The Definitive History of the Surname STABLES in Yorkshire

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The Autobiography of Brian Stables (Part 3)


Eva Stables, (nee Burns) 1907-1983

This is the third part of Brian Stables's fascinating and very funny autobiography, which is written in his own words.

Brian was born in Tickhill in 1929 and emigrated to Canada in 1976. He is currently serialising his life story for us.

He has also provided a superb collection of photographs to accompany his story. Click the photo for a larger image.





Eva (nee Burns)& Mother in Law Lily, (nee Jackson).jpg (9708 bytes)
Eva Stables (née Burns) and her Mother-in-Law, Lily Stables (née Jackson).

My family had not, what I would consider today, a very close and loving association, however, relative to what appeared to be the average marriage of those days, it was workable. Mum had a difficult relationship with her in-laws during the early days of her marriage, and this degenerated to near impossible as time went by. The physical closeness of their respective homes did not help a great deal, and the solution of moving house was obstructed by Dad refusing point blank, to even talk about such a daring adventure, never mind execute it. To me, and to Bob, she was everything that a loving mother could be; she gave her every attention to ensure that we should know that there was another life, other than the generally accepted; “go to school, then go to t’pit”. She continually went to great lengths to teach us to eat and speak correctly, she taught us to sew and darn, to hold ourselves responsible for our actions, keep a moral attitude and above all to be honest in all our dealings. I have always considered her greatest gift to us was to teach us to read, and write, almost in tandem with learning to walk and speak. As a respected member of her Chapel community she made us attend services every Sunday, and later, would quiz us on what the preacher had made as his subject for that day. For me this was a lost cause, I tried, but there were so many questions that could not be answered by the usual response which I invariably received; “What do you want to know that for?” “You are too young to understand” and so on. I must have broken her heart many times over.

She was born in Nottingham; her father; (Tom Burns) was a blacksmith, he was also a member of the South Nott’s Hussars, a Territorial Army cavalry unit. Her mother, Ann Brook, was the daughter of a farming family who had property in the Barrowby area just South of Grantham. The only one of her father’s relatives that I remember was his sister Mary, who married a man called Whittaker; they owned a ‘Fish and Chip’ shop in Dinnington. This Aunty was a good friend to us; we often walked the distance from Tickhill, just to visit. Aunt ‘Spuddy’ was always handy for the occasions that the ‘tooth fairy’ came to visit.

 I do not know the true circumstance of how Eva met Bill; it was one of those unanswered questions. I believe she was working as a Housemaid at Scaftworth Hall and she would travel with her friends to Tickhill on their bicycles, there were small dances, a good cricket team and the annual fairground available for the entertainment of those who wished to live dangerously. Nothing like the bright lights to get things going!

After her marriage she was innovative, and would work hard at trying to make a home with the sparse materials at her disposal, she would get us boys cutting old clothes into strips, we would peg these into old sacking to make rugs for the floor, To my shame I have often criticised her cooking abilities. I never took into consideration that her tools were a coal fired oven where the temperature control was to throw on some more coal, thereby temporally cooling it down, followed by an uncontrolled increase of heat, and of course the saucepans and frying pans were placed on the open hob above the coals. She did her best and had faith that Jesus would return and make it all worthwhile.

She was directed to a job in a munitions factory close to the colliery at Maltby, where the production of armaments interfered with the important work of the manufacture of such black market goods as cigarette lighters and other useful trinkets

It is paradoxical that one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century, (WW2) was to make such an improvement in her daily life. In one small space of time her lot was transformed from eking out her small allowance from “the parish” to having a steady income from the revived fortunes of the mines. Life, for her was still hard, but at least she won out on her wish to move house and we moved to Wilsic road, still in Tickhill but away from her in-laws. She could now buy herself some small luxuries, albeit her chapel rules did not permit too much frivolity, such as lipstick and makeup, (Horrors: A painted woman!). Needless to say this hiatus proved a mixed blessing, for, as the War gathered pace, she and thousands of other women were conscripted either into the Forces or to ‘essential industries’ In her case she was directed to a job in a munitions factory close to the colliery at Maltby, where the production of armaments interfered with the important work of the manufacture of such black market goods as cigarette lighters and other useful trinkets, This illegal trade made her very troubled and it genuinely upset her. I remember her talking it over with some of her fellow workers; she seemed to be the only one concerned about this situation.

