Fancy taking a multimedia journey through Mexborough's long and varied past? Well, at long last you can, with the launch of the Societies own CD ROM, 'MEXBOROUGH'S MILLENNIUM'.
The latest technology has been used to allow the modern viewer a chance to glimpse a Mexborough much changed over the years.
From a wealth of photographs you can take a look at the past industries of our town, and its people. Our sporting heroes, and places long since gone.
The CD ROM has been given to each school and college in the town, as well as the local library in which it was launched.
Mexborough and District Heritage Society Chairman, Cliff Blaydes, said it was important that the young people of the area were aware of their rich heritage.
"Mexborough has been pretty much decimated in the past few years", he said.
"This new collection should mean aspects of the way people lived here will be there to look at for posterity".
Related to this subject the Society is particularly worried about two of the town's buildings - the old Chapel and Mexborough Hall, both of which are "literally falling to pieces. The Chapel is about the oldest building in the town and we think it would make an ideal Civic Flail".
A campaign to save these treasures is earmarked to take place in the near future. Any person wishing to purchase their own copy of the afore-mentioned CD ROM 'Mexborough's Millennium' please see details in SOCIETY NEWS on page four of this newsletter.
MR NORMAN WALTER WATSON. 1906 - 2000
Norman Walter Watson was born on 17th February 1906 at 59 Hirstgate, Mexborough. He was the oldest of the three children of Ann Elizabeth and William Watson. He was baptised at St. John's Church, Mexborough, and remained a member of this church all his life. For many years he was deputy organist at Denaby Main Parish Church.
Norman was educated at Doncaster Road School, Mexborough; Rossington Street School, Denaby Main (where his father was Headteacher); and at Mexborough Secondary School (as it was then called) on College Road. From there he went to St John's Teacher Training College in Leeds.
His first appointment as a teacher was at Station Road School, Conisbrough. After a short period there he was appointed to Adwick Road School, Mexborough, as teacher in charge of History and Music. He later became Deputy Head, but retired early in 1958, after thirty years of teaching, to nurse his mother who was then widowed and seriously ill. He had been retired so long that the Teachers' Pensions authority contacted him from time to time to ensure that he was still alive, and he had to have a form signed and witnessed to that effect.
Soon after Norman's birth the family moved to 2 Makin Street, where his brother Donald and sister Eva were born. This was the family home until 1939 when their father retired and built 'Counterscarp', now named 'Parkside', 9 Castle Hill Avenue, Mexborough. Here Norman lived with his mother until her death in 1959 when he moved house to allow Eva and her husband Peter and four children to move in. Norman moved across the garden to Doncaster Road to a house also built by his father after his retirement. Norman lived alone there until his death. He never married.
Norman will be remembered by many of his old pupils at Adwick Road School for their many excursions into Derbyshire on Saturdays. He knew Derbyshire like the back of his hand and he walked there regularly until just before his death at the age of 94.
He was an abstemious man. He turned vegetarian in 1926 and he was a lifelong non-smoker and total abstainer. He was never ill, until a few weeks before his death. He was an inveterate walker and cyclist, and a 'Youth' Hosteller until a few years ago. As a youth, when the rest of the family went to Scarborough for the August holiday, Norman chose to walk, taking three days for the 80 miles. The following year he walked to Scotland.
Norman lived very simply. He never had a car, a television, a fridge, or a freezer. He never took a newspaper. He had two bicycles, one bought in the 1920's and his 'new' one bought in the early 1930's. He once told Donald that he would never buy anything he could not mend himself if it went wrong. His exception here was his cycle's 3-speed gear, which never did go wrong! Only a few years ago he was in Pontefract before most people were at work, having taken his cycle on the train, and cycled along
disused lines to York.
For over sixty years he walked in the Alps in August. Davos was his favourite centre. A few years ago the Council there awarded him a trophy for being their visitor of longest standing. His last visit was two years ago.
Norman was a devout Christian and for what seems like decades he was Secretary of the local branch of the Bible Society.
Norman was always willing to give talks on local history and was a founder member of Mexborough and District Heritage Society, being its first Chairperson in 1987, later becoming its only Honorary President. He attended meetings regularly and often gave the vote of thanks. These were opportunities to contribute from his vast knowledge about Mexborough and its surrounding area, and were always very informative, often putting the speaker right about a few facts. His more recent talks were illustrated by slides from his store of old photographs - for him, quite an innovation into new technology! Many is the time he has arrived at Committee meetings, or just private get-togethers, bearing another interesting old photograph or article from his uncle Leonard Harrop's scrapbooks, enough to tantalise and make his friends wonder how many more there are similar to that!
He will be sadly missed in so many areas of Mexborough life, not least walking along Church Street with his knapsack on his back, on his way to the station for yet another outing.
Also a letter written by Marion Allen about the life of Norman
Watson was sent to The South Yorkshire Times-13th March 2000.
As most of you will know our President Norman Watson passed away recently. A mine of information, he supplied many photographs now in the societies archives. Over the past few years he has not been as active in the society as perhaps he would have liked but his enthusiasm for Mexborough and its heritage never wained.
Before the next meeting, Monday 8th May, the AGM will be held, please come at the earlier time of 6.30pm and get involved. There appears to be a growing interest in the society, recent attendances have been excellent. Do any of the new members want to join the Committee? They would be very welcome. The next speakers, as you know are the Leader Brothers. This duo prove time aftebetime to he our most popular speakers. The room will be full so make sure of your seat and come to the AGM first.
The Society has been invited to enter a float in the street parade as part of Doncaster's Millennium festival. The theme is images relating to the 'River of Life', ie. the Ri ver Don. Could we make a float of the old ferry boat?
A group of people from various clubs and societies from Mexborough are organising a Mexborough Gala to be held on the Athletic Ground on August Bank Holiday Monday. Our Heritage Society is taking part, we are hoping to have a stand showing celebrations in Mexborough past, not only the last millennium but Royal visits, Whitsuntide Parades, VE Day, etc. If you have any photos or stories to share please help. We are trying to organise a re-enactment society to appear at the gala, although this depends on funding available. There is a group from Barnsley who specialise in the Civil War period, perhaps we can interest them in doing battle for us.
DOLCLIFFE ROAD SCHOOL
The Society have been in correspondence with the Planning Services at the Council about the future of Dolcliffe Road School. Originally it was known as the Central Board School. The outcome is that with respect to the building itself, the site lies within residential housing policy area PHI 5/10 as a potential housing site. Whilst the building may have some architectural merit, and conversion rather than demolition would be welcomed, demolition unfortunately cannot be ruled out since it is neither Listed, nor within a Conservation Area.
We have responded by saying that it occupies the highest, most prominent point in Mexborough and is a building of some worth. Particularly as we have lost so many of our old buildings, and there are very few left, we should strongly recommend that conversion to residential accommodation is promoted, rather than using the site for rebuilding.
If you have any strong feelings about this, we suggest that you contact the Executive Director of Development and Transport, DMBC, or write to the South Yorkshire Times.