Where you are: Living Memories - Den Stockley
  Den Stockley


The article below was produced by Keith Maiden following several interviews with Den Stockley in early 2009.

It explores a number of aspects of his life which he felt were particularly important and interesting.


Mr Stockley, affectionately known around the town as “Den Stockley” was not born in Tickhill, but in fact first moved from Brighton to Doncaster in 1953 where he was Display and Advertising manager for the Doncaster based company “Raymonds”. In addition to Raymond’s, the company also traded under the name “Bon Marche” with shops throughout the country. It was only in 1971 that he moved to Tickhill, but since that time he has been very active in the affairs of the town.

He organised a petition against the design and location of a proposed Community Centre in Tickhill as a result of which he became a town Councillor and ultimately mayor. He has researched Brass bands in the town and in the process of his research, established that from 1850 to 1945, Tickhill had a Brass Band, - two for a short period - and also a dance band. He was one of the prime organisers of two “Extravaganzas” in the town; one to mark the the 900th anniversary of Doncaster receiving it’s Royal Charter and one as part of the Millennium celebrations.

Having been made redundant in the mid 1970s and spending eighteen months un-employed, he joined an archaeological team doing restoration work on the castle. As part of this work he produced a pamphlet depicting the castle as it would have been in it’s early years and, alongside pupils from the school, produced a second pamphlet for use in the school.

Mr Stockley, along with a colleague, formed a group to investigate “unexplained events” travelling extensively in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Unfortunately, no ghosts were found in Tickhill


Having organised a successful petition against proposed Community Centre, in 1987, Mr Stockley, along with eight other members of the relatively new “Tickhill Ratepayers Association“, (the fore-runner of the Residents Association), who were also protesting against the Centre, submitted themselves for election to the Tickhill Town Council. All nine were successful and since that time, possibly uniquely, Tickhill has never had a Town Council dominated by a political party. The published primary aims of the Ratepayers Association were:-

To reduce domestic rates by prudent management.

To apply an independent (Non political) approach to Council matters.

Co-ordinate with Doncaster Metropolitan Council to ensure a fair distribution of resources.

Hold a 15 minute Public question time at the end of Council meetings.

Hold quarterly information meetings for ratepayers.

Make local planning applications public to allow public comment at the end of Council meetings.

To support local voluntary activities as far a practical.

In 1990, Mr Stockley was elected Mayor of Tickhill but eventually had to resign from the Council in 1997 due to failing eyesight. During his time on the Council, he organised two “Extravaganzas”. The first in 1990 as part of the Doncaster Festival to celebrate the 900th anniversary of Doncaster being granted a Royal Charter to hold a market. The event was held in the Bailey of Tickhill Castle and among the attractions were, the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, a demonstration of medieval Knights in battle, Morris Dancers and dancers from the Herton Group in Germany. The Elmfield Gymnasts gave a demonstration and there were numerous stalls and other attractions. The event lasted for five hours and admission was £2.00( £1.50 for children). Mr Stockley was also the Co-ordinator for a second Extravaganza to mark the Millennium; on this occasion the event was held at the Sports Ground at Tithes Lane. The event was promoted as “A Day to Remember” and involved over 200 performers. Featured among these were, the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment - a notable capture considering the band’s international reputation and the size of Tickhill - and the Nottingham Police Pipe Band. The event lasted almost six hours and ended at 7.15pm with the two bands playing a short concert concluding with the Evening Hymn and Sunset. A Millennium plaque was designed by Mr Stockley and Mr Gordon Armstrong and is to be found against the wall close to the Parish Rooms. Unfortunately, in it’s present position the plaque can be easily overlooked and it is perhaps a task for a future Council to consider a more suitable site.



In the late 1970s Mr Stockley, after around 18 months of being unemployed, applied for and was selected to work on an archaeological project to carry out restoration work Tickhill Castle. As part of this work, the bailey and motte were cleared, the curtain walls repaired and the surrounding trees thinned. Much of the work was done by unemployed youths from Maltby and Harworth, supplied by the Manpower Services Commission.. As part of their training, they built a retaining wall to stabilise part of the mound and during this work, they were taught to use the type of mortar originally used when the castle was first built. Mr Stockley’s role was part supervisory but also to prepare exact three dimensional drawings of all significant parts of the castle uncovered during the restoration. These included the foundations of a room at the top of the mound, complete with evidence of a fireplace and an 85 ft deep well. There is also evidence of two ice houses, which would be filled with ice from the surrounding moat and used to store food. It was established that a Jean de Valois was imprisoned in the room above the gate house. Mr Stockley also produced pamphlets showing how the castle would have looked originally , complete with descriptions of the main features. He produced a similar pamphlet involving children from the St Mary’s School. Today the castle is owned by English Heritage and the house rented out to a private individual.



