This post is about the descendants of William Dracup (1832-1910), principally his son Arthur Dracup (1872-1962) and his grandson Norman Dracup (1905-1944).
It describes part of the Dracup family that established itself in the district of Shipley, a few miles to the north of Bradford, initially in the model village of Saltaire towards the north of the district and subsequently in Windhill and Thackley nearby.
It narrates how, as the Twentieth Century took hold, these Dracups escaped from the unremitting toil of mill work, eventually joining the prosperous lower middle classes.
They used their new-found leisure time to good purpose – building their social position and simultaneously enriching their communities – through three parallel pursuits:
- Methodist worship and the support of Methodist institutions;
- choral, often religious, singing, but also secular singing, both solo and in small groups, purely to entertain others; and
- playing for, supporting and helping to run their local cricket teams.
Arthur passed through a long life fairly smoothly but, latterly, Norman encountered difficulties.
As the Second World War raged, he became collateral damage in a different, political conflict – caught between the extension of trades unionism to white collar local government staff and the convictions of certain superannuated Tory town councillors – and he died, aged only 39, a few years later.
William Dracup was an illegitimate son of Bathsheba Dracup (1810-1882), born two years before her marriage to Thomas Milnes (1811-1840), a patten ring maker.
Pattens were overshoes, worn over normal shoes to protect them from the mud and dung, which came to be elevated above the ground on flat metal rings.
Unusually perhaps, Bathsheba had William’s baptism recorded at St John’s Chapel in Great Horton, Bradford, on 12 August 1832. She was listed as the only parent; her trade ‘spinster’.
It seems that Thomas Milnes would not acknowledge William as his own son: the 1841 Census shows the boy living on Great Horton High Street with his grandparents Richard and Hannah, while Bathsheba was a little further along the road with three younger children.
The first of these, Alfred Milnes, had also been born before her marriage. He wasn’t baptised until 1846, though his record then attributed him to Thomas.
But Bathsheba was already a widow. Thomas Milnes had died in August 1840, aged just 28. His youngest daughter, Hannah, arrived posthumously on 8 April 1841.
And, after his death, Bathsheba went on to have three further children – all girls – between 1842 and 1847, their fathers unknown.
By the time of the 1851 Census, William, now aged 19, had returned to live with his mother and the rest of the family. He was temporarily known as William Milnes.
Bathsheba was employed as a power loom weaver; William as a mechanic. They were living on Great Horton High Street, close to the George and Dragon, so may well have worked in Samuel Dracup’s Lane Close Mill.
Bathsheba was to remain in Great Horton for the remainder of her life, initially with her son Alfred and her daughter Hannah, but then with Hannah and three children of her brother Amos, who had drowned himself in Sussex.
William married in April 1855. The record names him William Dracup, but his father is acknowledged as Thomas Milnes.
William was now living in Shipley. His spouse was Martha Waddington, a weaver from Saltaire, so that is clearly what took him hither. Her father was a cattle dealer.
Martha was already pregnant with their first child and, over the next 23 years, they had eleven children altogether – six girls, four boys and one of unknown gender. Two, including the latter, died in infancy.
By 1861 the family had made their home at 34 Whitlam Street. There were two children born at this point: Hannah, 6 and Fred, 4.
William, who was still a mechanic, must now have been employed at nearby Salts Mill, the pivot and centerpiece of the model village of Saltaire.
Whitlam Street is to the east of Saltaire, close to the schools and the cricket pitch. It had only been constructed in 1857.
This video shows how the house looks today.
Saltaire was established in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt (1803-76) the textile manufacturer and philanthropist. It name is derived from his own and that of the nearby River Aire.
Salts Mill was opened in 1853, on Titus’s 50th birthday. Nearby, he built houses for his workforce, as well as schools, a hospital, almshouses, a church, a Wesleyan Methodist chapel, shops and an institute containing a library and a concert hall.
There were 850 homes available, equipped with two to seven bedrooms. Each was served with water and gas, had its own toilet and back yard.
By the standards of the time, this was truly luxurious accommodation for working men and their families.
The Salt Schools were established by 1868, accommodating 750 pupils.
A new elementary school opened in 1878 and additional tuition was provided in the New Schools of Art and Science built in 1887. This latter building now forms part of Shipley College.
By 1871, almost 4,400 people were living here. William and his family had moved to a more central position at 35 Victoria Road.
House numbers have changed since 1871 because today number 35 is one of a sequence of almshouses. Since the census passes on rapidly to Higher School Street, it would seem likely that William was living in close proximity to the new Schools and the Institute.
Hannah, now 15, was working as a worsted spinner; Fred, 13, as a factory hand. There was also Bathsheba junior, 11, already a worsted spinner, plus Laura, 5, Ellen, 3, and Mary, 8 months. Another daughter, Martha Ellen, had died in infancy in 1866.
John Waddington, Martha’s brother, a 21 year-old wool dyer, was lodging with the family, making nine residents in all.
By 1881 the family appeared to have moved further along Victoria Road to number 52 (though this was, in fact, only a change of house number).
This Census suggests they were next-door-but-one to the Institute, which places them at what is today 78 Victoria Road.
The entire family of eleven were living together: Hannah, 25, still a worsted spinner; Fred, 23, now a weaving overlooker; Bathsheba, 19, a dressmaker; Laura, 17, Ellen, 13 and Mary 10, all worsted spinners.
Additionally, there were now three further sons: Arthur 8, Frank 6 and Joseph 2.
William’s brother-in-law John Waddington remained a lodger, making twelve in all.
Eldest son Fred may have obtained a larger house for the family by virtue of his overlooker’s post, or they may simply have been able to afford the higher rent on a larger property by sharing the cost between so many earners.
The bulk of the family were still at 52 Victoria Road in 1891: Fred, now 33, still an overlooker; Laura, 25, had now become a milliner; Mary, 20, was a dressmaker; Arthur, now 18, was an apprentice weaving overlooker, so preparing to follow in Fred’s footsteps; Frank, 15, was a warp stayer; Joseph, 12, remained at school.
Overlookers were placed in the weaving hierarchy between weavers themselves and mill foremen. A worsted overlooker might oversee some 25 looms. He was responsible for identifying when machines needed repair or the replacement of worn parts, and for adjusting looms to accommodate different patterns. He also inspected the quality of the product and supervised the weavers.
