Strange goings on in quiet little country village

St Cuthbert's Church at Fishlake.
St Cuthbert's Church at Fishlake.

From a population of around 1600 during the Middle Ages to one of around 634 in the 2000s, Fishlake is a pleasant country village with a picturesque church just a short drive from Doncaster. It may be small in size but, thankfully, there are people interested enough to record the history of such places.

So it was that “Fishlake - The Story of a South Yorkshire Village - the first 2000 years” was produced. Having spent time reading through it you certainly have to admire the dedication of the author, George Wade, for his diligence in producing such a document. Just where did he find so much information about this quiet country location?

Almost 120 pages of fascinating facts and lots of pictures give the reader a wonderful insight into the place and its inhabitants. A First World War memorial registers the names of the 11 local men killed during the conflict along with the single soldier lost in 1939 to 1945 war.

Fishlake was a long way from the terrors of the Second World War but it was brought home to residents one Friday night in November 1940 when a German bomber returning home from a raid on Sheffield jettisoned three bombs near Weathercock Farm thankfully causing no damage but leaving three craters to remind everyone just what was happening around them.

Lighter news items include the report of a three foot six inch long unidentifed snake which was killed on Mr. Hodgson’s farm and the fact that ‘children used to scour the fields and lanes for the silver strips dropped by British planes to confuse German aircraft then compete with each other to see who could make the biggest shiny ball. The same kids would also pester butcher Charlie Knowles for the pig’s bladder after the animal had been dispatched to feed the village. They dried and inflated it and used it to play football.

Other aspects of war included reports in local papers that German prisoners of war interned at Doncaster Racecourse made 100 toys for local children. Italian prisoners were also a common sight working on local farms and clearing river banks. It was noted that they seemed to be pleased they weren’t part of the battle any longer, according to the opinion of the locals.

Lots of farming tales too, then momentous news in 1956 when everyone welcomed the introduction of piped water which meant flushing toilets and bathrooms, no more rain water butts and wells!

Street lighting arrived during the sixties but the villagers were divided in their thoughts on this move forward.

Floods, drains and all aspects of life is in this account.

One particular item brings a smile; in April 1964 the burglar-proof parish strong room with fourteen inch thick walls and a heavy steel door was invaded by mice! The pesky critters ignored the barriers and over-ran the place, threatening to destroy stored priceless documents including parish records dating back to 1600. Ex-parish council clerk Thomas Silvester gained permission to “mouse proof” the room at his own expense - how he carried out this task is not made clear!

Whether you actually live in this small village or not, you have to wonder just where all these facts came from, when you bear in mind that this is the Second Edition of the book!