Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Visits to Broomfleet and Ellerker churches

This always a busy time of year as the garden fruits ripen, we go on visits and this year, to make it more interesting, I have had a horrid cold.

The garden is both a joy and a challenge at the moment. If I wished I could probably spend every waking moment outside cutting the grass, weeding the onions and clearing duckweed from the pond, just to mention a few jobs. But to be honest I am happy to let it escape a bit and to appreciate the potatoes which, despite the weeds, are producing a good crop and the rasps which we are eating raw, jamming and making into pies.

There are lots of interesting creatures around at the moment too - I have seen several toads, we have house martins (although sadly one of their nests fell, killing the occupants) and there has been a marauding fox.

But probably the most unusual sight was one morning last week when, having coughed my way through the night, I wanted nothing more than a cup of tea. I carried the kettle to the sink and blearily registered that there was a black something moving in the bottom. On closer inspection I identified it as a bat. I managed to cover it with a tea towel and, despite its hissing, I carried it out and put it on a seat out of the sun. It seemed uninjured and soon disappeared. I did take a picture of it before it went but I am not sure what type/ variety? it was. Bats are not uncommon here but I prefer to see them swooping around outside in the dusk, not making me jump in the kitchen. To borrow from the Victorian poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson - Come into the garden, Maud - bats belong outside in the dark.

"For the black bat, night, has flown'

Today I have visited both Broomfleet and Ellerker churches with my WEA history groups. I always enjoy these outings where students from different groups and classes come together for the afternoon. Both churches were designed by John Loughborough Pearson; Ellerker in 1843-4 and Broomfleet in 1857-61.

We were lucky to have two excellent guides.

John Waudby at Broomfleet  is a local historian who has written two books, one about Broomfleet and one about the Market Weighton drainage board. He told us about the church and about how the former vicarage was built using local Broomfleet bricks.

Diana Bushby at Ellerker is the newly-appointed churchwarden as well as the organist. She has done a lot of research recently into  the history  of St Anne's which she shared with us in an entertaining talk. Particularly fascinating was the story of the Levitt window which commemorates

Richard Marshall and Thomas and Anne Levitt, and was erected by Norrison Marshall Levitt  'grandson of the first named  son of Thomas and Anne aforesaid. 1897.'

She untangled for us the complicated family connections of the Levitt and Marshall families which led to the existence of two Norrison Marshall Levitts living at the same time in the Ellerker area.

The NML who commissioned the window was born in 1819. His father was Thomas Levitt and his mother was the former Ann Marshall, daughter of Richard.

The second NML was born in 1831, the son of Hannah Levitt, Thomas's sister.  Hannah became pregnant by Norrison Marshall, Anne's brother. Unfortunately before they could marry Norrison, who was around 25, was struck by lightning while on his way home from Hull. Both he and his horse were killed instantly.

Hannah gave birth to twin boys. She called them Marshall Norrison Levitt and Norrison Marshall Levitt. Sadly Marshall died but Norrison survived.

Confused? We were a little and so we adjourned to Ellerker village hall where we enjoyed welcome tea and biscuits.

The east window at St Anne's church, Ellerker, commemorating the Levitt family

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Eastrington show 2014

Yesterday was not only the summer solstice - the longest day- but it was also the annual Eastrington show. I have been attending the show since I was a child and was delighted this year that the weather, after several poor years, was very kind. The large number of people through the gate in yesterday's sunshine will, I hope. secure the show's future.

As last year we had a display of old photos in the trade stands tent which seemed to generate a lot of interest. But I have now realised that I need some more recent - and by that I mean 1980s onwards- school pictures as the pictures I have with my contemporaries on are over fifty[!!!] years old. Do send me any scans of some later photos if you can.

In the garden the rasps are ready and we have enjoyed a gooseberry pie. Last week I heard a cuckoo twice - I had given up hope of hearing one and this was certainly almost too late for the rhyme - 'In the middle of June it changes its tune And in July it flies away' but just scraped in.

My tomatoes in the greenhouse are doing well but the leaves are a bit curled - I think they need more regular food and water.

