Harry Durham 1876 - 1941

HARRY DURHAM

1876 – 1941

My granddad was born October 1876 at a farm in the little village of Misson near Bawtry in Yorkshire, near the River Idle that borders Nottinghamshire there.

 

During his early years, the family moved to East Markham in Notts. where is father, being a farm labourer took another farm himself.

Sometime during his early years there he was sent to school which was about a mile from the village of Dunham near the river Trent, the building still exists although now it is a private dwelling

 

He went until lunch time and then went home, never to return, so his schooling lasted just the half day with the obvious result he was illiterate until my mother, one of his three children, much later taught him to read and write when she was at school at Kiveton

 

When Kiveton colliery were recruiting workers, granddad came to live near, in fact he came to lodge at the house that was on Pennyholme near to where the Chesterfield to Stockwith canal entered the 3 mile tunnel that was behind Kiveton colliery, the house having been built and lived in   by James Brindley the engineer who surveyed and built the canal.

 

There he met and later in 1909,married my grandmother, Ruth Fletcher, in Harthill church, walking from Pennyholme to the church and back.

 

By now he was employed at the colliery as Banksman on the Deep shaft for several years until it was discovered he was partially deaf so was taken off that job and given a job in what was called 'The Chop House'.

 

That was where the food for the ponies was made from various things such as hay, turnips and oats were mixed together, bagged and sent to the stables.

 

It was a two story building with several machines driven by belt drives which he had to operate by moving the belts from one wheel to another with a large stick to work different machines.

 

When I was at school I used to sometimes go down and see him in the midday break and finish up with a pocket full of Bran mix which today is sold as a health food

 

I was brought up by Granddad and Grandma' in a house they had built, the first one on the opposite side of the railway at Kiveton Park Station.

 

I think it was somewhere about 1927 when they had it built at a cost of £450 , something very few working people did in those days.

 

The house, Sun Haven, has been totally rebuilt now, but next door an exact copy still exists, this was built by the same builder for a Mr and Mrs Sutton, he worked as a platelayer on the railway at that time, their remaining son still lives in North Anston

 

Granddad used to get up at about 0330 Monday to Saturday and cycle across Pennyholme to the colliery unless it was deep snow when he would have to cycle up Red Hill instead.

 

Weekdays he fed the six or so ponies that worked on the surface before they started work for the day

 

Sunday mornings he would get up about 0600 as the ponies were not working that day and it was his job to feed them all.

 

This included going down both the Deep and High Hazel shafts to feed those underground and as he was not allowed to go down  alone, many Sundays he would take me to work with him, this at the tender age of 7 or 8. till I was  about 11

 

We would feed those on top then sit and have a cheese on toast breakfast in the little cabin by the side of the stream that ran from Harthill  ponds before going across Pennyholme to join the canal by going down the steps nearer to Kiveton Station.

 

When he had  a delivery of say hay to the chop house he would help unload it and be rewarded usually with a bottle of stout, which as he never drank alcohol he gave to Gran', who being a staunch Methodist made me swear never to tell anyone she drank it.

The bottle would last her two or three days and she used to add a spoonful of sugar to each glass to take the bitter edge off it.

 

Feeding the ponies was fun as they all except one,used to be glad to see us, this one as you passed down the side of him to get to the feeding point would, whichever side you went down, try to squash you against the wall

 

In the evenings before he went to bed about 7.30 he sometimes would sit with his pipe having a smoke and imitate the trains that had passed as he was cycling to work, some slow some fast until the room was full of smoke

 

He had a garden as well as about an acre of land he rented from the council which he used to dig by hand every year providing us with more than enough vegetables for the whole year, selling any       surplus to a Mr Tomlinson who came round every Saturday with his mobile shop                                 .

I remember him coming in from his digging and standing at the sink stripped to the waist and asking Gran to smack his back round his waist with a bunch of stinging nettles to relieve his back ache

 

Something I have used often to relieve the pain on a bad knee, it works.

 

That garden is now covered in houses right to the edge of the quarry

 

He would come home from work, have a cup of tea and a sandwich then spend until dark in the winter or until six in the summer before feeding our two or three pigs then coming in, stripping to the waist to wash then changing his shirt before sitting down for his dinner for is dinner.

 

After dinner he would sit and read the Daily Express,  have a smoke before retiring to bed at about 7.30 even on Saturday nights as well.

 

He had his 65th birthday mid October 1941 and celebrated finishing his mortgage, plus drawing his first weeks old age pension of 10/-

 

He died in bed under a week later before having the chance to draw the second week and was buried in Anston church yard in a plot he and Gran' had reserved many years previously in the top corner under a Copper Beach tree where Gran, joined him in 1949