From both sides of the river

A FEW weeks ago Mr R Billups sent an article highlighting the virtues of Rawmarsh and Parkgate.

As a lad who was born and bred at Eastwood in Rotherham I was a regular visitor to the other side of the river (Don) and spent many, many happy days there.

My father (Tom) was born on Hall Street, Parkgate, and my mother Alice (Ogden) was from Saville Street, Dalton.

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Grandad Hill was a miner at Aldwarke Colliery and Grandad Ogden was a miner at Silverwood colliery. My father worked at both before working at Parkgate Iron and Steel Co and where I worked for seven years after leaving school (1960)

As a youngster I was taken regularly to Hall Street with my parents and sometimes just with my father and when he had finished there he would take me with him to the snooker hall which was down near the Rec with my Uncle Bill’s children, cousins Pam and Alan who had moved into Grandma and Grandad’s house on Hall Street when they moved to Monkwood Rawmarsh on Beechwood Avenue.

Other places my father took me to were a few of the local cricket grounds. One was in Parkgate, we would walk down Greasbrough Road and turn right into the fields. Another was down Greasbrough Lane to the cricket ground of the new Stubbin colliery.

I can still remember walking down that lane then going on to the cab. Then we would go through a hedge/fence and we would be onto a railway line and sometimes there would be some wagons there and we would climb into them.

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Other times we would catch a bus on Green Lane outside a shop but I don’t remember which ground we went to (not the cricket club on Barbers Avenue)

Years later I used to go to the youth club on Broad Street, Parkgate, with my workmates (early 60s) and got to know quite a few other lads and lasses and a few years ago I wondered if any of them were at any of those cricket grounds at the same time as me.

When I was going to the youth club I was known as ‘Hank’ because of the thick black rimmed glasses I wore like Hank Marvin of the Shadows instrumental group.

My parents were married in 1944 ( Christmas Eve ) and my mother’s best mate from their school days Milly also married round about that time to a man from the other side of the river and lived at Monkwood. My mother would take me to visit and as I got older I would spend many a weekend there with my cousins as I called them. Milly was known as my Aunty. We would play in the wood at the side of Monkwood School.

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Also because of my grandparents living on Beechwood Avenue, which was very close to Rosehill Park, I spent many happy days with my Aunty Emily, my dad’s youngest sister who was only seven or eight years older than me and my cousins Pam and Alan in Rosehill Park and also with Aunty Milly and cousins.

I have already mentioned my Saturday nights at the Rawmarsh baths so no need to go into that again, but I also spent many a Saturday and Sunday night at the Regal with my mates; we always sat on the left hand side. It didn’t matter what was on. We saw some right rubbish at times.

So all this brought me to the question: what was the connection between the two villages? They both had mining communities and the steel works at Parkgate. They both had a local cinema, the Electra in Aldwarke Road and in Dalton the ‘Bug Hut’ just off Doncaster Road across from the Grapes Hotel. Not forgetting the local watering holes (pubs).

I can just imagine a group of young men and women walking over the wash to Dalton one weekend and then another group making the return journey.

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Unlike myself who did the journey solo, except in 1963 when I met a lass from Rawmarsh at the youth club. A few times when she came to my house I would walk her back home and then walk back. Also a couple of times when we went to the pictures in town we would walk all the way back to Rawmarsh and then I would walk it home over the wash home.

Would that be happening today?

I also wonder how many had the same outcome as my mother and her best friend Milly.

Mr Ray Hill, East Herringthorpe, Rotherham

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