According to a 1906 Board of Trade survey, overlookers typically earned some 50-75% more than a weaver. They tended to be better educated, normally literate, and were more likely to value education for their children.
Overlookers were often – or often became – pillars of their local community
By 1901, William had retired – the census return describes him as a ‘retired engineer’. He, Martha, Bathsheba and Laura had moved to 1 Carleton Road, Shipley, outside Saltaire village, perhaps a half-mile to the south west. Here they were able to employ Clara Danforth, a domestic servant.
Bathsheba, still a dressmaker, was back in the family home after some time away. Laura, now 35, remained a milliner.
William seems to have bred pigs as a hobby in his spare time. Though this must certainly have given him cachet amongst the small community of other pig breeders, it was not as socially lucrative a pastime as those later indulged by his son and grandson.
In 1870, he came third in a competition for breeding a fat pig under 12 months old at the Annual Show of the Airedale Agricultural Society.
In 1874 at the Saltaire Agricultural Show, he exhibited the best ‘store pig under 12 months’. A few days later, at the 1874 Airedale Show, he exhibited the best boar of any age and the best store pig under 9 months old.
In 1876 he won two prizes at the Leeds Smithfield Club Show and one at the Leeds Fat Cattle Show also run by the Leeds Smithfield Club.
A report in the Yorkshire post tells us that:
‘Pigs, as is usual at this show, leave very little to be desired, and their level merit is shown by the fact that the judges (Mr John Kinchley, Hunslet, and Mr George Earle, Whitwood) were several hours in going through them. The middle breed class in particular gave them great trouble. One of the judges was strongly in favour of the pig belonging to Mr William Dracup of Saltaire, which, but for being a bit slack behind, would have been perfect; while the other preferred the pig shown by Mr Edward Boyes of Leeds. To settle the difference of opinion an umpire was called in, who gave his verdict in favour of the latter pig.’
William was again successful at the 1879 Airedale Show. He was later a judge at the 1882 Wharfedale Show, the 1886 Craven Show and the 1893 and 1901 Wharfedale Shows.
In April 1905, he and Martha celebrated their golden wedding anniversary – briefly recognised in the local paper – the Shipley Times and Express.
William died in February 1910, at the age of 78. Martha survived until 1918.
William’s daughters made their way in the world in different ways.
The eldest, Hannah, had moved out of the family home by 1891, setting up as a confectioner at 21 City Road, Bradford. She was now 35 and accompanied by her younger sister Ellen, aged 23.
One assumes this was not a completely successful endeavour since, by 1901, Hannah was living with her uncle Joseph and aunt, Mary Ann Dawson, nee Waddington, in Bramley, Yorkshire.
Joseph was a retired leather currier. Hannah remained a confectioner and now also a baker. She also remained single.
She had stayed with the same family in 1911, though now was sadly described as a domestic servant, presumably no longer able to support herself independently.
By 1921, described as a retired confectioner, she was living with her younger sister Mary, recently widowed, in Waterloo Lancashire. She died in 1929.
Bathsheba, aged 26, had married James Scott, a 35 year-old saddler, in September 1887.
By 1891 they were living at 1 Fountain Street in Thornton, Bradford. James was now also a dressmaker, milliner and draper. Bathsheba continued working as a dressmaker, probably alongside him.
They seemed prosperous at first. They had a young son, Sydney Lupton Scott, born in 1890. James’s widowed mother Ruth served as housekeeper. A 12 year-old niece was also visiting, and the family employed their own servant.
But after this auspicious beginning, things began to go wrong.
In November of 1891, little Sydney died, just short of his second birthday. Bathsheba had no further children.
God punished David – who had raped Bathsheba and effectively murdered her husband – by visiting death upon the child of David and Bathsheba’s union. Perhaps that played on this Bathsheba’s mind.
Then, on 24 January 1897, James Scott set sail for Sydney, Australia on board the RMS Austral, intent on starting a new life. He described himself as single.
The 1901 Census return noted that both Bathsheba – a dressmaker – and Ellen – a milliner – were employers. In July 1902, local papers carried their advertisement for a:
‘MILLINER – Smart FIRST HAND, clever and thoroughly competent; take charge of room with 10; permanency; close 6.30pm – Scott and Dracup, 5, Royal Arcade, Manningham Lane, Bradford.’
This tells us that they were operating a substantial business. The Royal Arcade, later Busby’s, had only just been completed.
Here is a contemporary postcard of the location.
Later, in 1911, Bathsheba’s census return claimed she was widowed and had been married 17 years. The former was at that time false; the latter would suggest she had obtained a divorce in 1904 or thereabouts.
On 19 November 1914 James was admitted to Dunwich Asylum in Redland City, near Brisbane, Queensland, suffering from diabetes. He died there in January 1915.
Meanwhile, having returned to the family home in time for the 1901 Census, she moved on once more when her father died.
By the time of the 1911 Census, she was co-proprietress of a boarding house, Babbacombe Hall, near Torquay in Devon, partnered with one Mary Woodhead Edmondson from Bradford.
I can find no family connection between the two women, though they must have known each other before beginning this business venture.
Babbacombe Hall had been bought in February 1909 by a Mr Harding, owner of the Royal Hotel Torquay, and he had opened it as a private hotel in August 1908.
In 1909 the manageress had been a Ms Narramore. I have been unable to establish why Harding sold on the property to Bathsheba and Mary, or how they sourced the money.
At the time of the 1911 Census, Bathsheba’s mother, Martha, now aged 76, was one of the boarding house guests, though she was also listed as head of a household at 80 Bingley Road, Shipley.
In May 1915, the Western Times carried a report that:
‘Battisheba [sic] Scott, of Babbacombe Hall boarding establishment, was summoned under the Defence of the Realm Act for failing to obscure the lights at her residence at Babbacombe.
Superintendent Crooke said defendant had been twice warned, and acting on the instructions of Commander Price, the competent naval authority of the district, this prosecution had been instituted….
…Superintendent Crooke said there was no allegation of anything wrong; it was simply negligence. The gentleman who occupied that particular room had called upon him and explained that he had just arrived from an inland town, where they did not pay much attention to the lights. But unfortunately, defendant was liable for the acts of those who stayed at her house.’
She was fined one guinea.
