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Parkgate Recollections

park gateRecollections of Parkgate from Patricia:–

"Re Parkgate - On Rotherham Road the two buildings were:– the first one - a chapel known as the Ebenezer Reform Chapel and the other was the Rotherham Road Infant School. - (Went there as a child before moving up to Ashwood Road.)

Under the bridge on the other side of the road is another old chapel but when I was a child I remember it being a dancing school - Kathy Wright's???? (Now occupied by a firm that makes plaster mouldings Ed.)

There wasn't a street called Rail Mill but there was a pub called the Rail Mill. I lived next door to the Old Forge Inn which was next door to the Gas Works (at the back of a little cobbled street - no name just back entrances to the two pubs) then came the Rail Mill pub. Behind the Gas works there used to be a duck pond - but it was before my time! My house was joined on the other side to the Parkgate Forge. Outside our front door there was a sawn off lamp post probably an old gas lamp - it's still there!

My sister used to hold on to it when she was on her roller skates. She says she could just squeeze between it and the Forge wall! Directly across from our house was Oxleys another steel/iron processing firm. They had a very loud steam hammer which was in constant operation but we were so used to it we only noticed it if it stopped!

My grandparents lived at the first house of a row of houses opposite the Parkgate Forge Offices known as Forge Row - their front door however was on the side and was therefore number 1 Taylors Lane. This prestigious number is now awarded to the Fitzwilliam pub and offends my sister greatly as she was born in my grandparents house at number 1 Taylors Lane and it was not a pub! The George Inn was the other side of Taylors Lane opposite my grandparents house but front facing onto Rotherham Road - where the new office block is now. Joined on to the inn was Reid's or Reid's sweet shop. I do not recall a girl's school up Greasborough Road but there was a Rectory belonging to Christ Church Aldwarke Road (now Holly House Ed.). The Rector there, up to my marriage 1957 was a Mr. Sladden. The church was demolished around 1961 and we were probably one of the last couples to be married there - we may have been the last! There was a boys' school on Taylor's lane well just to right - I believe the Road is known as School Lane and Taylors Lane carried on over the loco line to Mangham. The school was known locally as Bennett's but I believe it closed before the war. My great grandmother used to clean it. My uncle attended it and then went from there to Mexborough Grammar School. Throughout my childhood it was a heap of bricks and rubble - sort of at the bottom of the recreation ground.

Travellers - were quite common in the old days think they camped on the 'rec' then too. I remember one particular man used to 'sing' for a meal or just 'bread' up the backs of Forge Row. He was well liked. He had a strong beautiful operatic voice. I think he was a true Gypsy. I remember him singing in-between my Nan's sheets billowing in the wind up the back yard. A bit of a romantic memory really but quite vivid! - Forge Row didn't have separate backyards - it was one big one with the outside toilets (usually two together but own doors) opposite the houses.

Re the Rochester restaurant - we think it was possibly the school house for the Head Master of Bennett's school - haven't a clue what it was when we were children probably some noteworthy person lived there but we never noticed. I just remember Mr. Sladden the Rector at the rectory - he was very austere. He had a daughter - Valerie - she had a severe facial disfigurement which impeded her speech. She belonged the Church Guides up at St Mary's the same as myself - she was a little older - think she may have gone to Mexborough Grammar School or the Rotherham Girls' High School - I was at Wath - she wasn't there.

On the 'rec' at the bottom Taylor's Lane side, there was a wooden hut known locally as the 'Old Man's Hut' - Who it belonged to - and who was allowed within its hallowed walls I know not - but it was usually full of old men, pipes and smoke! Think they played dominoes there. We couldn't see in the windows even if we dared to look! There was always a heavy stink of tobacco as we passed.

'Stink' reminds me of the men's urinal on Rotherham Road - just before going under the bridge (right hand side). The smell was absolutely revolting and disgusting! If I ever had to pass it I took a deep breath and ran past as quickly as possible. I can still smell it!! Ugh!! That's one building I was pleased to see the back of!

I mentioned Reid's sweet shop -sorry the other spelling wasn't there 'Read' not sure which spelling it was. The daughter of the 'house' there - think they did originally live on the premises, was a friend of my Aunt Dot - they were the same age - but the odd thing was her name - well it seemed odd to us - it was 'Billy! 'Billy Reid/Read' - my Aunt Dot was a little in awe of her I think simply because her parents owned a sweet shop!

Also up Mangham there was Dove's farm and I have a faint recollection of horse and milk cart together with milk churns delivering milk - actually ladling it out up the backs of Forge Row - think after the war - I was six when it ended. The farm is now the splendid home of our local entrepreneur (owner of land opposite 'rec' and Fitzwilliam ) - and am informed has a swimming pool!

If you are a native of Parkgate you'll remember that we had our own cinema up Aldwarke Road - the illustrious 'Electra' then there were the two up in Rawmarsh - 'The Princess' - ('Robbie's') and 'The Regal'. Everyone seemed to patronise all three cinemas though the films at the Electra were not usually in the same league as higher up the road at the Regal - and Robbie's was sort of in between the two!

Memories! - I suppose there are so many - However I wonder if you could please supply the answers to the following - Was there ever a 'British Restaurant' in Parkgate/Rawmarsh during/after the war? Have a feeling there was but where? Could it have been in the vicinity of the British Legion (Rockcliffe Road) or up on the New Road (Barbers Ave)? I came across a reference indicating there was one in Parkgate/Rawmarsh recently. -- And for the life of me I am unable to remember the name of the pub which was at the top of Stanley Street - the one under the bridge was I believe the 'Dutchman'."

