarke Hall The place and time where it all began… September 1679?
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
Bonfire Night Waen’s first time at the annual village fireworks display
Christmas 1979 Can Waen last the night without opening his presents?
Sheet Lightning Waen and his Gran shelter from the sheet- shaped storm
String Orchestra A visit from the North Yorkshire County Council Orchestra
THE A1
If I remember the history correctly, Fairburn started life as a waypoint along the Great North Road, somewhere to rest overnight while taking the journey up the east side of England from London to Scotland. Hence the preponderance of pubs named after horses and carts. The A1, since its designation in the 1920s, followed the same route, and as a result went right through the middle of Fairburn. And as the traffic increased, and sections of the road got repurposed as motorways, that went right through the middle of the village too. School Terrace was right next to the A1. The vehicle noise must have been constant, but I don’t remember it ever being a problem. Except that, as an adult, I find it impossible to sleep in places that don’t have the sound of motorway traffic constantly swishing away in the background. I do think it might have been a problem for other residents though. There was a sense that the village had somehow been ‘divided’ - with Old Fairburn on one side of the A1 and the more modern Fairfield housing estate on the other. The only way to cross on foot was a single footbridge, just south of the school. I don’t have that many photographs from the period, but in this one, taken at the door of our house facing into the back yard, you can just about see the (washed out) footbridge in the background.
OTHER DELIGHTS
Me and Andrew Wall in the backyard outside 2 School Terrace, Summer 1980, with Star Wars figures on our shoulders. You can just about make out the A1 footbridge in the background. The beige Morris used to belong to my Grandad but we borrowed it
Since we left in 1982, I’ve only ever been back to Fairburn once. In 2007, twenty-five years after leaving, I took my wife there to show her this place I kept raving about. To my horror, it had mutated. At some point, the A1 had been diverted along a new bypass and no longer went through the village. Which made it harder to get there and utterly changed the character of the place. The road in the middle was still there - except it was the A1246 now, not the A1 - and it didn’t have the same amount of traffic. Admittedly it was just after Christmas, but the whole place just felt dead. There was a plaque outside the school excitedly commemorating the ‘reunification of the village’ but it still seemed divided to me, with this great big road space in the middle that wasn’t even being used as a road any more. We went in the Waggon and Horses - a truly American Werewolf in London scenario where a packed pub of villagers turned and stared at us warily as we walked in - until I explained I used to live there as a kid and started talking about how much it had changed. We still smoked back then, so we had a few cigarettes outside with a few of the regulars, some of whom had lived there all their lives, and I got the impression that they felt abandoned in some way. Like the world used to come through Fairburn every day - sometimes it used to stay for a while - but now it went somewhere else and it might never come their way again. Whether it was better then or better now, I can’t tell you. I only know the place felt very different when I lived there, and I can never go back.
FAIRBURN MEMORIES
19th century Bramley Family headstone, taken 2007 17th Century Fairburn Boys: Top - Andrew Wall, Gareth Daniels, Stuart Ashton, David Bramley, Simon Briggs, Andrew Dobson; Middle - Waen Shepherd, Wayne Kelsey, Jason Bastow, Duncan Grace; Bottom - Paul Mattison, Shane Cotterill, Aaron Ross, Gerald Swaby Fairburn School dining room, 1980. Far table: ?, Caron Chadwick, Kay Wright, Sarah Sunderland; Middle: Simon Briggs, Mark Hudson, Jason Bastow, Joanne Dobson; Near: Helen Easter, Gerald Swaby, Waen Shepherd, Paul Mattison, Darren Ridley, Aaron Ross Me and Simon Briggs making things in the school dining room, 1980. Good view of the A1 footbridge through the window Fairburn Cricket Club has seen better days, 2007 The cricket/football field, 2007. The swings I fell off had disappeared and the village hall appeared to have been rebuilt, but otherwise it was just as I remembered it Fairburn School, front entrance. We never used this door for some reason, and were always encouraged to use the door to the playground round the back of the school Me standing on Gauk Street in December 2007, not far from the house where I lived. You can see the sign for the Waggon and Horses pub reflected in the window. Why I didn't take a photo of the pub is beyond me The Wildgoose Gallery on the corner of Gauk Street and Silver Street, 2007
BLONDIE! Pictures of Little Waen’s lovely blonde hair
Fairburn Community Primary School, 2007
When I first landed in Fairburn, age 7, it seemed like the middle of nowhere. Light years away from my old family home in Castleford, down a winding country lane that had no streetlights and no speed limit. As it turns out, it’s only a couple of miles away, but back then it might as well have been another country. It was, at least, another county. Or at least, it was supposed to be. Everyone told me Fairburn was in North Yorkshire, as opposed to West Yorkshire, where I’d always lived, and the Wikipedia page will tell you no different. But since the nearest town was Castleford, itself in West Yorkshire, it has a West Yorkshire postcode: WF11, part of the Wakefield postcode area. Which all makes sense until you realise the postcode for Castleford is WF10, and WF11 is the postcode for Knottingley, which is slightly further away.
