Swinton’s Achievers

Famous Sons and Daughters of Town include;


Charles Green born december 1734 the youngest son of Joshua and Ann Green a freehold land owning  farmer.  John died when Charles was 15 years of age, he was then educated in London’s Soho district, predominantly by his eldest brother John (born in 1718) , who was a school master.  He loved mathematics and his passion was for astronomy.  After serving as an assistant teacher in the school, Charles was appointed to assist Dr James Bradley, the Astronomer Royal at the Greenwich Observatory in 1760.  The observatory was built in 1675 by King Charles 2nd who created the position of Astronomer Royal, to serve as the director of the observatory.  Following Bradley’s death, in July 1762, Charles remained at the Royal Observatorybut now assisting the new Astronomer Royal, Nathaniel Bliss.  Bliss was in poor health and Charles did the work of the Astronomer Royal, be it not in name.  Bliss died after only some eighteenth months in office.  In August 1763, Green was instructed by the Board of Longitude to travel to Barbados to determine the longitude of the island by celestial observation.  This was to be in connection with the testing of John Harrison’s new and improved fourth marine chronometer.  On his return Charles was left in charge of the Royal Observatory until a new appointment was made.  This was Dr Maskelyne who took up appointment as Astronomer Royal in March 1765.  Charles and Maskelyne did not sit comfortably together and quarreled somewhat.  Maskelyne nonetheless still recommended to the Royal Society that Green was the one to accompany and assist Captain James Cook of Whitby on his first voyage with the ‘Endeavour’ to observe the transit of Venus over Tahiti, this was on the 3rd June 1768.  The ship weighed 368 tons with a length of 105 feet the greatest width was 29 feet 3 inches.  James Cook came to have a great respect for his fellow Yorkshireman praising him for his ability and knowledge as an astronomer.  Charles unfortunatly was in poor health according to Captain Cook, he ‘lived in such a manner as greatly promoted the disorders he had had long upon him…  Whatever the nature of these disorders, Green died of dysentery on the voyage from Batavia to the Cape of Good Hope.

Captain Cook

H.M Bark The Endeavour



Everyone has heard of Captain Cook and his voyages of discovery.  What is little known is that on his first voyage to the South Seas he was accompanied by another Yorkshire man, Astronomer, Charles Green – of Rotherham!

Charles Green was born the son of Joshua Green of Swinton, a farmer, in 1734.  His baptism is recorded in the Parish register of Wentworth on December 26 of that year.

Charles was one of seven children of Joshua and Ann Green, others being:

John baptized circa 1718 at Sheffield; Ann – date unknown; Joshua baptized 1720 at Wath upon Dearne; William baptized 1727 at Wentworth; Elizabeth baptized 1737 at Wentworth and Mary baptized 1740 also at Wentworth.

Joshua senior died in 1749 and was living at Barrow, near Wentworth, listed as a butcher by trade.

Information about Charles Green is difficult to come by.  There is nothing in the Dictionary of National Biography or Who Was Who, Encyclopaedia Britannica or an Australian Encyclopaedia.  There is also no drawing or painting existent, it’s a case of not the man with no name, but the man with no face!

His eldest brother Rev. John Green of Denmark Street, Soho, London, was Master of a school there, and employed his brother Charles as an assistant teacher.

Whilst in this occupation he improved his astronomical knowledge so much that in 1760 he was appointed Assistant to the Astronomer Royal at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

An assistant was expected to be a competent observer as well as being able to make calculations on these observations.  There seems to have been a big turnover in staff.  As a description of the job at the time shows that – “Nothing can exceed the tediousness and ennui of life the assistant leads in this place, excluded from all society, except, perhaps that of a poor mouse which may occasionally sally forth from a hole in the wall, to seek crumbs of bread dropt by his lonely companion at his last meal.  Here forlorn, he spends days, weeks and months, in the same wearisome computations without a friend to shorten the tedious hours, or a soul with whom he can converse”.  It’s not surprising that the job would not hold anyone for long!

He was only associated with the observatory for five years, arriving when James Bradley was Astronomer Royal.  Bradley soon died, and was replaced by Nathaniel Bliss who was unwell himself and he died after two years in this position.  Nevil Maskelyne then took over.

So Charles was effectively in charge of the Observatory for a while.  It is known he was a good observer as his brother-in-law commented “He was a most excellent observer, tolerably well-versed in most branches of mathematics”.

His first voyage was with Maskelyne to Barbados to test John Harrison’s “time keeper”, to try to solve the Longitude problem.  This was how to determine an accurate time, so a ship could navigate properly.  We now have another Yorkshire man! John Harrison was from Foulby near Wakefield, and worked as a carpenter on the Nostell Priory estate.  He made his first long case clock entirely of wood, and built and repaired clocks in his spare time.  His clocks and watches can still be seen ticking away in the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.

Charles was then able to leave the mundane drudgery of life at Greenwich as he seemed to have had a disagreement with Maskelyne.  In 1768 he was listed as purser of the “Aurora” and it was there he came to Cook’s ship “Endeavor”.

Also in March that year he married Elizabeth Long at St Botolph’s Without Aldersage Church, in London.  In May he was appointed astronomer on Cook’s first voyage – Ann never saw him again as he died at sea in 1771.

The voyage was to observe the transit of Venus.  That is to see Venus pass in front of the orb of the sun.  In the mid 18th century the relative distances of the planets from the sun were known, but they were still only estimates.  If the distance of one planet from the sun could be established accurately, the rest would follow.

It was hoped that observing the transit of Venus from places widely separated in latitude would provide this vital distance and give a scale to the Solar system.  It is interesting to note that Charles Green was paid twice as much as Cook, so his expertise was evidently valued.

Green proved himself very useful and Cook thought highly of him.  The two men got on well together – they both came of farming stock and were both Yorkshiremen! Cook praised him for his “constant and accurate work”.

He was also very good at teaching, going back to his early career at the school.  He taught other officers to do observations themselves, which was probably very useful for both Cook and Green.

