Farewell to a Woman of Steel

Rose Lawton, who has died aged 90
Rose Lawton, who has died aged 90
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A devoted family woman who supported the Women of Steel campaign in her later years has died aged 90.

Rose Lawton worked as a cutlery manufacturer at Needham, Veall and Tyzack in Sheffield’s Devonshire Quarter during the Second World War.

Over the last few years, she dedicated her time to fundraising for the Women of Steel statue, which is to become a permanent memorial in recognition of the Sheffield women – like Rose – who served their country by working in the steel industry and factories during the wars.

Rose was born in December 1924 and grew up in Southey Green, attending Marlcliffe Primary School in Wadsley.

The house had neither gas nor electricity, but Rose’s parents and three siblings made do with a coal fire and candlelight along with music to bring the family home to life.

Rose’s son Mike said: “She was very much into music, all the family were.

“Her brother played the piano in a honky-tonk style and her father played the banjo. Members of the family would regularly gather around the piano and have a sing-song.”

After leaving school, Rose went to Needham, Veall and Tyzack. She was working there during the war and saw the city in the aftermath of the Sheffield Blitz in 1940.

“There were no buses to take her to work that day and after waiting for a while she set off to walk,” said Mike.

“She went down through the Wicker, up High Street and down The Moor and the sights she saw brought all the horrors of the war to her.”

Rose met her future husband Henry, a steelworker, in a pub in Darnall and they married in 1944. The pair went on to have five children – twins Mike and Maureen, and daughters Rosemary, Anne and Patricia. The family lived on Monteney Crescent, Parson Cross – the house in which Rose remained until she died.

After having children, Rose went to work at the Bassett’s factory.

Mike can recall one occasion when his mother had to take Anne to the old Royal Infirmary after she had had an accident in gym class at school.

“The receptionist was taking her details and she asked my mum what her occupation was,” said Mike.

“My mother said, ‘Stripper.’

“The receptionist jolted her head back from her writing, leaned forward in her chair and peered up at my mother.

“My mother was quite a large build and not pretty – and when my mother saw the reaction she added, ‘I strip the liquorice off the trays at Bassett’s’.”

Rose, who has 14 grandchildren and more than a dozen great-grandchildren, took part in the first ever Women’s Star Walk in 1978. Some 35 years later she joined 50 friends and family members for the revived Star Walk, which raised funds for the Women of Steel.

Her health deteriorated in her later years and she died peacefully on February 6.

* Rose’s funeral takes place on Friday, February 27, at Grenoside Crematorium at 1.45pm. Afterwards, a celebration of her life will be held at the Malthouse on Monteney Crescent, Parson Cross.

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