On the history front I have now received some new postcards that I bought on e bay and need to scan them into my photo library.  I was very pleased to get a picture of Skelton chapel [ near Howden]  and another of Saltmarshe Park but my quest for  old pictures of Kilpin, Spaldington and Balkhome continues.

A report of Eastrington Show in 1964. 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Reflections on D Day

I have been watching and listening to the various events in Normandy  to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D Day. My father, Cpl Doug Watson, was serving abroad in 1944, but in Africa. My mother's cousin, Gunner Jack Nurse from Eastrington, took part in the landings but came home safely. My father at least rarely talked of his war experiences - he took part in the retreat from Dunkirk but my only knowledge of how frightening it was came from what my mother told me.

I am continuing to research the history of Saltmarshe and by strange coincidence today I was looking at the Saltmarshe family in the twentieth century. The male line of the family died out when the last Philip Saltmarshe died unmarried in 1970.

But there had been a male heir.  I am not sure whether he could have inherited the estate as it was entailed through the male line. But the question was moot. He was killed in Normandy in June 1944.

The last Philip Saltmarshe had three sisters. One, Myrtle, a VAD, had died in the influenza epidemic after the First World War.  Another, Lady Deramore, had no children but the third, Ivy Oswald Saltmarshe, had married a soldier, Col Reginald Woods. They had only one child, a son Humphrey born in 1915.

In 1944 Humphrey was in command of  the 9th battalion of the Durham Light Infantry.  I found an account of how he was killed, written later by a Sgt Charles Eagles:

'So I went back to rejoin the Battle of Lingèvres, fought by the 9th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry against what turned out to be the Panzer Lehr Division, probably the best equipped division in the entire Wehrmacht. And back to Colonel Humphrey Woods, the commanding officer, who we'd been detailed to bodyguard until our carrier had been blown apart by a mortar. It was June 14, 1944; eight days after D-Day, and the Durhams were being mown down all around me.

'What remained of my section had re-grouped in the apex of the cornfield, Col Woods, a popular CO decorated with a Distinguished Service Order and a Military Cross, was in charge. Following his orders, we scrambled through a hedgerow and spotted the turret of a Tiger tank trying to hide in a copse.

'We scattered, throwing ourselves behind anything. Except the colonel. He stood still, taking in the situation and then issuing an order: "Get that tank!"I couldn't believe it. I may even have laughed. It was an impossible task. It would have been sheer suicide. It is one thing to be brave; quite another to be foolish. But then it happened. Some mortar shells landed between us and I threw myself into undergrowth. When I looked again, I saw the colonel was down. He spoke his last words: "Surely they haven't hit me!” They had indeed. And how. He was virtually cut in half. He was 28.'

Lt Col Woods is buried in the Bayeux war cemetery.

Lt Col Humphrey Woods.

A postscript: I was reading the online coverage of the D Day commemoration events and came  across this  in The Independent newspaper

Monday, 2 June 2014

Old pictures of Yorkshire

I have been away on holiday but am now back home, appreciating English food but missing the warmth and sunshine.

I planted out courgettes and runner beans before we went but they are a bit yellowy and are not really growing. Perhaps they need fertiliser and summer weather.

The grass is wet - so wet that as I was cutting it I narrowly avoided two toads who hopped away out of the long clumps.

I keep meaning to put more pictures on my website as I am always collecting them but it is a fiddly job. So I am experimenting with putting some small versions of my various Yorkshire pictures on here. If you want copies of the full version, printed or digital, contact me through my website. Otherwise just enjoy looking at them.

old picture of Cloughton near Scarborough

old picture of Barton on Humber

old picture of Beswick between Driffield and Beverley

old picture of White Cross near Beverley

old picture of Brough East Yorkshire post office and 'bubble' car

old picture of Brough East Yorkshire, war memorial

old picture of  Elvington near York

old picture of Everingham near Pocklington

East Riding fire engine with BT reg

old picture of  a horse omnibus at Flamborough

old picture of Goodmanham

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Rawcliffe Bridge

At last it has stopped raining and we can cut the grass. Much longer and we would be haymaking. I really enjoy this time of year when everything is growing and the garden is vaguely under control. The potatoes are up and need earthing up, the onions are almost established and my broad beans look quite healthy.