Charles also took trouble to teach English to the Tahitians,Tupaia and Taiata.  His journal was written in a small neat hand and revealed him as something of a wit.  He also made other meteorological and astronomical observations.  He stayed ashore with Cook one night to observe an eclipse of Jupiter’s first satellite (it was cloudy).  A transit of Mercury was observed in November 1769 at Mercury Bay, New Zealand.

‘Endeavour’ arrived at Tahiti in good time and Green would have been busily occupied in making observations to obtain the co-ordinates of the observing site as well as checking over all the instruments and the important clock.

Cook recorded “This day prov’d as favourable to our purpose as we could wish, not a cloud was to be seen the whole day and the air was perfectly clear so we had every advantage we could desire in observing the whole of the passage of the Planet Venus over the sun’s disk”.

‘Endeavour’ left Tahiti on July 13th, chartered New Zealand, leaving the islands on 1st April 1770 bound for Australia.  Here Cook saw a “low green woody island”.  He named this ‘Green Island’ after Charles Green.  It lies 16 miles east of Cairns and has an observatory.  It is however an underwater observatory to enable visitors to observe marine life of the Great Barrierreef.

The following day “the ship struck and struck fast” various items were thrown overboard to lighten the ship – the cannons were salvaged in the late 1960s.

Some weeks later ‘Endeavour’ struck the reef again and it seems Green carried on calmly completing an observation while the ship was in danger of foundering!

The ship was now in no condition for the long homeward voyage and Cook made for Batavia (present day known as Djakarta).  Up to now Endeavour had been a healthy ship but at Batavia, the crew were exposed to a number of diseases, dysentery, malaria and other tropical diseases.

Green’s servant, Reynolds died of dysentery here on December 18th 1770 and Green himself fell victim – he was also suffering from Scurvy.

After leaving Batavia he fell very ill and the journal for Tuesday, January 29th, 1771, reads:

“In the night Died Mr Charles Green who was sent out by the Royal Society to Observe the Transit of Venus: he had long been in a bad state of health which he took no care to repair but on the contrary lived in such a manner as greatly promoted the disorders he had long upon him, this brought on the Flux which put a period to his life”.  He was buried at sea 13 days out of Java in the Indian Ocean.

A rather livid account of the circumstances of his death appeared in the General Evening Post –

“Mr Green, the astronomer, who went out with Mr. Bankes, died soon after the Ship left Batavia.  He had been ill some time, and was directed by the surgeon to keep himself warm, but in a fit of phrensy he got up in the night and put his legs out of the portholes, which was the occasion of his death.  All his papers relative to the transit of Venus, of which he had made the most accurate observation, were happily completed and preserved”.


From the Green Island’s Website – History

Green Island has an amazing history including many ‘firsts’, such as the world’s first underwater observatory and even the first movie theatre located on an island!

Pre-European settlement it is reported that Green Island was used by local aboriginal tribes as fishing grounds, as well as a sacred ceremonial site for manhood initiations.

1770: Lt James Cook sighted Green Island on June 10, 1770.  According to tradition, he named the Island after Charles Green the Chief Observer and Astronomer on his ship, the HMS Endeavour.

Frederick William Hulme


Frederick Hulme

(22 October 1816 – 14 November 1884) – English landscape painter and illustrator.

Frederick was born on the 22nd October 1816.  He was the the son of Jesse Hulme and Elizabeth Trewolla.  His artistic mother was a porcelain painter at the nearby Pottery works and he had inherited her artistic skills.  The family had moved from the Potteries (Hanley, Staffordshire) to take advantage of the employment generated by the new high quality Swinton Potteries.  It was from her that he received his first lessons in drawing and painting.  As a youngster he cut his teeth painting local landscapes.  His work improved greatly and he exhibited at Birmingham in 1841.

He married Caroline Jackson whose family had also settled in Swinton from the potteries.  Their only son was named Frederick after his father, he was born in March 1841.  He himself became an accomplished teacher, writer and amateur botanist known for his drawings of flowers.

Frederick (senior) moved to London in 1844 at the age of 28.  The nearby Rockingham works was failing and artistic demands locally fell.  In london he quickly found work as an illustrator and engraver to the growing book and magazine trade.  He found this to be mundane and broke away to concentrate on painting landscapes again.  His work was exhibited at the British Institute in 1845.

By 1850 he was listed as a professional artist also carrying out teaching services living in Hereford Square, London.  He enjoyed the teaching side and published a text book in 4 parts called “A Graduated Series of Drawing Copies on Landscape Subjects for Use of Schools”.

His works became better recognised and in 1852 he exhibited his work at the Royal Academy.  His paintings scenes were mainly capturing the beautiful countryside of Wales and Surrey, often including animals, particularly sheep.  His style was traditional which was much in demand by the Victorians.

After some success and commissions he moved to 8 St. Alban’s Road in Kensington.  He illustrated a number of books including Edgar Allan Poe’s  book called the Poetical Works of E. A. Poe in 1853, and Samuel Carter Hall’s book of South Wales.  His painting ‘In Pastures Green’ painted in 1871 is considered by many art experts to be his finest piece.  It is a stunning landscape in Pre-Raphaelite style feel and the palette is fresh.  It exudes his love of nature.  He lived in London in Kensington until the end of his life.  In 2002, an 1865 Hulme landscape, “Sheep resting in a woodland glade” was sold for £33,000 at Christie’s Auction House.

Painting – Pont Hoogan Mill



Alfred Liversidge (1836-1921) England’s Fastest Man and Bare Knuckle Boxing Trainer


Alfred Liversidge

A plaque mounted on ‘The Station’ pub in Swinton commemorates Alfred Liversidge, a local sporting hero.  Alfred was born in 1836 and he spent his childhood in the village of Swinton.  From an early age, his sporting prowess emerged.  He distinguished himself as an athlete, being uncatchable at running and achieving the almost impossible at jumping.  He was only one of a tiny number of people to be capable of leaping the canal lock at Swinton Bridge from one side to the other.

