May 22, 2016

Mrs Mary Briggs Memories- Crowle WI

By angus

For “Lincolnshire Within Living Memory – 1900 to 1960.

My name is Mary Briggs. I was born in Crowle in 1923, so my account  of what life was like before 1923 is based on what I.was told by my  parents and grand-parents. After that date my own memory comes into  play. I was asked to do this because, believe it or not, among the  members of Crowle W.I. I am the only person who was actually born in  Crowle and has lived here all my life. So, here goes:-

Home and Family

Houses ranged from small four-roomed cottages to larger houses  to late Victorian Villas and a few rather larger houses. There was  also farm houses of varying sizes in and around Crowle. There was no mains water in Crowle until about 1936/37 so there were no bathrooms  except in a few of the larger houses, here the rain water was collected in a tank and then “force-ptimped’ lip to another tank in the roof so that it could, circulate through-the bathroom taps and down to the  kitchen sink. I remember by my grandfather used to give 500 pumps daily  to keep the tank in the roof full of water. Drinking water was  mainly from underground springs and there was usually a pump in the  back yard for this purpose. Rain water was also collected in tubs  for general use. Water for wash days was heated in a copper set in  brickwork with a fire box underneath. Clothes were washed in a tub using)”dolly-legs” of a “posser”•and a scrubbing board. Heating in  houses was by coal and wood fires. Lighting was by. oil lamps or in some cases by gas. Crowle had its own Gas Works at that time but this ceased to exist about about 1940. Electricity arrived round about  1934/35. Toilets were outside and the pans were emptied once a. week in the night by “night-soil” men. Quite an unpleasant occupation. There was very little building of new houses until the late 1920’s  and 1930’s, then quite a lot of Council owned and private houses were  built. Building stopped during War II and then slowily picked up again and is now going ahead rapidly.

Work – for men in this area was mainly on farms or at the local Brickworks.(now gone) I believe there was a small Flaxmill and and a small Brewery. A fair number of men were’employed on the Railways. Crowle Central Station (the Doncaster to Cleethorpes line) is about 1 miles south of Crowle. In 1903 the “Axholme Joint Light Railway” was opened and this gave a line from Goole through to Haxey. This Station was situated at the northern end of Crowle. This does not now exist. For women’ who worked, and many did not in those days, it was mainly seasonal in the land or in “service’ as maids in larger houses.

Religion and Education Crowle had :-

(a) a C. of E. Church (d) a Primitive Methodist Chapel
(b) a Roman Catholic Church (e) a Baptist Chapel
(c) a Weslyan Chapel (f) a Congregational Chapel

The latter (f) was just functioning when my grand-parents came to  Crowle. in 1903, but soon after that it became defunct.) There is also a small-Methodist Chapel in Ealand, a small village just over a mile from Crowle and included in the Parish of Crowle. (a) (b) and (e) still exist, but (c) and (d) amalgamated and use (c) Chapel, (d) has now been sold. Services at all places were,_and still are, held on a very regular basis and all had a thriving Sunday School.

At the time of my school days, which started in 1928, there were three schools in Crowle – the C.of E. School, the Council School and a Roman Catholic School. In those days a Scholarship system existed, in two parts, taken at the age of 11. If both parts were passed one went to the Scunthorpe Grammar School. If the first part only was passed one went to the Scunthorpe Secondary Modern School –  this eventually became a Technical High School. If no pass was obtained one stayed at the local schools and left at the age of 14.
In 1957 a Secondary School was built in Crowle (now a Comprehensive) and this served C.rowle schoOls and schools from the surrounding villages for all children from 11 years upwards to 16. I am not sure which year “scholarships” ended and Comprehensive Education became the norm .
The C.of E. School is now closed down and the building became a Youth Centre.

Naturally the two World Wars affected many families in Crowle,  particularly the First World War. Many young men were killed in’ this  War and not many families escaped the loss or wounding of someone.  There is a brass memorial plaque with the names of all who were killed  in the Parish Church and another in the Weslyan Chapel. There is also a War Memorial in the centre of Crowle with all the names on it. The  numbers killed in World War II was considerably less than in War I,  and their names are also on the War Memorial.

Health and Disease.
In the early 1900’s Diptheria was very prevalent and many young  children died from it. T.B.• or Consumption as it was then called,  was also quite common and often fatal. There were two Doctors, each  one running his own Practice. There was a District Nurse who got  around, the area on a bicycle. There was also one or two women who acted as Midwives and who would ‘lay out” people who died. These  ways were dying out by the 1940’s. In the early days the nearest  hospital was in Doncaster or Goole, accessible by road, (see section  on Transport). There was a small hospital In Scunthorpe until the new larger one was built round about 1933. There is now a Group  Practice in Crowle with a purpose built surgery.

Food and Drink.
Crowle was well supplied with shops in those days. In my early  lifetime I can remember several general grocery shops, bakers shops, shoe shops, clothing shops, newsagents, sweet shops, fruit and vegetable  shops, fish and chip shops and 8 butchers shops. Now there are 2  butchers shops, no shoe or clothing shops and a very diminished number  of the others. The drink side was very well catered. for with 10 public  houses and 3 clubs. Now there are 6 pubs and 2 clubs.

Floods, Fires etc.
Fortunately this is an area which does not easily flood, so there  no disasters on that front There has always been a Fire Station  and Engine in Crowle, dating from the horse-drawn days to motorised vehicles right up to the present day. The Firemen have always been able to cope with anything they have been called upon the deal with, quickly and efficiently.