I am not as keen when the sun is shining to sit at the computer but I have been spending some time trying to convert  my fourth Goole pictorial history book into an e book. It is not as easy as I thought, mainly because the book is full of images and the text floats about, separating pictures from captions. But I am persevering and hope to have it available in the next few weeks.

On Monday evening I attended the Boothferry History group meeting and enjoyed a presentation by Pippa Stainton on the subject of Rawcliffe and Rawcliffe Bridge. In fact we saw several pictures of the various bridges. There is  the bridge over the Don or Dutch River and another over the adjacent Aire and Calder canal. The canal was opened in 1826 and several  industries grew up around the bridge. These included a tar works, a brickworks which later was converted to a sugar beet works, a paper mill and of course Croda chemicals which took over a disused waterworks on the canal bank in 1925.

Pippa  enjoys using Photoshop to bring old photos to life and, at the end of August, in conjunction with other local historians including Gilbert Tawn and myself, she is having an exhibition at Junction in Goole. Between us we hope to display our large collection of old photographs to a wider audience.

An early view of workers inside the Turner paper mill at Rawcliffe Bridge

While looking up some details for this post I came across a reference to Joseph Turner, founder of the paper mill at Rawcliffe Bridge on the friends of Darwen cemetery site which gives some intereting biographical information about him.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The lady spy of Reedness, Yorkshire

Last night I went to the monthly meeting of the Marshland Local History group in Swinefleet village hall. The speaker was very interesting and I learned a lot about the nature reserves at Thorne and Hatfield.

The group is hoping to attract new members and have begun production of a small newsletter - we all received our printed copies last night. The idea is that, in future,  anyone on e mail can receive copies electronically.

It is an opportunity to keep in touch for those who perhaps would like to join the group but who for one reason or another cannot get to meetings. The group would welcome any contributions for future editions - memories, photos, family history stories and queries, articles - anything as long as it refers to the Marshland villages.

My contribution I reproduce below. I was fascinated to find that this Reedness lady had such dubious connections that she spent most of the First World war in an internment camp.

The lady spy of Reedness

Like most members of the MLHG I shall miss listening to Bill/Horace Wroot's stories of Reedness life in the 20s and 30s. One story he often told was of the two local sisters who signalled to the Germans during the war.

I am not sure that the story I have found was the right one but it is certainly true that a Reedness lady was accused of being a spy during the First World War.

The lady in question was called Hilda Margaret Howsin. She was born in 1877, the younger daughter of Edward Howsin, a doctor and his wife, the former Louisa Bell of The Manor, Reedness. The Bell family were natives of Reedness and Louisa's father Robert was also a doctor.

By 1901 Louisa Howsin had died but the rest of the family - Edward and daughters Ethel and Hilda were living at Reedness with Louisa's sister Elizabeth.

Hilda was then only 23 but had already published a book entitled The Significance of Indian Nationalism.

Ten years later in 1911 she was visitor at the home of Wilfred Scawen Blunt, a noted author, poet and friend of Winston Churchill. She was then described as a journalist.

But then came the war and on 1st September 1915 her father went out partridge shooting. When he came home Hilda had disappeared. Some 17 days later the family found out that she was in an internment camp at Aylesbury.

She was accused of 'hostile associations'.  In 1907 in London she had apparently met a Virandranath Chattopodhyaya, an Indian who was studying for the Bar. He had associations with the Indian Nationalist movement and had left England in 1909*.

In May 1915, while at Reedness, Hilda had received a message from an unknown woman and as a result she travelled to Montreux where she met 'the Hindu' [as he was referred to in newspaper reports]. She then returned to England with a message for a lady friend of Mr Chattopodhyaya who was in a sanatorium.

However it was said that not only had her friend spent time in Berlin before travelling to Switzerland but that the lady who had asked Miss Howsin to travel to Montreux was a spy.

