Braithwell, Micklebring and Clifton History and Heritage

Braithwell Pre-School Playgroup - A history 


This is an ongoing page and any contributions (memories, images etc.) are welcome.. .. 


Memories of how the Braithwell Toddler/Playgroup began written by the sole founder Mrs. Eileen Brown (née Watkins): 

At the beginning of 1976 I was taking my eldest son Stephen to a Mother/Toddler group held in part of the Junior School (my old youth club hall) on Mill Lane, Warmsworth. I also took him to the Bede Playgroup attached to the church in Maltby. This made me realise what my community in Braithwell was missing out on so I set about contacting our local milk delivery people - 2 separate families were delivering the milk at that time - Allisons and the Dunstans. They knew where the adults who had pre-school children lived.

Names and addresses were given to me and I arranged to go and see as many people as I could to find out how they felt about a Toddler/Playgroup being set-up in our village. Some told me that it had all been done before and that there was no chance of it starting because of a lack of facilities.

However, I found that the Methodist School Room, in Braithwell Chapel on Austwood lane, was vacant but the permission to use it had to be granted by the Methodist Committee. Joe and Kathleen Dunstan were on this Committee and they lived opposite me on the High Street in Braithwell, so I asked them if they would contact the other Committee members and the Methodist Minister, Rev. Plant, to see if they would allow the school room to be used for the toddler group. Much to my delight they agreed.

A Toddler/Playgroup Committee was formed headed by the Chairman Mr. Gerry Parkinson and the meetings were held in an upstairs room at the Red Lion pub. Mrs Betty Cant who worked at the local sweet/paper shop on the High Street, (no longer there), was asked to help - she was reluctant at first to accept but then agreed to be a helper. A playgroup leader was also appointed. 

Money was allotted for the equipment and then the Social Services had to be informed in order for the Playgroup to be registered. The school room itself was a fairly large place with a narrow hallway type kitchen at the bottom end.  The Fire and Social Services made a thorough inspection of the room and they deemed it a very safe establishment to hold the Playgroup. Miss West and Mr Webster from Social Services said that they would put on a 6 week course for Playgroup leaders and any other interested parties who wished to attend. Then Miss Merriman, the Headmistress of Braithwell First/Middle School, agreed to let this course run in one of the classrooms. 

Whilst the Chapel School Room was being prepared for the official start, a reporter from one of the local newspapers did a write up along with a picture of some of the mums holding up our children. In the picture was Mrs Jill Pawson, Mrs Helen Parkinson, myself and others. 

Finally, the Playgroup was registered on the 14th September 1976 - a day before my second child Kevin was born. I visited the group on possibly one more occasion after the birth of Kevin. Unfortunately my first marriage then broke down and I had no more dealings with the group and left the village in September 1978. However, during the early part of the 1990's I visited the Toddler Group at the Ruddle Centre and was pleased that there was still somewhere for the adults and their kids to meet. 

Eileen Brown April 2024