of Hunshelf / Greenmoor
Main photograph: Holly Hall Farm 2009. Copyright Claire Pearson.
Written by his niece Julia Crosland, June 2021 - Julia has also contributed articles to this website about her mother, local author Phyllis Crossland, and about her aunt Edith Crossland.
"Austin was born in 1913 at the isolated farmstead of Salter House, situated near Snowden Hill, halfway along Park Lane (part of the old salt trail) which joins the Roughbirchworth road leading to Oxspring.
"Austin’s father, George Crossland, along with many of the other Crossland clan, was one of seven children and he was brought up at Holly Hall and Don Hill House Farm, Green Moor, during the 1860s. George’s brother Frank, younger by one year, was my father Charles’s father – my grandfather. As a teenager George became a wire drawer, but later on worked in the Green Moor stone quarries to supplement the meagre income he would have had from his small hill farm. George was musical and played the violin.
"Austin had an older half-sister, Mary, by George’s first wife, who died. Mary later became a schoolteacher, married, and lived up Finkle Street, Wortley. George’s second wife, who was described by my father as “half a lady” from quite a genteel family, gave birth to Alice and later to Austin. Alice never married. Although academic and musical, when she left school she was needed at home to look after the house and her ailing mother.
"Austin first attended Oxspring school and later to Thurgoland primary school after his father moved to another smallholding called Huthwaite Snug.
"If Austin's mother had been only half a lady, she brought up Austin to be a complete gentleman – as witnessed by everyone who knew him. Austin was well nurtured by his family who paid for him to attend Penistone Grammar School in the days when few working-class children went there. His talent for woodwork was encouraged. He studied this subject at college in Loughborough and became a woodwork teacher to begin with.
"Austin taught woodwork for a time at Stocksbridge School. Another teaching job was at Bishop Auckland where he met his wife, Grace, who came from that area. Grace, who was older than him, was a divorcee with a grown-up child. It took some courage for them both to return to Thurgoland where the prevailing attitudes to divorcees and single parents at that time was disapproval. They were a devoted couple.
"Huthwaite Snug was divided into two old stone cottages. After their fathers’ death, Alice lived in one cottage and Austin and Grace in the other. As old age approached, Alice had her cottage demolished to be replaced by a stone bungalow. Austin converted an old cowshed into a bungalow for himself and Grace and sold the other “Snug” cottage. He designed and built the bungalow himself before he retired from teaching at Penistone Grammar school where he had spent most of his career. It was there where he developed the metalwork department and inspired many young boys with his talent, his personality and love of his craft.
"Austin set up a forge of his own below his bungalow at Huthwaite Croft where he created some very beautiful and sometimes utilitarian commissions. One we can still see from the road below the Bridge Inn at Thurgoland is a wrought iron gate with the image of an owl worked into it.
In 1966 together with Paul Bridge, Austin produced a book entitled “Designs in Metal.”
"Austin was famous for his very productive organic garden which produced cabbages bigger than footballs and was about an acre in size. He was still working on it the day before he died suddenly from a heart attack.
"Austin loved music. He was a member of the Bolsterstone choir for a long time and his deep bass voice is recognisable in old recordings. He was with the choir when they won the Eisteddfod competition in 1974. Other favourite singers were Vernon and Marietta Midgley, and he always attended their concerts when they sang locally. Every year he would go to Scarborough with Grace and listen to Max Jaffa and his Orchestra perform in the Winter Gardens."
Austin was the subject of a film made in 1975 by the Yorkshire Consortium for Joint Educational Services called "Countryman." A link to the film on my YouTube Channel is provided below. The film was produced by the Educational Technology Centre, Crofton. It is taken from a DVD which itself was taken from a VHS of the original film. Neither of these organisations seem to exist any more, and I am unable to find who owns the copyright. The film is listed on the B.F.I. website but they do not have a copy. The film was believed to be lost, but, thanks to the power of Facebook, a copy has been tracked down!
Julia adds, "we are very lucky to have uncovered this old film which tells us so much about Austin and Local bygone country life which he remembered well. The trip to the corn mill with the horse and cart would have been from Salter House to Goldthorpe’s Corn mill which was then powered by water and is now Argo Feeds. The quaint little chapel that was part of the farm buildings which he describes at Snowden Hill was disbanded several years ago."
Countryman: Austin Crossland
This would have been filmed in the forge at his home at Huthwaite Croft.
The choir music in the film would be sung by Bolsterstone Male Voice Choir, of which Austin was a member - he sang with the choir for over 30 years from the 1950s. He sang in the choir's first appearance at the Eisteddford in Llangollen in 1969, and also in 1970 when the choir came fourth, in 1971 when they came second and in 1972 when they won. This photo was taken in 1972 with the trophy.
The first song on the video is Two Roses and the last song is Jacob's Well, a well-known local carol
[with thanks to Frank Milnes for the choir information and the photograph]
On the photograph, left to right, are: Mrs Firth (Doris?), Brian Hodgkinson, Kenneth Hodgkinson, Herbert Marsh, Austin Crossland, Ashby Helliwell, John Sellars, Ron Bilsborough, Charlie Hodgkinson, Arnold Firth
Austin, taken when he was a teacher at Penistone Grammar School. Please get in touch if you have any others.