Jesse Houseman “With Wilfred in the Washburn Valley”

Article about the recording of “With Wilfred in the Washburn Valley.” Jesse Houseman is standing in the top right. The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 11 August 1955. Downloaded from the British Newspaper Archives.

Grandma’s memoirs contain only the briefest of entries about her Dad, Jesse Houseman’s, radio appearance in 1955.

By this time Dad had lived on his own for a year. I used to bake him a pie. Muriel, Jessie also took him something and did his washing. He was on a programme with Wilfred Pickles”.

So brief in fact that I paid it no attention. Until, in a newspaper archives search for “Jesse Houseman” and “cricket” I stumbled across a little gem. Nothing to do with cricket. Instead, it’s a photo of Jesse, talking to Wilfred Pickles prior to the recording of a show about the Washburn Valley.

As an aside, Wilfred Pickles, an actor, radio presenter and proud Yorkshire man, was the very first BBC broadcaster to speak in an accent other than received pronunciation in 1941. Developed as a strategy to prevent Germany from so easily imitating our newscasters, the cheery “Good Neet” with which Wilfred ended his midnight news broadcasts endured him to many northern listeners.

There must have been great excitement in “the most beautiful valley I have ever seen” (Wilfred Pickle’s words) and it is a measure of the esteem in which Jesse was held that he was one of the nine people chosen to participate in “Children’s Hour: With Wilfred in the Washburn Valley” broadcast on BBC Home Service North at 5pm, Saturday, 22 August 1955.

Appearing with Jesse were Richard Grange, Brenda Dibb, Alfred Pope, Alan Bailey, Alf Evans, Mrs Armitage, Will Dolphin & Walter Flesher. It would have been wonderful to hear my great grandfather’s voice but sadly I’ve not yet been able to track down a recording of the programme. One day, perhaps, this briefest of blogs might attract the attention of someone researching a dusty old box of home recorded radio. It would be an amazing resource for the Washburn Heritage Centre too. For now, I’m just delighted to have found a little more context to Grandma’s memoirs.

Radio Times issue 1657, listing programme, from bbc programme index

2 Replies to “Jesse Houseman “With Wilfred in the Washburn Valley””

  1. Hi Natasha ,
    Mrs Armitage ( Annie ) was my Nan , I have the original script of this show and a photo . Happy to send you a copy as I can scan it to email .
    I’m going to make some enquiries about a recording with the BBC archive as I have all the details on the script .
    Nan got £3 and 3 shillings for singing so I imagine Jesse got similar !!

    Kind regards Gill

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