The last 24 hours has been amazing, and I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll just start writing and hope it takes shape. I have been in Shipley, Yorkshire, United Kingdom. This is the place that I have heard so much about and is where our English Heritage came from. Shipley is where my Grandad – my Mum’s Dad, Harry Scarborough Crout lived with his “Mam” until in 1928, at the ripe old age of 16, he decided to travel all the way to the other side of the world to make his fortune and bring it back to his “Mam”.
Unfortunatelly (or fortunately for us) things didn’t go according to plan. Three years after he left, in 1931 his Mum died and so he felt there was no reason for him to return and he stayed in Adelaide. He married, lost his first wife, in tragic circumstances shortly after losing their only child durng childbirth and then he remarried her sister (my Nana). They went on to have four children, my Mum being the third, and only girl and they had 12 children (11 who survived) and from them there have been another 11 children born. So, as a result of my Graddad taking off across the other side of the world as a child, there have been 27 children born in Australia. All living happy, healthy and full lives.
Mum visited Shipley in October 1995 to try to find and photograph for Grandad his homeland to bring him peace in his ailing years. She succeeded, what a success her trip was, and she lovingly put a folder of photos and maps together that Grandad would pour over as his memories were failing and he was falling in to dementia. What I only found out yesterday when I was reading her post on this blog about Yorkshiire, was that she thought this book had disappeared and was sad about that. This very book I had found in Nana’s things when I was cleaning out Mum’s house a few months ago. Oh, how I wish I could tell her and she could have had time to look back through the book, relive the memories and know her gift was safe for us future generations to enjoy.
I knew I needed to find Crag Rd, Windhill, Shipley, which in the current era of Sat Nav maps on our iphones, was a pretty easy task. I realised this was much easier for me, driving a hire car, armed with a Sat Nav and all the knowledge Mum’s renaissance trip in 1995 had provided. Mum had walked the very steep hills on foot carrying maps and it was only due to the help from some locals that she was able to find the information she had travelled all that way for.
I sat on the side of Crag Road, and read Mum’s Yorkshire blog and from that post I was able to identify Grandad’s primary school and the church that he attended Sunday School as well as the library that he loved. What was sad to find is that his much loved library, a beautiful building, is now unused and has fallen in to disrepair, with boarded up windows. I guess this is a sign of the times. Grandad told Mum stories of walking up Crag Road with armfuls of books and sometimes it was so windy he would be surprised that he wouldn’t get blown over. To see these buildings and walk these very streets was pretty amazing, to say the least.
I knew from Mum’s trip in 1995 that a redevelopment that had occurred in the 60’s had demolished the street that Grandad lived on, but I saw lots of examples of the “back to backs” that Grandad lived in.
What I didn’t realise until tonight when I was looking at a map Mum had of the area before the redevelopment (which I had brought on our trip but not taken to Windhill) was that Grandad’s road was just behind the church. I had gone to the church and my instinct had taken me around the back to a t junction, which I turned left at and then drove that road, which was the one that Mossman Road (Grandad’s street) ran off of. Not at all surprising, really.
However, the best and most important part of my trip to Shipley was yet to come. Mum’s 1995 trip resulted in contact with the Windhill Memories group who were able to locate where Marie Crout (nee Ogilvie), Mum’s Grandmother was buried – Nab Wood Cemetary. Mum was told she had been buried in a paupers grave and knew the cemetary was beatiful and well maintained, and in a letter I discovered recently that she wrote in 1996 but never sent (because it was too dribbly) her words were;-
“To have the location of my grandmother’s grave is much more than I ever believed possible. Knowing that I now can actually visit this special place so far from my home to pay my respects quietens the soul. To know that Marie’s final resting place is so beautiful and well mantained is a gift beyond description. How can I thank you? It warms my heart so much, Milton, to know that someone I have never even met has bothered to take the time to research a matter that may seem small to some, but is so important to others. Your Memories Group is certainly an inspiration.”
I knew the name of the cemetary and even the grave number from Mum’s ancestry bible and so with my trusty Sat Nav and my hire car I took off and again, and easily located the cemetary. Mum was right, it was beautiiful and very well maintained.
I knew that actually locating the grave would most likely prove more diffiult. It turned out that there was no map to tell me where section T even was, let alone which graves were which. This, my first sortie had located the cemetary, but it was Sunday evening and there was no-one around to assist in helping me find the grave’s location, so I just explored and looked out for the areas from around the early 1930’s. I was drawn to one area in particular. I took some photots.
I went back to our room, happy that I had visited the cemetary and knowing what I needed to do tomorrow to hopefully locate the grave. The other thing I wanted to do was get information about how I could go about getting a headstone or some other memorial erected, as this is what I know Mum has wanted to do since she had located the cemetary that Marie was buried in. She never was able to do it.
So, this morning, I took off again for the cemetary. The rememerance book room was open, so I went in there and could see that people had put rememberance passages in for loved ones for all kinds of years. So, I knew this was a possibiity for me to do for Marie. No-one else was around, so I called the office that manages the cemetary, and the man said there should be someone there who could help, and he would all them and tell them to come out and assist. A few minutes later, I was releived to see a man come out and he showed me where area T was. I was so close with my photo above, just a bit further to the right was area T – again, not all that surprising. Now, if I could just locate the general area of grave 203. The man showed me that some of the headstones have the grave number on them, and I thought he would leave me to trying to locate the general area (knowing there was no head stone). However, he helped me look. We looked like we were getting closer and then numbers started jumping all over the place and not making a lot of sense. I was starting to think this was as close as I would get, and I was telling him that I was happy just to know I was in the general area. I had found 206, so knew I was close, then he yells out – “its here”. I go down the other end of the section, the row in front of the row with grave 206 and there in front of me is a marker that reads “In Rememberance” with lots of flowers and other momentos. You see, in all of this investigation, I discovered a Paupers Grave is a public grave, is not owned by anyone and there are multiple people buried in it. So, no option of a headstone for any of the people buried in a public grave. There is a Garden of Rememberance however, so I can follow up on having a plaque erectd on my return to Australia. For now, I was overwhelmed. Here I was in front of Marie’s Grave. I cried tears of joy for finding it and tears of sadness for not being able to share it with Mum. I talked to Marie – I told her that I was thankful that she had allowe her son to travel to Australia. I told her that we know her story now, thanks to my Mum. I told her that she would have loved my Mum – a stong, independant, fiesty woman. I paid my respects in the way that Mum had dreamt of doing. I did it all becaus of and for Mum. I then talked to Mum and told her I hoped she knew I was here and that she was as happy as I was that I had found Marie’s grave. I’m sure she was, but it’s not the same as being able to tell her and hear her response.
I took photos and I left some of Mum’s hair. The other times that I have left Mum’s hair, it has been hard to get strands out of the rubber band that it is tied up with. This time it pulled out easily, like something was saying that this is so right, lots of Mum’s hair needs to be left here.
In the last photo if you look closely in the purple flowers, you can see the strands of Mum’s hair.
Mission Accomplished and I am so grateful.