Friday 31 January 2014

Not just Twitter and Facebook - there's still a place for newspapers and radio

Recently I was criticised for using modern social media such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about the new project I'm volunteering with, the Barnsley War Memorials Project.  Which I found odd as the criticism arrived via email and after the writer had submitted items to me to be published on the project's blog which I manage.

I was completely shaken by this attitude - Ok, it was an older person, but not that much older than me I think.  I've learnt to handle this modern stuff over the last few years, firstly email of course, then using forums as part of my Open Uni courses, later I learned to write webpages, that was through work, but I was able to use the skills I gained for CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) purposes and Family History networking. 
One of the header pages on my Family History website

I don't claim to be wonderful at HTML and all that kind of thing, but I did help my husband create an online pub index with a bit of help from a friend that works for Sheffield Uni and a very big fat book that he lent us.  You can search on different fields and it's got pictures and everything!
The Barnsley CAMRA online pub guide entry for the Old No.7

Since I left work I've spent more and more time at home, I have to pace myself these days, but my daughter showed me how to use Facebook and I can still keep in touch with my old work colleagues and with my CAMRA friends online.  I even introduced my mum (age 75) to Facebook via an iPad and she loves being able to see what my children, her grandchildren, are getting up to as we all live so far apart.

About eighteen months ago I decided to dabble in blogging - I had been impressed with the blog of Sue Marsh, a disability campaigner.  I started by keeping my posts limited to invited friends and then as I got more confident and worked out the rules I was going to play by (no names, just initials, unless people are in the public eye already and nothing that would upset my mum or my kids) I threw the blog open to the world.  At this point it's had over 40k hits and I get emails from people about it, interaction on Facebook and comments on my posts and it feels as if I'm connected again even though I don't go out much anymore.
My Twitter header, click the Follow button at the top left
if you want to keep up to date with my posts
I started a Twitter account a couple of years ago while at the Great British Beer Festival - some of the bars were using it to update people when beers were available or changing and so on and I wanted to follow what was being said.  I have found it invaluable for letting people know that I've posted a new blog post and quite a few people follow me on Twitter just to see when I do write something new.

Follow Linda Hutton's board Barnsley War Memorials on Pinterest.

Oh, and Pinterest too - not that good at this one yet, but I've got a board full of pictures of War Memorials and another for World War One resources and a couple for the main places my ancestors lived.  It gives me a central point to refer to if I need to find some information.  

Anyway it seemed perfectly logical to me to use Twitter and Facebook to publicise the Barnsley War Memorials Project ... but not so my colleague.  This person thought that both sites were trite and full of inappropriate content and not at all the kind of place for a serious historical project. 

Maybe today's piece in the Barnsley Chronicle will have pleased this person - a traditional paper and ink form of social networking, which will, I am sure, reach hundreds of people who don't tweet and who don't use Facebook.  My blog has even generated a call just now from Radio Sheffield who want to interview me about planning your own funeral - and I agreed provided they let me plug the War Memorials Project - hopefully radio is an acceptable form of media - it has been around a while!

I think there's a place for all the different kinds of social media and if we ignore the new things we will miss out on reaching a whole new audience who don't read the newspapers and who wouldn't ever try going to the Archives to look up their soldier ancestors.  

That's it, finished now, that's my opinion and I'm going to stick to it!

World War One Soldier's Story - Harry Lloyd from Gawber

I have too many blogs!  Now that I'm co-ordinating the Barnsley War Memorials Project I seem to spend more time on that blog than my own. 

I have often said that writing a story about my family history research makes it easier to put all the pieces together in order and to see where the gaps are.  So this post is being written for exactly that purpose.  I may not publish it straight away or I may not include everything I know - I am hoping that I might be able to interest Memories of Barnsley, a locally produced history magazine in the tale.  But at least writing some of it here first will let me work out how I want to begin this story.

Adding a Facebook page to the social media arsenal of the Barnsley War Memorials project may not have been popular with everyone, but it is attracting a good few 'like's and so far three submissions from family members about their WW1 Soldier ancestors.  One lady managed to find me in an even more convoluted way ... she backtracked through my family history pages, to my husband's  Barnsley CAMRA website and phoned my mother-in-law!

JB (I don't use full names on my blog unless I've checked with people first or they are in the public domain already) told my mum-in-law how she'd found an old photograph, with a postcard style back, in a book in a charity shop in Retford.  She wasn't that interested in the book, "Decisive Battles of the 20th Century Land-Sea-Air", but for 99p she bought it to get the photo. 

Harry Lloyd b.1882
There is some writing on the back, part of an address, and this enabled JB using her family history skills to track the man back to Gawber in Barnsley.  It read, "A Lloyd, 52 Nilhdale Place, Gawber, Barn ..." and then it fades away.  There is no stamp or any message, just that partial address.

JB tracked an Albert Lloyd to Gawber in the 1911 census and found that there was a Nithdale Place there too.  She also found a Harry Lloyd on the Gawber War Memorial , and worked out that Albert had had a brother called Harry.  

