A CHAT WITH 85 YEARS OLD MR SAM BROWN
... The oldest bell-ringer in Yorkshire, it is safe to claim, is Mr.Sam Brown of Lands Lane, Guiseley.
He has been a ringer at Guiseley Church for 67 years and at 85 years of age is still one of the most enthusiastic members of the team.
He was born in 1849 and if looks could count for anything he will still be pulling his weight in 1949,
He has a beard, but it is one of the defiant sort that bristles instead of droops.
Physically and mentally he is very much alert.
He knows all about cloth he was born with the click-clack of the handloom in his ears, and has spent his working life at the loom.
First it was the hand-loom in his parents' home and then the power loom in the mill.
There is hardly a mill in the district where he has not worked.
For a time he was, at "t' owd Mill," Yeadon, and then at "t'Manor,".
Then he was at Peate's and for a time he worked in "t'goit hoil."
His longest service was at Nunroyd Mills, where he was employed for 30 years.
Besides cloth, he knows all there is to be known about poultry as a hobby.
Moreover, he keeps an allotment and grows peas and beans and apples and pears as well as any man.
He is, too, the uncle of the Lord Mayor of Bradford (Capt. A.W.Brown)
His greatest distinction, however, is his record as a ringer.
He began ringing at the age of 18, and has seen pass on first one then another generation of ringers.
Everyone of his first team of ringers died years ago, and only two of the second generation survive.
Ringing is something much more than a plea...sant hobby for him.
It has become something of a life-work.
And ringing, say those who know, is work even when you know the knack of it.
Mr. Brown is slim and wiry.
His slimming is done by ringing.
The exercise keeps him fit.
If he had all the weight he has worked off in the belfry of Guiseley Church, Carnera would look a weed beside him!
He is still as agile as a cat, and twice each Sunday climbs the church tower with the team of ringers.
He never wears a coat if he can find an excuse for taking it off.
In the belfry of the tower he works in shirt sleeves.
"There's nothing like shirt-sleeves for work" he says.
"The sight of shirt-sleeves makes a tired man energetic."
He likes an outdoor life and much of his leisure is spent in his allotment in Carlton Lane.
On a nice day the allotment is like a Garden of Eden.
It takes a stretch of the imagination to believe that there are mill chimneys behind the leafy hedges.
Next to the bells his greatest pride is his garden.
He is as handy with the brush as he is with the spade.
The wooden huts and poultry pens reflect his Zeal.
He has spent the "feast" at home and one morning when he was feeling particularly energetic he tarred all the huts on his allotment.
But he did not call it a day.
he afterwards got to work in the garden with a spade.
When asked about his health he replied " I've nothing to complain about."
What more can a man ask of life at 85 than that?
Being "Feast" week, the old time jollifications butted into the
In former years the Feast holidays consisted of two half-days on the Monday and Tuesday.
"We didn't don up like they dew nah" he said.
He sketched a vivid picture of life at the feast 60 or 70 years ago (1864/74)
It was a hard, crude sort of life judged by present standards.
There were no trimmings.
No trips to the seaside.
The weavers, spinners, warpers and labourers "laiked" in an aimless sort of fashion.
They wore clean smocks, caps and clogs.
The swings and the round-abouts and cocoanut stalls were pitched in Town Gate.
And in between the Town Gate revelry there was drinking and feasting.
The drinking was on a colossal scale.
"Bud, tha mun remember," said Mr. Brown, "ale nobbut cost penny ha'penny or twopence a pint."
The feast beef had pride of place in the home.
For some of the family joints the oven was not big enough.
So it was hung from a jack in front of the fire and turned until cooked.
And when everything was ready all and sundry could call "an hev a sop"
His father, the late John Brown, was a cloth maker at Greenbottom.
He lived and worked in a house next to the office of the present Guiseley Telephone Exchange.
In his youth, said Mr. Brown, there was only one way into Town Gate, and that was along Greenbottom.
The railway was beginning to be talked about.
There was no Oxford Road or Oxford Street.
Instead there were green fields and farm lands with a primitive accommodation road running to Jackson's Farm.
Ultimately, Stephenson Road was constructed, the forerunner of Oxford Road.
There was no Springfield Road but only a narrow footpath to Ike Robinson's and t'Ranters' Chapel.
The "Ranters' Chapel" is ...still there, but altered and extended out of all recognition.
It is now the Providence Methodist Church
Mr. Brown talked of the changes that have taken place and wondered what our forefathers would have thought about present-day miracles of motors, wireless and aeroplanes.
He might have also wondered what they would have thought about many modern ideas in dress.
The shorts and slacks of the girls and the note of gaiety in the attire of the men.
"We had some happy times in those days" he said.
"There were no pictures.
The young men had "Kall-hoils" if they did not care for the pub.
They would sit round a stove at nights playing cards and round off the party by roasting potatoes."
Mr. Brown is a pipe smoker and he began the habit so long ago as he does not know the date.
He does remember the time when tobacco was 3d an ounce.
When he started his bell ringing career the Rector of Guiseley was the Rev. Thomas Boyes Ferris (photo below)
The bell-ringers at the time were Bill Cooper (who was book-keeper at Springhead Mills), Jackie Shepherd, Bill Demaine, Jack Demaine, Jim Preston, Bill Oddey, Bill Busfield and Bill Demaine, senior.
They were superseded by another team: Jim Baldwin, Joe Yeadon, Oliver Frankland, Harry Demaine, Davy Rhodes, Jim Slater, tom Thompson and Fred Dixon.
Mr. Brown was a ringer during the whole time and only two of all those ringers, apart from himself, survive.
They are Tom Thompson (the sexton at the church), Fred Dixon (the present leader of the team of ringers).
Mr. Brown has often rung his "five thousand"