It’s a family affair...

editorial image

THIS extraordinary picture comes to us all the way from Australia, courtesy of Janet Dean, who is back in Spen visiting family.

Janet loaned us the photograph which was taken in 1963, shortly before the birth of her youngest brother Carl.

His birth brought the number of children in their family to an incredible 16.

Janet’s parents were Jack and Joyce Andrews and the family home was in Laverhills – and coincidentally her niece now lives in exactly the same house.

“I was born at Moorend in 1945 and we moved to a four-bedroomed house in Laverhills in 1947,” she recalled.

“The picture was taken outside our house for a newspaper article about our large family. I remember there was another family, the Frears, who I think had the same number of children and they also lived at Laverhills.

“Joan was the oldest child in our family and there were 25 years between her and Carl, so my mum spent most of those 25 years pregnant.

“She was a remarkable woman, I was always amazed by her because she was so easy-going and never, ever lost her temper.

“It was a very happy home, we all knew we had to behave and we all had our own jobs to do to help out.

“There was never a time though when all 16 children lived at home together because as one got married and moved out another was born.

“My dad worked at Birkby’s in Liversedge and on a night he’d work in local pubs, the Brown Cow or the Shoulder of Mutton, for a bit of extra money.”

Janet’s husband, Colin, recalls the first time he visited their home when they were courting.

“I walked into the front room and thought I’d walked into the cinema because they were all sitting on benches!” he said.

“They were a lovely family and there was never a dull moment.”

Colin and Janet emigrated to Australia in 1972 and now live in Melbourne.

Were they ever tempted to follow Janet’s parents and have a large family?

“No!” said Janet. “I had two boys, then I got my girl and decided that was enough!”

The couple are back in Spen visiting family and will be leaving at the beginning of June.