Friday 23 December 2016

Christmas preparations

I am writing this post on the day before Christmas Eve - i.e. Friday 23rd December. It is a quiet moment with mince pies in the tin,  turkey bought, Christmas lights up - and working- and just a few presents to wrap. It is unseasonably mild although this afternoon strong winds are forecast and so I shall find the candles just in case.

Not surprisingly history has briefly taken a back seat but I  do continue to buy postcards of the local area. Here are my most recent purchases. One day, eventually, I shall get more of my old pictures onto my website but in the meantime I shall keep putting some on my blog. They are all available to buy.

Hemingbrough in Edwardian times

Newbald - Coronation clock

Snaith - thatched cottages.

And finally I would like to wish all readers of my blog a happy Christmas and a good New Year.

Merry Christmas too from Molly who has featured on the blog since she was a puppy

Friday 9 December 2016

Howden heritage

Last night I went to the Howden late night shopping event. It was a very pleasant occasion - it did not rain or snow and it was not cold. I remember previous occasions when we had to dodge piles of snow  piled up around the Market Place and the awful evening where the river overtopped its banks and although Howden itself was not flooded many surrounding villages were.

Market Place in the snow -photo by Arthur Henrickson

But last night the fairground organ played, we had a good WI cup of tea in the Shire Hall and ate roasted chestnuts out of a paper bag. We bought a wreath for outside the door from a local stall but above all we stopped and talked to so many friends that we realised how good it was to be part of the local community.

One of the stalls was that of Howden Civic society. The society, under the enthusiastic chairmanship of Philip Mepham, was gathering signatures to gauge interest in setting up a Howden Heritage centre. I think this is a wonderful project and am supporting it wholeheartedly.

Howden has a fascinating history ranging from its medieval importance as part of the property of the Bishop of Durham to its nationally known horse fair and its connections with the airship R100. Lots of people were signing so I am hopeful that the society will be successful.

Here our new chickens have settled in well and are laying a surfeit of eggs which we are selling at the roadside and giving away to friends. They are reluctantly learning to perch after being plonked several times onto the perches while half asleep.

Sunday 27 November 2016

The chicken and the egg

November has in many ways lived unto its reputation as a gloomy month. It has rained; the dykes are full and we have had frosts and fog. But last week we fetched some new chickens from a local farm where 12, 000 birds were offered for re-homing at £1 each.

They are settling in nicely although as yet they have not learned to perch and are a few feathers short. And they are laying well - so much so that I have been able to resume putting surplus eggs out for sale in the front porch.

Below are two pictures I have taken this morning

Which came first?

A bit featherless but happy eating outside

I have now finished my WEA local history classes for this year and we all went for a very pleasant meal after the last one. We may be tutor and students but we are also all good friends.

Now we are looking forward to Christmas events. The first is a concert in Saltmarshe Hall on 9th December. The hall, built in 1825, must have seen many a Christmas concert and party in its time. The hall has been decorated in a traditional style and guests will be able to relax with mulled wine and mince pies while listening to seasonal music.

Tickets are available from 07743448123 or e mail

Simon Hamer, pioneer of Goole

I was recently contacted by an Australian descendant of Simon Hamer who lived in Goole in the early days of the town.
She knew something of her ancestor but was interested in knowing more about his Yorkshire roots. So I  thought I would put together what I  already knew with what more I could find and have been surprised at what I have been able to discover.

 Simon  Hamer, who died aged 69 in 1844 in Goole was one of the men who shaped the town as we now know it.
I am not certain of his origins but he had a brother Thomas. Thomas Hamer appears on the 1851 census at Great Grimsby and is described as the uncle of Ann Maria, Simon's daughter.
Thomas [born in 1773]  says in 1851 he was born at Harfit  in Yorkshire. I cannot find such a place but there is a record of a baptism in 1773 at Harthill near the Chesterfield Canal of a Thomas Amour whose father was called Simon.

I am beginning to think that Thomas and Simon’s father was also called Simon.  There is a record of  a Simon Hamer [quite an unusual name] working on the Cotswold canal  in 1784
There is a lock on the canal called the Griffin Mill Lock which has a wharf above it to unload coal for the mill.   It  was being worked on in 1784 and it is recorded in the records that labourer Simon Hamer received £39 17s 7 ½ d for ‘day work and walling at Mr Griffin’. 
I have also found a tantalising reference in an academic paper to a  ‘Simon Hamer, who absconded from the Leeds & Liverpool Canal owing money but  returned to work on other canals ...’ but as yet have not been able to follow this up. 

The Leeds Liverpool canal was built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
However by 1800 both Thomas and Simon were in Yorkshire. Thomas married Elizabeth Wilkinson of Barmston in 1800. Simon married Dinah Robinson in 1802 at Hutton Buscel near Scarborough.
There had been a lot of drainage work taking place on Barmston Drain and Thomas continued his career in this area in the Holderness and Driffield areas connected with the River Hull.
Simon meanwhile may have been working on the Derwent improvements near Scarborough.

Simon and Dinah had four children. Their son Michael was born in 1803 but not baptised until 1808 at Hutton Buscel. Their son Thomas was baptised at Hackness in 1804 and their daughter Mary Ann in 1806.  Youngest son Simon was born in 1807 but not baptised until 1811. It is Simon jnr who may have eventually settled in Australia. I will write of him in a later post.

Then in 1810 Dinah Hamer aged 27 of Seamer died and was buried at Hutton Buscel  on  June 28th.
Simon remarried, to Margaret Metcalf, early in 1811. Their son,  Metcalf Hamer was baptised at Seamer on the same day as four year old Simon.
Simon and Margaret had a further 10 children although not all survived. Their eldest children were baptised at Seamer - John was the last to be baptised there in 1820.  On the baptism records Simon is shown as a labourer, sometimes at Ayton Forge.

