I have recently( 2019 ) been talking to Anne and Pamela Watson about their memories of their early life in Netherthong, their mother Louie, and other members of their family tree. On their mother’s side they are connected to both the Charlesworth and Roebuck names which feature prominently throughout the history of the village. Anne was born in Dalton on 23 May 1939 and lived in a new house her parents bought there. On September 3, 1939, the Second World War was declared and her father, Ernest Watson ( Rex) was called up . He was worried about his wife and first daughter as they lived near the ICI works in Huddersfield, which might become a target for the German bombers. So, when he joined the Royal Engineers as a driver, Louie took baby Anne and moved back home to live with her mother Emma and her Auntie Polly at Cliffe View, Netherthong, until his return. Cliffe View, 90 Thong Lane, was a semi-detached stone house. Pamela Fay was born in the house on 1st. January 1943 and baptised in the Parish Church. Another sister, Netta was born in 1944 and twins, Peter and Janet, were born in 1948. Their grandmother was Rachel Roebuck b. 23.8.1851, died 17.12.1931.
Both Anne and Pamela attended the National School and can be seen in several of the photographs of school events ( see chapter on schooling). Anne’s school report, both sides, for 1948 is shown below. They also attended Sunday School at the Parish Church and Pamela can remember singing in the choir. Talking to the sisters helped to bring up some interesting memories, Anne said that there was a small stone house on the left hand side of Miry Lane, just past the Vicarage but before the lane to Holmroyd, and a ” character” called Mary lived there with lots of cats. At Christmas she would come out wearing a long white dress and walked to the Clothiers where she used to sing. Anne remembers that her mother played the viola and was part of a music ensemble that played classical music in the school once a week – the leader was a Sally Brook, who lived in St.Annes Square. In my chapter on Music , there are some references to a Netherthong Evening Institute and in, April 1947, it had 76 students and Miss Sally Brook taught instrumental music. This is obviously the group that Louie belonged to.
In the Town Square was Mallinson’s shop, which you can see facing you in the photograph below. When you opened the door a little bell rang to notify the Mallinsons, who lived at the back of the shop. There was only a small space to stand with a high counter on the right hand side. A chocolate dispenser was on the wall and the shop sold many varieties of cheap sweets directed at the children – maybe that’s why the counter was high !!. Among the sweets to tempt would have been sherbert fountains, sweet cigarettes, black jacks, dolly mixture, fizzers, liquorice wood, aniseed balls, gobstoppers, parma violets, love hearts etc- if you are of a certain age , these will surely bring back memories and you would have had your own special favourites. In addition the shop also sold comics and newspapers. One unusual memory from Anne concerned the Earth Toilets of Outlane !. They belonged to the Mallinsons and were in a stone building ,which was on the right hand corner of St.Annes Square as you turned into Outlane.. They consisted of a whitewood chest ( always kept in pristine condition ) with two holes and newpaper pieces hung on the door. There was no flush and Anne could only assume that the Council would have needed to come round regularly to empty. As Anne was good friends with the Mallinsons daughter, she was allowed to use it if the situation arose.
Their mother, Louie, who can be seen in many of the photographs in this chapter, compiled a very special gift for her family. It combined notes from the Family Bible and long-ago memories and vivid recollections from a childhood spent listening to tales around the fire.When Louie and Rex, living in New Mill, celebrated their golden wedding, Louie , now a great-grandmother, wanted to present her children with something of their history which they could keep and treasure. Each of her five children received a copy and she said this was due to the help of her daughter,Anne, who had them all compiled and copied.
The book brought to life all the women in her family, from the time of her own great-grandmother in the early 1800s to the present day .It was divide into four parts. Book One – William and Ann 1808-1871. Book Two – Rachel 1870-1905. Book Three – Emma 1895-1935 and Book Four – Louie 1916 . In the January 13, 1989, edition of the Huddersfield District Newspaper, a full page was devoted to snippets from the various books, along with a family tree and a photograph of Louie and her husband Rex. I’ve taken interesting abstracts from the various books and listed them below..
Book One – William and Ann. 1808 – 1871. . William married Ann, Louie’s great – grandmother and they had three sons and six daughters , all baptised at Netherthong Parish Church. One of his sons was Joseph.
Book Two Rachel 1870-1905.. Joseph became a vet and in 1872 he married Rachel Spenser( Battye) and their first son was born in 1873. Rachel went on to have eight more children, one of them, Arthur, died at six months old. The rest all attended Wilshaw school. Three of them contracted scarlet fever and were admitted to Moorview Hospital, Meltham. Emma suffered the worst and the doctor had to put leeches in a small glass on her neck to draw the poison out. As she was so brave she was given the glass to keep, and this leech glass remains in the family . When Rachel’s husband, Joseph, died in November, 1891 of a massive heart attack at the age of 47, she was advised to sell their farm and move closer to the village. This she did and took over an inn – The King’s Head in Netherthong, (this is first time I’ve ever come across that name and all other references to Rachel in my other chapters refer to her running the Queens Arms. )
Book Three- Emma 1895-1935. Emma married Fred Charlesworth who was a master painter and decorator by trade and had started his own business, They lived in the pub with Rachel but when Rachel sold the inn and moved to Cliffe View, Emma and Fred found a cottage near by,They had four children but tragedy struck. Emma’s sister, Lily, died at the age of 27 from a heart attack. Life continued and Emma’s other sister, Lily, developed an interest in bicycles. She was cycling along one day and had an accident, crashing into a wall not far from home. Two workmen on a job nearby saw it happen and ran to help her. They carried her home, as they knew who she was and Rachel sent for the doctor. Alice was unconscious but there was no sign of blood on her anywhere. The doctor came and examined her and tried to remove her hat and found that the hat pin had stuck in her head. He removed it gently but when Alice came round her eyes were absolutely vacant.She didn’t recognise anyone. The doctor said the pin had pierced into her brain. Alice had surgical tests and examinations, but Rachel was forced to have her admitted to Storthes Hall Hospital, Kirkburton, on January 8, 1913. She remained there until her death on 18 March, 1950 – see copy of her Notice of Death. In 1916 her 14-year -old daughter, Helen, was sent home from work at Deanhouse Mills, where she had only worked for one month, suffering from a high temperature, extreme pains in her head and violent vomiting fits, The doctor diagnosed meningitis – the pain the child suffered was terrible and within a few days was quite mad and it was a great relief when she died on May 3, 1916. Five days later Emma gave birth to her eighth child and christened the baby Louie.
Book Four – Louie, 1915 – 2009, Her mother had been widowed at 44, lost a son of four and a daughter of 14 and was left with five children to bring up. She began working at Deanhouse Hospital and the children were looked after by a neighbour. Louie left school at 14,eager to help her mother. Her first job was at Bottoms Mill, at the end of New Road, and she would start work at 7am until 5.30 pm. She hated working at the mill and looked forward to attending the local dances and going to the pictures. It was at the Conservative Blue Ball in Holmfirth that she met her husband, Rex Watson. Rex lived with his sister at the Duke of Leeds Hotel, New Mill and he was a keen sportsman and played golf,tennis,football and bowls. They married on October 29, 1938. She said that she still treasures the heirlooms passed down to her – each of her five children have one each of the five decanters and she has the leech glass which belonged to her mother.