Bryon Edward Roberts was born in 1933, the first child of Albert and Alice Roberts. When he was two years old Bryon’s father was elected branch secretary of the miners’ union at Water Haigh colliery setting him on a path that would lead in 1951 to his election as the local Labour Member of Parliament.
As a toddler Bryon lived at Pear Tree Cottage on Quarry Road behind the Midland Hotel and walked on his own along Aberford Road to his grandparents’ and auntie’s houses on Eshald Place.
When he was three the family, which by then included his sister Marjorie, moved to East View in Oulton and later to a larger house on North Lane as his father’s political career expanded when he became a councillor on the Rothwell Urban District Council.
Both of Bryon’s grandfathers were miners with large families but although he lived near to his paternal grandfather, Albert Roberts, he remembers being closer to his mother’s father, George Ashton. He lived at Ouzlewell Green where he worked in the Charlesworth owned Rothwell pits and in his spare time grew vegetables on an allotment.
The Ashtons were devout Methodists and Bryon’s great grandfather, also called George, became a Superintendent at the Ouzlewell Green chapel. He was born in 1842 and had started working for the Charlesworths when he was 8 years old continuing until he was in his seventies.
On Christmas Day 1861 he married Elizabeth Lunn at Rothwell church in a ceremony that involved six other couples presumably because it was the only guaranteed day off that they could get. By the time of George and Elizabeth’s golden wedding in 1911, which was featured in the Methodist Recorder, the couple had eight married children, 37 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
As was common in the 1930s Bryon Roberts started school at Woodlesford when he was three years old. From there he went on to Rothwell Grammar School when he was ten and after spending three years in the Sixth Form he won a state scholarship to study at the Leeds School of Medicine.
After a graduating he became a houseman at the Leeds General Infirmary and apart from a year at a hospital in Hammersmith in London spent the rest of his career working in Leeds. He became a specialist in diseases of the blood and was appointed Consultant Haematologist to the L.G.I. in 1970, the first appointment of its kind in West Yorkshire. He was responsible for introducing newly developed chemotherapy treatments for acute leukaemia and lymphoma in both adults and children.
Click on the links below to listen to Bryon Roberts talking about his childhood in Woodlesford, his father’s career in politics, and how looking for frogs and newts in the Water Haigh ponds led to a lifetime in medicine.