The Forties – the war and boarding school

At the beginning of the Forties, the Second World War with Hitler’s Germany had just started (in September 1939). I was in my eighth year having been born in 1932. I certainly did not appreciate the seriousness of the situation to the extent that, by 1940, I subsequently learned there was a strong possibility that our country would be invaded by Nazi Germany.

We still lived at Hollycroft, in Adel on the outskirts of Leeds, in the house where I was born. My parents had a thick brick wall built round the rear bedroom extension and had steel plates put on the flat roof to make a sort of bomb shelter. However, the only bullet that struck the reinforced bedroom was from the inside when my father, inspecting my brother’s service revolver, not realising there was a bullet in the chamber, accidentally fired it and made a clean round hole in the window!

Both my parents continued to go to work in Leedseach day – my father to the Friends Provident and Century Insurance Company in Leeds where he was the manager and my mother to “The Misses Walker” – her business of hairdressers and beauty specialists. Both seemed to be very busy during the war. We still had Ivy Baxter our excellent housekeeper; Ivy’s boy friend, Jim, had been called up to the army. I remember that he was a musician in his spare time and had a band called the Rotherham Ragamuffins. Daisy our maid also remained with us – I’m not sure when she left.

Douglas Littlewood in early 1940s

My brother Douglas who was living at home up to this time, went away to the army as soon as war started in 1939 (described by Douglas in Ben’s interview with him above at the end of the thirties section). He  was soon on active service in France. Before the war started he had been a member of the Territorial Army in the RASC (Royal Army Service Corps) dealing with transport as he was very keen on cars and all things mechanical; so he was “called up” as soon as the war started in 1939.

Up to this time Doug, who left Giggleswick school at the age of sixteen, had tried working in advertising at the Yorkshire Post which didn’t suit him and also I think in our father’s office at the Century and Friends Provident in Leeds, which also was not to his liking. I think the call up to the army was a welcome relief to do something he really enjoyed. It was unfortunate that he left school in 1932 – I think possibly due to my arrival – although it must be admitted that he did not shine at lessons, although he was very good at sport. In those days, at that sort of school (so called public school), boys who were good at lessons were regarded as “swots” and did not have the same status as those good at sports.

When Doug left school, as he loved mechanical things, he desperately wanted to go into the motorcar business. However, in the early thirties my parents were advised, or perhaps more correctly ill-advised, by a businessman friend that “there was no future in the motor car business”. How wrong can you be! This was obviously the worst piece of advice he could have had seeing the subsequent dominance of the car nowadays! So, as mentioned, poor Doug started in the office at the Yorkshire Post advertising department and then moved to the Century and Friends Provident which he disliked also. However, subsequently he did very well in the army rising to the rank of major and being “Mentioned in Dispatches” when in France; also he was offered the rank of lieutenant-colonel shortly before he was demobilised at the end of the war if he would remain in the army. Understandably, after all he’d been through in France, North Africa Tobruk, Scilly and Italy, he had had enough of the war and the army so he opted for demobilisation.

Moorlands School Leeds Sept 1941- August 1944

James wearing smart grey suit, moorlands ti and Drake house badge

Around this time, aged 9 years, I changed schools and moved from Miss Davis’s Richmond House to Moorlands School, a so-called “preparatory school”, also in Headingly, north Leeds.   I remember there were a number of “houses” named after famous men – Earl Haigh (red), Admiral Nelson (blue), the Duke of Wellington (yellow) and Sir Francis Drake (green).

Moorlands School was founded in 1898 and is the oldest preparatory school in Leeds. It was initially in a house in St Chad’e Villas on Otley Road in Headingly. The school apparently opened with only one pupil – Douglas Carson – in the Summer Term of 1898. In due course, the adjoining property at 126, Otley Road was acquired and in the 1940s, a further semi-detached property was purchased alongside the school (now the Ascot Grange Hotel 126-130 Otley Road).

Moorlands School present building – Foxhills in north Leeds

In 1967, Moorlands moved to its current location in Weetwood.  The building, Fox Hill, was built in 1862 as the family home of William Tetley (son of the famous Leeds’ brewer, Joshua Tetley), his wife and fourteen children!  Girls were first admitted in 1981, establishing Moorlands as a co-educational preparatory school.

The early Forties were very bad days for the British Isles. The British Expeditionary Force, all the British troops, had been driven out of France by the Germans and most of the troops evacuated via Dunkirk.

