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By Stevie Marsh (previously Stephanie Cawthorne)

Including memories from Fred and Doris Hartle

Stevie Marsh ' nee CawthorneI have been doing my family history, which involves Ravenfield, for a number of years. I too am a retired Headteacher - forty years in the profession and twenty years as a head. Got my bus pass last year.

I was born on Reasby Avenue and went to Ravenfield school too. Miss Ward was our head, we all loved Mrs Littlewood  (her husband Geoff was a good friend of my dad's, as was Tom Bashforth - they were all at school together in Ravenfield), Mrs Ryback and Mrs Hobson were also at the school.

My great grandparents and parents all lived in Ravenfield but died before I was born.

Stevie Marsh


What an interesting site on Ravenfield.  Is John Waller's sister Sandra Hardisty by any chance?  I was born on Reasby Avenue and went to school with her and played with her when I was young.  I thought she was fantastic.  Sandra had charisma and had great ideas. We played with Mickey quite a bit too.  Janet was that bit older and Eric was doing his own thing. I remember her father, who was killed by falling down the pit shaft at Silverwood and my father coming home and telling us how he had had to deal with his body after the accident.  His wife was called Kath Hardisty and later became Mrs. Waller I think.

My father's family lived in Ravenfield and my mother, who is 91 still lives there.  I can fill in quite a bit of detail on your memories page. 

My father went to Ravenfield School and was awarded a County Minor Scholarship to Rotherham Grammar School in 1927 - one of the few children to manage this at the time.  He was very active in the school PTA and I remember the first meeting my Dad set up in our front room when he had a plan to fill in the first quarry and build a tennis courts over the top.  There was enough interest in the plan and a club was formed with the intention of building some tennis courts over the quarry.  He arranged with Mrs. Morton, down the common, to buy and donate the land.  He also arranged wagons from the steel works, or was it the 'pit' to fill in the quarry with slack and clinker.  Then the group built the courts with help from other volunteers.  I used to be sent with water and sandwiches to the men working on the tennis courts.   It became a wonderful amenity and people used to sit on the wall watching the tennis players after they had had a walk in the woods.

My father built two bungalows on Moor Lane - by hand with the help of his brothers and was one of the few people in the village to have a car in the late forties/fifties.  People used to knock on our door and ask if my dad would take them to Cleethorpes, Bridlington etc.  On one occasion the starting handle flew out of his hand into a neighbour's garden but they would not allow him to collect it - they had a dog guarding it.

My parents hosted German prisoners of war who were based in the old hall in Ravenfield.  Volunteer hosts were asked  for the Christmas of 1946.  My dad had been in the home guard, as had Mr Hardisty, during the war.  This took place in hours after work and often the men would be exhausted.  They had broom handles for guns.  My dad was promoted to corporal because of his school boy German!  Two of the prisoners visted us on several occasions years after the war.  My parents sent food rations to their families.  One of whom lived in Hamburg.  They were called Rolf and John and we named our dog after Rolf.  It is not true to say that all the prisoners were not pro-Nazi.  One of 'our guests' was a very strong nazi and had been a U boat commander.  I also remember the Italian prisoner of war camp, but it was not in Ravenfield.
I was sent to Sunday school and I still have my prayerbook that was presented to me by Mrs. Morton, who ran our Sunday School, on the occasions of the Coronation in 1953.

Reasby Avenue was a wonderful street and most of our parents were very good friends.  I remember fantastic bonfire nights and trips away to Blackpool on a coach that I think we all called a 'trip bus'.  And oh......there is so much more.  My mother remembers even more, but she didn't get to live in Ravenfield until she married and moved into a terraced house in the old village.  They moved to Reasby avenue later. Rent was paid to Miss Taylor, who was a good friend of my parents, who also spent a lot of time at the tennis club along with George Mullins, Tom Walls, Kath Hardisty and Mrs. Smith in the early days. 

My dad's hobby was tennis and he started another successful club when we moved to near Bradford  and we played Ravenfield on several occasions.  My parents met playing tennis.  I became my school and college captain and won a prize for the best junior player in Leeds later (under sixteens).   It's sad to see the Ravenfield Courts have disappeared.  They played a great part in my childhood.