It was at this point she tried to get in touch with me, as she doesn't live locally.   She would ideally like to re-unite the photo with a member of the family.

Since then I've done a bit more research on Harry, enough to confirm that this photograph is almost definitely him.  But I'll save that for Memories of Barnsley if you don't mind!


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.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

World War One Soldier's Story - the Conundrum of Walter Parkes who lived in Cudworth

On the Wednesday 5th February 2014 I will be giving a talk at the Cudworth Community Fire Station on Tumbling Lane (near the new roundabout between Lundwood and Cudworth) on some of Cudworth's First World War soldiers.  
A sepia book cover, showing a Spitfire flying over Cudworth.  The caption is Lest Cudworth Forgets.
Lest Cudworth Forgets

Some years ago now two of the members of the Cudworth Local History and Heritage Group (CLHHG), John Hayhoe and Alex Clarke, with help from many other members of the Group, produced a book, Lest Cudworth Forgets, which investigates the stories of all the men named on Cudworth's war memorial from both World Wars, the prisoners of war and the medal winners.  

Since that book was published in 2005 it has become even easier to research First World War soldiers online; Service and Pension records, medal cards and Silver War Badge records are available from Ancestry, and of course the 1911 census has been released allowing us a window into the families of the men who, just three or four years later went off to war.  Just yesterday we heard news that the Imperial War Museum was launching a project to make thousands of diaries from the First World War more widely available online.

I will be speaking about three or four soldiers from Cudworth in my talk, I'm hedging my bets at the moment because it does depend on whether the men have a good story.  It wouldn't make a very interesting talk if none of their records survive and if I can find nothing about them in the census or parish records or local newspapers!

Walter Parkes was suggested to me by John and Alex as his First World War story is fairly unusual.  I have spent a couple of days investigating him and I do agree, however his life before and after the war has been much harder to pin down.
1913 Marriage certificate between Walter Parkes and Eva Harper at Cudworth.
Marriage on 8 July 1913 of Walter Parkes and Eva Harper (from Ancestry)
The first proper mention I can find of Walter Parkes is in 1913 when he marries Eva Harper at St John's church in Cudworth.  If you look at the marriage certificate above you will see that he does not mention his father.  This may be because he was dead, sometimes people thought this section of the record was only relevant if the father was still living, it may be because he doesn't know who his father was ... however I tend towards the first explanation as I have found that illegitimate brides and grooms usually invent a father to cover up the lack!

We can see that Walter is a miner and 23 years old, that make him born around 1890, Eva is 21, therefore born in 1892 and her father is John Harper, an Engineman.  Both bride and groom live in Cudworth.
1911 census return for the Lomas family of 173 Carlton Terrace and boarder Walter Parkes
1911 census for 173 Carlton Terrace (from Ancestry)

The next thing I usually do is track backwards to the last relevant census to find the couple before they married.  Eva was easy to find, she was living with her parents John and Annie Harper, three brothers and a sister at 176 Barnsley Road, Cudworth on 2 April 1911.  Walter was much harder.   I think he may be a boarder in Carlton Terrace which was near Royston and adjacent to the Carlton Main colliery.  He does give his occupation as Coal Miner and his age fits.  There's a map showing this terrace on one of my previous blog posts about Cudworth.  Unfortunately on the census this Walter Parkes birthplace is transcribed as "at Wales" which isn't very helpful.  Wales the country, or Wales near Sheffield?  Or just a mistake by the family he was lodging with?  What does that last word on Walter's line actually say? Click on the picture to open it up in a larger window - Wails? Walb? Walli?

Backtracking further still I found that there were only two Walter Parkes born at around the right time, one in Sandbach, Cheshire and one in Newport, Monmouthshire, which is in Wales.  Unfortunately the Welsh Walter is listed quite clearly in the 1911 census living in London as a London County Council clerk, so he cannot be not our man.  Looking at the Sandbach family, Edward and Ada Parkes have six children living at home in 1901 including an eleven year old Walter, but only three in 1911, although the additional information states that all six of their children are still alive.  
Army Enlistment papers - Short Service - for Walter Parkes born in Sandbach.
Walter Parkes enlistment in the Royal Regiment of Artillery on 28 Nov 1911 (from Find My Past)
On Find My Past I found some enlistment papers for the Walter Parkes from Sandbach.  He enlists on 28 November 1911 and states that he is 21 years and 6 months old and a Farm Labourer.  Oh, dear, that kind of rules out the Sandbach Walter Parkes from being our 22 year old Coal Mining boarder in Carlton in April 1911.  The fact that this Walter is discharged from the army the same day, probably for having unsatisfactory references, does however leave an element of doubt in my mind.  And where was the Sandbach Walter in the 1911 census if he wasn't at home with his parents?
A baptism entry for Doris Parkes, daughter of Walter and Eva of 136 Barnsley Road,Cudworth on 6 Dec 1914.
Baptism 6 December 1914 at St John's Cudworth for Doris Parkes (CLHHG)
Meanwhile in Cudworth Walter and Eva's first child, Doris, is baptised at St John's on 6 December 1914 and Walter's occupation is given as Miner and Territorial Y&L.  They or at least Eva is living with her parents at 136 Barnsley Road.  When war was declared on 4 August 1914, men who were enrolled in the Territorial Force were called to arms straight away having in many cases been part time soldiers for years.  From the limited amount of army records I have been able to find for the Cudworth Walter Parkes he declares his enlistment in the Territorial Force to have been on 22 January 1912.  Could this be the disappointed Sandbach Walter applying to join the Territorials when the regular army wouldn't have him?  Or am I clutching at straws?

