Memories of Branton

Mrs Kathleen Gagg was born in Branton in 1907 and here she remembers some of the characters of Branton in the years c 1914-1920.

Granny Tyas

Granny Tyas was one of the great characters of Branton. Everybody knew her and respected her. She brought up a large family and then really devoted herself to helping anybody in Branton who needed nursing. She was remarkable. She was like a midwife really and loved children. You see, there were no telephones then in the village, or motor cars, so when a baby was about to be born you had to go to Doncaster for a doctor. So in the meantime you sent for Granny Tyas. You see, by the time you had cycled to Doncaster or went on horse and trap, and come back, the baby would no doubt be born. So it was Granny Tyas who delivered many of the babies in Branton. She'd also go if anybody was ill. She had no training but people would call for her to see if they needed the doctor.

She worked so hard. We used to go to her house and she would give the children bread and dripping. She lived on the corner of Kilham Lane. Her husband was known for miles around too because he was a horse breaker and trainer.

When she got too old for nursing they decided to join the Nursing Association. Fr Tatham had a lot to do with it, and maybe the parish council. Anyway a nurse was appointed.

Nurse Gentle

Nurse Gentle was gentle by name and gentle by nature. She lived at the mill house. She was gorgeous. You'd see her on her bike in her navy blue uniform with this flowing veil. She delivered all the babies around here from then on. It got rather a lot for her so in the end she retired and did private nursing. It was she who nursed Fr Tatham until he died.


BRANTON, (originally called Brampton), is today quite a self contained village boasting a post office, newsagent, grocer, butcher, hairdresser and most of all a regular bus service to Doncaster.

A far cry indeed from the past when the only shop in the village was in someones front room and the odd housewife selling tobacco and pop as a sideline from her cottage door. There were no cars as there is today with people commuting to industrial towns miles away but men on bikes, or on foot going to work on the neighbouring farms or the local woodyard.

This was owned by Earl Fitzwilliam who also owned the nearby stately Cantley Hall and estate.   Unfortunately when he died the estate had to be sold to pay the death duty and all the tenants were offered their dwellings at a very low price and many were quick to take up the offer. They were very proud of their cottages and were very keen gardeners.

It certainly helped the low wages when they could grow their own produce.   It was quite usual to find a few hens scratching around and a pig at the bottom of the garden.   The local pig killer went to whoever had a pig that needed killing, V/hen the pork pies and sausages etc. were made some of them were distributed among family and friends, who, when they killed their own pig duly returned the favour. In those days there were no such things as street lighting and the houses had no electricity.   (Water was drawn from wells in the backyards).   Paraffin lamps and candles were the order of the day.   The housewives were always pleased to see Mr. Wardale calling on them once a week with his supplies of paraffin, vinegar, wicks, candles, soap, soap powder and hardware.  With his horse drawn dray which was heavily laden with pots, pans and buckets dangling and jangling from it he used, to travel to all the neighbouring villages.   On the front of the dray was a little wooden box for the children which held such treats as Lion wine gums, Five Boys chocolate, Nestles chocolate and small blocks of dairy toffee. The children of the village attended the church school at Cantley. The only way to get there was to walk and some had quite a trek from the outlying farms.  

On Sundays they were expected to attend Sunday school at either St. Wilfrid's Church at Cantley or the Methodist Chapel at Branton. Sadly, this has been knocked down as has the little church in Chapel Lane.   This was the venue for the annual crowning of the May Queen and the start of the procession round the village. One of the prominent features of the area is the old mill which used to grind the corn.   There are no sails on the mill today but it is believed to have had some at one time.

The local hostelry is "The Three Horse Shoes" (the earliest 'reference of it is 1?61 and is believed to have been rebuilt in 1907) . Mr. Sid Dugher was the landlord, and was quite a character. The beer used to be brought up from the cellar in a jug and if the hand wasn't steady much of it didn't reach the glass.1   If anyone complained of the beer being flat he was always known to ask "what's tha'ed for thi tea?" To eke out a living the landlord used to farm a quantity of land which was tenanted from the brewery along with the pub. Part of this establishment housed the local blacksmith.   Horses were a very common sight.   Hot only were they used on the farms but also to pull public transport on market days. Also at the pub was housed the laying-out board.   This was a strong piece of wood -about the size of a door which was used for laying-out anyone who had died.