Bathsheba continued running Babbacombe Hall until the early 1920s but, by 1924, she had removed to Torquay and was living in a property called ‘Saltaire’ on Cliff Road.
It was also occupied by her now married sister Laura (see below) and Laura’s husband.
Saltaire Cottage remains on the road to this day, a pleasant four-bedroomed detached property.
Newspaper advertisements for the sale of furniture from Babbacombe Hall appeared regularly in the press from 1925 onwards.
In September 1935, aged 75, and giving her home address as 9 Cliff Park, Paignton, Devon, Bathsheba travelled to Wellington, New Zealand aboard the RMS Akaroa.
She was accompanied by a Mrs Ada Jennings, aged 60, who gave the same home address. They returned in December 1935, again aboard the Akaroa. Ada Jennings now gave a home address in London W14.
By the time of the 1939 Register, Bathsheba was still based in Torquay, but she now shared a property with her widowed sister Ellen (see below). It has a different name – Clewer – but is almost certainly the same cottage that Bathsheba had occupied with Laura in 1924.
But, by 1945, Bathsheba had returned to Skipton to live with Laura once more. Then in 1946, when Laura died, she moved again to live in Pudsey with her nephew Harry Victor Dracup, Fred’s eldest son.
Her final move was to 17 Cavendish Avenue, Harrogate, where she died on 31 October 1946, aged 85. The probate record shows she left a considerable estate, worth almost £14,000.
In 1911, Laura was resident at her mother’s property at 80, Bingley Road Shipley. She was a milliner but now also an employer.
A housekeeper – the family’s former domestic servant, Clara Danforth – and a supply domestic were also living at the same address.
Then, in July 1921, Laura married Albert Brear. She was 55; he a 48 year-old widower, a draper and shopkeeper. He also had a 22 year-old daughter, Ruth Winifred Brear, by his first marriage.
By 1924, then, Laura and Albert were living with Bathsheba in Torquay.
They remained until at least 1930. But in 1928, they travelled to the United States for three weeks. Both gave their age as 55 (Laura was in fact 62) and Albert said he had retired.
They travelled out on the Celtic on 2 June, bound for Boston and New York, returning on the same ship on 25 June.
In January 1937, they also travelled to Natal, South Africa on the Windsor Castle. Albert correctly said he was 63, Laura said she was 64. They gave their home address as Felstead, Gunnington, Skipton.
They returned on 19 March, on the Athlone Castle, joining the ship at Mossel Bay. On this occasion they both said they were 64.
The 1939 Register confirms their residence back in the north of England, their address now confirmed as ‘Felstead’, Raines Lane, Grassington, near Skipton.
Laura claimed she was born on 21 August 1872, making her 67, but she was in fact 74.
She died in January 1946, when truth caught up with her, recording her correct age of 80. Albert died in October of the same year, aged 72.
Having lived and worked with her sister Hannah as a confectioner in 1891, in July 1899, Ellen, then aged 31, married Frederick North, a 40 year-old bachelor living in Manningham, employed as a stuff buyer and woollen merchant.
By 1901 they were living together in Houghton Place, Bradford alongside their own servant. Ellen was still working as a confectioner and pastry cook.
By 1911 they had moved to 23 and 25 City Road Bradford, and were together running a shop and café, both pastry cooks, cake makers and confectioners.
They had presumably bought out Ellen’s older sister Hannah, since this was the address Hannah and Ellen occupied when they first took up confectionery in the 1890s.
By the 1920s, though, Ellen and Frederick were living at Moorhead Terrace in Shipley. Frederick died in March 1933, leaving some £860 to his widow.
By 1939, she had removed to the home of her sister Bathsheba in Torquay, and she died in Torquay in June 1941, at Asheldene Nursing Home. She was 73. Her executors were sister Laura and Laura’s husband Albert. She left £3,780.
Mary had married Thomas Stuart in November 1896. He was 25 and a manager in a cloth mill, she 26 and still a dressmaker.
In 1901 they were living in Waterloo, Ashton-under-Lyme. They stayed in the same area in 1911, now at 384 Oldham Road, living with their two daughters and a son. Thomas was described as a ‘sponge cloth manufacturer’.
He died on 6 May 1919 leaving £5768.
The family was still resident in Waterloo by 1921 and indeed Mary lived in the same house until her own death in January 1933, when she left a little under £3,500.
Before we reach Arthur, what of William’s other three sons?
Fred had married Rosetta Thackray, a 36 year-old dressmaker, in 1896. They had two sons and a daughter and made their home at 7 Dudley Street, Shipley, Fred’s employment described as ‘Manager, Stuff weaving’.
By 1911, they had moved to 39 Radnor Street, Bradford. Fred was an ‘out of work worsted weaving overlooker’. There is a further word in the entry which may or may not be ‘feeble’.
Fred died on 21 July that year, aged 54, leaving an estate worth £335 to his widow. Rosetta died in November 1929. They had two sons and a daughter.
Fred is briefly mentioned in contemporary newspaper reports as a member of the Shipley Musical Union, but there is no reference to his participation in performances.
Frank married Mary Elizabeth Raistrick in May 1898. He was 22; she 21. He gave his address as 52 Victoria Road Saltaire; his employment as mechanic.
Her address was also in Saltaire and she was the daughter of a machine grinder.
She was also the aunt of Arthur Raistrick (1896-1991), a Quaker conscientious objector and later a famous geologist and industrial archaeologist.
By 1901, Frank and Mary lived together at 25 Fanny Street, part of the Saltaire village, Frank still employed as a mechanic, fitter and turner.
A son, William, had been born in the year of their marriage, but he died in infancy in 1899.
By 1911 they were at 17 Maddocks Street in Shipley. Frank was employed as an iron turner in a worsted mill – still Salts – and they had a daughter, Nellie, aged 6. Frank’s father-in-law, a retired widower, was also living with them.
By 1939 they were resident in West End Terrace, Shipley. Frank, still employed as a centre lathe turner.
Mary died in April 1953, while Frank lived until 1959, dying at the age of 83.
In February 1893, Frank was mentioned in the local press as the piano accompanist at a social evening given at Saltaire Congregational School.
In March 1902 he sang baritone at a smoking concert held at the Saltaire Liberal Club and is also listed as a member of the Saltaire Minstrel Troop.
