Saturday, 19 September 2020

Milners of Goole and the history of Batty Lane Howden

 As we wait for news about whether we are going to spend more time in lockdown I am turning to history and harvesting as a relaxing distraction.

Today I have been gathering tomatoes out of the greenhouse and picking up eating apples from the garden. Our dessert apple varieties are James Grieve and Yorkshire Cockpit - but I have been collecting the windfalls carefully as the wasps are keen on them too.

Normally at this time of year I would be meeting my local history groups in Howden and Goole but of course we cannot meet  this term. I shall miss our weekly sessions.

But I am asked through my website a variety of local history queries, most of which I try to answer. And the range of queries certainly keeps my brain active!!!

They range from finding out about Mr Gordon,  a well-known Goole piano tuner who lived in Henry Street and thanks to facebook I was able to tell his relatives that he drove a Ford Anglia and played backgammon. 

To a more lengthy project finding out about the origins and history of the Milner family, florists and nurserymen of Goole and Hook.  I am enjoying this as it includes the history of Booth Ferry house at Airmyn where the first Mr Milner came as a professional gardener and the establishment of the family's large plant nurseries at both Hook and Skelton. 

Boothferry House where Thomas Milner came to work as the gardener

Now I know why the row of cottages at Skelton is called Milners Row. The family's retail shops began in Goole in Ouse Street, then moved to Aire Street and now of course their premises are in Boothferry Road. So the story reflects a large part of the history of Goole.

Aire Street in 1952 showing Milners' shop

But I have been briefly side tracked by a query which came in yesterday. Why is Batty Lane in Howden so called? So far I have not found the answer!!

Today Batty or Batty's Lane runs through from Bridgegate and out onto Selby Road. However the Bridgegate end has variously been known as Hewson Lane and Angel Lane. This was because the large Angel Inn stood where the Aquarius Bathroom shop is  - and was owned by Mr Hewson. It was built up with a row of cottages and at the end was a clay pipe manufactory.

The  OS map surveyed in 1849 shows Batty's Lane as just the bit of the lane which runs straight from the corner out onto Selby Road.

There are some interesting newspaper references to it. An 1865 sale notice describes a  house and shop for sale [now Boots]
 'situate in Bridge Gate, fronting the Market Place. The Premises are very eligibly situated for business, being in the best part of the Town; and the Garden has a frontage into Batty Lane, and is well adapted for Building purposes. 
Times don't change!

But a few years later we read of an accident at the annual horse fair where two horses collided on the lane. The report reads

A lamentable accident occurred when two valuable cobs, one belonging to Mr. Archibald Ledley, of Belfast, and the other to Mr. J. Stephenson, of Leeds, which were bei)g shown off in Batty-lane, cannoned against each other. They were going at full speed  and each dislocated his shoulder and sustained other injuries which will, in all probability necessitate their being destroyed. The riders were thrown to the ground with great violence, and one of them was carried away insensible on a shutter to the Angel Inn.

It is interesting that the owners of the horses are named, the injuries to the horses described and then only finally do we hear of the unnamed riders.

And a third extract leaves some doubt as to other events which took place in Batty Lane. In 1903 at the local magistrates court Mrs Lavinia Murgatroyd of Market Weighton, was charged by Martha Newham of Howden with assaulting her. Newham stated that about midnight she saw her son in the company of the defendant in Batty Lane and requested him to come home. Defendant struck her, giving her a black eye She was fined £1.

Bridgegate showing the Angel Inn on the left. The entrance to Batty Lane is just beyond where the lady is standing.

So we know of Batty Lane but not who it was named after. It is a well-known name now in Howden but having researched the family I cannot find any connection with a Batty family who may have lived there or owned the nearby land in the early 1800s. My only result has been a family who left Howden for Leeds in the 1840s and a John Batty who emigrated from Howden to Illinois and served with the Unionists in the civil war.

If anyone knows any more about any of these topics I would be delighted to hear from them - contact me via my website.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Howden marsh

 It has been very stormy the last few days and we have had lots of small branches and leaves strewn around the garden. This got me thinking about the similar situation on Howden Marsh where trees there I gather have been damaged too in this unseasonal weather.

Howden Marsh is now a very popular nature reserve but how many people, particularly those new to the town know of its history. It has been an area of common land for centuries - marshy of course but not covered by trees.

We get an idea of the open space from a report of an event in May 1863.