During his adult life, especially during the 1850’s, Alfred was recognised as England’s fastest man as a runner.  He entered and won the U.K. Half-Mile Championship, the Quarter-Mile Sheffield Handicap (1 min. 5 secs.) the Half-Mile Royal Handicap at Leeds and obviously developing his canal jumping talents, the Manchester Long Jump Championship.

Towards the end of Alfred’s running career in 1860, Alfred found himself in the city of Norwich.  His sporting success ensured that his fame was known by the people of that city.  He was introduced to a young publican who had just taken the British Middleweight Boxing Title – Jem Mace.  Alfred became Mace’s trainer and his boxing career took off from there.

The plaque reflects both sides of Alfred’s sporting successes in the arena of boxing and athletics.  We  chose to site his plaque on the Station Hotel as, for a time; Alfred lived on nearby Charles Street.  The pub is a building that Alfred would recognise and, in all probability, would have used as a customer.  We funded the plaque to Alfred by, appropriately enough, staging a Boxing Show in Swinton at our local secondary school.

Unlike some of today’s boxing trainers, managers and promoters, Alfred never made huge amounts of money from his sporting activities.  When he returned to Swinton, he had to return to a life of normality which meant obtaining a job to provide for himself and his family.  Following in his father’s footsteps Alfred obtained employment in the pottery industry at Holmes Pottery in Rotherham (Liversidge senior worked at the Rockingham Pottery).  Alfred worked to well into his 70’s and enjoyed good health and fitness.  He died on the 21st January, 1921 and his funeral set off from his final home, 58 Middleton Villas, Swinton.  He was interred in Swinton churchyard, where his gravestone can be seen quite clearly today.  The plaque we have provided, however, will be a more visible and public memorial to Swinton’s Sporting Hero.

For a more detailed history of Alfred’s life and times please read the book produced by Giles Brearley available from this website.


1921 funeral notice

A Further Account


Extract from Mexborough & Swinton Times 1911.

In the cosy little cottage, No. 58, Middleton’s Villas, Swinton, lives Mr. Alfred Liversidge, who, half a century ago, was the trainer of Jem Mace, the noted pugilist, and the holder of the half mile championship of England.

Mr. Liversidge’s birth certificate records that he was 75 years of age last October, but he looks 25 years younger, and there are many men of forty who would give a deal to be as supple or as lively as he is.  He may not be able to run quite so fast as he could half a century ago, but his heart is still young, and I fully believe (writes a “Times” reporter who chatted with the old gentleman the other evening) that if occasion demanded he could still do damage with those bare knuckles of his.  In Alfred Liversidge’s boxing days gloves were not the fashion.

Mr. Liversidge is a Swinton lad, and spent the first 21 years of his life in the Don Valley, where he distinguished himself by his prowess as an athlete, chiefly at running and jumping.  He left Swinton when he came of age, and spent eleven years travelling through the country, touching all the big centres from Newcastle to London.  It was during this period, that he met Jem Mace, who was then quite an unknown young man.  Mr. Liversidge was his trainer for five years, and it was under his guidance that the future champion first came into the limelight.

Today, although in his 76th year, Mr. Liversidge is not too old to work, and every morning the Midland train takes him to the Holmes Pottery at Rotherham, where he works as a potter.  He is a wiry little man of the type that champions are made of, and one of his most treasured possessions is a faded photo of Jem Mace, taken while the famous pugilist was in his prime.  Across the photo is written; “From Jem Mace to Alf. Liversidge.  My old pal.”

After Liversidge had been five years with Mace, he decided to return to Swinton and settle down.  Mace begged of him to accompany him on tour, but the young Swinton man declined the offer of £3 a week and expenses, returned to Swinton, and got married.  That was 44 years ago, but Mr. Liversidge has never regretted taking that step.  “I am glad I didn’t go” he told the reporter “I shouldn’t be living today if I had”.

Of his friend, Jem Mace – they kept up a correspondence till Mace’s death, last December, Mr. Liversidge speaks in the highest terms, “He was a man I thought a lot about; he was the cleverest man that ever put his hands up, and he was one of the most civil and nicest men in company – he was a thorough gentleman”.

It is twenty years since last I saw him, that was at York.  Of course, he sent for me many a time, but I put off going to see him.  When “Iron” Hague fought Gunner Moir, he invited me to London, and I was sorry I didn’t go.  I sent him my respects through Mr. A. Swift, of the Don Hotel.  He used to talk of me to Mr. J. Frank Bradley, and, bless you he told him that I was the best trainer he ever had.  Mr. Swift heard him say so”.

Mr. Liversidge’s connection with Jem Mace dates back to 55 years ago, when the pair met at Norwich, where Mace kept a public house in Swan Lane.  Mr. Liversidge was an athlete of some prowess at the time, and the young runner and the young pugilist got on very well together.  The Swinton lad eventually became Mace’s trainer, and they trained at Yarmouth and Norwich.  Mr. Liversidge trained Mace for his contest with Brittle.  Mace was beaten at the first meeting, but he won at the second time of asking.  Mr. Liversidge was trainer for Mike Madden, which never came off, and the consequence was that Mace came in for a good deal of harsh criticism.  Mr.Liversidge indignantly scouts the idea that Mace was afraid of Madden. “Jem was afraid of none of them” he said.

And it would have gone hard with Madden had they met.  You know, Madden killed Jack Jones just before Mace was to have met him.  Then, when Mace didn’t fight, some people made out that Jones ghost appeared to him and to me, and frightened us from going to the ring.  I know better than that.  Jem was no coward, but he made mistakes, like all of us”.

“What do you think about present day boxing, Mr.Liversidge?” asked the reporter. “Well, I think very little about it” replied the old man. “There are no Mace’s living now, it isn’t scientific like it was.  I don’t care about their style.  Jim Driscoll’s is the best style we have now, he is a fine, scientific boxer”.

Asked which he preferred, bare knuckles or gloves, the old man smiled.  “Bless your life, fighting nowadays is like going a pleasuring towards what it was in the old days.  Now, after a fight, if you go into the room when the men have had a wash down, you find everyone smoking cigarettes, and you wonder who it was that had been fighting.  In my day the men who had been at it with bare knuckles had nowhere left to put the cigarette”.