Both Simon and his brother Thomas appear to have been involved not only with drainage and canal projects but also with brickmaking.
In 1819  Thomas Hamer, brick maker of Brompton,  late of Driffield was in a debtor’s prison in  far away Essex while Baines’ trade directory of 1822  shows Simon Hamer  as a brick tile and pot maker in Brompton.  Brompton is near Scarborough.

The Goole connection

In 1821 the contracts were signed for the construction of a new canal from Knottingley to Goole for the Aire and Calder Navigation Company. The main contractor was Mark Faviell who had already built several bridges in North Yorkshire.
His associates were Abraham Pratt who would do the masonry work and Simon Hamer who would be responsible for the earthworks.
Simon and his family moved to the Goole area.

 In 1823 Simon appears in the land tax records for Cowick, occupying a property owned by Widow Fletcher.  He was probably living there as his son Francis who was born - and died - in 1823  was baptised at  nearby Snaith. He is last listed there in 1827 when he presumably moved to the new town of Goole.
In 1826 Whites directory [directories are normally a year behind events] entry for Snaith lists Simon Hamer as contractor and brickmaker.

The new canal was opened in July 1826 and by then 30 houses were built in the new town and 70 were under construction.
Simon was an entrepreneur. In 1827 there is an advertisement for a stagecoach route running from Leeds to Hull. He was one of the proprietors.

Coach route from Leeds to Goole in 1827

Simon was probably a Methodist.  His younger children were baptised in chapel rather than church. He was the first subscriber to Goole's Methodist chapel built in 1829 on North Street, the site of the present chapel. He subscribed the magnificent sum of £50 and also built the chapel.

Goole North Street Methodist chapel

In 1829 Pigot’s trade directory shows him living in  Adam Street next to the Lowther Hotel [then the Banks Arms].

Also in 1829  we find that he was the owner  of a schooner which he named Hamer. The Goole shipping register lists it as being built in Goole in 1826 by George Thwaites who was also the master.

There is evidence that Simon Hamer continued to work with Abraham Pratt.  In 1830 they were joint  contractors for the erection of a bridge over the Trent at Dunham. Tbe bridge was to be of four iron arches, with the abutments.

Then they won a major contract for 18 miles of the Leeds Selby railway which was opened 1834.  Railways were then very new and this was probably their first venture into railway contracting. The contract was worth £83,000.

Next in 1834  they won a contract to build part of The Whitby and Pickering line. The  newspaper report  refers to ‘Hamer and Pratt’, who had just finished work on the Leeds and Selby railway’.

Times were changing and railways were taking over from steam boats. In 1836 the  partnership was dissolved between  Simon Hamer, Abraham Pratt, James Bromley and Robert Pearson. They had been partners in a steam boat called Eclipse, trading between Goole and Hull and two other vessels called Liberal and George the Fourth trading between Goole and Leeds.

Simon’s partner in contracting, Abraham Pratt died in 1838.

I think Simon then spent more time in Goole. There is a suggestion that he built George and Ouse Streets and the Sydney Hotel in the late 1830s and early 1840s. He and his family were living in George Street in 1841.

Simon died in 1844 and was buried at Hook on 22nd March aged 69.  His business was wound up by his wife and daughter.

Few people in Goole today have heard of Simon Hamer. But I hope to spread the word that he was a man who seems to have risen from quite lowly beginnings to become a pioneer canal and rail contractor who also contributed a lot to the early town of Goole.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Howden civic society

In 1979 historian Dr David Neave wrote a book entitled Howden Explored.  In it he wrote about the town as it was with its many Georgian buildings and suggested a town trail. On the back inside cover he suggested that Howden was ready for a civic society and interested people should get in touch. A society was formed and is still flourishing.

A couple of weeks ago they held their annual awards evening and I was touched and honoured to be presented with a silver salver [ I can only keep it for a year!!] and a certificate. I am fascinated by local history even though at university my tutors laughed at my interest and when I was a teacher the subject was only deemed suitable for pupils who did not have the ability to sit exams. But today local history is an accepted and popular topic of study, as is family history and I believe  they complement each other.

Howden has a long  and very interesting history ranging from its connections with the Bishop of Durham to its horse fair and the twentieth century construction of the R100 airship. I have written two books about the town [one with Ken Powls] and have been teaching a local history class for adults for over 30 years. But I have never run out of material and still find new aspects of the town to study and new photos keep appearing.

Here is my certificate

I am proud to join the other names inscribed on the salver of  those people who have worked to promote the town of Howden. It is a lovely place.

Sunday 2 October 2016

St Michael's church, Eastrington

The village of Eastrington in East Yorkshire was where I was brought up and went to school. My mother's family, the Nurses, have lived there since the seventeenth century.

So I am enjoying teaching in my local history classes about the village. I have written a book about the village history [copies still available via my website or  from Eastrington shop!!] and although I have not lived there for many years I still feel a connection when I visit.

One of the places I  particularly feel connected with is the church. The Nurse family graves, dating back to George Wise Nurse, my four times great grandfather are on the right of the main path leading to the church porch and inside is a plaque to my great grandfather, Robert Thomas Nurse who was churchwarden for many years and his wife Hannah.

Some of the chairs  near the altar were made by my ancestors and given to the church and my mother, Joan Watson often played the organ. I always feel a sense of peace as I sit in a pew and remember when I went to Sunday school or to harvest and carol services as a child.

Eastrington is a fascinating church to decipher architecturally. Parts of the church date back to Norman times and the strange faces looking down into the Portington chapel were once outside when  the chancel was the original Norman chapel.

As a child I was fascinated by the tomb of 'Judge Portington' whose feet rest on a dog which we all stroked. Other notable features are the oak pillars holding up the interior walls, brought from nearby Spalding Moor as newly hewn trees, the Ousethorpe or Athorp chapel and the interesting font cover.

A few days ago I took my new camera into the church and  tried to shoot some video of the interior. I need a lot more practice but I hope that at least you might get some impression of what a lovely old building and place of worship Eastrington church is.

