Info 5a2, Donald Cranswick Biog Close info Window


My parents Edith Crompton of Bridlington, East Yorkshire and Donald Cranswick, were married in the Anglican Holy Trinity church 23rd February 1924.

My father DC had been badly wounded while serving with the NZ forces in 1916/17 and was invalided back to Rotorua Hospital 1918 with a large wound to the upper left leg and spent 3 months there before a doctor said he would run a hot bath and look at it. He (Dad) put his left leg in the bath and felt nothing, but when he put his right leg in, he hit the roof with shock. That, in turn, gave him back the slow use of his big and little toes, so he recuperated and gradually got a job as farm manager of 5,000 acres belonging to Malcolm Orr about 1922 called Maungakiore(Black Rat), Waingake and had a large river to cross 4 times to get in and out.

Dad was the 2nd youngest brother of 10 boys and 4 girls, brought up at Field House, Scarborough, just north of Bridlington. Both my grandparents bred stud Clydesdale horses and Border Leister stud sheep, so they knew each other at stock fairs.

Grandpa Thomas Crompton became Regional Controller of all the food supplies for East Yorkshire and had to get around on horses only. He was evidently very able. He had to provide a home for his mother, brothers and sisters and provide for his own family of 3 girls and 2 boys as his father had died at about 48 yrs. At the same time, he ran and managed 5 farms.

I went to Little Houndales (about 180 acres) and Greater Houndales (nearly 300 acres) next door and Roger Parkin my cousin, took us there and we saw 2 other farms.
The new owners (Fosters on Little Houndales) were indirectly related, as his wife was a Cranswick, and they had 3 sons all milking by hand at 10am.

Dad came out to NZ in early 1916 with Tony (a cartoonist who died in battle). Ted (Edwin) and Mick (Alan - Tolaga Bay). NZ had just declared war so they all joined up and retrained at Aldershot in the South of England and were in the Somme, Ypres and Passchendaele.

The Cranswick had a governess to teach them from the age of 5 or 6 to 15 and then were sent to Alton Boys High School; as dear as Eton, for 1 year to learn to be gentlemen. Dad won 16 prizes at school but was only allowed to receive 3 so picked a cricket bat, hockey stick and something else.
They worked on the farm of Fieldhouse, about 140 acres until this year at school and then had to fend for themselves, so 4 came to NZ together.

During the WW1, the Germans came in close to Scarborough with big naval guns and elevated and fired at it but the shells flew over the top into fields and did no damage. Later, Fieldhouse was pulled down, so no longer exists but Granny Cranswick was a very good artist and gave each of her children one or two big oils; hence the artistic talent different in each generation.
My father created birds, toys, laminated bowls etcplus teaching himself gravo-graph writing on cups - with round surfaces. I wrote the Pututahi School Jubilee book, engraved, photographed, old English headings etc in 1953 and loved drawing and painting at school. I couldn't sing in key or tune but became Dux at Te Karaka DHS in 1936/7 with a gold Maltese Cross - Kirsty has it.

In 1923 he (Dad) worked with Malcolm Orr and was made manager. He married very early in 1924 and mum had a very difficult time at my birth as I came feet first after a very long labour and we settled in Maungakiore. Evidently there was running underground water under the homestead - a big house but it crippled Mum so much that they lived in the shearers' quarters.
Edith must have been quite striking as she had auburn hair with a fair streak through the middle and green eyes plus a very English skin like delicate peach, but she couldn't sweat so she suffered in the hot weather, often over 100 degrees F. Heather and I inherited Mum's green eyes, but Fay's were blue as were Dad's. he had a dark skin like all the Cranswick
At Bridlington where she later went to boarding school, she played hockey on the sand, was trained as an opera singer, played the piano, took an active part in V, A, D and volunteer work during the war, had a good education along with Vera Brittain of Wuthering Heights fame. Beatrix Potter was her cousin (Peter Rabbit etc.) and we went to North Scotland in Findhorn, a wonderful place with Kirsty driving us in her Ford Fiesta new car from Barclay's Bank her employer in 1984.