             The London Blitz 1940

The German Blitz was launched on London on 7th of September, 1940 ‘Black Saturday’, when German bombers attacked London, leaving 430 dead and 1,600 injured. London was then bombed for 57 consecutive nights, and often during daytime too. London experienced regular attacks and on 10-11 May 1941 was hit by its biggest raid.

Around 30,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped overall. After 1941 and the end of the Blitz the Luftwaffe still made air raids on the UK. It’s estimated that around 180,000 people took shelter in the London underground system every night.  London was bombed for 57 nights in a row from September 7th, 1940.  People were warned of air raids by loud sirens and they became a daily part of life. Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, Southampton, Plymouth, Birmingham, Coventry and Liverpool were also bombed during the raids. Fortunately, Leeds suffered very little bombing. 

The Battle of Britain between our fighter planes (Spitfires and Hurricanes) and the German airforce was from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps the period the Blitz,

I don’t believe we 8 year old children appreciated how very serious the situation was. Thousands of children from London were evacuated to safer parts of the country. In 1940 there was great concern that the Germans would bomb other major cities in the UK. So in 1940 Moorlands School was evacuated to Grasmere in the Lake District. The school buildings in Otley Road were requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence and occupied by military personnel until 1945/6. However, by 1941, following the move to Grasmere, the number of children admitted to the school had declined and, as it did not seem as if Leeds would sustain heavy bombing, the school returned to Leeds. I never went to Grasmere but remained at Miss Davis’s unit Moorlands returned to Leeds..  

On return to Leeds the school was based in temporary accommodation in Ashwood Villas, farther down Otley Road towards Leeds. Ashwood Villas is where the photo of the Boy Scouts was taken.

Moorlands School c. 1944/45 (author 4th from left back row).

Moorland’s School 1941/42  (author 2nd from right in second row) I think the master is Mr Furze. He leaves join the RAF in November 1941. His son Frank is sitting between me and Mr Underwood.

Moorlands Scouts and Cubs taken in the grounds of the Ashwood Villas. (I’m the one at the back centre holding the Union Jack!)                                                                                            As I was a scout rather than a cub and must have been be over 10.5 yrs so probably was taken around 1942/3?.                                                                                                                                                                    During my first years at Moorlands, the school was at Ashwood Villas, at Hyde Park nearer to Leeds in a large old house converted for use as a school. I can still remember the names of most of the boys in the Scout group photo. The tall boy in the centre of the back row is John Thompson with whom I shared the John Denison Bowl award in our last year at the school (vide infra). The man in the centre is Mr Underwood, one of the masters who was the Scoutmaster. Soon the school moved further out of Leeds up the Otley Road to Headingly near St Chad’s Church in whose grounds we used to play cricket prior to its final move to Fox  Hills.                                                                                              The area near St Chad’s was, and still is, famous for two excellent fish and chip shops – Brett’s and Bryans. Also Alan Bennett’s father owned a butcher’s shop there.
Bryan’s Fish and Chips Headingly
Brett’s Fish and Chips North Lane Leeds






This change of schools was usual if it was intended to send a child away at the age of 12 or 13 years to board at a so-called “Public School” (rather confusing term as “Public Schools” were very expensive private schools!).

My brother Douglas had also attended Moorlands School in the Twenties before he went to Giggleswick, when there was the same headmaster, Mr Stuart Woodhams who was Head Teacher from 1923 to 1948. It was usual to spend some 4 or 5 years at Moorlands (known as a Preparatory or “Prep” School) and then take the “Common Entrance Exam” – an entrance examination for the public school that it was hoped the child would attend. I think most boys passed this exam. I’m sure it was less demanding than the 11-plus which was introduced many years later in the state schools to decide who would be selected to attend a Grammar School and who would go to the “Secondary Modern”.

It was good to be spared this ordeal of the Eleven Plus which marked some children as relative failures at an early stage and took no account of the different rate of development of children. Later when I was a paediatrician, I realised how the development of children varied. It was clear from various studies that children within the same educational year could differ by almost a year in age.  I reckon this happened to me with birthday of 29th August and I would move to a new class in September. The comprehensive school system, which caters for children of all abilities, is a far fairer system, so late developers will not be permanently disadvantaged.

