This photo is small but packs a huge amount of charm. Trimmed down from a postcard, it is possibly a school photograph. I just love the little girl’s relaxed smile, the ribbon in her hair and her gorgeous twinkly eyes.
Turning it over reveals information about the sender and receiver, written in pencil by Mary herself. The fairytale names (Myttons, Littlefair, Dumsup) made me wonder, at first, if they came from the child’s imagination. But no! They are real and exist, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.
Mrs Littlefair can be easily found on the 1911 census, living at Dunsop Farm, Slaidburn, Lancashire. Born in 1849, her full name was Isabella Mary Littlefair (nee Furness). She was the second wife of James Littlefair who, at 21 years her senior, was 83 years old and had retired from farming. According to the census, Dunsop Farm was in the hands of Mr Littlefair’s younger son, also called James.
So who is the fresh faced girl in the photograph?
Initially I searched for the name Mary Myttons but that yielded no results. I had wrongly supposed that the word Wooff was an after thought but learned a valuable lesson… never make assumptions! Read differently, it became apparent that Wooff was Mary’s surname, and Myttons was a farm just a short distance from the Littlefair’s home. They were neighbours!
Returning to the census, in 1911 John Robert Wooff, wife Ellen Wooff (nee Alston) and their four children were living at Myttons, Slaidburn. Mary was born later the same year and became the youngest of five. I would guess that she was around 9 or 10 years old in this photograph, making Mrs Littlefair around 70 and presumably an old lady to Mary’s young eyes.
In 1935, Mary Jane Wooff married William Armistead Breaks at the Methodist Chapel in Slaidburn. The only reference to Mary that I can find in the newspapers is an announcement of her examination success. She gained ‘first class’ in the Tailoring of Children’s Garments, the culmination of three years study (1):
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.
Mary died in 1976, aged 64, but left us this lovely momento from her childhood. I am sure Mrs Littlefair treasured it!
(1) Clitheroe Advertiser and Times – Friday 08 July 1949