In 1905 he was a member of the Excelsior Quartet Party which performed at the Saltaire Liberal Club.
By 1923 he seems to have become a member of the Saltaire Mills Male Voice Choir.
In 1936 he was appointed Deputy Conductor with the Windhill Musical Union.
In 1941 he was one of 13 employees of Salts Mill who received certificates and a gold watch to mark 50 years’ service. Latterly, Frank worked in the maintenance department.
He retired in 1946 and, in 1948, he and Mary celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. Frank was by this point a life member of Windhill Musical Union, while Mary was the first female on the board of directors of the Windhill Co-operative Society.
Frank to some extent replicated the musical interests of Arthur, his brother, but he seems always to have ‘played second fiddle’.
Joseph may be found in 1901 living at a Blackpool lodging house. He was employed as a house painter.
But by 1910 he had moved to Great College Street London. A contemporary London Directory describes him as a ‘heraldic painter’ with an address at 32 Goodge Street.
When he died in March 1912, his address was given as College Place, Camden Town, but he actually died at Babbacombe Hall. The £300 he left went to his mother.
Arthur, William’s second son, was the most socially visible of his children and also the most successful.
We left him in 1891, a 19 year-old apprentice weaving overlooker still living in the family home.
In May of that year, he achieved the second grade in freehand drawing in his art examinations at the Salt Schools, one of half a dozen students rated ‘Excellent (Queen’s Prize)’.
He married in July 1898, at the age of 25. His wife was Mary Whittam, 24 year-old daughter of Thomas Whittam, a boatman and lighterman from Skipton.
She had been living with her widowed mother and sister in Jennings Street, Windhill, both daughters working as spinners. A brother, Philip Beckworth Whittam, had some years earlier migrated to the United States.
By 1901 Arthur and Mary were living together at 48 Aire Street in Shipley, with Nancy Evelyne, aged 2, and one year-old William Whittam. Arthur was now a fully qualified worsted weaving overlooker.
By 1911, they had moved to 22 Valley Street, Windhill. Arthur was still a weaving overlooker, now aged 38. And there were now four children: Nancy 12, William 11, Norman 6 and Thora Emily, just born.
The record also mentions a fifth child – Philip Beckworth Dracup, named after Arthur’s American brother-in-law – who had died in infancy in 1903.
A 12 year-old visitor called Annie Evelyn Paley was also living with the family. She was daughter of cashier, William Paley, who lived nearby. A note says she became ‘lame at 5’.
During these years, Arthur was rarely out of the local papers.
The two sections below will illustrate just how busy he was, undertaking this huge workload alongside a demanding full-time job.
Arthur the cricketer
I can first trace Arthur taking part in a cricket match in May 1890, when he played for the Saltaire Third Eleven, aged 18, scoring 11 not out. By 1893 he had progressed to the Second Eleven.
The Saltaire Cricket Club was founded in 1869, later featuring several stars, including former England player Sydney Barnes and aspiring future player Jim Laker. It played its home games in Roberts Park, beside the River Aire.
By April 1901 Arthur had transferred to the Windhill Club. He is mentioned as a member of the Windhill first team, but later that season he dropped back down to the second eleven.
Windhill had first existed in the 1860s, moving in 1878 to the Windhill Recreation Ground. In 1894 the club finished top of the Airedale and Wharfedale League, but then decided to join the newly-formed Bradford League in 1905.
In 1907 it won the Priestley Cup – contested to this day by clubs in the Bradford League – and in 1911, the League itself.
Later, in 1940, Windhill were to sign famous West Indian all-rounder Learie Constantine.
In April 1903, Arthur played for the first team against Calverley, batting second and scoring 10 runs. And in 1904 he played against Otley, batting number 6 and scoring 20. He also took a catch.
In 1905 he was elected to the committee of the Windhill club, and in June that year he was distinguished for his fielding in a first team match against Shelf, afterwards scoring 27 against Allerton.
In August he opened the batting for Windhill against Bankfoot, but scored only 6 runs. In December he was again elected on to the committee, where he was now to remain a fixture.
In May 1906, opening the batting for the second eleven against Shelf, he scored 34 runs and took a catch. In July he opened the batting for the seconds against Bankfoot scoring 38. His average over the season for the second eleven was just over 16 runs from 14 innings.
In August 1907, Arthur played for the first team which defeated Great Horton by a single run in the Priestley Cup semi-final, though he was run out for just two runs.
He seems not to have played beyond the 1909 season, confining himself instead to scoring and committee work.
Arthur the singer and conductor
In October 1893 Arthur was a steward at the first concert and dance promoted by the Saltaire Institute Men’s Club. He also took part in a Christmas concert for the Young Men’s Society of the Saltaire Congregational School.
Early in 1894 he sang at an Old Scholars’ Reunion at Salts. In 1895 he performed at the annual concert of the Windhill Young Mens’ Christian Institute. In December he was a steward at the annual ball of Saltaire Cricket Club, and, in 1896, one of two MC’s at the annual football club soiree.
In 1897 he sang at the cricket club’s annual dinner, the meal apparently provided by his parents!
In December 1901 he sang at the annual dinner of the Windhill Musical Union, which had been formed only two years previously, Arthur being amongst the founder members.
In 1902 he sang at the Union’s first annual ladies’ evening. In November that year he was part of a quartet from the Union that sang at the launch of a local sick benefit fund.
In September 1903 he performed at a smoking concert organized by the Saltaire Liberal Club.
In February 1905 he was MC at the annual concert of the Windhill Musical Union. In March he sang ‘The Monarch of the Storm’ at a concert organized by the Windhill Independent Chapel. The following week he sang ‘Nirvana’ and ‘The English Rose’ at the Windhill Cricket Club’s annual social, also acting as MC.
In April he was part of the Idle Quartette Party which gave a concert at the Frizinghall Conservative Club. The following week he sang at the Shipley Bowling Club. At the end of April he was part of the choir of Idle Primitive Methodist Chapel when it gave a performance of Stainer’s ‘Crucifixion’.
In May 1905 he was a member of the Airedale Orpheus Quartette, which performed at a concert organized by the Leeds Working Men’s Temperance League. In June he sang ‘There is a Land’ at the Idle Parish Church annual supper.
In August he performed ‘I love her so’ at a smoking concert given by the Windhill Musical Union, and later that year he was elected on to the Musical Union’s Committee.
