Yy is for – Yesterdays in Windhill, Yorkshire.

He died 5 years ago, in his 95th year, but my dad’s words, “I’m BRITISH and proud of it!”, still ring in my ears. In this post to Gould “Family History Through the Alphabet” Challenge I’ll share just a snippet of his story and dedicate this post to my dad, Harry Scarborough Crout (1912-2007) and his beloved “mam” Marie (Ogilvie) Crout (1880-1931).

Harry Scarborough Crout aged 29years. (c) C.Crout-Habel

Those who are not family members might also like to join me, and mine, in this remembering of my dad’s “Yesterdays in Windhill, Yorkshire”.

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First matter I want to address is why would my dad be so vehemently proclaiming such pride in his heritage? … Easy answer to that is that, after being lured to Australia, as a 16 year old lad in 1928 …  a “Dreadnought Boy”, he was constantly battling the put-down names of cocky little pommie bastard” etc. Just click here to read about his experiences as part of the “Dreadnought Scheme.”

My memory is that dad started loudly proclaiming, “I’m BRITISH and proud of it!” when we, his Ozzie children, picked up the derogatory terminology… i.e.  “pommie” to describe someone born in England.  It was then that dad began to slowly give us his side of the story and, over time, I’ve researched and come to truly appreciate this wonderfully unique part of my Heritage which I’m now passing on to my children/ grand-children and all of dad’s descendants via this blog.

My dad, Harry Scarborough Crout, was indeed  a “Yorkshire lad” , born in Leeds on 4 Mar 1912 to Marie (Ogilvie) Crout and Henry Eden Crout (Jun). You can read about this HERE.  His mum, Marie, was a “Yorkshire lass” who was born to another “Yorkshire lass” Emma Chadwick (1854-1919) whose parents were also Yorkshire born.

Dreadnought Boys arriving in Sydney on the “SS Ballarat” – 1928

Dad came to Australia as a 16 year old and never intended to stay. His intention was to make lots of money to take back home to his beloved “mam”. He steamed into Sydney Harbour, Australia, with other “Dreadnought Boys” aboard the “Ballarat” on 13 Jun 1928 just as the inconic Sydney Harbour Bridge was in it’s final stages of completion and, unfortunately, the Great Depression was starting to take it’s toll.

Nab Wood Cemetery, Shipley, Yorkshire, England

Australia was not the Utopia dad had imagined and his beloved “mam” died in the North Brierley Workhouse and buried in a Pauper’s Grave in Nab Wood Cemetery, just 3 years after dad left his homeland. He was just 19 years old, adrift in a foreign land and orphaned. Well, I’ve since learnt that his dad was still living but that’s another story for another time.

So, that’s the background and now moving onto Windhill, Shipley, Yorkshire, England. :-)

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As I wrote in ABOUT, on this blog … as dad’s health & senses were declining he became more and more agitated that no-one in the family had been able to find his childhood home. On my return to Ireland, in 1995, I just HAD to take the trip across the Irish Sea to check out this matter, in Yorkshire, which was causing dad such anguish.

“Shipley” can be seen just above “Bradford” on this West Yorkshire County map from Wikipedia.

A ferry trip from Dublin, Ireland to Holyhead, Wales. A  bus trip across England to Leeds and the train to Shipley, soon had me close to dad’s childhood home However it soon  began to seem like a HUGE “wild goose chase” and still remember how much my hips began to ache as the “backpack” was weighing me down … then almost like magic the most amazing of people came to my aid.

Map showing 42 Mossman Street, Windhill before the re-development of the 1960′s.

The young woman in the B&B said how her Aunt knew all about Mossman Street. I was sent to the Library and given maps to show how the re-development had removed the street of dad’s childhood home. It now became clear why nobody had been able to find 42 Mossman Street (off Crag Road) Windhill, Yorkshire, England.

Crag Road Methodist Church, Windhill, Shipley, Yorkshire, England

Crag Road Methodist Church

This same map also shows the location of dad’s school, Crag Road Primary School, as well as the Methodist Church where he attended Sunday School and the empty field he used as a short cut.

Dad’s Sunday School teacher, Miss Murgatroyd, continued writing to him until way into the early 1960′s.

Windhill Community Centre

I visited the “Windhill Community Centre”… met with some people from the  “Memories Group” and was told that one of their friends remembered my dad who had gone to Australia, but it didn’t end there.  On my return home, I began receiving letters full of information from other members of the “Memories Group” which is how I located my Grand -mother’s burial spot.  

As a child dad loved books, reading and writing, and was proud of winning an essay competition at school.  He spoke often about his weekly visit to the library, down the hill, and his battle up Crag Road laden with books.

Carnegie Library – 1900 (http://yorksphotos.blogspot.com.au)

I would to laugh when he’d speak about how on very windy days he’d get blown over. Well, I never knew what a long contuinuous haul it was up that Crag Road until trekking it myself. What a delight it was to turn right off Briggate and almost in front of me was the Carnegie Library, with Carr Lane forking off to the left and Crag Road to the right, just as dad had described it. 

I saw the remaining “back to backs”,  like dad’s home in Mossman Street, and remembered his stories about the washing stretched across the road, on washing day. The walled middens at the front, which were emptied weekly and his frustration that “mam” would not allow him to wear “hob nailed boots”, like those of “the Mill children.” How he envied them making sparks as they scraped their boots across the street which I seem to remember dad described as “cobbled.”  He also laughed when talking about how his Auntie would often say … “You could eat your dinner  off Marie’s doorstep!” It seems my Grandmother was seen to be extremely house proud.

Well, I came home with a pile of photographs and maps to share with dad. I’ll never forget the look of wonder on his aged faced as he smiled, pointed at the photos and shared so many memories that came flooding back along with those pictures of his childhood. e.g he actually remembered his mother’s number which she used at the Co-op on Briggate.