The case of Hilda Howsin was reported in national newspapers as "The case of the Squire's Daughter". She applied for her release on several occasions, was questioned personally by Stanley Baldwin and her case was discussed in the House of Commons but all to no avail.

She was not released until August 1919. In 1920 she married Devendra Bannerjea. She died in Fordingbridge, Hampshire in 1955.

Her sister, Miss Ethel Howsin, was remembered by Bill as the lady who came into Reedness School at Christmas time, bringing her large dogs (? Dalmatians) with her. The children had on their desks in front of them buns and cakes that were left over from their party and that they were taking home. The children stood in honour of their guest and the dogs ate the buns.

So I am not sure whether the Howsin family were the origin of Bill's spy story but surely Hilda's notoriety must have been discussed in the village.

* Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, alias Chatto, (1880 – 2 September 1937, Moscow), was a prominent Indian revolutionary who worked to overthrow the British Raj in India by using the force of arms as a tool. He created alliances with the Germans during World War I, was part of the Berlin Committee organising Indian students in Europe against the British, and explored actions by the Japanese at the time.
He went to Moscow in 1920 to develop support by the Communists for the Indian movement, including among Asians in Moscow who were working on revolutionary movements. He joined the German Communist Party (KPD). He lived in Moscow for several years in the 1930s. Arrested in July 1937 in Joseph Stalin's Great Purge, Chatto was executed on 2 September 1937.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Goole Volunteer firemen

At long last the weather is improving and I have been able to cut the grass. I have a very old ride on mower and it is a challenge to steer it around the still green snowdrop leaves and the daffodils. But it is amazing how quickly everything is growing and I know that if  I do not cut the cow parsley now it will soon be waist high. Flowers that I am very pleased to see are my few fritillaries and cowslips. They are spreading very slowly.

On the history front we went to the York postcard fair and bought some lovely cards of Laxton, Saltmarshe, Newport and Gilberdyke which will eventually appear on the old photo section of my website. I am so far behind with updating the photo section that it is always best to ask what I have.

The fair did not seem as busy as previous years - and this year we remembered to take our own sandwiches instead of buying the very expensive ones at the venue.

I have recently been searching the Goole Times archives [ I am now their custodian] for various people who want copies of articles.  I bought a small portable scanner so that I can scan from the files without damaging them.

There are some excellent old photos reproduced in the early 1960s which I am fascinated by. The picture below shows the Goole volunteer fire  brigade. Although of course the pictures are a bit grainy they are quite clear enough to identify faces.

Goole volunteer firemen

Monday, 24 March 2014

Holme on Spalding Moor history group

Tonight I have given a talk on Yorkshire emigrants to the Holme on Spalding Moor history group. This  is a friendly and comparatively new group who are interested in anything relevant to the history of HosM. To date members have researched the names on the village war memorial and are in the process of setting up a website.

It is surprisingly cold outside and last night was the coldest of the winter so far. I have sown lettuce, radish and cress seeds in the greenhouse but my Arran Pilot seed potatoes are still in the house. The snowdrops have largely finished and now the garden is full of daffodils. My peach tree has pink blossom - but will it survive in this weather?

I am researching a family at the moment who ended up in Goole but who originated in the Colne area. Family members were hand loom weavers and later worked in the mills. I am finding it very interesting learning the local geography and  background of this area of Lancashire.

Soon tho' I am hoping to return to researching the history of Saltmarshe - there is much material available about both the family and the village.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Howden First World War database

This is just a brief post which links to the database of Howden soldiers and sailors whose names appear on Howden war memorial

This is an ongoing project in association with my WEA Howden history class.

There will be more information appearing later. Please check back

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A bit more Yorkshire dialect

I have just been out for a walk with Molly. There has been a light fall of snow overnight and the road was what could be described as 'slape'  or slippery. I think it is the first snow I have seen this winter. All we have had is incessant rain and wind but at least here in the North we have not had the terrible floods which have inundated large areas of south west England.

But back to dialect. I recently wrote a brief  article about Yorkshire dialect which was published in the Goole Times, the local paper. I reproduce it below.

 Yorkshire talk

I often talk to older local people who have lived in this area all their lives.  And many of those who have been brought up  in this area of Yorkshire still use, quite naturally, the local words and expressions which would have been used by their ancestors.

