Many villagers will know one or more of the Royle family, who lived on Central Drive. Bryan Royle was the 4th of 9 children born to George and Mary Royle – 7 boys and 2 girls. Bryan has given us his recollections of his life in Rossington.
I was 3 years old before I could remember anything about my life up until my first day at school. My elder sister, Jean, took me to school and made sure that I got home safely at the end of the day. My 2 brothers, George and Robert (who we always called Bob) were older than me and were already at school. I remember that after dinner, all the younger pupils were laid out on camp beds, and a pretty lady, called Miss Trotter, came and tucked us in, smiled at us, and then we had a sleep. In winter, in the centre of the school was a log-burning stove surrounded by a strong metal fence to keep pupils at a distance so they did not burn themselves.
At home, my Dad worked his shifts at the pit, but it seemed the wages he received were not enough to live on; and what made things worse was I now had another brother called Colin, born 1 April 1945. To try to make ends meet, a system of hand-me-down clothing was used. That was as each brother grew bigger his clothes went to the younger one, so the younger ones ended up with worn, scruffy clothes, possibly with holes in, or had been patched. At school, some children called me ‘scruffy, dirty, Royley’ and soon I was bullied. Play times became miserable because one boy talked 3 others into beating me up just for being scruffy, so I spent play times being chased. As time went on, Mother tried to keep us better clothed – once we wore clogs with metal strips on the bottom. You could always hear us coming a mile off. Another time, she purchased some trousers with elasticated bottoms, and they were warm, but kids commented that if you messed yourself, it would get caught by the elastic. Eventually, we nicknamed them ‘**** Stoppers’. Some good news which eased finances was that Mam got a small job working for a Mr Bennett who was a fruit and veg merchant on market days at Rossington Market. He paid her, and also at the end of the day, he gave her food to fetch home because it would not keep fresh until the next market day. I was glad because we knew what it was like to go hungry. At weekends and holidays, we occupied ourselves trying to make some money, so we would go picking peas for Farmer Brown and also go picking blackberries to sell. We would put in loads of coal for people – ie, get it from the gate where it had been tipped, to that person’s coal store. We would do any errand for anybody for a few copper coins. I used to collect potato peelings for a Mr Walton who had some pigs, so at Christmas, he gave us some pork for dinner. He also gave us some meat every so often. Another time, we went to the village refuse tip and I found some lovely black shoes but they had holes in the bottom, so I brought them home and put cardboard inside and wore them. Also I found a large khaki tin with rounded corners and an inset circular lid. When I got home, it was difficult to open but when we did open it, it was full of War biscuits. They were hard so we softened them up and ate them. At leisure times, on an area behind Haig Crescent and Central Drive, there was a large piece of open ground where we could play rounders, cricket, throw the ball the furthest, football or any sport that could be played there. On Bonfire Night, a large fire would be made with rubbish and wood collected by the kids living in the area. Also, on the Welfare grounds were 2 roundabouts, a high slide, swings, a rocking thing that everybody called the big banana and a paddling pool. It was easy to spend a few hours playing. We went swimming down Stringy Billy’s river, near the brick pond, Waddy river, and a pond near Waddy river where once a boy from Haig Crescent was drowned. We would slide down the pit tip on metal sheets, or on car or lorry tyres, Hopscotch was easily set up because all we needed was a piece of chalk. We played marbles, and hide and seek, in the streets. When the conkers were ready, we would go to the woods to try and collect the biggest ones we could find. We would make a hole in them thread string through, tie a tight knot on one end, and then have a game swinging it and knocking it against your opponent’s to see which one shattered. The winner was the one one who was left with their conker unbroken.
By Christmas 1950, I had 2 more brothers: Percy, born 18 May 1947 and Walter, born 11 December 1950. It was quite a sad time because the last month Grandad Walter, born 20 February 1893, died, and also 7 days later, Grandma Bertha, born 1893, died, and they are both in Plot S24 in Bawtry Cemetery. The wonderful memory of Grandad Walter is that one Christmas Eve, he told us to go to bed and he said he would shout us when Santa had been, so we went. About 7 am, he shouted us and told us that Santa had been, so me, George and Bob jumped out of bed and started to rush downstairs. Our George, being the eldest and biggest, led the field. As we neared the bottom of the stairs, Grandad pushed a pram across the bottom of the stairs, and our George fell over the pram. Our Bob fell over our George and I fell over the pair of them. Grandad laughed and said “The first shall be the last, then laughed again. Looking back, it could have been a dangerous prank but was OK this time. We had a good Christmas because we each had an apple, an orange and a small bar of chocolate.
By 1950, our George was 13 years old; our Jean was 12 years old; our Bob was 11 years old and I was 9 years old. During the last few years, Mother would take us to Grandad and Grandma Green’s and we hated going because horrible, nasty Grandma would never let us into the house, whatever the weather. Luckily, the Blaylocks lived next door and Mrs Blaylock was everything that my Grandma Green wasn’t. She let us in, and talked to us like real people. Her family and ours became great friends. I always felt sorry for my sister Jean because she had to do household chores for Grandma. She was like a slave and often said she would be glad when she left school so she could get a job. Over time, we realised that Grandma treated us like she did because we were George Royle’s kids and she never thought my Dad was good enough for her daughter. We never forgave her.