Mr.Liversidge holds that the Queensberry rules are not adhered to now, and he does not believe in the kidney punch. “I don’t believe in holding a man, it’s not sparring.  Mace wouldn’t have the kidney punch, and I think myself it will be done away with altogether.  It ought to be.  Why, a referee can’t see whether a man is using the back of his hand or not.  What our young boxers want to do is practice more cross-countering.  It is the finest thing out, Mace believed in it”.

Mr. Liversidge told our man that he had been to the boxing bout at Mexborough on Monday week, by special invitation of Mr. Frank Bradley, the referee from London.  He saw some promising material there.  “But they must keep off the Welsh’s and Driscoll’s,” said Mr. Liversidge.

Asked what he thought of “Iron” Hague, Alf replied that he was alright among his own class.  “But he mustn’t get among the darkies”  he added, with a significant smile.  “He should be able for any white man; but I wouldn’t, if I were he, go for Sam Langford, Jack Johnson, Gwinette, or McVea.  I don’t think there’s a white man could come near any of these”.

Mr. Liversidge agreed that it would be a big fight if Langford and Johnson got matched.  “You must remember”, he said, “that Langford is the younger man by five years; Johnson is 34, and you don’t get better as a boxer after that age.  But Langford is a wonderful man, and he will improve a little more.  He has come on great since he tackled “Iron” Hague”.

One could fill a book recounting particulars of the men-all all of them at the top of their class-who have passed through Alf’s hands.  He trained Tom Kelly, of Bradford, who beat Jack Rooke, and later licked Lomas.  Kelly afterwards went to America, and fought a draw with Jake Kilrain.

Mr. Liversidge, 52 years of age, was the champion half-mile runner.  He challenged all England, but no man came forward, although he was willing to concede seven yards in 880.  Bill Lang (“Crow-catcher”) accepted Mr. Liversidge’s offer of ten yards in the half mile, he to allow Mr. Liversidge five yards in a mile race, to be decided later; but the races never came off, and Bill forfeited two fivers.  Jimmy Hancock, Tom Horspool, and Jack Nuttled also took up his challenge, but forfeited their fivers rather than tackle the young man from Swinton.

Mr. Liversidge won the half mile handicap at Sheffield, doing the distance with a little start in nine seconds under two minutes.  Among a few of the other races he has won may be mentioned the half mile handicap at Royal Park, Leeds, from scratch; one mile, Victoria Grounds, Birmingham, scratch; half mile handicap at Greenhill Gardens, Manchester.  He won a jumping handicap during the same week.

Among the runners he has trained may be mentioned Dick Buttery, who did the quarter mile in forty eight and a quarter seconds, the quickest on record.  Mr. Liversidge had Buttery from the time he was a novice, and he trained Charley Moore, of Durham, when he won the belt for the mile championship.  Mr. Liversidge has a photograph of himself taken 48 years ago, after he had won a big race.

An account of his exploits would be incomplete if mention were not made of his race with a horse in the streets of Ipswich.  While he was staying at Norwich he was matched by Jem Mace, Bob Bunn, and Bob Anderson to run fifty yards with a horse, the property of an army officer, for £20 a side.  A condition of the race was that the runner should be a Norfolk man; but Mace and other friends persuaded the Swinton lad to go ahead.  And he did.  He won the race, and got the money; but he confesses it was a tight affair.  The contest over, the party adjourned to a local tavern, where both sides had a royal half hour.  Everyone wanted to shake with the young “Norfolk” athlete, and people wondered why he had so little to say.  Of course, the shrewd young man knew that his broad Yorkshire would give the show away, so kept a stiff upper lip.


Herbert and Harry Crossley – Boxing Champions

Herbert was Novice Heavyweight British Champion.  He was born in 1901 and went into boxing training as a youngster.  His fight record was excellent.  He went to the U.S after being spotted by a US promoter and was put up against their best.  He fought the legendary Gene Tunney.  He died following a prolonged fight in new York on the 20th November 1921.  His body was shipped back to Swinton and he is interred in the churchyard.


Herbert Crossley



Herbert Crossleys Funeral



Harry Crossley

Harry was Cruiser weight British Champion.  He was born in 1904.  Like his brother Herbert he started boxing young.  He took the title in 1929 and retained it until 1934.  He had many defences and finally retired in 1934.  He only lost 18 fights in an active 10 year professional career.  He died in 1948.



Harry Crossleys daughters unveil the Swinton Heritage plaque to their late father and Uncle on the corner of Queen Street


Steve Dawson- Heavy Metal Guitarist

The legendary Dobbie guitarist and songwriter of Heavy Metal band Saxon was born on the 24th February 1951.  He was a founder member in 1976 and the band had various hits in the top twenty.  The band had 4 albums in the top 10 albums with 8 albums appearing in the U.K. top 40 of the 1980’s.  Steve left the band after differences in 1986.  He now tours with Saxon’s former lead guitarist Graham Oliver as Oliver Dawson Saxon.  They give you original Saxon back to the core……..


Steve (Dobby) Dawson



Tony Capstick – T.V Star and Presenter

Singer, songwriter, broadcaster and TV actor.  Tony lived in the town when a youngster.  He attended the Swinton Bridge school.  His first job was on the nearby railway.  He appeared on the Folk circuit for many years and was famous for his style.  Regular performer on the folk circuit, he recorded many albums.  In 1981, he reached number 2 in the Uk singles charts with “The Sheffield Grinder”/”Capstick Comes Home” recorded with the the help of the Carlton Main/Frickley Colliery Band.  “Capstick Comes Home”, was based on the well-known Hovis wholemeal bread TV Commercial.

As a comedian, he had an eight-part T.V series called ‘Capstick’s Capers’.  This was broadcast on Channel 4 in 1983.  Tony also had minor roles in the Emmerdale and Coronation street where he was the recurring character of the brewer Harvey Nuttall.

He also appeared as a regular character (the Policeman) on the long running comedy; Last of the summer wine.

His long standing presenter of BBC Radio Sheffield came to an end in January 2003.  He was sadly missed after keeping listeners amused for many years.

