Kingsthorpe Hollow in the Great War
Reminiscences of Lilian Ashby (1902-85) of Stanhope Road
My mother, Lilian Ashby, was born in May 1902 at Knightly Road, Kingsthorpe, second daughter of James Moore (Jim) Ashby, from Towcester,
and Minnie Kingston of Pury End. Jim and Minnie had met when he was a grocer’s boy delivering around the surrounding villages by horse and cart.
Shortly after 1902 the family moved to Stanhope Road, also in Kingsthorpe, where Jim and Minnie kept a grocery shop and off-licence.
It is difficult to believe these days, but in common with many of their neighbours, the Ashbys kept a pig in the back yard.
This was fed with scraps and my mother and her siblings grew quite fond of the animal. But eventually the day would come when the
slaughter man called. Mum told me that one of the children was very upset about all this and declared that he was ‘ashamed of the pigs’.
He really meant that he was sorry for them, but it served to lighten the sadness.
Anyway it didn’t prevent the kids from having the pig’s bladder blown up on the end of a stick to play with.
Jim Ashby looked after the beer side of the business, but on one occasion he was called upon to serve a lady in the shop who
wanted a couple of yards of knicker elastic. The scale for measuring such things was set into the edge of the counter.
Not knowing about such things Jim was stretching the material against the scale, until the lady protested and Minnie came in to sort things out.
But my grandfather had his own back. One of the customers used to swear a lot. It was ‘bleedin’ this’, and ‘bleedin’ that’.
To such an extent that Jim nicknamed him ‘Mr Bleeder’.
Unfortunately Minnie thought it was his real name and the next time he came in addressed him as such.
They were a close knit family, and got into all sorts of scrapes. Mum, who used to share a bedroom over the shop entrance, confided to me
that she and elder sister Nell used to lean out of the window spitting onto customers’ hats. Not very good for custom.
My mother told me of all the games they used to play in the street, but the only one I recall was named ‘Jump jump Jo-ardy’ or something similar.
She also remembered playing in ‘Chuckies’ Meadow’. This is also mentioned elsewhere in reminiscences of Kingsthorpe Hollow on this Web site.
She also recalled the rag and bone men who used to visit, named ‘Bacca’ and ‘Arner’. The latter had a speech impediment.
His real name was Arthur. Sadly the kids used to tease him.
My mother attended Kingsthorpe Grove School, and before that a corrugated iron establishment she called ‘The Tin School’.
Where that was I do not know. It was probably a temporary building. At Kingsthorpe Grove a fellow pupil was the composer Edmund Rubbra,
who lived in Balfour Road. All my mother can remember about him was that he wore a high stiff collar, and corrected the teacher who drew a bird
sitting on a twig on the blackboard. Edmund amended the bird’s feet so there was a claw behind the twig. He was quite correct.
My mother taught me a song which they sang at school, called the ‘May Day Garland’. This appears in the Oxford Book of Carols,
published much later in 1928, and there noted as a Northamptonshire folk carol.
In those days public transport was by tram, and the trams had open tops. When raining the conductor would come round and put a tarpaulin
around the upstairs passengers!
During the Great War the Racecourse was turned into a vast army camp for new recruits, and soldiers were billeted all over the town.
Stanhope Road was no exception and my mother, who was then an early teenager, recalled the procession of young lads who were billeted on them,
and went over to France and Flanders, only to appear in the lists of casualties after a few weeks.
Mum’s cousin Jim Billing was lucky. He joined the Royal Navy but survived the war. Jim Ashby had a job helping to cater for the recruits on the Racecourse.
When Zeppelins raided Northampton in 1917, apparently Mum’s younger sister Winifred, who was not yet 6 years old, was so terrified that she shot
into the cellar and refused come out for hours.
Jim Billings’ mother, Susanna Ashby (Mum’s Aunt Sue) also lived on Stanhope Road. My mother says that when they went to the theatre
(in the gods) to see the latest melodrama, and the heroine was on the point of being seduced by the villainous squire,
Aunt Sue would think it all real and warn that ‘She’ll come to a bad end, like our Bess’. Later genealogical research has confirmed that Betsy Ashby
did have a child after being in service at a ‘toff’s’ house. Where it happened I do not know, I suspect Wellingborough. But it was a common
enough peril for young girls in service in those days.