Monday 19 September 2016

Puffballs, classes and a concert

I suppose the weather today, Monday, is what we might expect for mid September- cool and drizzly. But with temperatures last week up in the early 30s  and high humidity I think everyone forgot that it was autumn.

It was lovely to be outside in the garden and while walking Molly one morning I found a puffball in the grass. We had often seen and eaten them some years ago but had not had any for quite a time. We ate it in slices, fried in butter, for tea. Not everyone around the table was enthusiastic but I am hoping to find another one and try a recipe I found where you fry slices dipped in egg and cheese.

September too sees the beginning of the new term for my WEA local history classes in Howden and Goole. Lovely to meet old friends and get to know new students.

Last week was very busy as we hosted a small concert here. The building which became a temporary concert  hall was built as a barn in the eighteenth century, became the estate joiner's shop in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and is now home to the original files of the Goole Times and Howdenshire Gazette. But on Friday before 25 invited guests we were treated to  Songs of Travel by Vaughan Williams and An die Ferne Geliebte by Beethoven sung by professional tenor Steven Goulden as well as bee related poems and piano solos. Everyone enjoyed it and we hope to do more concerts here.

But back to history now - I am teaching about Eastrington and Snaith so need to do some research.

Eastrington village green

Monday 5 September 2016

Sunflowers, family history and Rufus Sewell

Although the weather is pleasantly warm it still feels autumnal. Our apple trees have varied as to how much fruit has set. The Bramley, Russet and James Grieve are looking good but the Cox and Lord Lambourne are not as good. I think some of the trees around them need cutting back.

Which brings me to our tree expert. He is returning in a few days to cut down some ash saplings which are mis-shapen and also to remove a dead branch from the oak tree. This we hope will open up the canopy a bit and will provide a new home for our bees. They are away at the moment enjoying the balsam crop but will be returning soon.

One of our successes this year has been our sunflowers. Grown to provide  food for the bees they have reached great heights.

Above, with Molly for scale is one of our groups of sunflowers.

This is a close up of one of the flowers above, showing that bees [not ours this time] like  it

I have been looking at a varied range of topics historically. One query which I answered may be of interest to others researching their ancestors in the 1841 census. The query was about someone who was a sailor who lived at Stone Bridge in Snaith. What did it look like? A quick search of the census showed that the sailor was living on the dock side in Goole - part of the  vast parish of Snaith.

Another query was about the family of a William Whitaker who seems to have had Eastrington, Yokefleet and Whitgift connections. Although not yet fully sorted out this family should not be too difficult to untangle as  William's father was called Watson Whitaker and this unusual Christian name, originating apparently in Whitgift carries through succeeding generations.

 I have also been looking at a little of my own Nurse family history. Nurse is quite an unusual surname in this area and I have often been asked if our Eastrington Nurses were connected to those locally at Rawcliffe Bridge. And the answer is yes - Henry Nurse, the ancestor of the West Riding branch, was born at Eastrington in 1857 and was the brother of my great grandfather Robert Thomas Nurse. My  gt grandfather never left the village but Henry had lived in Hull and Ulverston before settling in  Rawcliffe Bridge, probably working in the paper mill there.

And finally did you know that Rufus Sewell, presently starring in Victoria as Lord Melbourne is a direct descendant of George Sewell of Beverley who was transported to Australia in 1813 after taking part with the step children of local criminal Snowden Dunhill of Spaldington in a robbery at Booth near Howden?

Friday 19 August 2016

Local history exhibition

I am writing this sitting in the Junction at Goole. Our exhibition is now drawing to a close and after talking to visitors every day for a fortnight we are dismantling it tomorrow,  Saturday. We must have had hundreds of people who have come to look not only at old pictures of hospitals which was our theme this year but at wartime memorabilia and old pictures of Goole, Howden and the surrounding area.

Pippa Stainton has her beautifully restored pictures framed on the walls and is pleased to have sold several. Gilbert Tawn and I have been kept busy printing out copies of the photos on the display boards - many to people who recognise their younger selves at school, at Hook Gala or as trainee nurses for example.

I have been surprised at how far afield our visitors have come from - the Midlands, the North and London as well as from Goole of course, Howden, Barmby, Thorne, South Cave and many other local villages.

We have helped with family history, military records and found pictures of obscure parts of Goole. In all it has been a very rewarding couple of weeks - but I cannot deny I shall be pleased to spend a bit more time walking Molly and tidying up the garden next week.

This view of Goole railway bridge in winter has been popular

This view of Goole market place in the snow has also been very popular and we have sold several prints of it.
Get in touch if you would like a print of either picture!

Sunday 31 July 2016

Goole local history exhibition and bee news

Here we are at the end of July and over half the year has gone. We have picked our rasps and blackcurrants and the next fruit will be apples. Although the figs may ripen if we have a sunny August and our tomatoes are cropping well.

Some of the bees are soon moving to their second home where they have access to the Himalayan Balsam [ aka Impatiens glandulifera or Policeman's helmet] flowers on the banks of the Ouse. Bees love gathering nectar from the flowers and as the plant flowers on until the first frosts it is  also loved by beekeepers.

We are particularly keen to give our bees access to it as we have split our colonies and now have four hives of bees which need to build up their numbers before winter. Over the last few weeks we have been selling some of our set honey by putting it out on a table in the front porch. It seems popular and is good for anyone local with allergies as local honey can help them build up an immunity apparently.

I have been buying a few postcards recently - mostly of local places such as Airmyn, East Cowick and Bubwith but one I could not resist was of a hamlet called Brigham not far from Driffield. My father's family are from the area and it is a lovely picture of the canal with a little bridge over it.

Nest week I hope to see some of you who read my blog. Our annual local history exhibition will be at Junction in Goole from next Tuesday 9th August. There will be displays of old pictures connected with local hospitals, framed local prints which have been restored and coloured for sale and material connected to the Somme and the First World War.