He was also a regular column writer in a local weekly newspaper, the Rotherham Advertiser.

Tony died in October 2003.

Tony together with Paul Donoghue wrote a book on the Appleby Horse Fair.

Always very supportive of Swinton Heritage he is greatly missed.


Tony Capstick


Arthur Morris – The Pitmans Poet and Grandfather of Julie Andrews

Arthur lived in the town when at his performing peak.  He lived on Temperance Street.  He used to tour the land performing his monograms, ballads and poetry.  He would dress as a Pit Deputy (his former trade) to carry out his act.

His poetry was very political but got great recognition.  He was acknowledged by none other than the King himself.

His daughter was non other than Julie Andrews mother.  She was also very talented.  Arthur however was the black sheep of the family.  Please refer to the book about his lifestory in our products section.


Arthur Morris


Arthur Morris donning Evening Wear in 1921



Julie Andrews, Arthur’s Grandaughter


As Portrayed by Derek Allport


Tony Mercer – Lead Black & White Minstrel

Swinton resident Tony Mercer was born in 1922.  He went to school in Swinton at Swinton Bridge.  He had a noted good singing voice from an early age.  His parents were custodians of the ship Inn.  He died when aged only 50 on the 14th July 1973.


Tony Mercer

Black & White Minstrels

The show was first broadcast on the BBC on 14 June 1958.  It began as a one-off special in 1957 called The 1957 Television Minstrels featuring the male Mitchell Minstrels (after George Mitchell, the Musical Director) and the female Television Toppers dancers.  It was popular and soon developed into a regular 45-minute show on Saturday evening prime time television, featuring a Sing-along format with both solo and minstrel pieces (often with extended segueing), some Country and Western and music derived from other foreign folk cultures.  The show included “comedy interludes” performed by Leslie Crowther, George Chisholm and Stan Stennett.  It was initially produced by George Inns with George Mitchell.  The Minstrels’ main soloists were bass Dai Francis, tenor John Boulter and baritone Tony Mercer.  During the nine years that the show was broadcast in black and white, the black-face makeup was actually red as black did not film very well.

By 1964, audiences were regularly exceeding 18 million.  The Minstrels also had a theatrical show produced by Robert Luff which ran for 6,477 performances from 1960–1972 and established itself in The Guinness Book of Records as the stage show seen by the largest number of people.  At this time, the creation gained considerable international kudos; in 1961 the show won a Golden Rose at Montreux for best light entertainment programme and the first three albums of songs (1960–1962) all did extremely well, the first two being long-running #1 albums in the UK Albums Chart.  The first of these became the first album in UK album sales history to pass 100,000 sales.  While the show started off being broadcast in (genuine) black-and-white, the show was one of the very first to be shown in colour on BBC Two in 1967.

He also appeared in ;

The Good Old Days (TV series)
Himself – Performer Episode dated 11 August 1970 (1970) … Himself – Performer 

1969 Moira Anderson Sings (TV series)
Himself Episode #3.5 (1969) … Himself
1964 A Christmas Night with the Stars (TV series)
Himself – Singer Episode dated 25 December 1964 (1964) … Himself – Singer

1963 It’s All Happening  Himself – Cameo appearance


Horse Trainer


Mr Smallwood’s stable was at Racecourse Farm



Veteran Shoemaker and Town Benefactor

A Swinton man of many interests.

Extract from Mexborough & Swinton Times issue 17/1/1936


For fifty years the life of Swinton has passed in an unceasing panorama before his eyes.  This due to the nature of his trade and the unique position of his shop, has been the privilege of Mr.Edgar Richardson, Swinton’s oldest boot and shoe maker.  He sits today in the window of his shop, situated at the junction of Fitzwilliam Street and Milton Street, as he sat 53 years ago, steadily plying his craft.  Little that takes place in the street outside escapes his notice.  In the old days there was frequent excitement as delinquents were dragged by the police past the shop to Swinton House, where Mr. Otter, J.P., dealt out justice.  Today, happily, there are no such thrills as these, and the tempo of the modern age is signified by the great busses that sweep by en route for Kilnhurst.

Mr. Richardson became an apprentice to the boot and shoe making trade at the age of twelve, under the supervision of his uncle.  He came from the National School, where he had received his education at the price of fourpence a week, the school “wage”.  His headmaster was Mr. Baker.  His uncle gave him a sound grounding in the trade.  On his death, in 1896, Mr. Richardson succeeded him in his shop, where he has been established since.  Mr. Richardson’s apprenticeship was a thorough one, for he still maintains that the methods he was taught can compete successfully with modern inventions.  He has never made use of machinery, and does not hold with the “mechanisation” of the trade.  He has not made boots for a number of years, devoting himself entirely to repairing, but none of the hundreds of pairs that he has made in times past owe anything to machinery.  That he was acknowledged a master of his craft is proved by the fact that he was for a number of years the president of the Mexborough and Swinton Boot Maker’s and Repairer’s Association.

While still young, Mr. Richardson became interested in music, which led to him becoming, at the age of nineteen, a member of the Swinton Brass Band.  He quickly mastered his chosen instrument, the cornet, and after eighteen months was appointed deputy bandmaster.  Six months later he was made bandmaster, a position which he held until 1913.  Under his supervision the band progressed, and on two occasions visited the Crystal Palace.  Although they did not bring home trophies, they gave a good account of themselves.

In 1887 the ancient Parish Council was gutted by fire.  Of this event Mr. Richardson has the most vivid recollection.  Fanned by a strong westerly wind, the flames were hungry in their destruction, and in spite of the efforts of the many willing fire fighters soon nothing more than blackened walls and the charred remains of the once beautiful woodwork were left.  A restoration fund was opened and in aid of this Mr. Richardson paraded the band and organized concerts.  Several Royal occasions were celebrated by the band while he was master.  These included the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, and the Coronations of King Edward V11, and King George V.

