Mr Keith Edward Carlisle who left Great Coates in 1961 to live in Grimsby has been in touch with memories of his late father, Mr Mansfield Carlisle; along with stories of Mr Pearson, Mr Hatcliffe, Mr Arthur Skinns, and an un-named Church Organist.

“My life started In Great Coates at the age of three when we moved from Stallingborough. I attended Great Coates Church of England School, moving on to Healing secondary modern. On leaving school I worked for a short time for Mr J T Steele Butchers of Healing but at the Great Coates shop on Woad Lane which was part of Harry Stones house. I was also a Paper Boy for Ted Smith on Old Road, Great Coates.”

“The tenants of The Avenue at time of our moving in was – (starting at the Reading Rooms) Mrs and Mr Sculley, Mrs and Mr Enderby, Mrs and Mr Adlard, Miss Broddle, Miss Broddle (no relation), Mrs Kendall then my family The Carliles, Mrs & Mr Hatcliffe. Opposite in a terrace of three houses was Mrs & Mr Portus, Mrs Coupland and lastly Mrs & Mr Skinns.”
“I bet there aren’t many kids in Great Coates who can say that they’ve dragged a tin bath across the fields to sail it in the Freshney and then sneak it back before their mother found out!   Life in Great Coates has changed.”

Mr Mansfield Carlisle – Village Cobbler – Chimney Sweep – Jack of all Trades

Mr Mansfield Carlisle, a stalwart of the community, lived in what was 36 The Avenue where the kitchen was a hive of industry. He repaired shoes and there was always leather in soak – with cobbler’s lasts and needles full of waxed threads on the kitchen table. If he was not repairing shoes he was in the village, sweeping chimneys or gardening for the older residents.

On Saturday afternoons (when it wasn’t harvest time or if he had a few hours spare) he would take his scythe and try to control the grass in the churchyard. He was also know for his singing in the Wesleyan Chapel and with Mr William Green and Mr Frank Adlard was the original Three Tenors,

Mr Pearson, Methodist Lay Preacher

Mr Pearson of Yarborough Road, Grimsby was a blind gentleman and Methodist Lay Preacher who on occasions brought with him a circular knitting machine to demonstrate that being blind did not deter him for attempting to do things.

Mr Hatcliffe, The Avenue

Mr Hatcliffe was a Milkman for Mr Ted Smith, whose farm was on the Old Road in Great Coates. He rode a three wheel trike, delivering milk and papers, especially on Saturdays and Sundays.

Church Organist

Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of this gentleman but he was the male lodger of Miss George of the Post Office in Woad Lane. It happened during the construction of the Courtaulds plant and was before the idea of a weight restriction through the village. They were transporting large wide pieces of sheet steel to the site. The organist drove a Black Triumph Mayflower car – all immaculate and shiny. He was warned to get off the road, which he could have done as he was at the entrance to Mr Harry Smith’s farm gate, but he decided to ignore the warning and the lorry approaching him sliced the top of his car!! He had the sense to lay flat on the passenger seat to avoid injury – a lucky escape and I actually saw this happen.

Mr Arthur Skinns, Postman

I came across this photo in my old album of Mr Skinns, who was a well-liked person doing his rounds in Great Coates. He lived at the opposite end of the block of three old houses in The Avenue (backing onto the old vicarage). When he retired he was replaced by another Great Coates person – Mr Gordon Eaton of Woad Lane.

MR WILLIAM PORTUS – My Grandfather

The gentleman in this photograph is my maternal grandfather – Mr William Portus. He used to grow lots of Dahlias – just so that he could give bunches of them to the office girls who worked at Watmoughs and Scribbans & Kemps (the biscuit factories on the industrial estate).
He lived at 38 The Avenue before we moved there from 36.  He and Mr Arthus Skinns (the postman) used to sit at a five barred gate waiting for the girls to leave work so he could hand them all a bunch of flowers. My grandfather was a shepherd for F. G Riggal, Aylesby Road.

Great Coates Farms in the 1940s

Pete Borrell kindly sent in some information about Farming in the area during the 40’s

In the 1940’s there were 13 Farmers in the village.

• Harry Lill (John Bulls factory)

• Jacky Johnson – on the side of the Humber Bank near Courtaulds factory (later farmed by Ron Johnson)

• Two farms on the bend at Courtaulds Road at the side of Novartis Gate 2 – farmed by Atikins Broses  (later farmed by Harry Smith) and Elmet Brown (later farmed by Harry Brown, his son).

• Billy Newton, farmed Newbury Avenue and the industrial estate.  He was also the local butcher.  (Harry Stones later farmed this).

• Harold Borrell, my father, (later farmed by Peter Borrell).