The first battalion of the East Yorkshire Rifle Volunteers was reviewed at Howden on Monday, by Major Saltmarshe, the commanding officer of the battalion. The Howden company assembled in the Market Place about eleven o'clock, and, accompanied by their officers, marched to the Railway Station to await the arrival of the volunteers from a distance, who came up by the 11.25 a.m. train, and the whole of them were then formed five abreast, and, headed by the Driffield band, marched to the Market Place, where they piled arms, and then proceeded to Clayton's Half Moon Hotel to partake of the luncheon provided for them. 

In half hour the march was resumed, the halt finally being made on Howden Marsh, a large unenclosed open space, just at the outskirts of the town. The various military manoeuvres, light infantry drill, &c, were gone through in the most satisfactory style, the firing, both of the companies soparately and of the whole battalion, being executed with great precision. 

Shortly after four o'clock the volunteers again marched to the Market Place, and after few words from Major Saltmarshe, expressive his great satisfaction with the way which they had gone through the manoeuvres of the day, they were dismissed. 

The number of privates and non-commissioned officers present, as far as we could ascertain, was—Howden, 38; Bridlington 28; Driffield (with band), 51; Beverley, 13; Market Weighton, 12; total, 135

The Marsh was later, in the 1880s made smaller when seven acres of it was needed for the building of the Hull and Barnsley railway.

But in the 1900s It was  still the area where local people grazed their cows - stray animals ending up in the town pinfold on its edge. The cows were often dairy animals and provided the townpeople with much of their milk,

In winter months The Marsh froze and Howden people were able to go ice skating with the chance later to buy hot peas and vinegar from local lady Mary Good.

And in summer it was also in use. The Howden cricket club, at their annual meeting in 1904 decided to adopt The Marsh as their home ground.

A  report of a court case from 1910 gives us an insight into the large watercourses of the Marsh, into police work - and also into the juvenile crime of the time.

William Connor (21), and William Kenny (16), Howden, were charged with having stolen large plank, valued at 7s, the property of Mr George Wm Green of The Parks Farm, Howden, 

Mr Green stated that on Tuesday morning 10th May, on looking around his farm, he missed a plank of wood, nearly 20 feet in length, which had been used as bridge over a drain, and worth from 7s to 10s.  He had seen it safe on the Sunday 

P. C. Robson  instituted inquiries. Just before dark  he visited the Howden Marsh, where he found the stolen plank in a drain. It had been cut in two and the ends secured in a sheltered position on the bank. He watched in the vicinity until about 4 o'clock the next morning. 

At 2 p.m.  he again visited the Marsh, and found that the wood had been removed.  As a  result of further inquiries  he visited Connor's house, and after cautioning him him with stealing the wood, Connor replied, Yes,  I got it. I am very sorry. We towed from Mr Green's premises into the Marsh down a drain, and I have just taken into Ringrose's field to dry." 

The same day Pc Robson met Kenny in  Pinfold-street, who, on being charged with being concerned with Connor in stealing the wood, replied, "Yes, it's true, we got it." The wood was found concealed beneath grass in Mr Ringrose's field.—Both pleaded guilty.—'The Chairman said that as they were so young, the Bench would deal leniently with them. There would be a fine of 5s and 7s costs each.

Now the Marsh is planted with trees and is a haven for wildlife. The picture below [taken by Arthur Henrickson] shows it in the process of construction. Does anyone have the date?

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Old pictures of Goole and Howden Minster concerts

 Cannot make sense of the weather this summer. One minute it's unbearably hot and then next minute it’s damp and cold. Since our visitors  are still restricted to sitting outside it has made for some interesting tea parties!!
The garden too is unpredictable - good crops of beans and onions but the tomatoes, inside and out are only just beginning to ripen.
Like most people my summer  plans have been disrupted. As part of the Goole history group I should now be spending my days in Junction where we had planned to hold our two week exhibition on the history of Goole - this year concentrating on shops. Our previous exhibitions have proved very popular so we have fingers crossed for next year.
Another blow to local plans, in which I was involved as a volunteer, was the cancellation of the series of  free lunchtime concerts in Howden Minster. But the Howdenshire Music Project which ran them has continued to  record and put its concerts online and has recently been loaned a brand new grand piano which they hope to buy for the use of the community. The link will take you to the concerts which are also available on their youtube channel

I have a new computer and am just getting to grips with it but am managing to sort out quite a lot of family history queries and am enjoying looking at the old pictures coming up on the Goole facebook page. One of the features on my new photo program is the ability to colourise pictures.  It's a bit hit and miss and I am still learning but it seems to do best on groups of people rather than buildings when the only option is a manual approach.
Here are a couple of examples. David G posted a picture of a group of children in Fourth Avenue in Goole which showed his mum in 1930.  She is in the centre. This is a quick edited version.