We are there for almost two weeks so come and have a look and say hello.

One of our bees visiting a perpetual sweet pea flower in the garden

Checking the bees, with smoker at the ready

Rawcliffe Hall,  once home of the Creyke family and later a hospital  was demolished in 1994

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Robert Wright of Goole and Boston Massachusetts

I was contacted this week by an American lady whose ancestors had left Goole to make a new life in USA in the 1850s.

George Wright was a river pilot, originally from Selby but working in Goole from the 1830s. He and his wife Martha, nee Shipstone had a large family who as young adults in the 1850s  left Goole to  make new lives in Boston Massachusetts. Finally George and Martha themselves went to join them.
The first of the family to emigrate  was William "Edwin" Wright [born 1825] who along with his wife, Maria, and son, George William, arrived in Boston on the Rio Grande in April 1851.

Later the same year Edwin's brothers George [b 1823] and Henry [b 1829] with their families joined them. They left from Liverpool and arrived in Boston in October 1851 travelling aboard the ship Old England.

Two years later sister Martha Ann  and brother Samuel  and Samuel's wife Frances arrived in Boston aboard the Levi Woodbury in September 1853.

Finally the parents, George and Martha and their two youngest children, Robert and Rosanna arrived in Boston on  9th September 1854 aboard the  Guiding Star.

George snr died of a stroke in 1860 and Martha died in 1879.

However sons Robert and Samuel returned to England. Samuel and Frances lived in Leeds while Robert came back to Goole. There in 1863 he married Mary Jane Brown - although he had not been back for long as in the Goole and Marshland Gazette announcement he was described as being of Boston Massachusetts.

By 1871 Robert and Mary were living with a young family in Aire Street and Robert was dealing in china. They were still there in 1881 and 1891  but by now Robert was dealing in shoes.Robert died in October 1899.  His obituary refers to his part in the American Civil War.

'The death took place on  Sunday of one of the eldest inhabitants of Goole,  Mr Robert Wright, Asbury House. Mr Wright, who had occupied a premier position in public Iife, was 65 years of age, but during tho last few years had suffered from illnesses, which caused him to give up many of his public positions. For six years he  was vice chairman of the School Board, and also chairman. The deceased resided for some time in Boston US.A. and was among those who responded to Abraham Lincoln's famous call for 300.000 volunteers st the time of the American Civil War.  He leaves a widow and six children'. 

By 1901 Mary was still running the business  and by 1911 the family were living at number 159, Boothferry Road, which was then called Asbury House, not far from Goole's new secondary school. Members of the family continued to live there for several years. The family gravestone is in Goole cemetery.

It is an interesting story. Why did the family feel the need to emigrate? Did they keep in touch?

And it is a lesson not to rely on censuses as they simply showed Robert as being born and dying in Goole. Nothing about his sojourn in USA and his involvement in the Civil War there.

Friday 8 July 2016

Howden show

I am writing this morning in the hope that later today the weather may improve from an annoying drizzle to bright sunshine so that I can cut the grass. That's what the weather man said - but he is not always right!

On Sunday we went to Howden show. I must admit I remember when the show was held on a Saturday in early August and ended with fireworks spelling out the motto 'Success to Howden show', after cycle races held in the gloaming. The commentator used a match to help him see the programme and the cyclists were invisible on the far side of the ring.

But Sunday's event was just as enjoyable, held in The Ashes on a fine day and with lots of people visiting and participating. Below was the scene in the 'community tent' where several  local groups were invited to entertain the show crowds.

Local professional musicians Steven Goulden and Amy Butler aka The Saltmarshe Duo [] in action. Looking on is Howden poet and performer Mike Smith who organised the community tent events.

I have recently too been to an interesting talk given by local historian Gilbert Tawn to the Marshland Local History group. He spoke about the history of the Empson family who lived in Goole Hall. Ousefleet Hall and Yokefleet Hall. They are a complicated family to untangle as on at least two occasions the male line died out and descendants of the female line changed their names in order to inherit.

One of the highlights of the evening was when the large audience was invited to join in with a song written for a First World War Land Girls party in Ousefleet Hall.  The house was used to billet girls who worked harvesting flax and potatoes and the words reflected this. As Gilbert said it must have been over 100 years since the song was last sung.

The impressive Ousefleet Hall built in late Victorian times and demolished possibly in the 1950s.

My raised bed is doing well and we are eating new potatoes and curly kale - although next year I  will maybe devote another bed just to potatoes as the straggly tops have fallen onto some of the other crops. The bees too are doing well - but we have given them some extra food as the weather has not been very good for them and now the rape has finished they have less to feed on.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

The streets of Goole

I had a lovely  evening last night giving a talk to the Boothferry history group about the streets of Goole. There was a good audience and I think they enjoyed guessing the names of  some of the less well-known streets before I revealed them.

 Many of the pictures I showed were taken in 1966 by the then council to show the streets which they were considering demolishing. Not all were subsequently knocked down but most were and it was possible to see that some of the darker little terraces must have been very cramped. But as someone said some of the others, in different times, would have been renovated.

We are now busy preparing for a visit to our museum from the South Cave U3A on Thursday. I gave the group a talk earlier in the year and they are now combining a visit to Saltmarshe Hall with a visit to us.

I have been trying to finish a short history of Saltmarshe Hall, family and village that I am writing but keep being distracted. The garden is just under control but with the damp humid weather we have been having it is growing - weeds and vegetables, at a great rate. And there is my distraction.

On Saturday evening I am looking forward to attending  a Summer Serenade concert at Market Weighton  St John's Methodist church, performed by the Saltmarshe Duo

The chapel was built in 1868 to replace a much earlier one where John Wesley  preached in 1788. This chapel building, built in 1786 is still there.

An old picture of the traffic free main street of Market Weighton

Saturday 28 May 2016

On hearing the first cuckoo

This morning I was awakened by the song [ is that the word?] of a cuckoo just outside my bedroom window. We used to hear them commonly in the surrounding woods but I did not hear one at all last year.

