Nunthorpe History Group
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Memories of Green Way
by Stephen Walker
Arthur Dowson had built the first house in Green Way in 1948, and my grandparents put the deposit down on it for my parents who bought it for the princely sum of £1200. Over the years, Arthur built many houses on Green Way, and then, with over-arching ambition, created a right turn off Green Way, and proceeded to build houses in Green Close. Green Way and Green Close were surrounded by fields in those days. The houses were populated mainly by young families, so a lot of the children grew up together. Going up the road, there was David Wharf, Martin and Peter Lund, Catherine and John Fryett, Stephen and Peter Milne, and then, down Green Close, later on, came the Toveys – Wade, Mark and Sarah. There were also children who came from outside, such as Ian Burnicle, who lived down the Avenue at the bottom of Green Way. There must have been other children, as there was quite a horde of us at one stage playing football at the top of the road, under the eyes of the ever-tolerant parents looking out of their kitchen windows.
Me, in the back garden of 1, Green Way, circa 1964
Life was different then. Health and safety hadn’t cast its icy chill over normal childish pursuits such as camping out, having fires, playing with fireworks, digging holes, making dens and playing in huge piles of hay bales in Jackie Brunton’s field. We did all these things to a pretty intensive degree. Life was an adventure. But I could be wimpish. I was scared of heights. So it was always with trepidation in my heart when we went over the field at the end of Green Close to play in the Witches’ tree, or the Reindeer tree. I would hang about on the lower branches while the Lunds, or John Fryett, or his big sister Catherine, who was a bit of a Tom-Boy and was at the time known as Bogul, swung about in the branches high up above me. But, as I remember, they never mentioned it, or at least not to me. They were, “cool” about such things. I did try to discuss my fear of heights with my parents, but they weren't interested in my bleating. Beyond the tree-line, there were more fields, into which we would venture. On the horizon there was a farm, silhouetted against the sky. This was High Farm. I can’t remember if the High Farm Boy was myth or reality. He might have chased us back across the fields once. He certainly instilled fear, whether he was real or not.
Closer to home, just beyond the tree-line, we decided to dig in, ready for gang warfare with a competing gang from the Avenue. We borrowed spades from our dads, and dug a deep hole in the field, 6 feet by 6 feet, and probably 6 feet deep. We had a ladder to get down in to it. This was going to be our base from which we would launch assaults on the Avenue Gang, or to which we would retreat in the event of attack. But no conflict as such ever happened. I think we operated largely in the realm of imagination, rather than reality. However, the Avenue Gang did make an approach, probably when we were at home having tea, and they filled in the hole. Hedley Fryett, father of John and Catherine, was a force to be reckoned with. He would summon Catherine and John with a whistle when meals were ready. He was a pilot on the River Tees, and as such commanded respect in the road. He had a military gait, and could often be seen marching up and down Green Way in his pilot’s uniform, complete with peaked cap with insignia.
My memory of Hedley is that he was a fair man, but he was not to be messed with. So when the Avenue Gang filled in our hole, and in the process buried Hedley’s spade, which was lying at the bottom of the hole, all hell was let loose. He rounded up the miscreants and instructed them to dig out “my bally spade”, and stood over them until they had done so, much to the mirth of us, the opposing gang.
That wasn’t the only time I can remember “digging in”. In 1963, during the Cuban missile crisis, we youngsters, even at the age of 9, knew we were in danger. On a small patch of grassy ground at the end of our garden, my friend Stephen Milne and I built a nuclear bomb shelter. The fact that we built it out of grass was neither here nor there.
And then there was simply “digging”. Margaret Sutherland’s family moved in two doors up the road, when I was about 10 years old. Her family came from the Orkney Islands, and Margaret was a bit mysterious to us. A mystical figure from the northern Isles. And so it was that Margaret convinced me that the huge lump of concrete partially buried at the end of our garden – the redundant foundation of a fence post – was in fact an Orkney Threepence. I thought it was rather large to be a coin, but Margaret told me that the Orkney Threepence was a magical thing, rarely found, and that if it was dug up, it would disappear. So it was that I spent days digging away with my dad’s trowel, with Margaret standing over me, and my parents wondering what on earth was going in.
