Monday 30 June 2014

Finding my Way around Grimethorpe

I know I haven't written for a while, sorry about that.  Funnily enough even now my OU exam is over I still haven't got enough time in a day to do everything and writing a blog has fallen to the bottom of the pile.
From Hannah Ensor's marvellous blog - Stickman Cummunications
Copyright© 2009-2013 Hannah Ensor

I get about three hours a day useful energy - and then I start making silly mistakes on the computer or find myself reading the same page several times as nothing is going in!  I can do domestic duties outside that time, and watch a film or go for a walk, but three hours is really my limit for tasks that require concentration and thought. Even walking can be a problem outside of that limited energy zone and then I have to take the OH along to lean on!

Last week I woke early one morning and decided it was time I ventured out of Cudworth to the next village along, Grimethorpe.  I had been told there were War Memorial Gravestones in the cemetery and I knew there was a War Memorial in a Working Men's Club there.  But I was a bit wary about going into a Club by myself, so a visit there was not part of my plan.

I had been given a list of the gravestones I needed to photograph by a wonderful elderly gentleman GT, who has been researching the Fallen of Grimethorpe for several years now.  Many of the War Memorials in Barnsley have already been researched or are in the process of being studied - the Barnsley War Memorials Project does not want to steal any of the credit for this research - we just want to act as a co-ordinating hub so that everyone can share their research with other people and so that anyone interested in finding out about a soldier from Barnsley can use us as their first point of contact.

Gravestones remembering Tom Johnson (killed 1916) and Albert Chilton (killed 1943)
You can see an index to the pictures I took here - I haven't had time to make the individual pages with the memorial inscriptions yet - it's on my ToDo list!

After a vital visit to the Ladies in the Grimethorpe Health Centre - thank goodness that was there - public toilets are non-existent in Barnsley these days - I walked down to the Acorn Centre, which is Grimethorpe's Library.   GT had told me about a useful book containing a list of the men not only on the War Memorial but also on the memorial in the Working Men's Club.  
The Great War of 1914-1918
by Ronald Harpham and Thomas Hughes

Unfortunately the librarian on duty had no idea what I was talking about, but GT's description of the book's location was pretty spot on and I found it myself after about five minutes.  I asked permission to photograph the front cover so I could publicise the book on our BWMP website. 

The librarian was unaware of War Memorials as a 'thing'.  She actually said, "Oh, well, there are only two in Barnsley aren't there?  There's one in Dodworth I know of ...". Oh, dear.  It seems we need to do a lot more to make people aware of these interesting and historic monuments.

She and the young man with her were more helpful when it came to directions to the Working Men's Club though - as by now I'd decided that I should make the most of my trip to Grimethorpe before I ran out of zing for the day.

Although it was quite early, about 11am, the door of the Club was open so I ventured in - and I am so glad I did.
The First World War Roll of Honour in Grimethorpe Working Men's Club

The steward was very happy for me to go upstairs and take a photo of the First World War Roll of Honour - which is really impressive -  and when I came back down he surprised me by saying that he knew who I was!  It seems he has read some of this blog!  I have written a post about a surname in his family trees, so he came across it while searching the web.  Then he showed me into another room where there was a framed WW2 Roll of Honour - I hadn't even known about this one!  My grateful thanks for his enthusiasm and assistance - I wish I'd thought to take his name so I could thank him properly, sorry about that.  But apparently he (or his wife) is, as are so many other people in Barnsley, related in a very obscure way to the OH via the Brettonner name - so if he Googles it again he might find this page!

That was enough excitement for one day (and this is nearly enough typing for one day too - you wouldn't believe the hash I'm making of typing this paragraph!) so I caught the bus back home.

Today I made a return visit to Grimethorpe as GT had rung me to say that there was a Memorial window in St Luke's Church that I might be interested in.  I was and so I got up early to make the church in time for the service at 10am.  I'm not a church goer - to be honest I cry at weddings and carol services let alone funerals - but sat quietly at the back of the pews while the service was under way.  It must be something about the feelings that other people's emotions evoke in me that does it because I was crying again by about half way through the short mass.  Drat, how embarrassing!

The bottom of the Memorial Window at St Luke's Grimethorpe
The window I had come to see was on the right hand side of the church, GT told me it had been moved by the previous priest from behind the altar.  It now has a space of its own with a Book of Remembrance in a wood and glass case below it and a side table to hold the research that GT has done into the names on the War Memorial.

I was especially touched to see that the dedication on the case for the book was to GT's wife who passed away in 1992 aged just 59.  I'm crying again just telling you this.  Sorry.

I took my photo (click on the link above to see it) of the Book of Remembrance with the page open to tomorrow 1 July as being the anniversary of the First Day of the Battle of the Somme I knew there would be more than one name on it.  Sure enough there were six men's names - just think of that, six men from one mining village killed on just one day - and probably more who died of wounds in the days following.  Remember too, that the Battle of the Somme lasted until November, with men 'going over the top' and being killed and wounded by shelling, on a regular basis throughout that period. 