As I’ve already written,  I am sure it was the spirit of dad’s beloved “mam” which kept me going as I struggled up that seemingly endless hill. Maybe she knew that it was only a short time before the dementia would over take her little boy and his memories would be lost forever? 

Dad aged 17, riding pillion, with Sammy on their first Australian adventure – NSW 1929 (C)2012.C.A.Crout-Habel

Dad was delighted with the booklet I made for him with the photos, and his words, which not only brought many of his memories back but helped keep them alive. Eventually, Mum advised that it was probably time for me to take the book back as dad had lost interest and other family had their eyes on it. Well, I didn’t because I figured that maybe he still needed it and it did disappear, which is pretty sad, however no-one can take away the joyous rememberings of that special time with my dad. 

I can still hear his proud, young, strong voice loudly declaring,
 
“I’m BRITISH and proud of it!!!”
 
May you always RIP, Harry Scarborough Crout
 
~~~~~~~~~
 
RESOURCES & FURTHER READING:
 
© 2012. C.A.Crout-Habel 
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20 thoughts on “Yy is for – Yesterdays in Windhill, Yorkshire.

    • Thankyou Susan. I so often wish that dad had been more open about his family life, then maybe I would have been more understanding of his behaviours… but that’s how it was for his generation.
      How pleased I was that you also make the connection re: dad’s middle name of Scarborough. Happens that dad was possibly/ probably a “reconciliation baby” which didn’t work out :-( … His father was a musician and likely to have come up to Yorkshire and been working in the Music Halls in Scarborough when dad was conceived. Thanks again, you’ve made my heart sing :-)

  1. Catherine I hope one day you are reunited with the booklet you so lovingly made for your Dad. Your story is a beautiful tribute. How wonderful a “Memories Group” would be. I haven’t heard of one before, are they common in England?

    • Oh… it sure would be wonderful if dad’s photographic record made it’s way back to me eh? … then I could “blog” it so all his descendants can see his childhood neighbourhood and read his last memories of these times. :-)
      Sadly the “Windhill Memories Group” no longer exists as they were mostly about my dad’s age (100 this years) and have now passed on. It was established by the Windhill Community Centre Kerryn and I don’t know if it’s unique, or not.

    • Thankyou Sheryl. It was wonderful to be able to give dad such pleasure in his declining years and like to believe that his beloved “mam” is pleased with my efforts :-)

  2. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers, helping you in your quest. I’m glad you were able to put the information together for your Dad. A lovely tribute post, Catherine. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Thankyou Fi. How wonderful that you’ve now been able to comment on my blog… must give yours another “go”. Reckon you must have tamed those pesky little internet faeries. :-) Yep, wonderful that so many people came to my aid. They were incredibly impressed that I’d travelled “all that way” for my dad whom was still well remembered. Now that, really did tug at my heartstrings. Cheers.

    • Thankyou my beautiful daughter. Not too proud to say that throughout the struggle up Crag Road all I could think was… “Why am I doing this? I should be in Ireland” until I felt Marie’s presence urging me on. I believe it was also dad’s mum, Marie, who drew me to his bedside, where I could give him some comfort just before he died.

  3. Pingback: Family History Through the Alphabet – Y is for … | Genealogy & History News

  4. That is a really beautiful post. The reaction of your dad to you showing him all photos and maps etc. sounds like my grandma when I’d managed to obtain whole bunch of records relating to her father in Finland, which she never even knew existed.

    • It is a joy which really is impossible to describe Alona, don’t you reckon? I consider myself blessed to have been able to provide this comfort to my dad. How wonderful that you had a similar experience with your grandma.

  5. What a beautiful way to honour your amazing father. Lives were so, so tough for so many people. I am delighted that you shared this lovely tribute with us. He will live on in our hearts as well as yours!

    • Thanks so much Angela. Yes, dad had a “pretty raw” deal in those early years but he sure showed great resilience & determination, as did my mum. How grateful I am that they provided a better life & opportunities for us, as I’ve done for my chickadees. The words, “children don’t ask to be born, Catherine!”… still ring in my ears :-) I can almost feel my dad perking up and bristling with pride over your kind remarks…

  6. What a touching, tender post. What a wonderful daughter you were to your father, Catherine. It’s too bad blurb wasn’t around when you made the booklet for your father. I hope it turns up, too, so more people can enjoy it. By the way, I arrived her from Gould Genealogy alphabet challenge.

    • Such kind comments Nancy, thankyou. Well, I’ve purchased a super duper scanner which does negatives/slides etc… so on my list, for 2013, will be the best re-creation possible of dad’s memories book as I don’t expect the person who I know took it to ever ‘fess up and hand it back :-( I must follow up on “blurb” because I have the story he wrote on arriving in Australia,” humping the bluey”, “jumping the rattlers” etc… which I must self publish. Are you doing the challenge?… will check on your blog. Thanks again.

      • I’m glad you still have the original photographs/negatives/slides. I’ve not done a book with blurb but I think you can use blog posts as well as write directly into the program.

        I missed the alphabet challenge when it was originally happening last year but I think I might begin it. Seems like a creative way to think of family history.

  7. G’day Nancy. I know there are others whom have come late to “the challenge” and post once a week, regardless of when they started. It really is creative and also challenging. For me, initially, one of the most challenging aspects was deciding which family story to attribute to the letter of the week… and as time went on was wondering if I would ever make it to the end without going NUTSO :-D… Glad to know you now have the email “gadget” installed on your blog. Going there, right now to sign up and begin following a blog which clearly is my “cup of tea”. Bye for now.

  8. Pingback: Australia Day 2013 ~ Remembering Susan Kelleher & Harry Crout… | Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family

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