Conisbrough & Denaby Main
Heritage Group

THIS ITEM IS THE PROPERTY OF CONISBROUGH AND DENABY MAIN HERITAGE GROUP, DONATED BY JIM DARLEY.

EXTRACTS FROM CUNSBER (Conisbro) BY JIM DARLEY

In 1850 the Vicarage was near the top of Pop Lane on what is now called High Street. In those days there was only a narrow path to the Church and the Village Green where the Stocks originally stood.  Also on High Street there is a three storey house called Elmhirst, once the home of Godfrey Walker, farm manager.  The cross shaft of Conisbrough that once stood on the village green is now tucked away in a remote corner of the Church.

In the Castle Plantation are many trees, these were planted on the instructions of Lady Yarborough who said the area was ugly and needed something to cover the land.  There used to be two white washed stone cottages in the plantation facing Burcroft Hill, the old gate posts were there for many years.

Many of the old street names in Conisbrough have changed over the years the following are just a few:

Providence Place now the Cemetery
Railway Inn, now the Castle Inn
Foulsdyke Tunnel now Cadeby Tunnel
Bur Croft or Birch Croft now Burcroft

Brook Green now Brook Square
Cross Hill from Morley Place to Gardens Lane and now called Old Road
Church Street or Church Lane is now High Street
Crummock Lane is now Station Road
Chapel Lane now Castle Avenue but called Crow Lane by many residents
Henwell Lane now Chapel Lane
Spring Dale now Dale Road
Ladys Lane and Dark Lane now Elm Green Lane
Earnshaws Lane now Northcliffe Road
And Gardeners Terrace now Gardens Lane
Marshgate, better known as Codder Alley and Whit-leather Alley now renamed Marchgate.


The old Tannery was at the bottom of Codder Alley at the other side of the brook which was crossed by a rope bridge.  Whit or white leather was used for making horse saddles and a codder or cadder did the tanning.  The Tannery was owned by Mr George Walker father of Mr Godfrey Walker.  When the Tannery closed down the premises were taken over by Simeon
Simpson and used as a storeroom for chimney pots, drain pipes and tiles that were made at the Ashfield Brickworks on the opposite side of what is now Sheffield Road.

There are stone quarries all the way from Rock House to the Viaduct Railway Bridge.  The stone pillars inside Doncaster Parish Church were made from stone taken from the Lime Grove Quarry.  In those days there were more stonemasons in the village than any other tradesmen.  Ladys Valley on North Cliff hills was a limestone quarry, with lime burning kilns at the roadside – demolished when the private houses were built.

Now to Burcroft where I was born, gone are the six stone cottages facing Burcroft known as Booths Yard.  I always had a particular fancy for number five.  Booths House still remains, Geo Booths famous Sickle Works are still in operation, Tom Booths Sawmill with its famous water wheel is still there but no longer used but Turners Flour Mill is now being used as a store room by Geo Booth & Sons and owned by a Sheffield firm.

What surprised me when I went down to Burcroft in 1972 was to see Duftons Row still standing.  All the houses were empty but the marks left by the overflowing of the Don still could be seen.  Duftons shop is occupied but the Gas Works and Gas Holders have gone. When the river overflowed all the tenants of Duftons Row had to live upstairs and food had to be taken to them by rowing boat.

The Castle Inn – the oldest public house in Conisbrough has been rebuilt on part of the old foundations of The Railway Inn, apart from being a public house it has also been a saw mill driven by a water wheel then earlier still a grinding mill.  Part of the water wheel shaft and two grinding wheels are to be seen near the bridge over the brook.



The brook at this stage was full of water cress and trout could be seen, the water then was clear and fit to drink.  The trout had escaped from the dams of the Castle Saw Mills owned by Mr L Wilson. This mill (Castle Mill) was one of two mentioned in the Domesday Book, the owner had to pay fifty shillings per year to the Lord of the Castle, it had two dams.  The large pond near the road would freeze in winter and become the venue of hundreds of skaters from near and far.  Further along Low Road we pass Bosdin J Clarksons Eltsac Toffee Works with its large chimney with the words ELTSAC WORKS in big letters, that could be seen a long way off.

Arriving at Brook Square we find Pagdins Boot and Shoe Shop at the corner of Lamphouse Hill, also in the Square were W H Marshall outfitter for men, Brocklesbys grocery store, Charlie Farrells bakery and sweet shop and facing Farrells shop was many years ago the Cricketers Arms.  On Lamphouse Hill lived Herbert Pickering, Lamplighter and Town Crier.  Also on Brook Square are the stables where the Mail Coach horses were kept now used as a store room and above the bakery and stables is a large room at one time used for dancing, then roller skating. During the 1914 1918 war this room was used as the Army Recruiting Office.  After the war it became the British Legion Club but it is now closed and being used by an electrical engineering firm as a storeroom.

The second oldest public house in Conisbrough is The Red Lion Inn on Sheffield Road, part of the old public house still remains.  As traffic became heavier stables were built on the opposite side of the road, together with a coach house, the landlord was then granted a licence to hire out horses, as was the landlord of The Star Hotel.  Next to these stables was an old long stone building which in the sixteenth century was part of an old flax mill that was situated on the other side of the road where Nicholsons Brewery stood.  Nicholsons beer was made using malt from Hill Top Farm owned by Mr Francis Ogley.  The water used at Nicholson Brewery came from Holywell Spring.  After two disastrous fires the brewery was closed and the buildings later taken over by Braim and Cooper.  The long building running alongside Sheffield Road was used by the Government during World War 2 as a food store.

