Tributes as funeral of Doncaster's 'oldest person' takes place following death at 106

The funeral of a woman believed to be Doncaster’s oldest person has taken place following her death at the age of 106.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 8:08 am
Gladys Crookes, who has died at the age of 106.

Gladys Crookes, who survived two world wars and also beat smallpox as a child, was laid to rest earlier this week, her family have said.

Mrs Crookes, from Cantley, also lived through air raids on Balby and is thought to be one of the town’s oldest ever residents.

Born in Anelay Road, Balby, on August 29, 1914, she was one of nine brothers and sisters, although her two brothers both died in childhood.

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She attended Osman Avenue School - and remembered the days of corporal punishment, in an interview with the Free Press last year.

"I remember getting the cane," she said. "My sister heard about it, and kicked the teacher who did it. But if you did anything wrong in those days, you got the cane, for the least little thing. If you got more than two, your hand used to swell. I'm glad they have banned it now."

Leaving school at 15, she went to look after two children and work at a private school on Avenue Road. Her jobs included cleaning the fireplace, shaking the rugs, and making breakfasts, and washing the floor after the children left. She was paid - 30p in modern money - per week.

Aged 16, she left to work at Bembergs, the nylon spinning factory which opened in 1929 on Wheatley Hall Road.

Gladys married her husband, Richard Crookes, at Balby Church in 1936, and the couple had the first of their six children, Brian, shortly before the outbreak of World War Two.

She was devastated in 1943 when her father, Thomas Walters, was killed in an accident at Yorkshire Main Colliery in Edlington.

Her husband Richard also later suffered an accident in the same colliery, when his head was caught between two coal tubs. The injury affected his balance and he left the mine with £300 compensation for his injuries, before going to work for the ministry of food, and then at Rose Hill Cemetery. He died in 1995 aged 82.

Gladys leaves 12 grandchildren, 30 great grandchildren, and two great great grandchildren.