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Memories of my Father, William Holt

by Vincent Holt

Between 1933 and 1939, William Holt wrote 5 books, started Books On Wheels which used vehicles consisting of half motorcycle and half van, made in Halifax. I think the manufacturer was called Crofts Engineering. He then started a bigger concern British Mobile Libraries based in Manchester as well as being War Correspondent in Spanish Civil War. My father visited Russia only one time.

A point of interest — when he was freelancing with the BBC, my sister Silvia and I made a broadcast to America to tell them how children coped with wartime Britain. Also my mother did a couple of broadcasts from London with people like Freddie Grisewood and A.G. Street. Also Mary Adams.

In 1949 father was voted a Radio Personality of the year. His radio career ended in the early 1950s when his contracts wre not renewed. This happened during that infamous period of the anti communist McArthy hearings in America. Draw your own conclusions.

He then wrote I Still Haven’t Unpacked, Wizard Of Whirlaw and Weavers Knot which many people may not know was written as one book and had to be split into two to get the Weavers Knot published. Then of course, came Trigger In Europe.

My father visited India to arrange production under license of the shuttle he invented and he made history by engaging in a Gandhi style fast on the steps of the biggest bank when the currency regulations would not allow him to bring the money out of India. He also visited a friend in Kashmir, an English lady he had known since 1940. He also painted in India using vivid colours because he was stunned by the light created by the sun and soil colours contrasting with skin colours and clothing. He never mentioned in our many conversations, living in a cave with a holy man.

When my father took his second wife Kilnhurst had been disposed of so the question of her living there could never have arisen.

I could go on writing for a long time as I have many memories but I am under some pressure from my children to write my own memoirs and will get organised soon.

One thing I must say is that growing up in the shadow of a man such as my father was not easy. Each of his successes came at great pain to the rest of the family and I have always been surprised that no would be historian has addressed this issue. By all means keep his memory but remember his wife and family too.

If there is any area I have touched on you would like clarified or expanded on please advise and I will try to help.

Hawdon Hall

Hawden Hall Holiday Camp was started by my father on his return from hospital after the 1st world war. I work it out as 1919. He invested about 80 pounds ran it for one season and sold it for 300 pounds and went to Spain. This is long before I was born but it is documented in “I Haven’t Unpacked” page 89 & 90. He describes it as “two ruined cottages and an old barn”. I have visited this site in my youth and remember it as being on the left of the river as you travel upstream. It could also be approached down a path from the Heptonstall side. Hope this helps.

Vincent Holt
May 2001

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