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John Aldous (1908 - 1995)

John ALDOUS was the second son of Thomas and Serenna and was born on the 16th February 1908 at Grove Row (across from Stocksbridge Methodist Church, where John received is religious instruction, although he professed no attachment to any one faith in later years), Deepcar Sheffield.  He was educated at the British School which was later known as the British Hall, and was situated to the west of the Palace Mall, and was pulled down in the 1960’s to make way for a shopping parade. He did not receive any formal qualifications. On leaving school his first job was working in a Barbers shop, but he did not stay there long before joining the local steel works, where he was employed in the old Bar Mill eventually rising to the position of Charge hand. When the old Bar Mill and the old Rod Mill were replaced in the 1960’s by a more modern combined Bar and Rod Mill (now part of Billet Finishing and known as West Bank), John  was promoted to Forman of the ‘Gardens’ Stock Yard (over the wall from the Victory Club) and relief Mill Foreman, he was also licensed to drive overhead cranes. He met and married Dorothy SHAW the youngest of Albert and Ada’s four daughters. She was born at Jack House on the 10th October 1909, a smallholding just east of More Hall Reservoir in Ewden Valley near Bolsterstone, and she received her education firstly at the old school down School Lane and later at Bolsterstone school, which is now the Village Hall.

Dorothy was confirmed at St Mary’s Church of England in Bolsterstone, where she used to attend twice each Sunday, having to walk up the hill from Ewden Valley.

Part of John and Dorothy’s courtship would include John being expected to give Dorothy’s father Albert a hand in the garden when he arrived to take her out, even though he would be dressed up ready to go out. Dorothy would tell the tale of how on one occasion when John arrived to take her out, Albert asked John if he would give him a hand to empty the earth toilet, this entailed moving a zinc bath which was placed under the seat to catch the ablutions. The laden bath had to be carried across the garden to be emptied onto the compost heap, and on this occasion the bottom fell out spilling the contents on the garden and Johns best trousers. John was less than happy but Dorothy always gets some amusement from relating the story.

When John and Dorothy were first married they stayed in a room at Jack House, until they moved into a water works bungalow in Ewden Valley. These bungalows had originally been built for the workers and their families, who had built the Broomhead and More Hall reservoirs, and due to their wooden construction were always known as ‘the huts’.

Ewden Valley is around two miles from the Stocksbridge steel works at which John worked, and the first mile is a steep climb up to Bolsterstone, the return journey is a slightly easier climb from Stocksbridge to Bolsterstone. This was the walk John had to face five or six days every week, plus the working hours were longer than today. Jobs were also hard to come by in the years before the Second World War, and one had to make the effort even if you weren’t feeling one hundred percent, as there was always some one waiting to fill your place. The winter of 1933 produced one of the heaviest snowfalls that had been seen for many a long year, and has only been repeated once since in 1947. When this snow arrived, John had to try and get to work by walking on the dry stonewalls bordering the fields from Ewden Valley; on this occasion he failed to make it.

    To be nearer the works John and Dorothy moved to Melbourne Road in Garden Village Stocksbridge, but when the house was put up for sale they were unable to afford the deposit, and had to move a few hundred yards to 26 Smith Road. This house has now been renumbered as 15 but has in fact been made into one house with number 17. While they were living here, their son Raymond was born, and the Second World War came and went. John wasn’t called for military service during the war due to being in a reserve occupation. This meant his job was more important to the war effort than him being conscripted into the army. However there was an incident that caused some amusement, when one night John and Dorothy were awakened by the sound of air raid sirens wailing, Dorothy woke Raymond in case they needed to make for the shelter. The heavy droning of aircraft engines, had sent John to the window to peer round the blackout blinds to see what they were, and he announced “its oreight they must be ares their showin leets”. At which point they all went back to bed, only finding out the following morning that the aircraft were in fact three doodle bugs (German V1 flying bombs) which fortunately came down on the moors near Manchester, the ‘leets’ John had seen being the glow of their exhausts.

John's smoking habit had caused some problems during the war years, with cigarettes being rationed and John always wanting more than he was allowed to buy. But this provided his son Raymond with some fun, trying to find new hiding places to make the weekly ration last the full week, Dorothy tried to get John to stop smoking but he said he couldn’t. 

Around 1948 the family home at Smith Road was placed on the market for sale, and they were given first refusal, but they did not fancy buying it. Eventually the house was sold to a family living close by at Viola Bank, and John and his family did a house swap moving into number seven Viola Bank, which soon after was renumbered as number one. Unfortunately, much to the surprise of John and Dorothy the family leaving Viola Bank had not communicated their intention to leave the property, or anything about doing a house swap. The first the landlord new of it was when his daughter, who lived two doors away, saw John’s family moving in. They were however quite reasonable about it, or John could have finished up homeless.

During the 1950’s John’s health began to suffer, with respiratory and stomach problems, which culminated with John developing a duodenal ulcer. When the hospital doctors placed him on a strict diet and told him to stop smoking or he would face surgery, it had the effect no amount of cigarette hiding had achieved during the war he stopped smoking immediately! The bronchitis however didn’t go away and wasn’t helped by the smog’s that were prevalent in that period. When wet smoggy weather was around John suffered, and during 1966 John was rushed into hospital twice in three weeks close to unconsciousness and recovered.

In 1972 John retired at the age of 64 which was a boon to his health he no longer had to turn out when the weather was bad, and by 1975 they had moved into a central heated flat at 39 Ridal Close, the constant temperature from the heating being another good move for his health, plus no stairs to climb.

John and Dorothy went on to enjoy many good years of motoring, dancing and holidays during their retirement, John overcoming problems with an enlarged prostate, a double hernia and bladder cancer over a ten year period. He began to find dancing too much and gave up when he was 85, by the time he was 86 his respiratory problems began to take their toll, and on the 8th May 1995 John died in The Northern General Hospital Firvale, Sheffield aged 87. His funeral service was at Stocksbridge Methodist Church, Haywoods, Deepcar and he was interred at Stocksbridge Cemetery on 16th May 1995.

The death certificate gave the cause of death as:

         1(a) Bronchopneumonia (b) Left Ventricular Failure (c) Ischameic Heart Disease

         2 Known Bladder Cancer

After John’s death, Dorothy continued with her dancing, and joined a couple of luncheon clubs to help fill the void he had left in her life, one being run by the Disabled and Severely Handicapped Group (DASH) at Deepcar village hall on a Tuesday and the other by the Good Neighbours at Balfour House on a Thursday. She had a stroke when she was 87, which took her speech for a while, but she recovered with just a slight speech impediment and a weakened wrist. About a year after the stroke she had a fall and broke her wrist, this meant she had at one time or another broken both wrists. She continued with her dancing until shortly after her 93rd birthday, when problems with vertigo forced her to give it up.

Ray Aldous 2003

John and Dorothy Aldous


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John and Dorothy Aldous around 1930


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John and Dorothy Aldous with Raymond around 1939


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John and Dorothy Aldous in the 1970's


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Barry Aldous

Last Modified : 22-01-2012 11:53 PM

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