When this happened-Granny Tyas was always sent for.   This was a job she specialised at and when she could no longer carry on her daughter-in-law took on the task.   (Thank goodness for present day undertakers,1). Granny Tyas was quite a character and staunch Methodist and lived with'her husband Fred, in a cottage at the corner of Kilham Lane. They had quite a large family. When water was eventually laid on she still insisted on using water for washing from the'nearby dyke as she said the other used too much soap.1   Fred was renowned for his horse breaking skills and collecting and skinning all the dead sheep he could acquire from the area.   In all his many years he never ever saw the sea.

The cobbler in the village was Bill Tyas.   Not only did he repair boots but he also made them from his cottage at the corner of Brockholes Lane.   His wife always made sure they were well and truly polished before they were collected.

On a site near ".The Three Horse Shoes" stood the old bake-house, the baker's name being Mr. Marshall.

The district nurse was Nurse Harding who used to tour the villages in her. starched apron on her big sit up and beg bike.   She used to see people into the world and also out of it.   If you fell ill and received a visit from her, she religiously changed the sheets daily regardless of whether you had a good supply or not.   (The old dolly tubs and peggy legs used to work overtime after her visits.1).   Oh, for the modern washing machine). Branton Feast was always held on the nearest weekend to the 20th of October and caused much excitement in the village.   It was all the fun of the fair.   Coconut shies, side stalls and wonderful roundabouts etc.    These were powered by the big steam engines belching out clouds of black smoke and adding to the atmosphere.  

The galloping horses were a sheer delight to one and all but best of all the youngsters were always pleased to see Donkey Dick arrive with his string of donkeys.  He was always a firm favourite.

How the pace of life has changed. What does the future hold? Who knows?

Life in Branton

These recollections of life in Branton, c 1910-20, have been gathered by Marion Jones. We are very grateful to the late Wilf Tyas, Ted Badger and George Carter for their help.


We used to have a good time when we were children, making your own amusements.  There was a field at the bask,, where the school is now, for cricket and football.  We used to go up to the river for bathing.  That were our bathing pool. Men and women, lads and lassies.  It were great fun. You used to make all your own fun.  We'd walk miles. We would walk to Doncaster.  There were no transport, only a carriers wagon on a Saturday and Tuesday.

We used to go out winters nights, to farmers ratting.  We'd take two dogs and stable lamps.  We caught 650-odd one winter.  It was great fun at nights and you see the best of it was we had no streetlights.  When it were moonlight we used to go miles travelling.

At home we had nearly an acre of land.  We kept pigs, rabbits, ferrets, pigeons and fowl. We'd go shooting for rabbits.  There were plenty of them in the fields at harvest time and they made a good dinner.  Vie used to go rabbiting and take ferrets to fetch them out the holes.  That were good fun and going out bush beating on Saturday for these gents for pheasants.  Then we'd go potato scratting for 7/6d (37.5p) a day.  There were plenty to do, topping turnips and sugarbeet.  There used to be gangs of women come for tatty-picking and tatty-setting and all like that in the fields.

Local Life

There was a blacksmith's shop down against the pub (Three horseshoes) and another one at Auckley and one a Cantley where Cantley Motors is now.  Old Danny TINKER were the Smith at Cantley.

We used to stop and help him with fires after school and lark around a bit.

The Mill never had any sails on, as I can remember.  We used to go with farmers taking a bit of corn to grind.  We'd help mend the fire. There was a chimney and a fire because it was steam power.

The house where I live (Wilf Tyas, Whiphill Top Lane) used to be a pub - The Star Inn they called it, but not in my time nor my fathers.

I can't say there was ever a pub in Cantley. The only hall we had was the old reading room opposite where Boulton Drive is.  Then we had another big hut built on the corner of Warning Tongue Lane and Cantley Lane,  opposite where the old Cantley School was.  It were used for dances and different functions.  At the Eagle and Child at one time there was a room for dances and the like, It were a close community and people would help one another out.. We had some wonderful times.