So I was delighted to hear his cry as he continued to fly around and I hope he finds a mate. As a child I chanted the rhyme

The cuckoo comes in April
And sings her song in May
In the middle of June
She changes her tune
And in July she flies away.

I suppose that then I did not know that it is the male who sings cuckoo while the female sings a bubbling song. But nevertheless we are in May, the sun was shining and the cuckoo was singing.

There are many songs and poems about cuckoos. Perhaps the oldest is the medieval "Summer is icumen in, Loudly sing cuckoo" while in 1912 Frederick Delius wrote On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, which is a tone poem based on  an old Norwegian folk song called ‘In Ola Valley’.

There are many traditions too about what to do when you hear your first cuckoo of the year. A friend told me today that  when you hear the first cuckoo you should turn any money in your pocket. This was new to me but on looking it up I found that he was right.

 In fact I read that it is very important that you have money in your pocket. On hearing the cuckoo you should then take the money, turn it over and spit on it and this ritual will bring you good fortune and riches in the forthcoming year. So now I know.

On the historical front I am working on a presentation entitled The Streets of Goole which I am giving to the Boothferry History group on June 13th. I am looking through my old pictures to find some of the less familiar streets and am aiming not to feature Aire Street, Boothferry Road and Pasture Road as I have so many pictures of these streets which I have shown previously.

A very early view of Boothferry Road, Goole

An early view of North St, Goole

Thursday 26 May 2016

Richard Champney of Ellerker

At last it feels like summer and time for gardening and  barbecues.

Last week I went on an evening visit to Wressle Castle. And what a wonderful transformation. Instead of the head high Himalayen balsam and the dark interior of a previous visit we were greeted by new grass and a magnificent castle with sparkling stonework, information boards and a real feeling of how the castle must have looked in the time of the Percy family. I can thoroughly recommend a visit when the castle is open

Read more about it in this weekend's Yorkshire Post

or in the June edition of the Howdenshire Living magazine. This also includes my latest profile piece on local villages. I have written about Asselby and have already submitted an article on Ellerker for next month.

During the research for the history of Ellerker I was fascinated to come across references to the journals of Richard Champney. He lived with his wife and ten children in Ellerker Hall from around 1820 until the 1850s. Richard was born in London but as a child went with his family to America where his surgeon father had inherited 42000 acres. Richard returned with his mother and went to school in England. He later joined the army and served as an officer in the Peninsular Wars. After leaving the army he settled in Ellerker where he compiled his diaries into journals. These are in the university of Delaware library and I have written to the library about the possibility of obtaining copies.

Also last week we had a visit from the North Duffield history society to our small museum. This went very well and we were particularly pleased that the fire we lit in the main fireplace did not smoke. It has undergone repairs since we last had a group round and they found it almost impossible to linger upstairs  where we have a small toy collection.

The garden is doing well and I have planted spinach and carrot seeds in the raised bed. The chickens too are thriving although have taken to wandering onto the road. Not a good idea.

Friday 29 April 2016

South Cave, Selby and Swinefleet

I have been busy over the last week giving talks and attending them. Last week I gave a talk at South Cave to the local history group of the U3A. It was held in the Town Hall where some two hundred years ago Robert Sharp was the schoolmaster. His fascinating diary of life in the  town and area was republished and I remember going to the launch of the new publication where we were all served Yorkshire curd cheesecakes.

On Monday evening I attended a talk at the Boothferry history group in Goole about suffragettes and on Tuesday morning gave a talk in Selby to the family history group there about local ferries and bridges. Tuesday evening I went to Swinefleet and listened to David Galloway, the knowledgeable local historian of Airmyn talk about his home village.

That just left me with an article to write for Howdenshire Living magazine about the history of Asselby and then the rest of the week was my own.

I intended to devote some time to gardening and planting up my new raised bed but the weather has been awful - cold, wet, frosty and quite unsuitable to gardening. But I have the plants ready and a new tyre on my grass cutter. And we did find time to clean out the chickens and spray their house and nest boxes with Poultry Shield which is a protection against red mite.

So I am hoping for a sunny bank holiday weekend.

The chickens helping smooth the raised bed. Molly  is not impressed with it.

South Cave main street with the Town Hall on the right

Friday 22 April 2016

Skelton beacon lit to celebrate the Queen's birthday

Tonight, 21st April 2016 we went to Skelton near Howden and stood on the riverbank where the  beacon was lit to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday.  Most of the village were there, about 60 adults and children and it was a lovely fine evening. We sang the National Anthem, led by villager and professional singer Steven Goulden, listened to a message from Prince Charles read by Christine Wilburn, watched George Simister, the oldest resident, light the beacon and then, again led by Steven, sang Happy Birthday to Her Majesty.

As it was by then dark and chilly we all  adjourned to the Scholfield Memorial Hall and drank welcome cups of tea and ate scones and jam.  The small hall was beautifully decorated with bunting and ribbons. A 'reet good do' as we say in Yorkshire and congratulations to the parish council.

George lighting the beacon
Steven and members of the Skelton and Kilpin parish council leading the singing of  Happy Birthday.

After tea and scones we went back to the beacon and pictured the lovely sunset

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Thomas Eland and Mary Hall of Metham and Hive, Yorkshire

I have recently been contacted by descendants of the Hall family of Hive, near Eastrington and the Eland family of Metham near Blacktoft in East Yorkshire.

Since both families appear peripherally in my family tree I thought I would have a further look at them as my original work probably pre-dated the internet.

Thomas Eland [ born 1805 at Metham, possibly at the Hall] married Mary Hall [ born at Hive] in Eastrington church on 13th April 1831.

Mary was one of the seven children of Thomas Hall and the former Hannah Bisset who had married at Fishlake in 1809. Mary's parents and her six siblings [Thomas, Abraham, Robert, Henry, Susannah and Hannah who were all baptised at Eastrington and lived at Hive]  emigrated to Quebec, Canada in1830.

