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William Robinson

A written account by grand daughter Jackie Wells (nee Robinson) who recalls family stories about her grand father who worked at Castle Howard Station as a porter, and the early memories of her father Frank Robinson who spent his childhood in nearby Crambeck.

Crossing Cottage Crambeck

Frank, Leslie and Ellen Robinson outside the Crossing Keeper's Cottage at Crambeck
Source: Jackie Wells Collection

William Robinson was my grandfather and he was the Castle Howard Station Porter when the Station was a thriving hub of passenger and cargo freight, during the early 1900s.

He and my grandmother, Ellen, (Nell), had three children: my father Frank, and my uncle and aunt: Leslie and Ethel. They lived at the Crossing Keeper’s Cottage, Crambeck, and my dad (Frank) loved his home and surroundings very much. My grandfather, William, died in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918, leaving grandma and three young children (my dad was 10 years old at the time). At that time, I believe, my grandma, Nell, and the three children were obliged to leave the Cottage, which they did, making their home in Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire. This must have been very hard for all of them, and I know my dad always spoke very fondly of his memories as a boy in Crambeck, Welburn and Whitwell-on-the-Hill.

Dad (Frank) met Lily (our mum) and married. They had my sister June, my brother Michael (Mick) and myself Jacqueline (Jackie) and we were all born and brought up in Goldthorpe. Dad died in 1987 and mum died in 1998. During their lifetime, we often took dad back to Crambeck for him to look at his birthplace and we have a photograph of him, shortly before he died, outside the Cottage with others who, I believe, are the present owners of the house.

William Robinson

William Robinson
Source: Jackie Wells Collection

Dad (Frank) told us of his dad, William, walking from Crambeck to the Castle Howard Station each day, and I picture him, swinging his railway lamp, walking alongside the track. He remembered the fountain, next to the station box, and we have photographs of the fountain iced up during the harsh winters. A photograph of the working fountain, with my grandad standing next to it, is in my possession, as well. I believe a replica of the fountain is in the garden of the Castle Howard Station house, now a private residence, and I thank the owners very much for keeping true to this.

I have a photograph of William, my grandfather, taken I think shortly before he died in 1918 and it sits on my bureau, even though I never knew him. A mystery photograph, apparently in the frame behind this one, was discovered recently and I think this is of William when he was a young soldier, but I’m not sure of this. The date is unknown and no name is on the back of it. The only print on the reverse is Hodgson’s, the Studio, Bridlington. Who is this unknown soldier?

Another photograph in my possession is a postcard sent to William, Signal Porter, Castle Howard Station, but I cannot read who it is from. Stamped on the reverse is Carton Iron Works and 5 railway workers are sitting on the station bench at Stillington Station, Stockton-on-Tees. The person who sent it was leaving for Trimdon shortly after the postcard was sent. I also have a postcard of Welburn Village West End, sent by William to his wife, Nell’s sister Sally, in Sharrow, Sheffield. He has written on it that he has put a cross on the postcard where his house is, in Welburn. My grandfather and grandmother must have lived there before moving to Crossing Keeper’s Cottage. The postcard is postmarked 1906.

Stillington Station

Railway workers at Stillington Station
Source: Jackie Wells Collection

My dad (Frank) was born in 1908, the eldest son of William and Nell. Dad loved his home and the area, hence our visits with him. He told us that when he was small, he would go into the woods after school and at weekends, looking for white chestnuts, which he would take to the house at the top of the hill [Welburn Lodge] and they would sell them for a half-penny a bag. Also, on school days, after school he would go straight to the local flour mill and help to bag the flour, for which he was paid the princely sum of one penny a day. Under no circumstances though, was he allowed back into the house when he got home until Grandma (his mum) had dusted all the flour from him — he must have looked something like a snowman. Dad always had a love for the countryside, and knew the names of all plants and birds. His love of gardening must have come from those days. In his later years, he became well-known for the growing of chrysanthemums, the passion flower plant and his tomatoes!

I would love to know more about my grandfather, William (Robinson). Who worked with him? How long was he ill with flu before he died? What happened to his parents (my great grandfather and grandmother). Where did they come from’? I wish I had asked my grandma (Nell) these questions, but I was young and it didn’t seem important to me then. As a child, you live for the moment, and the past is over and done with, to you. Only as an adult do you come to appreciate your heritage, and nostalgia and curiosity come to the fore to enable you to seek further information.

 

William Robinson

Crossing Keeper's Cottage at Crambeck

William Robinson in the Castle Howard Station garden
Source: Jackie Wells Collection

Frank and Lily Robinson visting the Crossing Keeper's Cottage at Crambeck.
Source: Jackie Wells Collection