In October 1905 he performed solo and as part of a quartet at a smoking concert given by Shipley Cycling Club. He also sang ‘Down the vale’ and ‘My Dreams’ at a subscription concert for Windhill Independent Sunday School.
In November 1905, at a Windhill Liberal Club social he sang ‘Once Again’, ‘English Rose’ and ‘Mona’. The following week he regaled audiences with ‘Come into the Garden Maud’.
He was also a soloist in a performance of Handel’s ‘Olivet to Calvary’ at the Windhill Independent Chapel. The following week he was performing at the 65th anniversary of the Windhill Friendly Society, solo and as part of the Airedale Orpheus Quartette.
In 1906, it was reported that a Shipley quartette, with Arthur as second tenor, had a week’s engagement at the Dewsbury Hippodrome.
In May 1907, Arthur was part of the Airedale Orpheus Quartet Party that provided the entertainment at a meeting of Shipley Liberal Party workers hosted by the MP, Mr Percy Illingworth.
His first recorded outing as conductor of the Windhill Musical Union was at a 1908 Service of Song at the Independent Chapel.
Arthur in later life
The pace slowed a little as Arthur grew older and his family duties increased, but he was still incredibly active.
The 1921 Census records the family living at 14 Thackley Old Road, Windhill.
Arthur was now 49 years old, still a weaving overlooker, now employed at George Deacon and Sons, Hopefield Shed, Windhill, but the census notes ‘not working at present owing to shortage of coal’.
Mary was now aged 46 and restricted to ‘home duties’.
Nancy Evelyne was 22, a milliner, employed by Miss Helliwell of Gordon House Saltaire.
William Whittam was 21, a machine tool maker who had been employed at the Hanson and Barker Motor Works in Shipley but was presently out of work.
Norman, aged 16, was already a clerk employed by Bradford Corporation, while Thora Emily, aged 10, was still at school.
There are also occasional references to the children in the local papers, often associated with events at the Independent Sunday School. Arthur clearly believed that musical and (for the boys) sporting performance were character-building!
For example, in February 1917, Nancy, Norman and Thora are all recorded as present at the annual prize giving.
In 1922, both Arthur and his brother Frank served on the management committee for the inaugural Shipley and District Music Festival.
In October 1924, there were ructions at the annual meeting of the Windhill Musical Union when there were two candidates for the role of conductor – Arthur and rival Maurice Wilks.
Arthur intimated that he couldn’t continue in the role unless the salary of £5 was doubled to £10. The President, Mr Harold Long, said the committee could not authorise such an increase and so Wilks was appointed in Arthur’s stead.
A year later, Arthur was appointed conductor of the rival Greengates Musical Union.
In September 1929, the Shipley Times and Express carried a feature on Arthur, part of a series on local personalities. He was then 57:
‘Mr Arthur Dracup of 9, Victoria Street, Thackley, can tell many interesting stories of his long life in musical circles, and he says that some of the happiest days in his life have been spent with the Windhill Musical Union.
Mr Dracup began his singing career in the choir at the Congregational Church of his native Saltaire, and later went as a paid singer to the Idle Parish Church and the Westgate Baptist Church, Bradford. Over 20 years ago he was asked to take over the conductorship of the Windhill Congregational Church Choir, and has acted in that capacity ever since.
But the Windhill Musical Union is one of the outstanding features of Mr Dracup’s musical career. He was one of the founders of the Union, and took over the conductorship as successor to Mr Isaac Roberts. Mr Dracup acted as the Conductor of the Union for over 12 years, and in 1920 was presented by the singing members with a silver flower vase after 20 years’ service. This was subscribed for by the singing members only, but the honorary members, to show their appreciation of his services, added to the presentation a gold-mounted ebony baton. Mr Dracup is proud of a large framed photograph of all the Union members which was presented to him in 1921.
Mr Dracup describes the Union as a ‘happy lot,’ and speaks highly of the standard of singing they maintained. Some of the happiest days in his life, he says, were spent in connection with the Musical Union and its various activities. He is a lover of music, especially singing, and ever since he was 17 he has always been connected with some choir or another. He would feel at a loss, he says, if at any time he was without some such connection. At present, in addition to being conductor at the Windhill Congregational Church, he is the conductor of the Bradford Central Division Working Men’s Club Musical Union.
Mr Dracup has been blessed, too, with a musical family, and has two daughters, one contralto and the other soprano. His son, Mr Norman Dracup, is well-known locally as a good bass singer, and with Mr Dracup himself a tenor, the family is one of the most ‘united’ quartette parties in the district.
Mr Dracup is also well known in connection with his cricket activities. He lived at Saltaire until he was 25, and played cricket with the Saltaire second team. On getting married, and coming to Windhill, where he resided until about 12 months ago, he joined the Windhill team and played with his first team on a few occasions in the Airedale and Wharfedale League. He well remembers the memorable match in 1907 when Windhill defeated Great Horton by one run in the semi-final of the Priestley Challenge Cup.
He has been connected with the Windhill club ever since he came to the district, and at present he is Chairman of the Committee, a trustee and an indefatigable scorer. He looks back, however, with a sigh of regret at the ‘old days’ when the Windhill team used to set off to its away matches on a wagonette. There were some jolly times coming back, especially after a victory.
Mr Dracup is a member of the Windhill Liberal Club and a past president.’
What the piece doesn’t reveal is that Arthur had been recently widowed.
His wife, Mary, had died on 16 April 1928. There is a short piece in the local paper saying that she was 54 and, during her married life, had taken a prominent role in the Windhill Congregational Church.
Electoral registers show Arthur living alone at 9 Victoria Street in 1930, but in 1931 he was joined by Rosetta Clark, a young woman, presumably either a lodger or housekeeper.
She married in 1933, one Harry Berwick, leader of Berwick’s Dance Band and solo trombonist in the Idle and Thackley Band.
In 1934 he was made a life member of the Windhill Musical Union, but was unable to attend when the award was presented.
By 1939 he was resident with his daughter, Thora Emily, back on Victoria Street in the Saltaire model village.
In 1940 he was conducting the Central Division Working Men’s Club Musical Union. Meanwhile his brother Frank had taken over as deputy conductor at Windhill.
