Graham Dawson

Thriller Thursday – Graham Dawson – Lucky to be Alive

I have previously posted about my dad being struck by lightning here. This was a brief article in the local newspaper in Clitheroe, Lancashire from 2000 looking back at events that happened fifty years earlier.

As the archives for the Clitheroe Advertiser & Times have recently been added to the British Newspaper Archive website I can now share with you the original newspaper report from 1950.

The following article appeared in the Clitheroe Advertiser & Times on 25 August 1950.

Graham Dawson - Clitheroe Advertisr & Times - 25 August 1950.png


A small zig-zag burn above his left eye and a splitting headache are the legacy of a flash of lightning which make 20 year old Mr Graham Dawson who lives at 102, Whalley Road, one of the luckiest people in Clitheroe this week.

Standing on the front doorstep watching Wednesday’s severe thunderstorm, Graham saw a brilliant flash and then went blind.

He stumbled back into the lobby of the house and tried to shout for help but could not speak. Thinking he had gone an errand Mrs Johnson, daughter of Mr and Mrs Musgrove, occupiers of the house, went to the front door and found Graham in a state of collapse.

She shouted to her mother and together they supported him, but his sight did not return so they led him to a chair in the living room.

Mrs Musgrove then ran to inform her husband who works at the Sun Street Mill and he immediately telephoned for the Doctor.

He was attended by Doctor J H Fairweather and within half an hour his sight had completely returned though there was a slight swelling on his forehead and red mark.

Mrs Musgrove said Graham, who was a farm worker, was already convalescing following an operation for appendicitis.

At the time he went to the front door Graham was wearing wellington boots and it was undoubtedly that fact that saved him from more serious injury.

Seen by an “Advertiser and Times” reporter yesterday afternoon, Graham said he went straight to bed after the doctor had been and apart from a bad headache and shock he did not feel any the worse for his remarkable experience.

Funnily enough I thought I’d read the first line of this newspaper report before – but I just couldn’t recall where. Then it came to me in a “flash”. Perhaps the following extract will help you:-

As a souvenir of a traumatic event he would never remember, the boy’s forehead bore the zig-zag of a scar, the only wound that the murderer could inflict on the infant.

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So there is the proof – my dad and his zig-zag burn became the inspiration for a certain boy wizard by the name of Harry Potter.


Sunday Snap – Dad and his dumper

This is a photograph of my dad, Graham Dawson, taken sometime in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s.  It is taken at one of two locations and I can’t be sure which one it is.

My dad met my mother (Alice Musgrove) when he lived and worked in Clitheroe, Lancashire.  He was employed for a time at the local quarry where he was a “dumper” driver.  My mother tells the story that my dad named his “dumper” Alice – I’m sure that must have been out of some sort of affection for her (my mother that is).

The other possibility is that the photograph was taken when he worked at the Barnbow site in Leeds.  I don’t know what his job was but I understand that he drove a “dumper” there as well.

Barnbow was originally built as a munitions factory during the First World War – this is quite apt as we have just been to see a preview showing of the film War Horse which is set during WW1.

Treasure Chest Thursday – Diamond Wedding Anniversary

Saturday 4th August 1951 – Alice Musgrove and Graham Dawson married at the Parish Church of St. James, in Clitheroe, Lancashire.

So today would have been their diamond wedding anniversary.  Sadly dad passed away in 2008 so there will be no anniversary celebrations – and he really enjoyed a good old “knees up”.  However it is still a time to remember and mark the special day.

Alice and Graham were married at 2.00pm.  The witnesses were Harry Dawson (dad’s brother – see yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday photograph) and Elsie Bartlett (mum’s best friend).  There were four bridesmaids and a page boy

The reception for 77 guests was held at the Craven Heifer Hotel on Whalley Road, Clitheroe.

As was the case for many couples in those days mum and dad took their honeymoon in Blackpool – about thirty six miles away.

The country was still in the post war ration era and you can see from the hotel confirmation  (below) that mum and dad were required to take with them their complete ration books (with points), tea coupons and their own soap & towels.

Mum has kept all the paperwork related to the wedding and this has now been scanned and preserved as part of my digital treasure chest.

On this day … 4th August

1866 … Esther Dawson and Pearson Holmes married at St. Andrew’s church in Kildwick, West Yorkshire.  Esther is my 2x great grand aunt.

1951 … My parents Graham Dawson and Alice Musgrove were married at St. James’s church in Clitheroe, Lancashire.

Amanuensis Monday – Graham Dawson in court

This amanuensis post is not solely about my dad. However, he was a central character in the events that took place before the Court of Summary Jurisdiction at Clitheroe Borough Police Court on 28th September 1950

At the time my dad, Graham Dawson, had been working for a local farmer called Harry Crabtree. His jobs included milking and delivering milk by horse and cart.

