Hilda Falkingham, née Denby.
Worked at Steeton Dump Royal Ordnance Factory during World War Two.
Two of her friends were Betty Ralston Ginz aged 19 of Bingley and Mrs Betty Helliwell aged 25, of Bingley. It's likely that all three worked at Steeton Dump.
They were Harry & Mary Denby, Harry married Mary Jane Starkey at Bingley's Holy Trinity Church on 9th February 1907. Sadly they didn't have a lot of luck with children, they had a son, Eric who died in April 1908 at Bingley Cottage Hospital aged just 9 months old.
In 1909 they had twin boys Evelyn and John, who both died within 2 days of being born. Harry was a joiner working for Wade Brothers in Keighley and living at 26, Marion Street in Bingley. On 13th February 1912, at the age of 28 he joined the Territorial Army with the 6th Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment at Bingley, signing up for four years service. After war broke out, Harry signed for overseas service on 16th October 1914 and served overseas with the Lincolnshire Regiment for a while, spending time in the 1/4th Battalion and the 2/5th Battalion. He was discharged to the Z Reserve in March 1919, but after a while he appears to have signed up again for another year with the 6th West Riding Regiment (Territorials) from 19th August 1920 to his final discharge on 18th August 1921. During this time Hilda had been born in 1918 and James was born several years later on 18th November 1923. Their mother Mary died in early 1935 aged 51. Harry and James were still living at 26, Marion Street in Bingley in the 1939 register, which has Harry listed as a widowed blind pensioner. Hilda was not living with them at this time, her story is told in more detail below. After Hilda was killed in 1942 this just left her father Harry, and her brother James who served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Harry died in 1953 aged 69 in a hospital in York, he was brought home and buried in Bingley. James died in 1992 aged 68 and his death was registered in the Worth Valley.
Hilda's early life:
Hilda was born on 18th February 1918 and her birth was registered at Keighley in the first quarter of that year. Her parents were Harry Denby 1884–1953 and Mary Jane Denby née Starkey 1884–1935. She had three older siblings, Eric Wilson, John and Evelyn, all of whom appeared to have died at a very early age. Hilda also had a younger brother James Denby who appears to have had a full life.
In the 1921 census Hilda was aged three and living at 26, Marion Street in Bingley with her parents, who were both 37 years old at that time. Father Harry was a joiner(carpenter,) working for J. O. Banks Builders.
In the 1939 register Hilda was living at 3, Mitchell Terrace in Bingley, the home of Jeffrey and Ethel Blythe. She was employed as a textile burler and mender, probably at the Parkland Manufacturing Company on Clyde Street in Bingley. The Blythe's may also have had two young children living there.
Also living there was Eugene L. Porter who was 32 years old and a fellmonger's foreman.
In the first quarter of 1941 Hilda married Eric Falkingham, who was the same age and Hilda, having also been born in 1918. The marriage was registered at Keighley. At some point afterwards, we believe that Hilda became employed at Steeton Dump Royal Ordnance Factory, which made munition components for the war effort.
Hilda's family have stated that she was employed at the Royal Ordnance Factory at Steeton, known locally as 'The Dump.' This has not been confirmed in any records, as there are no known staff lists available.
Hilda's husband Eric (1918-1985) was serving in the Army and was away from home at the time of Hilda's death. According to Hilda's probate index record, Eric was a 'Cadet, H. M. Army.'
Hilda was killed in a car crash on the Steeton to Keighley Road on 11th March 1942.
Bradford Observer report dated 11th March 1942:
THREE KILLED IN ROAD CRASH.
The death in Keighley Victoria Hospital early today of Miss Betty Ginz, aged 20, of 30 Bar Lane, Riddlesden, has brought the death roll to three, following the collision between a West Yorkshire 'bus and a private car at Hawkcliffe Wood, between Keighley and Steeton yesterday morning.
The other two people killed were Francis Barker, aged 51, retail fruiterer, of 28, Bradley Road, Silsden, and Mrs. Hilda Falkingham, aged 24, of 14, Ryshworth Avenue, Morton Lane, Bingley.
Mrs. Falkingham's husband is serving in the Army.
Mrs. Betty Helliwell, aged 25, of 29, Mitchell Terrace, Bingley, also involved in the crash, is in the Keighley Hospital, and was today stated to be "fairly comfortable."
Leeds Mercury report dated March 11, 1942:
TWO KILLED. Bus and Car in Collision.
From Our Own Correspondent - Keighley, Tuesday.
Two people were killed and two injured in a collision involving a single-deck West Yorkshire bus and a motor car on the main Keighley-Skipton road, near Steeton, today.
Francis Barker (51), fruiterer and market gardener, Bradley Road, Silsden, the driver of the car, died before reaching Keighley and District Hospital; and Mrs. Hilda Falkingham (24), Rishworth Avenue, Morton Lane, Bingley, died about half an hour after admission to the hospital.
Mrs. Falkingham was a passenger in the car with Mrs. Betty Helliwell (25), Mitchell Terrace, Bingley, and Miss Betty R. Ginz (20), Bar Lane, Riddlesden, Keighley. The two last named are in hospital, Mrs. Helliwell with head injuries and fractured arms, and Miss Ginz with head injuries.
It was stated last night that Miss Ginz's condition was critical, and that Mrs. Helliwell was comfortable.
The three women had just finished work, and were waiting for a bus a Steeton, when they were given a lift towards Keighley by Mr. Barker.
At Hawkcliffe Wood corner there was a collision between the two vehicles, which were travelling in opposite directions. The car, which was wrecked, was turned completely round, and finished on the footpath.