Walter is embodied on 5 August 1914 and he is immediately posted as a Lance Corporal in the 5th York and Lancaster Regiment.  He is sent to France on 13 April 1915 and had made full Corporal in the 1/5th Y&L by November 1915, when his regimental number is noted as 1432.  

On joining the Territorial Force in 1912 Walter had only signed on for four years, however his records show that in 1916 he was retained in service under the 1916 Military Service Act.  He had been promoted to Company Sergeant Major in the April of 1916 and retained that rank thereafter, though some confusion later did lead to him having to write to the regimental authorities to point out that he was a CSM not a Lance Corporal as it states on his medal records.
A snip from the London Gazette, quoted in the following text.
London Gazette 22 September 1916 (from the London Gazette Archive)

Walter was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal on 6 July 1916, "For conspicuous gallantry during an enemy counter-attack.  Arriving at a critical moment with a party carrying bombs, he grasped the situation, and aided by a private from another regiment, he drove the enemy out of the sap."  He was 26 years old.

A newspaper cutting, content explained in the text.
Barnsley Chronicle 13 January 1917
(from Barnsley Archives)
Unfortunately on 7 July he is reported missing and two days later it is confirmed that he is a prisoner of war.  Reports filter back to Barnsley slowly during the war, but it doesn't take too long before his family in Cudworth are made aware that he has been interned in Switzerland as being unfit for further war service.

The comment on the left in the Barnsley Chronicle in January 1917 from the Council minutes shows that he was well respected and that people were willing to go out of their way to enable his wife to go to see him.

This was quite an unusual occurrence and warranted a very long report in the Chronicle on her return in May.

Another newpaper snip, this time featuring a photograph of Eva and Walter in Switzerland.
Barnsley Chronicle 5 May 1917
(from Barnsley Archives)

Walter had been wounded in the left shoulder and left eye.  The newspaper report leaves us no doubt that he had been severely wounded "a bullet penetrated his left eye and destroyed the sight, damaged his cheekbone and splintered his shoulder blade".  Despite this I see from his discharge papers that the pension authorities considered him only 50% disabled and that the disability was not permanent.

In November 1917 he was transferred to the 4th Reserve Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment and his regimental number changes to 240082.  This caused me some confusion in my early research as for a while I thought I had two different Walter Parkes, no it's just the one man with two different numbers.

The newspaper report also gives us a bit of helpful background on Walter, "formerly [he] was employed at Grimethorpe Colliery, and at the outbreak of war was at camp in Whitby with the Territorials".  Another document in his discharge records dated December 1917 confirms his occupation prior to the war, he had worked at the Monckton Main Colliery at Royston for five years (which does place him in the vicinity of Carlton to be the man I found in 1911) and Grimethorpe for two years.  As part of the procedure of his discharge he is asked what work he would like on returning home, Walter notes that he would like to remain at Grimethorpe as a Timekeeper, a suitable job for a disabled man.

He is discharged on 22 January 1918 under King's Regulations paragraph 392 (xvi) which is "no longer physically fit for war service".  He must have returned to England between the visit of his wife in April 1917 and completing the documents for his discharge in December, but I can't see exactly when he got back.  When Walter acknowledges receipt of his discharge papers on 5 January 1918 his address is 136 Barnsley Road, Cudworth, so they sent him home fairly quickly.
A snip from Walter Parkes' discharge documents giving details of his pension and wounds.
Letter from the Ministry of Pensions to the York and Lancs Regiment (from Ancestry)

 He was awarded a pension of 37/6 (thirty-seven shillings and sixpence) for 4 weeks and 18/9 after that to be reviewed in 48 weeks.  His disability was still recognised as being 50%.  This really wasn't a lot of money for a married man with a child - his wife's separation allowance while he was on service had been 17/6 plus 2/6 contribution from his pay (there's more discussion on this here) - as a Coal Miner Walter had probably brought home more than £2 a week - he needed another job and quickly.

