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The Sinclair's of Mill Cottage


I was born Sandra Lightfoot at 6 Mill Cottages, Treeton in 1948. The mill cottages are no longer standing - they were down a lane at the bottom of Well Lane and a path along side them led to Orgreave Colliery.

I lived there with my mother and father, Jim and Edna,in a house which had originally been that of my grandparents,Gilbert and Eliza.

He had been a pattern maker at the colliery. He had several children by his first wife, who died - Gilbert, Ellen, Gwen and Irene, I think, and went on to have by my grandmother, Reginald,who was a deputy at Treeton Colliery, Winnie, Daisy, Trixie, Edna and Audrey - of these only Audrey is now still alive.

I can recall the house at Mill Lane having an old copper boiler and a very fragile electricity supply from the colliery, which was prone to go off if too many things were used.

I can recall our house being flooded several times by the River Don and swans swimming through our ground floor!

Of the people living in the six cottages I can remember the Whitworths, the Pritchards and the Askews.

When I was nearly 5 we moved to what was then the new housing estate to 34 Treetown Crescent. This was luxurious compared to our old house - electricity which worked for a start. We had an open fire in the living room with an old fashioned fire-driven oven at the side of it.

The council houses in those days were built to exacting Parker Morris standards and had a kitchen and pantry, a living room, a "front room" which was hardly ever used, three bedrooms, a bathroom and a separate toilet - a real luxury!

My only sister Pat was born there in 1957. Unfortunately, as my dad was chronically ill, money was very scarce, so we could afford very little heating,I can recall getting dressed in front of the gas oven as it was the only heat source available, and we could afford to heat bath water for only one bath a week. In winter the bathroom was terribly cold and it was a real experience!

Our house backed on to the small railway line which joined Treeton Colliery and Orgreave and a small steam train used to go back and forward with the coal, leaving layers of dirty grime all over our windows.

Treeton Junior SchoolWhen I was 5 I started Treeton Infants school where Mr Dunville was headmaster.

I can recall all my teachers in infants school - Miss Booker (later Mrs Lake), Mrs Roys, and Olga Tomlinson, headmistress of the infants school.

Then I moved on to juniors - where I recall Mrs Tunnicliffe, Mr Pickering, Mr Abrahams, Mr Smedley (who frightened us all and was a great fan of corporal punishment).

Woodhouse Grammar School At 11 I went to Woodhouse Grammar School - though it was touch and go if I would go as we could not afford the uniform. Fortunately, the West Riding Education Authority stepped in with a grant and I managed to get there.

As only 2 other classmates moved with me, Tony Jacobs and John Cobley, both of whom I was in touch with recently. I lost contact with many of the pupils I had studied with in Treeton.

I can recall many of the village shops - Miss Skelton, the Co-op, Miss Colley's shop, etc. and the old Coal Board houses in Well Lane and Bole Hill.

I can remember the Old Rec, the Quarry (where rather exotically people used to water ski at weekends), and Hail Mary Wood where as a young girl I felt quite safe on my own collecting bluebells.

I can remember the great community spirit - the up side being how people helped each other out all the time, the downside being that everyone was able to punish you for even minor transgressions and everyone knew exactly where every child was at all times so you could get away with nothing!

For years I thought that a number of people in the village were my real aunties and uncles and was quite surprised when I found that this was a courtesy title that friends awarded each other and which their children used when speaking to them!

DevonAt 19 I left Treeton to move to London, then to Holland and Zambia and then back to London. I now live in Devon, though my family keeps up its links with Treeton as my cousin's son now lives in one of the new houses there and although my sister now lives in Derbyshire, many of my family still live in the area around Treeton- Brinsworth mainly.

I have been back from time to time and for a long time the village remained the same as when I was there. Then the old colliery closed down and a whole new Treeton arose from its ashes to the point where I find myself very disorientated.

Times were hard then and I have no desire to go back to old times. Fortunately, the memory of good times outweighs the bad and I do look back with pleasure at the good times.

Yours sincerely,
Sandra Semple (nee Lightfoot)