Family History – family came from Knaresborough.
Born Knaresborough (30th March 1905)
Died in Aylesbury (28th January 1987)
The years that are gone.
My Grandfather 1816 – 1872.
Knaresborough a Royal Borough.
My Father 1851 – 1909.
My Self 1905 ‘- 1987’
Gas Masks. 2nd World. World 1939 – 1945
“The years that are gone”.
of handwritten manuscript, giving introduction to his life.
“My Grandfather 21st May 1816 – 18th September 1872”
typed mms, photocopies and transcriptions of newspaper articles about his grandfather and Knaresborough. His grandfather, Frederick Oates, was wealthy and owned corn and linen mills. He was also eccentric.
“Remarks of Mr.E.D. Mackerness”
C1975 narrator contacted Mr. Mackerness of the University of Sheffield about an account he had written about his life as a Workhouse master. Correspondence, comments, including a page about the history of Knaresborough.
“The years that are gone.”
The earlier account
Description of Knaresborough, including map and illustrations.
“My Father, Russell Oates, 30th June 1851 – 20th February 1909.
His father married twice, his first wife was called Emily Jane Gilbertson, he had 4 children in this marriage (Fredrick, Samuel, Percy, Ethel). Once Emily passed away Russell remarried to his second wife, Phoebe Amelia Mary Trafford, Guy’s mother. Russell had been born into wealthy circumstances, but invested his money in a tannery, which burnt down, which impoverished him. He had to find work, and developed a heavy ‘dose of flu’ influenza, he was found dead at his office. The author was aged 3.
“Myself. 1905- (1987)”
typescript, photocopies of photographs, and a photocopy of an article about lamplighters.
Guy began school at 5, but could not settle, played truant, and joined a gang called the Bond End Kids. Became uncontrollable, played tricks on people.
Senior school. Disciplines, games. Explored local area; ie. slaughterhouse, sheep/bullock/ pig killing.
The Yorkshire Society provided places for poorer children at a charity boarding school in London. Mrs. Bayley arranged for Guy and his brother to go there.
Boys leave for London on
Photocopy of photograph.
photocopies of “Knaresborough” by Arnold Kellett.
Yorkshire Society School 1914 – 1916
Harsh conditions – inadequate food and badly equipped building. Boys would scavenge for food in the Cut (Lower Marsh Street market). Cold, boys made their own ‘charcoal burners’ pit of tabacco tins to keep warm. Boys raided kitchen for food; stealing; cold baths
Behaviour – fighting, bullying, cruelty between the boys
Activates – visit to St. James Park on Sundays; games; cricket in Battersea Park; football. Outing to another school. Swimming.
Parcels from home
Guy and brother unable to go home at Christmas – tried to run away back home, but failed
School closed – Wartime, Zeppelin raids, School closed in 1916
Archbishop Holgates Grammar School 1916 – 1921
Better equipped and more comfortable
Guy was happy at first but then got into a fight
Poor relationship with headmaster
Activates/hobbies – sports, games, Cadet Corps, drummer in a band
Thanksgiving service 1919
Brother’s death – found out his brother had died when it was announced at Assembly
On the farm 1921 – 1922
8 months: working with animals, machinery, harvesting
Thirsk Cattle Market; ploughing match
Knaresborough Institution 1922 – 1924
Begins work at Poor Law at Knaresborough Union (Workhouse) as a junior
Describes staff: Master, Matron, porter, cook, laundress, engineer
Describes one of inmates and non-resident doctor
Describes staffing arrangements, work, inspections
Cowley Road Hospital 1924 – 1927
Relief officer: relieving hospital porter, inmates, dealt with vagrants, casual ward, tramps, dead and dangerously ill patients
Medical duties – bathing disabled male inmates, assisting TB patients
Joined South Oxford Cricket Club
Rag days from Oxford Colleges
OldChurch Hospital Romford 1926 – 1927
Master’s senior clerk
Oldchurch hospital was very large and had 200 beds for acute surgical work, and a training school for nurses. Although it was called Oldchurch Hospital, it was still legally a workhouse
Details of everyday routine, events: Christmas; stock taking on 31st March; Guys had appendicitis; fire drill
Social wife: Begins playing tennis, meets nurse future wife (Doris)
Poor Law Institution, York 1927 – 1928
Employed as a storekeeper
Had no acute hospital, but did have male and female certified mental patients, mental defectives, vagrants, and two children’s homes
Storeroom was dirty and disorganised. Had to provide food for 600 people
The Master was a difficult man, but he and Guy became friends
Poor Law Institution, Cambridge 1928 – 1931
Had a maternity block
Assistant Master: responsible for accounts, book keeping; work on casual ward with vagrants
Mother become ill with breast cancer
Future wife begins job there as a Ward Sister
Guy studied for certificates for Relieving Officers and Poor Law Officers by correspondence course
Life in Cambridge – boating and swimming on the river
Doris: became the assistant Matron of the workhouse.
Couple get married
Miners’ strike: (North of England) effect upon workhouses as far South as Cambridge
Superannuation schemes, emoluments
Poor Law and Boards of Guardians replaced by Public Assistance (Workhouse to Public Assistance) 1930
Holme Dale, Downham Market, Norfolk 1931 – 1932
Guy and Doris became Master and Matron
Institution was badly run; previous Master was in prison
Very poor conditions for elderly; married couples split up when admitted.