Mr Francis Ogley had the second brewery in the village, this was at Hill Top Farm, as well as brewing beer he was also a whisky distiller and a malt burner.  Mr Ogley brewed his first beer in a large copper inside his house but later had his brewery built in the yard.  All of his farm stock was transferred further down Firsby Lane. He had large water cooled vats in the brewing shed, had another place built where he burned his own grown malt and a storage house for the hops etc.  He also built stables for three horses and a place to keep a Horse Dray, also a house to keep the harness. Mr Ogley had Hill Top Hotel and The Eagle and Child built, but also had a public house on the east coast, somewhere near Redcar.  He would send the beer on a two horse dray.
It is thought that Mr Ogley was an eccentric old man as he had an extension built for him to live in that was one up, one down and no floor coverings whatsoever and the walls were not decorated – he did not believe in wasting money. Mr Francis Ogley died 2nd November 1894 aged 65 years and was interred in Conisbrough Church Yard.

At the top of Church Street there was a three storey house, the original Red Lion Inn.  These premises were used by Mr F Gurney, Boot and Shoe Dealer and later taken over by Mr Ogilwy and antique dealer.   Opposite this building was what used to be a farm yard and house but this was extended and turned into a fish and chip shop by Mr Stenton a member of the Wesleyan Chapel.  The shop was always spic and span, you could almost eat your food off the floor.  A huge twenty eight pound block of American lard was always stood on the counter.  We all loved to go behind the boards to a kind of café and enjoy a double un for tuppence or a pennorth of chips with a few bits on the side, never the same after Mr Stenton retired.

Mr Taylor had a greengrocers shop near Mr Stentons Fish and Chip Shop, he was a Methodist and Lay Reader.  Whenever anyone went into his shop Mr Taylor would be there reading ‘The Good Book’, his bible.  He always said they were the best stories ever told.   He would tell the children the best stories in the book.

THE FIRE STATION stood in Church Street near to the entrance of one of the many Godfrey Walker farms.  When a fire broke out anywhere in the area someone would have to ring the fire bell (the ringer received five shillings for this).  Someone then had to run down Church Street all the way to the Station Hotel and tell Fred Lowe to bring the horses to pull the engine as there was a fire.  The water pump was hand operated, six men on each side.  For all their hard work they would be paid five shillings.

Long before 1914 Conisbrough had one of the kindest families in the Walters family.  They were spotlessly clean Pork Butchers, always charitable and willing to help anyone in need.  They lived in Conisbrough but had a butchers shop in Denaby where the old post office used to be.  The Walters family were from Germany, naturalised British citizens.  When World War 1 broke out a large number of people began to hate all German shop owners.  Walters shop in Denaby was smashed and then the mob marched up to the shop in Conisbrough and did the same there.  Two brothers named Alpine hurled stones through the large shop window and then the mob broke through the police barrier and looted the shop.  I stood opposite and watched the whole incident but was too young and frightened to say anything, however, the Alpines left the district shortly after.

There were several families of Clarkson in the village, including Bosdin J Clarkson, Sweet Manufacturer, R J Clarkson, Painter and Decorator, George Clarkson, Baker and another family of Clarksons owned the Church Farm where we would go each night with cans and jugs for ‘separated’ milk – one penny for one quart of milk. This was so we could have porridge for supper.

When I was young I would be sent to the Co op twice a week to buy flour for my mum to bake bread.  I would have to buy two stones of flour and two ounces of yeast.  This would be used next day when it was my job to mix the dough for one hour.

There was no playing outside the house in those days as most children always had something to do when we came home from school.  Fridays were not good for me as I had to polish all the spoons and forks and all of the many items of brass that we had.
Sometimes a treat on Saturday would be a walk to Denaby to catch the Waggonette to Mexborough Market, the fare was one penny.  The waggonette was illuminated inside by the light of a candle lamp.  As closing time at the market approached people would rush to buy items that were being sold off at lower than usual prices. The fish and fruit stalls were favourite and it was possible to buy a piece of fish weighing three or four pounds for as little as one shilling.  Egyptian eggs (a small egg) were sold for the price of one shilling for two dozen and apples at one shilling for a pound weight.  Oranges were even better selling for twenty four to thirty oranges for one shilling.   The reason all of these things were being sold so cheaply was because most of the market traders came from Sheffield and didn’t want to go to the trouble of taking everything back with them.

The Police Station was built in 1883 on the site of the old Tythe Barn that was burned down in 1865. Castle Farm opposite the Police Station was built in 1789, another farm at one time owned by Godfrey Walker.  It was later sold to W W Norwood, the veterinarian in the village.  Norwood owned the farm until the local council bought it along with Kents Yard or Low Fold as it was known and turned it into a storage depot.

CHADWICKS ROW/CORONATION TERRACE
When Joseph Chadwick was the publican at the Star Hotel in 1832 he purchased the property at the rear of the hotel which consisted of a number of stone cottages and belonged in an area which was known as Gawk Hole.  At this time these cottages were the last buildings before the Mill opposite the Castle was reached.   Until 1841 there was no real road from Conisbrough to Mexborough & Swinton.  
Upon purchasing this property Mr Chadwick re named it with his own surname this was to last until the property was demolished in 1956, however it does appear that at the time of King George V coronation in 1911 Chadwicks Row won a competition most probably organised by the local council for the best decorated collection of houses.  However, records show the use of the name Coronation Row in 1923 in an Inland Revenue document.  
To add further to the confusion to the history of Chadwicks Row it was sometimes referred to as 'White Wash Row' as the cottages were given an annual coating of white wash about Easter time.  This was also done to most of the other stone built houses in Conisbrough.  This practice seems to have ceased about 1914.



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