Another picture which came up was of the Vermuyden Hotel in Bridge Street,  Goole. It was later re-fronted but here we can see it when Charlie Yates was landlord before the First World War. It was harder to colour this one and of course we can never know the correct colours but  I think the process  can make  these old pictures come alive. I do always keep the original black and white images.

Goole river pilots 1958

The picture information was as follows

Goole River Pilots. Photograph taken on 29th December 1958 at the North Eastern Hotel in Goole. Jack Fielder was receiving a retirement gift for his service. 

Pictured at the retirement party are, back row from the left: Ted Greenwood, Ernest Smith, Barney Schofield, Ron Tetley, Harry Richmond, Lance Smith, Alan Hutchinson, Bill Perry, Clive Wilkinson, James Grant. 
Middle row from the left : Albert Ayre, John Smith, Albert Blackburn, George Howard, Syd Woods, Bob Greenfield, Bob King,  Syd Depledge, Bill Ripon, John Price, Arthur Wild. 
Front row from left: Commodore Capt. Richardson, retiring pilot John (Jack) Fielder, Dennis Yule and George Grubb. 
At the time the photo was taken there were around 24 Goole pilots but in the years that followed the number increased as high as 32 to cope with the increase in trade at the port.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

A Spaldington sprite

Yet again it is raining and I have just put a bucket underneath an overflowing gutter. The garden is growing crops of chickweed as well as rather too many courgettes for us to eat. But the chickweed is useful as the chickens are spending a lot of time in their pen. This is to protect them from the fox.

I heard them cackling one day a couple of weeks ago and there was a lovely {!!!} young fox looking at me from just outside the kitchen window.  Although I let Molly straight out it was too late and we lost a chicken, as did our neighbours.

I have been enjoying a new page - All about Goole - on facebook. Lots of lovely memories are coming up. I am not from Goole but went to school there and have lots of lovely Goole friends.

I am sorry to say that my local history classes will not be resuming in the autumn as my only option was to run them as Zoom courses but having consulted several students they felt that we would not be able to capture the social interaction - ie the interjections [interruptions!] from everyone and the cups of tea!!! I - and they - are hopeful that we can meet face to face in 2021!!

But I am not bored and have been working hard on a new version of my website - WordPress is a challenge but I think I am getting there. And I am trying to write a page about the history of the different villages.

When researching Spaldington I came across this article from the Goole Times of 1875. I knew of Robin Roundcap but this version has some extra detail.

Not far from the Howden station, is the rural village Spaldington, in which place, not very many years ago, was standing an old mansion in the Elizabethan style, known as Spaldington Hall.

The hall was said to be haunted by a genuine ghost of the old school, half ghost and half fairy. This ghost was always known by the name of Robin Roundcap, and was believed to have been the ghost of a family jester in the time of James I. Tradition said that for some mischievous pranks played on his master he was kicked downstairs, and broke his neck. This kind treatment he resented haunting his master during his life, and the house after his death. It is related was very fond of frightening the maids, of hiding their shoes, kirtles, household utensils, and farming implements -  in short, if anything was lost or broken,  it was put down to Robin’s account.

He was credited with wonderful powers of imitation, aud whatever noisy operations were going on the house, or outbuildings, the same noise would heard in the next room, or somewhere not far off. When the boys were chopping sticks, at the other side of the heap they would see sticks flying, but without seeing the axe or directing it.

Robin would frequently reply to questions, sometimes volunteer statements, but was seldom seen with the naked eye, and never twice had he the same personal appearance. The story was, once upon a time a poor unfortunate packman was going up the house to make an honest penny, when he encountered Robin in  a form that so frightened him that threw down his pack and ran away,

It would appear Robin was no Good Templar, for he was charged with drinking the ale barrels dry and a particular fancy he had for eating pasties, cakes, tarts, or, in fact, anything good or sweet. Ill-natured people would have it the servants had the lion’s share of the plunder. One of his freaks was that of getting into the brick oven and putting footprints on all the large rye loaves when baking, or of pushing in large rusty nails to spoil the servants’ knives. The worst freak was get into the churn and spoil the butter and although they tried to burn him out by inserting a red-hot poker, but this only served to prove his laughter, without any beneficial result to either cream or butter.

At last the farmer—who was then occupying the house—became so provoked by the doings of Robin, he resolved to leave the house aud remove to another a short distance from the farmstead, that he might be able to attend the farm without the annoyance he had been subject to so long. When the furniture was being removed to the new abode, the farmer met an old neighbour, who said, 'l see you are flitting when,  to the astonishment of both, Robin bawled out from within—“ Yes, we are flitting". "Well,” said the farmer, “we may as well flit back, for it is no good paying two rents, aud be pested at both houses,”  and he returned to his old residence.

