Summer 2004

The charity Plantlife has recently announced which wild flowers have been ‘chosen’ as the emblems of each county. Lancashire has the red rose – no surprise there. Yorkshire’s flower is, er, the harebell (campanula rotundifolia), said to be tough, resilient and at the same time delicate. Well, I’m sorry to spoil the bouquet but the flower of Yorkshire was, is and will continue to be the white blown rose.

The wild flower of the UK? The bluebell, we’re told. That is the English bluebell, of which half the global population is here. Not to be confused with the Spanish variety.

English Bluebells

Next season there will be only one Yorkshire football club in the English Premier League. Let’s hear it for Middlesbrough, our sole representative. After a catalogue of financial mismanagement and every other kind of mismanagement imaginable, Leeds United were relegated. For two years the skies over Elland Road had been thick with chickens coming home to roost. Bradford City fell from the First Division to the Second where they join other one-time Premier clubs Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley. Sheffield United had a creditable season but failed to win promotion. York City fell out the League completely. Any good news amid the gloom? Well, Doncaster Rovers, Hull City and Huddersfield Town were promoted from Division Three to Division Two. In fact Division Two is fast becoming the Yorkshire League, we have so many clubs there.

Rawdon AFC, I’m pleased to report, won the treble. What treble you ask. The Wharfedale Triangle League championship, the West Riding County Trophy and the Wharfedale FA Sunday Cup. Impressive, eh?

At a cost of £80 million RAF Finningley is to be developed as an airport to serve Doncaster and Sheffield. It will be known as Robin Hood airport. Some in Nottinghamshire are said to be a little unimpressed about what they see as the hi-jacking of their most famous son but Robin Hood is now thought to have been an outlaw in the Barnsley-Doncaster area in medieval times (see Trivia). Anyway, it is a memorable name and quite good fun.

You would expect a website called Yorkshire Universities to contain information about, yes, universities in Yorkshire, so I was surprised to find the University of Lincoln included. Another example of the EU creating artificial regions I thought. Anyway, I’d never heard of the University of Lincoln so I explored further. It turns out that the University of Lincoln is the re-branded University of Humberside, itself previously Humberside Polytechnic before which it was Hull College of Art and Technology having originally been Hull School of Art. It certainly must keep the sign-makers happy.

The Flying Scotsman came to York for what the National Railway Museum somewhat inelegantly called Railfest. Perhaps this country’s most famous locomotive, the Flying Scotsman has been restored and bought for the nation. Others know more about these things than I do but I understand that it was the first engine officially to break the 100 mph barrier. There were other engines at this jamboree including the one used in the Harry Potter films. On Platform nine and three quarters presumably.

The Flying Scotsman

The Georgian Theatre Royal, built in 1788, in Richmond has been restored and has won this year’s Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Building Conservation Award.

I was sorry to hear that Alistair Cooke had died. His Letters from America were part of my life. When I was young the USA seemed far more distant than it does today. Our rich friends, but few went to America in the 1960s. I continued to listen to his urbane letters until it stopped earlier this year and it served as a link with those days of Morris Oxfords, Black and White Minstrels, bus conductors, threepenny bits, quiet Sundays, drapers’ shops and early closing days.

Alistair Cooke

Since the houses were built in Victorian times, the women of Thornton Street, Skipton, have hung their washing to dry across the back lane. David Painter has complained that the washing lines and poles are not ‘a reasonable use of the highway’ and has brought it to the attention of the local council, the police, the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister (as if that will help). Battle lines, the Times tells us, have been drawn. ‘I will not be stopped putting my washing out’, said Margaret Hicks, 64. Mr Painter claims that a ‘housewives’ mafia’ now put all their washing out together and he has been abused and humiliated. Mrs Hicks admitted that she had hit him with a dry pillow case. Clearly the two sides are poles apart.

Washing line in Yorkshire