I sat with GT for a while outside the church - he explained his project to plot the military graves in the local cemetery  - and then I came home and created pages for the window and the book.  I also did some washing and let the cat out, in and out again (and so on ....) 

Now I think I'll go and have a bit of a lie down before I have to think about making tea.  I think I know how Grimethorpe's geography fits together a lot better after my two trips - well I have been living in Barnsley for over ten years now, so it was about time I made an effort!

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday 4 June 2014

The Day I Met the Mayor

Great British Beer Festival logo 2014 - a cartoon of a ringmaster holding out two pints of beer.
It's been a stressful few weeks, both the OH and I have been studying hard for our exams.  His was today and when he came home a couple of hours ago he sounded fairly confident that he had passed - it's in Health and Safety and he's doing it for CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) so that he can supervise H&S at the Great British Beer Festival at Olympia, maybe not this summer (the results will probably not come back in time) but certainly in future years.

Open University pierced shield and textMy exam is tomorrow, in Leeds.  It will be my final ever Open University exam - now the fees have rocketed from about £750 for a 60 point module (equivalent to half a year of full time study) to £2500 for the same module there is no way I can continue to study to 'broaden my mind', or as I put it 'for fun'! My exam is on Europe 1914-1989 and I am fairly confident up to about 1950, after that the course is about the Cold War and to be totally honest it leaves me completely cold!

I have spent the last four weeks or so reading and re-reading my text books, notes and various electronically saved documents so when CG from the Cudworth Local History and Heritage Group asked me if I was up for a trip out today I thought why not!  If I don't know it by now I never will!

About a month ago CG and I did a little talk on the history of Cudworth to a group of children from the local school, Churchfields.  They were taking part in a scheme called the Junior Wardens.  Paul Jolley, from the Barnsley North East Area team (who have a Facebook page here) was kind enough to send me some information on the scheme and some photos to use in this post.  

"The scheme has run during school hours for ten weeks from Wednesday 5th March and included an opportunity for the pupils to meet their local Councillors, and take part in activities associated with Road Safety, First Aid, Fire Safety, Housing, Estate Management and issues surrounding their local community and environment. All activities took place within the local community, at a set time and day every week, with each session running for approximately two hours."

Today the children went to Barnsley Town Hall to meet the Mayor and to have their photo taken with him.  CG and I (and others who had given presentations to the children) were invited to come along for the afternoon.  

Panoramic picture of the wooden panelled, blue carpeted council chamber at Barnsley Town Hall.
Cudworth Junior Wardens and friends in the Council Chamber at Barnsley Town Hall (photo PJ)
We had an interesting session in the Council Chamber where everyone was allowed to ask questions of the mayor.  A gentleman called Steve told us lots of history and facts about the town hall (did you know it took 110,000 tons of steel to build?) and we were shown the latest technology, a kind of headset, which allows people with difficulty hearing to keep up with everything that is being said in meetings.

After a bit of refreshment, we were invited into the Mayor's Parlour and shown his ceremonial robes and given a bit more history about visits by the Queen and the adventures of the mayor's chain of office - which looks very heavy close up!
Children, the mayor and mayoress and various helpers standing on the steps inside Barnsley Town Hall.  There is a banner on the floor reading "Love Where You Live".
On the steps of Barnsley Town Hall (I'm at the back!) (photo PJ)
I was able to speak to the mayor and one of our Cudworth councillors, Charles Wraith, as they had mentioned while we were in the Council Chamber that they both used to work at Redfearn's glassworks.  As you will probably know if you have read any of my blog posts before I am part of a Project in Barnsley to record all the War Memorials and to create a Roll of Honour of Barnsley men who fell in the First World War.  It turned out that Ken Richardson, the mayor, had recently donated a Second World War Roll of Honour from Redfearn Brothers' Glassworks to Experience Barnsley.  I was very interested and as luck would have it bumped into Jemma Conway from EB on the landing as the children were being shown some items of regalia in one of the glass cases.  She promised to send me a photo as soon as possible.
Two sides of a commemorative medallion.  An image Barnsley Town Hall with the words 80 years underneath.  Surrounding the image are the words Barnsley Town Hall 1933-2013.  The other side shows the Barnsley Coat of Arms.
Front and back of the 80 years Barnsley Town Hall Medallion

I was even given a memento of the visit in the form of a Barnsley Town Hall medallion - the lady mayoress was handing them out to the children and must have seen us grown-ups looking wistful because she carried on around the room and everyone got one!

The whole group had a quick visit to Experience Barnsley on the way out and CG and I managed to get separated from the rest, we were listening to the voices of the Cudworth History Group on one of the listening posts in the museum and we nearly missed the coach home!  

The children were very well behaved all afternoon and seemed unfazed by the plush surroundings of the Town Hall.  They asked very sensible questions of the mayor and if anyone had a complaint it was Steve the helpful guide who found them a bit quiet when he was trying for a cheer or a chorus.  

A very enjoyable afternoon out, a welcome change of scenery and I could still remember my list of the other factors involved in waging war in the 20th century when I got home!