Winifred Jacob Smith entered the world on August 4, 1911, the daughter of Dora and Jacob Smith. Jacob was a farmer, descended from generations who had farmed since 1710 at Humberton between Knaresborough and Boroughbridge. This included on the Newby Hall Estate at Givendale, and at Burton Grange, Humberton.
It was traditional for the first son of each succeeding generation of the Smith family to be given the name Jacob. However, the last of the line were daughters (Winifred’s sister Dorothy was born the year before her) so their father adopted the name Jacob in their surname so the tradition could live on
As well as playing an active role in the family’s very successful farming business, including being qualified in butter and cheese making, Dora Smith was president of Knaresborough Women’s Institute (WI). Both her daughters took a very active role. All three were strong, practical-minded women who held their close-knit family very dear.
The Jacob Smith’s story is an important part of Knaresborough’s history. What follows is a timeline to help gain an understanding of the main events and milestones in the lives of one of the town’s most respected families. It is by no means complete but is a work in progress as The Friends of Jacob Smith Park continue to discover more. We are indebted to the sources listed below for their contribution in compiling this information.
18 May 1910 – Dorothy Smith is born.
August 4 1911 – Winifred Smith is born.
Around 1920 after WW1 – Jacob Smith and his family move to Knaresborough, where he takes over Park Corner Farm, Scriven
1937 - At the Women’s Institute (WI), Winifred socialises with Lady Celia Coates, who asks Winifred to please ‘look after the Women’s Land Army if war should break out’
1938 - Winifred and Dorothy publish a book of local recipes (see it here), with funds supported by business advertising. Knaresborough women from all backgrounds submitted their local recipes to raise money for the parish church in the town.
14 September 1939 – War breaks out and Winifred aged 30 joins the Women’s Land Army (WLA). Her sister Dorothy also joins the WLA. Shortly after, Winifred is selected as a WLA representative and is invited to attend a special reception hosted by The Queen.
1939-1945 – Winifred (educated at St Margaret’s School in Scarborough and later at Yorkshire Ladies’ College Leeds on a secretarial course) becomes the organiser of Women’s Land Army North Yorkshire. She keeps, what are later described by historians as unique diaries, to recount her visits to check on the welfare of land girls which she made a number one priority, in farm billets and hostels. 80 in number. Winifred also works for the WLA from her beloved family home of Somerley with two typists.
December 1941 - Jacob Smith (father) dies aged 74 (read the obituary) - Winifred and Dorothy inherit the family home and take over the running of the dairy farm enterprise at Park Corner Farm, Scriven. This includes a herd of award-winning pedigree Ayrshire cattle. Dorothy takes the lead on the farm during her own WLA commitments and also Winifred’s.
1945-1950 – Winifred is appointed the Organiser of the WLA for the whole of Yorkshire. As well as keeping detailed diaries and records, she edits a monthly WLA report called ‘The Bulletin’ sent out to all hostels and clubs across the region.
February 28 1951 - Winifred is awarded the MBE for her work for the WLA and receives her honour from King George VI at Buckingham Palace. She is joined by Dorothy and Dora.
1965 - Winifred and Dorothy purchase the 30 acres of farmland, Scriven Park, (adjacent to their family farming business at Park Corner Farm) - which they had previously leased from the famous Slingsbys of Knaresborough (after parts of its estate were sold off) to graze their award-winning pedigree Ayrshire Cattle.
May 2, 1974 – Dora Smith dies, aged 100.
26 April 1984 – Dorothy Jacob Smith dies a spinster aged 74.
May 23 2003 – Winifred Jacob Smith MBE dies a spinster aged 94. She is buried alongside her sister and parents in a family plot at All Saints’ Church, Kirby Hill, Boroughbridge. Wartime memorabilia, including Women’s Land Army uniforms and records found in the attic at Somerley, are donated to Yorkshire Farming Museum, Murton Park near York for permanent display.
Winifred is remembered by former WLA girls for her care and compassion during her work, and also as an organiser of WLA reunions in the years that followed the end of World War II.
Scriven Park is bequeathed to Harrogate Borough Council to manage for the enjoyment of the general public. Winifred’s main legacy is to Yorkshire Cancer Research, which since her death has benefitted from £10m.
January 2008- Jacob Smith Park (formerly Scriven Park) is officially opened to the public.
2010 - The family’s much-loved home, the impressive red-bricked house named Somerley, is demolished because it was allowed to fall into disrepair. A housing estate now occupies the land and the road leading to it is called Somerley Lane.
16 March 1940
Miss Winifred Jacob Smith, the younger daughter of Mr and Mrs Jacob Smith, Somerley, Boroughbridge Road, had the honour of being selected as one of the Women’s Land Army representatives to attend a reception by the Queen in London on Thursday. Miss Smith has been acting as secretary for the North Riding branch of the Land Army.
15 June 1940
War-Time Cookery. – A course of lectures on wartime cookery is being enthusiastically followed by local housewives, over a hundred attending last week’s two classes. The lectures are given each Tuesday at Scriven Women’s Institute (2.15pm) and at the Modern School (7.30pm) by Miss Dorothy Jacob Smith, who has already conducted similar courses at Ripon, Huby and Horsforth. No rationed foods are used, but in spite of this restriction of scope, many appetising and nourishing dishes are produced. Admission is free.
12 October 1940
Three days’ holiday at the beginning of this week, pupils of the Modern School have been potato-picking for local farmers. Mr Jacob Smith, of Scriven, and Mr Webster, of Hopewell House, on whose farms they helped with the potato harvest, Mr Jacob Smith spoke highly of their services
10 May 1941
Services Club – The resignation of Mrs Welch, hon. The organiser of the Services Club and Canteen has been accepted with great regret by the committee, who have expressed their deep appreciation of her services from the inception of the venture. Mrs J. Sutcliffe has been appointed to succeed her, with Miss Dorothy Jacob Smith as her assistant. The club is in a flourishing financial position, and the committee has been able to make grants of £25 each to the Commanding Officers of two regiments, to be applied at their own discretion.