My grandparents and great grandparents, as well as my father, are all buried in Ravenfield churchyard, as well as other family members.  I would love to be buried there myself but have spent too many years away for this to be allowed.
Please let me know if you would like me to ask my mother anything about the past history.  She, and my uncle, have excellent memories. Wonderful stories of the General Strike etc.  They were from a family of twelve.  Born in Dalton - when it was a new estate, moved up to Sunnyside and all stayed around here except us.  When my father died, prematurely, he was a Chartered Mining Engineer and had previously been manager of several coal mines.  When I was born he was a coal hewer and worked in Silverwood.  My grandfather was a contractor down the pit and helped sink the shaft at Silverwood.  All my male relatives worked down the pit and were well known.  My dad became overman down there, and my mother's brother was one until he retired.  What stories they told!

I do remember them telling me about the unexploded bomb at Hellaby and the man who lived there opening the door and falling down the hole on to the bomb.  Fortunately it did not explode.

I saw Uncle Fred and my mum a couple of weeks ago.. I showed Uncle Fred your site and we were looking at it for a long time. He was very interested but we didn't manage to look at all of it by any means. I managed to make a few notes as they were talking and maybe some of their remarks may help with the site.

Fred' I remember Ravenfield Hall after Dunkirk. A Staffordshire regiment were based there and some of them used to go to Sunnyside Club.'

Re the German Prisoners at Ravenfield Hall after 1945. Mum "Your dad, Warneford Cawthorne , asked if any of the prisoners could play bridge. He was very keen on cards and very much enjoyed Bridge. The two prisoners who used to come regularly and play bridge with your dad were Rolf and John. John had been a 'U boat' commander and was an architect in Hamburg. Rolf was also a member of the building profession and I think he was an architect too. I used to send parcels to their families as they were even worse off than we were. The two of them helped your Dad to build a very substantial stone wall at our bungalow on Moor Lane North a couple of bungalows up from Tommy Bashforth's. It's still there now, and just as strong'."

Fred:- I can't remember Roy Nixon but I know Dennis Nixon well. He went to work in the steel works and was in the airforce during the war. His sister was Maya Nixon. Walt Nixon was Dennis Nixon's father

Me:- Mrs Thornton was the Gertrude Thornton referred to. She taught me at Sunday School in the 1950's. Mum 'She was very big in the church'.

Oh, yes, Gordon Hett lives in a bungalow next to Mullins.

Fred:- Ernest Butler was the first Aid Man at Silverwood colliery before they built the baths.

'Tommy Roebuck lived in the old village (Ravenfield) and the vicar caught (about 1900 - 1905) him and Jack (his brother) messing about in the cemetery when they were lads. The vicar, who ran the village virtually told the father that they had to apologise and be punished. Their father said they were just being boys and there was no harm in it, and refused to punish them. As a result the vicar said they had to leave, and the whole family had to move to Bramley. Tommy told me this himself' said Uncle Fred. 'Later Tommy became an unqualified teacher and also worked in the Steelworks. Jack worked at Silverwood (actually for Uncle Fred) front ripping. No vicar would have that sort of power these days but the Ravenfield vicar did then. Tommy never forgot it.'

'Oh yes, Miss Wilcocks was the Headmistress at Ravenfield. She married Mr. Green, the butcher who lived almost opposite the school. She was quite old when they got married.'

In answer to Jannette's Question
Sanderson's shop is still there. It is Ravenfield Post Office.

Edwin Taylor's wife played the violin.

Fred and my mum both laughed when they read about 'skirmishes between Ravenfield and Sunnyside ' It was the same between Eastwood and Dalton when we were young'. (Doris was born 1913 and Fred 1917) so it would be approx early 20th Century they were talking about.

Fred 'Yes, and I still get my milk from 'Gig' Goldsborough today!'

Text Šopyright Stevie Marsh

page and transcription John Doxey

 Footnote by John Doxey.

Herbert Cawthorne aged 171/2 was living at New Bungalow Ravenfield signed on at Silverwood as a Driver on October 14th 1925

 My gratitude to Stevie Marsh  stevie@marshs.fsnet.co.uk     Fred Hartle   and Doris Hartle



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