The Rochester used to house a lady who bred dogs -Yorkies - never married - what happened to her not known - or her family history - she was as old as my sister (now 62). There was also some sort of school up Beartree Road somewhere. Bennett's school was a I believe a bit special - advanced pupils or the sons of the more wealthy?? Why didn't I ask more questions when I had the opportunity?? My Mum died last year - she was just 90.

I was born in Listerdale - the maternity home! - Then it closed for the war years that's how my sister came to be born at my Grandparents' house 1 Taylor's Lane. Re the pubs I asked you about - I think the one at the top of Stanley Street was the Restaurant may have been a 'hut' opposite the Green Lane Tavern and you could get a dinner for a shilling on a Friday!!! - This information came to my ears yesterday from my friend's aunt who is 78 and has always live in Rawmarsh Green Lane area!

I have actually managed to trace my mother's family back on both sides to around 1861 - particularly on her mother's side. My Great Grandmother's parents were Maria Raybould and Thomas Hamstead both born Parkgate. My Great Great Grandfather Joseph Hampstead (or Hamstead) came to Parkgate down the bottom end sometime in the 1850s - living in Chapel Street which I think was known to my generation as Reform Street. (The Chapel - Ebenezer Reform Chapel still standing top of street). It seems Joseph and his wife populated Parkgate! Found at least 15 children - not certain they were ever married. He was born in Cornwall his wife was Irish. My other Great Great Grandfather Thomas Raybould and his wife Mary Ann Collins came from Staffordshire around the same time. Thomas Raybould and Mary Ann Collins set up home i number 1 Broad Street later changed to 1 Taylor's Lane. This then became the family home for around sixty years Raybould - Hamstead - Chafer. My grandmother vacated it in the middle fifties and it was empty then until the whole row was demolished.

I've also found my mother's father's mother's family as far back again as 1861 census - they too appear to have moved to the area in the 1850s - adding to the population of Parkgate - around 12 children! This Great Great Grandfather William Turner lived with his wife Ann at the bottom of Aldwalke Road and he was a Master Cordwainer (shoe maker - I had to look it up!) - This part of the family hailed from Leicestershire. (My youngest son lives there now with his family so one back to roots? - he doesn't make shoes however he's a teacher). My mum's father's family, Chafer - hailed in from Lincolnshire - Epworth farmers and I've discovered that on this side we had a highwayman - think he was hung but this is still to be investigated!!

My father's family were Irish/German - the German part of the family came to Parkgate from Bradford but apparently came over from Germany at the same time as Schonhuts (spelling??) the Butchers - two shops in Parkgate - we used to say top and bottom between the l and the y then! My Grandmother Florence Wolpert left Parkgate for Domestic Service in Bradford and met my grandfather William McNally. They both returned to Parkgate 1901 and lived with Florence's parents in Beartree Road. William McNally became a prominent Rawmarsh Councillor - well known liked and respected especially during the war years. He died in 1947 either putting his boots on or taking them off ( it escapes me which) before or after a council meeting!

Again I've managed to trace my father's family back as far as Great Great Grandparents but don't think I'll be able to go any further back because both German and Irish records are scanty - we shall see. It was my German Great Grandparents who came to Parkgate around 1873ish - setting up home at 96 Bear Tree Road though either they moved to 105 or the numbers changed - probably the latter -(a school building was around this area). Again this became a family home for around sixty years. - And my husband was born just a few doors down at number 69! - We met at Ashwood Road School.

I'm just beginning my husband's family - he died around 12 years ago but my mother in law is still around at the age of 92. All branches of my husband's family also appear to be immigrants to Parkgate/Rawmarsh - coming in from Staffordshire mainly and from Cumbria and again around the 1850s. - It seems Parkgate was definitely the place to be in the middle 1800s!

Sorry if I ramble - I shouldn't - maybe it's the teacher in me (I'm a retired one) - but I find it all very fascinating - I've always had a bit of a history passion - came from history lessons at Ashwood in the 3rd year (year 5 now) with Mr. Pengalli - (spelling??) Now there's a name to stir the imagination - where did he arrive from I wonder!"

Slightly Edited - Webmaster

Recollections of Parkgate from Mary Hedge:–

"I have read with great interest about Patricia's memories of living in Parkgate, she asked about the pub at the top of Stanley Street it was The Rockingham known to all or most parkgaters as Pardy's. The Flying Dutchman was the 1st pub under the bridge almost where the entrance to parkgate retail world is now & the 2nd was Little Bridge Inn. Then came Stone Row about where Homebase is. I lived at the shop next door to the Flying Dutchman for many years & my husband lived down Thomas St where The Little Bridge pub was. In between the 2 pubs was the fish/chip shop owned by Mrs Bamforth this and Mrs Watts shop where the best 2 fish shops in Parkgate (to us lowenders that is).

A little more info of Parkgate in the 5os & 60s. Kathy Wright had a dancing school in the old church opposite the Flying Dutchman you was considered very posh if you could afford to go there I never went there but made do with bottle tops taken from the Dutchman or the Bridge inn dustbins then nailed to my shoes to make them sound like tap shoes. Next door to the Dutchman under the bridge was Staves field where the family kept their horses after they had taken out their vegetables to sell & later on they had a lorry and to this day some of the family are still doing their rounds in Parkgate & Rawmarsh with fresh veg etc.

Towards Rotherham after the Bridge Inn was the entrance to Parkgate iron & steel works where if you lived down Thomas Street you could climb over the wall and play in the waggons: it would be considered dangerous now but back then nobody worried about such things. Then came the stile over to Eastwood and then the steps & bridge over the railway we played hours sliding down the hand rail from the top of the steps in fact the wood rail shone like glass. Then at the top of the bridge we stood waiting for a steam train to go past and all the steam would engulf us we thought it was wonderful and it took ages to get your breath back."

Slightly Edited - Webmaster

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