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The Winter Seam

Castleford is home some of children’s TV greats.

Xscape, Colorado Way, Castleford, West Yorkshire, WF10 4TA

This pub is part of the Xscape retail/entertainment complex built on the site of Glasshoughton Colliery and Coking Works. The pub takes its name from the winter coal seam worked from the late 1930s until 1969.

Photographs and text about Viv Nicholson. 

The text reads: Viv Nicholson was 25 and packing Pontefract liquorice cakes in 1961 when her second Husband, Keith Nicholson, landed £152,319 – worth several million at today’s values – with eight score draws on Littlewoods pools. Viv and her husband had borrowed their stake and almost lost the winning coupon. Wearing her sister’s stockings and shoes, Viv teetered towards Bruce Forsyth to receive the cheque and fainted into his arms.

She promised to go on a spending spree, and let no-one down on that score. Her excesses were classic, and the end predictable. Keith died in 1965 in a car accident, after losing control of his Jaguar. The estate duties were punitive and Viv was left penniless.

After a brief stint as a stripper, she won back the residue of Keith’s will. She was married a further three times, lived in Malta (but was deported for punching a policeman) and attempted suicide; but, in the late 1970s, she became a Jehovah’s Witness and published her life story, Spend, Spend, Spend (1978). This was later a BBC play and a successful musical.

In 1984 she appeared on the cover of the Smiths’ single Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. She died on 11 April 2015.

Left: Viv featured on The Smith’s tour programme
Top right: Receiving the cheque from Bruce Forsyth
Right: Young, and suddenly very rich…

Photographs and text about the golden age of children’s TV. 

The text reads: Hilda Brabban, the creator of the Bill and Ben stories, was born in Castleford. The daughter of a miner, she lived at a farm in Glasshoughton. The stories were originally written for her younger brothers, who names were William and Benjamin. Their mother would always cry: “Was it Bill or was it Ben?” when one of them was naughty. Little Weed was based on her sister Phyllis, the youngest of six children, and “flobadob” was based on the sound when one of the boys broke wind in the bath.

Jan and Vlasta Dailbor, the creators of Pinky and Perky, fled Czechoslovakia after the Soviet invasion and arrived in the Castleford area. Jan sculpted wooden marionettes in his spare time, and he and Vlasta started performing with them in summer shows. In 1956, a lucky break on the TV talent show It’s Up to You, brought them instant success.

The puppets took both Britain and the US by storm. They made more Las Vegas appearances one year than Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jnr combined, and shared a stage with The Beatles.

Top left: Bill and Ben in action
Above: Bill and Ben – the full cast
Top Centre: The puppets and the puppet masters
Top right: Pinky and Perky with Basil Bloodhound
Far Right: Vlsata and Jan Dalibor.

If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: