Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Goole sea captain Elmit Cook

On my website we have a section entitled Goole Worthies. These are men and women with a Goole connection about whom we have information. Much of it has been gathered by Goole historian Harvey Tripp who is an assiduous reader of old newspapers and who has a particular interest in the Goole Times obituaries which give so much information about their subjects and about the life of the town. 
As it is harder to load these onto my Howdenshire history website I am loading some of them onto my blog which is an easier process.  Here is the first

Goole Times, Friday, 22nd July 1932


One of the old school of Goole’s master mariners, Captain Elmit Cook of 19 Marshfield Avenue, died on Monday at the age of 62 years. Captain Cook had been ill for several months and his death, though a shock to his wide circle of friends and acquaintances, was not unexpected.

The whole of the working career of Captain Cook was spent at sea. As a young boy he served in the old sailing schooners that traded from Goole and learned his seamanship in a very hard and practical school.

For generations back on his father’s side, his ancestors were sailors from Goole. As soon as he could he became one of the crew of the sailing vessel Mary. Later he joined the Matilda. He was about seven years in sailing vessels and had two long voyages; in the barquentine Glenville from Goole to South America and in the barqueRosendale, a trip of nine months to various South African ports.

Captain Cook joined the Goole Steam Shipping Company as a seaman in 1887. His father was master of the Richard Moxon at the time and was master with the company for forty years, later becoming the commodore pilot.

After eight years with the company, Captain Cook was appointed second officer on 24th February 1895. Two years later he was appointed mate securing his pilotage licences in 1902. His smartness commended itself to the owners and after various short periods as master he obtained his first permanent command on 13th February 1906. His ship was the SSRosa.

In the next five years, Captain Cook had spells in charge of various steamers of the line including the old AireFrankfort{he was on board this vessel at Blacktoft on the night of the 1901 Census}, Cuxhaven and Don. In October 1911, Captain Cook was given captaincy of the Irwell on which he served for nearly 20 years. For short periods he was in charge of practically all the other vessels of the fleet but his regular command was the Irwell, a ship he loved by reason of his familiarity with her.

SS Irwell of Goole

During the war, Captain Cook ran the Irwell across the dangerous zone of the English Channel, between Southampton and Rouen mainly, and between Newhaven and other north French ports. He had, however, surprisingly few adventures considering the danger to which his ship was exposed.

Latterly, Captain Cook traded regularly between Goole and Rotterdam with the Irwell. His cheery personality was known not only in English but also Continental ports.
At times he took over the Copenhagen service with the Irwell and was in charge of her when she became ice-bound off Denmark in March 1929. A magnificent piece of seamanship on his part enabled the vessel, with steering gear disabled, to be guided to port by means of hawsers from the winches attached to her rudder, after the ice-breaker had cleared a passage in the floes. It will be recalled that that was the occasion of the unfortunate accident which cost the life of Captain Aaron

Captain Cook’s career was singularly free from mishaps to his commands. He knew the navigation of the Ouse, the East and South Coasts, and the approaches to the near Continental harbours as few men did. He was as popular with his crews as he was with his owners and brother officers.

When he retired in October 1930, he received the good wishes of many and at a “Blue Water Evening” he was presented by the men of the company with a handsome silver coffee service, and many were the tributes paid to him and his sound record of service.

After his retirement, he went to live at Thorne, but it was not long before he returned to the town of his birth. On the committee of the Goole Conservative Club he was one of its oldest members.
He leaves a widow, {Patricia, née Rowbottom}, a son {Herbertand a daughter {Elma}The funeral took place at the Goole cemetery on Wednesday afternoon, the Vicar, the Rev. HEWall, M.A., officiating.

The 1871 Census has the one-year old Elmit living with his parents John (mariner – mate) and Martha Cook at Rowbotham's Buildings, Goole {listed in the schedule after Ebenezer Terrace and Bentley's Buildings}In all later censuses and on his grave's headstone he is named Elmit.

The answer to this name's origin is found in the baptism register for St John's, Goole, where the entry for 14th August 1870 is written :- Helmett Cook, son of John (mariner) and Martha Cook; residence Old Goole; WCobby, Officiating Minister for David Bell, Vicar.

It is not difficult to imagine how Helmett quickly changed to Elmit, with people saying and writing down what they thought they heard from his mother (while his father was away at sea), who we can believe could not read or write, since she signed a cross (X) against her name in the register of marriages. Why the name Helmett was chosen is another question.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Dennis Hanson, philatelist of Eastrington

The death occurred recently of Dennis Hanson of Eastrington. He had lived in the village of Eastrington for much of his life but his name was known worldwide. As a schoolboy, living with his parents at the village stores, he was confined to bed for two years and it was then that he began buying and selling stamps.

He eventually built up a flourishing business as a philatelist and advertised in children's comics such as The Beano and Schoolfriend . Children could send for stamps on approval and would receive small albums and a free plastic magnifying glass. Later in 1958 Dennis built a wooden hut in the garden of his house, Kirkdene where around 20 workers, mainly women were employed. Other village ladies worked at home producing sheets of stamps to send out. The village post office too flourished as bags of mail from around the world passed through it.

Dennis also dealt in more valuable stamps and was very knowledgeable and well- respected. he scaled down his business as he grew older, but never really retired. He was a gentle man and a popular member of the community. His son, David, predeceased him.

Dennis Hanson in the garden at Kirkdene

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The Saltmarshe Duo

It's now Tuesday morning and it is raining. But luckily last week we managed to avoid the rain and all our events went well. Almost 50 members of the Boothferry History society enjoyed an evening of history here last Monday and then descended like very pleasant locusts on Gloria's buffet which, judging by the comments and empty trays they thoroughly appreciated. The following afternoon we replayed the event for a smaller group from the Reedness and Swinefleet area.

On Wednesday I was at Saltmarshe Hall to talk to the Historic Houses Association whose members had come from as far afield as South Lincolnshire and the Lake District to look round this hidden gem of East Yorkshire.

And then it was time to prepare for a private concert and party here in our garden given by the newly- formed Saltmarshe Duo.

Amy Butler and Steven Goulden about to perform as The Saltmarshe Duo
[picture by Gilbert Tawn]

Although my daughter, Amy Butler, who is a pianist, has been performing concerts for some months with tenor Steven Goulden, this was a celebration of their decision to form a professional partnership as The Saltmarshe Duo.

Preparations involved power washing our yard, fetching very heavy tables in the pouring rain, sellotaping paper cloths which persisted in blowing away onto them, stringing up bunting and setting up the sound system.

But it all worked out well. In true Yorkshire fashion everyone brought plates of food to share and laid them out on two long tables. There was everything from quiches to samosas, Bakewell tarts and gateaux to trifles. And lots too to drink. We began the evening with Pimms and worked through to wine and soft drinks as well as tea and coffee.

Family and friends gathered and the concert began. Steven has been singing professionally for several years and we were treated to a wide range of repertoire ranging from Andrew Lloyd Weber hits, including Love Changes Everything and  Music of the Night to folk song arrangements such as The Lincolnshire Poacher and The Plough Boy.

Perhaps most impressive, however, were the operatic arias which included La Donna e Mobile,  Nessun Dorma and O Sole Mio. I think the sheep in the nearby field and the ships on the river must have heard and wondered.

Amy accompanied Steven as well as playing solos ranging from Gershwin to Glenn Miller and then we ended the evening with a Last Night of the Proms where we all sang along to Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia.

It was a lovely evening and I wish The Saltmarshe Duo well for the future. They already have several  varied bookings ranging from a concert for the Eric Coates Society, a flower themed concert in Ellerker church,  Songs of the Redcoats for a Waterloo dinner, a Dickens evening and two First World War concerts to a 70th birthday party and music for a fashion show.

Read more about them or book them on


Watch a short clip from the concert -  Steven Goulden singing O What a Beautiful Morning from Oklahoma! accompanied by Amy Butler.

Amy at the piano

Steven and Amy getting ready for Rule Britannia

The buffet where everyone went round several times!!
[ All pictures by Gilbert Tawn, without whose hard work there would have been no museum,  archive
 or concert space]

Monday, 3 August 2015

Local family history

I am busy at the moment tidying up the yard and garden in preparation for three events. The first two are visits to our museum by the Boothferry Family and Local History group and the following day by the Marshland History group.

