An interview with Miss Mary Preston held on Wednesday Evening the 6th September 1984 at Miss Preston' house, Main Street, Garforth.

John & Margaret Rushton.

George Rex was Mary's Great Grandfather (Mary Preston was born in 1914). He established a business based on joinery and building. He had four sons and four daughters and built the properties in Kensington Terrace to house them. His influence is still to be seen in the existent buildings. The room above the arch leading into Kensington Terrace was designed to display the furniture made by his firm. The feudal stone head projecting above the arch in the Newmarket Buildings is his likeness, (any pun on "Rex" intended?)

That he was a humourist appears from the communion table made for the Methodists, (still housed in the Brunswick Methodist Building) and inscribed "From a converted publican and sinner".

An article probably from the "Skyrack" newspaper of approximately 1926 relates that 'Fifty Years ago' on September 16th 1876 the "Newmarket beer house, situated in Garforth, the property of Mr George Rex, had been sold for 1000 pounds to Messrs Bentley & Co. brewers, Oulton. The rent of the house then was 35 pounds per annum. The estate contained about 450 square yards at 3 pounds 11 shillings, per square yard. The land had been sold for l/9d per square yard 22 years previously, which showed the increase of value of property in Garforth". (It also suggests that the original building would be shortly after 1854).

The southern end of the gable end of Newmarket buildings has interesting features. Above an existent window space, now bricked up, there are three animal heads. In the gable end also is a doorstep which marks the entrance of what had been a butcher's shop when George Rex originally erected the buildings.

Miss Mary Preston also said that her grandmother knew of an oral tradition which said that Mary Queen of Scots had spent the night before her wedding to Lord Darnley at Temple Newsam, by sleeping at Garforth Old Hall. When Miss Preston visited the house as a small girl, it seemed to her little more than an unpretentious farm house. A Mr Prevell lived in the Hall at the time.

Miss Preston remembered that Mr Sissons lived at Waterloo Manor from whom, in 1923, Miss Preston's father purchased a Calthorpe motor car, navy blue in colour, for 45 pounds.

On looking through the publication, "This was Garforth", Miss Preston had these comments to offer.

1. The site now occupied by Knowles' shop, was, at the tune of the photograph, the property of a Mr Preston who had a tailors' shop there.

2. The Roman Catholic school in Barley Hill Road was also used as a Church at one period.

3. The premises shown as used by Fox's cycles served subsequently as a confectioner's shop and later became a fish shop. Mr Fox was something of a humourist and from time to tune used to put amusing notes in his shop window. He also used to entertain by dressing as a small boy, and giving songs or recitations.

4. Eagle House: Eagle House was so called because in the early years of the 20th Century a likeness of a stone eagle was placed at the side of the main door. Miss Preston produced an old copy of the Garforth Church Magazine, (November 1945), which stated that Eagle House was built from stone previously used in the structure of Garforth old church, demolished in 1844. By permission of Miss Andrea Horbury, I climbed into the roof of the existing building which is apparently made of brick. (At this time, 1984, it is used as a wallpaper shop). In the loft it is clear that the present roof is erected above an earlier one, the remains of which can be observed and within the present brick gable ends are stone counterparts. Indeed there is within the present building the rectangular structure of an earlier stone building erected end on to Main Street, on what was then common land. The steps leading to the first floor of this building consist of solid blocks of stone.

5. In addition to the pump at town end, Miss Preston recalled that there were in the early years of the 20th Century two further pumps in Main Street. One was situated approximately where the Parochial School yard joins the school garden, opposite to Barley Hill Road. The second is more clearly indicated by a breast high brick enclosure situated on the Town End side of Eagle House. The facility is now employed to hold grit for the road.

6. The cottages in Barrowby Lane. Those depicted stood at the top of a hill at the entrance to Barrowby Wood which was felled at the time of the First World War. A Mrs Tillotson lived there, and also a portly man known to villagers as Scribbin Birch. Miss Preston also said that these cottages were served by a well, then little more than a hole in the ground. It was thought to be a danger to small children and was covered by a large stone flag. She also subsequently said that a small pond existed in the area.

7. Manor Farm: Miss McCurry was a teacher at the farm and two terraced houses in Wakefield Road were used as hostels. Prior to the farm's demolition it was occupied by Polish soldiers after the Second World War.

8. Off Main Street was a row of Cottages known as Marshall Row.

9. Garforth Station. At one time there was a house under the railway bridge, tickets being dispensed from the front room. Mr Wilson who issued these tickets also used to read newspapers to un-lettered villagers.

10. The Library and Shops. The shop on the corner belonged to Laycocks and it sold newspapers and sweets. The Library, at one time was situated in part of the structure nowknown as Phillipson's shop.

11. The Parochial School. In the early years of the 20th Century children of non-conformist families attended a day school in Wakefield Road. When she fell ill these children would attend the parochial school. The school master there was often known to use the command "Come out the dissenters".

12. Parlington Hall. Miss Preston possesses some photographs which she said were given by the Gascoignes to employees at the Hall. Both Miss Preston's grandfathers were employed there and her great grandfather also. Grandfather Preston had been an Aberford man originally.