My Chevin Cross memories
Bob Dobson, Otley
The Cross was the brainchild of Mr Donald Good, who made the first Cross out of old railway sleepers. The fist cross buckled when being erected and was then strengthened. We tried various ways of erecting it both manually and mechanically. Due to the lie of the land it could only be erected manually using 40-plus bodies.
The Cross stood each Easter until 1998, when I got a phone call at 8.30 am form Alistair Newton on Easter Tuesday to say the Cross was missing. I went straight up Chevin to discover it had been cut down with a chainsaw. One of the first arrivals was one of Jeffries lorry drivers with a message from Richard Jeffries to take it back to his yard to assess the damage. When he saw it, he was determined it was going back up that day and we were not going to be beaten by vandals and ruin Otley’s Easter witness. With the help of the lorry drivers and the offer of materials from Fowler’s timber merchants, and George Tate with the steelwork and several bodies and a lot of hard work, the Cross was ready to go back up by 6 pm
Yorkshire Television had been anxiously waiting with their cameras to film the Cross going back up on a snow-covered Chevin. Jeffries wagon transported it back up and floodlit the area with their wagon lights. More bodies were called to help re-erect it and after 12 hours the Cross was back up and we all went home covered in snow and very cold and tired.
Brent Thompson, a cabinetmaker from Ilkley, constructed a new Cross for the Millennium. He got the timber from a Church in the centre of the I.R.A. bombing in Manchester. It is now made of pitch pine and every effort has been made to protect it from vandalism. It was made in his workshop with the help of some of us from Otley. Jeffries lorry transported it from Ilkley and it is a lot heavier than the original one – therefore it needs more bodies to get it in position. The following year someone tried to set it on fire but as it had been treated with a fireproof sealer they were unsuccessful.
Grateful thanks to Richard Jeffries for transporting it over the many years.