Thursday, 30 January 2014

When is a Terrace not a Terrace? Oaks Terrace, Barnsley Road, Stairfoot - Ex-Servicemen's Houses

As I'd worked my way all the way to 1925 in the digitised Barnsley Chronicle last week and seen the photo of the unveiling of the main Barnsley War Memorial (see below) I decided to have a change on my latest visit to Barnsley Archives.
Barnsley Archive Staff: Michael, Mark, Gill, David, Joan and Paul
Michael, one of the Archive Assistants, had shown me three folders of information on the planning and unveiling of the War Memorial, but I hadn't had time to do more than go, "Oooooh!" at them last week.  So this week I asked Gill for the folders as soon as I arrived.  Now here's a lesson for you - just because the catalogue entry for a folder sounds a bit dull doesn't mean you should ignore it! In the front of the first folder 744/Z1/1 was a summary sheet giving brief contents of the three folders.  Two and three didn't sound that interesting, so I started with one and took it over to a table to begin to read.

It contained copies of the minutes of the War Memorial Sub-Committee.  And to be honest I didn't learn anything important from reading all the way through from 1920 to 1926.  Most of the information had made its way into the Barnsley Chronicle of the day and I had already seen the pieces during my search for War Memorial information over the past five months.  Just one thing ... in a blog post back in December I mentioned the Council's latest fundraising wheeze - The Silver Ballot - a kind of popularity contest with prizes if you predicted the winners. Unfortunately, according to the minutes I read today, it made a bit of a loss.  Ah, well, it was a cunning plan ...
Barnsley Chronicle 17 October 1925 (thanks to Barnsley Archives)
Disappointed in folder one I decided to read the other two just for the sake of completeness.  It was just as well I did.  In folder two was a list of the families who had stated their wish to lay a wreath on the day the new memorial was unveiled.  Over 130 names, some of organisations such as the Barnsley Branch of the British Legion, but mostly Mr this and Mrs that or Mrs so and so accompanied by daughter, mother and father.  And they mostly had addresses by them, so it might be fairly easy to tie these names up with men whom we know fell in the First World War as the Barnsley War Memorials Project gathers pace.  Just imagine, we now have a list indicating the identities of hundreds of people who were actually in the photo above and the others taken on the same day (try searching Yococo for Memorial, the pictures on there are much better than my fuzzy newspaper cutting one!).

In the third folder, which claimed to be about some houses at Stairfoot, I found three or four letters from ex-servicemen asking to be considered for the four houses being built with the remainder of the Barnsley Prisoners of War Fund, about £2,000.  The dimensions of the houses were given, the numbers of rooms and so on and they did sound a decent size.  No pictures though and no map to show where they were - just Oaks Terrace, Stairfoot.  I tried Googling Oaks Terrace (there is wifi in the Archives these days!) but got nothing so I left that puzzle until I got home.  

Further on in the file I found a full list of the men who were considered, including some personal information, such as particulars of their disability and the number of children they had.  This prompted a bit of a huddle amongst the Archive staff - the document was 88 years old, everyone named on it was dead by now, but their families could still be identifiable.  Should I be allowed to take a copy?  I mainly wanted the list for the military service information included as this would enable us to add these men to the Barnsley Roll of Honour in the second phase of the project - listing all the men who served.  However it did occur to me that people would be very interested in the letters in the folder, if they were lucky enough to be related to the writer of one of the ones that had been saved, as they contained a lot of information about the war service of the men who were asking to be considered for the houses.  I was allowed a copy and it lists 32 names of ex-servicemen from Barnsley.  Only four of them were successful in their request for one of the houses, Lovatt, Perry, Pickering and Stones.  One of the letters was from Mr Stones, I believe the others were from unsuccessful candidates.  Mr Pickering does write later thanking the organisers of the Fund for letting him have one of the houses.

This evening I set myself the task of finding out where Oaks Terrace was.  I checked online again, using Google maps and Old Maps, but no luck. I could only assume that Oaks Terrace had either been demolished or the street name had been changed.

In the 1930 Electoral Roll I found Oaks Terrace listed right after Oaks Crescent - that's still there and easy to find on a map.  It's just opposite the main Kendray estate on Barnsley Road on the way down to Stairfoot.  The similar names suggested there was a connection and the age of the houses on Oaks Crescent suited the date of the papers, around 1926.  
Oaks Crescent, Barnsley Road, Stairfoot from a 1960s map (from Digimaps)

The Oaks Terrace name vanishes somewhere between 1947 and 1957, but by comparing the names of the people living in the houses I was soon able to work out that Oaks Terrace became part of Barnsley Road, numbers 338 to 372 to be precise.  If you click on the map snip above you will see that these are the numbers of the semi-detached houses on Barnsley Road from  either end of the outer edge of Oaks Crescent.  Even better, the four houses on either end of that run of numbers were, in 1957, still lived in by families with the names Lovatt, Pickering, Perry and Stones.  Now I don't know if they are the same families that moved there in 1926 (or shortly thereafter), but it seems likely.  

So Oaks Terrace was not a terrace at all, it was a row of semi-detached corporation built houses.  The Barnsley Prisoners of War Fund paid for four of them - the ones at each end - and if you look at these houses on Google Street view they are different to the ones in the middle and the ones on Oaks Crescent.  

If you live in any of 338, 340, 370 or 372 Barnsley Road, Stairfoot and you'd like to know more about the history of your house I recommend you nip down to Barnsley Archives and ask to see the file I was reading today (744/Z1/3).  And if anyone remembers the families that lived there, Lovatt, Pickering, Perry and Stones and they have any information on the men who fought in World War One I'd love to hear from you.  You can contact me here.


Mary Lipscombe said...

I am fairly sure that Oaks Terrace was on Doncaster Road, Measboro' Dyke, Barnsley the last house being at the top of Vaal Street.
This last house was turned into a fish and chip shop for a few years, then it was reverted back into a dwelling. I had a school friend whom I visited and I am as sure as I can be that the address was Oaks Terrace, Doncaster Road. Downings a steel factory was behind the right hand side of Vaal Street (walking down), the offices faced on to Doncaster Road.

BarnsleyHistorian said...

Hi Mary,
I am sure that is correct as many little stretches of terraced houses had names before streets were fully numbered. However those houses are on the 1904 map of the area and the almshouses I was researching were not built until after 1926.
So there were two Oaks Terraces and one really was a terrace!
Thanks Mary!

Mary Lipscombe said...

You are very welcome, Linda. x