History fan searches for relatives after finding old photos in Dewsbury

HISTORICAL INTEREST: Richard Rogalewski bought photographs and documents from Dewsbury Market that have helped him tell the story of Kathleen Exley. (d12011107)
HISTORICAL INTEREST: Richard Rogalewski bought photographs and documents from Dewsbury Market that have helped him tell the story of Kathleen Exley. (d12011107)

A FAMILY history enthusiast has started putting together the life story of a teacher from Dewsbury.

But now Richard Rogalewski wants the descendents of Kathleen Exley to have the photographs and documents he has been researching.

Mr Rogalewski, 53, said: “There must be some family around who would just love to know about this lady and who can put her certificates on their wall.

“There is almost a mystery to be solved here.”

Mr Rogalewski bought several photographs and documents from a second hand stall on Dewsbury Market for just £2.50 in three or four years ago. He has been able to use the certificates to piece together a history of Kathleen Exley.

He thinks she was born in around 1912 to George and Alice Exley, who lived in Ashworth Road, Dewsbury.

The family moved further north, as George Exley eventually became deputy town clerk in Stockton-on-Tees. As for Kathleen, she qualified as a teacher at nearby Darlington Training College in 1933.

She worked at two schools in Stockton-on-Tees, eventually becoming headmistress of several schools in North Yorkshire in the 1940s. In 1953, she became the first headmistress of Mandale County Infants School in Thornaby.

From 1955, Miss Exley worked as an advisory officer for primary schools in Lincoln.

Mr Rogalewski said: “I’m pretty sure she never got married, so she has spent her entire life serving, which was not uncommon for primary school teachers in those days. They were almost married to the job.”

The photos include one that may be Miss Exley in her swimming costume, and a wedding photo. Mr Rogalewski believes the bridegroom is Miss Exley’s brother, Peter. There is also a picture that looks as though it was taken on a school trip, which may show a class that Miss Exley taught.

Mr Rogalewski, of Partridge Crescent, Thornhill, said: “Although I’ve got this stuff, I almost feel it’s not mine to have. It’s really for the family to have.”

Anyone who can help track down relatives of Kathleen should contact reporter Robert Cooke on 01924 468282 or email robert.cooke@ywng.co.uk.