Memories of Waleswood Hamlet

Random memories of Waleswood Hamlet from late 1920's to early 1940's by Mrs kathleen Hall

The estate land originally belonged to the Earl of Yarborough. It was managed by an agent from Doncaster called Mr Dunwell, and subsequently by his son before being taken over by the Coal Board.

The area was very rich in coal, which was mined at Waleswood Colliery and later at Brookhouse Colliery. (Coal was mined in the area as early as the 1700's).

I remember the General Strike of 1926 and can vaguely remember people digging the fields to obtain fuel, owing to the shutdown of all the mines in the area and no work available to anybody.

It was idyllic surroundings for children to play in. There wre about 10 houses and 6 farms, so there were plenty of green feilds to play in during the summer. There was good tobogganing in the winter and there was also a pond at Kings' Farm nearest the village which was good for sliding. There were some majestic chestnut trees here also and the conkers were just perfect. There were lovely eating apples in the orchard.  Everybody had an orchard as well as being a smallholding, with a large gardern, pig sties and hen houses. (Other peoples apples always tasted better than your own).

Most of the men worked as farm labourers, colliers or on the railways. The women also worked very hard. For the laundry there was a mangle, zinc tub and dolly bags. A copper in the corner of the kitchen and a fire that was awkward to light, which kept the water hot for boiling clothes, as there was only a cold water tap on the sink, other than the boiler at the side of the black-leaded fireplace.

No shops, no transport except walking. No proper roads anywhere until late 1920's. It was a red letter day to see the tar spraying and laying the pebbles on top. Nearly as godd as going round to the farms when the threshing machione came.

Killamarsh Cop-operative Society had a branch shop at Walesbar crossroads, about 1.5 miles from the Waleswood Hamlet (next to the Waleswood pub, now the Ka-China restuarant). I remember having to take the order there on Saturday mornings, collect bacon and butter, pay for the last order we had, get a receipt for our payment which was marked with our Co-op shareholders number (our number was 136) and this with the "divvy" stamps made a satisfying pay-out to help with Christmas, when the divvy was paid. The rest of our order was delivered the following week, and we didn't run out of anything in the meantime.

Our cottage was at the far end of the village, where the village road ended. There was a gate across the road and a lane at the other side which was the private property of Brookhouse Farm, about half a mile away towards Beighton. Access was allowed 364 days a year upon payment of a toll at our cottage (thus we lived at Toll bar Cottage). A board on the side of the cottage listed the charges to be paid for the gate to be opened, by my mum generally. This was a short cut to Beighton, otherwise the journey would be via Swallownest. I can't remember everything painted on the board other than,

Motors  -  6d.  Cycles  -   1d.  Gig, cart or carriage drawn by 1 horse  -  6d.  Each extra horse  -  1d.

Mum recorded each entry in a Toll Book each day, with the vehicle and the charge, and each quarter (every 3 months) it was taken down to the farmer at Brookhouse as payment for the use of his lane through to Beighton. By law the road was closed 1 day each year (generally Good Friday I think), as sthe statutory right of the owner of the land to maintain it was private property and not a public thoroughfare.

Our cottage had thick, whitewashed walls and was thatched. It originally had one main room, two bedrooms and a cellar. Later another bedroom was taked on the bedroom on the right, access being through the first bedroom. I think the kitchen must have been added at the same time, but I can't remember when this was.

I have no first hand knowledge of my father's parents as they had both died before i was born. I do know they were strict methodists. They had 6 sons and 3 daughters, (actually they had 7 sons, Henry died aged 10). The girls tasks were obviously to care for their parents and their brothers, in a very strict household.

The Mallenders together with two more families, Froggatts and Cheethams seemed to form the nucleus of the hamlet.

During the Second World War open-cast colliery working dominated the area on a vast scale. A vast amount of coal was removed and the land was scarred for years.

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I returned to the area during the late 1980's. The area was like a moonscape. Two cottage on left on entering the hamlet are the only remaining dwellings! No sign of the six farms, cottages, gardens and fields, just scarred earth. Bedgreave Mill Farm is now the Craft Centre and tea rooms of Rolther Valley Country Park.

Mrs K Hall (nee Mallender)