When Walter and Eva's daughter Betty was baptised in November 1921 at St John's Cudworth Walter gives his occupation as Engine Man.  So he's probably back at the pit, but not in his preferred job as Timekeeper.  An engineman would have maintained and cleaned the engines for the winding wheels and pumps at the colliery, it was not a highly regarded job, although an engine man might be trained as a reserve winding man which was a very responsible post.   The couple and their two children are still living with Eva's parents at 136 Barnsley Road.  It must have been a bit crowded!
A black and white picture of a delapidated pub
The Old Windmill Inn, Shambles Street (from Barnsley Streets, v3)
Walter and Eva's address in 1924 at the baptism of Walter, their only son, again at Cudworth, is the Windmill Hotel, Barnsley.  According to Barnsley Streets, volume 3 which covers Shambles Street, Walter was the Licensee of the Old Windmill Inn from 1922 to 1925.  Despite living in the town centre they still chose to return to Cudworth to celebrate the birth of their son,

And that is it - after that I lose Walter altogether.  I cannot find a death or burial for him or Eva or any of the children, or marriages (convincingly at least) of Doris, Betty and Walter.  Where do they go?  What does a one-eyed disabled ex-soldier do in the 1920s?  There's a depression coming ... maybe he emigrates?  I just don't know.

Walter has been a conundrum to me twice in his life - where did he come from and where did he go?  He was a hardworking coal miner and part time soldier, a hero in the war, yet discharged on a pitiful pension, but he didn't let it beat him.  He went back to the pit and then moved on to run a town centre pub for three years.  In 1925 he is still only 35 years old - what did he decide to do next to improve the lives of his family?

Eva's parents John and Annie Harper are buried in Cudworth cemetery having died in 1951 and 1946 respectively.  I wonder if any of the descendants of her brothers and sister still live in Cudworth?  They might know where Walter and Eva and their children went after 1925.  If anyone knows please get in touch, I hate leaving my stories unfinished!

Monday 6 January 2014

Duplicate Names on Barnsley War Memorials - Elmhirst

I know that war memorials were a bit hit and miss after the First World War - there was no centrally organised list in Barnsley for example, although there were moves in 1923 to collate one.  Over the past few months myself, GB and JA have been photographing and transcribing war memorials, memorial tablets and any other memorials to the First World War that we can find in the Barnsley area (modern day boundaries).

The front face of Thurgoland War Memorial
Some names jump out at you from the listings as you transcribe them, or even when you see them on the memorial as you photograph it.  This happened to me yesterday in Thurgoland and I seem to be running myself in ever decreasing circles trying to understand how two men whose family seat was in Worsborough could be remembered on the memorial at Thurgoland.  The names were Captain W Elmhirst and Lieutenant E C Elmhirst - both these names also appear on the memorial at St Mary's and on a family plaque in the church as well.
Family memorial plaque in St Mary's Church, Worsbro' Village

The Reverend W H Elmhirst was born in 1856 in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.  He was the son of William Elmhirst, born 1827 in Barnsley.  There is an old farmhouse still called Elmhirst opposite Mount Vernon Hospital which was their family home.  The elder William Elmhirst became the chaplain of Stainborough, he died in 1899.  
1906 map snip showing Mount Vernon Road with Elmhirst to the right (from Old Maps)
William Heaton Elmhirst married in Felkirk in 1890 to Mary Knight.  They had one daughter and eight sons.  Two of his sons have their own entries on Wikipedia.

William Elmhirst, born Q1 1892 in Hemsworth (which includes South Kirby)
Leonard Knight Elmhirst, b Q3 in Howden (which includes Laxton)
Ernest Christopher Elmhirst, b Q1 1895 in Howden
Thomas Elmhirst, b Q1 1896 in Howden
Edward Elmhirst, b Q4 1897 in Howden (died Q1 1898)
James Victor Elmhirst, b Q4 1898 in Howden
Richard Elmhirst b Q3 1900 in Howden
Alfred Octavius Elmhirst, b Q3 1901 in Howden
Irene Rachel Elmhirst, b Q4 1902 in Howden

William Heaton Elmhirst was the vicar at Laxton, Yorkshire, from 1892 to 1905.  He inherited the estates from his father in 1899 and appears to move back to Barnsley after 1905.  In 1911 he is living at Pindar Oaks with his daughter, his wife is away from home staying with her brother along with their youngest son Alfred.  Their other sons are scattered all over the country at various boarding schools.  William and Ernest were away at school in Malvern.  James and Richard are in Matlock.

Lieutenant Ernest Christopher Elmhirst of the 8th Duke of Wellington's Regiment was killed at Gallipoli on 12 August 1915 aged 20 years.
Captain William Elmhirst of the East Yorks Regiment was killed in France on 13 November 1916 aged 24 years.

Leonard Knight Elmhirst and his wife Dorothy founded the Dartington Hall Trust in 1925.
Thomas Elmhirst served in the Navy and Air Force and became the First Commander in Chief of the Indian Air Force.
James Victor Elmhirst served in the 3rd York and Lancaster Regiment in the First World War.
Richard Elmhirst - may have become a farmer.
Alfred Octavius Elmhirst qualified as a solicitor and took over the running of his father's estates.
Irene Elmhirst married Captain George Barker in 1935.
The Yorkshire Times and Leeds Intelligencer 22 December 1936
on the occasion of the christening of Anne Barker, grandaughter of W H Elmhirst
(from Find My Past - Newspapers).
William Heaton Elmhirst died in 1948, having outlived two of his sons by more than thirty years. 

