One of the young men jumped on the counter to reach the cash till while another, holding a revolver, shouted to the women to ‘stick ‘em up’ before firing two shots – which happened to be blanks.

Edith struggled with one while Effie ran to call for assistance and set the dogs on the robbers. The men, aged between 17 and 19, fled the scene before being caught by police in Thorpe Hesley.

It wasn’t until over 70 years later that Effie’s two eldest children, Joan Daley and Jeff Robinson, went to one of Gemma’s Common Threads pop-in sessions at the Mechanics’ Institute that they came to know more about their mother’s courageous feat for which she and Edith were commended for. Effie had left her role at the post office the year after the raid to marry Donald Robinson and the pair moved to Whiston where they went on to have six children in seven years.

Up until 1946 the GPO had a marriage bar in place which restricted employment of women in substantial roles. The belief was that married women were financially supported by their husbands and so jobs were instead given to single women who did need work.

‘‘ It was suggested he and Joan call in at the Common Threads drop-in to find out more about their family’s history in the village’’

Effie never once spoke about her previous job to her children before she died in 1996. Joan and Jeff knew she had grown up in the village and that she lived at Street near Hoober Stand with her father, Thomas, a blacksmith, and stepmother Isabella whom he married after the death of his first wife during Effie’s birth.

Neither of her children are sure why or when Effie joined the Post Office; she had wanted to be a nurse but her father wouldn’t let her move away to train.

Thomas and Isabella went on to have a daughter together, Isla, and it is her daughter, Devina, who first sparked the family history curiosity while visiting Wentworth from Australia last Christmas. While working for the Estate, Thomas was untimely killed in a motorbike collision with an army truck while going down to Wentworth Woodhouse aged 52.

After his death, and with Effie now married, Isabella and Isla moved into Octagon Lodge at the top of the drive at the Estate’s bequest. After visiting last year’s Christmas Market at Wentworth Woodhouse, Devina was taking photos of her children outside their grandmother Isla’s childhood home when she was greeted by the current owners who offered to show her round after hearing her story.

Jeff couldn’t believe he’d missed the chance to step back inside the lodge where he’d spent much of his childhood. But from this, it was suggested he and Joan call in at the Common Threads drop-in to find out more about their family’s history in the village.

Here they met villager, Marceline Rogan, with whom they shared a common thread - she had also been Wentworth’s postmistress, albeit almost 60 years after their mother had. Marceline and her husband Jim bought the business from Jayne and David Kearnes in 1994 and stayed for just over ten years before retiring due to Jim’s poor health. When she heard of Joan and

Jeff’s story, Marceline vaguely remembered the name Effie Carr from her research into the history of the Post Office to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the building in 2004. She had archive material and press cuttings about the armed robbery which the siblings had never seen before.

Along with being in charge of the keys and the safe, Effie and Marceline also shared another common thread. Marceline had also experienced dealing with criminality during her time at the post office. One time, they had received a tip-off from police that they were the possible target of a planned raid and were not allowed any out-of-hours visitors for three months. Unlike Effie’s time, the post office raiders had moved on to keeping workers hostage until the early hours when the safe alarm deactivated. “One morning, I opened the curtains to armed police surrounding the building. Every day we were to turn the alarm off and check in with police which my husband had forgotten to do this one day. The police assumed we were being held hostage but my only thought was what if I was made to lie on the floor in my flannelette nightie,” Marceline says.

They also prevented an estimated £1million fraud where Marceline showed the same courage as Effie and Edith. As a close-knit community, Marceline knew most, if not all, of the faces in the village. Which is why she was

suspicious when a woman came in one day to cash her GIRO and gave her address as Main Street. Not recognising her, she questioned the woman who said she was in a relationship with a man from the village.

After refusing to serve her, Marceline followed the woman up Cortworth Lane and hailed a lift off the postman who was passing by. She went on to make a citizen’s arrest where the woman then pulled out a knife.

It transpired that a local DWP branch had moved offices and lots of blank GIROs had been stolen to print. The woman turned Queen’s Evidence in court and testified against her fellow accomplices to save her own skin.

Jim suffered a stroke during their time at the post office and so the pair sold the business to Peter Beadham in 2004, after which they remained a part of village life by living in Paradise Square and becoming treasurers at the village Treat Fund.

“It was sad to leave but even sadder that over those ten years we lost 69 customers due to old age. But it was an experience I’ll never forget. Nobody really knows or

understands what goes into running a post office. You’re responsible for all the cash you take in and any shortages must be accounted for personally. With the amount of hours you put in each day it wouldn’t even equate to the minimum wage,” Marceline says.

And of course, we can’t write

about Wentworth Post Office without mentioning the well-loved Betty Sharp.

Betty spent 32 years as the village postmistress, having moved to Wentworth from Tinsley in 1959 where she had previously been a telegram girl and worked at the post office there since being 14. During her time, the post office was known as an Aladdin’s Cave that sold anything and everything. Like Effie 50 years previous, Betty also prevented an armed robbery and received an award commending her for her bravery.

She was also a formidable force within the village, being a parish councillor for almost 30 years and launching the village’s WI branch. She was invited to Buckingham Palace’s garden party as thanks for her dedication to the village after being nominated by Lord Peter Hardy, Baron of Wath.

Betty Sharp in the Post Office 53














Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100