Around this time, Mum joined the Labour Women’s Section along with some of our neighbours and friends and because of this we got involved with May Day celebrations. It was super because all of the children in the village were given free entry to the Hippodrome Picture House and saw a free film, then each child was given a shilling piece and a bag of sweets. That afternoon there would be a May Day Parade which came past our house and made its way down to the Welfare grounds, The Parade was made up of the Rossington Band, followed by the May Queen’s guards, then the May Queen herself, and everyone who had entered the fancy dress competition which would be judged by some important person, who would present them with a good prize. The good thing was that every entry received a small prize. I always think, even to this day, that May Days are good for the village.
When I went up to the Junior School into a brick building, it was totally different from the wooden hut. Discipline was much stricter which suited me, because it meant that everyone knew what was right or wrong: no excuses! I enjoyed most of the sports and, in particular, Sports Day itself. I learned quite a lot during the Junior School years and it prepared me well for the Senior School. We would still keep looking for ways to make money, and Mother and our George were both looking forward to our George finishing school, so he could get a job to earn some money. My Mother had become a wizard at making ends meet. At some times, she even took in lodgers ,so we used to sleep head to toe in our beds. One boy called Bill lodged with us because he had no family but he was no trouble and we learned a lot from him, so we treated him like one of the family. By the time I left the Junior School, I felt that I was prepared for the Senior School because I was always in 1st, 2nd or 3rd position when we had end of term, or yearly, tests.
The curriculum at the Senior School was different from the Junior School because there were practical subjects. I loved Metalwork, Woodwork, Art, Gardening (Rural Studies), Technical Drawing, History and PE particular.
By the time I went up into the Senior School, our George was 15 years old, so he would be leaving school that year, Our Jean was now 14 years old, our Bob was now 13 years old, and I was now 11 years old. The significance of this reminder of our ages is that my Dad had been to a School Prize-giving, and we did not realise he had been, as he was determined to come to one the once before our George left school. On the prize-giving afternoon,Alderman Hughes had been invited to give out he prizes to pupils who had managed to be top of the class in that year’s school work and exams. The prize-giving commenced, and the first name called out was George Royle, 4th form. Our George walked forward, shook Alderman Hughes’ hand and received an unwrapped present, Next was someone else for the 3rd form and then Robert Royle, 2nd form. Our Robert came forward, shook hands and received his prize, then guess what? Yes, the next name called was Bryan Royle, 1st form, There was thunderous applause as people realised that 3 brothers had come top of their classes in the same year. I had won the School Art prize for painting a large, decorative dragon on the Art Room wall. When we got home, we went in bragging, and started to tell Mum and Dad, when my Dad said ‘Shut Up’. We thought we had got into trouble. My Dad then told us that he had been to the prize-giving and sat at the back, and that he was very proud of us. He then told us about the man who sat next to him, and the third Royle collected his prize, he said to my Dad “By, I bet their Dad is proud” and my Dad said to him “I am”. We all laughed. What a great day and achievement.
During my first year in the Senior School I had worked hard because I was enjoying it, and also that year, I joined the School rugby team.
L to R back row: Pete Duffy, Bill Summerill, Harry Brown, Noel Dean, Mr. Maye (the teacher), Joe Ward, Phil Devlin, Glyn Jones.
Front row: Derek Finch, Syd Anderson, David Gardner, Robert Heap, Bryan Royle, Stanley Taylor.
I remember on one occasion our team was going to play Balby School and the teacher was angry with me because I had forgotten to take my shorts to play in. When we arrived at Balby, the teacher told me I could not play as I had no shorts. I was quite disappointed. When the other side arrived they were 3 players short, so our teacher told them that if they supplied me with shorts, I could play for them.. Strange, I thought. This must be his way of punishing me, so I did play. As we went to the field I felt sorry for the Balby side. A Rossington player kicked off and the ball came high in my direction. I caught it and I was still angry because of the situation but I set off running towards the Rossington players. As I neared them, I side-stepped, pushed them away or rammed them, and to my surprise, I scored for Balby. Now we led 3 points to nil. It was short-lived: we lost by a large margin. I never got dropped out of the team again. The teacher who took us for rugby told us that he used to be a sparring partner for Bruce Woodcock, the famous boxer. I wasn’t sure whether to believe him until one of the rugby team didn’t turn up for a match. Next day, the boy walked into the classroom and said something. The teacher punched the boy and he went flying backwards until he hit the wall, and slid down it, sitting there stunned for some time. The teacher had sent us a message. Looking back, the boy could have been injured. The rugby team went from strength to strength and became a very successful team. The year I left school, the team were Doncaster Schools Rugby Champions.
Our George left school and went to work at Rossington Colliery. Both he and my Mam were pleased because it meant that finances improved. We could now afford to go to the Hippodrome to see cowboy films, musicals, etc. It was great: we even had a few sweets from Aldersley’s sweet shop. Even so, we kept doing jobs, errands and working in the fields because our goal was to be able to afford a week’s holiday at Cleethorpes. I even got my first school uniform from Shirbon’s shop down the village.
My Mam asked Mr Wheatcroft (newsagent) if he would give me a job delivering newspapers and he said yes. Our Bob and Ernie Blaylock already had newspaper rounds so I was in good company. I remember one story that was on the front of most newspapers which lasted for days. A ship called ‘The Flying Enterprise’ had sailed into a horrific storm on 28th December 1951. The ship went over on its side. Everyone except the Captain, Henrik Kurt Carlsen, left the ship. He stayed there until the day just before the ship sank on 10th January 1952. The photo of the Captain on the side of the ship was on the front of most papers for many days.
