Notes from an Interview with Mrs. Hayes of London Road, Pocklington.
Mrs. Hayes, when she was first married, lived at Fridaythorpe, but later moved to Millington. Her husband worked as a roadmender for the Council, a steady job with a steady wage. There lived in Fridaythorpe a man named Mr. Jack Welburn, I who was a skilled pondmaker, hence his nick-name, 'Pondy' Welburn. This man has ' become almost a legend in the local tales, and Mrs. Hayes remembers seeing 'Pondy1 passing the house in which she lived in Fridaythorpe, each morning at 6 a.m., with his tools on a flat cart, pulled by a donkey. He had one, or sometimes two, of his sons to help him in his work. His great secret lay in his method of constructing the crown of the pond, which was -the centre, and this secret he did not give away, even to his sons. They were never allowed to watch him doing this. It is said he often worked at night by the light of the moon and that he trampled the clay of the first layer of the pond with his bare feet. This may only be some of the glamour which attaches to certain well known local characters, Mr. Welburn's son, Wilfred, can • only remember him hammering the clay with a mallet. However, the secret of the I making of the crown died with Mr. Jack 'Pondy' Welburn in 1948.
The ponds referred to are of course dewponds, and these have been made I for hundreds of years, an old tradition going back maybe to the Bronze Age. 1
There were three artesian wells in Fridaythorpe which were used as a source of drinkning water for the people of the village and Mrs. Hayes remembers fetching water in a bucket from the wells, as does her sister, Mrs. Canham.
However, when there was a long stretch of dry weather, and a drought, the wells dried up and water had to be brought to the village of Fridaythorpe from Birdhill Springs near Thixendale. Mrs. Hayes recalls well the sight of a team of six horses pulling a huge water cart up the hill; a water cart being a flat cart with a large water barrel laid lengthways upon it. In winter, whpn the snow lay thick on the roads, this was cleared by a horse-drawn snow plough.
Interesting anecdotes are tied up with the old poaching tricks and one of these was the use of a 'snickel'. The snickel is a loop of string attached to a wire which is in turn fixed at one end to a railing, or tree. The loop is placed around a well known rabbit run and so fixed that when the rabbit ran through it the noose caught and tightened around it.
Apparently, there was once a large family living in Nunburnholme and one of the sons met, and fell in love with, a girl from Hull, a girl not used to country ways. He asked if he could bring the girl home for the week-end and his mother agreed. On the Sunday morning, the mother said to the girl, "If you go across that paddock to the hedge, you will find a rabbit caught in a snickel; go and fetch it, and I will make a rabbit pie for tea." The girl went and found the rabbit, but did'nt know how to loosen the snickel. However, a man happened to be passing along thenearby lane, and she asked him if he could help her. Being from Hull, she did'nt know who he might be. He asked her who had told her to get the rabbit and she said, "The lady in the house over there." "Do you know who I. am?" iip asked. "1 am the head keeper on the estate. I will let you off this time but tell them over there not to let it happen again,"
In another instance a roadmender was sitting with the others in his gang, having their lunch by the roadside. A passing gamekeeper stopped for a chat and to pass the time of day. One of the peepers dogs kept sniffing at this man's jacket, but did'nt bother the other men who were also having their snack. When the | Keeper had gone the foreman said, "What have you got in your coat?" The man said ' "I found a pheasant in a snickel, and I'm taking it home." "Well," said the foreman^ "I'll let you off this time, but remember, poaching is a serious offence, and could cost you your job. We roadmen have a good name with the keepers, and can tell them where the pheasant and partridge nests are, so that they can take the eggs and sitti birds and rear them in safety. We want to work with the Estate people and keep on good terms with them or they could make it awkward for us".
Mrs. Hayes also remembers that during the last war, gangs of German prisoners of war from Pocklington Air Force station were put to work clearing deep snow from the roads in a particularly bad winter. One of the Germans called at Mrs. Hayes house and asked for boiling water to mash some tea. He had a billy-can with him and some tea in a screw of paper. She mashed him his tea and gave himsome milk to add to it, and also some toast. He called regularly after this and in his spare time he made slippers from bits of coloured string and sold them to Mrs. Hayes very cheaply. The slippers were very comfortable and soon the whole family had new slippers However, one day, he brought a large bag of tea, about 1J Ibs., to sell to Mrs. Hayes but she would'nt take it, as she was almost certain that it had been stolen. The man never called again.
Mrs. Hayes also remembers children rolling eggs down Chapel Hill in Pocklington at Easter.