Amyl Jennie Field

Voluntary Aid Detachment page

Red Cross, St John Ambulance Brigade and Royal Army Medical Corpsbadges

Amyl Jennie Field was born on on April 20th, 1886 at Wakefield. Her parents were Henry Field and Kate Field née Turner and they had her baptised on May 7th of that year at All Saints Church in Wakefield. Amyl's father was a chemist.

Amyl Jennie Hill née Field

Amyl's father Henry Field died  on August 19th, 1887 at Douglas, in the Isle of Man, leaving mother Kate to raise the three children by herself. By the time of the 1891 census Amyl was four years old and living at 119, Warwick Road, Yardley in Worcestershire with her mother and brothers Henry aged seven and Percy aged six. They were able to afford a servant though, which suggests that they were moderately well off.
By the time of the 1901 census, their mother Kate had remarried, to Sportswood Pittendryh and Amyl was fourteen. They were all living at 48, Showell Green Lane in Yardley.
By the 1911 census Amyl was 24 and had moved to Oakworth. She was living at Greenfield House in Oakworth with her uncle Arthur Lister Haggas, the worsted spinning manufacturer and local mill owner.
On May 7th 1915, Amyl wanted to do something for the war effort so she registered as a volunteer with the British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) She worked as an ambulance driver for the Auxiliary Military Hospital at Spencer Street in Keighley, using her own car for this purpose. This would have entailed going to Keighley Railway Station when a convoy of wounded arrived on the train and transporting them to the war hospital for treatment and could have occured at any time of day or night. She may also have transported recovering men around for events on their behalf in Keighley and the surrounding villages.
Her V.A.D. record card shows she worked 2 hours each day, and in all she totalled 2000 hours whilst serving for the war effort, all without pay.
During this time she was breeding St Bernard Dogs in Oakworth and had established quite a reputation, even selling one notable prize winning dog to a buyer in America:

Keighley News 20th February 1915, page 7:
The kennels in connection with Greenfield House in Oakworth, have acquired a high reputation in the country for the St. Bernard dogs reared there. The fame of Miss Field's dogs has now reached America, with the result that one has been sold in the States for a large sum of money and will shortly after arrival there be exhibited at one of the leading shows. The dog in question, Oakworth Osiris, is a smooth coated one of orange and white in colour. As a puppy under twelve months old it was the winner of three firsts at Manchester. Other notable successes included three firsts and the championship at Alexandra Palace, London; and two firsts, and the championship at Cruft's in 1914. It is claimed that the dog is the best-headed dog of it's kind living, and is a source of much pride to the kennel-man (Mr Ben Whitaker). Oakworth Osiris will be remembered by many in the Keighley district in connection with his recent begging expedition on behalf of the Red Cross Society, which realised £15, the whole of which was given in small sums.

Amyl was well known about the village of Oakworth, apparently driving her bright red painted car about, sometimes rather quickly which earned her (and the car) the nickname: 'The Red Devil.' (According to Frank Wigglesworth, she was the first lady car driver in Oakworth.)
She was a generous lady and she paid for the new carved wooden Reredos and oak panelling in the sanctuary of Oakworth Parish Church - Christchurch, which was carved by a notable local craftsman called Alex Smith. Smith was also responsible for a great deal of the ornamental stone carving in the architecture of Keighley.
In 1930, Amyl married textile manufacturer Joseph Hill of 'Throstle Nest' in Oakworth and they moved to the old vicarage at Sykes Head. The marriage was registered in the East Ward, Westmorland and Joseph was 16 years her senior.
In the 1939 register they were both living at 56, Bare Lane in Morecambe with one general servant. Amyl would have been 53 and Joseph 69, which suggests this was their retirement home.
Amyl died a widow on May 31st, 1949 at the age of 63, whilst a resident of Morecambe and Heysham. Her estate was £29, 171.

From the 150th centenary booklet, Christ Church. Oakworth. 1846 - 1996:
This booklet is has been compiled to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Christ Church Oakworth. The first part is a reprint of the booklet compiled by Frank Harwood to celebrate the 100th anniversary in 1946.
The Reredos and oak panelling in the Sanctuary were set up in 1925 - the gift of Miss A. J. Field of Greenfield. Mr. Alex Smith, the Keighley artist, who did the work on the Reredos describes it as of “late decorated style of Gothic architecture in oak and richly carved”.

Our list of VAD's is available here.

Source information:
Birth, death, and marriage records.
Church of England baptismal records.
Isle of Man death and burial records, 1844-1911
1891, 1901 and 1911 Census of England.
Red Cross VAD cards archive:
'Oakworth in My Time' by Frank Wigglesworth. Bradford Libraries ISBN 0 907734 30 7.
1939 Register.
The Keighley News obituary archive held at Keighley Library.
Oakworth Christ Church centenary booklet 1846 - 1996 (150 years)
Photograph by kind courtesy of her family.

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