William Allen

On Saturday night Mr. William Allen, the oldest inhabitant of Malton, died at his home in Ryder-sq., at the advanced age of 97. Although known to Maltonians as "Wharram" Allen, a name which would seem to imply that he came from the Wold village nearby, Mr. Allen was born in a cottage in Newbiggin, Malton, on 12 January, 1826. Married at the early age of 23 years, he had a family go twelve children, six of whom - three sons and three daughters - are still living. Twenty-four grandchildren also survive him, and though the number of his great-grandchildren is uncertain, there at at least 36 of them. Many of his grandsons served in the great war, a fact of which he was very proud, and the memory of one of these is preserved on the town's war memorial. His memory, of course, went back to the last European war in which this country engaged - the gap tragedy of the Crimea. His chief recollection of that war was that of the hardships entailed on the home population. In an interview, published in 1916, he said "Meat and clothes were very dear and living different from what it is now. Working folk had a rare hard struggle, but we got on somehow, and I don't know but what working folks reared their families as well as they do now." His remembrances of old times in Malton on the occasion of this interview were very interesting. "There is not half of the trade and work now that there was in the old days. Why, a man need not have been out of work if he wanted it then. A man could earn 7s or 8s a day at some jobs. Then you see farmers from all over the district used to bring their corn, and wool, and other things they had to sell into Malton. I can remember the big wool vans that used to come in from as far as Whitby loaded with wool, and going on to York and other places. I think they belonged to a firm called Pickfords, and they had six horses yoked in them. They mostly put up at the Sun Inn, which was kept by Mr. John Nelson in those days. I've seen as many as six and seven of these big vans loaded with wool standing at the front of the Sun. Then, you know a lot of fish carts used to come through Malton from Whitby and Scarborough and other coast towns. Then there were 90 vessels that used to come up to Malton on the Derwent in those days. They were loaded with coals mostly, and would carry from 20 to 25 tons each. Malton men used to empty them, and then fill them again with barley and corn. We used to start work emptying the vessels about 12 o'clock at night, and finish about four next afternoon. I have earned as much as 11s and 12s a day at this work. When they were loaded with barley the vessels went on to Wakefield. It was a bad job for Malton when the vessels ceased to come up the Derwent. Malton has never been the same since. If the traffic was allowed to come up the river Malton would be one of the best business towns in the country." "Then the Malton hotels had a lot of trade with the stage coaches which came through from Scarborough, Whitby, and other places," added Mr. Allen "We used to sit up all night at the hotels and help to change the horses. Many a time I've gone to York with corn and other stuff. We used to take three horses and three carts a man. There would some times be 12 or 14 men with three horses each. I can tell you we were jolly and lively. We used to call at Spital Beck public house. People sat up all night at public-houses on the main roads in those days." "Then you are not teetotal?" "Oh no, a glass of good beer will hurt nobody; I have taken a drop all my life, and I'm living yet." "You'll have seen a good deal in connection with Malton sport, Mr. Allen, I suppose?" "Yes, a lot. Why, for years I had to keep up the fences for Malton steeplechases, and level the course and keep it straight. And I can remember Malton flat races on Langton Wold. In those days I had to help to keep the course clear and straight. I can recall, too when the races were run in the orchard Field, and was there when a steeplechase was run in the Pasture field.


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