Village Anecdotes

Over the decades, Whiston has borne witness to just about every form of socio-cultural activity and in return it has worked its way into the hearts of those who have called it home. Thus there are many stories out there from residents - both past and present - as to what it was (or is) like to live here. We present a sample of these below with the intention of painting an interesting picture of village life.

Extracts from Eleanor Kimber's book Youthful Memories of Whiston (2008):


The book describes life in Whiston during the 19th Century. It goes into detail on a variety of subjects from daily chores, via leisure and recreation, to Christmas in Whiston.

Water Supplies:

Water for washing was carried from the brook, but our drinking water came from the village tap supply about a five-minute walk away. That often was a great hardship: for the water pot so often seemed to run low when we were tired out at the end of the day; or because we were suffering from what was then called growing pains (now known as rheumatic pains). However with two buckets, my sister and I had to go and fetch more water whichever way we went.


Queen Victoria's Jubilee:

My second outstanding memory was in 1887, when I was five years old. I took my small part in celebrating Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. From the school - and headed by the village Brass Band - we paraded through the village, commemorative mug in hand - on which was a fine colourful picture of the Queen in full royal regalia – but oh, it was a long walk!

The Millers and the Sweeps in the 1890's:

Every Easter Tuesday if the weather was kind, a football match took place between two teams of Whistonians. One team disguised in white, the other in black. Prior to the match, behind the Village Band, the two teams made a procession through the village led by “Rotherham Bob”, who made a point of always being a spectacular member of the procession.

Millers and Sweeps

The Boer War - How it Affected Whiston:

Not everyone thought our side of the argument was just including Mr Lloyd George... One working man in our village held the same views, and I remember a night when his door and windows were rammed and struck by clothes props; and shouts of “pro Boer” made a terrific din in our otherwise quiet village.

WW2 Victory Teaparty

Whiston Feast:

The Whiston Feast – which usually took place in the last week of July or the beginning of August - would start on the Saturday and end on the following Tuesday night. As an event, it was a highlight of the whole year and us children religiously saved half of our Saturday pennies ready for the Feast, which for those same children, began at 9 am on the Monday morning.

The thrill we got as we climbed over the low wall that led to all the wonders of the fairground was one to be felt, not described. As, armed with threepence of our savings, we went in to spend it and then headed home to startle our mother with the sound of penny-whistles before we quite got there.

A Seaside Trip:

At that time, if one really wanted to go to the seaside, there were cheap trips to Cleethorpes for 2s9d; to Bridlington for 3s8d; or Scarborogh for 3s6d. I still remember the thrill we youngsters felt as we walked from our village, to Masbrough Station nearly four miles away in order to catch the Bridlington train; or alternatively, the walk to the M.S. and L. Station in Rotherham for the journey to Cleethorpes.

The Village Thrift Club:

The village people learnt to be thrifty, for the Rector introduced a thrift club; and one day weekly, seated at a table in the Servants' Hall, was there to take and stamp a card provided. At the year’s end, for some, there was quite a nice little sum for the villagers to spend at one of two very reliable shops – usually Henry Bray and Son of Masborogh or John Smiths - the corner drapers shop at the bottom of the Rotherham Church Steps and around the corner into College Street.

Christmas Preparations:

Getting ready for Christmas included making pork pies. Each one weight 2lbs but we would make nine or ten of them in total. One once fell to pieces when taken out of the oven and I remember my mother and aunts eating the warm pork pie, because they dare not tell their father who was a very quick-tempered man. All this was part of the Christmas preparations and the spice cake had preceded the pig killing; for, as everyone knows, rich cake improves with keeping.

Boxing Day:

On Boxing Day one felt rather forlorn: nothing left to look forward to! “But what’s that? Oh! It's the village Brass Band outside Mrs Hudson’s grocery shop and they are playing 'Under the Mistletoe Bough' and the story of the lovely missing bride and her heartbroken husband, followed by various Christmas carols and lastly the polka”. Out came Mrs Hudson, Mrs Shaw, Mrs Copley; and others to dance the polka with much merriment and squeals of joy.

Standing for the Parish Council:

One man in the village, superior in character and well read, had been persuaded by other men in the village to stand for election on the Parish Council; but as he was working in his garden one day a gentleman farmer was passing by and stopped to say: 'I hear you are standing for the Parish Council John'. “Yes sir, I thought I could serve there”. 'Well if you do, you will get no more work from any of us' said the gentleman as he walked away.

A Visit from the Mormons:

One day the Mormons called on an old lady in the village who was a bit lacking in intelligence. Following their knock she came to the door and they asked “may we give you a tract Madam?” “What is it mester [mister]?” she inquired. “Rays of living light Madam!” – to which the old lady replied “No thank yer mester, we’ve gotten gas!”

A Witch in the Village!?

Every village seems to have at least one person outstanding because of an unusual characteristic. Such a person was Mrs W. - for some folk called her a witch. One day a neighbour of the aforesaid person assured me, in all seriousness, that Mrs W. had put a curse on her fowls so that they couldn’t lay eggs. She had seen her strew salt on her doorstep, murmuring a curse at the same time; of this there was no question I was told.

The Rev. Horne - The Village Curate:

Along with other interests, Mr Horne had been Chaplain to the showmen of the Showmen’s Guild. We liked him very much, for he was a boon to the village; and on its lighter side organising concerts from the Reading Room – later to be shown in the School to a packed company. Our own Black and White Minstrels were greatly appreciated! After over eighty years, I still see in my mind’s eye Joe Wresel and Charley Walker singing and acting and humming the tunes. They sang Sister Mary Walks Like That with great play of the coat tails of their gorgeous suits. Oh! Those village concerts were great fun for us all and must have required a great deal of tuition from the Rev. T. Horne.