Despite the war and the terrible world situation in the early Forties, we children had a happy time at Moorlands where I was from September 1941 aged 9 yrs. to August 1945 aged nearly 13 years.  Mr. Woodhams the headmaster and his wife (who used to cook lunches – variations on a theme of mince but very tasty!) were very pleasant people as were the other teachers. We enjoyed the sports – soccer in the winter and cricket in the summer – and all the usual activities at such a small preparatory school.

The Moorlands Old Boys played lacrosse as did my brother – John Douglas Littlewood an Old Moorlander (Born.1916 Died 2007).  The photo is labelled “Moorlands School Lacrosse team.  Winner of the Yorkshire Cup”      Doug was at Moorlands in the Mid Twenties.  Douglas was a major in the RASC throughout the war in France in 1939,  western desert, Sicily, Italy and Europe. He was Mentioned in Dispatches in France. 

Old Moorlanders team in mid-1930s. Mr. Stuart Woodhams, the Headmaster, is in the centre with two flags. My brother Douglas is lower far right crouching down. 
Lil Littlewood and Douglas Littlewood c. 1931/2. 
Capt Douglas Littlewood Adjutant 13 BSD July 1942.

There were plenty of friends at Moorlands many of whose names, surprisingly, I can still recall; but I lost touch with most of them as we all went to different boarding schools.

However, one in particular, Ian Adams the son of a Leeds family doctor, remained in occasional contact for, although he went to Mill Hill School, he also went to Leeds Medical School where we both qualified as doctors in 1956. We also went into the army at the same time in 1957 to do our National Service. Ian was eventually the “best man” at our wedding in 1963 when Ann and I married.

          Ian Adams

After junior doctor house jobs at the Leeds General Infirmary and 2 years National Service in the Paratroop Regiment, Ian entered his father’s general practice in Beeston Leeds; he was medical officer to the Leeds United Football Club in the glory days of Don Revie. He obtained his MD with a thesis on footballers’ knees. Later he became a Casualty Consultant at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds. We used to still see Ian and his wife June at the Leeds Medical School reunions arranged by another colleague from the Leeds Medical School, Harry Egdell.  In 2014 Ian died of prostatic cancer as had two of his brothers. His wife June, who had been in poor health for many years, died some months earlier in the same year.  

The  Headmaster, Rev.Peter Adgie and Jim Littlewood outside Moorlands in 2005

Another “Moorlands boy”, whom I have seen in recent years, was the late Rev. Peter Adgie, who lived near the school at West Park in Leeds. He went to Leys School in Cambridge and eventually joined the church moving to a ministry in Denver, Colorado in the United States. I was invited by the Headmaster of Moorlands to meet Peter when he returned to Leeds and visited the school in 2005, and this I did.  

Subsequently, in 2006, we spent the day as guests of Peter and his wife in Denver Colorado when Ann and I visited Denver to attend the North American Cystic Fibrosis Conference. We had a very pleasant day out with the Adgies.

Sightseeing with Peter Adgie around Denver

We visited their house where Peter had a huge stamp collection occupying the extensive basement. I was sad to read on the internet that Peter had died in May 2010 aged 77 years. There is a video of his life on the internet.

So in spite of the war, which started in September 1939, and the food rationing and the blackouts, we children had a happy time at Moorlands. Probably there was more happiness than hard work for although I passed the Common Entrance exam to go to Giggleswick (not too difficult I imagine), I was placed in the B steam (3B) there. I went away to board at Giggleswick School at Settle in the Yorkshire Dales aged only just 13 years – quite a shock after my happy times at Moorlands!!

                Summer 1941
                 Summer 1945

Looking through some old Moorlands School reports from autumn 1941 (never a wise move!) the headmaster, on my performance, had noted at age 9 years – “His conduct has been excellent. In his work he is careful and conscientious, though slow. He has made quite satisfactory progress and tries hard”.                                     However by summer 1945, at 13 years, things seemed to have improved as the headmaster   wrote – “A boy of happy, cheerful and attractive disposition whom we shall much miss. His work has been done steadily and conscientiously and he has reached a good standard”.   Thank goodness – that’s a relief!