The great interest of Mr. Richardson’s has been the friendly society movement.  In 1890 he joined the Miner’s Pride Lodge of the Sheffield Equalised Independent Druids, and after six years membership became secretary of the lodge.  He still holds the position today, after forty years of faithful service.  During these years the society has bestowed upon him the highest positions of honour; general auditor in 1908 and 1909, general vice-president in 1921, and a year later general president of the society, a capacity which took him to all parts of the country.  The esteem in which Mr. Richardson is held by the society is eloquently recorded by his dossier of newspaper cuttings, which tell of tributes and presentations made to him from time to time.

One of the happiest recollections of Mr. Richardson in connection with the movement was the long friendship which it engendered between himself and the late Doctor L. Ram, who was a member of the same lodge.  It was Doctor Ram, who presented a gold watch and a gold mounted umbrella to Mr. Richardson, in recognition of fourteen years of service as secretary.

For 24 years Mr. Richardson was connected with the Swinton Hospital and Convalescent Homes Committee.  During the years that he was secretary £2,000 passed through his hands.  He also issued 450 recommendations for convalescent home treatment.  His interests have also extended to the Royal Ancient Order of Buffaloes.  He is a member of the Don Lodge, and secretary for five years, during which period he was raised to the Knight Order of Merit.  For a period he was secretary of the Swinton Working Men’s Club.

Among his multifarious activities, Mr. Richardson has found time for interest in children.  In 1910 he was a founder and first secretary of the Swinton and Mexborough Juvenile Outing Committee.  He retains being the secretary to this day.  During his period of office eighteen trips to the sea for the children of the two townships have been organized.  For this cause £2,487 has been raised by voluntary subscription under Mr. Richardson’s supervision.

Although Mr. Richardson admits sadly that the heyday of his public activity is passed, he has no thoughts of retiring from his trade.  “I wouldn’t know what to do with my time”, he says.  He is content today to remove himself from the heart of the bustle of local life and watch the trend of current events from the seclusion of his bench.

He would never be happy to dissociate himself altogether from the affairs of his native town.  Perhaps he may find time in the future to pursue some of the civic honours which have so far been denied him.  He stood as a candidate for the Swinton Urban Council in 1913, when four candidates were required, but was fifth at the poll.  He was nominated again in 1928, but withdrew on the day before the election.

But no matter whether Mr. Richardson finds fresh fields to conquer or not, his past activities will always make him one of Swinton’s most interesting personalities.



Miss Kate Creighton – Citizen



Retirement of Miss K. Creighton.

Extract from South Yorkshire Times issue 1/2/1941

“I have always been very happy at school, and undoubtedly, if my time were to come over again, I would still choose to be a teacher of infants,” said Miss Kate Creighton, in an interview with a “Times” reporter this week.  Miss Creighton, who is headmistress of Swinton Bridge Infants School, concludes her teaching career which started 45 years ago, to-day (Friday).  Her retirement will be a great loss to education in Swinton, for she has done much good work during a full and varied career.  Miss Creighton has been headmistress of the Bridge School since May 1st 1916.

Miss Creighton does not share the view that children are more difficult to manage now than they were some years ago.  “The present methods of education let children develop largely in the way they are inclined. Consequently the children discover their own initiative and do not act so much like ‘sheep’ as they used to.”

Miss Creighton has always taken as her motto a saying of the principal of Whitelands College, London, where she was trained.  “A teacher should always be in possession of ten times more knowledge than she intends to impart to her scholars”.  “Little ones are very exacting at times, but there are a large number of compensations to offset this”, Miss Creighton said,” I have found from long experience that the two most essential qualities in any teacher, particularly a teacher of infants, are wisdom and patience.. ” Miss Creighton said that she had always been most fortunate in getting a good staff.  She had always had their whole-hearted support and found them trustworthy and co-operative.


Miss Creighton is associated with numerous organisations, including Swinton Parish Church, Swinton Nursing Association, the Cancer Relief Society, the R.S.P.C.A., St. John Ambulance Brigade, and the Red Cross.  With Mr. Frank Ward she has been a joint organiser of the Swinton Poppy Day collection since its inauguration.

Some time ago Miss Creighton was asked by the County Organiser for the Woman’s Voluntary Services to organise a W.V.S. branch in Swinton.  She did with help from Mrs. C. Peat, with all possible speed and the branch has now 50 members and is increasing in size every day.  Though retiring from professional duties, Miss Creighton hopes to be able to devote all her time now to her voluntary work.

A presentation to Miss Creighton will be made at Swinton Bridge School to-day (Friday), at 4 p.m., to which old pupils and associates are invited.


Announcement Delights Swinton Darby & Joan Club.

Extract from South Yorkshire Times October 1950

A meeting 51 years ago between a college student and a young journalist had a sequel at Swinton Darby and Joan Club meeting on Wednesday, when the Club leader, Miss Kate Creighton, announced to the 230 members present her forthcoming marriage-the first in the club-to 70-year-old Mr. Arthur William Verrinder.


Miss Creighton described that first meeting back in 1899, “I was 18 and he was 19,” she said. “His sister was at the same training college at Chelsea as myself, and she invited me to her home for the week-end, where I met her brother for the first time”.  A few months ago, Miss Creighton, a retired headmistress and a well –known social and voluntary worker throughout the district, was reintroduced to him again, for the first time since that 1899 meeting-and by the same old college friend now Mrs. H. D. Davison, of Skellow, also a former headmistress.

Describing their reunion in the summer, Miss Creighton said: “We met each other and he walked into my life as if there had been no years between, and we decided to get married. The marriage will be on November 18th, at Swinton, and we shall continue living at ‘Greystones,’ Church Street.  Mr. Verrinder, a freelance journalist from Birmingham, is a very well- known sports writer in the Birmingham district.  He first started work on the “Yorkshire Post,” but went to Birmingham in 1902 as a freelance journalist.  He played Rugby for a Leeds club, and has also played league cricket.  He is a widower, his first wife dying three years ago.

Mr. Verrinder, who joined the Swinton Darby and Joan Club on Wednesday, said he hoped the people of Swinton and the Darby and Joan Club would take him to their hearts. “Now we are getting married we hope to give many years of united service to the club and I hope to be a credit to my beloved future wife,” he said.