In his younger days, Mr Stockley played in three brass bands in his native Sussex and on moving to Yorkshire, he played in the Markham Main Colliery Band; at the time, one of the top five brass bands in the country. He also played with other more junior bands.. His primary instrument was the trombone, but he also played cornet and on occasion, percussion. He also played alongside a former member of the “Tickhill Jubilee Band” while playing with the Harworth Colliery Band. For many years, Mr Stockley has arranged band and choir concerts in the town. This interest in Brass Banding, led him to research the history of brass bands in Tickhill and in particular, the Tickhill Jubilee Brass Band.

The first record of a Tickhill based band refers to the Tickhill Troop Band - the band of an army troop based in Tickhill- parading in Doncaster during the celebration of Cavalry Week in 1850. A few years later the Tickhill Victoria Band was formed, giving it’s first concert in the “Concert Room” in Northgate in 1866 under the direction of a Mr Thomas Watson, a barber who lived in Westgate. This band continued until late ‘86 but was soon succeeded in 1887 with the formation of the Tickhill Jubilee Brass Band, which remained in active existence until the outbreak of World War 2.

In 1887 the Tickhill “Local Government Board” decided that though only a small town, Tickhill should organise it’s own celebration of the forthcoming jubilee of Queen Victoria. It spite of advertising for a brass band to play at events over the two days of the celebration, for the fee of £10.00, it became clear that all local bands had commitments to their own communities. Several previous members of the former Victoria Band proposed to the Board that if the Board would provide money to buy the instruments, the players would be found. This was agreed, - Doncaster Archives contain the minutes of the two Committee meetings which decided this - the Board purchasing most of the instruments but two cornets were purchased by Mr Wright, who lived at the Castle and by the local doctor, Dr G G Philips. This band of around 13 musicians, was conducted by the former conductor of the Victoria Band , Mr Watson. Though the instruments were not called in after the event, they remained the property of the town. One amusing minute states “Tom Clarkson persisted in soliciting funds for what he called a “Jubilee Side Drum” after he had been distinctly warned not to do so on two occasions. ....... the committee minutes show that it was” carried unanimously that the Chairman do call on the father requesting him to stop his son continuing the collection” !

The newly formed band gave worthy performances over the two days of the Jubilee celebration. It is interesting to note that the Jubilee Celebration was such a large event for such a small community to organise, that sub-committees of the Executive committee were formed, including a “Ham Committee”, a Finance Committee”, a “Meat Committee” and even a “Pudding Committee”. Sixty local ladies volunteered to make plum puddings for “The Treat“. More than1000 adults attended the special meal in a marquee 77yards long and 38ft wide. Residents of Wadworth, Stancil and Wellingly were also invited. On the second day over 800 children enjoyed a High Tea followed by sports in the afternoon.

Many concerts were played for charities, notably the “Infirmary Demonstrations” and in fact the first Saturday in May became known as “Infirmary Saturday” in Doncaster, when bands from all over the area led the processions. Parades and church services became regular engagements for the band, including “Hospital Egg Day” at the Methodist Church. The many venues at which the band played, particularly at Christmas, included the Castle, the Friary, Hesley Hall, Sandrock House, Tickhill House and Westgarth. They also played for the August bank Holiday Athletics Meeting and at the Wadworth May Day Celebrations. It is recalled that for King George’s Jubilee Celebration in 1935, the band “played all day from 6.30 am” !

Over the years the band used various Practice Rooms. These included, the warehouse behind Mr Clarkson’s Grocery Store in Westgate, behind Mr Alderson’s shop in Sunderland Street, and in the “Club Room” (now demolished) adjacent to the Carpenters Arms. This room became known as the “Band Room” though auctions were also held there. From there, the band moved to an upstairs room behind the Cycle Shop in Castle Gate, opposite St Mary’s Gate. (This room was later used by the Tickhill Conservatives.) Mr George Hodkin recalled a father and son from Firbeck taking over the Three Crowns public house. Both were brass players with the father being a brilliant cornet player, able to “triple tongue” with ease and hit impossibly high notes with no apparent effort. He was so good other players would stop to listen to him.

