Transforming memories

A DEFUNCT Thornhill Lees firm has been revealed as a “hot-bed” of rugby league talent.

Last week The Press appealed for information about the Hanging Heaton WMC team of 1949/50.

Brian Holroyd, 77, of Wellhouse Avenue, Mirfield, believes several worked at the Yorkshire Electric Transformer Company. The firm, on Brewery Lane, Thornhill Lees, closed in 2003 after 79 years.

Mr Holroyd joined the company as an apprentice transformer erector around the time the picture was taken. Colleagues included centre Mick Exley (back, third left) and stand-off Clifford Jennings (middle first left).

John Dixon, landlord of the Scarborough Hotel in Dewsbury from 1970 to 1976 and Gomersal’s Wheatsheaf pub from 1976 to 1983, is middle row centre.

John’s son David said his dad worked at the ‘Transformer’ as did future Dewsbury councillor Jack Hird (front row middle).

He added: “To see a photo of my dad, who passed away 18 years ago, was an unexpected surprise. Dad was a popular, well-liked man in the Dewsbury and Mirfield areas who had a great sense of humour.

“He used to joke that if he stood by Dewsbury Market or the town hall steps with the mayor people would say ‘who’s that standing with John Dixon?’”

David Dixon, an apprentice at the company from 1975 to 1980, said he believes Austin Townsend, a friend of his dad, is back row second right. Dewsbury RLFC and England star Geoff Clark and referee Desmond Horne also worked there.

Meanwhile, Mr Holroyd, having joined the company as a 15-year-old, also played as a forward for Dewbury YMCA’s under-16s. He said: “I don’t know what it was, but the Yorkshire Electric Transformer Company was a hot-bed of rugby league. I sadly only worked there for about three years. The company lost a lot of South African contracts when Apartheid started.”

• Reader Ronnie Ellis, 88, of Hanging Heaton, played against the team for Batley Carr Rangers. He confirmed some of the names and claimed he used to get a bit of stick!

Mr Ellis recalled: “You used to get aggro about what a Hanging Heaton lad was doing playing for Batley Carr.”

But the wind-ups had the opposite effect in giving motivation to help beat them, which he claimed Rangers often did.

He added: “You’ve got to keep your sense of humour, but there’s also no point in playing the game if you’re not going to play to win.”

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