A question from my Canadian 1C1R about her father’s origins triggered me to dig out this wonderful photo of my grandparents standing in the yard of their house in the colliery village of Radcliffe. Looking across the road from where they are standing they would see the communal water standpipe, the coalhouse, the outdoor “netty”, the midden and their garden. The picture was taken by brother at some stage after he left home, so I am guessing it can be dated close to the end of the 1960s. Radcliffe village was demolished in 1971 to make way for opencast coal mining. The whole community were moved to a new council estate in the neighbouring town of Amble.
The people in the picture are
My granda: Jonathan Doleman Webb, 1899 – 1981. Jonty was born in Stobswood and worked at Hauxley pit. His hobby was his garden and in particular growing prize leeks.
My granny: Margaret Jane Henderson, 1899 – 1982. Meggie was born in Amble and is related to the Henderson fishermen. She was very houseproud and could often be seen with a paintbrush in her hand, sprucing up her home.
My granda, Jonathan Doleman Webb, was born 9 July 1899 at Radcliffe in Northumberland. I never heard anyone call him Jonathan. It was always Jont or Jonty. Jonty was an intelligent man, but growing up in a mining family in the early 1900s he had little opportunity for education and spent his working life down the pit. This photo shows him ready for work. Take a look at the kneepads for crawling through the pit and the carbide lamp hanging from his pocket. I scanned it in situ in the album because the caption underneath is written by my granny. I remember this bike. He used to call it “Sputnik”.
He never talked much about his childhood and now, knowing what my genealogy research has taught me, I realise it must have been a tough one. His Dad Robert Webb was a pitman, and from the few family tales that have survived was clearly not an easy man to live with. Jonty was only two and a half when his Mam, Mary Davis, died of surgical shock after suffering a brain tumour for 8 months. I can only assume that big sister Annetta, who was about 9 at the time, had to roll up her sleeves and help out with toddler Jonty and four year old Edmund. Five years later their Dad married a widow Isabella Sharp and by the time of the 1911 census father, stepmother and the two boys were together but Annetta had left home to live with other relatives. At 14 Jonty started his working life down the pit which continued until he retired from Hauxley Colliery. I suppose I can be thankful that his young age and his occupation in the mines spared him from WWI in which he lost his big brother Edmund.
Much of today’s effort has been devoted to trying to tie down my connection to the Doleman family. My grandfather Jonathan Doleman Webb had several Doleman “cousins” in Amble in Northumberland, but I have been unable to work out exactly where the relationship lies. I cannot find any appropriate Webb-Doleman marriages to tie the connection to his paternal line or Davis-Doleman marriages to tie it to his maternal line. I have now traced the Amble Doleman line back to Bilston in Staffordshire in the hope that this may shed some light.