Nothing in the research I have done today suggests any reason why his sons are remembered on the Thurgoland War Memorial. They weren't born in Thurgoland, they didn't live there, they aren't remembered on the memorial plaque or Roll of Honour in Thurgoland church, so it's not a connection via their father.  I'm baffled. 

Sunday 5 January 2014

Feeling Better so we visited some War Memorials

My first outing since before Christmas (you can't count a trip to the doctors) and the OH woke me early to catch the sunshine before the threatened downpour (still hasn't arrived - now 2pm).  Having just about exhausted the photos we took on our trips around Barnsley in October and November I had asked him if we could survey a few more villages if the weather was fine.

Silkstone War Memorial
There was frost on the ground and the car windows were iced up, but the sun was bright so we didn't expect the skating rink we found at the first stop, Silkstone.  I suppose it's higher up and more exposed than Cudworth, but honestly I thought I was a goner when I took a couple of steps on to the paved area in front of the War Memorial near the church. Black ice, invisible ice more like. Luckily I'm still a bit doddery after my chest infection and other stuff so I was hanging onto the OH's arm at the time.  Saved me!

That's the OH keeping cautiously well back on the tarmac'd bit to take his photos.  A lot of mine have come out fuzzy today, as I'm still a bit too tired to hold the camera steady.  Ah, well, his will be OK I'm sure.

The thing about an adventure like this on a Sunday is that the churches are all tantalisingly open, lights on, organ playing, and lots of cars parked in all the available spaces.  We couldn't hang around though as the sunny window was only forecast to last a hour or so.

Onwards to Hoylandswaine.  Now I do have photos of these memorials that I've found on the web, but as I've mentioned before it's nicer to have your own and mostly the photos I've seen are just long shots, not close ups of the names, which I need to do the transcriptions.  
Hoylandswaine War Memorial

The sun couldn't have been in a worse place for this one, but I suppose it makes for an atmospheric photo.  The memorial is opposite the Rose and Crown pub - the OH was making mental notes all morning about which pubs he needs to visit to check on real ale and all the other things CAMRA branches need to know.  It was turning into a dual purpose trip again!

My plan said Penistone next, but the OH was in the mood for narrow roads and obscure places.  I often say I don't know how Barnsley joins together, despite living here for more than ten years now, there again in twenty years in Sheffield there were places (and pubs) I never visited.  We detoured off to Ingbirchworth, the OH drove past the Fountain pub and made some comment about campsites ... it all goes in the guide apparently.  Eventually after a very close view of some wind turbines we popped out in Millhouse Green just above Thurlstone - which hadn't been on my list as there's nothing on the Imperial War Museum's online War Memorial Archive for the village.
Thurlstone War Memorial

Ha!  Just goes to show, always check yourself.  After a pootle around some backstreets and a check of the churchyard I just spotted the top of this as we came down the road behind.  It's brand new, unveiled on 5th May 2013 after a local fundraising exercise over the past couple of years.

There are no names on it but the style and decoration are stunning, a shame some vandal has knocked a chip off the plinth already.

There's some information about it here on the sculptor's website, and a piece on Penistone FM about the project and the plans for the unveiling.

The light was going now and you don't get the full effect of the twist and slope of the memorial, so I would recommend you do take a look on the sculptor's page I've linked above.

Back into the car and on to Penistone itself - which is one-way these days; I think we drove past the church three times trying to get to a side street where we could park!  The memorial here is just outside the church and is another that I did have a photo of and even a list of names from the Genuki website, but I wanted my own photos.
Penistone War Memorial

I remember reading a newspaper piece about the planning of the memorial in Penistone in the Barnsley Archives before Christmas.  The committee erected a temporary structure to make sure people liked the design - what a good idea!  

The metal plaques at the front appear to be for the First World War soldiers and the ones to the sides for the Second World War, but it wasn't absolutely clear - I'll do a bit of cross checking on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site when I come to transcribe this one.

My final planned stop was Thurgoland, a place I think I've passed through on lots of occasions but never stopped.  There is a pub, but I don't know whether it's one the OH approves of or not!

We parked up by the church, lights on, organ playing, again very tempting, but I'm not the kind of person who gate crashes church services.  The memorial wasn't visible, so taking the OH's arm once more, as I was really beginning to run out of zing, we took a walk down the street as he was sure he'd seen the memorial on a street corner at some point.
Thurgoland War Memorial

Yes, it was opposite the Green Dragon pub!

This was the first memorial today where I'd noticed up to date additions.  The little stone cube/vase on the near corner commemorates a David Marsh who fell in Afghanistan in 2008.