The good vicar was next consulted, and he kindly offered himself, “by book and by bell", to appear in person at the old mansion, to show cause why his unjust spirit should not be conjured down, and set at rest lor ever.

We are not able to give particulars of the charm used by the clerk in holy orders. Robin begged that it should only be for a year and a day. ln the end, the matter was so far compromised, that he was only to be conjured down into an old draw-well, for three generations, which was accordingly enacted, and willow stake driven through him, which was said afterwards to became great tree.

About fifty years ago, the rising generation were anxiously looking forward to his return. But, alas, for poor Robin before his day came, the old mansion was taken down, and a modern house built in its place, so modern that there was not a decent corner for the ghost to lodge in.

The old hall, home of the Vavasours, was taken down in 1838 and Old Hall Farm now stands on the site. Is there still a large willow tree there??!!!

I do not have many pictures of Spaldington  - would love to see more - but I found this on the internet of Hobgoblin Hall in the Lake District and imagined that the Old Hall where Robin Roundcap lived may have been like this!!!

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Street names

At last it has rained and everything in the garden has soaked it up and looks much happier - including the weeds of course. Walking Molly I enjoyed seeing her forging her way through the wet grass and also catching the characteristc smell of the elder flowers. Now is the time to be making cordial.

But if the plants have been parched the bees have been making honey as the sun shone. The beekeepers here have been extracting it as fast as they can and now it is for sale outside the house. I have been tasting it and it it fascinating to try and taste the various blossoms the bees have been on.

One of the questions I often get asked is how certain streets got their names. Sometimes the names are ancient such as Bridgegate or Hailgate in Howden. The gate in these names means street and comes from the Viking word gata. The bridge was a stone bridge probably very near where Marsh End joins Pinfold Street  - Bridgegate seems to have extended further than it does today.
Hailgate is from the Viking word halh meaning a nook of land and describes the land enclosed by the giant curve of the Old Derwent alongside which Hailgate runs -it was first mentioned in 1199.

Hailgate, showing how it curves

But it is sometimes not so obvious as Bishopgate was only built in 1834 to  link Hailgate and Flatgate and for much of the nineteenth century was just New Street before being named Bishopgate.

And more recently  there have been new housing developments and the council has often suggested names to the builders which have a link with the past.

So Shelford Avenue takes its name from William Shelford, the engineer of the Hull and Barnsley railway while the other streets off it are the names of stations and other features on the line. As of course this area was the site of the Hull and Barnsley railway station.
Hull and Barnsley track bed and station house [picture courtesy of Arthur Henrickson]

Congregational chapel
Milton Close takes its name from the Milton Rooms which were behind the Congregational chapel  which stood nearby and which in turn took their name from the poet John Milton who wrote Paradise Lost. Milton was an early Congregationalist.

now site of St Helen's Mews

The Vinery is a nod to Howden's former grape growing past whilst Langrick, Loftsome and Welham are named for  local bridges.

Charles Briggs was a former Hailgate brewer  who gave Howden the Ashes and the Shire hall and Carter street takes its name from another prominent brewing family who owned land nearby. Interestingly this is the same family after whom Carter Street in Goole is named.

It is good to see that Howden's history is being preserved in its newer street names - material for lots of school projects -- eventually!!!

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Norwood family of East Yorkshire

The sky is blue, the cuckoo has been calling and we are still confined largely to our homes. But I have a big garden and there is plenty to do - often at the moment watering everything as it is so dry.

I am not a great TV viewer and so have been spending lots of time on the internet. As many of my regular blog readers know I have a website [], write this blog and also write books and booklets about local history. I enjoy reading and sometimes contributing to the local history facebook sites and saw on the Snaith page that someone was interested in the house called Norwood House aka no 1 George Street.

I was interested in this as the Norwood name had come up when I was researching my book about Eastrington - but I was doubtful that there was a connection.  I was right  about Norwood House - but I did nevertheless find a connection to my Norwoods in Snaith!!

First  the  George Street house. Several contributors to the Snaith fb page believed the house was named after a former occupant called [John] Norwood Howard who was a coal merchant. And they were right I think

John Norwood Howard was born at Snaith in 1913. His father too was a coal merchant  and he and  his wife Edith came originally from Lincolnshire. His mother's maiden name was Norwood and this explains why he gave the name to his son.

Norwood was the youngest member of the family. His eldest brother Stanley Hardy aged 19 was killed in 1918. His name is on the war memorial in the church.