We took over Takipu farm of 200 acres mortgaged for 2,000 pounds in 1928. Murray Roberts of Gisborne stock brokers, also held the stock mortgage. We struck the slump in 1931-4 and later our stock got facial eczema in 1936 badly. However, we also struck severe droughts 1930 and 1934 so were always understocked and got by driving all our stock down to the Waipaoa River at the end of ours and Pitchers ' Lane, daily. We also must have paid back about 200 pounds a year and by 1937 only owed 200 pounds, plus the stock mortgage.

Murray Roberts was controlled by the Catholic Church in the background. In 1937 the Labour Government got in and offered us the opportunity to finish the mortgage of 200 pounds which we accepted, but they foreclosed and said "yes you have paid your mortgage, but we own the stock. Goodbye", so we lost everything.
Dad found 10 acres of hill country on Shelley Road Mangapapa over Barker's Hill at the end of Balance St, worked as an insurance agent and later a Common Shelton's rep to grow and purchase maize, pumpkins and other seeds to send to England to replace their war losses and they moved to 463 Palmerston Rd after 3 years at Shelley Rd, where I fenced the bottom wire on 3 sides round the boundary, ran 2 cows, 2 calves, 2 piglets, Dad's dogs, 20 chooks, basket willow to provide wood in winter and set up a tripod to put in a 28ft bore as the steady 4 ft wide creek water was useless as it always had seepage oil from quakes etc. and stock wouldn't touch it. We also had 20 to 30 sheep to graze the 10 acres. I had a good market garden and sold produce locally, used all the eggs, milk, butter(homemade), vegies, wood, manure etc.. It meant pumping 500 gallons of water a day into tanks for stock, walking over a sloping shell impregnated concrete lead into the bridge built on 2 stringers over the creek - very slippery and dangerous if wet, but I kept going at school for catching up on subjects for 1 1/2 years.

Te Karaka D.H.S. taught Botany, different Math’s, French, English and History and Geography and I had to learn new French, Science, Maths etc. but did it and came out in 5A Upper where Robin had progressed as a year younger at G.H.S.
1. Dad also had a bullet hit his cartridge belt and a bullet exploded as shrapnel and came out in his neck area 25 years later.

2. We made a slow steady stream of income by importing Dictator, a stud Australian heading silent dog and bred from 3 bitches at intervals, pups which I had to feed in the woolshed grating for cleanliness, exercise every day by running up a hill, climbing a fence post and balancing on top for several minutes so that the pups couldn't nip my legs, jersey(handknitted) etc. and roam around the scrub. Then I would run down the hill with up to 22 pups yelping after me in hot pursuit. Bail them up, feed and water them, clean out old bones, etc. Dictator was 3rd in the North Island Trials and his progeny came 2nd and he often made 4 pounds a week out of prizes at dog trials and more than paid running expenses. it was a hard life - up at 6 am, no pay or entertainment, lots of homework but I had to be fit and energetic. Meantime Heather attended school. We had no pocket money and in order to get a bit, we plucked dead sheep and sold the wool for 7s 6d a large bag once a year and shared that.

3. At one stage in their marriage Mr. and Mrs. John Cranswick were thrown out of a trap by their horse which fell on its side with the overturning of their trap. This broke Grandpa Cranswick's leg and the only thing he could do was to lie on the horse's head to prevent it kicking and killing Grandma Cranswick who lay unconscious on the ground until help finally arrived. After that Grandpa's leg didn't heal properly so was gammy. Grandpa was about 60 and she was about 58 but they both died about 65 as far as I know. At one stage I counted my cousins and there were 50 so we are widespread. I have cousins in England, East Africa, NZ, Australia and Canada and Dad had cousins in Vancouver, New Foundland, Australia - 2 Bishops and the head of AMP and their sons are scientists, doctors and nuclear physicists, Sth Africa - Canon and clergy. In 1982 I was forced to have a pocket in my throat removed by a doctor as I could neither drink nor swallow because of it, through microsurgery. Heather had the same 50 odd years ago and all they did was cut her from ear to ear and remove it after charging 3,000 pounds and feeding her on ice-cream only, but it saved her life. Since then I have found that the same pocket first killed my grandmother, Charlotte Cranswick, and later my father Donald, when he was 78 and slowly starved as he couldn't swallow, so is a family heirloom in a sense. A nephew also has it. I've had 11 major operations since but at over 91 years, it is tough.

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Updated 30th aMay 2018
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