Since our George started work at the pit, we didn’t see much of him because he was either at work or asleep in bed.
During my second year in Senior School, our Jean left school and went to work at Nuttall’s sweet factory in Doncaster and she enjoyed it. Unfortunately a relative had a job at a wool mill in Bradford and it paid really well, so Mother made her change jobs. I know our Jean was not very pleased. So, now she had to get up early, make the fire, then she had to catch the bus which took her and others to Bradford. She then worked a long shift, and had to travel home and get home late. It was no fun for her. At first she hated it, but, as time went on, she enjoyed it because she enjoyed the company of the people she worked with, and made some good friends.
On 6th February 1952 King George VI died. Princess Elizabeth was on a royal visit to Kenya when she succeeded to the throne. I didn’t realise at that time that street parties would take place in most streets of Rossington. Each street had a small committee of volunteers who did all the organising of food and entertainment. When the date of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation was announced as 2nd June 1953, I realised that I had 2 events to look forward to because there was the May Day celebration and now the Coronation street party. Mam had put our names forward to be part of the May Queen’s guard: neither our Bob nor I were captains, but still we were guards. I watched a boy called Derek so as to pick up any pointers because I intended to be captain some time. I was Captain in 1954. In January I had an idea what a television was and did, but I had never seen one. Early in January 1953 a lady on Central Drive had one. She was also on the Coronation Committee and she was trying to raise funds for the event so he was charging a tiny amount (a penny I think) to watch the children’s programmes around tea time. It was great and she drew a good crowd. I think the first programme was called ‘The Flowerpot Men’.
The Coronation Celebrations started with running races of different distances. The older you were, the longer the distance. Then there was the ceremony of crowning one of the girls and this was followed by the big event: food, food, food, sandwiches with various fillings, fruit and jelly, and cakes. It was great!
There was also a surprise later that year. All of our family and a lot of other families caught a special train excursion for the day from Rossington Railway Station to Cleethorpes. It was one of the best days of my life so far. The rest of the year was filled with going to school and doing jobs for cash and delivering newspapers, but there was one more surprise that year. After the summer holidays when we went back to school, we had got some more boys registering in my class. We were introduced to them by calling out our names and then they did the same. Apparently their fathers were in the RAF at Finningley and their sons had been sent to our school. It took a while settling our class to normality but soon they did get to know us and we got to know them. Over the years I have wondered where they got to, and what they did with their lives.
Christmas came and went but we were not expecting anything like what happened on 30 December 1953. My mother had a baby girl and she was named Mary Elizabeth Royle. Everyone thought our family was complete now Mam had had a second girl, but another surprise (or shock) happened 10 years after Mary was born. Mother had another baby boy and he was named John Paul, born on 14 July 1963.
1954 started with a bit of luck. I decided to go letting in people’s Happy New Year. I went to a house next door to Uncle Bert (John William). I took a piece of coal and I knew I had dark hair. I knocked on the door and a gentleman answered. I wished him a Happy New Year and then gave him a piece of coal. He put his hand in his pocket and gave me a large silver coin. I couldn’t believe it: it was half a crown (12.5p). He shook my hand and wished me a Happy New Year. He then said if he had a lucky year he would want me to come again next new year. Later that year, the man saw me in the street and told me to let their New Year in again because I had given them a bit of luck. I said I would be there and I was.
During this winter I was taking papers out and one morning was absolutely freezing and snowing. About 50 minutes later I thought I was going to die. I was beginning to feel as though I was going to freeze to death. I was in Allenby Crescent and I thought I would go to my Auntie Nellie’s house, but I was about 300 yards from Aunty Nellie’s and I felt really rotten and desperate, so I banged on Ted Lewin’s house door. Mrs Lewin came to the door and could see what I state I was in. She escorted me to the front of a lovely welcoming fire and then made me a cup of tea. She told me that I should not be out in this kind of weather. I told her that I needed the money. Once I had drunk my tea and had thawed out, I thanked them all and said I would soon finish my paper round. I told Ted that I would see him at school and off I went, thanks to Mrs Lewin’s kindness.
During this term our class was taken on an excursion to Matlock and I remember climbing a lot of steps up a spiral staircase. At the top there were some great views and you could see far into the distance. We then went to Matlock Bath, and in long pools in the street there were lots of real goldfish of all sizes. It was a nice visit.
Later that year, another visit was arranged to somewhere else but I could not go because Mam didn’t have enough money to pay for the trip. There were several other boys who didn’t go for the same reason. We had to write an essay about someone we knew. We all felt that we were being punished for being poor.
Most of the kids in our school were law abiding because the local policeman, called Mr Hinton, who kids referred to as ‘Black Emma’, knew everyone in the village. If he saw you doing something wrong he just shouted “It’s no good running away because I know where you live” and he did!