It is always enjoyable to show people around and talk to them about the bygones and old pictures we have on display.

The third event is slightly different as it is a  small concert for friends performed by singer Steven Goulden and pianist Amy Butler.  We have planned it an an open air event with music ranging from opera to show tunes and concluding with a Last Night of the Proms finale. All we need is good weather and after the summer we have had so far this is not guaranteed. It may yet be in the local village hall!!

When not working outside I have been looking at some local families - the Cook family who were millers at Barmby on the Marsh and Seaton Ross and the Empsons of Goole and Yokefleet. The Goole Empson line has been something of a challenge as on at least two occasions the male line died out and the name only survived by descendants of the female line changing their name.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Nurse family of Eastrington

It has been a difficult few weeks as my aunt,  Jean Sellers, nee Nurse, who was 89, has been ill and then sadly died. The funeral,  this week, in the village church at Eastrington was poignant but also comforting.

This is the church where members of our Nurse family have been baptised, married and buried for over three centuries. Their names are on gravestones outside the church door, on the church wall, celebrating the fact that my great grandfather was churchwarden and on much of the church woodwork which my ancestors made.

My daughter played the organ, as my mother did before her and we had a 'wake' in the local village hall where we reminisced about my aunt's life and enjoyed countless cups of tea and pieces of pork pie and cake.

We shall miss her but she enjoyed her  life as a teacher at Gilberdyke School,  as a gardener, as a traveller in retirement and as part of the village community.

Jean Sellers of Eastrington with Basset hound Oscar

Monday, 22 June 2015

Howden Waterloo hero

Last Thursday,  June 18th, saw the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. Locally a small ceremony in the Howden churchyard was held to remember Howden's own Waterloo hero, Charles Ledsham

I wrote a brief piece about him which appeared in the Goole Times newspaper and reproduce it below.

Howden’s hero of Waterloo

On  Wednesday 25th January 1837 Charles Ledsham, the landlord of the London Tavern in Hailgate (later number 55 Hailgate and, until very recently, solicitors’ offices) died at the age of 48. He had previously been the landlord of the Waterloo Inn at number 12 Bridgegate.

Charles was buried a few days later in Howden churchyard and his gravestone, although much eroded, tells us that he was ‘one of the immortal heroes’ of the battle of Waterloo.

So,  as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the battle on June 18th, I wondered what part had Charles played all those years ago. Had he really been a hero? What was his story?

He was born in 1787, the son of John and Susannah Ledsham, and was baptised in the village church at Birkin on 13th May. On 29th September 1805, aged 18, he enlisted at Camblesforth in the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards. Camblesforth seems an unlikely place to enlist and I suspect this was as a result of a recruiting drive.

The Horse Guards were a cavalry regiment and wore a blue uniform, hence their nickname of ‘The Blues’. After a battle in 1794 in which they defeated the French with very few losses they were often referred to as ‘the Immortals’ – as on Charles’ gravestone.  The regiment was based at Windsor.

Charles served for the following 13 years and 90 days, rising through the ranks to sergeant. We know he was 5 feet  nine inches tall, had brown hair, hazel eyes and a brown complexion.

He later received an army pension and appears as a Chelsea pensioner listed as one of those who served in Canada, presumably in the war of 1812.

But then in 1815 came Napoleon’s last battle when he was defeated by the Duke of Wellington.

Charles was then 28 years old. From the muster roll of those who took part in the battle of Waterloo, we know he was in Captain John Thoyts’ Company in the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, of which the Duke of Wellington was the colonel.

The Blues were part of The First or Household Brigade of Heavy Cavalry and during the battle were commanded by  Lord Edward Somerset.  There were about 2,000 members of the heavy cavalry, all mounted on superb horses who charged the enemy. Charles Ledsham was one of these.

But Sgt Ledsham was probably not aware of the final victory for some time, as he was severely wounded and left for dead on the battlefield.

According to his obituary published in 1837, ‘he was engaged in personal conflict with the bearer of an Imperial Eagle whom he slew and seized the trophy, but his enjoyment was momentary as he was overwhelmed by a host of the enemy, his horse was killed annd he himself left for dead, pierced by seven severe wounds and thus deprived of  the honour of presenting it to his commander’.

