Hi members who were around way back in early 2014 may remember a few posts that I created at that time based around historical postcards. One of these - entitled “This could turn into an addiction!” introduced us to a boy called Aubrey via a postcard sent from the Hotel Russell in London’s Russell Square by his loving Daddy in October 1904.
I did some research and tracked down the boy’s full name - James Aubrey Thornton Crowther and that of his father - Fred Jackson Crowther, and I managed to piece together a few little snippets of the family history since 1904, and threw in a little conjecture for good measure.
Well imagine my great delight when I received an email out of the blue a while ago from Aubrey’s grandson Geoff, together with photographs of Aubrey and his Daddy - the pictures you can see above! It is thought that the photograph of Aubrey was taken in 1906, while that of Fred Jackson Crowther was taken sometime between 1900 and his early death (at the age of 46) in 1908.
It turns out that some of my conjecture wasn’t too far off the mark and I’ll let Geoff take up the story below, although there is one update I can provide myself first.
In the postcard Daddy refers to having returned from the ‘Exhibition’. I had wondered whether this was at Olympia, but some further research found that the annual Brewers’ Exhibition was taking place at this time at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington. A write-up in The Times newspaper of 17 Oct 1904 referred to several prize winners, but alas, the Crowthers were not among them!
Anyway, back to Geoff’s update:
Fred Jackson Crowther was indeed one of the owners of the ‘J.F and J Crowther’ maltings in Mirfield. He lived at Knowl Grove, a house built by his father James Firth Crowther around 1870. I would think that the road being named ‘Crowther Road’ dates from this time, as Knowl Grove was probably the first house on this road, although it runs along the back of the property, not the front.
Unfortunately Fred Jackson Crowther died in 1908 of ‘maltsters disease’ aged only 46. This became the defining event in the history of that part of the family, as during his dying illness he made his wife promise never to let their son, Aubrey, go into the maltings business, as he believed that the family may be susceptible to that disease.
His death left his widow Margaret Louisa nee Thornton with Aubrey aged 10 and his sister Margaret aged just 3. After a few years they left Knowl Grove and moved to Littlemoor House, from where, as you have discovered, he married in 1922.
Knowl Grove was sold, was demolished in the 1950’s or 60’s, and Knowl Grove Road now occupies the site.
As it happens Aubrey did not fight during World War 1. He joined the ‘Inns of Court’ Regiment from school, but was invalided out a few months later due to problems with his knee ‘aggravated by Ordinary Military Service’ as his discharge papers put it. I don’t know why he joined that particular regiment, as far as I know there is no family connection to it, but possibly it was connected to his school in some way.
As far as I understand it, he was sent to train in electrical engineering, and did his war-work in that field.
As you discovered, after his marriage he lived at Marmaville in Mirfield. Not being allowed to go into the family maltings business, which went down another branch of the family (a sister of FJC), he ran various businesses over the years. None of these was very successful, and all had to be closed or sold for one reason or another out of his control.
The first was a garage, utilising his training in electrical engineering, which had to be sold due to health problems in 1931, then a poultry farm, which had to close on the outbreak of war in 1939 due to the unavailability of chicken feed.
During the Second World War the outbuildings (which had been the workshops for the garage, and later sheds for the chickens) were converted into an ambulance depot for the ARP [Air Raid Precautions] run by his wife Margaret, and he was a Civil Defence Regional Officer, based in Leeds, eventually responsible for quite a large part of the West Riding of Yorkshire.
After the war some of the land at Marmaville was used for growing fruit and vegetables, which was run as ‘Marmaville Gardens’ and later they converted much of the house into a country club, which was basically a private members dining club. This had, however, only been running a few years when he died in 1955, and was sold the following year, as the family were not able to keep it going without him.
His mother died at Littlemoor House in 1938, and his sister, my great Aunt Margaret, continued to live there until her death in 1980, when it was sold, demolished, and houses built on the area. She was the last of five generations of the Crowther family to live in Mirfield.
As for Marmaville, all that remains of the original house is the façade. The rest of it was demolished several years ago, and has now been replaced with flats.
It seems fitting to me, as Hi closes down, to go out on this high note! I hope others enjoy this update as much as I did.
Au revoir, my Hi friends, and may God bless you all. If you want to stay in contact then some of my other social media links are below.
Best wishes, Adrian
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