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Memories of Jimmy Hamer

I was born in St Helen’s Hospital, Barnsley in April 1950, later to be joined by my sister Hilda and brother Stuart. With my mother Nancy and father Harry our first home was on Boundary Terrace, later moving to 21 Grange Lane. My Grandad Harry and Grandma Hilda owned the shop on Grange Lane, later we moved into the shop, and they moved into 21 Grange Lane also owned by them. My dad worked in the shop, which sold groceries, fruit and vegetables mainly.

Apart from the shop, my Dad and Grandad had a mobile round , selling groceries in the Kendray, Stairfoot, and bottom of Ardsley area. Initially the mode of transport being by horse and cart. We had two horses, Tommy and Kittie, Tommy being the bigger of the two horses. My Grandad rented two fields off Grange Lane from the railway, where the horses were stabled and could graze. He kept hens and geese in one of the fields, selling the eggs in the shop and from the mobile service. We later acquired a van to undertake the mobile service, the horses having a well earned rest. My Dad worked long hours from early morning to late evenings to earn a living for us all.
Animals played a large of my early life, we had a collie called Laddie, and my Grandad and Grandma had two Samoyed dogs , Queenie and Snowy. I played football and cricket, which all boys of my generation did, ironically which is hard to believe today on Grange Lane, with cars bumper to bumper. In them days there were only a small number of cars and lorries on the road compared to today, our games were rarely interrupted. The nearby disused Dearne and Dove canal, proved to be another playground area , using gable ends from houses being demolished in the Stairfoot area , as a raft on the canal, and in severe winters , when the canal froze over, we would skate on the ice. Swimming to the island in the brickworks quarry and playing on the disused Aldam Eight Locks beyond Cork Bridge, I can’t imagine the parents of today being happy with those pastimes. The smell from the Yorkshire Tar Distillery, known as YORTAR on Wombwell Lane was very distinct in the Stairfoot and Ardsley area.
We would make trolleys from pram wheels and any pieces of wood we could acquire. Stamp collecting and collecting cigarette cards which offered collections  of footballers, cricketers, cars, and aeroplanes etc were other hobbies. The visit of Stairfoot Feast in the summer months was always enjoyable along with playing in Ardsley welfare .
I never was a keen trainspotter but like most boys of my generation we did so for a period of time. My vivid memory was of lighting the gas lamps on Stairfoot station, running through Ardsley Tunnel and playing on Sunny Bank viaduct. The noise of the shunting of wagons in the sidings at Stairfoot was very prominent. I attended Ardsley enfants and junior school before moving to the Oaks Secondary Modern School in Kendray. My earliest recollection of life was being in Kendray Hospital with Scarlet Fever and being held by a lady doctor who was wearing a very cold coat. On attending Ardsley enfants, my everlasting memory was of all the class having to sleep in the afternoon on portable beds . At the junior school the teachers I remember were Miss Hill, Miss Loy ,Miss Mckenny, Headmistress Miss Parr and then Mr Snowden. I enjoyed reading and I was a good runner winning many small prizes at school. My best friends at school were David Bell ( stamp collecting) , Raymond Miller, Peter Grimshaw, Alan Bevan, Janet Lewis, Ken  Hanson, Mick Bevan, Alan’s brother, Mick was a good footballer, and Jim Kerr who lived at Low Laithes Farm, which was near Aldam Bridge. Shops I remember in Stairfoot were as follows, Heath’s Toy shop, Stephensons Bicycle shop, Ardsley and Stairfoot Coops, Bellamys, Globe Tea Company shop, Auntie Frances’s wool and haberdashery shop, Grandad’s shop below the viaduct later to become Lowerys, Oxleys and Curly Burtons fish and chips shops.
I have always had a keen interest in music, which in later life would become my career. I was bought a plastic guitar around 1955/1956, which later was damaged ,and my parents replaced it with an Egmond Toledo Spanish guitar at a cost of £4-19s-6d ( 500p in today’s money) a significant amount of money in them days. Ironically this guitar as become a collectors item as these guitar’s were bought as first guitars for Brian May ( Queen) and George Harrison (The Beatles). I am naturally left handed, but learned to play right handed as I was told this more in keeping with guitarist lineups. I started learning and playing guitar with my cousin Paul Etherington, my next guitar was a Fenton Wheel Dallas Tuxedo, we decided to form a group in the late 1950s, consisting of Paul, Graham Gaunt ( drums ) and myself later to become Small Paul and the Young Ones. I was demoted to the singing role in the group, whilst becoming more proficient with playing the guitar right handed. Various other musicians joined and left the group including, Harold Cross ( rhythm guitar), Dennis Cameron ( drums), Brian Beachill ( rhythm guitar), Philip Atkinson ( rhythm guitar), Terry Hooson ( bass guitar), Denise Marsh ( singer), Paul’s dad Harry Etherington, being our manager.
From the Young Ones, Terry, Denise and myself formed our own band called The Spartans with Tony Benson on bass guitar and Pete Shaw from Wombwell on drums. We practiced in the Pinder Oaks pub in Measborough Dyke.. A group called The Renegades who were regulars at the Kendray Community Centre (Kendray Bop) packed in , and we replaced them at the centre playing there two nights a week and also playing in Working Mens Clubs. I would be around fourteen years old at the time. The final lineup of The Spartans was,
Myself, rhythm and vocals
Terry Hooson, lead guitar
Tony Benson, bass guitar
Pete Shaw, drums
Denise Marsh, vocals