Her, (to me little understood) pride in her Scottish heritage, was very important to her. Her paternal grandfather was born in Scotland and lived in the Corby/Harlexton area at the time prior to my birth. To digress; in the early 1970s she was visiting me in Eton, it was my daughters birthday and we had promised Angela a new skirt and blouse as ‘the useful’ present, (as opposed to a frivolous one) both items to be chosen by Angela without question from the adults. Angela chose a kilt in the Stuart tartan, and Eva became infuriated! If, “my grandchild is to wear a kilt, then she must wear the Campbell tartan.” There was an altercation, after all, there had been a promise made, which resulted in Eva packing her bags and departing for home in high indignation. The funny thing is that I was obliged to drive her all the way.

Perhaps her best friend was Annie Bonnet who lived on Doncaster Road; Annie was a fun loving person and from my recollection did not let things disturb her too much.

She had a good relationship with both her daughter–in-laws, it was amusing to hear her confide about me to my wife, coming up with exasperated remarks like; “Well, you know what he is like!” She enjoyed the company of both June, Bob’s wife and my Val. to a degree that I believe to be unusual; perhaps her own experiences had an influence, who knows? Both June and Val as well as her sons, found a huge void in their lives when she died.

During her early childhood she lived in Stoke Rochford and attended school in Great Ponton, both south of Grantham.

At the commencement of the 1914 war her fathers TA regiment was mustered into the colours and, after a stint in France, he went to the Middle East where he was attached as a Farrier to General Allenby’s headquarters which was in Palestine, and was present when the League of Nations mandated England to administer that country. He was quite perturbed that twenty five years later his grandson, me, was there in one of the Regiments at the time the Mandate was terminated.

During summer vacations, she always made efforts to visit her parents with her boys. We would set off early, catching the bus to Doncaster and then by train to Grantham, then another bus, which ran about four times per day, to the ‘Red Cottages’ it took the whole day to travel. By this time her father was unemployed due to a severe injury to his arm and her mother was invalided with Parkinson’s disease, her sister, May, acted as housekeeper and did not marry until after grandmas death, in 1951.

I once left a copy of Omar Khayyam, as translated by Fitzgerald, lying around and she wrote in the flyleaf; ‘A great fatalist. Read Paul’s letter to the Romans’

There was always a dog or a cat underfoot, as one of them would die the cry would be; “I am never having another Dog/Cat again, they are too much of a nuisance” Inevitably someone would turn up with a stray animal that needed care and so it went. One of her favourite dogs was ‘Sally’ a German shepherd, or Alsatian.

I caused her a lot of grief with my searching within different religious groups to find one that matched my ideas of what God is. She believed that it should be the other way around, that I should fit into a recognised religion, silly girl. I once left a copy of Omar Khayyam, as translated by Fitzgerald, lying around and she wrote in the flyleaf; ‘A great fatalist. Read Paul’s letter to the Romans’, I treasure this to this day. She had a wonderful conviction that her ideas were unquestionable in this regard and why not? It worked for her.

We became slightly estranged through distance, we both loved each other as much as ever, however our ideas changed, I had lived through some character changing times in the army and wished to hide these from her, this was wrong, but nevertheless it was my way.

I was living in Canada at the time of her final illness and she decided to keep its severity hidden from me, she had, what I was told, was a slight heart attack and that I would be kept informed on her progress, I telephoned every day and was on the point of booking an airline ticket to be with her when Bob phoned to say she had died in an ambulance on the way to hospital. Much later Dad apologised to me about this, but he said it was that she did not want to; “Put him (me) out”. That pretty much sums her up; she never wanted to inconvenience anyone.

Read the next installment: William Henry Stables (1904-1991)

Eva, (bro) Eric, (sis) Hilda @ Wilsic Road.jpg (14874 bytes)
Eva, her brother Eric and sister Hilda at Wilsic Road.
Eva & Niece Jean @ Scarborough.jpg (12342 bytes)
Eva with her niece Jean at Scarborough.
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Last modified: May 10, 2010