He was still attending meetings of the Windhill Musical Union in 1949, and in December of that year he conducted the Eccleshill Veterans’ Choir at their annual Christmas gathering.
In August 1958, another item appeared in the Shipley Times:
‘Shipley’s new shopping centre attracts many sightseers, particularly among former Shipleyites, as well as customers for the shops.
Walking across the Kirkgate end of Market Square one day last week, I met a very old friend rarely seen in Shipley nowadays. Mr Arthur Dracup, having a look round.
Mr Dracup will be remembered particularly by Windhillites for his staunch support of Windhill Cricket Club and Windhill Congegational Church during the many years he spent in the district.
For a long time now he has made his home with a married daughter in Eccleshill, but prior to the last season or two, was occasionally to be seen visiting Windhill cricket matches.
He is now well into high eighties, and though hardly the rotund figure some of us remember, the ever-present beaming smile still reveals his unfailing cheerfulness. In his youth he was a player on Windhill’s books, and later became one of the best-known scorers in the Bradford League.
Equally strong as his interest in cricket in those days was his love for choral singing, and he served the ‘Independents’ as choirmaster.
My very best wishes for continued happiness go out to him, and will be echoed by many of his old friends and acquaintances among my readers.’
Arthur died in April 1962 at the age of 89, his home address at the time being 2 Leafhill Drive, Eccleshill. However his probate entry says that he expired at The Park, Rooley Lane, West Bowling.
His executors were his son William Whittam, Chief Engineer, and son-in-law Geoffrey Bancroft Clough, civil servant. He left an estate worth a little under £2,500.
Nancy Evelyne married Henry Hanson, a driver, in July 1923.
By 1930 they were living at Apperley Bridge, but in 1939 they were on the Leeds Road in Bradford and Nancy was a ladies’ hairdresser. Later they moved to Cyprus Avenue, Thackley. They had two daughters and Nancy died in 1993.
Before her marriage, Nancy was singing frequently in public, initially at concerts organised by the Sunday school, often under the watchful eye of her father. She was also involved in training the younger children to take part in musical performances.
In December 1920 she performed at a concert for the Windhill Friendly Society and, by 1921, she was being described as a ‘promising young contralto’.
In 1923, both Arthur’s children – Norman and Nancy – featured on the bill at Windhill Primitive Methodist Church.
William Whittam married Minnie Drake, in September 1923. They lived initially at Darton Street, Shipley but, by 1939, were located at Cliffe Crescent in Keighley.
William was by then a millwright and lathe hand at a woolen manufacturer. He also served as an air raid warden in Keighley. They had one child, Doreen Mary. William died in 1970.
It seems that William occasionally played cricket for the Idle Working Men’s Club, but was not drawn to the musical stage like his siblings. It must have been difficult.
Thora Emily married Geoffrey Bancroft Clough in July 1936. By 1939 they were living at 9 Victoria Street, Shipley.
Geoffrey had been a clerk but had recently joined the forces; Thora was a woollen burler and mender.
Thora performed for a while as a soprano before her marriage. In May 1924, at the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Windhill Independent Sunday Schools, she too was described as ‘a young vocalist of considerable promise’.
She died in Skipton in 1990.
By 1928, Norman was working in the Bradford City Treasurer’s Office and in February he passed the preliminary examination of the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants.
He married Kathleen Sarah Baxter in July of that year, just a few months after his mother’s death.
Kathleen was the daughter of a plumber and painter who was also dead by this point. She too had appeared in many local newspaper stories, often acting as the piano accompanist for Norman and others.
The Yorkshire Post describes the wedding thus:
‘The marriage took place at Windhill Congregational Church, on Saturday, of Mr Norman Dracup, the younger son of Mr Arthur Dracup, and the late Mrs Dracup of Thackley, formerly of Windhill, and Miss Kathleen S Baxter, only child of Mrs Baxter and the late Mr J W Baxter, of West Royd, Leeds Road Thackley. The bridegroom is a well-known Shipley barrister, and a member of the Windhill Cricket Club. The Rev W S Goodwin, of Bradford, officiated.
The bride, who was given away by her mother, was attended by Miss Thora Dracup, sister of the bridegroom, Miss G Mabel Denison, and Miss Alice Pitts. Mr J Leslie Harney was best man.’
Norman was not a barrister and the coverage in the Shipley Times is fuller and more accurate:
‘Considerable local interest was aroused by the wedding on Saturday, at the Windhill Congregational Church, of Mr Norman Dracup, younger son of Mr Arthur Dracup, and the later Mrs Dracup of Thackley, formerly of Windhill, and Miss Kathleen S Baxter, only child of Mrs Edith S Baxter and the late Mr J W Baxter, of West Royd, 624 Leeds Road, Thackley, and a granddaughter of Mr F J Illingworth, estate agent, Thackley.
Both bride and bridegroom are actively associated with the Windhill Congregational Church, and the bridegroom is a well-known Shipley baritone and a playing member of the Windhill Cricket Club…
…Following a reception in the Congregational schoolroom, Mr and Mrs Dracup left for London and Torquay, the bride travelling in a beige face cloth coat with a hat and gown of blush pink georgette.
Among the numerous presents was a handsome Westminster chimes clock, presented to the bridegroom by the Bradford City Treasurer and staff.’
Norman and Kathleen had three children: John Whittam Dracup (1935-1991) and twins Dorothy G Dracup and Frank I Dracup (b 1942).
The 1939 Register found them living at 10 Overdale Drive, Thackley, and here they remained until Norman’s death.
Norman’s cricketing career
By 1921, Arthur was acting as scorer for Windhill and his son was playing for the Second Eleven. He showed signs of being a rather more talented player than his father.
In 1924, the local paper reports on the performance of the second team that season:
‘The most outstanding performance of the year…goes to the credit of Norman Dracup, who, playing against Great Horton Seconds in the first round of the Priestley Shield competition, was put on to bowl when Great Horton required but three runs to win and had three wickets in hand. He succeeded in capturing all three wickets in five balls – thus winning the match.’
He played five matches for the First Eleven in 1925, averaging 21 runs, including a score of 45 against Bingley. He also took 4 wickets bowling.
By 1927, Norman was playing regularly for the first team and scored his first 50 for the first team against Lidget Green in June of that year. He finished the year with an average of 17.8 runs from 19 innings and seven wickets taken for an average of 8.28 runs.
