Ramblings of  Mrs Dorothy Potts

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Ramblings on Normanby by Mrs Dorothy Potts (nee Pyrah of Mount Pleasant);

August 2006


Tom Skilbeck and his wife.

Staunch members of the Methodist Chapel, for many years attended, and saw to the continuance of the building.  Could be seen early on a Sunday morning carrying a bundle of firewood down to the Chapel ready to light the fire and warm the building for the congregation.  Alice’s anniversary teas, (first Sunday in June) were always very good indeed, and the invitation to go to their home was always a treat.


George Skilbeck

Tom’s brother was a farm labourer who worked at Rise Farm, this being both arable and animal farming.  George was living in Marton with his sister Cissie she played for the services at the Chapel.


Dennis Marton

One of the first family of the Marton’s of Low Bottoms, there being four from the first marriage. He lived originally in Marton with his wife and four children, Norman, Kathy, Millie and Ethel.  His wife died after the birth of a fifth child.  He moved to Rise Farm, and was there until 1942.  He was a local preacher for over forty years sometimes cycling as far as Nunnington or Gillamoor in all weathers.  For illumination he had a candle in a jam jar, and bicycle with an almost permanent puncture in the tyre!  He married Annie Elizabeth Pyrah as his second wife circa 1923 in Manchester.  The Pyrah’s had some connection with the Marton’s.  Indeed “Grandma Pyrah” Annie’s mother, was said to have been born in Harome, and spent some of her life in Coneysthorpe, and Old Malton.  She is buried in St Andrews churchyard.  During the 30’s when farming was at a very low ebb (Dennis Marton used to find a big stone in the field to push bills under!) Sam Lockwood of Normanby Hill wished to purchase cheaply, farm land.  I remember the dismay at Rise Farm when “Sammy” turned up, almost in threatening manner, demanding that Dennis sold Rise Farm to him.  This caused great anxiety.


Robert Pyrah and his Son Norman

They came to live at Rise Farm after the tragic death of his wife Rose, in a fire at her workplace.  Norman, aged 13, went to Canada on an exchange scheme where English children went working on farms.  He later became a fur trapper, a lumberjack and sailed as a crew on the Great Lakes.  He returned to England in 1940 with the Canadian Highland Regiment, he married an English girl, went back to Canada at the end of the war, but she remained in England.  They were divorced, and he married again and had seven daughters.

Dr. Tetley

He lived at Hob Ground in the house which was later demolished.


He was often seen driving his pony and trap whilst dressed in long-lasting but noteworthy clothes.  His daughter, Diana, bred dogs (Dalmatians) which she brought by van along Low Bottoms to “exercise” them.


She married Capt. MacDonald-Smith, and they had a son, Clive.



Reverend Marmaduke Swalwell

Often seen on Sundays ferrying children in his Morris Minor (vintage!), it is a wonder the passengers did not spill out there was such a crush.  Rev Swalwell’s elder son who was a “Cotton Planter” in the Sudan in the days of long ago.  He was called Fredrick and was a most jolly delightful man, very typical of the settlers during that time of British rule.  He and his wife always called to see my mother and father when they were visiting his mother and father.  He bemoaned the loss of the Sudan from British rule.


Maud Foxton

The teacher at the village school, who during the war cycled to Brompton each day winter and summer, she was the organist at the church for many years at St Andrew’s.  She was ‘courted’ for many years by George Skilbeck he called each evening after her sister Margaret had gone to bed!


Mr and Mrs Clark

Lived in Box Cottage nearest to Cecil Foxton’s house (Vine cottage) he was the village Postman and a good amateur artist.


Ard Jack Walkington

Lived in the single cottage near the Forge, enjoyed many an evening in the “Spotted Cow” one such evening we were having a walk, and we saw him kicking his bike and shouting, “get up you b----r”.  Arthur Marton (Dennis’s brother) lived in this cottage before him.  It had no electricity or running water even in the 60’s!


The Forge

Was the work place of John Foxton and his son’s, Tom was the husband of Dora, nee’ Marton.  She was of the second family of Martons.  Tom was often heard singing hymns as he worked.  Should a horse move the hymn was punctuated by, “stand o’er yer-“and many more suitable phrases!  He committed suicide convinced that his son (also Tom) serving in Palestine during WW2 would never return.  This was a great shock to the village as well as his family.


Tailor Foxton, (Rob’s father)

Could be seen sitting crossed-legged plying his trade.


The Village Shop

This was kept many years ago by the Misses Boyes.  The story goes that one day the wig of one of them toppled off into the tall flour drum as she bent over it!  Margaret Wood used to help in the shop.


Tom and Dot Sleightholme

Kept the shop for many years there was always a smell of vinegar and paraffin in the air.



Wartime brought evacuees and their teachers to Normanby, the School was opened, and many farmers cared for them.  Alex Farquharson (1930-1972) then aged 9, came to Rise Farm and stayed a number of years.  His brother Malcolm (1934-1940) was billeted in Cropton and died at Scarborough hospital from diphtheria whilst he was an evacuee.  Aircraft were often seen and heard by evening and early morning on their missions to Germany.  A German plane landed in the paddock of the farm opposite Rise Farm (was this Flintoff’s?), and a solitary British soldier guarded it until it was taken away!  We were much intrigued by it all.


Alice and Horace Pyrah

In 1949 moved from Staines Farm, Little Barugh to Stainesacre originally the house of Albert Sleightholme.  The name “Stainesacre” was my mother invention she didn’t like Mount Pleasant as it reminded her of a place in Manchester near where she lived when first married.  Her mother-in-law, and Annie Pyrah lived with them and she wanted to forget that!  That Mount Pleasant was bombed in WW2.  Horace was Annie Marton’s youngest brother.  He was apprenticed to his brother Joseph who was much older, and became an engineer and sheet metal worker.  That was in Manchester.


He loved inventing machines, and won a silver medal at the Royal Lancs. Show in the 30’s for the invention of a chicken brooder.  He went on to develop a grain dryer, and later a hen manure dryer!  He died in 1981.  He had a son and a daughter, Arthur remained in Manchester.  Dorothy was married at St. Andrew’s in 1949.  Mr Swalwell filled in the registry details wrongly, marking Eric 22 and myself 31! There is a note to that effect in the margin of the registry.


By the way, we do not know the whereabouts of the deeds to Mount Pleasant.  We remember reading them-they were most interesting and certainly the garden on our boundary with the water running through it was not mentioned on the Sleightholme's deeds when we purchased.  When the bungalow was built new deeds were drawn up.  The old deeds went initially to the Provincial Building Society, when my father took out a mortgage to enable the building to be done quickly, and to prevent any delay whilst other assets materialised.  The solicitors involved were Pearson and Ward.

Mrs Isabel knew the two ladies who bought Mount Pleasant but she could not trace the deeds to them. D.M.P.



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