On the opposite corner is a similar stone cube for a locally linked VC winner Eugene Esmonde.  According to Wikipedia he was born in Thurgoland although his family were from Ireland.  I'm not sure what the rules are for claiming a VC for your area, but it does seem fair that only one place can claim a person, otherwise the government would be putting those new paving stones all over the place, wherever someone lived for a few years, just like blue plaques!

The OH now suggested we went home via Tankersley as it was on the way.  I explained that as far as I knew the only memorial in Tankersley was actually in the church itself, but I wasn't adverse to having a look just in case. Turned out to be the luckiest detour of the day!

As we pulled up outside the church, which is out on a limb, not in the village of Tankersley itself, there were people getting into their cars.  The Sunday service had just turned out.  You've never seen me dodder so fast!  I was out of the car and across the road before the OH had even turned the engine off.  He caught me up and gave me an arm as I dashed (OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration) towards the church gate.  The lights were on and the organ was playing but the door was open and people were still coming out.  
War Memorial in St Peter's Church, Tankersley

We nipped in and I asked the first people I saw if it was alright to take some pictures.  They were very happy and even explained that the book displayed in a glass case below the memorial plaque was a one man per page potted biography of each name on the memorial.  I had seen a mention of this book in the 1921 newspaper cutting from the Barnsley Chronicle reporting on the unveiling of the plaque, it's wonderful that it has survived all these years.  Isn't the plaque lovely?  Previously I'd only seen a fuzzy picture on the church's website, but seeing it for real brought a tear to my eye.  My pictures are not very good (it was a bit dark), but the one above is one of the OH's and it has come out very nicely.

The second world war names were carved around the cover to the font, devious to photograph, but what an unusual idea.  A second check around the church also brought the discovery of a brass plate commemorating four servicemen buried in the churchyard and a plaque just below the main one with names of men who were not parishioners, but who were 'closely connected to the church', that will bear some investigation.  

And that was it for the day, we did drive through Pilley on the way back - well, you never know -  but nothing leapt out of a grass verge at us.  It was a nice morning out; thank you to my dear OH for the trip and all your time and your photos which, as usual, have come out much better than mine. xx

Saturday 4 January 2014

World War One Soldiers' Stories - The Priestley Home Front pt2

Two days ago I began to write about the impact of the First World War on one particular family in Barnsley, the Priestleys who mostly lived in the crowded south-east ward of the town, the Wilson's Piece and Barebones areas.
Map snip, black and white, street map style, showing closely packed roads between Sheffield Road and Park Road, Barnsley.
Street Map snip from1949 showing Duke Street
and surrounding area

Robert Priestley (b.1846) was my OH's 2x great grandfather.  By the outbreak of war he was a widower in his late sixties.  Several of his married children lived near him and two unmarried sons lived with him at 9 Duke Street.

I have already discussed his married daughter Frances Mabel Jackson (b.1888); her husband Charles was away from home for practically the whole duration of the war leaving her to support a growing family on a soldier's separation allowance.

The next men to enlist were Robert's youngest son, Walter Clarke Priestley and his older brother William.

I am lucky to have the service records for both men from the Ancestry website and I can see that Walter enlisted on 2 February 1915 joining the 2nd Barnsley Pals.  
A snip from WW1 service records, the document is damaged, although the edges look to have been trimmed at some point.  Scrawled across the top in thick pencil are the words 'Killed in Action'
Walter Clark Priestley's Enlistment (from Ancestry)
Note the overlying scrawl 'Killed in Action'.

There is a great deal of information and background about the Barnsley Pals in Jon Cooksey's book of the same name.  The Barnsley men had heard in December that their battalions were to be designated the 13th and 14th Service Battalions of the York and Lancaster Regiment.  Recruitment was slower for the second battalion, which had started on December 9th 1914.  When Walter turned up in February he was allocated the number 14/429.  The first battalion had recruited over 900 men in three weeks, the second was to take considerably longer to recruit the necessary 1100. Comments were made in the newspapers in January 1914 that half of the men coming forward were married and wondering at the reluctance of the young, single men to enlist.  It is possible that Walter enlisted in response to some of this publicity.

In the census of 1911 Walter's occupation was given as Bobbin Worker, but by the time of his enlistment he has moved on to be a Glasshand, probably working at Ryland's works at Stairfoot with his brother William.  Walter gives his age as 19 years and 139 days, which makes him born on 16th September 1895.  However as his birth was registered in the December quarter of 1896, this suggests that Walter exaggerated his age on enlistment.  At this time men had to be nineteen years of age to serve overseas.  I wonder if he thought of it himself or whether  the recruiting officer sent him for a walk around the block to 'add a year to his age' as appears to have been common at the time.

