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photo copyright and courtesy Jonathan Dabs

The memories of John and Ron Waller

I lived in Reasby Avenue with My parents Ron and Kath Waller, just across from Roy Nixon's Aunt Alice, until my marriage. I attended Ravenfield Primary School in the 1960,s, quite a time after Roy, but very little had changed in the intervening 2 decades. The organ at St James still had to be hand pumped by hand into the late 60’s and Mrs Thornton still played it.
I had never heard of the ‘pub’ in the Old Village called Jack’s previously, I have always known it as the “Long Bar” . A little bit of digging revealed the following information from my Father.
In old Ravenfield the village blacksmith owned the large property which still stands on the southern corner of the junction of Main Street and Pingle Lane. In the 1930s the smith was a Mr Jack Gaskaith who worked in his forge built on to the rear of the property with an entrance off Pingle Lane. The front part of the house however contained a small shop which was the village general store with a licence to sell beer off the premises [an "off licence" or "beer off"].
In those days Ravenfield had no public house the nearest pubs being in Bramley, Thrybergh or Micklebring .Bus services were scanty and locals recall that Barker's buses ran a twice daily service to town on weekdays, and on Saturdays the Advance Bus Company ran a bus from Maltby through Ravenfield to Doncaster in the morning returning in the afternoon.
Car owners were a rarity so thirsty locals would walk to the beer off and buy a pint in a bottle. The bottles were filled directly from a wooden barrel in a cellar below the shop with Jack making numerous trips up and down the stone steps during the two hour Sunday opening time.
Since the drink could not be consumed on the premises the buyer would take his bottle a short way up Pingle lane to where rough seats had been made from wooden boards laid on brick piles or wood stoops alongside the track. As there was only room for a single row this often extended for some length and probably gave rise to the local name "Long Bar". As drinking out of bottles was not fashionable at that time many regulars kept a drinking pot behind the shop counter but beer was always dispensed into a bottle and filled into the pot outside the shop. I believe that on very wet days men would sit in the forge outbuildings but this may have been an infringement of the laws which were vigorously implemented in those days and the local bobby would often pay an unwelcome visit to see if opening hours were being flouted.
In later years the shop was taken over by Mr Jack Sanderson who subsequently became the village postmaster and the old village shop had a new proprietor -Mrs Burley-who ran the shop until it was turned into a private residence around the early eighties.
The growth of supermarkets and the number of local pubs did the long bar no favours and it went the way of all the other small shops in Ravenfield. The building then became a private residence but although though the small curved flight of steps remains it only leads to a small window and a net curtain.
I confess to not checking recently but the access doors into the cellar remained for many years so they might still be there.
When we were lads Burley’s formed an important (non alcoholic) watering hole on our wanderings about the area, stocking such delights as American Cream Soda and frozen Mars Bars. The return trip could always be timed by the sound of the shift change buzzer at Silverwood pit, Too far away from Ravenfield Common when we heard it meant stepping the pace up a little as we usually had school the following day.
All of the shops in Ravenfield, excepting the Post Office at the cross roads, are now just houses – On Braithwell road Nobel’s chippy on the left hand side, the shop next to it, and James’s at the bottom on the right hand side (James’s owned it in the 70’s). The shop on the Moorlands at the end of Spencer Drive is also a private house now. While only the house and converted farm building remain as testament to Wilson’s butchers on Moor Lane South.
Bashforth’s on the cross roads, better known as Bashys, was demolished to make way for the now defunct petrol station and the ‘new’ shops. After years of standing empty the shops were eventually occupied and the petrol station is now the tyre retailer’s.  On the end of the new shops, slightly stood back, remains the building that was (I believe) Bashforth’s garage workshop. After a period as a warehouse for recycling tins of damaged food it is now a garage again. Hands up everyone who bought a tin of peaches without a label and got beans instead.
The German bomber in Roy’s account had been damaged on its way to a raid on Sheffield and had turned away to try for home. To lighten the load it dropped its bombs and Ravenfield was unfortunate enough to be below. [ Mrs Waller snr actually recalls seeing the bombs fall. ]The action was in vain though because it is reported to have crashed in Hooton Roberts. I have seen the site marked on maps used by historic air crash investigators.
Roy’s comments about the POWs at Ravenfield Hall reminded me of a conversation I had with a mate at school once. It never occurred to me that his surname was Germanic but his Father was a first generation German immigrant who was still bitter about the fact that at the outbreak of the second world war he was interned at Ravenfield Hall for a while. He did not stay long and was allowed to return home to Wickersley. He then went to work either down Silverwood or in the steel works until he retired.
Does anyone remember the “Mummy” tree? It was in the small private wood owned by Heath’s in old Ravenfield and was just off the main road past the railway bridge.  Clamber over the high wall and there it was – a full sized mummy carved into a dead tree. In retrospect, aged 10 “full size” tends to be rather smaller than it actually.

Many thanks to John and Ron for a great contribution to this site.
Text copyright John Waller, page layout and transcription John Doxey


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