The John Denison certificate

 My main achievement/legacy at Moorlands was perhaps sharing the award of the John Denison Rose Bowl with another boy – John Thompson in 1945. John is the tallest boy in the back row in the picture of the Boy Scouts. The Bowl was awarded to a Moorlands boy in his final year on the votes of the other boys in the school. The cup was in memory of a young man, who had attended the school and who had been killed in the first world war of 1914-1918.                                                        

The Bowl had been presented to the school by his parents to be awarded each year to the boy who had “played the game” for the school – that is to say had generally tried hard in all areas of activity.  John Thompson and I received equal number of votes from the boys and so we shared the award.

We joined the cubs and later the Boy Scouts at Moorlands but never went on any trips as is usual these days. Petrol was rationed in the war as were clothes and food – and worst of all sweets!

In 2023 Katy Doyle (a Moorlands teacher from 2008 to the present) organised and wrote a booklet outlining the story of the first 125 years. It was a very interesting account involving recollections from many people over the years. 



Filey during the war years 1939 – 1945

Although during the early Forties the nation was at war and our Filey holiday house, Clevedon, had been commandeered by the forces, my mother was very keen that we should start visiting Filey again. So we rented a ground floor flat half way along the Crescent (photo).

Filey flat
Ground floor corner flat on the Crescent Filey that we rented for a period during the war

On our first night at the new flat there was an air raid during the night and we were terrified! As we had only just acquired the flat we had no “blackouts” or even curtains for the windows; these were required by law during the war so German enemy planes could not see the buildings and find their bearings. If lights were showing from windows the Air Raid Wardens who patrolled the streets would shout “Put that light out”!    So on this first night we were in total darkness and stumbling about in an unfamiliar flat trying to find a torch or candle and somewhere to hide!! However, the raid passed off without serious damage and we all survived!

Much of the Filey beach was fenced off during the war and there were large concrete obstructions placed on roads leading from the beach where enemy invaders could possibly have landed. Invasion was a real possibility in the early Forties.

 In the late Forties my parents sold Hollycroft (our Leeds house), and Clevedon (our Filey holiday house) and move to No. 2 The Beach Filey.

We moved to live in Filey full time in the late Forties when my father retired from the Century and Friends Provident Insurance Company in Leeds where he was the manager. I was away at Giggleswick school when the family moved. I remember first leaving for boarding school from Hollycroft in Leeds and returning at the end of term to an unfamiliar new house in Filey which I had never seen except from the outside.

We sold the Leeds house – Hollycroft – and also Clevedon, the semi-detached house in the Crescent in Filey (which the army had returned to us) and bought a house on the seafront in Filey (No. 2, The Beach). This was an old house that was present in photos taken at the end of the Nineteenth century.

            No 2 The Beach – the large cream end house close to the road in L. centre of photo


iSouth end of the Filey promenade in 1897. Seawall was completed in 1894.


A few words about the town of Filey (modified from the Town Council website)

          St Oswald’s Church Filey

The 12th-century parish church dedicated to St Oswald, on Church Hill in the north of the town, is a Grade I listed building. It is the oldest building in Filey and Nicholas Pevsner wrote “This is easily the finest church in the NE corner of the East Riding”.
In 1931 the spire of a church was damaged by the Dogger Bank earthquake. The Dogger Bank earthquake of 1931 was the strongest earthquake recorded in the United Kingdom since measurements began. It had a magnitude of 6.1 on the Richter Scale, and it caused a shaking intensity of 3 to 4 on the Mercalli scale. The location of the earthquake in the North Sea meant that damage was significantly less than it would have been had the epicentre been on the British mainland.

 The Royal Crescent Filey from the north end

Filey was a small fishing village until the 18th century when visitors from Scarborough arrived seeking the peace and quiet that Filey then offered. In 1835 a Birmingham solicitor called John Wilkes Unett bought 7 acres (28,000 m2) of land and built the Crescent, later known as the Royal Crescent, which was opened in the 1850s.

Frederick Delius

The English composer Frederick Delius  stayed as a boy on the Crescent with his family at Miss Hurd’s boarding house (number 24) in 1876 and 1877, and then at Mrs Colley’s (number 24) in 1897.

Filey was historically split between the North Riding of Yorkshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire, with the boundary running along Filey Beck. When County Councils were formed by the Local Government Act 1888, the whole of Filey was placed in the East Riding.     

For more than 40 years Butlin’s Filey Holiday Camp was a major factor in Filey’s economy. The building of the camp began in 1939 and continued during the Second World War when it became an air force station known as RAF Hunmanby Moor. In 1945 Butlin’s reopened and became a popular holiday resort with its own railway station. By the late 1950s the camp could cater for 10,000 holiday makers. It closed in 1984, causing a decrease in the holiday makers visiting Filey.

