The War Memorials of Mexborough & District, This Summer’s Main Project.
As many of our war memorials are now approximately eighty years old and are showing the effects time, weather and chemical erosion, many of the inscriptions are becoming worn and difficult to read. Before the name of those local heroes, who made the ultimate sacrifice, sadly become illegible the society took it upon itself to copy down every name listed on the war memorials of the Mexborough area, and a little beyond, and published these on our website for everyone, world wide, to see. Please note that for those who have not got access to the internet they may consult them at the Local History Room, Mexborough Library.
Our gratitude for this immense task must go to: Ron James for his expert photographic skills, who toured all our local memorials recording them for posterity; our Webmaster for his professional design; Margaret, Molly and
Sandra, who for hours copied out lists of names longhand; and Julia for typing them out.
War Memorials Recorded
Adwick – Upon – Dearne
Wath – Upon – Dearne & Church
Another of our summer projects has been to assist the Mexborough Branch of the Royal Naval Association in the unveiling of a plaque in honour of HMS Tarantula.
During the 2nd W.W. there were many initiatives created to raise money for different sectors of the armed forces, one of these, along with Weapons Week, was Warships Week which took place in Mexborough in February 1942.
The ship, which Mexborough became responsible for was HMS Tarantula which was a flat bottomed gunboat built specifically for campaigns on inland waterways. She was quite a small ship of just 645 tons, but punched heavier than her bantamweight suggested and had a formidable arsenal of: two 6in. guns; two 12 pounders 3in anti-aircraft guns and six Lewis Guns.
Known affectionately as the Insect Class, in 1916 she had been taken to the Persian Gulf with her sister ships Gnat, Moth and Mantis to join the Tigris Flotilla. She was then taken to the West River, which is the western tributary of the Pearl River in China. She was involved in much action and because of damage received, by 1942 needed a new hull.
This is where Mexborough came onto the scene. The Admiralty sent Lieutenant-Commander A. Lincoln to speak to the residents and ask for their help in raising the necessary funds.
The people of Mexborough responded like no other. Warship Week was opened by comedian Stinker Murdoch and by the end the citizens, plus assistance from local industry, raised the staggering figure of £63,000. This is a vast amount, for those days, an estimate, at present day values, would be £6,300.000.
In 1944 she became the flagship of the British Pacific Fleet. But by 1945 she had begun the downwood spiral into decline and was used, at Trincomalee, on the north east coast of Sri Lanka, as a floating offices, depot and workshop. She was finally sunk on 1st May 1946.
But that isn’t the end of her story as her plaque was acquired by the Mexborough Branch of the Royal Naval Association who, during the summer months, came to see Julia, at the Local History Room as they wished to know some of Mexborough’s involvement in the renovation and upkeep of the ship. After some weeks of extensive research by Julia, mostly in back copies of the South Yorkshire Times, enough information was unearthed by her from which to write a small booklet, which will be released by them at a later date. The plaque was unveiled and presented to the people of Mexborough, at Mexborough Resource Centre, Dolcliffe Road, Mexborough on 18th September 2010.
Fish, Chips and Formaldehyde
Early in the year Julia was contacted by the ‘Down Your Way’ magazine, concerning an article entitled ‘Fish, Chips, and Formaldehyde written by Barbara Lambert, now living in Bradford.
This article told the story of Hirst’s Fish & Chip Shop, later to be owned by Tordoff. She tells: about the shops, such as Young’s Greengrocer, next-door; Evan’s Sweet Shop, next to that; The Old Masons’ Arms, Public House on the other side; and how she would help her gran to ‘rumble’ and eye the potatoes for chips to be fried later that day in the shop. Our part in the writing of this item was to provide: some of the info, such as the location of certain businesses; and also the illustrations which were later to accompanying the article. But the piec-di-resistance, to my mind, besides the article itself, is the cover of the magazine, which features the fish & chip shop; this is a magnificent water colour by the well known nostalgic artist, Margaret Clarkson.
This painting depicts the interior of Hirst’s Fish & Chip Shop on a busy winter, Saturday, lunchtime. The two, brightly aproned, rotund, jovial, beturbaned clad, aproned, ladies, smile happily at the queue, from behind the bulbous topped counter. One of the ladies has hoisted her amply breasts onto the counter in order to lean over it and serve the first in the queue, a pint-sized rebel who’s hands are upward stretched in order to reach his precious helping of fish & chip, wrapped in newspaper, of course. Banks of hot chips can be seen to their rear, with, to one side fried fish laid in orderly lines. A pan, of streaming mushy peas, with protruding handle, like green volcanic mud, ‘blup’ on the stove in the corner, while regiments of bottled vinegar stand to attention on white scrubbed shelves. All not very ‘Health and Safety’ by today’s standards, but oh! how they tasted on a cold winter night, walking home after a night at the pictures.
News From the Local History Room
This summer we have fought to save the Local History Room. As you will remember, earlier in the year, we were informed that DMBC was to increase the rent of our room, by 50%, from £40 per month to £60. Following this: all keys were taken from our Chair/Research Manager, so now we have ask to be let into our room; media involvement, in order to promote the Local History Room and the Library was refused; bills for the payment of rent were not received but a Bailiff’s Letter was. We tried to negotiate with the Area Manager but to no avail. At last, in frustration, we contacted our local Councillors for help, they all agreed that we give the people of Mexborough, and beyond, an important service, and agreed to pay our rent, for just one year, out of the their own personal budget. If it hadn’t been for them then Mexborough would have lost yet another important service.
But that isn’t the end of it as we are to visit Ed. Milliband MP to ask for his assistance is saving this service for the people of Mexborough. We are to be accompanied, in order that he can give support, by our new Councillor Mr. Holland.
May I, on behalf of the society thank Councillors Jill Arkley-Jevons, Sue Phillips and Mr. Holland, for all their help.