MY ADDRESS (from Sept 1979 to Feb 1982) 2 School Terrace Fairburn near Knottingley (not Castleford, which is closer) West Yorkshire WF11 9JX School Terrace is a small row of three-storey houses at the top end of Gauk Street, where it meets the Great North Road. So- called because it overlooks the school (see below). My bedroom was in the attic right at the top of the house. My favourite colour was red, so we painted the walls bright red (or rather bright reddish-orange - the exact shade was poppy). I also had a pair of bunk beds all to myself, which was pretty cool. Not because I liked having people to stay - I didn’t. I just liked sleeping higher up.
LOCAL AMENITIES AND ATTRACTIONS (1979 - 82) •	FAIRBURN INGS - a protected bird sanctuary and wetland nature reserve, just outside Fairburn. Down a windy country road that didn’t have a pavement, so we rarely went. And yes, as it turns out, ‘ing’ is actually a real word, which means pasture or water meadow, or a marsh which floods •	WILDGOOSE GALLERY - purveyor of fine art, fine giftware and bespoke framing. Also very angry about the parking situation •	ST JAMES’ CHURCH - a 19th century C of E church with a long history, and a graveyard which houses a war monument and the remains of prominent past Fairburnians. The vicar back then (who I think was called Ernest but I can’t be sure) ran a Christian youth club called the 7-11 Club, which I often went to •	A CRICKET FIELD - with goalposts, just in case, a set of swings (built on concrete - I once spectacularly fell off one and landed on my face) and a large-ish building we used as a community centre, for discos and other exciting village events •	A FARM OR TWO - one of them used to be called Swales Farm but it looks like now maybe it’s called Bay Horse Farm Limited. I have no reliable memory of what they farmed, but it might have been horses. Or hay. I don’t know much about farms •	A COUPLE OF GARAGES - you know, for fixing your car and that. Actually, it might just have been one garage •	A POST OFFICE - which also sold sweets, if I remember right. But not comics. You had to go to a completely different town for that •	Not one, not two, but THREE PUBS, all horse-themed - The Three Horse Shoes and the Waggon and Horses, which are still open today. And The Bay Horse, visible from the A1 and therefore probably the busiest for passing trade. Sadly this was bulldozed many years ago. The Waggon and Horses was the one most of the locals went to, and the only one I ever went inside (mainly because it was run by my mate Jason’s grandparents) •	A SCHOOL - see below
FAIRBURN COUNTY PRIMARY SCHOOL (now Fairburn Community Primary School) was a small Victorian building with two classrooms, a dining room, an assembly hall and that’s it. There were probably only about 40 or 50 pupils in the entire school, from the ages of 4 to 11. Three years’ worth of infants (ages 4 to 7, which these days would be called Reception and Years 1 & 2) and four of juniors (ages 7 to 11, or Years 3 to 6). My class teacher (and the school’s headmaster) was called Mr Geraghty. I wish I remembered his first name, because he’s so important to this story, but I can’t. It might have been Stephen. He was an affable, middle-aged guy with slightly greying hair. Engaging, funny, but also deadly serious when he needed to be, and not afraid to clip you round the ear if you didn’t stop talking when he asked you to (these were the days when that sort of thing was still pretty much expected, even from progressive teachers). I remember him in corduroy jackets and muted, earthy colours, but I don’t know if that’s because I’ve been watching too many gritty documentaries about British education in the 1970s. I remember the name of the infants teacher - Joan Cunniff. Miss. Twenty-something with long, straight, dark hair. Slightly hippyish, dressed in dark greens and browns, like a forest. Softly spoken, projected a sense of warmth and kindness - the kind of person you wished was your Mum. These teachers were basically just nice people who loved teaching kids. It all sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? This tiny little Yorkshire village with its quaint horse-named pubs and its lovely little school. That’s probably because I forgot to mention the A1 running right through the middle of it.