George Street

But also in Snaith is Norwood Villa - no 8 Pontefract Road. It looks Victorian and I wondered who it took its name from.

I found a record from 1955 referring to the death of Mr. Robert Hall Fisher,  of  Norwood Villa, a retired grocer,  who died September 1954  and who  left £22,088. Robert was born in 1867 at Beast Fair where his father was a saddler. In 1901 he was a  grocer living next to Plough Inn,  Beast Fair but by 1911 he was retired grocer living  at Norwood Villa with his wife Annie and daughter Lucy  who died in 1964.

I then searched further back and found references to the death in 1907 of John Turner Norwood.

There were several newspaper reports of his funeral include the following

May 6th 1907. Deep regret is felt in Snaith, Goole, and district, at the death, which took place on Saturday, of Mr. John Turner Norwood, of Norwood Villa, Snaith. The old gentleman, who entered on his 78th year on May 1st, was born at Camblesforth, near Selby. The greater part of his life, however, was spent in Leeds, where he rose from a comparatively humble position to one of considerable importance in the city. He retired from active business life some twenty years ago, and came to reside at Snaith. He took a great interest in farming, and owned two large farms at Drax, close to his native village. He belonged to the old school of farmers, and being  a prominent local speaker, he often roundly denounced with much originality what he described as “the new-fangled notions of the agricultural schools.” For many years he presided over the monthly petty sessions held Snaith, and though a merciful magistrate, he had little sympathy with offending motorists.

  A quiet, though impressive, funeral was that the late J T. Norwood, J.P., Norwood Villa, Snaith, which took place on Tuesday at Drax. The coffin was of plain oak, with brass mountings, and the hearse in which was conveyed from Snaith had drawn blinds. Moreover, there was not a single female in attendance, the chief mourners being the deceased's brother and nephews from Brighton. 

Amongst others present were Messrs G. F. Ogle, Hartley, and Weddall, fellow magistrates; Blair, J.P., medical attendant; Mr E. T. Clark, magistrates' clerk; Messrs R. B. Shearburn, Snaith Hall; Lealey, H. Rawson, Tillage Works, Goole; A. Hartley, Cowick; Superintendent Burkitt, Goole; Inspector Minty, Snaith; and Sergeant Dove, Selby. The Vicar of Snaith officiated in the church, and the committal service was taken by the Vicar of  Rawcliffe (Rev R. Proude). By request there were no flowers.

There is a plaque in his memory in Snaith church

Plaque in Snaith church, courtesy of Chris Watson

John T Norwood first appears living in Snaith in the 1901 census.  He is living alone apart from a housekeeper.

In 1891 he appears living at 16 East Parade in Goole with his aged mother  Ann and sister. His mother died aged 95 in 1894 and his sister remained in East Parade.

The Norwood family

I then looked at John's parents, grandparents and great grandparents. His father was Thomas Norwood born in 1799 and baptised at Howden. His father's address was then given as Yokefleet Grange. 
He had married Ann Wilkinson in 1827 at Adlingfleet, her home village.

Thomas' father was another Thomas born at Saltmarshe in 1767, a farmer who married Alice Turner at South Cave in 1791. It was this Thomas who eventually settled at Camblesforth and who was buried at Drax in 1816. 

His widow Alice, then aged 41, re-married in 1819. Her groom, Samuel Nicholson was a gentleman farmer of Rawcliffe aged 82. This age discrepancy meant that the marriage  featured in several Yorkshire newspapers. Samuel died the following year and one of his heirs, a nephew also called Samuel Nicholson appears in a chancery case. It would be fascinating to know the human story behind these bare facts.

There is a school book of this Thomas Norwood dating from 1785 in the Goole Museum collection

Thomas Norwood's book now in Goole museum, image courtesy of Chris Watson
page 2 of Thomas Norwood's book, image courtesy of Chris Watson

Camblesforth where Thomas Norwood lived

But another generation back and I was in Eastrington.  Thomas [ 1767-1816] was the son of John and Ruth Norwood [nee England] . He was one of a family of at least seven children. John and Ruth had moved from Saltmarshe to Eastrington in the 1770s to take up the tenancy of Townend Farm, then one of the largest farms in the village. 

I had researched their Eastrington life for my book on the history of Eastrington and had found that John was one of the signatories of my 4x  gt grandfather's [George Wise Nurse] will. They farmed and lived next door to each other.
Station Road Eastrington. The original Townend farm is on the extreme left

There were several Norwood sons so it is understandable that their son Thomas should move to farm at Camblesforth. And equally understandable that Thomas and Ann should farm there too.
This was where their five children,  Thomas Wilkinson, John Turner, Alice, Ann Frances and Ruthella were born. 

