Crowle Market Place – submitted by Bill Goldthorp

The market square has barely changed in over one and a half centuries. The above sketch, from the mid 1850’s, is taken from Read’s History of the Isle of Axholme published in 1858.

Note the gas lamp, the only streetlight in Crowle. Crowle was modern; it had a gas works, which paid good dividends to its investors. The gas works lasted to about 1940 when it went bust. We were now old fashioned; all the street lamps were gas. The blackout finished off the gas works. Unfortunately early 1939 Crowle Council took out a contract with the gas works for street lighting until 1950.

When the war ended the street blackout continues in Crowle. Electric streetlights could not be put in until the contract ended in 1950. Film certification did begin until later. U anyone, A under 16 must be accompanied by an adult, X 18 and over.

I was quite happy to return from the Regal after watching Boris Karloff in the Mummy or Frankenstein, Bela Lugosi in Dracula; I cannot remember the Werewolves star. The lads would drop off one by one, but Len Slingby and I lived next door to each other at 42 and 44, Wharf Road, it was only poor Chippy Chapman who would plead for our company as far as number 60. Invariably refused, Chippy would leg it the next 100 yards. The Olympic Selection Committee should have been there, we reckoned that Chippy could do that 100 yards in 5 seconds flat.


Crowle Market Place 1908 – Note the elephant in the background.

Now there are three gas lamps in the square and all the streets were lit. Those three lamps enable me to assess the date of other photographs.

All the unoccupied lads must have turned up to water the elephant, there must be over thirty. I wonder how many were still alive in 1918. Slaughtered in a war many believe could have been avoided. If you stand in that position today, in front of the butcher’s shop that was once the Police Station. Very little has altered, the buildings are still there, the water pump and gas lamp have gone, but ignore the centre the view is still the same.


A similar date, but an identical view..

This again I believe is before the First World War. It is the east Side of the square,
shops are still there but much altered. The second from the left was and still is the chemists.

Again the view looks as if it is of the same date. The Cross Keys is no longer a hotel but now a solicitor’s office. Whoever would have thought that one of the pubs in Crowle would actually shut. The old Methodists would have been delighted.

Again a similar date. The dress of the boy on the left is similar to the boys in the other photographs. The house and shop that were next to the Cross Keys, as I have mentioned before the house in the thirties and during the war housed Dr. Dickinson’s branch surgery. The triple gaslight is the clue and the condition of the square itself.

Probably about the same time. It looks like London & Yorkshire Bank on the window. The covering of the square looks similar. 1895 to 1898 record , a sub-branch, Lt-Col. H.F. Hill, manager. Open Fridays 11am to 3 pm. There was a branch of a bank on this corner for many years after I went to university, still open 11am to 3 pm. one of the many errands I was sent on to do on my own when still at school was taking the cheques and cash to the bank to be paid into my father’s account. It is surprising what I was trusted with from about the age of 9 onwards.

Turn of the century, about 1900, the omnibus waiting to take passengers to the railway station at Crowle Wharf. It ran several times per day to meet the passenger trains stopping at the station. It was owned by the landlord of the White Hart Hotel and Posting House. An omnibus also ran from the Red Lion in Epworth to meet the 9: 35 & 10: 30 am & 4: 50 pm trains.

A horse and trap was available for hire from Jonathan Coates, proprietor of the Cross Keys Commercial Hotel, rates reasonable, whereas W.E. Cranidge proprietor of the Darby and Joan Commercial Hotel, High Street has horses and traps for hire.

Carriers took goods and presumably passengers to and from the following places.

Henry Carr Wrexall to Goole on Wednesdays and Doncaster on Saturdays.

William Quickfall to Althorpe and Keadby, on Monday and Thursday, and Amcotts on Fridays.

Robert Templeton, Doncaster on Saturdays and Goole on Wednesdays.

Or you could travel by water carrier between Crowle Wharf and Hull, by Market Sloop, presumably steam driven, leaving Crowle on Mondays and Hull on Wednesdays calling at all ferries on the Trent side. Proprietor Wade Pickering of Crowle Wharf.


Crowle Carnival in 1923.

Probably the early 1920s. It looks like a police notice outside the police station. There are only a few notices on the town hall not the large ones advertising films that the elder Mr. Spivey put up when he arrived in Crowle in the late 1920s in order to use the hall as cinema. I have vague memories of my father taking me to see a film there, terribly frightened as figures flickered on a white screen with a piano playing in the background. The trip was a failure. Daddy had to take his little boy home.

Then the fence and gate. That was always open leading to a repair shop, with petrol pumps on either side and hoarding at the top with Spivey Bros. on it. See the War Weapons Week photograph in wartime memories.


Early 1950s. A Morris Minor and the street light is electric. We had no street lighting for five years after the war ended. Note the petrol pumps. In the mid to late fifties television began to ruin the small cinemas. The Regal became a Bingo hall and Bill Spivey left his house on Wharf Road, living in the corner house selling petrol and spare parts for cars.

Another photograph of the Town Hall, it could have been taken at anytime during the war, post war period or the fifties. It is as I remember it. Friday or Saturday night hops, often bursting at the seams in winter, with young people from all over the isle and beyond. The Cross Keys and White Hart doing a great trade in replacing the fluid lost through sweat.

Occasionally Crowle’s resident dance band played here. Vin and his All Girls Accordion Band, in high demand for miles around. Vin, being Vin, a totally safe variety of male, not allowed at that time to “Come Out” all the mothers were delighted for their daughters to be playing in the band. We lads thought they should have taken more notice of the handsome dark haired charmer playing the drums at the back. That was wishful thinking on our part, he and his future wife met as teenagers and they have been happily married for over fifty years.

The hall was also hired out for private functions. I had my twenty-first birthday party here, much more important then than now. We did not become independent adults totally responsible for our own behaviour until we were 21. There were often court cases between parents and 19 and 20 year old young women wanting to marry and parents who refused to give permission. The old fashioned way of the young lady getting herself “Knocked up” by her boy friend did not always work. She could be incarcerated in an a nunnery or a Sally Army, mother and baby home and the baby forcibly adopted if her parents were that way inclined.

Being from a strictly tee-total Methodist family, the refreshments were of the softer variety, much to the horror and disgust of my eight medical school friends that I had brought over from Manchester. It took years for them to get over the shock of visiting Crowle, but they were fascinated by my bevy of attractive and nubile female cousins

It did not take them long to locate the Cross Keys, then the party really began to swing, especially after they bought a half bottle of vodka and started to knobble my dad’s soft drinks. Well that was the excuse that he gave my mother the following morning.

The town hall has been all sorts of things since, from a Beefeaters restaurant to a place for Elizabethan dinners. Empty and derelict for years, it ought to be knocked down some would say. I believe it has recently been modernised and made into a office block. Whatever it becomes, it is part of Crowle’s heritage, part of the Square and should become be a listed building.

“ B===y foreigner, he doesn’t live here anymore. Tell him to keep his nose out of it.”

Bill Goldthorp 2006




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