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Ivy Murray’s Story

Roland Kellet’s Story

These recordings are from an interview carried out in the 1970s, between Iona Opie, a researcher, and Roland Kellett who grew up in Cooper's Court, a slum area of Leeds in the 1920s. He recalls and explains games and songs from his childhood and discusses more modern-day songs that he has collected and learnt from his niece. One of his songs is about the Barnbow lasses of the First World War.

black and white photo of a crowd of people in a factory during First World War
Barnbow No.1 (Leeds) National Filling Factory

See 'Resources' for a collection of audio files in this Story.

Roland’s stories and songs are historical primary sources. The evidence can be used to investigate children’s memories. His song about the Barnbow Lasses could be used to explore the contribution of the women of Leeds to the war effort during the First World War. The interview is a good starting point for research into the Barnbow munitions factory and the people that worked in it during the First World War.

There is a lot of online information to support this local history unit and opportunities to make judgement from maps, the remains of the factory and existing memorial stones to the women who died in several explosions at the factory. In addition to this Tom Palmer, the author, has written a fictional account of the 1916 explosion in the factory.

Black and white photograph showing extensive damage to wooden factory sheds
Aftermath of Explosion at Barnbow No.1 (Leeds) National Filling Factory

Roland Kellet audio file transcripts:

Click the titles to listen to the audio clips.

Speaker 2, “Do you remember fish and chips in your childhood?”

Roland Kellet, “Oh my godfathers. Yes I used to remember the old fish and chips. A rather a peculiar thing, they had a fish and chip shop man who had his shop in the Hunslet Road. His name was Salmon. He was a bit of a boy but course this is a different story. Couple of fish for a tanner. You could get in some fish and chip shops, fish and chips and peas. Or a fish cake and a pen’th of chips, that was tuppence.”


When I was a wee wee tot
They put me on the wee wee pot
To see if I would wee or not
But I would not do a drop


A bug and flea went out to tea upon a reel of cotton.
The bug got lost and the flea was found upon the lady’s bottom.
Ha ha hah he he hee, No matter where I roam,
You naughty flea you have bit me, and for it you must die.
You’ve taken a lump right out of my rump,
As big as a butchers eye.
Ha ha hah, he he hee….

Speaker: “This was sung by Roley's mother at a school in Leeds, St. Jude School in Hampstead Rd. In the 1890s.”


Speaker: “This is Rolland Kellett and this is the 17th of December 1975 and this is all things he learned in his childhood in Leeds in the 1920s.”

Mary had a little lamb
It’s fleece was white as snow
And everywhere that Mary went
That lamb was sure to go
It followed her to school one day
That was against the rules
It made the children laugh and play to see a lamb at school


I went to Jerusalem for the day, riding on me donkey
I let the kid come in me cart, he let a fart that blew me out
I said get out you dirty dog, you're trying to poison me donkey

I went to Morecambe for a day, riding on the railway
The porter said I’d have to pay for riding on his railway


We are the Barnbow lasses, we are the Barnbow girls
We know our manners, we can spend our tanners, we are respected wherever we go
And when we walk down Briggate, the doors and windows open wide
We can dance, we can sing, we can do the highland fling
We are the Barnbow girls