Maurice Hobkinson

Young “Vikings” at Woodlesford school.

Charles Maurice Hobkinson was born in Woodlesford in 1933 and lived as a child in Oakdene Yard off Station Lane not far from the railway line. 

His father, Henry Wood Hobkinson, was a labourer at Bentley’s brewery and he too had been born locally in 1896. During the First World War he served as a horse and cart driver with the Royal Engineers and was at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. After the war he returned home to a job as a miner at Water Haigh colliery.

Maurice’s mother, Mary Ann Webster, known as Polly, was the eighth in a family of ten children. Her father, Charles Webster, came from Hartwell in Northamptonshire and her mother, Barbara, from Castlethorpe, a few miles away in Buckinghamshire.

The Websters migrated to Yorkshire in the mid-1880s where Polly’s father became a miner, probably at T. & R.W. Bower’s pits near Swillington. They moved into one of the houses in Oakdene Yard and other members of the Webster family followed to live with them and were employed as miners or on the railway. Polly was a tailoress after she left school.  

Maurice went on to a career as a car salesman retiring as sales director for the Pendragon Group at Holbeck in Leeds, but he lived in Woodlesford all his life, latterly in a house on Alma Street on the opposite side of the railway line to the one he grew up in. 

One branch of Maurice’s family had a milk round. Others worked for the Aire and Calder Navigation and tragically, Maurice’s great grandfather, Henry Hobkinson, the lock keeper at Woodlesford, fell in and drowned there in 1888, just a day after his nephew had met a similar fate.  

Although she didn’t grow up in Woodlesford Maurice’s second wife, Mary Robinson, came from a railway family. Her ancestors helped build the Settle and Carlisle railway and her great grandfather was killed on the line.

Mary’s grandmother lived at Cowgill near Dent station and brought up a large family on her own after the death of her husband. As a child living in Leeds, Mary went to see her for holidays and after the train emerged from Blea Moor tunnel remembers waving a white hanky at her granny on the farm below. She responded with a wave of her tea towel. 

Maurice Hobkinson’s older brother, Alan, is pictured third from the left in the photo at the top of this page of boys at Woodlesford school dressed up as Vikings in the 1930s. Station master’s son Cyril Roberts is second from the left. 

Before he died in 2008 Maurice remembered growing up in the village including the annual excursion to Morecambe when practically everybody went by train for a day trip. Mary Hobkinson passed away on 1 January 2018.

Maurice Hobkinson’s memories

Maurice Hobkinson in 1949.
Morecambe excursion handbill from 1939.