G is for Grandparents

I feel quite lucky to have known all four of my grandparents and for them to have had an influence on who I am and my values in life. I say ‘lucky’ because my children never knew their grandmothers and have only one granddad left.

Starting with my paternal grandfather left: James ‘Jim’ Rhodes was born in Mottram-in-Longdendale in Cheshire in 1895, the eldest son to survive infancy of Jeremiah Rhodes and Suzannah Ratcliffe. Jeremiah was a coachman, or cab driver, working for his Uncle Miles.

Granddad was an athlete in his youth — a strong cross-country runner and a decent fast bowler at cricket. He went to work on the railway which was probably lucky for me as it meant he was in a reserved occupation and wasn’t called up to serve in WWI which he might not have survived.

He eventually became a train driver, despite a botched attempt at pulling into Glossop Station and crashing into the buffers.  It was his work that brought him to live in Dukinfield to be near the large Guide Bridge marshalling yard.

He was a great football fan and his occupation meant that he was able to follow both Manchester clubs across the country and even in old age, a family tradition was the Boxing Day match at Old Trafford or Maine Road with granddad, my uncles, my dad and me.

James married Jane Harrop in 1919. She was the youngest daughter of George Henry Booth Harrop and Hannah Thorpe. George was a carpenter and though he and the Harrop family were from Derbyshire, he settled in Broadbottom which is on the Cheshire side of the county boundary.

Jane was a very practical woman, not averse to improvised DIY, like sawing off the bottom of a fine walnut wardrobe to make it fit in a room with a lower ceiling.

My dad tells me that she was very anti-Catholic, although he never knew why. This caused her consternation in the 1920s when granddad was a union man and held strike meetings in their front room. The leader for social justice was the local RC priest!

James ‘Jim’ Binnie’s was the son of Henry Bell Binnie who had been born in Falkirk, Scotland, until his family moved south when he was about six years old, first to Preston in Lancashire, then Ashton and finally Dukinfield.

Like my other granddad, James was a keen cricketer and joined Old Chapel Unitarian Church so he could play for their team. He later became an umpire and it’s thanks to him that many of my childhood summer Sunday afternoons were spent watching cricket.

The one luxury in my grandparents’ house was a piano which James played well, often at the local working men’s club, and it was mostly self-taught.

He married Deborah ‘Deb’ Prestwich at the same Old Chapel church mentioned above in 1924. She was the daughter of John Alfred Prestwich and Mary Elizabeth Stanley, the Prestwich family having lived in the Ashton area for several generations.

Nana, as I knew her, went began work half-time in a cotton mill when she was twelve until she finished school at fourteen and began to work full-time.

Of all my grandparents, Nana had the most influence on the person I became, or so I like to think. She was the best person I ever knew, had a great sense of humour and was terrifically optimistic.

So that ends a brief introduction to my grandparents. Hopefully, I will be one too someday, although my children are showing no signs of that being any time soon!

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14 comments… Add yours
  • EG Wow, Canada 1st March 2011

    Grandparents – the good ones – are very special people. My mother’s parents were like parents to me, truly good people.

  • ROG 1st March 2011

    I never really knew my mom’s dad, but the others I did. In fact, my post today mentions my mom and her mom.
    My daughter never knew my dad, I’m sad to note.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  • ROG 1st March 2011

    my post is about one of my grams.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  • Leo 1st March 2011

    I didn’t know my father’s father, SP.. I always wonder what he would have been like to me..

  • Jennifer 1st March 2011

    I was lucky enough to know all my grandparents as well and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I’m just sorry that they are all gone now, I would have liked to spend more time with them as an adult.
    The walnut wardrobe story made me laugh 🙂

  • Ann 1st March 2011

    My Granddaughters children has all their grandparents on both sides still living, and on top of that all the Great grand babies Great-grandparents on both sides of the families are still living, so my great-grandchildren have 8 sets of grandparents still alive. And we all love the grand babies to pieces. Great choice for G day.

  • Tumblewords 1st March 2011

    A lovely post! The grandparents and great-grands that I knew were delightful and strong people. I’d hope to follow their path.

  • photowannabe 2nd March 2011

    What a lovely tribute to your family. You are fortunate to have known your grandparents. Not every one is so lucky. I’m so glad to have some of my grandkids close by and can watch them develop and become wonderful young people.

  • Yorkshire Pudding 2nd March 2011

    I trust that when visiting the natives in South Africa you dressed exactly like old Jim Rhodes – straw boater and all. Historical research tells me that you are actually related to Cecil Rhodes and that you now own Southern Rhodesia. Tell that nice man Ian Mugabe that you will be taking his job!

  • Mr Parrot 2nd March 2011

    Thank you for all your kind comments and apologies for not replying sooner. My excuse is that I have been travelling back from Cape Town overnight and have only just got back to the UK. Normal service will be resumed quite soon!

  • Tracy 3rd March 2011

    I shudder to think what I’d be without my maternal grandparents. Lovely post!

  • Ann 6th March 2011

    I noticed you were directed to My Reading Corner, hehe.. My “G” day post is found here: http://annsmoodyblues.blogspot.com

    I have a few blogs, sorry you were directed to the wrong one.

  • website 18th March 2012

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  • Trevor Rowley 20th March 2012

    My father also played for Dukinfield Old Chapel cricket team – some of these church-based sports clubs (usually football and cricket but they also branched out to other sports like billiards and snooker as well) were forces to be reckoned with in previous generations. I have his gold medal from their Ashton and District Sunday School Cricket League winning side of 1932. I also have the team photo with my father a fresh-faced nineteen year old proudly lining up with his mates. He told me (quite philosophically I thought) that, apart from a couple who he had lost contact with, he was the sole survivor of that team. A handful of years later and he had gone as well.

    PS Although my father and his brothers only played locally, the family’s claim to fame was a cousin, John (Jack) Ikin who came from his native Staffordshire (Minor Counties) to play for Lancashire then progressed to be an England player. In the first Test in Brisbane (1946/47) he famously caught (Sir) Donald Bradman (The “Don”) who, controversially, refused to walk and stayed in. The story goes that everyone knew it was a catch but you just didn’t argue with “The Don”.


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