For understandable reasons, Norman’s performance in the 1928 season was poor!
In June 1929, though, he scored 63 not out against Bingley.
At the Club’s annual meeting in December 1929, over which Arthur presided, Norman’s letter was read out – he was away on business – in which he asked the treasurer ‘to accept his quota of prize money as a donation to the club’.
In 1930, though, Norman was dropped from the first team for a while.
Disappointed, he joined rivals Baildon for the following season. By May he had scored 61 for his new team against Bingley, though the match was lost.
Towards the end of June he acquired the captaincy of Baildon, owing to the absence of the usual incumbent. Then, at the annual meeting in November, Norman was formally appointed captain of Baildon for the 1931 season.
The Shipley Times commented:
‘Mr Norman Dracup has been chosen to succeed Mr Robson as first team captain, and he will no doubt feel honoured by his selection, for he has only been a member of the side a few brief months.
His choice was not altogether unexpected, however, for during Mr Robson’s absences last season, Mr Dracup took over the control of the team and showed himself to have all the knowledge and experience required to fill that position with distinction.’
He was also awarded the prize for First Eleven batting.
Norman’s first season of captaincy did not begin auspiciously though:
‘Stop press: Dracup’s record has just come to hand. It discloses that he has scored no runs this season, and has lost the toss twice out of twice. It is expected that his resignation will follow immediately, but he will probably argue that he has not yet batted, and may be saved by the fact that he has taken one catch.’
Nor did matters improve greatly.
On 13 August, the Shipley Times cricket correspondent reported that, after Baildon’s last match:
‘…I heard several spectators loudly voicing their criticism of Dracup’s captaincy. That these men were so-called supporters of the Baildon Club or that they had in the past spoken highly of his work as a team leader –when Baildon have won matches – apparently did not matter to them. Today things had gone badly with them; Norman Dracup had made a mistake, and they voiced their criticism of him in no uncertain manner. That criticism might be justified in so far as this individual match was concerned, but for anyone to completely forget all his past work and to say he is no good as a captain just because of that one match is grossly unfair and so illogical tht it can only be ascribed to sheer ignorance.’
In July 1933, Norman was injured when hit on the side of the head by a fast delivery:
‘He fell to the ground then rose to his feet, but on attempting to walk back to the pavilion he collapsed.’
The infamous ‘bodyline’ Ashes series in Australia had only just taken place, and there was no doubt a fair degree of emulation.
This seemed to put him out for much of the remainder of that season, but he came back to score 58 against Spen Victoria. Over the season as a whole he averaged 21 runs and won the batting prize. That December he was elected on to Baildon’s committee.
But in July 1934, the captain was dropped from the team and, in 1935, he returned to Windhill. But, then in 1937 he moved once more, this time to Bradford Crusaders.
In September of that year he helped to arrange an exhibition match to support the Congregational Church, captaining one side while the present captain of Windhill led the opposing team. Norman took five wickets for 33 runs.
He was captain of Bradford Crusaders in 1938 and also played that year for the Bradford NALGO team in the annual challenge cup for NALGO teams across Yorkshire. This newspaper picture was published in 1938.
References to Norman’s cricketing career rather fizzle out at this point.
But in 1942 he briefly reappeared, playing for Thackley against Harrogate, and was captain of Thackley that year. In 1943 he was elected on to Thackley’s Committee.
Norman’s musical career
In September, 1921 the Windhill Independent Choir, conducted by Arthur, accompanied his son Norman as a bass soloist.
In March 1924, Norman won second prize in the baritone class at the Leeds Eisteddfod. The judge reportedly observed that he was a very promising singer with a fine quality voice of exceptionally good tone.
At Christmas 1926, a performance was given at the Idle Baptist Church by the ‘Norman Dracup Concert Party’ featuring Norman as baritone and wife-to-be Kathleen as accompanist.
In 1928 Arthur conducted the Windhill Congregational Church Choir in a performance of Handel’s Messiah:
‘All the four soloists, who are well-known locally, did well, but the palm must be given to Mr Norman Dracup, the bass singer. Mr Dracup is one of the best young bass singers in the district, and he thoroughly justified the confidence reposed in him. He has a deep, clear voice, and sings with feeling, and his solos were sung without a blemish. He got a pleasing volume of tone in his solos, the best of which were ‘The people that walked in darkness’ and ‘Why do the nations’.’
By 1930, Norman was also general secretary of the Windhill Congregational Sunday School.
In 1933, an item appeared in the ‘Around the Town’ section of the Shipley Times:
‘It is pointed out to me that, in a recent report of a Windhill Liberal Club in the ‘Shipley Times and Express’, the name of Mr Norman Dracup was given as the soloist, instead of that of his father, Mr Arthur Dracup.
While this error is regretted it serves as another example of the confusion which results often when the name of Dracup is mentioned.
It is not often one encounters such a family as that of Mr Arthur Dracup’s: a family which is its own quartet, and what is more unusual is that whilste Mr Norman is now a well-known and established singer, his father is in good voice and in popular demand.’
In 1939, Norman was recruited into a Bradford Concert Party with Ruth Servent, Clara Ramsden, Olive Leedham, Marjorie Waterworth, W Lupton Brooks and Donald Collinson. The Concert Party gave concerts for members of the forces across Yorkshire.
In 1943, it performed at a concert organised by the Shipley Home Guard. Norman sang ‘The Vagabond’ and ‘Even Bravest Hearts’, as well as duets with mesdames Servent and Ramsden respectively.
Also that year he performed Russian songs at Bradford’s celebration of the 26th anniversary of the Soviet Union.
His last recorded musical performance was as a guest singer on Sunday August 6 at an afternoon concert in the Phoenix Park, Thornbury, given by the English Electric Light Orchestra.
The NALGO affair
By June 1940, Norman was chairman of the Bradford Branch of NALGO, the National Association of Local Government Officers.
And by 1942 – now employed as Chief of the Salaries and Superannuation Section of the Bradford City Treasurer’s Department – he had also been elected on to the Yorkshire District Executive Committee and latterly the National Executive Committee of NALGO.