Manager, Jim Kershaw,  who was a good manager, Jim was a double bass player, playing with the Johnny Johnson Quintet, the resident musicians at The Three Cranes Hotel in Barnsley. Jim sadly experienced health problems. In mid 1964, The Spartans finished, Tony Benson left and Jim Kershaw’s health problems increased.


I was coaxed back to the Young Ones, the line up being as follows,

Myself, lead vocalist

Paul Etherington, lead guitar

Kevin Aston, rhythm guitar

Kevin Bennett, bass guitar

Graham Gaunt, drums


When Graham was working, Ian Cooling and Stuart Thorpe (ex Spidermen) stood in, with finally Stuart Thorpe becoming the permanent drummer. Harry Etherington being our manager.


My pop heroes at the time were, Tommy Steele, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, and The Beatles.

Paul had written a song called “After Tonight “ which Harry sent out demo discs to various music publishers. An entrapeneur from Scarborough called Don Robinson who owned Flamingo Park (later Land), and Hull FC, among other businesses including small recording studios eg Advision who produced jingles for TV adverts, arranged for the song to be recorded , at the Lansdowne studio in London with the Les Reed Orchestra. Les Reed was involved in the writing of the song “ Delilah” recorded by Tom Jones. The studio was also used  by Anne Shelton, Ackerman Bilk, The Sex Pistols, and The Police.


Vic Flick used the studio to record the James Bond Theme among many others, including guitar on the “After Tonight “ record. Les Reed actually rearranged “After Tonight “ which greatly added to the song. Les Reed only wanted myself to record the record not the group, as he was paying session musicians to do the backing. This caused problems which eventually led to the group splitting. I was awarded a five year, five record contract which I completed, but not achieving the desired aims.


I was fifteen years old, I left the Oaks school and undertook an apprenticeship as a plumber. During this period I was approached by Kevin Aston, Kevin Bennett, Stuart Thorpe, and John Mills (rhythm guitar) to form a group called “ The Moonshots “, I agreed, we practiced in John ( (Jueer) Mills’s Dad’s garage at the top of Harborough Hills and we pretty successful playing in the club’s in the Yorkshire area I left the group, and shortly after joined another group based in Cudworth called the “Valkerry Five”, which didn’t last long, finally I went as a solo artist.

Going back to my school days at the Oaks, it was a well run school, I particularly enjoyed woodwork, metalwork, and music. Our art teacher Mr Wilkinson gave us each a long piece of wire to create something, I shaped it into the form of a drummer, which was later displayed in the school cabinet in the main entrance. I met my future wife June at the Oaks school, we later married, having three children, Darren, Lee, and Lisa and have resided in Ardsley to date.


Jimmy Hamer December 2022.


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