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
 
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RESOURCES & FURTHER READING:
 
© 2012. C.A.Crout-Habel 

Dad… a Dreadnought Boy

It was early summer 1928 as Harry Scarborough Crout took the train from Shipley Railway Station, Yorkshire, England and made his way to London.  He had just turned 16 and was off on his “Great Adventure” at last.

There was huge excitement amongst the lads of Windhill as they scoured the newspapers and posters for every little detail of “Australia’s Offer to British Boys” but Harry was the only one to take up the offer and become a “Dreadnought Boy”.

“… in response to a growing German naval presence in the Pacific in 1909, the government of New South Wales decided to help fund the construction of a dreadnought battleship for the Royal Navy.  A public fund was established and by the end of the year 90,000pounds had been raised.  But with fears increasing the governent decided to construct a ship of its own, so that financing a second battleship seemed of little value.

Money was offered back to donors but more than 80,000pounds remained in the kitty.  Unsure what to do with it the government decided to use half to build a naval college while the remainder would be used to fund a scheme to bring young boys over from ‘Britain and train them to become agricultural workers.  And so was born the Dreadnought Scheme.

The scheme would bring out British boys between the ages of 16 and 19 ‘of good character and physique’ at a rate of about 20 everyfortnight. Originally, the scheme was aimed at those more than 17 years of age and one ad talked of wanting ‘strapping young fellows’.  After the First World War the minimum age was reduced to 15, although there is evidence to show that lads as young as 14 made the journey.  The aim, according to one booklet, was ‘to fill Australia’s empty spaces with young people of white, essentially Anglo-Saxon stock’.  Put bluntly, it was a form of white colonisation.”

It seemed to Harry that his 16th birthday would never come.  Marie, his mother, was bitterly opposed her only child’s “hair-brained” scheme.  She had scraped together enough money to enrol him at Bradford Secretarial College in preparation for a career as a clerk but Harry had other ideas.  Finally she gave in to his cajoling, nagging and sulking and tearfully waved him away … never to see her only child again.

On 19 April 1928 Harry boarded the P. & O. Steam Ship “Ballarat” at the Port of London for Australia.  Clasped in his hand was a “THIRD CLASS (Steerage) PASSENGER’S CONTRACT TICKET”, in an eight berth cabin, from the Bradford Agents of Briggs Shipping Office at 89 Sunbridge Road, purchased on 23 March 1928 only 19 days after his 16th birthday.In his memoirs Harry writes,

” It was a mild and sunny day on the 13th June 1928 as the P&O Steam Ship Ballarat, laden with migrants (most British), was slowly escorted into Sydney Harbor by the usual flotilla of tug boats … as the ship slowly moved into its berth they gazed eagerly around at the many peninsulas fringing Sydney Harbour and the partly constructed Sydney Harbour Bridge.  The two pylons proudly rearing skyward and a section of the bridge reaching out from each one towards the great unfinished gap in the centre.”

He writes of his shipboard friendship with other Dreadnought Boys;

“Yorky, nicknamed because of the County he hailed from; Lanky, named partly because of his Manchester origin and partly because of his physique; Cock, the Londoner who had lived his boyhood within the sound of the bow Bells; Sammy, a Liverpool lad and two others who came from the Midlands.”

As the ship edged up to the wharf the Welfare officer, in charge of 40 boys, rushed them up to the top deck for some publicity shots.

“The camera crew were focussing their equipment and one of them called out, ‘Now then lads.  I want you to show the Australian people what a fine bunch of lads you are, and how happy you are to be in Australia.  Let’s see you laugh and cheer for the Aussie people.” 

Dreadnought Boys arriving in Sydney on the "SS Ballarat" - 1928

The welfare officer handed the boys over to Mr Johnstone, the Australian migration officer, who explained they would be sent to different parts of New South Wales and to different types of farm work.  Dad was one of 15 who voluteered for dairy farming on the North Coast of New South Wales largely because of descriptions of a warm climate, fertile soil, scenerery reminiscent of England, along with the explanation that,

“…you could start your own farm with less than you would need in the sheep and cattle country.”

Dad always joked that he grew up rather fancying himself as a “cowboy” but the type you see in “the pictures” riding horses and droving the cows, not milking them.

Systematic youth migration to Australia began early in the 20th century and continued for over seventy years, involving approximately 30,000 male and female school-aged immigrants under a number of schemes.  The Dreadnought Scheme was but one. For years I’ve tried to find which scheme brought Harry Scarborough Crout to Australia and finally had a breakthrough. The clue was in dad’s Certificate of achievement from the “Wollongbar Experiment Farm” in New South Wales where the Dreadnought boys were trained in farm work.  It was there I learnt about the Dreadnought scheme and my dad’s involvement.

The scheme began in 1911 and ran on and off for the next 28 years.  It was halted by the First World War, recommenced in 1921, then ceased again during the Great Depression for a period of six years.  In February 1915, 2,557 had arrived; when the last group arrived in September 1939, the total number of Dreadnought boys had reached 5,595. A wall plate behind the Orient Hotel in Kendall Lane, Sydney commemorates the Dreadnought scheme.  The memorial was erected by the Dreadnought Old Boys Association in 1984.

Harry Scarborough Crout died in South Australia, 18 January 2007, in his 95th year.  He lived a rich, varied and vibrant life, “jumping the rattlers” during the Great Depression, a gruelling pushbike across the Nullabor Plain (accompanied by his Dreadnought boyhood friend Sammy), earning pennies as a “pugilist” in travelling road shows, “stowing away” on coastal ships and “humping his bluey” for many a long mile are just a few of his adventures before settling down and raising a family.

Dad never found his “road paved with Gold”, nor returned to England a rich man.  In fact he never saw his homeland or his beloved mother again but was always proud of his achievements and believed his greatest achievement was his four Australian children.

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Sources: 
Crout, Harry Scarborough.  My First Four Years in Australia (memoirs)
Kelly, Stephen, Australia’s Lost Boys. http://www.independent.co.uk

Further Reading:
Gill, Alan.  Likely Lads and Lasses: Youth Migration to Australia 1911-1983. Marrickville: BBM Ltd, 2005

(c) Copyright 2012  Catherine Crout-Habel. Seeking Susan~Meeting Marie~ Finding Family.