The band ran into difficulties when Mr Watson resigned “for various reasons” and formed his own band “The Tickhill United Band”. This band continued playing for several years, during which time the rivalry between the two bands was fierce. Two Clarkson brothers played with the Jubilee Band and in 1896, “Charlie” Thomas Clarkson was appointed Bandmaster. The Clarkson connection with the band was to last for the next 37 years.

One of Thomas Clarkson’s sons became an accomplished musician, playing a variety of instruments and founded a grocery business in Westgate. He built a warehouse behind the shop which was from then on used as a band practice room. A second son, Charles Thomas Clarkson, studied the theory of music and composed and arranged many pieces for the band. (He composed a hymn to be played at his funeral, but died before it could be played or titled. It was subsequently scored for full band by Captain Peter Sumner, MBE, was appropriately titled “Westgate” and was played at the Doncaster Annual Christmas Concert in 1994; all four of his grandchildren were there to hear it). Both his sons, Joseph and Terrence played in the band, the latter standing in as conductor during his fathers many illnesses. (A euphonium player in the band in it’s early years, had the unusual name of “Parry Godley“ who is buried in St Mary‘s churchyard. The name inscribed on the headstone is even more unusual; “Messiah Paris Godley” Mr Stockley’s research uncovered that he was born in Paris in 1871 at the end of the Franco-Prussian war. As government troops re-entered Paris on 24th May 1871, driving out and crushing the communists, “Parry” was born. His mother heard a choir in the square below their lodgings singing music from Handel’s “Messiah”. “Parry” had his full name, Messiah Paris Godley.) The numbers in the band varied, but by 1923, membership of the band had reached 27 players.

Joseph Godley was not only a talented trombonist but also played piano in yet another Tickhill Band, “The Imperial Dance Band” This band played for many dances around the area including in the Dance Hall above the Co-Op Buildings in Castlegate. Joseph was also the organist in the small church at Hesley Hall before and during the early war years.

After the war ended in 1945, in spite of much effort by Joseph Clarkson, and Charlie Winfrey, (Secretary and Treasurer for many years), the Jubilee Band never re-formed. The Clarkson tradition lived on however, with one of Joseph’s grandchildren, playing the cornet in the Western Band of the RAF. (The instruments of the Jubilee band had been stored in an outhouse at the Royal Oak pub where the landlord was a descendant of the Clarksons. However, when found, they had deteriorated beyond repair).

( For a more detailed history of the Jubilee Band, complete with photographs, membership, engagements and copies of the accounts, see booklet produced by Mr Stockley. Click here - Large file which will take some time to download)



The following memories of Tickhill were told to Mr Stockley as he researched the bands and though not related to that subject, are of interest.

A Mrs Ashmore recalled the funeral of Mr E A T Wright (eat right !)who was the tenant of the Castle at that time. As the coffin was being carried from the house, over the bailey to the gatehouse, his widow realised that he was still wearing his gold cufflinks. The coffin was immediately lowered onto the grass, the lid removed, the cufflinks recovered and the lid replaced, before progress continued to the church.

Mrs Ashmore also recalled that the local doctor, Dr G G Philips would travel to the local “aristocracy” in a handsome pony and trap, whereas the “other doctor”, for the peasants travelled by bike !

A Mr Brooksbank of Sandrock farm was a very small man with a very high pitched voice. One day he said to his hired hand “ come back and see me at the end of the day, I have some drawers for you”. So the labourer duly went back to the farm at the end of the day, pushing a robust handcart, to pick up the promised chest of drawers, only to find that he was given a pair of “drawers” (trousers).

Many people recalled Tuby’s Annual Fair at the Market Cross. A Mr George Hodkin remembered how the tougher lads in the town would be offered free rides on the Round-about in return for having worked the Market pump. This was used to supply the water to keep the celluloid balls aloft at the Shooting Gallery.



Yet another interest of Mr Stockley is para-psychology. In the mid 1960s, along with a Mr Ken Turner, he formed a group, originally meeting in the Doncaster Museum, using the acronym SPRU” (Spontaneous Phenomena Research Unit). This group investigated around fifty alleged “sightings”, unexplained “events”, mainly in the South Yorkshire area but as far afield as North Yorkshire and Lancashire. On one occasion, after giving a lecture at Lancaster University, a group of students asked Mr Stockley and Mt Turner if they would stay over a while to answer more questions; they did, but only got away in time to see the dawn rising in Doncaster as they returned around 5.00am. When pressed, Mr Stockley estimated that mere than 90% of all cases could be explained; however, up to 10% defied any rational explanation, despite exhaustive investigation and conjecture. No evidence of ghosts was found in Tickhill. !




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