Life as a Victorian nanny

LABOUR was cheap and plentiful in Dewsbury in Victorian times when most people worked in the mills and when employers lived in large mansions on the outskirts of town.

Their large homes, usually situated in extensive grounds, needed a host of servants to look after them, and this provided much-needed jobs for local people, and sometimes even accommodation as well.

Many of these houses still survive, but most of them are now residential homes or have been converted into flats, especially those in the Oxford Road area of Dewsbury.

The people working in these grand houses included gardeners, cooks, groomsmen, maids, stable-hands, as well as a number of other servants who carried out more menial tasks.

But there were also governesses and nannies who took care of the children of the house, and I was delighted this week to receive a photograph of one them who was nanny to three of the Lyles children.

This particular nanny was a young girl called Sarah Ellen Waring, who came to Dewsbury from Barnsley in the 1880s to work in service.

In 1900, she married Arthur Waring, a close relative of Rugby League commentator Eddie Waring.

The picture was sent in by Sarah's grandson, Ray Brace, who some may remember was stage manager at the Empire Theatre before it closed in 1955.

Sarah was only 18 when the picture was taken, and although we do not have the names of the children pictured, we do know they were part of the Lyles family who owned mills in the town.

How long she worked for the family, or which branch of the Lyles family employed her we do not know, but we do know she and her husband, Arthur, lived for some years in Ripon Road, Earlsheaton, and that she died in 1956.

Sarah was one of many who earned their living working for the wealthy people of Dewsbury in those days.

Sam Winterburn was another who worked for many years as head gardener at Moorlands Hall, which was situated at the top of Moorlands Road and was the home of the prosperous Tweedale family. The house later became Moorlands Maternity Home, but is now a residential home.

Sam, who had 10 children, lived in a little cottage in the grounds of what was once a vast estate.

There were other very big houses in Dewsbury which stood in acres of land and employed large numbers of staff, including Crow Nest Hall, where now Dewsbury Museum is situated.

Another large mansion, which has sadly disappeared, was Grove House, where now the magistrates' court stands, owned by the Halliley family who owned Aldams Mill, near where Dewsbury Police Station stands.

LOOKING through the jobs vacancies columns in old Reporter files you soon realise just how many different occupations once existed in Dewsbury.

The Industrial Revolution, as we all know, brought prosperity to Dewsbury with new industries opening at an amazing rate, mainly those connected with the textile and mining industries.

But there were also others which were started to support the running of the mills and mines, mainly those connected with the engineering industry.

And when you look back and read about them all, you have to wonder where they went, all those engineering firms, iron foundries, chemical works, dyeworks, steel works, boiler makers, weighing machine makers.

Change is inevitable and time moves on, but how sad it is to see the demise of so many industries which provided so many people with highly-skilled jobs, not to mention the prosperity they brought to the town.

In 1895 an interesting publication called Dewsbury Illustrated gave a descriptive account of the various firms which once flourished in the town.

There was Messrs L Flatlow and Sons, importers and exporters of woollen rags, shoddies and mungos in Bond Street; Thomas Hirst, wool and flock merchant, Mill Road, Batley Carr; Messrs Wallis and Sons, carpet manufacturers and yarn spinners, Watergate and Messrs E Fox and Sons, manufacturers of shoddy, Calder Bank Mills.

Others included Messrs Tolson and Fox, woollen yarn spinners, dyers, finishers and wool and hair merchants, Providence Mills, Watergate; Messrs David Lumb, cart and wagon builder, wheelwright, smith, cart and wagon works, Wakefield Road; Messrs Abraham Preston and Sons, manufacturers of blankets, rugs, linings; Earlsheaton and Messrs Thomas Chadwick and Sons, wool and hair merchants, Crackenedge Lane.

And there were more – Messrs Clay, Henriques and Co, engineers, brass and iron founders, Victoria Foundry, Savile Town, Messrs John Birkhead, Globe Mills, Boothroyd Lane, Messrs Bodenheim and Carlebach, woollen rag importers and exporters, South Street, Dewsbury, and at 39, Rue d'Enghien, Paris, Messrs Isaac Senior and Sons, Perseverance Mills, George Street and Messrs Hopkinson and Bailey, Millwright Works, Aldams Road.

Many, many more were listed, now all gone, and I do not include in this list, the big names we all grew up with like Wormalds and Walker, Mark Oldroyds, Ellis's, Joseph Newsome's, Mark Days, Newsome and Speddings and Crabtrees.

The names I mention are those which disappeared long before our time, names our grandparents probably knew and worked for.

I mention them now because they are part of our history, and in the hope that by just reading them you may get a picture of what Dewsbury was once like.