THE SCHOOL
THE VILLAGE
THE A1
If I remember the history correctly, Fairburn started life as a waypoint along the Great North Road, somewhere to rest overnight while taking the journey up the east side of England from London to Scotland. Hence the preponderance of pubs named after horses and carts. The A1, since its designation in the 1920s, followed the same route, and as a result went right through the middle of Fairburn. And as the traffic increased, and sections of the road got repurposed as motorways, that went right through the middle of the village too. School Terrace was right next to the A1. The vehicle noise must have been constant, but I don’t remember it ever being a problem. Except that, as an adult, I find it impossible to sleep in places that don’t have the sound of motorway traffic constantly swishing away in the background. I do think it might have been a problem for other residents though. There was a sense that the village had somehow been ‘divided’ - with Old Fairburn on one side of the A1 and the more modern Fairfield housing estate on the other. The only way to cross on foot was a single footbridge, just south of the school. I don’t have that many photographs from the period, but in this one, taken at the door of our house facing into the back yard, you can just about see the (washed out) footbridge in the background.
Me and Andrew Wall in the backyard outside 2 School Terrace, Summer 1980, with Star Wars figures on our shoulders. You can just about make out the A1 footbridge in the background. The beige Morris used to belong to my Grandad but we borrowed it
Since we left in 1982, I’ve only ever been back to Fairburn once. In 2007, twenty-five years after leaving, I took my wife there to show her this place I kept raving about. To my horror, it had mutated. At some point, the A1 had been diverted along a new bypass and no longer went through the village. Which made it harder to get there and utterly changed the character of the place. The road in the middle was still there - except it was the A1246 now, not the A1 - and it didn’t have the same amount of traffic. Admittedly it was just after Christmas, but the whole place just felt dead. There was a plaque outside the school excitedly commemorating the ‘reunification of the village’ but it still seemed divided to me, with this great big road space in the middle that wasn’t even being used as a road any more. We went in the Waggon and Horses - a truly American Werewolf in London scenario where a packed pub of villagers turned and stared at us warily as we walked in - until I explained I used to live there as a kid and started talking about how much it had changed. We still smoked back then, so we had a few cigarettes outside with a few of the regulars, some of whom had lived there all their lives, and I got the impression that they felt abandoned in some way. Like the world used to come through Fairburn every day - sometimes it used to stay for a while - but now it went somewhere else and it might never come their way again. Whether it was better then or better now, I can’t tell you. I only know the place felt very different when I lived there, and I can never go back.
FAIRBURN
September 1979 - February 1982
FAIRBURN ONLINE
Fairburn Ings “An exciting site for serious wildlife watching”
Fairburn School “We aim to create an environment where our children love to learn”
Fairburn on Wikipedia “A small village and civil parish in the Selby district”
Ledsham Parish Church of England Diocese of York
Wildgoose Gallery “Fine Art, Fine Giftware, Bespoke Framing”
Fairburn on Facebook Posts about Fairburn, North Yorkshire
Pictures of Fairburn in the county of North Yorkshire
Waggon & Horses Real Ales Available
The Three Horse Shoes “known for its fun and happening events”
FAIRBURN MEMORIES
19th century Bramley Family headstone, taken 2007 17th Century Fairburn Boys: Top - Andrew Wall, Gareth Daniels, Stuart Ashton, David Bramley, Simon Briggs, Andrew Dobson; Middle - Waen Shepherd, Wayne Kelsey, Jason Bastow, Duncan Grace; Bottom - Paul Mattison, Shane Cotterill, Aaron Ross, Gerald Swaby Fairburn School dining room, 1980. Far table: ?, Caron Chadwick, Kay Wright, Sarah Sunderland; Middle: Simon Briggs, Mark Hudson, Jason Bastow, Joanne Dobson; Near: Helen Easter, Gerald Swaby, Waen Shepherd, Paul Mattison, Darren Ridley, Aaron Ross Me and Simon Briggs making things in the school dining room, 1980. Good view of the A1 footbridge through the window Fairburn Cricket Club has seen better days, 2007 The cricket/football field, 2007. The swings I fell off had disappeared and the village hall appeared to have been rebuilt, but otherwise it was just as I remembered it Fairburn School, front entrance. We never used this door for some reason, and were always encouraged to use the door to the playground round the back of the school Me standing on Gauk Street in December 2007, not far from the house where I lived. You can see the sign for the Waggon and Horses pub reflected in the window. Why I didn't take a photo of the pub is beyond me The Wildgoose Gallery on the corner of Gauk Street and Silver Street, 2007
TERM 1 A day-by-day account of Waen’s first term at Fairburn School
ENGLISH 1 A few tentative steps into a world of terrible writing
TOPIC 1 He knows the names of all the dinosaurs
HISTORY 1 Sept 1979 - Oct 1981
Darth Vader An autograph from a genuine stand-in
WAEN SHEPHERD Who was this strange little boy?
SCIENCE 1 Sept 1979 - Mar 1980
GEOGRAPHY 1 Sept 1979 - Feb 1981
Clarke Hall The place and time where it all began… September 1679?
OTHER DELIGHTS
BLONDIE! Pictures of Little Waen’s lovely blonde hair