Thomas' uncle, Samuel Hall, had already emigrated to Canada ten years earlier. Samuel was then 57  and also emigrating with their parents were children Ann, Elizabeth and John. Jane was already there.  Eldest son William stayed in Yorkshire and several local families including Scruton, Carlton, Westoby and Sweeting families are descended from him.

But back to Mary, who never saw her parents and brothers and sisters again, although they wrote many letters to each other.

Her husband Thomas Eland was seemingly from a well off farming family. His father, also Thomas,
was born at Thornton House and baptised at nearby Blacktoft on 28 Jul 1768. He was the son of Abraham.

Thomas Eland senior died in 1817 and left his estate to his eldest son Thomas. But he left an annuity to his widow and bequests to his children, including one of £2000 to his second son Abraham. He also left legacies of £600 and £500 to his daughters. They were to inherit when they were 21.

Thomas mortgaged the estate and then when his siblings attained the age of 21 he could not pay them.  Nor could he pay the mortgagees. The whole case ended up in the chancery courts.

Eventually Thomas was forced  to sell the Metham estate and  moved to Withernwick with his wife Mary and eldest two children Abraham and Ann who were twins.  The rest of their family was born at Withernwick.

After Thomas died Mary moved back to her home village of Hive where she had a house built.

I am related to both families, the Halls through the Precious family of Sandholme [ my grandfather's mother was a Precious] and the Elands [ my grandmother was a Coultous and her mother was Nancy Williamson, descended from Thomas Eland.

I often look professionally at other people's families so it is nice to look at my own sometimes.

Monday 4 April 2016

Bees and postcards

I keep thinking that spring is coming but after a lovely day yesterday when I cut the grass today is wet again. But the in-house beekeepers managed to look at our bees while the sun shone and are very pleased with what they found. The colony is strong and the bees are laying brood [which is good] and are bringing in pollen and nectar [also good]. We are not sure what flowers they are on as apparently they do not like daffodils but the snowdrops which are just finishing are attractive, as are hellebores and mahonia and the tree blossoms are just appearing.

Here is a picture I took - my new camera allows me to stand well back and zoom in on the action! I was not near enough therefore to see the queen but she was there, marked with a blue dot to show she was last year's  model [ new queens this year will have a white dot applied].

Is Her Majesty there?

On Friday we went to the postcard fair at York racecourse and I bought several cards of the area - including two showing the church at Howden after the fire in 1929, one of Harswell church and one very unusual one of the scene inside the  Howden hangar where airship ZR2  [also known as R38] was being visited by ladies and gentlemen in smart clothes. It was taken by local photographer Dora Davis.

As I write the weather is 'fairing up' so maybe a bit of gardening later.

Thursday 24 March 2016

Plough Inn, Ellerker

Now it is almost Easter but it feels cold and grey. This week I pruned my raspberries and moved a loganberry but  I am a fair weather gardener and am not as enthusiastic when the sun is not shining.

This week the latest issue of the Howdenshire Living magazine appeared. I have contributed an article and some photographs of Wallingfen and Newport which have come out very well. I wrote about the witches of Wallingfen and my own family connection [ maybe!] with Rebecca Nurse who was one of the Salem witches.

But time does not stop and I have just written a piece for the next issue. I have written about Airmyn and the Smithson family. Hugh Smithson was given Airmyn by a relative when in 1740 he and his new bride visited  the elderly owner,  his great uncle who had no heir,  and who decided to leave it to the young couple.

Hugh and his wife Elizabeth soon afterwards became Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. Meanwhile Airmyn developed as a small port where passengers could take a ship to London.

In between I have answered queries about who built the Marshlands Hotel in Old Goole and about the Plough Inn in Ellerker.   Here is a picture of the Plough which is now a private house on the corner of the road to South Cave.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Goole hobbies exhibition

Yet another wet day - I needed my Wellingtons this morning just to let the chickens out and it was raining so heavily that I gave them their pellets inside as I think otherwise they would have turned to mush before they could be eaten. But the chickens are still laying well and enjoying pecking around the garden. Still deciding what to do when we get the vegetables planted - I am considering raised beds which I can net.

View from the window last week showing both happy hens and our snowdrops which have done well this year

On Saturday I had a stall as usual at the hobbies exhibition in Goole. I have been going for several years and always enjoy meeting people who are interested in local history. Queries this year ranged from how to find out a house history, where would an ancestor be buried who had died at Newport and lots of requests for old photos of Goole ships, Howden and Goole streets and various villages. I tried to answer them all.

My WEA local history classes are coming to the end of their terms - our main topics of study have been the Empson family of Yokefleet, Goole and Ousefleet and the Knights Templar at Faxfleet.

Now I am hoping to return to the history of Saltmarshe and gardening.

Saturday 20 February 2016

Hugh McIntosh and Goole

 A couple of weeks ago I wrote of how in my WEA local history class we were studying the canal contractors who had connections with Goole.

One of my students, Pauline Stainton was particularly interested in what part  Hugh Mcintosh played in the building of Goole docks and whether the Mcintosh Arms in Aire Street was named after him.

She has written the following interesting article.

HUGH McINTOSH  (1768 – 1840).

     Towards the end of the 18C a new profession arose in the construction industry. Leading architects and planners, with large public contracts on the drawing board, no longer had to advertise for the various skilled craftsmen, navvies and general labourers that were needed. They only needed one man – the contractor. Hugh McIntosh was one of those men.

      Hugh was born on the 4th December 1768 in Kildrummie, Nairn, Scotland. His background was in the local farming community. After a short period of education in Inverness, he began his working life as a navvy on the Forth and Clyde canal.  From there he moved down into Lancashire where he worked on the Leeds and Liverpool canal. His first contracts in that county were with the well-known engineer John Rennie (1761-1821) and it is recorded that they remained friends until Rennie’s death. Such was Rennie’s reputation that the Aire & Calder Navigation Company frequently called on him when their chief engineer and planner, George Leather, felt in need of a second opinion.