In the early days people had to make their own entertainment (dealt with later on) There was a Cinema here in Crowle from the ‘Silent’ days, and this ,naturally, developed into “Talkies”. This was in the Market Hall upstairs. Below was a Club. In 1936 a new Cinema was built and the upstairs of the Market Hall became a Ballroom. The  advent of T.V.was the death knell of small local Cinemas and it was turned into a Bingo Hall. This, too, faded away and it became a Motor Museum. This did not last long and it became a Garage and finally, now the Cinema is a Food Market.

Schooldays (mainly covered under religion)

School clothes at the Grammar Schools were “uniform” of Gym-slips and blouses, blazers and caps or hats, which always had to be worn. Boys always wore short trousers until they were 13 or 14, and they always had to wear school caps. Local schools did not have uniforms and children wore they ordinairy cleithes. Best clothes were always worn on Sundays and special occasions

Grand Occasions.

Coming under this heading would be the Coronation of Edward VII and the Coronation of George -V and Queen Mary. I am sure there would be some special calibrations of some sort. I do remember a great day of a Carnival nature for the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary in 1935 or 36?. The same sort of festivities took place for the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937?

At the end of World War II there were celebration parties and dances.

Celebrations throughout the Year.

The things I remember most are the two local Fags, one in May and one in November. These were “Hiring Fairs” where farm workers were  hired for the coming year. This, ,course, died out between the two Wars, but the fairs kept on These have now faded into oblivion,.

Another annual event was the Crowle Show. Between the Wars this was a two-evening event and co-incided with the Crowle Fair held in May. On the Monday evening it consisted of Athletics and Cycling and other events and on the Tuesday evelking it was the turn of Shire Horses and Show Jumping events. The evening ended with a Horse Race round the outside of the ring with the spectators in the middle. This Show eventually evolved into a one-day affair on the last Saturday in May. The Cycling events disappeared and the serious Athletics, but other attractions were brought in, including a very popular Dog Show, and this format carries on to this day. In fact, 1995 will be the 100th. Show. Another annual event of my childhood days was the “Hospital Carnival”, held on August Bank Holiday Monday, (then the 1st. Monday in August), to raise money for Scunthorpe Hospital. This consisted of a parade of decorated Floats a Carnival Queen and her Retinue, and added in ,a tfield-where there were all sorts of activities and games. The first one took place in 1933 and carried on until War II It start: id again after the ear, but slowly faded into oblivion. Most of these Events ended with a Grand Dance in the Market Hall.
Transport and Travel.

In 1903 the Axholme Joint Light Railway was opened and this provided rail transport or goods and farm produce between Goole and Haxey. There was also a passenger service and this provided a good connection at Goole for Hull, so a day out at Hull was quite an event. The passenger service came to an end about 1933 but the goods service continued until after War II. Finally this also ended and the line became defunct in the early 60’s. The service from Crowle’s other station was on the Doncaster through to Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes.

During the summer months special excursion trains to Cleethorpeks were a feature and cheap evening excursions to Clethorpes became very popular, particularly with the younger generation. In the Fishing Season special trains were run to bring hundreds of fishermen for fishing in the Canal, which runs parallel to the railway. Important fishing Competitions were often-held, and still are held. Nowadays the fishermen come in cars and coaches. The proprietor of the White Hart Hotel, in Crowle, owned a horse-drawn bus, seating about 10 people and he used to go the 1 miles to Crowle Central Station to meet each passenger train and this saved people the long walk to and from Crowle to the station. Eventually he bought a small 20-seater motor bus to replace the horse-bus. I cannot personally remember the Horse-bus, but I can remember the Motor-bus because as a child I rode in it many times. The Fare was 2p. for adults and 1p. for children. (old money). This valuable service finally came to an end in the early 30’s.

Until 1916 the only way over the River Trent at Keadby was by the old Rail Bridge. , The only road bridge over the Trent was at Gainsbro’ so Scunthorpe was not very accessible from Crowle,except by rail. There were several little ferries across the Trent, by row_,boat, but I think that would be rather a risky journey. In 1916 the new Keadby Road and Rail Bridge was opened and this opened up the way to Scunthorpe for people on the West Bank of the Trent. Soon a regular bus service Was established from Scunthorpe to Crowle and other villages. As the Scunthorpe Steel Works expanded many local men,found work there. In the early days most of them cycled the 10 miles to and from work. Eventually “shift” buses were run but as people became more affluent and were able to afford cars these “shift” buses eventually stopped. The way to Cleethorpes by bus was now possible and I remember in  particular our Sunday School annual Summer Trip to Cleethorpes. This was a great event.

Sports and Pastimes

Naturally, Crowle had its local Football Club and Cricket Club. There was a Tennis Club, with 3 courts and regular Tournaments were held. All these Clubs held their Annual Dances, so in the Winter Season there could be a Dance almost every week, with other organisations holding their Annual Dances also. There was an Amateur Dramatic Society and they produced Plays. Various other groups put on Concerts.
All these attracted full audiences. In the late 30’s a local girl ran Dance Classes and produced Revue style concerts and produced pantomimes. The Crowle Town Silver Prize Band was well supported and played at many functions and attended Brass Band Competitions,  and sometimes came away with a Prize. The War II seemed to put an end to that and it was never able to get going again. Eventually the North Axholme School took over some of the instruments and that  was the start of the School Band.
After War II the people of Ealand, the village just over 1 mile from Crowle and included in the Parish of Crowle, started to raise funds to build themselves a Village Hall. Crowle people supported them in this project and the Hall was finally built and called the “Ealand Victory Hall” in commemoration of the end of World War II.

As long as I can rmember there has been a Library in Crowle. It  used to be a large cupboad in one of the schools. and open one night a week. Then in the middle 50’s an empty shop was taken over and transformed into a proper Library. Eventually a new purpose-built Library was opened.

Best Wishes and Good Luck with the book.

Mary Briggs, 30 Crowle Wharf,