One day something made me lose interest in school and it tested my feelings of fairness and unfairness. I was in class one day, and a prefect came and I had been sent for by the headmaster, Mr Humphries. I had no ideal what he wanted me for. As I neared his office I could see our Bob there. Mr Humphries came out with a stern look on his face and with an angry voice he said “You Royles have been throwing stones at girls on the school field”. We denied it because we had not done it. I said “Would you fetch the girls who accused us now so I can call them liars to their faces”. He would not listen and told us both to put out our hands. He hit our Bob’s hands once and then I put my hand out but shifted it when he tried to strike me. I said “This is not fair”. He didn’t want to know, so the end result was that we had been punished for something we did not do and had 6 strokes each of the cane. I did not forgive him. It was rough justice. Even Black Emma was fairer.
Our only brush with the law was one day when we had gone to Wadworth down Waddy Lane. We walked to Wadworth even though our Bob had his bike with him. When we were ready to come home, we walked down to the end of the ash track, and both got on his bike and set off home. Suddenly a police car almost knocked us off the bike because the lane is thinner than the ash track. The policeman said it was illegal to have 2 on a bike. We said were on a lane not a road. He was determined to prosecute us and he took our details. We ended up getting fined 10 shillings (50p) each, which was a lot of money in those days. Another injustice. I am surprised that I grew up to be an honest citizen.
One evening our Bob told me to go with him. He was so secretive but still I went along with him. I followed him round the corner into Haig Crescent. We hadn’t gone far when we went up a ginnel and around someone’s back garden. There was a shed lit up inside by candles. We went in and at one end was a lad aged about 18. I recognised him and we always called him Baba. Suddenly Baba blew some of the candles out and that made it darker in the shed. He then told us ghost stories and he included actions which made us sometimes jump or even scream. It was very enjoyable. At the end of the show he took a bow and said “See you again next week”. The next week I went again and after that we went regularly and no stories were ever repeated.
Our Bob left school and got a job at Rossington Colliery. I didn’t see much of him now: he was either at work or in bed.
One day there was a knock at the door and I answered it. The man at the door said “I have brought your piano”. I shouted Mam who came quickly and gave the man some money, and he and another man lifted the piano into the front room. “Who can play the piano?” I asked. “Wait and see” answered Mam. My Dad came in from work and when he saw the piano he quickly took off his coat, lifted the keyboard cover, sat down and started to play a tune called ‘The Tiger Rag’. He was brilliant! I didn’t know he could play a piano. Apparently he was self taught, never had a lesson in his life, but once he heard the music, he could play it. It was unbelievable. Our George managed to play the piano after a few months but was not as good as my Dad. Later, my Dad got paid for playing the piano at weekends in a pub in Wadworth. I thought it strange that before that day, no one had ever said that my Dad could play a piano.
One of the most pleasing things about this year was that I had been the Captain of the May Queen Band, something I had always wanted to do. I again let in the New Year for my favourite customer but he insisted I know on his door at the stroke of midnight. Someone told me that a loud buzzer at the pit screeched out marking the New Year at midnight so I was prepared. As soon as the buzzer went off, I knocked at the door. He opened the door and I wished him a Happy New Year. Again I was given a handsome reward. “See you next year” he said. I then went straight home.
Now that our George, Jean and Bob were all working, I started to think about having a good school report to show my prospective employer, so I thought I had better knuckle down and get a good report from school. As it was, the year turned out to be quite a good one. I still delivered newspapers, did errands and worked in the fields. We managed to have a holiday for a week in Cleethorpes (it was great) and I still played rugby for the school team. Our team won everything we played for – see the photo of the team above.
The next few months were cold so there was hardly any farm or field work, then one day I was asked if I would come and work at Mr Crow’s farm at weekends, doing all sorts of jobs, like cleaning the area where the pigs lived, and then spreading straw over the area. Another surprise to me was that the farmer took me into a quieter area where there were chickens. He grabbed a chicken by the legs with one hand and put his other hand around its neck, and then pulled his hands as far apart as he could. The chicken screeched but soon it was dead. He then told me to do the same. I was quite reluctant but with a lot of coaching, I killed my first chicken. I didn’t like doing that job but it was what he was paying me for. What made it worse was that, sometimes, even though the chicken was dead, it still screeched. Also, sometimes when the farmer removed its head, the chicken still ran around the building! When they are hung on hooks by the feet and they are dead, they would still flap their wings and squeal. As the year went on, a much better job was picking applies, plums, peaches, cherries, and any other fruit. I ate as much of these fruits as I could while I worked: they were delicious and I always took some fruit home.
At school, I was doing my best. I had made a pair of brass candle sticks with a fancy base, turned to shape on the lathe. In my Technical Drawing and Art lessons, which I really liked doing, I kept getting good results. One of the teachers said to me that when I left school I should go on to Art School, and get some qualifications. “I don’t think so” I said, because I knew I would be going to the pit like my Dad and brothers.
I was still in the May Day Parade as a Queen’s Guard and our Percy made his debut this May Day. He was holding the May Queen’s train to keep it from getting dirty on the floor.
I expected my last half term at school to drag but it didn’t. In no time at all, the final week was upon me. Now the reality of leaving school was here. My mind was filled with thoughts about who I may never see again and who I would miss. By the Thursday, end of school, I knew the answers to my thoughts. On my last day at school, I had in mind what I would say to the teachers, my friends and my classmates. It seemed that all went well and I was astounded that I felt sad when I walked from the school grounds. My school days were over and a new chapter in my life was starting.
My working career soon started. I remember my first day employed at Rossington Colliery. With others, we had letters to report to Mr Joe Harvey – Training Officer at 9.00 am on 7 August, 1956.