These are just some of the reminiscences my mother told us. She died in 1985, and now I wish we had recorded them all for posterity.
There’s lots more I have forgotten.
My mother did munitions work later in the war, which is where I think she met my father. They were married at Trinity Church, Balmoral Road,
which is where I was baptised ten years later, travelling down from Leeds for the privilege.
[Above] Balmoral Road
Michael J Gainsford
07 05 09
|NAME OF PERSON||MARITAL STATUS||RELATION TO HEAD OF HOUSE||AGE||PROFESSION / OCCUPATION||EMPLOYER, WORKER,||PLACE BORN|
|William Bignell||Married||Head||37||Waggoner on farm||Worker||Paulerspury, Northants.|
|Sarah Bignell||Married||Wife||37||Paulerspury, Northants.|
|Herbert Bignell||Unmarried||Son||16||House boy at farm||Worker||Paulerspury, Northants.|
|Mary Bignell||Unmarried||Daughter||11||School girl||Paulerspury, Northants.|
|Percy Bignell||Unmarried||Son||8||School boy||Paulerspury, Northants.|
|Arthur Bignell||Unmarried||Son||6||School boy||Blisworth, Northants.|
|Emma Bignell||Unmarried||Daughter||2||Blisworth, Northants.|
Norman Tew's CLAYTON website :- http://www.tech2u.com.au/~normtew/clayton/index.htm
William Collins COLLINS / SHIP ancestors with interesting letters :- COLLINS / SHIP
Alan Craxford's CRAXFORD web site :- CRAXFORD
Karen Bland's ESSAM web site :- ESSAM
Brian Faulkner's FAULKNER memoirs :- FAULKNER
Peter Gilke's GILKES web site is at :- http://www.petergilkes.com/
Margo Clarke's HILL / RICHARDSON family photograph :- HILL / RICHARDSON
Francis Howcutt's HOWCUTT website :- http://www.howcutt.org
Rob Orland's ORLAND family tree website is at :- http://orlandfamily.historiccoventry.co.uk/
Bob Osborne's family history pages for OSBORNE / CLAYSON / PEARSON :- http://www.btinternet.com/~r.a.osborne/
Julie Hill's MITTON family website is at :- http://www.mittonfamily.tribalpages.com
John Maris MARIS website is at :- http://www.marisancestry.co.uk
Norman Tew's MURDEN website :- http://www.tech2u.com.au/~normtew/murden/index.htm
Derek Pinckard's PINCKARD family photographs :- PINCKARD
Derek Pinckard's - Elizabeth PINCKARD the last woman to be publicy hanged in Northampton :- Elizabeth Pinckard
David Richards' family history website is at :- http://www.tribalpages.com/tribes/david4u
Ian Rivett's family history page is at RIVETT :- http://www.btinternet.com/~ian.rivett/igen/iangen.htm
Walter Savige and Megan Curlewis HANNAH SMITH sampler and photograph :- SMITH HANNAH
Dave Shatford's web site is at :- SHATFORD http://www.davidshatford.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
Alan Bradshaw's SMART ancestor :- SMART
John Nicholls' THOMPSON photographs :- THOMPSON
TYLER FAMILY GROUP NORTHAMPTON May 15th, 1887
Sent to me by Lionel Toole, his wife's Tylers of Northampton, Curriers and Leather Factory owners.
Rear left is her great-grandfather, Fred Tyler, captain of Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, 1892, father of Bert also later captain of the same.
There was a highly laudatory obituary of Fred (1853-1930) in the local paper with photograph - and paragraphs headed:
" A Great Record in Sport"
"Former Captain of the County Cricket Club"
"An All-Round Sportsman Par Excellence"
"Saved Cricket on the Borough Ground"
He appears also to have been prominent in Hockey and other sports.
The obituary also speaks of the innovations he introduced to the leather trade at the factory in Duke Street (later there was one in Bailiff Street).
He was great-uncle of the composer William Alwyn.
Norman Tew's WOODING / WOODEN website :- http://www.tech2u.com.au/~normtew/yh/index.htm
Harry Wykes World Wide WYKES website is at :- http://www.wykes.org/
Norman Tew's YEOMANS website :- http://www.tech2u.com.au/~normtew/murden/index.htm
Dale Schultz family history pages, Paulerspury parish :- http://tree.mixmox.com