The front of the bus was damaged, but no one in the bus was injured.
The inquest on Francis Barker and Hilda Falkingham was opened this afternoon and, after evidence of identification, was adjourned to a date to be fixed.
Keighley News, Saturday 14 March 1942:
'BUS CRASH INTO CAR
TRIPLE FATALITY AT STEETON.
MAN AND GIRL KILLED.
Three persons were killed and one injured as the result of a crash between a single-decker West Yorkshire Bus and a private car at Hawkcliffe Wood, between Keighley and Steeton, on Tuesday.
Those killed were Francis Barker, aged 51, fruiterer, 28, Bradley Road, Silsden; Mrs. Hilda Falkingham, aged 24, 14 Ryshworth Avenue, Morton Lane, Bingley, and Miss Betty R. Ginz, aged 19, 30 Bar Lane, Riddlesden.
Mrs. Betty Halliwell, aged 25, 49, Mitchell Terrace, Bingley was injured.
Barker was the driver of the car,and had given a lift to the three young women who were returning from work and coming towards Keighley.
The bus, which contained a number of passengers, was travelling in the opposite direction, and as it neared the corner at Hawkcliffe Wood, it developed a front wheel skid.
WRECKAGE ON THE ROAD.
The driver could not pull out of the skid, and he crashed into the car. The car was completely turned round and finished on the pavement and facing in the opposite direction to which it had been travelling.
It received severed damage, and pieces of wreckage were scattered about the road. The 'bus received damage to the front at the offside of the driver's cab, and the driver and passengers were severely shaken.
The driver of the car died before attention could be given to him, but the residents of Hawkcliffe Cottage, near where the accident happened, gave attention to the three injured girls, and the Keighley ambulance was called and the injured removed to Keighley Victoria Hospital, where the girl Falkingham died.
An inquest on the two victims was opened on Tuesday afternoon by the Deputy Coroner (Mr. Hubert Wright), but after hearing evidence of identification he adjourned the inquiry.
The body of Barker was identified by Warwick M. Stephens, of 4, Stone Grove, Steeton.
Mrs. Mary Falkingham, 14, Rishworth Avenue, Morton Lane, Bingley, identified the other body as that of her daughter in law. She told the Coroner that Hilda's husband was serving in the Army.
Miss Ginz died in hospital early the following day and an inquest was opened on the same day.
Evidence of identification was given by the father, Mr. Bernard David Ginz, of 30, Bar Lane, Riddlesden, Keighley.
Mr. Barker was well known in horticultural cirles throughout Craven. Only a short time ago he took over the business of fruiterer and greengrocer from Miss Thompson, at Bolton Road End, Silsden, and was on a journey in connection with the business when the accident happened. He served in the Great War, and had taken an active interest in the affairs at the Silsden British Legion Club, where he was a member of the committee. He was also an A.R.P. Warden at Silsden. When the Silsden Agricultural Shows were held annually Mr. Barker gave valuable assistance in the horticultural section. He leaves a widow and five daughters.
Keighley News, Saturday 21st March, 1942:
LATE MRS FALKINGHAM.
There was a large attendance at the funeral at Bingley Cemetery on Tuesday of Mrs. Hilda Falkingham, of Ryshworth Avenue, Morton Lane, who died of injuries sustained in a car accident near Steeton last week. Canon C. Tremayne (Vicar of Bingley) officiated.
The family mourners were: Mr. E. Falkingham, Mr. and Mrs. W. Falkingham, Mr. H. Denby, Mr. J. Denby, Mrs. H. Stanley (also representing Mr. and Mrs. A. Batt), Miss E. Illingworth, Miss. C. Illingworth, Mrs. H. Illingworth, Mr. and Mrs. G. Blythe, Mrs. E. Stanley, Miss. C. Bracewell, and Mr. D. Illingworth.
Among the many personal friends were: Mr. and Mrs. F. Leach, Mr. and Mrs. S. G. Spencer, Mr. and Mrs. H. Clapham, Mr. and Mrs. F. Bracewell, Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Stone, Mrs. J. G. Usher (also representing Mr. J. G. Usher), Mr. and Mrs. J. Bentley, Mr. and Mrs. G. Falkingham, Mrs. D. W. Briggs, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mrs. P. Illingworth, Mrs. J. Longbottom, Mrs. E. Hall, Messrs. L. Ayrton, H. Kaye, J. Smith, W. Falkingham, A. Hall, Miss M. Simpson, Miss M. Hargreaves, Miss A. Brunton, Mrs. J. Wilcock, Mrs. H. Salman, and Mrs. W. Wilson.
The factory* at which Mrs. Falkingham worked, the Bradford Permanent Building Society, and the Parkland Manufacturing Co. were also represented.
Among the many floral tributes were wreaths from her fellow employees, the staff of the Bradford Permanent Building Society, and the staff of the mending department of the Parkland Manufacturing Co.
* Note: the factory where the three girls were employed is specifically unnamed, adding to the likelihood that it was Steeton Royal Ordnance Factory, as this was classed as secret at the time.
According to a family member, Hilda was buried in her wedding dress.
Betty Ralston Ginz was buried at Keighley Cemetery in the same week as Hilda was buried at Bingley.
England & Wales Births 1837-2006
1921 Census Of England & Wales
England & Wales Marriages 1837-2005
Keighley News archives at Keighley Library
British Newspaper Archive: Bradford Observer, Leeds Mercury
National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995
Family information kindly supplied by Mark Denby