Thomas and Ann at some point moved to North Cave where Thomas gave his job as auctioneer in 1851. By then their two sons had left home. John was working as the manager of a Leeds flax and wool business with his sister Alice as housekeeper.

Thomas Wilkinson Norwood
But eldest son Thomas took a completely different and very interesting path.  He received a private school education, possibly at Leeds and in 1847 aged 19 went up to St John's College Cambridge. He received his degree in 1851 and entered the church being ordained priest in 1852.
 His first post was as curate of Bollington in Prestbury in Cheshire. Here he met the lady he was to marry. The vicar of Bollington then was Rev George Palmer who died at the untimely early age of 38 in 1852. His widow was the former Jane Gaskell of Ingersley Hall  and she  was left with a young family. 

Meanwhile Thomas was appointed curate of St Paul's in Cheltenham and was chaplain  to the Cheltenham Union. 
Three years after Rev Palmer's death  in March 1855  at St. Mary's Church, Cheltenham Rev. T. W. Norwood married Jane, daughter of the late Thomas Gaskell Eaq., of Ingersley Hall, Cheshire, widow of late George Palmer Esq.
The family were living in Cheltenham in 1861 but in 1867 Thomas was appointed  curate of St Luke's church in Chelsea.  Jane stayed in Cheltenham.
He obviously made a deep impression on the parish in Chelsea as there is a tablet in his memory in the church erected after his death.

The tablet in St Luke's church Chelsea commemorating Thomas Wilkinson Norwood

 In 1878 he was appointed vicar of Wrenbury in Cheshire,  and remained there for the next 29 years.
Jane died in 1880 in Florence.

He was obviously a very interesting and learned man and there are many references to him in newspapers and on the internet. He was a founder member of the SPAB [Society for the Protection of Old Buildings], alongside William Morris,  a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and wrote several papers on gypsies and their vocabulary which are deposited in Liverpool University archive. He worked hard for the church at Wrenbury apparently personally underpinning parts of it 'a very hazardous undertaking'. He was also a keen archaeologist and left his collection of shells and fossils to Cheltenham College.

He resigned the living in  September 1907 - his brother had died in May - and came to his brother's house in Snaith but died on January 31st 1908.
The brothers left substantial  funds which passed to the children of their sister Ruthella.

I was not sure when I began to look at Norwood House in Snaith where  I would  be led. Family history is like that. I still have not found who lived in the George Street house before the Howard family - the deeds might sort that out - or whether John Norwood built Norwood Villa. I would be delighted if anyone has any more information or pictures.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Beating the bounds

I was listening to the radio this morning and the speaker mentioned that tomorrow is Rogation Sunday.

This is the day when the Church  offered prayer for God’s blessings on the fruits of the earth and the labours of those who produce our food.

The word “rogation” is from the Latin rogare, “to ask.” Historically, the Rogation Days, the three days before Ascension Day, were a period of fasting and abstinence, asking for God’s blessing on the crops for a bountiful harvest.

Traditionally a common feature of Rogation days was the ceremony of beating the bounds, in which a procession of parishioners, led by the minister and churchwardens and the choir would proceed around the boundary of their parish and pray for its protection in the forthcoming year.

Different parishes had different customs which ranged from choir boys beating the  parish boundary posts with willow wands, choir boys themselves being beaten with willow wands at every marker so that they remembered where the boundaries were, choir boys' heads being  knocked against the markers for the same reason and in Goole, where the boundary was in the river, being dunked.

In May 1948 for example there was the following  newspaper report:

CHOIRBOYS DUCKED. The ceremony was instituted to impress on the minds of the youngest parishioners the extent of the parish boundaries in order to prevent encroachment by neighbouring landowners, and this " impression included some physical chastisement, which at Goole last night took the form of immersion in the river. Choirboys vied for the honour of being ducked in the river at Goole last night, when, for the first time in the history of the parish, the choir of the parish church carried out the ancient ceremony of beating the bounds.

But it is a very ancient ceremony and in Howden there is a footpath called Paternoster Bank off Station Road. This bank was the original boundary of the parish of Howden and was where the parish met with Howden Common and, further along, with the deer park. In the 18th century it was owned by the town and rented out. In 1815 when it was decided to pave the Market Place part of the money was raised by selling the timber growing on the bank.

It takes its name from the first two words of the Lord's Prayer Pater Noster [Our Father] as this prayer would have been said at each boundary marker on Rogation Day.

Local churches do still hold Rogation Day walks and services but unfortunately not this year. We are all still gardening and baking and discussing whether our sour dough has worked or whether the pigeons have eaten our cabbage plants.