Four days later, on Saturday 6th February 1915, older brother William (b.1876) enlists as well.  He is assigned regimental number 14/500.  William is 37 years old, married with five children and living at 41 Britannia Street, which adjoins Duke Street.  Did he enlist with some idea of protecting his little brother?  Was he shamed into joining up by Walter, or did Walter's excitement at enlisting rub off on his older brother, who then, despite his age and family responsibilities, walked down to the Public Hall on Eldon Street after he finished work on Saturday afternoon, and signed up.
A snip from the army form to obtain information from a man who is being transferred to the Reserve.  Several preprinted questions have been answered in neat handwriting.
The form William had to complete on transfer to the Reserve (from Ancestry)
This snip from William's service records shows that he declares in 1917 that he was an experienced Glass Blower and that he had worked at Ryland's Glass for twenty-five years, so since he was a boy himself.  This tallies with his occupations as listed on the 1901 and 1911 census returns.  This information was being collected to facilitate William's transfer back to civvy street after being wounded.

A few weeks later on 23rd February 1915 brother-in-law Arthur Beevers also joins up.  He had married Effie Priestley (b.1886) in 1906 and they have three children under ten alive when he enlists.  In 1911 he was a Shield Turner at the Bobbin Mill, maybe at the Beevor Works on Pontefract Road but when he enlists he gives his occupation as Labourer.  He is assigned regimental number 14/650.  

The second battalion was housed at the Public Hall and the schoolroom of the Congregational Church on Regent Street at this time.  The men had no proper uniforms and were sleeping wherever they could, on the floors, with just a blanket or so.  Training took place at Silkstone Camp, about three miles out of town, where the first battalion were based.  All changed on 13th May 1915 as both battalions left Barnsley for Penkridge Bank Camp in Staffordshire. Schools were closed for the day so that children could wave goodbye to their fathers. 
A snip from William Priestley's Descriptive Report on enlistment, it gives his next of kin, Clara his wife and lists his five, later six children.
Descriptive Report on Enlistment for William Priestley (from Ancestry)
William's wife Clara and his five children, Ann aged 13, Ernest 12, Effie 8, Ida 6 and Fanny aged just 3 would have been amongst the crowds waving off their loved ones as they marched down from the Public Hall to the railway station.  There are no clues in William's service papers, but the date of birth of his sixth child, Eliza, 2 Jun 1916, squeezed in at the bottom of his list of children on the form above, suggests he must have got some leave later that year to visit his family before embarking
for the Mediterranean with the rest of the Barnsley Pals in December.

Arthur Beevers leaves behind his wife Effie and children Edith aged 8, Alan 4 and Gladys 20 months old.  Walter, to whom it was probably all still a great adventure, waves goodbye to his elderly father and oldest brother, Robert jnr aged 41, now the only men of the extended Priestley family left in Barnsley.  Charles Jackson, who is still at this point with the 1st Barnsley Pals (see my previous post) had a longer march that morning, having to come from Silkstone Camp, and he would have been waved farewell by wife Frances (nee Priestley) son Charles aged 7 and baby Frances, born in February 1915.
Duke Street, Barnsley in the 1960s. Britannia Street runs off from just right of centre.
Even numbers only after demolition of the other side of the road (from Yococo)
I feel I need to qualify the previous paragraph a little - but the facts are a little woolly.  Mary Jane Priestley (b.1884) had married Robert Thompson in 1904 but by 1911 is living back at home with her father at 9 Duke Street.  Something had gone wrong with her marriage as she was by then pregnant with the first of many illegitimate (in that their father was not her husband) children.  Her new partner was Matthew Taylor, a widower who lived across  the street at number 8 Duke Street.  Matthew is 37 years old in 1914 and I can find no evidence that he enlists even after conscription in 1916.  He was a Glass Blower like William and had three surviving children in 1911.  Did being the sole provider for his children protect him from conscription, could that be a reason why he didn't marry Mary Jane? By the time the other Priestley men march off to war Mary Jane appears to have moved in with Matthew as the death of their third child is noted at 8 Duke Street in 1914.  I assume a Glass Blower earned a reasonable wage, certainly better than an elderly road labourer like Robert Priestley.  So at least one of Robert's daughters still had a man at home during the war, even is she wasn't married to him! 
Map of Duke Street and Britannia Street from 1956 (from Yococo)
You can see how close the Priestley family lived to each other on the map snip above, 9 Duke Street, home of the Roberts, father and son, is to the left.  Across the road is number 8, home of Matthew Taylor and Mary Jane Thompson, still in existence in the 1960's photo above, the house to the right of the shop.  Clara Priestley, wife of William was at 41 Britannia Street, the un-numbered green box to the right and Effie Beevers would have been about 150 yards away at 74 Heelis Street.  Hopefully they were support for each other over the next four years.

We know the Pals moved from Egypt to France in March 1916 and of course both battalions saw action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  What would their families have known about their lives?  It's at times like this that I wish I had access to the digitised Barnsley Chronicle here at home ... there would be lots and lots of information about life in Barnsley on the Home Front in the papers.  The runs of local papers on the British Newspaper Archive online mostly end in the first decade of the 20th century at the moment.  I wonder if they are saving the exciting newspapers for launch during the First World War centenary?