Before announcing her marriage, Miss Creighton said that during her duties as leader of the Swinton Club, she met Miss M. Parker, county organiser, who kept asking her if there were any marriages in the club.  “This time, the first occasion there has been a marriage in the club (because the bridegroom has become a member to-day, and the bride has been a member since the club was formed), I did not tell Miss Parker, but invited her to this meeting, telling her it was a special occasion.

“I shall have to relinquish some of my work,” said Miss Creighton, “but I still hope to carry on as leader of the Club”.  The announcement was also heard by 80 members of Maltby Darby and Joan Club who were being entertained by the Swinton club.  Three cheers for the couple were led by Miss Parker, who said the announcement “has been a complete surprise to me”.  The couple were wished the best of luck by Mr. M. Oxby, on behalf of the Swinton Club and by Mr. D. Ingham, on behalf of Maltby.

After the announcement, the 250 Darby and Joan’s were entertained by pupils of the Joan Biggs School of Dancing.



The Wedding of Miss Kate Creighton & Mr Arthur William Verrinder

Extract from South Yorkshire Times issue 25/11/1950

Hundreds of well-wishers attended the marriage in Swinton Parish Church on Saturday of Miss Kate Creighton, “Greystones,” Swinton, and Mr. Arthur William Verrinder of Birmingham.  The bride, a former Swinton headmistress, and well-known voluntary worker in the Swinton district, is a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. T. Creighton of Swinton.  The bridegroom, a freelance journalist, is son of the late Mr. Alfred Edward Verrinder of Handsworth, Birmingham.

The bride, who was given away by her brother, County Councillor Maurice Creighton, wore a light brown two-piece suit of moss crepe with folds of drapery and bead trimming, with a hat to match.  On the corsage she wore a spray of cream roses, and she carried an ivory-backed prayer book.  Her sister, Mrs. Ella Wright, and the bridegroom’s sister, Mrs. H. D. Davidson, were attendants, and Mr. C. R. Ingham was best man.  Officiating at the ceremony was the Rev. H. W. Quarrell, Vicar of Swinton, and Mr. G. Parkinson-Eyre played the organ.  Three hymns were sung-“O Perfect Love,” “Through all the changing scenes of life,” and “Praise the Lord, ye heavens adore Him.”

A reception was held in the Church Hall, Swinton, and the honeymoon is being spent in the country.  The bride travelled in a fur coat with hat to match.  Among those present at the reception were 150 members of the Swinton Darby and Joan Club, of whom Miss Creighton is leader and to whom she announced her engagement a few weeks ago.  On that occasion she told the members of her first meeting with Mr. Verrinder, brother of a college friend, 51 years ago, and of her reunion with him this summer for the first time since that 1899 meeting.

Also at the reception were Miss Parker (County Organiser for the W.V.S. secretary, Leeds County Office), Mr. Boot of the National Institute for the Blind, and Inspector Young and Mrs. Young of the R.S.P.C.A.  Among the many presents received were an electric radiator from Swinton Darby and Joan Club and a case of Irish linen from members of Swinton W.V.S. branch.



Mrs. Kate Verrinder, B.E.M.

Notable Public Work in Swinton

Extract from South Yorkshire Times issue 21/12/1957

Many district friends will learn with deep regret of the death of Mrs. K. Verrinder- better known as Miss Kate Creighton in a St. Leonard’s Nursing Home on Friday.  She was 76. As Miss Creighton, of Church Street, Swinton, she was awarded the B.E.M. in 1951 for public services in the district, particularly with W.V.S.  She was appointed centre organiser in December, 1940 and her early W.V.S. work included assisting Swinton Urban Council in billeting children.

Miss Creighton was head teacher at Kilnhurst from 1903 to 1916, and at Swinton Bridge from 1916 to 1940.  She was the first Commandant of Swinton S.J.A.B. nursing division.  For many years she organised Swinton Poppy Day and Cancer Relief Funds, and was at one time accompanist for Mexborough District Teacher’s Operatic Society.  Six years ago, she married a childhood friend, Mr. Arthur Verrinder, a freelance journalist, who died last year. After ten years as W.V.S. organiser, Miss Creighton resigned in 1950, but continued her duties as leader of the Darby and Joan Club at Swinton, and as a member of the W.V.S.


The funeral took place at Swinton Churchyard yesterday, following a service in the Parish Church.  Mourners from many local organisations were present.  At the service, the Vicar of Swinton, the Rev. H.W. Quarrell read, at the earlier request of Mrs. Verrinder, some verses on “Growing Old” by Father Andrew, an Anglican Monk.

Mr. Quarrell also said that a few hours before the funeral service a carol service for Swinton school-children had been held in the church while Mrs. Verrinder’s body was lying, unseen, in the side chapel.  He said that she would probably have liked to have thought that the children, with whom she was associated for a great part of her life, were present at her funeral.

Family mourners were: Alderman M. Creighton, Mrs. E. Wright, Mr. and Mrs. C.R. Ingham, Doctor J. Clark, Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Creighton, Mrs. Palfreman, Mrs. Moorhouse, Mrs. K. Palfreman, Mr. G. Metcalf, Mrs. Tooze, Mrs. J. R. S. Creighton and Mrs. M. Percival.

Other mourners included: Representing Swinton Darby and Joan Club, Mrs. M.J. Jackson, Mrs. Walker, Mr. Scott, Mr. Carr, Mr. Farrar, Mrs. A. Farr, Mrs. Daniels, Mrs. C. Willey, Mrs. R.A. Phillips, Mrs. D. Cormack, Mrs. M. White, Mrs. L. Brown, Mrs. C. Lee, Mrs. E. J. Vickers, Mrs. E. Heeley, Mrs. E. Bailey, Mr. and Mrs. W. Lambert, Mrs. M. A. Davis, Mrs. T. Hicks (Kilnhurst W.V.S.); representing Swinton W.V.S., Mrs. H. Wilkinson, Mrs. S. M. Rawson, Mrs. E. Day, Mrs. A. Grant, Mrs. E. Foss, Mrs. H. Lanton, Mrs. A. Scott, Mrs. M. Farrar, Mrs. Warren, Mrs. O. Weaver.

