My grandmother, Clara Fraser nee Green

Clara pic 1
Not sure when this picture was taken, but it could have been for Clara’s 21st birthday in 1915. I have the cameo brooch she is wearing.

I only had one set of surviving grandparents when I was growing up – my Yorkshire grandmother Clara and my Aberdeenshire grandfather James (Jim) – and for much of my childhood we lived fairly close by in Leeds, so I remember them well and fondly.

My grandmother Clara was a jolly person, always smiling and laughing. She was a good cook and loved making meals and baking treats for her family, as well as excellent jam from the strawberries and raspberries my grandfather grew on his allotment. Her Yorkshire Pudding was as it should be – light and fluffy, but crisp around the edges. She adored her grandchildren, kept a supply of sweets in her handbag, and loved family get-togethers and days out.

Her life was focused on family, home and neighbours: she knew everyone who lived nearby and was friends with lots of them, as well as being close to her nearby brothers and sisters. Her mother lived in the same street after being widowed in 1925, so for over 25 years Clara and her mother were close neighbours.

My grandmother’s death in 1965 from a stroke, at the age of 71, came as a huge shock to us all. She was, and still is, very much missed.

Clara pic 2
My grandmother Clara with myself as a youngster and my mother

Clara Green was born on 29 July 1894 at Spark Lane, Mapplewell – which I’ve been to see – and at the time her carpenter father was working as a cart repairer at a nearby colliery. Clara was the fourth of eleven children born to Joseph Green and Charlotte Senior, nine of whom survived childhood. She lost her sister Charlotte in 1905 and baby Albert died in 1911.

In around 1899 the family left the Barnsley area, where both Joseph and Charlotte came from, and moved to Leeds, living for a few years in Hope Grove, Armley, in a house which has since been demolished. They are there in the 1901 census, Clara age 6 and her father a carpenter. Her father can be found on the electoral roll at 3 Hope Grove from 1900 to 1904. In May 1904, however, Clara’s parents had their youngest three children baptised at St Stephen’s, Kirkstall, and their address at that time was Stack Cottages, Abbey Road, Kirkstall and on the 1905 electoral roll Clara’s father is at a dwelling house at Kirkstall Forge – most probably he was working there as a carpenter.

In 1906, however, Joseph Green is on the electoral roll at 7 Vicarage Avenue, Kirkstall, the house in which Clara was to spend nearly all her life. In about 1911 the Green family moved to the bottom of the street and took a larger house at 48 Station Parade, Kirkstall – with nine children and a lodger, they must have needed the extra room. By then Clara was sixteen and working at a nearby mill as a cotton spinner. I’m not sure which mill it would have been, as there were a number of mills along the banks of the River Aire, which formed one of the borders of the parish of Kirkstall. The family moved back into 7 Vicarage Avenue in 1915, and that is the address Clara’s father gave when he did army service with the Royal Engineers at Aldershot during the war.

In November 1916 my grandfather, James Fraser of the Gordon Highlanders, was wounded during the Battle of the Somme – he was shot through the left wrist. He was sent to an army hospital that had been set up at the teacher training college at Beckett’s Park, which bordered Kirkstall. On his discharge from the army in 1917 he decided to stay in Leeds and attend a government sponsored training course in order to become a qualified painter and decorator, and he took lodgings at Vicarage View, Kirkstall. James and Clara met, and on 19 July 1919 they were married at St Stephen’s Church, Kirkstall.

Wedding day studio photograph of James Fraser and Clara Green

James and Clara first set up home at 2 Springfield Terrace, Kirkstall, where their eldest daughter Marjorie was born, but moved into 7 Vicarage Avenue in about 1921 when Clara’s parents moved house. My mother, James and Clara’s second daughter Dorothy, was born at 7 Vicarage Avenue in October 1921.

Clara was to stay in that house for the rest of her life, and she was a housewife, mother and grandmother, except for a short time during the war when she worked in the packing department of Timothy White’s, a chain of chemists. I suspect she was glad when her war effort was over and she could go back to the life she loved, looking after her family.

5 responses to “My grandmother, Clara Fraser nee Green

  1. I came across your post whilst searching for ‘Stack Cottages’ in Kirkstall. In 1896 my ancestors were living there, I wonder if they were neighbours! My GG Grandfather was Thomas Cracknell and his wife was Elizabeth. Prior to this they also lived at Springfield Terrace (in 1890) but they lived at number 8. Did your family work at the forge in Kirkstall? if you have any insights i would love to hear them!

    • Hi Rosie and welcome to the blog. I’ve posted about my great grandfather today, as his birthday was in January. He was at Stack Cottages from some time between 1901 and 1904 up until 1905. I’m not sure but I think they were to cottages located near the gates to Kirkstall Forge, and were let to employees. My great grandfather was a carpenter and joiner, and used to work at a colliery repairing wagons, etc.down near Barnsley, so I assume he worked as some kind of carpenter and maintenance man at Kirkstall Forge. By the time WW1 broke out he was working for the building company Henry Lax. My grandparents then lived in Springfield Terrace when they married in 1919, and my aunt was born there.

      I remember Kirkstall well as my grandparents lived there up until my grandmother died in the 1960s. My mother was brought up there and had lots of memories of it. It was a pretty close community where everyone knew everyone else! My mother was heavily involved in activities based around St Stephen’s church when she was young, and my grandfather did a few years as President of the Kirkstall Working Men’s Club in the 1950s.

      Although I’ve moved around a fair bit, I’ve been back in Leeds for quite a long time now and am not all that far from Kirkstall. Are you local? I’m afraid they ruined Kirkstall village with ill thought out redevelopment projects in the 60s and 70s, and it has yet to recover. Such a shame.

      Lovely to hear form you,

  2. Hi, Came across the blog today. I have an Eliza Brier died there November 1916. She was married to Thomas William Brier, locomotive driver. Don’t know much about him, except that he worked in a large forge. So I was very, VERY, interested in your information. Thanks, Janette

    • In my excitement, I forgot to say Eliza died at Stack Cottage!.

    • Hi Janette

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Great to find out about another family who lived at Stack Cottage – not sure show long my great grandparents were there but I don’t think it was long, as the only time the address crops up is on the baptism record for one of their children in 1903. They’d moved from there by 1907.

      The forge will have been Kirkstall Forge – covered a very large area and has an interesting history, as it goes back to 12th century when it was run by the monks of Kirkstall Abbey. It’s closed now and the site is going to be redeveloped.

      I’m not sure where exactly Stack Cottage was. It may well have been owned by the forge, as I know my great grandfather worked for the forge when he first moved to Kirkstall.


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