Harry Higgins


Harry Higgins

Harry Higgins, born in Denaby Main, is my fourth cousin, twice removed and son of Harry Higgins and Annie Gomersal.

Harry had an unfortunate start to life, with his mother dying just four months after his birth, but below is a newspaper article detailing his remarkable achievements.

NEWMARKET JOURNAL, Thursday, Jan. 7, 1965.


Reward for a life-long service to the building industry was given to Mr. Harry Higgins when he became a Member the Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.) in the new Year Honours.

Mr. Higgins, of 44 Holland Park, Cheveley, said that the award came “completely out of the blue.”

Mr. Higgins is general foreman of Mowlem (Building) Ltd., having worked his way through various jobs in the building industry.


Born in Doncaster in 1911, Mr. Higgins became an apprentice joiner in 1928, and with site experience and study at technical colleges, was made a foreman joiner in 1937.

After becoming a general foreman in 1952, he was responsible, on behalf of his firm, for the seating arrangements for the 1953 Coronation at Westminster Abbey.

Among the other projects he has been in charge of are: the restoration of Yarmouth parish church; restoration work on a hall in Derbyshire, and work on Lloyd’s new building in the City of London.

Probably his most famous work was that on the restoration of 10 Downing Street, London. This three-year job involved about 600 men, and cost about £3million.

His job has taken him to various parts and it was the work of Ratlee and Kent Ltd. one of the firm’s subsidiaries that brought him to Newmarket.

Here he is in charge of the construction of the new sales paddock for Tattersall’s employing 23 men and also the Roman Catholic Church on Exeter Road, employing 15 men.

Special thanks are owed to Peter Higgins and his sister, June, for supplying the above newspaper article.

Denaby Woman Poisons Herself


Denaby Main Hotel

Harry Higgins is my third cousin, thrice removed and son of Joseph Higgins and Sarah Boyes.

Harry was born in 1888 in Barnsley but moved to Mexborough, with his family, in the 1890s. Harry’s grandfather, James Higgins, was involved in a fatal mining accident in 1881 in Swaithe Main Colliery, Worsbrough, Barnsley. Harry’s brother, Wilfred, was a casualty of World War One.

Harry married twice. His first wife, Annie Gomersal, who he married in 1909, died in tragic circumstances as detailed below in a newspaper article published shortly after her death. Annie had only given birth four months prior to her death, so it is perhaps reasonable to assume that she suffered from postnatal depression.



Husband’s Sad Discovery.

Coroner and the Sale of Poisons.

Mr. F. Allen, the Doncaster Coroner, held an inquest at Denaby Main Hotel on Wednesday night, on Annie Higgins (22), wife of Harry Higgins, collier, of 20, Blyth street, who died as a result of taking carbolic acid the night previous. Deceased was confined twelve months ago, and had since been in a poor state of health.

Deceased sent somebody to the chemist for two bottles of carbolic acid and some liniment, with the explanation that she intended to disinfect. Shortly afterwards she went upstairs and found deceased lying on the bed insensible, with the bottle at her side.

Higgins said his wife had an attack of influenza lately, and had also complained of pains in the head.

Dr. Feroze, of Denaby, said deceased was covered with burns about the face, mouth, chest and eyes. Death was due to carbolic acid poisoning.

The Coroner said the law in regard to the sale of poisons was a very unsatisfactory state of affairs. They had a condition of affairs where a child could go to a chemist’s shop and buy poison without any precaution whatever. It was dangerous and something ought to be done.

A verdict of “Death during temporary insanity,” was returned.

Wilfred Higgins – War Casualty

Wilfred Higgins

Wilfred Higgins is my third cousin, thrice removed. He was born circa 1881 in Barnsley and according to the 1911 Census was a Colliery Labourer and lived at 10 Clayfield Road in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. Special thanks are owed to Trevor Higgins for writing the following text:-

Wilf was a member of the 2nd Btn Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry who arrived in France and was involved in the battles at Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and in support of the Canadians in the First Battle of Ypres,at St Julian. On the 4th May 1915, the Btn was withdrawn from Ypres and were ordered to march to Hill 60 at Zwartleen. They were to assist in a counter attack to retake the Hill from the Germans.

Hill 60

Hill 60 was not naturally formed, but a spoil heap created by the Belgians in the construction of the Ypres to Comines railway line. It was named so by the British because it was 60 metres above sea level. Strategically, it was very important to anyone holding it because of the panoramic views of Ypres and the surrounding area. It had been taken from the French in 1914, and was fought for several times.

At 2.30 am on the 7th May, Wilf’s Btn. attacked the forward trenches of the Germans. and within 100 metres, 21 soldiers were killed, from machine gun fire. The btn pressed on taking the first trench after close combat fighting, and carried on forwards. As dawn broke it became evident that although the salient to the hill had been taken, the hill itself was still held by the Germans, and the British withdrew.

Menin Gate

The casualties for this attempt were 21 killed in action, 116 wounded and 40 were missing. Of all the soldiers killed in this action, and future ones, none of the bodies were ever recovered. They were buried in the trenches, both British and German alike, and remain in the soil today. Hill 60 is considered a mass war grave cared for by the CWGC.

This is a revised version of a post which was originally published on my WordPress Blog on 06/01/2010 and republished on Mollekin Portalite on 10/05/2011. Special thanks are also owed to Dawn Stancliffe for donating the photo of James for this post.