Our Yorkshire dialect is sadly dying out as we all listen to the same TV and radio programmes and families are much more mobile so that they often live far away from where they were brought up.

But some words and phrases survive and their use can sometimes be traced back to  the early Norse settlers who came here from Scandinavia,  before the Norman Conquest.

For example locally children are often referred to as 'bairns', a word which dates back to when the Vikings lived in Yorkshire - their word for a child was 'barn'.

Other common local words which have a Scandinavian origin  include 'laiking' or 'larkin' [playing],  'lug' [as in carry something], 'midden' [rubbish tip or dungheap],  'rive at' [as in pull at], 'slape' [slippery], 'spretch' [as in eggs cracking just before hatching].

And  Yorkshire farmers will describe a young female sheep as a gimmer [ from the Old Norse 'gymbr'].

I had an East Riding village childhood and have tried to pick out words which I either use or have heard used. Sometimes  dialect dictionaries list words which have long fallen out of use or which were only maybe used in a mining or mill area.

The problem too is realising what is dialect and you only find that out when you use a word outside Yorkshire and people look at you a bit oddly and ask what it means.

So I have had 'trouble' when describing a ball of string as being 'taffled up',  asking someone to 'rozzle up the fire' [ I think this is from my father who came from Driffield], 'side the  table/ pots' or 'mash the tea'.

Many dialect expressions refer to the occupations of those who use them. So in this area we have a lot of farming and rural words and phrases although they are not the same as those used further west and north.

Here are some I have heard recently:

"It were wick with fleas" [a dead hedgehog picked up by a dog - 'wick' means alive although I have also heard someone ask if a cable was 'wick' [live].

Also I have heard people talk of 'an owd tup' [a tup is a ram],  'a black clock',  [beetle],  'a spuggy' [sparrow], 'a stee'[ladder], 'a chimley' [chimney] and a  'peggy stick' [for stirring clothes in a wash tub].

A farmer might talk about 'leading hay' [moving it from field to barn] and being held up because  'it's siling down" [raining very heavily - a 'sile' was a coarse sieve used in the dairy] and someone who has been outside in the weather might come in 'fair nithered'  or 'starved'[ both mean very cold'] and 'wet as thack' [ thatch]. When the work began someone might take out the 'drinkings' [the refreshments taken out to field workers] which in some areas were known as 'lowance'.
If a field was wet  someone might say 'It's carr land"  [land which is low lying and prone to be wet] and this same word is often used in names - there are many Carr Lanes about.

Other Yorkshire phrases often still used  include:

'I'll bray you', 'I'm feeling badly', 'Stop faffing about', 'Can you fettle it?' ' Me kegs are all clarty', 'A'm fair mafted','There's a 'mawk' in that apple', 'Ah'l tret you', 'Bags I foggy', 'E's right fond clever'.

I have not included a translation of the phrases above -  maybe someone would like to send one in and also any other Yorkshire phrases I have not mentioned.

In fact you might be surprised at how many words and phrases you use which in other parts of England might need translating.

So far I have not even touched on typical Yorkshire behaviour - the deadpan comment for example of a Hull bus driver this weekend who told me ' I'm not giving change today luv'  before he handed me mine with a grin.

And of course the stock answer to the polite query 'How are you?'. A Yorkshire person rarely replies 'Very well, thank you' - he or she will usually say 'Oh, not so bad'.

Despite being taken to task by a dialect expert who wrote an erudite reply to my article explaining the complex origins of some of the words and suggesting that our dialect is not dying out, only evolving, I shall continue collecting interesting words and phrases I hear in conversation.

After all how many young people will tweet about it being 'Black ower Bill's mother's'  [there is a black cloud and it  looks like rain] or send a text sharing the joke "What's worse than finding a 'mawk' in an apple?" "Finding half a mawk"? [ a mawk is a maggot]

I actually think that as I have been writing this I have probably proved my point. My word processing program has littered my words with red underlining and has corrected several of the words for me. Writing dialect is a challenge in modern times.
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