Clara Bancroft - Haworth Teacher in the 1940's

Clara in the 1940's

This is a short piece about a local Haworth Teacher in the 1940’s - 50’s who will always be remembered by the children she taught mainly in the 1940….fond memories about someone who was a bit of a character to say the least! [This photograph of Clara is the only one I have been able to find and is taken from a larger school class photo from the 1940's]
Clara Bancroft was born in Haworth on 10th March 1911, to parents Samuel and Elizabeth [ne: Mann] Bancroft. Samuel was a local butcher by trade and later became a gamekeeper. People remember him when he lived in Main Street Haworth as a man with grey hair and a beard, and always wearing breaches, gaiters and boots. He always had his Bedlington terrier called “ Curly” with him and always had a row of fox pelts hanging outside the house on the main street, presumably to show people how effective he was as a gamekeeper.

The 1911 census shows Clara as a new born baby with her mother and brother living with their maternal grandparents at the Brow area of Haworth. 

1911 census - Clara with family

For some reason her father was living on his own at a different address when the census details were taken, although he had been married to Elizabeth for six years. He was at the time shown as a butcher for the Cooperative Society.

1911 census - Samuel living alone

Clara, when she grew up, taught first year children in the Haworth school and here are a few memories of some of her pupils:

'She was brilliant at getting us to read and write and do our sums. I still remember seeing her painting posters on the wall with little animals with corresponding dots with numbers next to them. I am not sure whether I still visualise these when adding up now. I think I read well because I was allowed to sit on the windowsill and look out for the bus coming down Lees Lane since this would tell Clara how near the break we were. Sometimes she would send one of us out into the hall to report back where the big hand and the little hand were pointing on the clock there.'

'One thing that always makes me smile was when she always asked what sweets we had with us. Not many then of course, but we had to hold up our little white bags, if we had any, and she would then have a good look and take one if it took her fancy, then rolling her teeth round a toffee.
I can remembered her habit of “sharing”. When sending all the children out at playtime, she insisted that they left the bags of sweets in their desks and then having a look and picking out the best ones to eat while we were all playing out.'

'I can remembered being about 10 years old, and on the bus with Clara one day when she asked if he wanted to share an apple with her, which she promptly broke in half and he remembered her hands were not very clean as she gave him half of a very grubby apple….but I ate it anyway!'

Others remember her as being quite a talented artist in the field of pottery and sculpture, and there is still some of her pottery in and around Haworth. After retiring she ran a small group of women, working on painting and pottery, at her home as night classes.

Clara remained a single lady all her life, and the 1939 census, taken out at the outbreak of WW2 shows her still living with her parents at main street Haworth.

1939 census

After retiring and due to ill health Clara moves up to live with her brother George and his wife in Wigtown, Scotland, and died there on 13th December 1981

A wrote a longer article about Clara’s brother George who was a prominent businessman in Keighley before retirement in the radio/ TV trade which can be read here:

Clara's Sunday School certificate

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