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.
1 - SUMMARY.
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
2 - CIVIC ACTIVITIES.
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
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
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.
3 - RESTORATION OF THE CASTLE
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
4 - THE TICKHILL BANDS.
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
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
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
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
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
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
5 - OTHER MEMORIES OF OLD TICKHILL.
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
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.
6 - PARA-PSYCHOLOGY.
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. !