• Gordon Riggall – down the road near the station.

• Big Ted Smith on the spare ground near the station.

• Harry Fowler down Cooks Lane (later farmed by Robin Fowler, his son).

• Harry Smith, nearly opposite the village school.

• Sid Smith, Church Farm.  He was the agent for the farmers for Sir Richard Suttons Settled Estates, who owned all the land.  (Another agent, Ron Johnson, later farmed Church Farm).

• Young Ted Smith farmed Dairy Farm, next to Church Farm, followed by his brother, Jack.

• Ernest Riggall, Aylesby Road (later farmed by his son, Gordon).

Down the road, past the Moat on the left side over the hedge, is a row of Walnut Trees planted by Ernest Riggall in his grass field.  They must be over 50 years old by now!

Nearly all the farmers had milking cows including the part-time farmers – Miss Sue Dennis who had a shop in the centre of the village and Mr Jess Taylor, the local coal merchant, who had a small farm at the back of the school.  George, his son, used to take all the farmers’ milk into the Clover Dairy in Grimsby every day – including Sundays!

Mrs Ann Bagley’s late husband Norman’s grandfather, Arthur Bagley, was the local Blacksmith.  He shoe’d all the horses in the village for the farmers.  I have taken our 3 horses there and held them while they were shod on many occasions.

Great Coates Characters Who Influenced Us

Brenda Neumann (nee Smith) now living in Arava Desert, Israel has written a tribute to the people named and many others in the community who were far more important in daily life than they realized.

I wonder how many of us really look at one another in the course of our everyday lives and by looking –  and listening –  learn what each person’s unique contribution is to family, neighbours, friends and the community.  Sometimes the quiet ones amongst us contribute the most, yet life would be very dull without those who always have to remind us of their opinions and others who take a lead on controversial issues.    From  ‘listening and looking’ as a child in the 1940’s, to learning to be articulate and (often) over-opinionated as a young married, and later as a  Nottinghamshire village resident, I now find myself as a ‘listener and looker’ a second time due to being faced with a ‘new’ country, mixed cultures and a difficult language.  Although we as ‘the  English ‘ are known for being notoriously slow at learning new languages we are also known for honesty, reliability, punctuality, kindness and practical skills, all without opening our mouths!   We could write pages on what we have absorbed by simply ‘looking’.  In our ‘village’ we can’t express what we feel about the stones on the road or the litter  (for example) but when the police and council members see an older woman road sweeping and gathering the litter it has proved (so far) to have had a bigger impact than any other protest.  And where did this ‘crazy English ‘behaviour ‘ come from?

I know that some of my  ‘community instincts’ came from the people whom I observed daily and weekly in Great Coates in the 1940’s.  As children BTV (before television), we watched and listened to people with greater intensity than many do today, so probably that’s why we absorbed lasting habits.

Many of us went to the Methodist Sunday school after walking the mile or more and waited at the back door until a small bent figure appeared with the key. This was ‘MISS  BRODDLE’.  She was always dressed in dark navy/black clothes which I think were long, as I don’t ever remember seeing her legs.
Her skin was wrinkled and a whitish-grey colour and the hair that escaped her hat was long and grey.  She always seemed to be looking down at the ground and rarely spoke but was there every Sunday morning for us.   She lived in a small dark-roomed cottage in The Avenue and sold sweets from her kitchen, carefully weighing them on scales and putting them into small white paper bags while we stood, peering at everything in the small room, she also sold “Pop” from her shed.

In contrast ‘MR. FRANK ADLARD’ who was a leader of the Sunday school, shone with evidence of outdoor work.  His cheeks were like rosy red apples, polished to the nth degree.  He was always patient and smiling and I realized as I grew older that he must have given up his only free morning to be with us.   His niece JEAN was a great help on the staff.  She was thin and pale and her long fingers always fascinated me.  She worked in Gaits bookshop near the old Corn Exchange in Grimsby and introduced us to Bible games as well as teaching the weekly lesson.  Her mother was always such a gracious lady and I recall they had an organ in their house, at the end of  ‘The Avenue’ and next door to my ‘half-cousins’ another of the several Smith families in Great Coates at that time.

The other regular leader of the Sunday school was ‘MR.WALKLEY’ who was older than Mr Adlard with a pale face and white hair.  He read stories from The Childrens’ Newspaper and when they were very long we used to pull each other’s hair and generally ‘play up’.  His voice was a ‘wobbly, trembly’ one  – whether from old age or nerves I never knew.  He always reminded me of an endearing old donkey who we regarded with affection.

A visitor who walked from Grimsby was a blind man called MR.PEARSON.  We were fascinated with his Braille watch and his stories.