                     Butlins Holiday Camp, Filey


        1936 Austin saloon






 I remember the Filey Butlins camp as in the school holidays, soon after I passed my driving test (when just 17 years and 2 weeks!!), I used to drive a huge old fashioned 1936 Austin taxi for Dawson’s, a local taxi firm in Filey. Most of our journeys were taking customers between Filey town and Butlin’s camp with an occasional trip to Scarborough. The taxi was a 1936 model and had very poor brakes and would have undoubtedly failed an MOT had there been such a thing in those days.  I considered it was a good holiday job as on previous years I had a job stacking hay bundles for a local farmer who paid a shilling an hour!

More on the school holidays in Filey

 Virtually all my school holidays were spent in in Filey. I recall a number of good times there. I particularly enjoyed golf which I started to learn at the Filey Golf Club when I was around 10 or 11 years old – first when we visited and then when we lived there during every school holidays. Both my brother Douglas and my father had been country members of the Filey Golf Club for many years and I became a junior member.

James Braid Wikipedia
Dr Alistair Alister MacKenzie with his wife, Hilda, on No. 15 at Cypress Point. “Rule 14? Some things need mansplaining!“Julian Graham/Loon Hill Studios

Filey Golf Club.   The golf club  had been established in 1897 on land to the north of the townand moved to its present site in 1899. The design of the ‘new links’ is credited to James Braid, the legendary golfer, and examples of his design features can be seen on the course.

It has been suggested that Dr. Alister Mackenzie, the famous British golf course architect, during his period of residence in Leeds, made amendments to the original design. Interestingly, Harry Vardon, during his period as club professional at nearby Ganton, would often play challenge matches over at Filey. The course has been modified over the years but still retains the original James Braid layout and magnificent views from many holes.

18th green with Filey Brigg in the distance
First green at Filey with Bempton and Flamborough Head in the far distance

I remember my times at the golf club in the early Forties very clearly. It was wartime and there were areas near some golf holes, such as those near Primrose Valley, from where one could not retrieve one’s golf ball as they were mined as part of the coastal defences! Indeed the land mines had killed a number of people who failed to heed the many warning signs and entered the forbidden mined areas. I had golf lessons from the old golf club professional affectionately known as “Pop” Beck” – Alfred Ward Beck. 

Alfred Ward Beck –“Pop Beck” (1878-1951) apparently was the youngest of thirteen children born in Grouville, one of the twelve parishes of Jersey. He was an island compatriot of another famous golfer Harry Vardon, and so was yet another Jersey man to earn his living at a North of England golf club. At the age of only 15 years he went to Dinard France as golf professional and was already giving golf lessons! The following year in 1895, on the recommendation of Harry Vardon, another Jersey golfer, Pop came to Filey and was appointed professional soon after the club was formed in 1897; he remained in post until 1946 after the Second World War.

His brother, Thomas Helier Beck, (b. 1883) joined him in Filey for a couple of years around 1904. His son, Alfred Gibson Beck (1904-1987), generally known as Freddie, was born at Filey and was his assistant before becoming the professional at Bradley Hall, Sherwood Forest and Leicester Golf clubs. Freddie had only one professional win – the 1937 Midland Professional Championship. Freddie resembled his younger brother Arthur. I remember Arthur very well. Both were short men  who used long clubs. Pop Beck was succeeded at Filey by his son Arthur (Information from John Winship, a former caddy of A W Beck).

Freddie beck
Freddie Beck second from the left – short man with long driver

In the summer holidays I used to spend much of every day at the golf club usually playing golf with other boys or any visitors looking for a game.

The old Filey GC wooden clubhouse. Golfers teeing off in clothes of the time 1936.

The old Filey GC clubhouse (photo) was used up to 2003 when the impressive new clubhouse replaced it. It is hard to believe that in those days, in the Forties, the club Professional was not expected to come into the clubhouse and mix socially with the “gentlemen” members.