It just happened to be my birthday, and Mr Harvey wished me a Happy Birthday. There were about 15 of us from the school we had just left. He gave us a talk. The first thing he said was that we must always remember our National Insurance Number because it was needed for the rest of our lives. I scratched it on my metal snap tin so that I would see it all the time. He talked for about an hour and told us that the next day each of us must report to Armthorpe Colliery Training Centre, no later than 9 am. He then warned us that if we were not there by 9 am, we would not have a job. We were to report to the Training Centre for 6 weeks then report back to Mr Harvey on the Monday after the last Friday of the course, at 9 am – that was 19 September 1956. Mr Harvey had a bus timetable so he made suggestions of the times. Afterwards, several of us got together and decided to catch the earlier bus so as to be sure of getting there in plenty of time.
We all got to the Training Centre on time. We were kitted out with helmet, boots and overalls, and told the cost would be deducted from our pay packets over a few weeks. We had lectures about behaviour: no inflammable items allowed, regulations, safety, and it seemed like hundreds of other things. We were taken on tours of the surface machinery that separated shale from coal, the washery, and where sizes are separated. It was interesting. Over the 6 weeks we experienced the coalface, up along the roadways, and up the shaft through the surface system to where the coal is loaded into wagons. For each of the 6 weeks we had verbal and written tests: most of it was common sense.
At the end of the 6 weeks, we were given a Certificate of Training, showing name, date of training and the name of the training centre. On the last day, we finished at lunch-time and we told to report to Mr Harvey’s office at 2 pm that day. We arrived early. Mr Harvey had a list and he called names out and told us individually where to report to on day shift on the following Monday morning. I was told to report to the ‘Boxhole’; luckily some others had the same instruction. We were then taken to the baths where each of us was allocated a clothes locker and given two keys and told to memorise the locker number. We were also given a bar of soap and told that we could buy the next bar from the attendant’s office. Luckily our George and Bob were on day shift so they said they would tell me and show me what to do on Monday morning.
On Monday, we three arrived by 5.15 am, then went to the timekeeper’s window and called our names one at a time. We were each given a brass tag (check) with our locker number on it. I asked our Bob what we did with it. He just said follow us. When we got to the lamp cabin they took me to lamp number 1791 and gave it to me, and I fixed the battery on my belt and the light on my helmet. They told me to put my brass tag (check) on the hook and told me that whenever your check is on that hook they can tell that you are still down the pit. When you put your lamp back you must hang it back where you got it from and put your check back in the timekeeper’s box before you get bathed and go home.
We then went to the shaft and walked onto a large cage, and other men came on until it was full up. The cage lifted up, then whoosh it started moving downwards at incredible speed. it felt like my stomach came up to my mouth. In a few minutes it started to slow down and then came to a stop. The person in charge ( the Onsetter) pressed a button and the cage opened and everyone got off. I could see a queue of men with dirty faces waiting to get on to go home. We made our way along a large, well-lit tunnel, and after about 200 yards a tunnel went off to the right. Our Bob took me about 30 yards and said wait here, someone will see to you, and then he disappeared. I stood there, and the other trainees turned up. Soon a big guy called Ron came out of the Boxhole and called my name, and someone else’s. He chatted for a few minutes to try and settle us down. He told us that over the next weeks we should learn as many jobs as possible to gain experience. He then said to follow him and we went back the way we came to within 20 yards of the cage that we had come down in. He then pointed out what each person did and told us that each of us would spend time with each person, watching at first, then having a go in between and then doing it alone. He also told us that a particular older man was quite miserable, especially if you caused him any problems. I asked Ron what is the Boxhole and he said it is a meeting place for officials to meet between shifts to discuss progress and any problems that occurred or were likely to occur. He then introduced us to Jack, the person in charge of the area where we were to work. Ron then left saying any problems, let me know. Jack came and explained to me that wagons (tubs) were sent down the gradient free wheeling and they must be controlled or stopped before they reached the pit shaft area and they must be stopped by using lockers (pieces of wood about 18 inches long, 2 inches diameter and tapered towards each end) by shoving the locker between the spokes of the wheels which in turn stops the axle and wheels from rotating, and this should bring the tub to a halt. I soon learned that the wheels and the rails they run on should be kept dry, otherwise they slip.
Jack showed me how to do the job and I was getting bored by watching him but then he missed a couple of wheels and I only commented he had missed two wheels. He replied “Come on clever beggar, show me how it’s done”. I had a go and I was surprised at how fast the wheels rotated: it seemed a bit of hit and miss and I missed a few. Jack said “Not bad for a first go”. He then pointed out that it was a shorter train of tubs than normal because if there had been many more then they would have come much faster. I had learned a good lesson. After about a week I was quite proficient and could do the job. I very seldom missed a wheel. They must have been pleased because the next week they moved me to another job to learn. Soon I had learned all the jobs in that area. I expected to be moved the next week but I was told to go back to the locker in wheels, not to re-learn the job but I found out later that the miserable old man had requested that he wanted me on that job because he said he felt safe with me doing it. I spent about two years in that area mainly on the locker job. The good thing about it was that I only did morning and afternoon shifts, not night shifts. I asked about seeing more of the pit because I had proved that I was a good worker. I worked all over the pit doing any type of job they asked me to do. I asked if I could work on the coalface to learn all methods of winning coal because I was thinking about trying to get some qualifications to be an Official. I was put on a face that won coal by undercutting, then drilling holes and placing Cardox shells in them, exploding them, and breaking the coal into pieces. The miners used hands, shovels and picks to fill out an area by moving the coal onto a rubber type conveyor belt; then putting in roof supports made of wood and wooden props and wedges. Later they moved me to automated faces using modern hydraulic roof and floor supports with a metal conveyor belt and a machine that cut the coal with a method of using gravity to load the coal onto the conveyor belt. I was then placed with the Surveying department to experience all methods of driving roadways and new coal faces. Luckily, I was then only working on day shift so my social life improved. In 1961 I was given one day release to study Mining at Doncaster Technical College. In June 1962, I received a Coal Mining Certificate by passing the S.3 Examination of the Yorkshire Mining Board in Engineering Technology, Mining Technology and Mining Regulations.
