The colourful life of Phyllis Ayris

Phyllis Ayris in Auckland on her 100th birthday
Phyllis Ayris in Auckland on her 100th birthday

A well-known former-Gainsborough resident who ran a number of local businesses has died in New Zealand - aged 101-years-old.

Mrs Phyllis Ayris, died in New Zealand on 3rd September - just two weeks short of her 102nd birthday.



She ran several local businesses - including the former Drover’s Call pub, the North End Garage in Marton and a number of small shops in Knaith Park and Gainsborough.

Mrs Ayris (nee Futter) left Gainsborough in 1949 with her husband Charles and sons Cyril and Roy to start a new life in Tasmania.

Unable to settle there, the family briefly returned to Gainsborough where, in about 1951, Mr and Mrs Ayris took over the Drovers Call pub (now demolished), in Lea Road.

They returned to Australia in 1953, and in 1957 Mr and Mrs Ayris and Roy finally settled in Auckland.

Mrs Ayris was born near Doncaster on 17th September 1910.

“When her parents moved to Gainsborough she attended Handel Girls’ School where she was threatened with expulsion after being caught climbing through a washroom window to play hockey,” said her son Cyril. “She never forgot the incident and was still smiling at the memory a fortnight before she died.”

Phyllis and Charles were married in St Pauls Church, Morton, on 14 September 1932. The wedding received page one coverage in the Retford, Worksop, Isle of Axholme and Gainsborough News (this newspaper’s predecessor).

“My mother and father bought a grocery shop in Trinity Street and were still there when Gainsborough was bombed during the war,” said Cyril.

“They later moved to Knaith Park where another small shop was created by punching a hole in the front wall of their house, and installing shelves and a counter in the front room.”

He continued: “In 1944 they bought North End Garage in Marton which boasted hand-pumped petrol bowsers and a workshop. Mr Ayris bought an American Buick and used it as a taxi, mainly for airmen stationed at nearby aerodromes.”

“One night he was returning four airmen to their base when the car was attacked and strafed by a German fighter. He and his passengers escaped by driving into a haystack and leaping into a ditch.”

He added: “Charles and Phyllis took over the Drovers Call after they came back from Tasmania.”

“Together, they ran it for about two years before returning Down Under and later moving to New Zealand.”