When Anniversary time came around we needed to be trained to sing together and also for solos and duets and a MR. DOUGHTY came over from Grimsby to train and conduct us while Terrence BOWERING’S mother, LINDA, played the organ.  A MISS ADDISON was the guest speaker on the anniversary day on more than one occasion – she spoke so beautifully and clearly and presented us with book prizes organized by Jean Adlard .  All of these people who gave their time and efforts for us were solid ‘fixtures’ in our lives and taught us many a valuable lesson by simply ‘being there’.

Another personality was NELLIE THE MILK GIRL.  Not so much of a girl as a woman.  Nellie had one leg shorter than the other and wore an ugly iron walking support on one boot.  She lived with Mrs. George (maybe a relative) who kept the Post Office and shop at the side of Harry Stones farmhouse on Woad Lane.  She carried a heavy pail of milk to customers’ doors and used her metal ladles to measure out the milk and pour into the waiting jugs. I was always fascinated with the pint and half pint measures as I stood with the clean jugs ready.   It was a very cold job in winter and difficult for a lame person when snow and ice covered the paths.  We used to ‘listen for Nellie’ then my mother would toast a slice of bread over the fire, spread it with dripping or get a milky cup of tea ready and give it to her quickly so that she wouldn’t get into trouble for being late back.  I also had to pass clean cotton rags to her some wintry days because she often had a ‘dewdrop’ at the end of her nose and my mother wanted it in the ‘handkerchief’ and not in the milk!  She never had time to say much but worked at a job she had no choice in – quiet and methodical with her shy smile.

Another place we got the milk from was Aunt SALLY’S.  Their farm (Borrills, I think) was on Woad Lane across from the railway station.  I used to leave a clean can in the morning on my way to school and collect it on the way home.  I also used her immaculate outdoor toilet, complete with torn up newspaper.  It was such a big soft piece of wood to sit on and children had to balance carefully and hold on tight!  No such fun at our house as we had an indoor porcelain one in a tiled bathroom!  It seemed like every time I reached Aunt Sally’s, her friend or relative who lived on the corner on the road leading to the Watmough’s biscuit factory, was crossing to see her.  She was known to me as Aunt MINNIE and was always ready for the latest news, which I unknowingly supplied at times.

So many people showed kindness to us and one lady who helped me was MRS.WATTS.  She lived just past the police house and one summer’s afternoon, returning with the milk I tripped and fell, spilling the whole pint and taking the skin off my knees.  She took me into her cool house and bathed my bleeding knees.  I recall that she had a glass bead door curtain which was the first one I had seen.  The kindest part, I considered, was when she poured almost a pint of her own milk into the can so that I wouldn’t get into trouble with my mother.

Another generous person was MRS MADDISON (or Maddinson) who lived in one of the Station cottages.   She evidently spoke to my mother one day when my father was  ‘out of work’ and offered to pay for piano lessons for me. It seemed that we were surrounded by helpful people in Great Coates at that time when there were few (if any) support groups and organisations but I also realized that there were some families so poor and deprived who missed out on any help at all until the advent of the Welfare State.

Finally I mention my paternal grandfather, HENRY SMITH (buried at the tower end of St Nicholas’ churchyard) with whom we lived.  He had spent much of his life in Grimsby as a master joiner (he and his men did the joinery on the Dock Tower).  He was a slight but austere figure who lived by the strict codes of his generation and was known as  ‘Jiggery Smith’ on account of never using  ‘bad language’.  He used to say, “Jigger the thing” instead.  My mother evidently had to be resourceful one lunchtime when, aged 4, I asked,  “Can I have some more of that bloody pudding?”  He enquired what I had said (being a little hard of hearing) and my mother answered, “She wants some of the lovely pudding”.  I was lectured severely after that and told never to use the words my playmates – all boys – used!
On Sundays he would dress in his Sabbath clothes and walk down to St Nicholas’ Church (or St James when he lived in Grimsby), with a bag of Liquorice Allsorts or Pontefract Cakes in his pocket and offer them to folk he met on the way.

Some of this may sound like nostalgia but, in reality, it is the way we lived then, influencing the way we live as individuals, now!  Happy living in Great Coates!

Historic Photo Gallery

A selection of old photos of Great Coates


Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

1926- 2022


On behalf of the Councillors and staff of Great Coates Village Council we
extend our condolences to the Royal Family on the passing of Her Majesty,
Queen Elizabeth II.
Her Majesty the Queen was the longest serving monarch in British history who
devoted her life to our country, bringing unity, strength and hope, an
exceptional person admired and respected throughout the world.
We will be writing to His Majesty the King, Charles III and members of the
Royal Family to express our sincere condolences on behalf of the village of
Great Coates.

You may visit and sign the official book of condolence at