Horse riding in Filey.   Another favourite occupation in the school holidays in Filey during the Forties was horse riding at the David Burr Riding School whose stables were situated in a narrow street in the middle of the town. Founded by David Burr in 1884, the business apparently started with two landaus (carriages) that stood at the top of Crescent Hill and were available for hire by the wealthy visitors staying at the Royal Crescent Hotel.

david Burr
David Burr in his stable yard in South Crescent Raid, Filey

In the Forties we would mount the horses at the stables, and walk them along the Crescent, down the steep cobbled Crescent Hill and on to the beach. The horses would start to canter as soon as they felt the sand beneath their hooves!                                                                             Very pleasant, attractive stable girls always accompanied us – two I remember were Rita Simpson and Pearl Hanson – both of whom we boys admired from afar! The beach was a marvelous place for riding, particularly out of the holiday season, when there were few visitors about and literally miles of clear beach. We did a great deal of trotting and cantering on the beach but never any jumping. Apparently, the riding school later moved in 1962 from the centre of Filey to Brookfield Farm, Hunmanby and was reduced in size.

Over the years many well known people had ridden at Burr’s stables including Amy Johnson, Barbara Hutton, Robert Harrison, the families of Gamages (the London Store), David Brown (of David Brown Tractors and Aston Martin), the Terry’s chocolate family, Owbridges of Lung Tonic fame, Ogdens the jewellers and Freddie Starr, Sooty (or at least Harry Corbett), and Billy Butlin’s offspring, Cherry & her brother (Information taken from Keith D Taylor. “Looking at Filey”)

The Steam Railway, one of the key technologies of the industrial revolution, came to Filey in October 1846, making the town easily accessible from the whole of the North of England.

Royal Crescent Hotel Filey

The Royal Crescent Hotel was built in 1850. The expansion of the “new” town with the development of the Crescent in the period from 1830 to 1859 brought the wealthy to Filey and they both holidayed and settled here.


The Filey sea wall was built in 1890 and the house we eventually bought, No 2 The Beach, was  built around that time.


The new sea-wall at Filey, formally opened by Lord Herries on Tuesday. Illustration for The Graphic, 23 June 1894.
South end of the promenade 1897 showing No2 The Beach much as it is today


Early aviation at Filey from 1910

Blackburn BM2
The Blackburn BM2 – one of the early models tested on Filey beach
           Early Bleriot







Few people remember that the miles of very flat firm sandy beach at Filey was used in the early days of flying around 1910. In fact, a Filey Flying School was established between Primrose Valley and Hunmanby Gap between 1910 and 1912. Robert Blackburn one of the pioneer aircraft manufacturers used the beach for testing his aircraft. He was the eldest of three brothers. He attended Leeds Modern School and graduated in engineering at the University of Leeds, and built his first aircraft, a monoplane, in 1909. He made his first short flight on the sandy beach at Filey in the spring of 1909. The aircraft was badly damaged in 1910 when he attempted to make a turn.
It was at Filey that most of his earliest designs, built in his Leeds workshop, were finally assembled and tested. It was Harold Blackburn who set up, in July 1914, the first scheduled airline in the UK – operating between Bradford and Leeds every half hour during the Yorkshire Show. (Further details on (

                     Bentfield Hicks

Bentfield Hicks   (photo by Mr. G Sharpe) was a famous aviator of his day. He took his Royal Aero Club certificate at Filey on 30th May 1911 in a Blackburn Monoplane, which he had flown with since 1910. He was the first person to loop the loop and fly upside down; he flew with the Royal Flying Corps. Unfortunately he died of Spanish flu aged only 34 years.

I knew nothing of these matters until recently. However, in the late Forties there was a small airfield near Hunmanby (a few miles down the coast from Filey). At the time I was in my late teens. The airfield was used for short flights for holidaymakers from the nearby Butlin’s Holiday Camp.   As already mentioned, In the school and university holidays, after I had obtained my driving licence (at the age of 17 years and 2 weeks!), I used to drive a big old Austin taxi for a firm in Filey owned by a man called Ken Dawson. Usually I drove holidaymakers between Filey town and Butlin’s Holiday camp but sometimes I took people from the main camp to the nearby airfield or into Scarborough. On one occasion I had taken some people from Butlins to the airfield and there was a spare seat in the little aircraft. I went up for a free flight in the small Auster plane they used – my first air flight!    

Auster Autocrat

Relatively few people had travelled by air in the late Forties – it was very exciting!  The little plane took off from the rough grass airfield with a great amount of vibration and noise. When in the air the aircraft was blown about a great deal. I recall seeing daylight through screw holes in the floor. Altogether a memorable experience!    I was very pleased when we rattled and bounced to a stop on landing. Neither of my parents ever went in an aeroplane whereas nowadays there are very few people who have not been in an aeroplane on many  occasions.



