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Grandma's Story

Duillia Singletons (nee Rhodes) was born in 1879 to parents Mary Jane Bleasdale and Robert Rhodes.  Mary Jane was the daughter of a very wealthy brass foundry owner.  When she fell in love with a mere farmer, her family disowned her.  On her wedding day, her mother sent a maid to the scrap pile where all the rejected brass objects were piled up awaiting smelting.  The maid was tasked with choosing a wedding gift from the scrap and she selected a broken pair of brass candlesticks.  Duillia’s grand-daughter Dewy still has these candlesticks today which have been repaired with blue tack.

Duillia was one of eleven children born to Mary Jane and Robert.  After leaving school she worked on the farm and helped out with the household chores.  Then when she was about 25 years old, she enrolled in the County Council Dairy School in Hutton, about 20 miles away and there she completed a course of Dairy Instruction and after examinations was awarded a Certificate for Milking, Butter making, Cheese making and preliminary Poultry Keeping.


At the grand old age of 29 she met and married farmer Robert Singleton at Whitechapel Church where she would religiously worship on every Sunday for the rest of her life. Within the following 10 years she produced six healthy children.  

Duillia was a strong and determined young woman who began to make cheese in a lean-to shed at Crombleholme Farm where they moved to in 1921.  The cheese making endeavours were very successful and eventually with a staff of six, Duillia was taking milk from most of the neighbouring farms.  

In 1934 the Singleton family set up a company called Singleton’s Dairy Ltd and delivered fine Traditional Lancashire cheese made to Duillia’s special three day curd recipe to markets throughout Lancashire.

1939 saw the outbreak of the Second World War and cheese makers saw their licence to produce cheese revoked so that all surplus milk could be sent to our armed forces as milk powder.  During the War, defector and traitor Lord Ha-ha created a great deal of propaganda which included the Nazi plans to bomb all food manufacturers.  This caused the family to move away from the cheese unit as they truly feared for their lives.  In the event, a bomb was dropped on the Crombleholme hamlet but not intentionally.  A poor pilot losing power as he flew from Liverpool over Lancashire was forced to drop his cargo of bombs and there was a line of craters right across the county.

There wasn’t a lot of spare time for Grandma Singleton with her large family and her expanding business but when she could she would garden, knit and write poetry.  Sadly the family have mislaid her volume of poems.

In her latter years she continued to live at Crombleholme with her daughter Mary until 1957 when she died at the age of 78.