The capture of an Eagle, the equivalent of regimental colours, was a great achievement and in fact only two were captured during the battle of Waterloo.

Captain John Thoyts’ troop was heavily involved in the fighting near the farm of La Haye Sainte.  It was here that he and his men charged the French and so it was most likely there that  Charles Ledsham seized the Eagle from a French officer and was then himself attacked.

There is no doubt that Charles  was severely wounded during the battle, as this is noted on his army record.

It states that he was officially discharged from the army on 27th December 1818 at Windsor ‘in consequence of being disabled by nine sword and lance wounds received from the enemy at the battle of Waterloo’.
There seems to be some discrepancy about how many wounds he received but whether it was seven or nine he was lucky to survive.

In the conduct part of the record it states that ‘he distinguished himself particularly at the battle of Waterloo’.

Charles was one of 50 soldiers of the Blues who were wounded (44 were killed).
He was, like all who served during the battle,  later awarded the Waterloo medal.

He came to Howden in late 1822 and had renamed the Black Horse Inn the Waterloo by 1823. Howden must have been a patriotic town as around the same time The White Hart Inn was renamed the Wellington, the name of course that it bears today.

By 1834 the Waterloo was no more and had reverted to the name Black Horse. Charles Ledsham was by then landlord of the London Tavern in Hailgate.

He died some three years later and on his gravestone, which is not very far from the chapter house, it is just possible to make out that he suffered from the effects of his wounds to the end of his life.

So on this 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, never mind the fictional Sharpe but remember Howden’s own hero who so nearly went down in history as the man who captured an Imperial Eagle at Waterloo.

He must have been able to tell some amazing stories as he served Howden people their mugs of ale

Charles Ledsham's gravestone in Howden churchyard

Friday, 12 June 2015

Saltmarshe museum visits

At last we are seeing some signs of summer. The sun has been shining and we were able to sit outside under a parasol and have a cup of tea. Next step is a barbecue although tomorrow's forecast is rain. Our bees too are enjoying the warmer weather and earlier in the week, with the help of our expert friend we were able to take a small swarm with the aid of a straw skep and a goose wing. I am fascinated how even in our modern world some of our ancestors' knowhow  is passed on and cannot be bettered.

It has been busy too as we have hosted two visits to our museum. On Tuesday morning we entertained the Selby Family History Society and last night it was the turn of the Snaith Historical Association. We showed them a powerpoint presentation about how the museum had come into being and then whilst they looked round the cottage we set out refreshments.

Gloria, Gilbert's wife is a wonderful baker and the visitors were offered sausage rolls, cheese and fruit scones, as well as a vast variety of cakes and buns. In fact last night our visitors were so happy it was dark when they eventually went home.

Gilbert and Gloria and the tempting buffet

We have two more groups booked in and are happy to take more group bookings as after all the hard work it is lovely to show people round and explain where the items have come from.

Inside our cottage museum. It dates from1763 and was last lived in in the 1870s

Another view of the same room with some of our collection of local bottles.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Blog mention on Radio Humberside

Today I was talking to a friend about our new bees when the phone began to ring. Several people had been listening to Radio Humberside [ to Phil White about 12.50 pm] when he mentioned me and this very blog, about which he was very complimentary. This was excellent - but he also mentioned that I had not updated it since May 5th - so here is a new post.

Firstly a big thank you to all who came to the concert at Laxton Victory Hall on 16th May in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. This raised £600 for Macmillan and £120 for the village hall. The hall was packed and we enjoyed music ranging from Gershwin and Vaughan Williams to traditional pieces played on the Celtic harp. Performers were Amy Butler [piano] and Steven Goulden [tenor] who are both locally-based professional musicians and Joan and Dave Hill from Beverley.

We have been busy too becoming beekeepers. Many years ago I kept bees and so had some of the equipment. But I  was well out of practice when three weeks ago we set up a hive and a friend brought us a nucleus. Three days later another friend brought a swarm he had collected in his garden. So now we have two hives and are on a very steep learning curve. We have white suits and a smoker and so far only two stings. We are keeping the tradition of talking and singing to them and so far all is well.

