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Rhoda Dickens nee Adamthwaite - her story

Introduction (2004)

 

I am Rhoda's daughter in law, Toni, married to her son John Harling Dickens. This is Rhoda's story of her family as remembered by her children. Some of it was told to me over a period of time while we looked at old photographs. Most of the tales come from her mother Maggie who was interested in her family and family history. As I write, Rhoda is 84, lives with Alison and is suffering from dementia, as a consequence I am unable to confirm anything with her.

Rhoda was born 18th July 1920, in Leeds, the only child of John & Maggie Adamthwaite. They were first cousins and were advised by the doctor not to have any more children for fear they would be born mentally deficient. Rhoda was a much loved daughter. She went to St Hilda's School in Leeds and then on to the School of Commerce for secretarial training. She loved to go to the cinema and to buy high heeled shoes. She worked through the war & always blamed the Germans for "taking away her youth". She went on to work at Turner Tanning Engineering Works, in Leeds, where she met Jack Dickens. They married at Christ Church, Armley in 1950, when Rhoda was 30 years old. She wore a grey silk suit and one of her bridesmaids was her friend, Ada Bentley. Rhoda and Jack had two children, John Harling and Alison Elizabeth.

 

The Adamthwaites

 

John Adamthwaite was a postman (23/4/1911 for 20 shillings per week) and therefore a steady wage came into the house. He was also a good gardener (his favourite flowers were Calceolaria) and had a large greenhouse in the garden. The house they lived in, 15 St Hilda's Crescent, had a large garden going down to railway lines at the back. It was unusual in Leeds at that time for working class houses to have such a large garden. Their life style was quite good for the time with a steady income and home grown vegetables. John grew enough to sell the extra to neighbours. Maggie was "a lady" - born and brought up in

Cousins%20John%20and%20Maggie%20Adamthwaite%20and%

John and Maggie Adamthwaite with daughter Rhoda

Bentham, in the country, and she did not let Rhoda mix much with local children. It seemed Rhoda used to die to play with the other children in the pile of midden ashes at the top

of the street - but Maggie did not approve. Rhoda spent much of her spare time painting and doing embroidery - as I suspect Maggie had done in Bentham. Maggie was a good pianist and took part in concerts and recitals in Bentham. She gave piano lessons but musical aptitude seems to have skipped a generation (my husband used to practise his violin accompanied by his Grandmother).

 

During WWI John was in the Royal Artillery, looking after mules pulling guns. He carried a photo of Maggie throughout the war. He hated every minute and would not talk about it.  He particularly hated the mud and dirt.  He threw his medals away.

 

Maggie was very family orientated and often used to visit Bentham with Rhoda. There are lots of photos of Rhoda from a baby to a young lady taken in Bentham. The family in Bentham seems to have kept in touch by sending any local newspaper clippings concerning the Adamthwaite family to Maggie and there is an extensive collection of postcards of Bentham and surrounding area.

RichardAdamthwaiteb1861[1] MaryAdamthwaiteneeHarling[1] Richard & Mary with dau Maggie

             Richard Adamthwaite and Mary (Harling), with their daughter                      Richard Adamthwaite                 Mary Adamthwaite (nee Harling)

                                                  Maggie (1892-1971)                                                                  (1861-1947)                                           (1859-1923)

Maggie was the only child of Richard Adamthwaite, a cabinet maker, and Mary Harling, of Duke Street, Bentham. The Harlings were a Bentham family and Mary's sister Margaret Ellen Harling (referred to as Aunt Mar'gt-Ellen) married Richard's brother John Adamthwaite. (John worked in the silk mill in Bentham for over 50 years, had lost his right eye when young after being scalded by a teapot and she was as tight as a tick). Richard worked in Bentham and made furniture, some of which remains in the family. We have a set of drawers he made for Maggie - the front of the drawers fall open to allow easy extraction of sheet music and there is a Grandfather clock, some doll's furniture and other bits and pieces with Rhoda in Leeds. Photos of Mary, Maggie and Rhoda show a strong family resemblance and later ones of Rhoda's daughter Alison with her daughter show that the resemblance remains.  Perhaps because she moved way from Bentham, Maggie seems to have been closer to all her cousins and relations there. She had lots of photos of her many cousins from Bentham and Wray and their children.

JohnAdamthwaiteandMargaretEllen[1] JohnAdamthwaiteb1867atsilkworksgate[1] MargaretEllenAdamthwaiteneeHarling[1]

John Adamthwaite and Margaret              John outside the         Margaret Ellen

Ellen (Harling)                                              Silk works

 

ElizabethAdamthwaiteneeCarr[1] William Greenbank Adamthwaite b1859 Margaret Ellen with Elizabeth (Carr) & Wm Greenban John Walter and George Willie William Adamthwaite b1879 d13y Sarah Alice Adamthwaite b1886 Annie Adamthwaite b1877 Elizabeth ''Dot'' Adamthwaite b1900

Some photos of William Greenbank Adamthwaite and Elizabeth (Carr) and their children (clockwise from above left):

  • William Greenbank Adamthwaite (1859-1948)

  • Elizabeth Carr (1861-1933)

  • Margaret Ellen with Elizabeth and William Greenbank Adamthwaite

  • Elizabeth (Dot) Adamthwaite (1900-1957)

  • William Adamthwaite (1879-1891)

  • Three sons: John(1890-1972), Walter (1892-1972)and George Willie(Uncle Bill) (1895-1961)

  • Annie Adamthwaite (1877-1951)

  • Sarah Alice Adamthwaite (1886-1914) – she married Cyril Hant in 1913

read on

John's parents, William Greenbank  Adamthwaite and Lizzie (nee Carr) lived in Leeds and had nine children in total. Three boys lived into adulthood, John, Walter and George Willie (Uncle Bill). There are many photos of family holidays with Uncle Bill & Aunt Edith. Their youngest sister Dot (Elizabeth) was very small and possibly had spinal problems.

 

John & Maggie moved to Armley Grange View, in Leeds where Maggie looked after both William Greenbank and Richard until their deaths, together with Auntie Dot until her death in 1957 (my husband John remembers her being bed ridden with an oxygen mask over her face). There was some family falling out at this time. John felt that other family members did not do their fair share of looking after William and Richard and he did not speak to his brothers.


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