    At the beginning of a new century, Hugh McIntosh was in London. It became the base of his expanding business and his permanent home. In the first decade, he made his fortune excavating and expanding the East India Docks. He supervised this work personally – his workforce being estimated at 400 men and 100 horses. He continued to work on numerous contracts in London’s dockland for another twenty years.

    McIntosh’s contracts for canals, docks, roads, railways, gas & waterworks are far too numerous to mention. So too are the people & engineers who employed him, but one or two examples are included here to show the respect those contemporaries had for him.  The great Thomas Telford (1757-1834), who was invited to become the President of the newly formed Institute of Civil Engineers, frequently worked with him and probably their most famous collaboration was the Gloucester & Sharpness canal. This ship canal was, when it was opened, the deepest & widest in the world. When Telford was approached to take control of this project, it had been in the planning stages for far too long and he offered the contract directly to Hugh McIntosh.

   He also worked for many famous engineers and appears to have had good business relationships with all of them – except one – Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859).  Hugh McIntosh worked on the Great Western Railway for Brunel but when he sent in a bill for some extra work, Brunel refused to pay. McIntosh employed a lawyer on his staff (his son David was a lawyer too) and the dispute went to court. In true Dickensian style, the case rumbled on for many years, long after both men had died, but eventually David McIntosh was awarded the money.

     In London, he worked continually on government buildings, Royal houses & some famous bridges. At the beginning of the 19C, the English monarchy had numerous homes but no palace fit for a king.  George the Third lived in Buckingham House which was just a rather large town house suitable for his growing family. When he became ill & his son became Prince Regent, “Prinny” decided that something more palatial was required. He called in the London architect John Nash (1752-1835) to draw up plans for the refurbishment of the existing building, the proposed new wings and an impressive archway as an entrance from the road. The work wasn’t put out to tender but offered directly to Hugh McIntosh. In Nash’s opinion, he was the only man with the men and equipment to get the job done.

     Throughout his life McIntosh continued to work on the canals and he was already in his sixties when he began his association with the Aire and Calder Navigation Company at the end of 1834. The new Port of Goole, barely eight years old, was already in need of a new dock and lock big enough to accommodate the new paddle-steamers. The steamboat lock was to enter directly into the River Ouse. Also on the plans was a graving dock. The steamboat dock was opened on the 25th April 1838 accompanied by the “roar of cannon” and day-long festivities. The graving dock was opened in March 1841 and immediately put to good use.

       Hugh McIntosh didn’t live to see this contract completed. He died on 31 August 1840 at the Strafford Arms Hotel in Wakefield while checking on his contracts with the A. & C. and the Manchester and Leeds and North Midland railways.

    McIntosh was one of the key individuals in developing the British engineering industry. He relied on his family, chiefly his brother James and his own son David, to manage his works and many famous contractors worked under him. They enabled McIntosh to establish himself as the first contractor with a national organisation.
                      M.M. Chrimes. Former Head Librarian to the Institute of Civil Engineers.

The McIntosh/MacIntosh Arms

As to whether the 'Mac'  was named after him - it seems most likely. It was not listed as an inn in 1834 but in 1837 there was listed in Aire Street an inn called 'McIntosh's Arms' kept by John Watkinson.

I found a piece in my notes written by Mr H T  Gardiner, a nineteenth century editor of the Goole Times and keen local historian [his notebooks are in Goole Library]. He wrote in August 1891

‘the old Mail Coach Inn in Old Goole, where Mr Plowes now keeps the Post office.... is part of the property bought by John Green. The licence to this house was removed by Sir J [sic] Macintosh to the present Macintosh Arms. Afterwards a beer licence was taken out to the old Royal Mail and the house was called the Blacksmith’s Arms and kept by Mr Burton. Part of the sign remains above the door [ a horse shoe painted above the door] and in the yard is an old stone, part of a skittle ground.’

In 1834 the Mail Coach inn in Old Goole was kept by Elizabeth Watkinson. It also appears that the Aire Street pub was owned by the Watkinson family as when in January1880 the McIntosh was sold the newspaper reported that

January 1880 sale at the Lowther by Mr Woad of ‘the public house under the name of the McIntosh Arms, with the shop adjoining, now in the occupation of ?Messrs Boult and Son, together with 4 cottages in Chapel St. The property was sold to Mr Pemberton for £2,200. Solicitors for the heirs of the late Mr Watkinson were present.

If anyone can add any more to this information about the pub we would be grateful.

Saturday 6 February 2016

Newport [East Yorkshire] village hall

I have been asked recently about the history of Newport village hall. I have added East Yorkshire into the title of the post as there are so many Newports around! Our Newport [sometimes New Village, New Gilberdyke or River Bridge] came into existence when the Market Weighton canal was dug in the late eighteenth century [ for more history of this look at my Howdenshire history website].

The present village hall is properly the Recreation Hall or 'The Rec' and dates from 1927. I looked up the reports of its opening and also the opening of the associated playing field. Both are still in use.

The playing field or Recreation Field was opened in April 1927. Williamsons were brick makers in both Newport and Broomfleet.

Hull Daily Mail 25th April 1927


The village of Newport was en fete on Saturday afternoon for the opening the Recreation Field, presented to the village by Messrs Henry Williamson and Co., Ltd. 

Mr Alfred Williamson, of Brough, has had the field laid out with tennis court, bowling green, cricket pitch, play corner equipment with swings for children, park seats, pavilions, etc. There was a good display of bunting from many of the homes of the residents, and row of streamers from large flagstaff the entrance to the field.

