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Matlock: Starkholmes ARP Wardens, about 1940
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Air Raid Precaution Wardens for Starkholmes
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Air Raid Precaution Wardens, or ARP wardens, played a vital part in Britain's defence during the Second World War. The work they undertook in London and other large cities is well documented. Here is a group of Starkholmes men and women, taken by local photographer Harry Gill, who volunteered for the scheme that was set up in 1937. They had wide ranging responsibilities apart from watching for aircraft and assessing post bombing damage. For example, wardens would have been responsible for checking that houses were properly "blacked out", with no lights showing to help enemy aircraft on bombing raids. They would also have distributed gas masks and shelters. Many of them had full time employment as well.

The photo was taken in the playground of the old Starkholmes School. Whilst the exact date is not confirmed, the picture was taken before 1941 as Frank Statham, one of the Wardens, was called up then[1]. Brian Kenyon has commented that "the high points [for Air Raid Precaution] were between approximately August 1940 and mid 1941, when the German attention was diverted to Russia, and then in late 1944 to early 1945 with the V1 jets and V2 rockets".

Standing - from the left:
Unknown | Mrs. Maggie Evans (nee Statham, sister of Ernest, seated)[2] | George Evans (husband of Maggie)[2] | Unknown | Fontaine John (Jack) Ollerenshaw[3] | Unknown | Arthur Whittaker | Roy Ollerenshaw[3] | Unknown | Mrs. Mary Ellen Statham (nee Woodhouse, wife of Ernest and mother of Frank, who are also on this photograph)[2]

Bottom row, seated - from the left:
Frank Statham (son of Ernest and Mary Ellen) | Harold Fletcher (Head Warden for the Matlock District) | Ernest Statham (husband of Mary Ellen)[1] | Unknown, but possibly Reg Beastall[1]

The 1939 Register, taken in September 1939, provides names of people who were ARP wardens[4]. It does not mean they remained wardens for the duration of the war. The names of those in Starkholmes who said they were wardens in 1939 were:

Parkfield - Reginald Beastall
Chindras - Francis D Ford & Frances Rose Ford
Main Road - George Evans
Main Road - James A Ashmore
Appletree Cottages - David Maskrey (A.R.P. Derbyshire Stone)
White Tor Road - Arthur R Robinson (A.R.P. Matlock U.D.C.)
White Tor Road - Clifford J Bunting
The Knoll - Ernest Statham & Mary E Statham
Woodbine Cottage - Samuel S Robinson
Mount Houses, Main Road - Fred Whitworth
Fairfield - George T Langston & Annie E Langston
Starkholmes Road - Fontaine John (known as Jack) Ollerenshaw
Hillcrest Starkholmes Road - Alice A Balguy (A.R.P. First Aid)
Hazel Dene Starkholmes Road - Eleanor Sage Grant (A.R.P. Telephonist)
Church Street - Victor Gregory
White Wood Way - Arthur J Knowles (A.R.P. Light Rescue ---)
Avon Villa Church Street - Frank Statham & Clara H Statham
Forlands, Starkholmes Road - Arthur Whittaker

Bow Wood Farm - Samuel Buckley (it is not known if he belonged to the Starkholmes group).

Note that Roy Ollerenshaw was included in the Register but does not have A.R.P. Warden against his entry. Another person who is known to have served as a warden was Edwin (Eddie) Pursglove of Sitches Farm.

The Statham family are shown in the 1901 census transcripts
There is onsite information about the War Memorials and the Names of Starkholmes War Memorial. Also see WW2 casualties

Please email the web mistress if you can identify any of the other people or provide an exact date. Thank you :-)

Image supplied by and Copyright © Jean Baloo.
Extracts from the 1939 Register with thank to Grenville Smith.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Additional name/ material supplied by Claire Gibson.

[2] Name and details corrected. With thanks to Claire.

[3] A nephew of the two Ollerenshaw brothers was to become a casualty in WW2. Their sister Margery Ann was the mother of Roy Wherrett (see his record). Jack Ollerenshaw had also married a member of the Wherrett family. Several Ollerenshaw brothers served in the First World War and both Deris [sic] Ollerenshaw and his brother "Ollerens, Hall Roy" [sic] of Lee Bridge House were amongst the names in the Matlock Absent Voters List of 1918.

[4] The 1939 Register is available on Find My Past.