Guy and Doris worked hard to improve conditions.
The Wayland Infirmary, Attleborough, Norfolk 1932 – 1937
Guy and Doris now Master and Matron of Wayland Infirmary
Description of building, staff, inmates
Introduced bowls for inmates and tennis for staff
Mother now ill after treatment for cancer, came to visit
Got first car: had no lessons, had to work out how to drive it
Memories of people, neighbours, members of Committee. One acquaintance was interested in fascism
Incidents within institution: restraining man with delirium tremens; allegations of rape
Social life, friends, visit to cider factory
Applied for another post in Ormskirk. By now wife pregnant
Typescript, including photocopies of photographs and letter
The County Hospital, Ormskirk, Lancashire 1937 – 1945
Guy and wife were now master and matron of the hospital.
Daughter born some months after they took up position (named after Guy’s eldest sister Marian)
Describes duties and institution. Work colleagues
Staff sports club, football syndicate. Institution cricket team.
Two inmates of the same name – one died, buried under wrong identification
Ward Sister dismissed for cutting a patient’s hair without her permission
Threat of war 1938
New 252 bed
Emergency Hospital built in the Institution grounds: opened 1939, new staff appointed
Emergency hospital used as Military hospital
Wife was the Matron over both Poor Law hospital (civilian) and Emergency Hospital (military)
Guy remained Master of Poor Law Institution and was in charge of administration of both
Air raid shelter, rooms for WVS; National Registration; proposed blood bank
Hall decorated for Christmas; dances held in hall to pay for bus to take patients to see football matches (Everton)
Death of mother
Convoys of civilians and military patients admitted
May 1941: Liverpool Blitz. Casualties at hospital
War casualties: hospital used as receiving station
Guy’s mother dies
Became a Freemason
Bombing in Liverpool: casualties
Baby girl found abandoned in railway carriage
Rationing: local breweries gave beer at Christmas
Patients visited Everton and Liverpool football grounds to watch matches
Invented game table cricket
Cellars under Guy’s living quarters used as office – noise at night very disruptive
Bombing raid in Ormskirk: bomb landed in grounds of hospital. National Union of Public Employees held meeting in the Institution
Guy found that the senior attendant in the mental patients block asleep on duty; he was made to resign
Hospital exercise: a test of emergency services
Visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth
Guy received call up papers, but was exempted from services
End of war
Closure of Poor Law Institutions with the introduction of National Health Service. Future very uncertain for husband and wife teams. Only possibilities were either in charge of an Old People’s Home, or a large Children’s Home
Applied for posts of Superintendent and Matron of Residential Children’s Home in Nottingham. Were given the positions
Typescript includes photocopies, letters and newspaper clippings
Social Welfare Committee Children’s Homes, Nottingham 1945 – 1962
Guy and Doris now Superintendent and Matron of Social Welfare Committee’s Children’s Homes
Poor Law acts were being replaced:
Poor Law hospitals under Health services
Children under Home Office
Elderly under Old People’s Homes
Guy and wife now based at Hartley Road, Radford, Nottingham
Within the grounds there was a boy’s home, a girl’s home; a nursery, a receiving home; and an administrations block
They were also responsible for visiting 5 other small children’s homes and 3 other nurseries within the city
Description of conditions within homes – too few staff, too crowded, no room for children to play, not enough
staff to give individual attention, and sometimes unsafe – case of accidental death
Guy and wife worked to improve situation: in 1946 took children on summer holiday for first time in 6 years to school on East coast
Poor Laws replaced 1948 A Children’s Officer was appointed: Guy and Doris felt side-lined by this, but thought at 44 they were too old to find another job
Describes children and their problems: absconding, truanting, shoplifting from Woolworth’s. Dealing with difficult and disturbed children, no training given until 6 years before retirement
Discipline, corporal punishment: Guy was strict but tried to be fair
Activities in summer holidays: children would be taken to a school by the coast and camp in the school. Great deal of preparation as they had to take everything with them
In 1961 Doris rescued a girl from drowning
Their daughter became a nurse
Typescript including photocopies of photographs, letters, newspaper cuttings, etc.
Arthur was Guy’s mother’s brother who had emigrated to the USA, and came to visit. Includes poems sent to him by Guy and poetry he sent in return. Also copies of his letters
Devotion to duty; regard and success
Story of J.C. Dickson, a farmer’s son, who joined the police, moved to the mounted branch, and became Inspector
Story of Guy’s mother. Widow at 36
Experiences in World War 1. Three sons joined army; one wounded; another ill with pneumonia; third missing believed killed, but in fact survived as a prisoner of war. After the war, one of her youngest sons died of TB. Become ill with breast cancer
Copies of letters sent by her
Poetry written by Guy about his mother and to his brother Septimus
John Bunyan’s book, copies of letters; “What a Grandpa will do his Grandsons;’ poems about family members, etc.
If you want to learn more about Guy’s life, you may like to explore the full collection of Guy Oates Posts.