MEMORIES OF QUARRY AVENUE KNOTTINGLEY
Mrs. A. D. Groves
father and mother moved with the family from a small cottage in a row of
cottages next to where Racca Green News is now, to the newly built council
houses of Quarry Avenue. That was in late June 1929 and I was born a few
weeks later in August, the first child to be born in the new houses.
those days, Quarry Avenue meant all the houses from just over the railway
crossing on Womersley Road as far as the shop which was owned by Mr. and
was a lovely place to live with a small garden to the front and a large
one at the rear looking out onto a field where all the children used to
play. This was a grass field which always had lots of wild flowers and
elderberry bushes along the edge of a dirt track leading to the lime
quarries; hence the name Quarry Avenue.
was always something to do and someone to play with and we could safely
play on Womersley Road because the only traffic was one bus an hour each
way to and from Doncaster. We used to play whip and top or skipping ropes,
just moving out of the way onto the pavement when the bus passed by when
we saw them coming.
the bottom fence of our back garden my dad made a stile for us to get into
the field. Most of the gardens which bordered the field had a stile for
easy access and most of the houses had a tall pole which had a wireless
aerial leading to the house because wirelesses were becoming very popular
were three lime quarries no longer in use behind Quarry Avenue and a
fourth one at the top of Womersley Road which was still burning lime for
agricultural use. We were not allowed to go into that one but children
suffering from whooping cough were often taken for a walk around the top
of the quarry to inhale the lime fumes, hoping it would help to cure the
whooping cough I think.
friend Olive and I used to spend hours roaming the disused lime quarries.
We used to bring home tadpoles in jars or sometimes lumps of frog spawn
kept in 2lb jam jars outside on the back window ledge. When they changed
into tadpoles we had to take them back and put them in the quarry pools
quarries were such a wonderful natural place to play, you could play
football or rounders in the open spaces or pretend you were riding a horse
and play Cowboys and Indians. You could make secret dens that only you
knew about. Olive and I used to look under stones to find newts, frogs and
toads. Some of the newts were as much as six inches long but as children
we didn’t know them as newts – we called them Askads or Askerds. It
wasn’t until we were doing nature lessons at school that I realised that
Askads were in fact newts. I do seem to
remember there was a newt on the coat of arms at Askern so perhaps that is
where it came from as a sort of local name.
ponds in the quarries used to freeze over in winter, it was a winter
wonderland then and sometimes grown-ups used to skate on the ponds and
make bonfires to roast potatoes on.
dad used to rent part of one of the quarries and he kept hens, ducks,
geese and sometimes a pig. As I got older I sometimes had to go and feed
them before I went to school. I didn’t mind the hens and ducks but the
geese used to scare me.
it was getting near to Bonfire night, all the bigger lads in Quarry Avenue
used to collect stuff to burn and then have to guard it because raiding
parties from other gangs would come and try to pinch it. Quarry Avenue
lads used to cut Hawthorn branches from the Quarries and arrange it in a
prickly ring around the bonfire in the field to make it harder to steal. I
used to hate the jumping crackers on bonfire night, you never knew where
they were going to land.
lot of the Quarry Avenue lads used to have nicknames in those days,
perhaps many lads still do today. I remember one boy called Roley, one
called Gezzler, one called Sabu, and one called either Sylvest or
Sylvester. One of my brother’s whose name was George was always known as
Dillinger. The reason for his nickname, which by the way stuck with him
for all his life, was because when he was in his last years at school
between the ages of thirteen and fourteen, his teacher, a very tall, slim
man and who in the boys eyes earned the nickname ‘Spider’, used to
take the boys in his class once a week to St. Botolph's Parish Rooms
from the Church School in Tythe Barn, to have a woodwork lesson. I don’t
know what they were all supposed to be making but whilst the teacher was
out of the room for a moment, my brother either found or fashioned a piece
of wood that looked a bit like a pistol, and hearing someone behind him
and thinking it was one of his friends, spun round, aimed the piece of
wood and said in his best gangster accent, "Stick em up!"
was the teacher, who said "Who do you think you are – Dillinger?"
and he gave him six strokes of the cane and a nickname forever.
I was little there was a fish shop on Womersley Road called ‘Kingsway
Fisheries’. The front of the shop had a little garden with crazy paving
and a sort of rock garden made to look like a fishing boat with coloured
lights hanging from the mast like poles at the front and back of the boat
and across the top. They looked very pretty at night. Its funny how things
like that stay in your mind – maybe nobody else remembers it now but I
remember standing at our gate and hearing Bagley’s buzzer blow at twelve
o’clock and all the workers going past for their dinners. Then my Dad
would come home on his bike from the chemical works at the other side of
Skew Bridge and we would go in for our dinner which my mother always had
ready on the table. We would all eat our dinners together as most families
did back then. My Dad would set off on his bike at quarter to one to get
there for one o’clock. My older brother would go to school for one
thirty and my younger brother and I would go and play in the garden. I was
quite a robust child hardly ever ill but my younger brother Dennis seemed
to always be in hospital. Firstly with a Mastoid in his ear, he was ages
getting over that and then he came down with scarlet fever, a long illness
in those days. Later on he fell and broke his hip and was in plaster from
his waist to his toes for months. My mother had a cot downstairs near the
window so that he could wave to people as they passed by. Everyone liked
him and they often used to send him little gifts because in spite of his
illness he was very good natured.
remember them starting to build a public house opposite where we lived,
next to the railway crossing. It was finished just as the war started.
They called it The Winston. I was ten years old then but that’s
don’t know if you will enjoy reading my memories, but I have enjoyed
writing this small snippet as I have enjoyed reading all the other
memories in previous issues of The Digest.
luck and keep up the good work; maybe later I will write some more.
Mrs A. D. Groves