Re­mark­able woman who re­ported on the troops in France dur­ing Great War

Middleton Guardian - - BYGONE DAYS - HAROLD CUNLIFFE

RE­CENTLY there have been many ap­pre­cia­tive com­ments re­gard­ing what I have re­searched and pub­lished in this fea­ture.

Many thanks to those readers who took the time and trou­ble. Pos­i­tive re­marks are ap­pre­ci­ated and in many cases add in­for­ma­tion to what has been pub­lished.

A close fam­ily friend who lives in York­shire re­mem­bers Charles Den­nis, known as “Black Char­lie,” who we fea­tured re­cently.

In his email, which is nor­mally fol­lowed up by a chat on the phone and is al­ways in­ter­est­ing due to his amaz­ing mem­o­ries of Mid­dle­ton, Les Lord said that at the time he knew him, he lived on the op­po­site side of the road to what was pub­lished at Wood Street, in the houses which were set back from the rest of the row.

Les re­mem­bers him sit­ting in a rock­ing chair, out­side his front door when weather would al­low, “at peace with the world, I think ev­ery­one who passed had a word with him.”

When Miss Joyce Cooper re­turned to Lan­cashire, she made con­tact with old friends and made many new ones too.

Her place of wor­ship was Bam­ford Chapel, where she car­ried out some first class research. It was dur­ing one of her vis­its from Fer­ring that we both trav­elled around the ceme­ter­ies search­ing for her an­ces­tors’ graves.

These were pho­tographed, for which copies still ex­ist in the By­gone ar­chive. One name which came up on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions was that of Emily Board­man. Hav­ing the facts to hand made it easy to col­late a snap­shot of her life. What fol­lows are my find­ings. This is fur­ther proof that we have had some tal­ented peo­ple in Mid­dle­ton.

Miss Board­man was born in Pre­ston Street, Mid­dle­ton, brought up at Tonge School and ul­ti­mately spent the best years of her life on the French Riviera. As a girl she was very del­i­cate and af­ter leav­ing school was un­able to con­tinue her work as a weaver for very long.

On the death of her mother she went home to look af­ter her fam­ily.

On Sun­days she taught in St Micheal’s Sun­day school. In the spare time be­tween her do­mes­tic du­ties she stud­ied, and soon found that she had a flair for for­eign lan­guages.

Next she at­tended night schools and be­came a mem­ber of var­i­ous lit­er­ary so­ci­eties.

As her mind ma­tured, she dis­cov­ered that she could write and that she could sell what she wrote.

Ul­ti­mately she se­cured a post as sec­re­tary to Dr Lock­wood of Bournemouth. While in that town her health re­cov­ered. She stud­ied hard and se­cured a cer­tifi­cate for her un­der­stand­ing of the French lan­guage.

She put the­ory into prac­tice, sailed to France and trav­elled con­sid­er­ably. Dur­ing the 1914-18 war she did a con­sid­er­able amount of work for the French news­pa­pers, re­port­ing the ar­rival of Bri­tish troops on the conti- nent and their tran­sit over the chan­nel.

It was dur­ing one of her vis­its home that she vis­ited the Guardian of­fice and the ed­i­tor printed for her a book en­ti­tled, “Through Cor­si­can Wilds in a car­riage.” Ul­ti­mately she moved to Cannes and lived there for over 30 years, at the Villa les Cyeas.

It was noted that due to her spend­ing so much time in France, she was more French than English. This was proved when she found that her na­tive tongue did not come as eas­ily to her as did French.

But she never sev­ered her con­nec­tions in Mid­dle­ton. Her fam­ily con­sisted of two broth­ers and she would en­ter­tain her nieces and neph­ews in the south of France. The way of life, with the weather, scenery and food, was to have an im­pact on the chil­dren, be­cause fol­low­ing a visit by a five year old, the child had al­most for­got­ten how to speak English when she re­turned home. An­other niece of hers who vis­ited was con­firmed by the Bishop of Gi­bral­tar at Holy Trin­ity Church, Cannes, where her aunt was an old mem­ber of the con­gre­ga­tion.

When Miss Board­man passed away at her brother’s home at Old­ham Road, she was sur­rounded by paint­ings of wa­ter colours and oils rem­i­nis­cent of that great artist, Edgar Wood. The paint­ings sig­nify a great tragedy in Emily Board­man’s life.

Dur­ing the Great War Mr Scott, to whom Miss Board­man was en­gaged, died as a con­se­quence of the war. The paint­ings were his. They were left to her, which was one of her greatly prized pos­ses­sions.

The other item was a beau­ti­ful ob­ject. The King of Italy pre­sented Mr Scott an an­tique ring, which Emily cher­ished un­til the day she passed away, aged 71, which was on Christ­mas Day.


Many pos­i­tive com­ments have been re­ceived from those who have en­joyed read­ing the out­ings and pic­nics which we have re­cently re­lated.

We now re­late a half-day out­ing which en­tailed many hours of be­ing on the road. It was dur­ing the 1930s that John­son Bros com­menced con­ti­nen­tal travel, maybe this was the in­spi­ra­tion for what fol­lows.

One group of me­chan­ics from a lo­cal mill de­cided to have a half-day trip to the Isle of White. This trip en­tailed be­ing away from home for al­most 32 hours.

The an­nual me­chan­ics out­ing con­sisted of em­ployee’s and friends of the Cromer Mill. The ex­cur­sion took weeks to or­gan­ise, and fi­nance, and it was hop­ing that the weather would oblige oth­er­wise a good time would not be had by all.

It was the first week of July when the party set off, leav­ing Mid­dle­ton one Fri­day night at 10pm.

It was 10.15am when they ar­rived at Ryde on Satur­day morn­ing. A tour of the is­land by char-abanc fol­lowed im­me­di­ately, time was short.

All the noted beauty spots were vis­ited, in­clud­ing Vent­nor, which we dis­cover was “very much ap­pre­ci­ated.” The re­turn jour­ney be­gan from Ryde at 6.45pm on Satur­day and it was 5.45am on Sun­day morn­ing when the party ar­rived back in town.

We find that the weather proved favourable dur­ing this marathon trip. The suc­cess of the ex­cur­sion was down to the sec­re­taries, Miss L White­head and Mr T Seal. When asked what was the likely des­ti­na­tion of next year’s out­ing, France was men­tioned. “Can it be done?” was asked, Who knows.


Bowlee, 1843. Mr James Booth, shop­keeper and farmer, a res­i­dent of Bowlee, com­mit­ted sui­cide by hang­ing him­self in his bed­room. He was never mar­ried and was over 50 years of age. The neigh­bours state that he had been driven into a state of insanity for fear of hav­ing to pay the in­come tax de­mand. He should have ap­pealed against the tax at Rochdale; a date was set to hear his ap­peal, which he ex­ceeded prior to his death. MAN OF THE CLOTH De­cem­ber 1788. It was re­ported that at Mid­dle-

Kay Street look­ing to­wards the town cen­tre. The for­mer coal yard is marked

Pre­ston Street, birth­place of Emily Board­man.

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