     GIGGLESWICK SCHOOL 1944 – 1949


School Chapel from the cricket field
Giggleswick School – main building with “quad” and teaching blocks in the background

Starting at Giggleswick a few weeks after my 13th birthday represented a radical and drastic change in my life, which was now mainly at school rather at my home. Home was now a place I visited only during the school holidays – one now lived at school.

Our family was still living at Hollycroft in Leeds when I started at Giggleswick.  School holidays were a welcome break from the severe rigors of school; we boys looked forward to going home all through the term. Most of the younger boys had a chart on their study walls of the number of days remaining to the end of term; they used to tick off each day. Returning to school for the new term was very depressing as school life was very hard and the terms seemed very long.

I used to dread the journey back to school through Otley, Ilkley, Skipton; the countryside became increasingly bleak until we reached the limestone hills around Settle. Although it was good to see one’s friends again, it was not good getting back into the prison-like routine of school life! I don’t feel like going into school life in detail it was not the happiest time of my life nor particularly interesting.

style 45-46
Style House. in our second year (45/46). Centre, with glasses, is Mr. Leonard P Dutton, the housemaster. I am back centre – to my left are Geoff Batey and Peter Grime two study mates and three to the left Terry Scott the fourth member of our study.


Gigg crest

Historical facts on Giggleswick from the school website (2012)

On 12 November 1507, the Prior and Convent of Durham, in which was vested land belonging to the ancient church of St Alkelda, granted to James Carr, Chantry Priest, the lease of half an acre on condition he should enclose it and build at his expense “one gramer scole” [sic].    However, it is most likely that a school was in existence in the village of Giggleswick even before this, probably in a side chapel of Giggleswick Church.

By 1512 “one scole” had been built: “low, small, irregular, consisting of two stages”. Successive Chantry Priests, having received licences to teach, continued Carr’s work until Edward VI (son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour) dissolved all Chantries. The School, however, continued and owing to the petition of the vicar of Giggleswick, John Nowell, and others, Edward VI granted a Royal Charter to the School on May 26 1553. Valuable lands were endowed. The School received its title “The Free Grammar School of King Edward VI of Giggleswick”. It was not until 1867 that the School moved up the hill to its present site, not far from the original small building by the Church. There followed a period of major expansion: new classrooms, new playing fields and new boarding accommodation.

                     The School Chapel
                    Chapel interior









An important development took place at the end of the 19th century when a governor and local benefactor, Walter Morrison, expressed his wish to have a new Chapel built for the School to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Work started in 1897 and the building was opened in 1901. It stands high on a rocky outcrop, a landmark for miles around. It is a building of outstanding beauty.

gigg from road
    Main drive into the grounds

Giggleswick School has continued to grow and develop. In 1934, under the headship of E H Partridge (whom I remember well), Catteral Hall opened as Giggleswick’s preparatory school. A new house (Style) was created at Beck House and in 1966 Morrison House was built. In more recent times there have been many new developments including the Sharpe   Library, a new dining hall, the refurbishment of boarding accommodation, new science laboratories, new sports and art facilities. The Partridge teaching building was opened in 2003 and now houses Giggleswick Junior School.

Beck House was considered by Nikolaus Pevsner to be the best 18C house in the village. The garden front of seven bays is out of sight behind a high wall. Style House is attached on the right (ie to the right of the picture). It is one of the student houses of Giggleswick School and is named after George Style, headmaster from 1869 to 1904.

I was in Style House and initially in a study with three other new boys – Geoff Batey from Morpeth in Northumberland, Terry Scott from Bradford, and Peter Grime from Clitheroe.

Mr. Leonard Dutton (in centre of house photo with glasses), the housemaster was a very strict but very fair man who taught classics and coached the rugby team. His canings were to be avoided at all costs; raised wheals across the buttocks that remained for at least a month. Mr. Dutton lived with his wife in a large old house, Beck House, that joined onto the more modern Style House. The two houses were connected on both the ground and first floors. Mr. Dutton used to come into the dormitory to chat with the boys before lights out.