Howden church choir

Howden church choir - Rev Graham and music director Andrew Leach

Friday, 1 May 2020

Rawcliffe Bridge farms

The weather is cooler and so I am not so keen on gardening. Today is May Day, traditionally a day of fun and celebration but we are still confined in our own homes and so perhaps that will have to wait.

While we are ' locked down' however we can still talk to our friends. In my case some of these friends - are also students in my local history classes.  We normally come up with interesting topics during our meetings but now I keep in touch with them in other ways and and we have been discussing the area around Rawcliffe Bridge.

This was instigated by a picture which appeared on a facebook post, submitted by Roland Chilvers. The picture was captioned Rabbit Hills farm, Rawcliffe Bridge 1929.

Rabbit Hills farm 1929, courtesy of Roland Chilvers

I sent a copy of the picture to my friend Pauline, who was brought up in Rawcliffe Bridge and wondered if she knew anything about the men in the picture and/ or the farm.

Pauline is a very keen and thorough researcher and this set her thinking. The Rabbit Hills area was an ancient piece of land but after World War One the West Riding council bought the Rawcliffe Hall estate  and divided much of it into farms. In 1923 she found an advert asking for potential tenants for several farms, with preference given to ex-service men.

One of these was George Alfred Almond.  He was an ex-serviceman originally from the Swinefleet area and had married the former Emily Drury at Swinefleet in 1921. This fits in with what another lady, Heather posted. She  said that a member of the long-established Sykes  family  of Rawcliffe remembered that George farmed at Rabbit Hills with his wife Emily. They had two children Jim and Mary. Mary married Rex Wood who had Villa Farm in Snaith and Jim worked at Fisons.

Another friend, Steven, asked his father, David Goulden who used to live in Rawcliffe and he too remembered the Almond family.

George we believe later lived at White City on Rawcliffe Road and a family called Lewis took Rabbit Hills.

Pauline also sent me some of her memories of the farms in the 1940s. 

   I spent my junior school years living at Black Drain Head, a cottage and pumping station at the side of the River Don, about halfway between Rawcliffe Bridge and Newbridge.  Our nearest neighbour was Maurice Baldry at Plum Tree Farm. When we arrived he was a single man and Mr and Mrs Thompson lived with him. When we left in 1948, he was married and daughter Barbara had just arrived. Son Colin arrived not long after.

Then, in memory,  off I went down Johnny Moor Long, first Mr Procter, and then Norman Lifesey’s smallholding at the corner of Greenland Lane, the Torn family at Greenland Hall and Philip & Jean Micklethwaite at the Fox & Duck which was also a pub. It now has its original name, Fox Gate Farm. I liked Jean. Before she married, she was a bus conductress on the Majestic buses that ran from Doncaster to Goole. 

The memory can play funny tricks at times because a lot of people remember the Blue Line & green Reliance buses on the same route, but I’ve yet to find someone who remembers the red buses with wooden seats. (sorry – I got side-tracked.)  Greenland Lane ran straight from Johnny Moor Lane back to the river bank and turned just short of Newbridge.  

Close to where the lane now bridges the M18, were the Scrutons and the Fox brothers and a bit further along, the Chafers. I don’t remember the family but son David started Goole Grammar School while I was there.

When I was asked about Rabbit Hills farm I remembered that there was a farm at the back of the Rabbit Hills but I thought it was Langham Farm.  What did I remember?  Leaving Rose Hill & walking towards the railway station, I passed a farm on the left. That was Mr Scawthorne who was also the village milkman until Northern Dairies arrived.  

At the side of the first entrance to the Rabbit Hills was a large house called “North View” and for a short time, about 1946, the Hedges family came home from India to live there. School mistress Mrs Banham sat daughter Elizabeth with me in a double desk.  The entrance to the wood at the side of this house was the only one I ever used which was quite often when a group of small children, after Sunday school, would be searching for treasures to put on the Nature Table in the classroom on Monday morning. 

The other entrance, which is still there, was opposite the two large houses close to the station. Mr and Mrs Rowntree, who were members of our chapel, lived at Woodlands and Mr & Mrs Hargreaves, both teachers at Goole Grammar School, lived at Wynne House. The lane from this entrance leads to Rabbit Hills Farm. Was there a Langham Farm? 

