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Kathleen looks back as she celebrates 100 years
10:51am Thursday 13th September 2012 in News
Kathleen Greenwood was just 14 when she left school and started work at a Skipton mill.
Both her parents had died when she was nine, leaving Kathleen, the youngest of nine, and two siblings to be brought up by an older sister.
Having failed to pass the entrance exam to higher education, it was the Rycroft Mill for her.
So, just a weekend after finishing at Ings School, Broughton Road in 1924, she started work as an apprentice weaver.
“I left school on the Friday and started work on the Monday and I had to pay a lady to learn how to weave. I don’t remember how much, but I do remember my first pay packet was 12 shillings and six pence, which I thought was marvellous pay,” said Mrs Greenwood.
The young Kathleen and many of her school friends worked five-and-a-half days a week, starting at 7am. They stopped at 8.30am for breakfast, at midday for dinner and finished at 5.15pm.
“I cried my eyes out, because I loved school. It was very noisy at the mill and I hated it, but I had a lot of friends and eventually we did have fun,” she said.
With her first pay packet, she bought some nylon stockings, put some money away for a holiday and gave the rest to her 22-year-old sister to pay for her care.
As she grew older, she went dancing at the Black Horse in Skipton and in the 1950s remembers her first experience of seeing a film with sound.
“I can remember my first talkie, it was King of the Khyber Rifles and it was at The Classic, where the Stratra Nightclub is now,” she said.
Cinemas were a big source of entertainment, with the town also boasting The Gem Picture Palace, now the Plaza, in Sackville Street.
“You went upstairs if you were posh, and to get in it was one shilling and six pence, which was a lot of money in those days,” she said. “We used to go on Saturday mornings for nine shillings, there was a man with a long pole which he would use if we were making too much noise.”
In 1940, Kathleen married Charlie Greenwood at Christ Church in Skipton. Charlie went on to become a superintendent with the town’s ambulance service and in the 1950s was awarded a long service medal.
Kathleen left the mill to have her children, Trevor and Nancy, and afterwards went back to work, eventually at the former children’s home at Burnside House.
She has always lived in Skipton, moving from her childhood home in Broughton Road, to a council house in Burnside and when she was married to Newmarket Street. The house has since been demolished.
From there, she moved to Horse Close and today, still lives in a smaller home, close to family and friends.
Until a few years ago, she was a regular walker and in her younger days was a keen rambler and cyclist.
“I used to belong to a rambling club and a cycling club, we used to go for miles locally in the countryside and would take food with us,” she said.
Later, she joined a senior citizens group and would go to hospitals entertaining the patients with her singing.
She retired in 1962, her husband died 29 years ago and she is the last of her siblings.
But in addition to her two grown up children, she has five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and two step-great grandchildren.
On her birthday, she will celebrate with a large gathering of her family at Herriot’s Hotel in Skipton - and, one thing’s for sure, Kathleen will be the life and soul of the party.