Historically I have been looking at Saltmarshe history with a view to progressing my long term project of writing a village history. I am also looking at the Doubtfire family of London, Goole and Hemingbrough  as I am working on a brief article about them.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Yorkshire windmills

Local history is taking a back seat at the moment as I am spending hours outside in the garden. It is the time of year when everything, including the grass, is growing and it is good to see that plants which I thought had died over winter, are now coming to life. This is especially true of the fuchsias, many of which were in hanging baskets and are just beginning to leaf up.

But I did also spend some time last week looking at local windmills. I was booked to give a talk at the Marshland Local History group who meet in Swinefleet village hall.

I have always been interested in windmills and their history. So it was a pleasure to put together a presentation which began  with pictures of Ellerker mill and then moved to Newport, Gilberdyke, Yokefleet and Howden before crossing the Ouse.

 One of the most interesting mills is the Anti Mill between Newport and Gilberdyke which was built in the 1790s so that people could buy pure flour which had not been adulterated.

Having crossed the river we looked at the windmills of Airmyn and Cowick before moving into Goole for a quick look at Timms' Mill, now part of the Morrisons; site and Herons' mill at Shuffleton before moving to the Goole Fields mill and into the Marshland.

Here the audience were very helpful as I showed pictures of mills at Swinefleet, Ousefleet and Adlingfleet and they talked about where they stood.

It was a good evening and even I was surprised  as I put the talk together just how many windmills there were in this flat Yorkshire landscape.

This multi view postcard, dating from 1908, of the Gilberdyke area shows both Gilberdyke and Newport windmills

Friday, 17 April 2015

Sarah Rhodes Lane, Skelton

Not too far from where I live is a  short lane leading from Skelton, near Howden, towards Saltmarshe. This is called Sarah Rhodes Lane and since the local council obligingly put up a sign with the name on many people have asked me 'Who was Sarah Rhodes?'

There have been many suggestions - was she perhaps the ghost of a Skelton woman who had been murdered or who had wandered along the lane and tragically thrown herself in the river?

There is a well- documented ghost of a headless cricketer at  nearby Saltmarshe so there are plenty of ghosts locally.

Or was she perhaps a witch, a bit like the notorious Peg Fyfe who ran a gang of thieves and who flayed the skin off a local stable boy who refused to allow the gang to use his master's horses. He died on the banks of the River  Foulness [ 'Foona'] near Eastrington and the grass never grows on the spot where he died.

I thought that I would do a little research and try to find out the truth. I am still not sure who Sarah Rhodes was but at least now  I can make an educated guess.

A look at a recent map shows that Sarah Rhodes Lane leads in fact to a staith on the River Ouse called Sarah Rhodes Staith [sometimes Staithe]. These staiths were like semi- circular jetties, built of stone and timber and where were vessels could moor while loading and discharging cargo.

The remnants of some of these remain and of course at Howdendyke there is still a jetty where ships can moor while near Saltmarshe Hall is the site of a staith although its purpose now is to provide a location for one of the river lights.

I found a map dating from 1793 showing some 12 of these little staiths running from Howdendyke, along the riverbank at Skelton, around Sandhall and to Saltmarshe.

And one of them was called 'Roads Staith'.  I am not too bothered by the variation in spelling as it was not standardised then. I am sure there is a connection with Sarah.

I have looked for local references to the Roads/ Rhodes family of Skelton and have found that there was a Thomas Rhodes, a gentleman of Saltmarshe in the eighteenth century, who had a wife Sarah and who in 1774 sold property to the Scholfield family of Sandhall. He also had a sister Sarah.

There was too a John Rhodes of Skelton who married a Sarah Patterick in 1727. And a poor widow of Howden called Sarah Rhodes who died in 1764.

Much later in 1927  there is a note in the Scholfield family papers held in Beverley archives that

' A Wainman acknowledges that the privilege of driving a stake into the stoneheap at the mouth of the clough at Sarah Rhodes Staithe in Skelton is with the permission of Edward Paget Scholfield'.

So I still do not know exactly who Sarah was but at least I can now say that she was probably seen in the lanes of Skelton at least two hundred years ago.

Was she a ghost? Drive slowly and you may see her!

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