  Looking at local maps, there were two more farms close by: South Farm and Langham Farm. The address for both farms was New Lane. This led from Mill Lane, the short cut from Rawcliffe station to Cowick. The Langham Interchange cut through New Lane but South Farm survived.  So was Langham Farm lost under the motorway? It’s almost half a century since the motorway ploughed through this area and the local people have forgotten what it looked like. Of all my local contacts, only one could remember Rabbit Hills Farm because her Mother worked there for a Mrs J Lewis.
     And there are the Dobeller farms and Pastures farms and Bridge farm, Bankside & Decoy just for starters and no photographs of any of them. I have one photo of Dobella Farm where I was sent to buy fresh eggs.

Pauline and her friend Shirley on the river bank at Black Drain Head

Dobella/ Dobeller Farm
We would be delighted if anyone else has memories or pictures to add to this information or,  of course, corrections.


Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Laxton blacksmiths

Here is another blog post from what is now the 'new normal' of lockdown. Like everyone I am missing seeing my friends in the flesh so to speak but we talk a lot, e mail each other and last week I joined a Zoom conference with around 75 other WEA tutors from all over the UK. It was interesting hearing from  tutors who taught local history in London and Hove  as well as sympathising with those who taught painting, pilates and even soup making. I know we can all go onto the internet but it is not the same as seeing our students round the table all chipping in with their comments.

But enough of that as when not working on the computer I, like millions of others,  have been gardening. The onions are flourishing as are courgettes and sweetcorn [in the greenhouse]  and we have been eating soups made from wild garlic and lovage.

I have also been keeping a close eye on old pictures which have been coming up on e bay. And one which I bought has led me into some interesting if quite sad research. It was a wedding picture and written in pencil on one corner was Laxton 1915. The groom and best man were in uniform but I wasn't certain about where the picture was taken.

Using Find my Past I was able to narrow down the number of weddings in Laxton in 1915 to four. And one in particular seemed to be likely. It was the wedding of cousins Lilian and John Edward Dickinson.

John Edward was 24 and was from Thorne Moorends. He worked in the peat works and lived with his parents and brothers and sisters. His father, Fred was foreman at the works and was originally from Bilbrough.

Lillian, who was the same age,  was the daughter of Laxton blacksmith Wallace Dickinson who was Fred's younger brother. Wallace came to Laxton in the 1880s and in 1889 married Annie Mary Fox of Howden. They had two daughters Lilian and Eva.

Sadly Annie died in 1907 aged 46 and her sister Sarah moved in as housekeeper.  Sarah's son Lawrence, then aged  four also became part of the family. His school admission is online.

I then had a look in the back copies of the Goole Times and was able to find a report of the wedding, described as a 'khaki wedding'.  The reception was held in the Laxton schoolroom and I am fairly certain that the picture is therefore taken outside the former blacksmith's house on Front Street in Laxton. But I may be wrong.

John and Lilian had a daughter Annie who was born in 1916.

But on August 29th 1918, only a few weeks before the end of the war, John Edward was killed and is buried at the Wancourt British cemetery. He is also commemorated in Laxton churchyard.

And then in 1925 Annie died aged only 9.

Laurie Fox grew up in Laxton and then went to work as a blacksmith in Scarr's shipyard at Howdendyke.

Wallace Dickinson died in 1940 and Laurie Fox became the Laxton blacksmith.  His apprentice Herbert Martin eventually followed him in the role and was in fact the last Laxton blacksmith. His smithy has now been rebuilt as a house.

Below are the pictures which tell the story.

Messrs Claude Brignall, Herbert Martin and Clarrie Dowson righting the world outside the smithy

Laurie Fox in Front Street opposite the blackmith's shop with Major Empson's polo pony
A page from Laxton school admission register for 1907.
The wedding of John Dickinson and Lilian Dickinson in 1915
The report of the wedding from the Goole Times

A 1970s view of the house where Wallace Dickinson lived and the smithy

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Good news for family historians

As this crisis continues I am forever grateful that I have a garden to walk round every morning. It must be so difficult for those who do not. Here I walk Molly  around every morning and as there is no hurry to go anywhere else I think I am noticing more.

But I am keeping busy too with  history and received a call this morning from the Goole librarian who asked me to pass on the news that anyone who is a member of East Riding libraries can log on and have access to the family tree sites Ancestry and Find my Past. Normally you can only use them in the actual library but now anyone can access them from home.

I have been looking at the history of Kilpin recently and found a surprising amount of information for such a small place. But as yet I have found no old pictures - anyone out there have any?

The picture below is the site of the Garden King Factory where as a student I worked on the frozen pea processing line. My job was to stand over a conveyor belt and pick off bits of pod and other unwanted objects. I can still remember the smell of warm peas today.

The other pictures I have taken today in the garden.

An aerial view of Kilpin, now the site of several new houses


Hens having a chat


The bees are being busy in the sunshine