18th August 2015 marks the 118th anniversary of the birth of John Gilbert Mollekin (known as Jack) who is my paternal grandfather. Jack was born in Walliker Street, Newington, Hull, to parents, Johann Mölleken and Jennie Slingsby. His father was a Master Joiner who built several streets in Hull including Dorothy Grove and Gilbert Avenue (named after his children and demolished circa 2011).
Jack’s sister, Gwendoline, died on his 7th Birthday and he lost his mother, five months later to Pulmonary Phthisis. Jack’s father had five children to bring up alone and consequently his construction business suffered, so he began working for his brother-in-law’s company before moving to the Rotherham area circa 1906 in order to help with his brother’s building activities.
Upon leaving School, Jack worked for the Mollekin building company based in Maltby as a bricklayer until circa 1915 when he trained to become a Signalman on the Railways, a job that occupied him until he retired, working in Wincobank and Rawmarsh.
Jack avoided serving in World War One because when he attempted to enlist, it was deemed that he was underweight, the Enlistment Officer joking that he could only be used as a bore brush for the guns.
Jack married Edith Mary Pinder in 1925 and together issued three children who were called, Beryl Marjory, John Malcolm and James Barrie. They originally lived in Bramley, Rotherham before moving to a modern house on the newly erected Listerdale Estate in Wickersley, circa 1930.
Jack’s daughter, Beryl, married an American Serviceman in 1945, moved to Tennessee and died the following year. Jack’s wife died in 1952 following a series of strokes.
During World War Two Jack served in the Home Guard. My father recalls this era in Wickersley in this entry.
Jack’s daughter, Beryl, gave birth to a daughter (Linda) shortly before she died and although Jack communicated with Linda’s family on a regular basis via letters, Jack didn’t actually get to meet her until 1963 in America. Jack met and married a lady whilst in Tennessee although this marriage was short-lived.
Jack’s father was a Rotherham United supporter, as was Jack, my father and myself also. My family has been supporting Rotherham United since before Rotherham United’s old ground, Millmoor, was erected and I recently discovered that the meaning of the German/Prussian name ‘Mölleken’ roughly translates to ‘Little Miller’. Rotherham United is known as ‘The Millers’. In the 1970s, Jack went to live with his sister-in-law, Evelyn Pinder (nee Wakefield), in Cromer, Norfolk. This meant that Jack could no longer easily support Rotherham United in attendance so began supporting his local team which was Norwich City.
On Saturday 15th September 1979, Jack, with a friend, went to watch Norwich City at home in Carrow Lane play Nottingham Forest. Norwich City won the game, 3 goals to 1. Scorers for Norwich were Kevin Reeves (39 minutes), Justin Fashanu (42 minutes) and Keith Robson (57 minutes). John Robertson scored the goal for Nottingham Forest in the 84th minute. John Bond was the manager of Norwich City and I actually met him in 1990 when he was the Manager of Shrewsbury Town. Some time between the 84th minute of the game and the final whistle, Jack passed away, just after saying to his friend, “No more goals will be scored”.
I only have a couple of cameo memories of my grandfather as I was just 3 years old when he died. One memory is of when my father was knocking a chimney breast out of a bedroom at home in Swinton and I was jumping up and down on a bed. I remember repeatedly and excitedly asking my father when ‘Grandpa’ was arriving as I knew he was on his way to visit us. When he came through the bedroom door, I bounced off the bed into his arms. Another memory is of when we were both waiting for dinner to be served. We were in the front room at home and on a silver tiered cake stand, on a table between us, were an assortment of tarts etc. I tried to reach for one but my Grandpa stopped me. Both of these memories may even have been from the same day.
On the 2nd September 1989, almost 10 years after my grandfather had passed away, my father took me to Millmoor for the first time to watch Rotherham United draw with Walsall Football Club. A twist of fate also took me to Rotherham United’s new ground (New York) on the 33rd anniversary of my grandfather’s death on Saturday 15th September 2012, with my brother and sister-in-law, to watch Rotherham United beat Torquay United 1 goal to 0.
John Gilbert Mollekin – 18th August 1897 to 15th September 1979.
Thanks are owed to Ali Morse for sourcing a newspaper report of the Norwich City versus Nottingham Forest game and to Peter Davies for reproducing the photo of Jack as a child.