After I left school and started work at the pit I had some regular pocket money from my wages nd Mother had the rest. I spent time with relatives and friends. There was a dance in the Welfare Hall every Saturday night where most of the teenagers went. I learned how to waltz, quickstep, foxtrot, square tango and many more dances. This venue was the best place to meet and mix with girls because at school, boys and girls were kept separate on purpose. Also at my old Senior School there was a Youth Club where boys and girls mixed and played table tennis, billiards, snooker and various board games. Once a bus load of people came from Maltby Youth Club and spent an evening. Everyone had a great time. It was nice to meet other people. When I was on afternoon shift I missed going to the youth club as it became important to my social life. Also I still worked occasionally for the farmers at weekends.
When Mr and Mrs Dutfield came to Rossington and Mr Dutfield became the Vicar of St. Lukes Church, they opened a youth club and held dances in the Church Hall which became very popular. Also they decided to put on a Pantomime, and in 1962 I took part of one of the main characters in “Babes in York Wood”. It was a huge success. Everyone who saw it thought it was brilliant. (Little did I know that my future wife was in the chorus!). In 1963 I was in “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and in 1964 I played Uncle Abanazer in “Aladdin”.
Miss Judith Anne Appleby (Judy) was also cast as a fairy when in the last two pantomimes she had been in the chorus. Mr Dutfield asked me if after rehearsals I would walk her home to make sure she got home safely, so I did. On the way I would talk to her about anything and I would point out the constellations and particular stars which I was very interested in. She didn’t tell me at the time that she could not see them because she was supposed to wear glasses. After seeing her home quite a few times I felt attracted to her so one night I kissed her. We got married on August 31st 1968 so we will have been married 48 years this year. (2016).
Career wise in 1961 I was given one day release to study mining at Doncaster Technical College.June 1962 I received a Coal Mining Examinations Board Certificate in Mining Engineering Technology, Mining Technology and Mining Regulations.
- June 1962 I received a Coal Mining Examinations Board Certificate in Mining Engineering Technology, Mining Technology and Mining Regulations.
- 13th January 1964 I received my Shot Firer’s Certificate (Coal Mines and Explosives Regulations).
- 17th February 1964 I received my Gas-Testing and Hearing Certificate.
- 18th August 1964 I received my Deputy’s Certificate.
- 1st November 1966 I received my National Certificate in Mining, Maths (Distinction), Mining Technology, Mechanical Engineering Science, Electrical Engineering Science. (Doncaster Technical College).
- 1st October 1970 I received my “Higher National Diploma in Mining” – Sandwich Course, Mining Technology A and B, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Surveying, Geology, Coal Preparation. (Doncaster College of Technology).
- 21st December 1970 I received my “First-Class Certificate of Competency”. (Mines of Coal, Stratified Ironstone, Shale or Fireclay). (Mine Manager’s Qualification).
- November 1966 ‘O’ Level Mathematics Syllabus B.
- June 1971 ‘O’ Level English Language.
From 1964 onwards the education and experience I had was geared to get me qualified to be A Mine Manager. I spent time as Shot-firer, Deputy, Overman and Deputy Undermanager, sometimes at different pits. I visited Dutch mines, Scottish mines and North Notts mines as well as other mines in Yorkshire.
On 14th July 1963 my Mam had another baby, John Paul Royle.
In 1964 I purchased a Triumph Herald car and I had been having driving lessons and passed my test first time. It made it much easier to get around. In the summer of 1965. I took Judy, her Mum and her younger brother to Whitby for two weeks’ holiday. One day we saw
a notice advertising the Daily Mirror Pushball Contest. I was interested to find out what it was. The person advertising told me that there are two teams of five and a large 6 foot diameter blown up ball. Each team stands a certain distance from the ball until the referee blows his whistle and then the teams try to push the ball over the other side’s line. I signed up for it. It was played on the beach and guess what? I was on the winning side and each of us was presented with a pewter tankard with the engraved words “Daily Mirror Pushball Contest 1965”. I still have the tankard. On the day there was also a Caption Contest. There was a comic picture of a large pushball being pushed by the teams, and one of the teams had one of their players being crushed under the ball. There was a prize of £30 for the best caption. All four of us filled in a caption. Later that evening we went for a walk to the beach, and there on a large notice board was written my name and address and the caption I had entered, which read “It looks like your Dad will have an excuse to be off work again”. We shared the £30 between us, so we had £7.50 each to spend. Yippee!
