Effie Poole

Effie Poole is standing at the back of this photograph of a Christmas pantomime performed by children from St. John’s school. The school’s headmaster, Ernest Boothroyd, is on the left.

Euphemia Ursula Poole, known as Effie, came from one of the local families that could trace its roots back to the 1680s in the village. Born in 1880 she became a teacher at Oulton St. John’s school and was a stalwart of social activities connected to St. John’s church throughout her life.

Effie was the daughter of stone mason John Poole and Mary Lowe who he married at St. John’s church in 1872. Later in life John became a verger and took on the paid role of sexton looking after the fabric of the church and graveyard.

Her mother was Mary Lowe. She had been born in Derby where her father, Thomas Lowe, was a brewer’s labourer. From the records it looks as though Mary and her brother Frederick moved to Yorkshire in the late 1860s. Mary got a job as a kitchen maid at Oulton Hall whilst her brother worked as a labourer living in Methley parish. After marrying Annie Johnson at Methley in 1879 he became a quarryman and lived with his family on Manor Lane in Oulton near the Old Masons’ pub. In the 1880s he was in charge of one of the steam powered cranes at a local quarry. His son, Thomas Frederick Lowe, became a groom at Bentley’s brewery when he left school before he became a coal miner.

Effie Poole.

Effie’s two given names came from both sides of her family. Euphemia, which in Greek means “well spoken,” is derived from her great great grandmother whose maiden name was Watson. Ursula was her grandmother Lowe’s name. Effie’s great great grandfather was Samuel Poole. His brother, William, was the landlord of the Old Masons’ in the early 1800s.

Living up to her name Effie become one of the top pupils at Oulton St. John’s “national” school. Boys and girls over the age of seven were taught in separate classrooms and in 1891 she won a prize for over 400 attendances whilst she was in Standard V. Two others in the same class, Rhoda Clapham and Corrie Jowitt, were also given prizes presented by Isabella Mary Calverley, wife of Edmund Calverley of Oulton Hall.

A year later Effie was a star performer in the 11th annual school entertainment staged to raise funds for the Leeds General Infirmary. The show was organised by the school’s headmaster, Ernest Boothroyd, with Effie being singled out by the Rothwell Times for her performance in a play called “The Harvest of Gold,” in which she played the niece of a farmer. “The lengthy, but interesting programme concluded with the National Anthem, and the youthful performers and their teachers well deserved all the commendations given,” said the paper.

In 1892 there was another mention in the paper, this time for winning an attendance prize at St. John’s Sunday school: “Three girls in particular deserved special mention, Ruth Ann Berry, Effie Poole, and Annie Hutchinson, who had gained respectively, 700, 707, and 702 marks out of a possible 734 for the whole year, and of the boys Walter Killingbeck had most marks.” On this occasion the prizes were given by Edmund Calverley’s son, John Selwin Calverley and his wife, Sybil Isabella, niece of the former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

John Poole, Oulton St. John’s sexton and verger.

With her outstanding school record Effie became a pupil teacher. She started in 1892 by standing in for Amy Lee to look after the youngest children in Standard I. For two years from 1896 she was given a grant of £5 a year by the trustees of Webster’s Charity which supported apprentices of both sexes and widows living in Oulton and Woodlesford. This was probably whilst she was studying part time at a college in Leeds to obtain qualifications to become a full time teacher in the girls’ section at St. John’s. The 1896 award was signed off by Edmund Calverley of Oulton Hall and following his death the following year’s grant was approved by Arthur Irvin, the vicar at Woodlesford. At the age of 21 in 1901 Effie was listed in the census as an assistant mistress.

Effie had a younger brother, Thomas William, who was born towards the end of 1882 and baptised at Oulton church on 11 February 1883. He also benefited as an apprentice from Webster’s Charity receiving £2 5 shillings in 1899 for a suit, made by Oulton tailor John Walker,  and £1 5 shillings for leggings or socks. In the following two years he was given a £4 grant. Records show he emigrated to Canada in April 1904 on board the Allan Line’s steam ship Tunisian, a relatively new boat, built in Glasgow and launched in 1900. During World War I it housed prisoners of war at Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

Thomas William Poole landed at Halifax in Nova Scotia and then made his way to Stratford in Ontario where he worked as a bricklayer and mason. It’s not clear when, but by 1911 he had travelled via Chicago and the Sant Fe railroad all the way across America to Pasadena near Los Angeles in California. There he declared his intention to become a United States citizen. One record indicates he died in Pasadena in 1916. 

Effie Poole’s family lived at 6 Leeds Road between the junction of Aberford Road and the Three Horse Shoes. The house, known as Parkside presumably becasue of its proximity to the Oulton Hall estate, was one of a row three cottages which were demolished in the 1960s to make way for road improvements and the creation of a dual carriageway.

In 1911 Effie didn’t have far to walk for her wedding at St. John’s to Arthur Mawson. She was 31 which was quite late for women to marry at that time. He was ten years older and worked at the brewery as a clerk. He had been born at New Wortley in Leeds, the son of a factory overlooker, but had been living on Claremont Street in Oulton since at least 1901.

One of the witnesses at the wedding was Effie’s auntie, Anne Huscroft Poole, who ran a carting agency in Oulton with her sister Emma from Porch Cottage near the New Masons’. The other witness was Arthur’s brother-in-law, John James Butterfield, a railway goods clerk in Bradford. Anne Huscroft Poole was even older than Effie when she got married at the age of 43 in 1912 to Thomas Gillard, a railway porter from Armley. Perhaps they met at Effie’s wedding reception?

The end gable of Effie Poole’s family home, Parkside, is just visible in this 1937 photo of boy’s playing cricket when Leeds Road was closed for repairs to the bridge over the Oulton beck.

Arthur and Effie Mawson’s first child, a son baptised Thomas was born in 1912 but he died when he was 20 years old in 1932. Their daughter, Ursula Mary, was born at 6 Leeds Road in 1914. She also became a teacher and married a teacher called Alec Robinson who was involved with local school football teams. Effie’s husband died in 1944. She and her family continued to worship at Oulton church and take part in the village’s social life until her death in 1963.