According to the newspaper article my dad lived on the farm but at some point Mr Crabtree “decided he could dispense with his services” and he was just sacked.

I’m not sure how things developed after that, but at some point the Ministry of Agriculture decided to prosecute Mr Crabtree under the Agricultural Wages Act 1948 for failing to pay the minimum rate of wages.

There is a section missing from the bottom of the first column of the newspaper article but you can still get a good idea of what went on at the hearing.

I don’t know whether my dad was a willing participant in the proceedings or not as he was served with a witness summons (below) on 3rd August 1950.

According to the newspaper report my dad worked for Mr Crabtree from October 1947 until April 1950 and wasn’t paid the correct rate of pay for overtime.

The Ministry of Agriculture said “the claim could extend back for a period of two years but the prosecution was brought in respect of the failure to comply with the Orders for a week in February and one in March this year”.

Mr Crabtree pleaded guilty to “technical offences”. His solicitor said that “the pamphlets issued by the Ministry were very complicated” although he “ thought the principle for payment for overtime was generally understood by members of the farming community”.

He went on to say that “a farmers job is to milk and look after his cattle and not to read pamphlets issued by the Ministry”. He also suggested that it was difficult for farmers :to keep check of times of starting, finishing and dinner hours etc.”.

It seems as though an agreement had been reached between the parties concerned and the The Magistrates made an order for repayment of £53 10s. 4d.

So, willing participant or not, it looks like a good outcome for my dad. I’m not too sure what Mr Crabtree made of it – but I think I can guess.

On this day … 2nd May

1810 … Jonas Snowden was born to parents Joseph Snowden and Ellen Jackson. He is the 1st cousin 1x removed of the wife of my 2nd great grand uncle.

1930 … Graham Dawson was born at Brinsworth, Rotherham, South Yorkshire. His parents were Joseph Dawson and Alice Hurtley. Graham is my dad.

On this day…..9th April

1654 … James Hurtley was born in Kirkby Malhamdale, North Yorkshire.  He was my 6x great grandfather

1772 … Ann Wigglesworth was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.  She was the great grandmother of the husband of my 3rd cousin 2x removed

1896 … Alice Maud Hardcastle was born in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire.  She was the sister in law of my 4th cousin 1x removed

2008 … my dad Graham Dawson died in Leeds, West Yorkshire

Fearless Females: Blog Posts to Celebrate Women’s History Month

March 5 — How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

My parents Graham Dawson and Alice Musgrove first met in October 1948.  My dad was a Yorkshireman from Brinsworth near Rotherham in South Yorkshire.  My mum was from Clitheroe in Lancashire.

Alice Musgrove - age 17

Alice was out with her friend, Dorothy Peel, when they saw Graham with his horse and float delivering milk.  Dorothy already knew my dad and stopped to have a chat with him.

A couple of nights later my mum had gone to the Palladium picture house in Clitheroe with another friend, Elsie Bartlett – my mum says that she can’t remember what they went to see. In what seems to be a coincidence my dad and his pal, Wilmot Parkinson, went to the same picture house and sat behind Alice and Elsie.  My mum doesn’t know if my dad recognised her from their brief meeting a few days earlier.

I’m not sure how much of the film they actually saw because my dad kept pulling my mum’s head scarf off and generally teasing and tormenting her.  My mum threatened to tell the cinema manager if he didn’t stop – well, he didn’t and she did.

It seems that my dad delivered milk to the cinema manager and therefore they knew each other.  So rather than being thrown out for being a nuisance he got a rather half hearted ticking off and was told to behave himself.  Round one to Graham I think.

After the picture finished Graham and Wilmot walked behind Alice and Elsie all the way home.  In another act of teenage bravado my dad apparently said to Alice that he would meet her outside the Grand picture house in Clitheroe later in the week.

My mum says that she was undecided whether or not to go but in the end she decided that she would – but she tried to play it cool by deliberately arriving late.  When she got there Graham wasn’t waiting outside.  So my mum decided to go in to the cinema and my dad was already inside.

After the film finshed they went to the October Fair – and never looked back.

They were engaged in September 1949 and married in August 1951.

I’ve asked my mum if she knows anything about how her parents or grandparents met but unfortunately she doesn’t.

Luckiest man alive?

All the torrential rain and flooding in Cornwall recently prompted me to dig out the newspaper clipping below.  This is an extract from the local paper in Clitheroe (Lancashire) published in 2000.  This particular piece looks back 50 years to 1950.  My dad, Graham Dawson (1930-2008) gets a mention – perhaps his first claim to fame.

To say my dad was a bit accident prone is perhaps an understatement.  Mind you the accidents were not always his fault.  However, enough for now – I will post again about my dad and mishaps.