Also on the same holiday we talked Judy into entering the Miss Whitby Beauty Contest. On the day she was very nervous but she looked beautiful and she won. Her photograph was in the Whitby local paper. What a great holiday that was, and that was the start of many holidays together in England, Scotland and Wales.
In 1966 Judy left school and started work in the offices at International Harvesters. In 1968 we got married and honeymooned in Caernarfon, Wales. While we were there we received a telegram from my Dad telling us that we had been allocated a pit house but that they needed to see our Marriage Certificate before they could proceed any further. As we had it with us we decided to go home early because this was very important to us.
During 1972 I began to realise that from discussions with people with the same qualifications as myself they seemed to end up in dead end jobs. Too many people had the qualifications and it seemed that if you didn’t know anyone you would not get on. Early in 1973 I gave a lot of thought to my career. I was back doing three shifts and I had been thinking about my health so I decided to look at jobs outside mining. I saw a job advertised: a foreman’s job at Crompton Parkinsons, so I applied. After an interview I was given the job. I never looked back – 5 days a week, 8.00 am to 4.30 pm and I enjoyed it. The products that they made were strip lighting for domestic and industrial purposes. They also made special design lighting of all types for whoever needed them. The bulk of the workforce was women. It was different from being at the pit where the workforce was male.
Because my wife Judy worked at International Harvesters, which was located just over the road, I took her to work and back. She liked that because she normally had to catch two buses to get to work. Also Judy’s Mum worked at Crompton Parkinson’s in the Motor Division so I also gave her a lift.
We bought a static caravan on an Ingoldmells caravan site at Skegness and spent quite a few weekends and holidays there. We made improvements to our house to make it to our taste and comfort. After a few years we decided to sell the static caravan and we bought a touring caravan and started touring the country.
In 1977 my boss asked/ordered me to look after some school children from a Senior School because they were a Young Enterprise Group and they were visiting industry to learn how to set up and run a company and make a profit. They came once a week after school. They had no idea what product they wanted to make and sell. One day my brother Colin showed me a book called ‘Pictures with Pins’ and he had selected and made a picture of an old fashioned oil lamp. I liked it so I made one to see how it was done. I showed it to some of the ladies that worked on the shop floor. Most of them said that they would buy one if they were cheap enough. I showed the school group and they liked it so I asked them to work out the price for their homework. The following week I had made several pictures from the book and worked out a price of £6 for the oil lamp and various prices for the other pictures depending on how complicated the designs were. The kids had no idea how much to charge for the oil lamp so I took them through the costing, materials, time, labour taken to make, etc. Soon we had more orders than we had finished pictures so I ended up making extra ones at home to make sure that the kids would make a profit on paper. The school and the kids thanked me for teaching them. I wished them well and I must admit I enjoyed teaching them.
As I had been making the various pictures I thought I could design these myself so I had a go at making up several designs and making them into pictures. After a couple of months, I had designed 30 pictures, equally as good as, or even better than, the book our Colin had. One day I thought, why don’t I ask Marshall Cavendish Ltd (publishes of Picture with Pins) in London if they might be interested in another selection of designs. Judy had typed out all the instructions for making the pictures and I had photographed the finished pictures, so we sent all the information to Marshall Cavendish’s offices. They were very interested. They liked the pictures and sent me a contract, so my wife and I took the pictures down to their offices in London and they really liked them. They took us out to lunch and we discussed exactly what they needed. The asked for a description of basic-know how, how to make a pattern, list of materials and the making of the picture, simple knots, stringing and a name for each picture (this was already done). They named the book ‘More Pictures with Pins’ by Bryan Royle, and after publishing, they gave me 10 copies and said if I wanted any more I could have as many as I wanted at a special price. When the book came on sale the local paper phoned me. They came to my house and took pictures of me holding the book with lots of the pictures surrounding me. They did a great write up. I still have a copy of the Doncaster Evening Post, Thursday June 15th 1978. If you Google More Pictures with Pins, you should still see the book for sale by the author Bryan Royle.
After the experience with the schoolchildren and the fact that, since I was a kid, I had always thought that I would have liked to have been a school teacher. I noticed an advert in the newspaper in autumn 1978 that interested me. It was advertising a one-year special course for teachers for Technology, Craft and Design at Sheffield City University. It specified that applicants must be mature, had experience of industry and have a certain standard of educational certificate. I had a Higher National Diploma and Mine Manager’s qualification. I applied for the course, had an interview and was accepted. I finished at Crompton Lighting before Christmas and started the course in January 1979. The course was very interesting and I really enjoyed it. In December 1979 I passed the course and became a qualified teacher.
