Childhood memories crowd my day,
At night my dreams replay.
Events of early century,
These simple rhymes portray.
Doris Darbyshire, nee Whitfield, was born in Wigan in 1900. She was the youngest daughter of Francis Whitfield, a railway guard, and Elizabeth Harrison. Doris had two sisters, Sarah (Sally) and Ellen (Nelly). Sarah was Francis’ daughter by his second wife. Doris grew up in Wigan’s Poolstock neighbourhood where she attended the St. James parish school. In 1929 she married John Darbyshire at St. James Church. The couple eventually moved to Swinton where they raised their son, Francis. Shortly after John died Doris moved to Blackpool to be closer to her sister Nellie. She lived in Blackpool for the rest of her life.
Doris had a lifelong interest in composing poems. In her later years she wrote and/or compiled a collection of verses that recalled the people, periods and events of her past life. In all, Doris compiled more than thirty verses, which she typed up and bound and distributed to interested friends and relatives.
Most of this delightful anthology is reproduced here. We have taken the editorial liberty of grouping them into four categories:
Reading Doris’s verses informs us not only of her life and times but also about Doris herself. She led a happy childhood. Family, church and community were important to her. She paid attention to the social order of things such as church and societal pecking orders. Above all Doris had a keen, light-hearted sense of humour that comes through over and over again in her verses.
For a more complete biography of Doris Whitfield–Darbyshire and members of her family, visit our family history website.
While we have made every effort to reproduce Doris’s verses as she wrote them we have taken some liberties to change names and places in the interests of safeguarding the privacy of Doris’s descendants.
If you have any comments or observations on Doris’s verses, or can shed any additional light on the subjects they deal with, please contact us at email@example.com.
Of particular interest are nine verses that recount Doris’s memories of growing up in Poolstock in the early part of the 20th century. Poolstock was a working class neighbourhood. Its skyline was (and still is) dominated by huge textile mills. Its row houses, which have since been demolished, housed mill workers, coal miners, tradesmen and their families. Taken together Doris’s verses paint a vivid picture of that time and place: the people, the parish, the events that Doris still remembered so well 80 years on.
The remaining four verses tell us about important annual events on the Wigan and Poolstock social calendar.
Doris wrote a several verses that described aspects of her later life with her husband John (aka J.D.) and son, Francis. Some of these verses also recount Doris experiences in her later years following John’s death in the 1960s.
A number of Doris’s verses were written about, for, or by children, including her grandchildren and their neighbourhood friends. These include:
Most of Doris’s verses are factual recollections of people, places, and events. However several verses have a more creative bent and, in some cases, give us a glimpse of Doris’s innermost feelings.
Copyright Doris Darbyshire