Harry Binks

Timelines: Ribbon of Remembrance Harry Binks

Story from Harry Binks, via Val Slater of Coverdale. Harry was named after his father, whose story is outlined below.

My father, Harry Binks, was born at Highfield in Carlton on 11 September 1893, a short while before his twin brother Thomas. The 1901 Census recorded the family still at Highfield where my grandfather Thomas was farming, but shortly afterwards they moved to Lane House on the edge of the village. Harry went to Horsehouse school. In 1911 the family was living at Lilac Farm (House) – now Abbots Thorn – but Harry was not at home. He would have been working away as a farm labourer in Kettlewell; however he has not been found on the Census.

On 11 December 1915 Harry enlisted at Leyburn. His address was Lilac House, Carlton and next of kin his mother Elizabeth Binks – his father having died in 1912. Harry’s occupation was farm hand. He was assigned to the Yorkshire Regiment – “The Green Howards” – and posted to France in October 1916, fighting at the Western Front until April 1917.
Harry returned to France in September 1917 where the main focus was the Third Battle of Ypres, including the infamous Battle of Passchendaele. In December Harry was injured by gun shot wounds to his right thigh. After treatment he was deemed no longer physically fit for war service and discharged to the reserve in June 1918.
At the end of the war Harry was in the Slough area where a number of Leyland trucks were surplus to requirements. They were basic vehicles, prone to mechanical problems, but Harry managed to drive one back to Carlton. This was the start of his career in the road haulage business.

In those days there was no petrol pump in Carlton. At first Harry had to arrange for fuel to be brought from Leyburn in two gallon tins by horse and cart! He soon installed a pump in the village, also stocked paraffin, and delivered coal around the area. Harry married Ethel Calvert at Coverham church on 12 January 1924. They were both residents of Carlton, aged 30 and Harry’s occupation was “motor proprietor.” They had two sons – myself, Harry, and my younger brother Norman. An important weekly trip for Harry was on Fridays when he travelled to Leyburn. Having fixed a frame and canvas top over the back of the wagon he was loaded up with rabbits, hens and eggs for the market. He always parked near the Bolton Arms where buyers from towns such as Darlington were eager to purchase.

On Saturdays benches were installed as Harry took football teams to their fixtures. In the evening he drove the young folk of Coverdale to the pictures or local dances.

Much of Harry’s business developed around the transportation of animal feed. Lorries loaded the feed at factories near Hull and brought it back to the Dales and into Cumbria. The company moved to its present site at Harmby in 1963. Norman and myself both joined the business which is now managed by Norman’s son.

Binks Lorry Firm

In semi retirement Harry still enjoyed keeping in touch with his farming roots. He bought young bullocks at Leyburn mart, raising them in a field near his house until they were ready to sell on. On more than one occasion we had to round them up when they managed to escape!

Harry’s contribution in the war was important to him. He kept his discharge papers and character certificate which are treasured possessions in the family. He saw an opportunity at the end of the war, took his chance and through hard work built a successful and respected business.

My father Harry died on 20th September 1975 aged 82. Ethel, my mother, died on 14th February 1984 aged 90.

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