I'll go into a bit more detail about the Priestley men's service experiences in my next post.

Thursday 2 January 2014

World War One Soldiers' Stories - The Priestley Home Front pt1

For the last couple of days, as I've been getting over my Christmas illness, I've been investigating the OH's Priestley ancestors.  Robert Priestley, his 2x great grandfather, b.1846 in North Collingham, Nottinghamshire arrived in Barnsley just before the 1871 census and settled in the densely packed south-east Ward.  

Extending from the edge of town and including the old Wilson's Piece area, the housing in this Ward had, by the early part of the 20th century spread up both sides of Sheffield Road and across the Barebones area of Heelis Street and Duke Street, over the junction with Park and Cemetery Roads and up towards the Worsborough Common boundary to the south-west and down to the cemetery walls on the south-east.
Wartime recruiting Poster
(from the IWM)

Two previous posts explain how the Registers of Electors for Barnsley helped me find Robert's addresses between 1888 and 1899 and what effects the standards of housing in the area may have had on the mortality of Robert's children.  Today I'm going to write about the family's experience in the First World War.

Robert, a widower, had six surviving children when war broke out in August 1914.  All three daughters and one son had married and between them he had eleven surviving grandchildren.  His eldest son Robert (b.1873) was unmarried and lived with his father at 9 Duke Street, as did the youngest son, Walter Clarke (b.1896).  One daughter, Mary Jane (b.1884), having experienced some trouble in her marriage, was also living with them, along with her three children.  William (b.1876), his wife and five children, lived at 41 Britannia Street, just off Duke Street.  Effie (b.1886), her husband Arthur Beevers and their three children lived at 74 Heelis Street, which runs parallel to Duke Street and finally Frances Mabel (b.1888), her husband Charles Jackson and one child, lived across town at 7 North Pavement, which is behind the current Town Hall.

Charles Jackson is the first of the extended family to enlist, joining the embryo 1st Barnsley Pals on 30th September 1914.  He had previously been a Coal Miner. He is followed by the young Walter Clarke Priestley on 2nd February 1916, who handily adds a year to his age to be allowed to enlist for overseas service (you needed to be nineteen years old at that point). Four days later William, his older brother, enlists too, both of them ending up in the new 2nd Barnsley Pals.  Both Walter and William had been glassworkers at Rylands Glass at Stairfoot.  Arthur Beevers, their brother in law, enlists on 23rd of February, joining the brothers in the 2nd Barnsley Pals.  He gives his previous occupation as Labourer.    

Jon Cooksey's book Barnsley Pals, describes how the men initially drilled on the Queen's Ground in their own clothes and slept at the Public Hall until accommodation was ready for them at Silkstone Camp.  The battalions did not go abroad until December 1915.  During these early months it would be very easy for the men living around the town to pop back home to see their wives, and given the children born to the family in 1915 and 1916, their wives were probably in two minds about it all.  
Charles Jackson's family details from the Military History sheet
of his Service Records (from Ancestry)
Frances Mabel Jackson was born on 15 February 1915 and duly added to her father's service record.  As you can see the records give details of Frances Mabel's marriage to Charles, handy if, for example, the marriage had been in a Register Office and you have no cheap way to obtain the certificate.  For some reason Charles is transferred to the West Yorkshire Regiment in July 1915 and is sent to Malta as part of the garrison.  He moves onto France in May 1916 where he is wounded in August (gunshot wound left leg and shell shock) but does not returns to England until October. He seems to be in Ripon (a central army camp for transfers and discharges) in March and April 1917 and is punished for being absent without permission for a week, which would fit with the conception of his third child, Alice, who is born towards the end of the year.  He must have healed from his wound but been unfit for service at the front as he is transferred to an Agricultural Company in the Labour Corps.  He must get some more leave as his fourth child, Harry is born at the beginning of 1919, and eventually he is discharged in March 1919.  
Information Poster from 1915 (from the IWM)

Altogether Charles had been away from home and his wife, Frances Mabel (nee Priestley) for four years and five months.  In that time she has given birth to three children and somehow managed to live with a growing family on the army separation allowance for a private soldier of 17/6 (for wife and one child), 21/- (for two children) and so on, increasing by 2/- (two shillings) for each extra child.  Charles would also have made an 'allotment' to her from his pay, which as far as I can find via Google was 3/6 a week.  So her total income with two children (from 1915 to late 1917) would have been 24/6.  As there were 20 shillings in a pound that's just one pound, four shillings and sixpence.

Remember that Charles had been a Coal Miner before he enlisted, he could have been on more than £2 a week for just himself, Frances Mabel and one child.  Of course she wasn't having to feed and clothe Charles and we don't know how much of his pay he had been accustomed to give her before the war, but in Barnsley there is a tradition that the husband gives all his pay to the wife and she gives him back pocket money only.  I can't help but think that she must have been much, much worse off.

This blog post is getting very long and the OH has come home from work ... I'll call it part one and carry on tomorrow.