 In spite of the cold and dull day, there was a large gathering. The opening ceremony was performed by Lord Deramore, of Heslington Hall (chairman of the East Riding County Council and the East Riding Playing Fields' Committee), Major W.H. Carver, M.P., J.P., presided and was supported on the platform by Lord and Lady Deramore, Mrs Carver and A. Williamson. There were also present Mr J. R. Proctor (clerk to the East Riding County Council), Mr Godfrey Macdonald (secretary of the East Riding Court of the National Playing Fields' Association), and Mr T. Clark (director of Messrs H. Williamson and Co). Major Carver said he was glad to have the honour of being chairman. A more auspicious day than St. George's Day could not have been chosen for such an event. The cross of the patron saint of England stood for religion and service, and that service for others was exemplified there by the munificent gift to the village which Mr Williamson had made.

The National Playing Fields movement had as its aim the ensuring of adequate facilities for recreation, and such provision for young people in particular was desirable. The president of the Playing Fields' Committee for the East. Riding was Lord Deramore, and they were therefore delighted to have him with them (applause). Lord Deramore said he was proud to have been asked perform this duty, but he felt Williamson was the man to do it, for it was through his munificence they had these magnificent grounds. This was just the kind of thing the National Playing Fields Association wanted. The Association's aim every village was to provide what Williamson had done Newport. He was glad say that in most places, there were cricket and football fields, but such splendid grounds as Newport now possessed, were few and far between. A great appeal was to be made, when the Duke of York returned, for money for playing fields, but they would not find many people who would give as Mr Williamson had done. He had great pleasure in declaring the recreation grounds open for ever for the inhabitants of Newport (applause). Lord Deramore then hoisted a blue flag, bearing in gold letters the words, Newport Recreation Club. As this ceremony was performed, heavy rain drove the large crowd to shelter.'

Re-assembling after a short delay, Mr Williamson, who was cordially received, moved a vote of thanks to Lord Deramore, and said that Newport felt greatly honoured by his presence. They all knew how great interest Lord Deramore took in village life, and how much he had at heart the welfare of the countryside. There had in the past been a feeling that education and recreation would not fit a man for undertaking laborious work, but happily had been demonstrated that human nature responded to the best conditions of employment and social life. Hence the movement in the country to obtain improved housing, and now strong effort to provide playing fields. It was with great sincerity he thanked Lord Deramore (applause). C. A. Carr, in seconding the vote of thanks, said Newport was very proud of its recreation field. He thought they were the pioneers the National Playing Fields movement. They were glad to have got so far with their scheme, but they were not at the end yet. He appealed every one loyally to support the scheme. They were delighted to have Lord Deramore with them (applause). The vote of thanks was carried with acclamation. Lord Deramore, responding, said should always remember this as the first playing field provided in the East Riding since the National Playing Field movement began. Moving vote of thanks to Major Carver, Mr E.  C Wright said their Member's presence showed he was heart and soul in favour of the movement  which Mr Williamson had so generously started. He would like to express the gratitude of Newport to Messrs Williamson and Co., and to Mr A. Williamson particular, for the great work they had done for the village (applause). Mr J. J. Underwood seconded in humorous vein. Mr Williamson, he said, had done his share, and it was now for the people of Newport  to work  to raise funds for the erection of the Hall. Major Carver, responding, wished the scheme every success. Lord Deramore then proceeded to the bowling green, and played the opening game.

Amongst the attractions was a friendly football match between Gilberdyke and Newport teams. The vicar kicked off.  A good game resulted in a draw, each side scoring a goal, B. Exley for the visitors and C. Haig for Newport. Messrs J. W. Benson and H. Clark had charge of the balloon bursting competition; sweet stall, Mrs J. Kirk and Miss J. Thompson; aerial flight, Messrs G. Hutchinson and A. Underwood; wireless, Mr S. Mothersdale; bowling the wicket, Mr Haigh. The prize winners in the cycle parade for 'children were: 1, Zoe Underwood; 2, Arthur Kitching; 3, Willie Kirk; 4, Norman Haigh.

 The playing ground was in charge of Messrs S. Lennon, W. Cressey, and B. Kitching;  the tennis court in charge of Mr S. Mothersdale. Capital music was played at .ntervals by Mr Harry Hotham's orchestra. Tea was provided in the schoolroom, supervised by the ladies' committee. In the evening, a whist drive and dance was held in the Council School. Messrs S. Lennon and  Mothersdale were the M.C.'s. The prize winners were: —Ladies: , Mrs F. Woodall; !, Mrs A. Wainman; 3, Mrs F. Coultires. Gentlemen: 1, Mr W. Johnson; 2, Miss A. Williamson (as gent) ; 3, Mr Oldfield. There was a crowded company at the dance. Messrs C. A. Carr and J.  Kean were the M.C.'s. The music was supplied by Harry Hotham's orchestra.

Building the hall in 1927

The hall was opened later in the same year.

Hull Daily Mail 12th December 1927

There was a large gathering at the opening of the new hall at Newport on Saturday afternoon. Major W. H. Carver, M.P., occupied the chair, and on the platform were Mrs T. C. Gurney and Miss Gurney (Hotham Hall), Mrs Carver, Mr Alfred Williamson, Mrs Mackenzie, Mr E. P. Scholfield, J.P. (Sand Hall), Miss Williamson, Mr J. J. Underwood, Mr E. C. Wright, Mr C. A. Carr, and Mrs Stevenson

 The chairman said it was far better that they should pay for such place themselves, which he understood they were doing; they would appreciate it all the more. Such Institutes made people more tolerant with their neighbours, and promoted good feeling amongst the people and the desire to help others. Wishing the hall every success, he called upon Mrs Gurney to declare it open. 

Mrs Gurney said it was the best of its kind she had ever seen, and they must be greaty indebted to Mr Williamson, who had made a scheme possible. She could not see how people of Newport could have 'lived much longer without such place. declaring the Hall open she hoped they would aek her many times in the future to help them. A bouquet of flowers was presented to Mrs Gurney by Elsie Kirk on behalf of the Recreation Club committee.

Newport Recreation Hall on the right. The Primitive Methodist chapel beyond it is no longer there.