Woodland ways for couple in search of Wetherby plot

'The Plot' Mary Gray
'The Plot' Mary Gray
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We’d called round to the Gray household at the start of our morning walk and were greeted by Charles William on the doorstop.

“I saw Bill Gray mentioned in the article about the wood being auctioned near the river” he said, “but the name is Charles William”.

That’s true, but everyone calls him Bill and they’d have wondered who I was talking about if I’d quoted his Sunday name.

He was just awaiting breakfast and going to see if the hens had laid another egg.

While he was out of the kitchen, Mary gave me more information about the woodland adjacent to Crossley Park Wood which is currently being auctioned.

It was back in 1958 that they were interested in buying it to build a house there.

That was before they were married or even engaged.

On Christmas Eve 1958 they’d been to communion at the church and then Bill took Mary up Westgate and down the path at Crossley Park. It was very dark.

They climbed over the fence – and Mary remembered that she had been wearing high-heeled shoes and Sunday best coat, hat and gloves.

It was there that Bill proposed to her and put a ring on her finger.

It was of course sealed with a kiss.

Mary remembered that it was quite late when she got home nobody was awake and she had to wait until next morning to tell the story of her engagement.

Purchase of that site fell through because planning permission could not be obtained, so the hunt was on for another site in Wetherby.

Eventually a building plot was found on Coxwold Hill where the developer of the neighbouring houses had found the slope too great to build his normal type of house.

They bought the site and started building a house in what was then an unusual design.

They built it themselves in 18 months; working weekends and evenings.

Bill did most of the building with Mary acting as labourer.

Ted Etherington did the plastering with Arthur Dowling doing the electrical work and John Barker the stonework.

Mary worked at the YEB and was able to obtain all the electrical fittings at cost price.

She also remembered that at that time Bill had frequently been asked to repair the coin in the slot mechanism of the door of a toilet at the back of the boating stage – and was eventually told that if he kept it in working order, he could keep all the coins for himself – so Mary had the task of banking all the penny coins.