On 31 January 1942, Norman asked for leave to attend the National Executive Committee meeting to be held on 14 March. Upon which, according to the Bradford Observer, quoting a NALGO report:
‘[Norman] was informed by the City Treasurer (Mr B R Sinkinson) that the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Corporation Finance Committee (Alderman J Stringer and Mr J Lennon) had from time to time taken exception to his association activities, and that he had either to resign from all active association with NALGO or his duties as Chief of the Superannuation, Salaries and Service Conditions Section of the department would be changed.
He was informed that there was no suggestion of breach of confidence against him, and that it was purely because of the confidential nature of the job he was doing that this question had been raised.
…In an Interview…the City Treasurer said he was prepared to defend Mr Dracup’s case. On 18 February the City Treasurer informed Mr Dracup that Alderman Stringer and Mr Lennon insisted on his resignation from all NALGO activities if he were to continue in his present duties.’
Ahead of a special meeting of the City Council to discuss the issue, the City Treasurer issued a statement saying that he wanted Norman to resign as chairman of NALGO’s local executive committee, or give up confidential work he was doing on salaries.
He had spoken to Norman because the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Finance Committee had disapproved of the tone of articles published in the local NALGO quarterly review. They were also critical of the time Norman had spent at the Yorkshire District Committee.
The Treasurer said he had resigned from NALGO membership himself, in order that he could be entirely unbiased with regard to salaries and other staff matters.
The special council meeting on 8 July was held to discuss a proposal by the Leader of the Labour group on the Council that employees should have full freedom to be elected to trades unions.
However, it instead requested a report from its Finance Sub Committee into the ‘Dracup case’. On 11 July, this Committee appointed a Committee of Inquiry to investigate.
A report was prepared to go initially to the Finance Sub Committee, one member of which leaked his copy to the Bradford Observer.
On 31 August it reported:
‘Evidence was given that Mr Dracup had been in the service of the Corporation for 23 years, and that he had been a member of the NALGO Branch Executive Committee for six or seven years, during one and a half of which he was chairman, and of the Yorkshire district committee…
The resignation: The following finding, approved unanimously, is submitted: The City Treasurer, with the authority of the chairman and deputy chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, gave Mr Dracup the option of either resigning from all active participation in NALGO representation, ie local, Yorkshire district and National Committee work, or having certain of his Corporation duties changed.
Responsibility: The following finding, approved unanimously, is submitted: The responsibility for this position rests upon the chairman and deputy chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee and the City Treasurer. It is due to the City Treasurer to report that he was willing for the surrender (by Mr Dracup) of the Bradford branch chairmanship to satisfy his request, but this could not be done because the chairman and deputy chairman required all NALGO offices to be relinquished by Mr Dracup.
Justification: The following finding, approved with two dissentients, is submitted: We considered with care this aspect of the case and came to the conclusion that the action taken was not entirely warranted.’
This led to the immediate resignation of Alderman Joseph Stringer, described as ‘Bradford’s Octogenarian ‘Chancellor of the Exchequer’’. He declined to discuss the reasons for his resignation.
The Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry rejected criticism that the findings should have included guidance to the Council on the principle of municipal servants accepting trades union office, on the grounds that its terms of reference did not permit that.
It was clear that the word’ entirely’ had been inserted in the third finding as a compromise between the different political interests on the committee, to secure a unanimous report.
On 12 September the Bradford Observer reported that NALGO had written to Bradford’s Town Clerk to ask whether Norman was now free to resume his NALGO activities:
‘The word ‘entirely’ introduces a qualification which makes it necessary for the Association to seek a decision of the City Council as to whether or not Mr Dracup is now free to resume his various offices…without any alteration of his official duties as an officer of the Corporation.’
When the Council met, it unanimously accepted a resolution from the leader of the Labour group:
‘That this Council grant full freedom and right to its employees to elect, under reasonable conditions, representatives to such organisations as are the recognised agencies for the protection of their interests and which may negotiate from time to time with the Council upon them.’
The Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry tried to persuade the Council to record its disapproval of the actions of the Chair and Deputy Chair of its Finance Committee, but was unsuccessful.
He subsequently proposed to submit a resolution at the next Council meeting in October:
‘That the Council record their disapproval of the action of the chairman and deputy chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee and the City Treasurer in interfering in the trade union activities of Mr N Dracup, of the City Treasurer’s Department, on the ground that such action was contrary to the policy and practice of the Bradford Corporation; and that the National Association of Local Government Officers be informed of this decision and that Mr Dracup is now free to resume his various offices in the association without alteration of his present duties on that account.’
When the Council met on 14 October, they rejected this resolution by 38 votes to 21.
But, after the fuss had died down, in December 1942, Norman was quietly reinstated to the NALGO offices he had relinquished, following discussion between the new chair and deputy of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, the City Treasurer and the NALGO divisional secretary.
But Norman clearly had no intention of staying with an organisation that had treated him so badly.
In February 1943, local papers reported that he had left his post with Bradford Corporation to take up ‘an administrative post in war industry’.
When asked if the dispute had any bearing on his resignation, he said he preferred not to discuss the matter.
His death certificate records his subsequent employment as ‘Engineer’s Secretary and Accountant’.
Norman died on 30 September 1944 in the Duke of York Home, linked to Bradford Royal Infirmary. His death certificate gives the cause of death as cancer of the left kidney (post operative).
An item in the Bradford Observer said it was known he had been seriously ill, though he had always been in good health hitherto and so had been expected to recover:
‘Mr Dracup’s overflow of good spirits, coupled with his invariable readiness to take full share of out-of-[illegible] activities – games, singing and so forth – naturally ensured his popularity everywhere. These friends thought his wife and he an ideal couple, and she and their twins and little boy will have much sympathy in their bereavement.
In his passing, Bradford has lost, not only a leading singer, but also a cricketer who was much in demand, he having captained one or two very successful local clubs in past seasons.’
Other coverage refers to him being ‘a member of the Bradford Concert Party and a noted BBC and ENSA artist.’
His funeral took place at the Idle Upper Chapel, following an earlier service at the Windhill Congregational Church.
Aside from his family, there were representatives present of NALGO; the City Treasurer’s Department; Windhill, Baildon and Thackley Cricket Clubs; and the Idle Musical Union. He was buried at the Idle Upper Chapel Cemetery.
He left an estate worth just over £4000. His wife, Kathleen, never remarried and continued living in the area. She died in Bingley on 14 June 1982, some twenty years after her father-in-law, Arthur.