I contacted Doncaster Education Department to ask if they wanted a newly qualified teacher. They had nothing to offer me at the moment. I started to look in other areas where teaching jobs were advertised and saw a job at Wombwell High School, Barnsley, starting on 2nd January 1980, on a single term contract. I applied, had an interview and got the job. I mainly taught metalwork, woodwork and technical drawing but sometimes they asked me to teach other subjects, which I was willing to do. I was glad my senior school experience had come in handy with my teaching. What shocked me was that the Craft Department had little or sometimes no wood. When I asked about it I was told that they were waiting for money to be allocated and that I would have to just teach theory for now. I soon realised that the kids were bored stiff so I asked if I could have a couple of hours off to go and look for some local firms and possibly get some timber from them. I looked in the phone book and found a door and window firm. When I found it I told the Manager my problem and he told me that a supply of off cuts would be delivered to the school the next day. I thanked him. While I was teaching the next day I got a message that a lorry full of wood was in the yard. I went and directed it to the craft department where he tipped it. We had enough timber to last for ages. Most of the timber was door edging so I taught my class how to make joints that when put together was a box. Before the end of the term I was told my job was redundant. I was told that it wasn’t any reflection on me. I was given a good reference. There were still no jobs going in Doncaster so I applied for a job at Sheffield at Hinde House Secondary School and got it, starting September 1980. I taught metalwork, woodwork and technical drawing. One day, after we had had our morning tea break, one of the pupils told us that one of the boys in our lesson had put some liquid into our teapot. All craft lessons stopped and all the craft teachers went to the hospital. They took all our clothes and money and locked them in a safe. We were given white gowns and sat waiting for about 90 minutes until a Doctor came and told us that they had contacted the firm that made the liquid and luckily the amount we had drunk was not hazardous. We all returned to school. I think the pupils who had missed their favourite lessons punished the offender. It never happened again.
Before the summer holidays of 1981 I was told that from September, besides teaching the 3 subjects I was already teaching, I would be teaching bricklaying, plumbing, painting and several other aspects of the building trade. I worked there until 1986 because I saw a job advertised at Doncaster for a permanent supply teacher and I got it. I worked at Abbey Middle School at Hatfield for 5 years and during this time one of the pupils always disrupted the class. One day he started, so I gave him a clip behind the ear. He cried and told me that he was going to fetch his Dad up to school, so I told him to let me know when his Dad was coming because I had seen how big his Dad was and my Dad was a lot bigger and I would fetch him at the same time. The lad thought for a minute then he laughed out loud. After that he toed the line.
Later on, I was sent to a special unit for troubled children; then Hatfield High Secondary School and finally, to Chase Special School which was geared towards children with very special needs and learning difficulties. I really had to think how I was going to teach these children because it would be very different from teaching at the other schools. For the maths lesson I found that if I used dolly mixtures for counting, it got their full attention. So for addition, e.g. 6+2 = 8, if they got it right they were given that number of sweets to keep. The same applied to subtraction. The incentive worked and the kids came on in leaps and bounds. Then I managed to combine craft and maths lessons covering ratios. I had bought some garden ornament moulds of animals, etc. and took them into school. We mixed fixed quantities of sand, cement and pebbles in the same ratio whatever quantity of concrete they wanted, then mixed it with water and poured it into the moulds and waited until they were set, and then they painted the finished ornament. We were very successful at making them and sold them to parents and at the school fairs and made some money for the school funds. We even took a large group over the Humber Bridge to Hull where there was a factory making and selling the latex moulds. The manager was great with the kids. He showed them how they made the moulds and at the end of the visit he gave each child a free mould to take home. They really enjoyed the visit and it was a great day out for them. On 18th April 1993 I took Premature Retirement. My working career had ended.
We had always had holidays in Great Britain so we decided to see some of the world and decided to do some guided tours. Our first one was in January 2001 when we did a full tour of Egypt – somewhere my wife had always wanted to visit. We saw the pyramids, different temples, famous tombs and visited Cairo Museum. Brilliant! The only problem we had was that it was freezing while we were there. Also a lot of people had cancelled because of the devastating attack on the Twin Towers in America and all of the time, except when we visited Abu-Simnel, Judy and I were the only ones with our different guides. We went to Italy, flying to Venice and then touring to Sorrento where we visited Pompeii, the Isle of Capri and saw the volcano Vesuvius. We visited Rome, Florence and many other places. We toured Greece, visiting Athens and touring all the Roman and Greek ruins. It was great and our tour guide was brilliant. On our Switzerland tour we visited Lucerne, went on trains through the Swiss Alp passes and even went up a mountain on a train where you could see the Matterhorn Mountain.
The scenery was out of this world. We then decided to go to Costa Brava in Spain by bus to see the countryside and to cross the Malin Bridge, and then after our holiday, fly home. We also did some bus tours around Belgium, Holland and Austria and went by bus to stay in Ostend. It was another experience to go through the Channel Tunnel. We decided to go to Poland and we could fly from Doncaster. We visited different towns, then the salt mines, spectacular statues and loads of different things, even a chandelier carved out of salt, absolutely gorgeous, then on a more sombre note, we went to Auschwitz. When we went to Egypt, the hotels, rooms and beds were superb and the ones in Poland were just as classy. The last tour we did was Croatia and it was one of the nicest countries we had been to and the people were so friendly. We still went abroad as well as holidays at home but now we have more relaxing holidays.
I would like to dedicate this story to my DAD, without whom this story would never have happened. He borrowed a bike and cycled from Bolton to Rossington to get a job at Rossington Colliery, which he did. He then cycled back to Bolton, packed his belongings and moved to Rossington, lodging at 29 Haig Crescent, Rossington. He met Mary Green who lived at 30 Haig Crescent, Rossington and the rest, as they say, is history – THE ROYLES.
Click on the link above to download the Family Tree, showing Bryan’s mother’s family
Click on this link to see Bryan’s parents’ marriage and his brothers and sisters
This tree shows Bryan’s father’s line
This link shows Bryan’s nearest family and their own family tree growth