In all fairness he was a quite brilliant schoolmaster. Very strict, impeccably fair and quite excellent teacher – his teaching resulted in my obtaining a credit in school certificate Latin which I needed. Essentially the boys were scared of him! The night before it was Latin translation the next day there were meetings in the studies to work out the translation of the particular piece we had been set to study. It was worked out who would get which piece to translate according to where we sat in class. The same was true in my brother Douglas’s day; he tells of a day when Mr. Dutton started at the other end of the row to expected and one boy fainted when he realised he now had the wrong section to translate!

New boys to the school were known as “Bucky New Ticks” during the first term, as “New Ticks” during their second and “Ticks” during the their third term after which they were fully fledged “boys”. Generally one started as the lowest of the low and gradually worked one’s way up. However, despite the rigorous discipline there was absolutely no bullying. Dutton made it clear this would not be tolerated and all the boys believed him!

Eventually I was made a School Senior (Prefect) and would wear a black and white striped tie as Jon Martin, the head of House, was wearing (sitting next to Mr Dutton the House master in the photo). I was allowed to put my hands in my pockets and sit at top table in the dining hall and have toast rather than bread! Wow I felt I had arrived!!!

The Junior Training Corps was an important part of school life and all boys joined – except only one I can remember and he was in our house Style; he was a definite rebel and had to do agriculture when we had Corps.  I enjoyed the Corps early and soon joined the band as I already played the trumpet.  I rose to be Silver Bugler at an early age.

                     Junior Trains Corps on parade. The band is on the far right
               JTC band. I am the small boy 3rd from the right in the second row.


My entry in the Giggleswick Quincentenary Register includes some of my progress at Giggleswick – from Winter 1945 and life thereafter. I’m not sure who wrote this – I don’t think it was me!

LITTLEWOOD, James Malcolm. (Style). b 29 August 1932, son of John Henry Littlewood of Leeds, West Yorkshire, and later Filey, East Yorkshire, and brother JD (qv). Moorlands Prep’ School, Leeds. IIIB-VI: Praeposter: House Senior. Choral Society; Golf Club; Librarian. Athletics VIII, House Colour; Cricket, House Colour. Sergeant CCF, Silver Bugler. Chapel Choir; Concert Choir; Orchestra. Production of ‘Messiah’ held in Chapel, played trumpet. Left July 1950. National Service, Royal Army Medical Corps, Captain 1957-1959. Manchester University, Pre-Clinical study 1953; Leeds University MB ChB 1956. Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Leeds University; Senior Registrar 1961; Lecturer 1963; Clinical Senior Lecturer/Consultant 1967; Hospital for Sick Children Great Ormond Street 1963; Consultant Paediatrician, St James University Hospital and Seacroft Hospital, Leeds 1968-1997. Started Cystic Fibrosis Clinic 1975, recognised by RHA 1983; part funded by RHA 1985, fully in 1989. Retired from NHS 1997. DCH London 1960; MD Leeds 1969; FRCPE 1971; FRCP; FRCPCH. Member and then from 1995 Chairman of the Research and Medical Advisory Committee of UK Cystic Fibrosis Trust (1983-2003); Chairman of the UK CF Trust (2003-2011); Honorary President CF Trust (2011- present). Prolific author of medical literature; speaker at national and international conferences worldwide; guest lecturer in tours of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, invited to give the Joseph Levy Memorial lecture by Cystic Fibrosis Worldwide, 2004; now devoted to History of Cystic Fibrosis ( OBE for services to Medicine, 1995; Rossi Medal of the European Cystic Fibrosis Society, 2004; John Panchaud Medal of the UK Cystic Fibrosis Trust, 2005. Recreations: Golf. Residence: Bardsey near Leeds, West Yorkshire to 2015 then Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire.

As you will appreciate from the above I took an active part in many activities at the school though I can’t say I was ever really happy there and always looked forward to the holidays. I never really made it on the sporting side. Although I have much to be grateful for as a result of going to Giggleswick, not least to my parents for the money they spent to send me there. However, I must state clearly that I disagree with sending children away from home and their families when only just 13 years old. However, there are situations where boarding school is essential, for example if there are family problems or the parents are working abroad or moving about frequently.  The fundamental change in one’s life on going to Giggleswick from the age of 13 was that the school now became your main home and your family home was now merely a place you visited for a few weeks three times a year.

I don’t have the enthusiasm to go into school life in detail at this time but may well do so in due course for there were many good times! However, I do keep returning to it when describing various happenings at Giggleswick during the significant number of years I was there and it was my home from the age of thirteen!