Mr. and Mrs. F. Ward, Mrs. E. Hacking (also representing Mr. S. C. Hacking, J.P.), Mrs. Cawood, Mr. E. Hewson, representing Mr. E. B. Stockdale and the Divisional Education Office; Mr. and Mrs. J. Hurst, Mrs. Dawson, Miss M. Dawson, Mrs. Dimmock, Mr. A. MacLean, Clerk to Swinton Urban Council and Mrs. MacLean, Mrs. F. I. Gillett, M.B.E., Mrs. South (Savings Committee), Mrs. Cooper, Mrs. Heeley, Miss Smallwood, Mrs. Burkes, Miss A. Blythman, Mrs. E. Cox, Mrs. N. Thompson, Mrs. Mawson, Miss E. Thompson, Mrs. A. Arnold, Mrs. H. W. Quarrell, Mr. and Mrs. W. J. H. Myers, Mrs. A. Barber, Mrs. G. L. Staniforth, Mrs. Hague and Mrs. Cookson.

The following floral tributes were received from Cicely and Bob; Mary, Arthur and Angela; Ethel and Sydney Hacking; Mr. and Mrs. A. MacLean, Mr. and Mrs. E. South; Alice Blythman; Mr. and Mrs. Percal and Mr. Oxer; Mr. and Mrs. C. R. Ingham, Jane and Helen; Alderman M. Creighton; Swinton Darby and Joan Club; Mr. and Mrs. G. B. Creighton and Judith; Mr. and Mrs. Studdly Creighton; Guy and Herve; Mr. and Mrs. Clark; Commander and Madam Laurent; Mr. and Mrs. J. Wright; Mrs. E. Metcalf and family, and Mr. and Mrs. H. E. Kershaw.

Funeral arrangements were by C. T. Butterfield & Sons, Wood Street, Swinton and Carlyle Street, Mexborough; phone 2158 and 3163.

Walter Morley Stott. aka Angela Morley.

Born   March 10th 1924 Leeds, Yorkshire.     Died January 14th 2009 Scottsdale, Arizona, USA.

Angela Morley, [formerly Walter Morley Stott] was born on March 10th 1924 at 331, Kirkstall Road, Leeds, and was the elder brother to Brian Chappell Stott (1930 – 1981), sons of Albert and Ethel Stott nee Chappell. Father Albert had been born in the Holbeck district of Leeds in 1894 to parents James Alfred and Martha Stott, nee Harrison, James being a house painter by profession. On the 1911 census, Albert is age 16, and his profession put as working at an engineering works.

At the age of 23, in the year of 1917, Albert married Ethel Chappell, daughter of Herbert and Rebecca Chappell nee Morley, registered at Doncaster. Earlier the 1911 census showed that Ethel was living with her parent’s at 30, Cromwell Road, Mexborough, and was 15 years of age. The profession of Herbert was as a collector with a loans company, but he had earlier in his life been a coalminer. Born in Pucklechurch, Gloucestershire, he moved as a small child with his parent’s Thomas and Miranda, nee Stockden, to live in Kiveton Park near Sheffield.

With Ethel Chappell marrying Albert Stott from Leeds, and being registered in Doncaster, it shows that she was still living in Mexborough in 1917. From working in an engineering works as a young man, Albert later became a watchmaker and jeweller at 331, Kirkstall Road, in Leeds. Albert was not to become a long liver, for he died suddenly on the 2nd of March 1933 aged just 39. In his will it stated, Administration Wakefield, 26th April 1933 to Ethel Stott widow, and Herbert Chappell (grocer) Effects £1,349 14s 6d.

With no head for business, Ethel moved a few months later with her two son’s Walter and Brian, to live with her parent’s Herbert and Rebecca at 14, Charles Street, Swinton, near Mexborough. Herbert and Rebecca had lived previously in Cromwell Road, Mexborough, but as to when they came to Swinton, is not known. What we do know, is that Herbert has a new profession, in being a grocer that is licensed to sell beer, wines and spirits. Charles Street consisted of terraced houses, built around the late 1870s, and like many other similar Street’s, a converted front room was made into a shop, this applied to number 14, as did another two houses on the street.

One has to go back to the 1881 census, to see living at 14, Charles Street, a Richard Challenger, profession iron founder. Come the 1891 census, and he is listed as a grocer, and in 1901, he is a grocer and beer dealer. The last mention of being a grocer’s shop, is in the 1911 census, where a new resident has taken charge, being George Whitfield.

While living in Leeds, and aged eight years old, Walter Morley Stott started to have piano lessons on a brand new upright piano, but this came to an end when his father died. On moving to Swinton with mother and younger brother Brian, Walter was bought by his mother a number of musical instruments, but settled finally with an alto saxophone.

On leaving high school at the age of fifteen, Walter joined The Mexborough Academy, where he began collaborating with the talented singer Tony Mercer who also played the piano and the accordion. Tony was born in Sheffield on the 30th of January 1922, and died in London on the 14th of July 1973 of heart disease, and will be remembered for being a regular baritone singer with the “Black and White Minstrel Show” on BBC Television from 1958 up until 1978.

After completing their studies at the Mexborough Academy, Walter and Tony joined Archie’s Juvenile band, a teen band that toured the country prior to the 2nd World War. This was not to last, as at the onset of the war, the band disbanded. Next, it would be the Bert Clegg band at the Empress Ballroom Mexborough, where Walter would play alto saxophone, and Tony Mercer would be the singer.

Due to the war, many bands lost musicians who were drafted into the armed forces, and for Walter, it meant that he was called upon to play in a number of different bands up to the age of seventeen and a half. After this, he joined up with the Oscar Rabin band, and playing alto saxophone, made his first recording with the band for Decca Records on the 25th of September 1941. At the age of twenty in 1944, he joined the Geraldo Orchestra, arguably the best band in the UK at the time.

To continue with the story, one has to go onto Angela Morley’s autobiography website at www.angelamorley.com  and also to her biographies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.