Growing Up in Yorkshire

Carol Johnson

On 20th April, Bradford artist and poet, Carol Johnson gave a talk in Keighley Local Studies library about her life and her work from over 30 years.

She explained that she had been inspired to paint pictures from her childhood and to link them with a poem she had written because of her belief that everything is connected and has a purpose, even though we may not understand it at the time.

‘I paint as I think’ said Carol. ‘Everything in the universe can be symbolised by a circle. In my art, circles are represented by arcs which can also represent ellipses.’

Carol’s website is at:

There will be a further opportunity to see Carol’s work at an upcoming exhibition at Shipley Library from 20th April to 1st May.

Here are two of the poems that Carol read out in Keighley Local Studies library, illustrated with her paintings.

The first poem is called ‘The Knocker Up’ . The job of a ‘knocker up’ was to rouse sleeping people so that they could get to work on time. ‘Knocker up’s’ were common in our mill towns before alarm clocks became readily available in households. They were paid to stay up all night. In the early morning they would walk the streets and bang on bedroom windows with a large pole.

Knocker up (1940’s)Knocker Up Image

If yer worked int’ mill,
Thad to be up
At break o’ day.
Yer relied
Ont’ knocker up.
You’d ‘ere’ im say,
“Time to ger up
And on yer way”.
Clittering and clattering
Int’ clogs ont’ cobbles.

The second poem evokes times when coal fires provided warmth and hot water for the majority of homes and of the men and their horses who supplied the coal to the households.

The CoalCoal Man Imageman (1950’s)

Coal sack,
On his back.
Horse and cart,
By his side.
Beasts of burden,
Toiling throughout the day.
Children counting sacks
Into the coalhouse.
One by one he delivers his load,
His horse waits patiently in the road.

Copyright Carol Johnson 2015

Poems and images reproduced by kind permission of Carol Johnson

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