At the junction of Green Way and Green Close, Arthur Dowson for some reason left a rectangular patch of ground, which served as a sort of play area. There was ample space for a house to be built on it, but it was left as grass. It wasn’t really tended by anyone, as I remember, and the grass would get quite long. Hedley Fryett kept his sailing boat, Selina, on the edge of this patch of ground, opposite their house. But let me dwell for a few minutes on Arthur.
Green Way and Green Close, hence a large part of the little world in which I grew up, would not have existed, had it not been for Arthur Dowson. Although I was small, so my judgement as to his size may be inaccurate, as I always looked up to him, he was not a tall man. But he was strong. He had a tough exterior. He was a builder, after all. His face was that of a man who was outside in all weathers, rose early, and toiled hard. His eyes denoted simultaneously kindness, patience and cunning. He didn’t question existence, he just got on with it. The philosopher was perhaps his companion in work, Peter the Joiner, who shared Arthur’s sartorial taste – overalls and flat cap, but, whilst Arthur’s overalls were a well-worn and dusty grey, Peter’s overalls always seemed to be newish, and were a kind of gingery colour. Peter was a tall, gaunt man, who wore glasses which always seemed to be impenetrable to me. He was a bit of a mystery. He spent most of his time in a large grey corrugated metal building (which started life on the corner of Green Way and Green Close, but later was moved to a corner of the field at the end of Green Close) with the doors shut. The piercing howls and grindings of Peter’s wood-working machines regularly issued from within his mysterious corrugated kingdom.
Arthur knew what he was doing. He was a skilled builder, but his approach to building a house would surprise people today. One house could easily take 6 months to build. Often longer. Arthur knew the secret of building houses properly. He could teach today’s builders and developers a thing or two. Above all, he knew that the most important thing was to let the foundations harden and settle, before building walls on them. His houses were properly built, brick by brick, not thrown up in a desperate bid to get on to the next building project. 60 years later, Arthur’s houses still stand, looking as good and as solid as when they were first built.
Arthur Dowson had a small team of builders. Himself, Peter the Joiner, and his son, John. He brought John up to be a builder, and John was at least as skilful, and eventually took over the business, and extended it. John was as kind and patient as his dad. He had a gleaming black racing bike, which I always longed to have a ride on, but never did, and Arthur had a shiny black Rover Cyclops – the Rover P4 with a headlight in the middle of the radiator. Unfortunately, somebody crashed in to it, and that was the end of it. But I still have a strange obsession with Rover P4s, and I own a shiny silver road-bike.
Catherine Fryett, remembers the kindness of John Dowson when she was a young lass. He used to give her lifts around the area in the bucket of his tractor, telling her to keep her head down in case the police spotted her!
But Arthur was not alone with his little team. He was followed everywhere by the local children, including myself. How he managed to avoid having accidents, let alone build houses, with half a dozen of us children always under his feet, is a mystery to me. But Arthur had huge reserves of patience, his inevitable utterance whenever any of us were in the way being:
“Come bye….Come bye…”
Arthur not only tolerated our presence, he gave us little tasks. However, he must have recognised the builder-potential in my friend Ian Burnicle, and in no time Ian was given the privilege of being Arthur’s dumper-truck driver. This he did with considerable confidence and skill, until one day he accidentally accelerated the dumper into a large newly erected concrete gatepost outside the recently-built no1 Green Close, and knocked it over, much, presumably, to the consternation of Arthur. But Ian was back driving the dumper soon afterwards.
The untended patch of ground Arthur left at the junction of Green Way and Green Close became a playground for us. Revelling in the lack of health and safety that was characteristic of those days, we frequently had fires there, and around bonfire night, we would experiment with fireworks, firing rockets from Arthur’s scaffolding pipes, emptying the gunpowder out of bangers in order to make bigger bangers, and generally creating mayhem.
Above : "The Greenway Gang" having what I think is a New Year's Eve get together in the late 1950s, in the sitting room of my parents' house, 1, Greenway.
From left to right in the foreground, we have:
Arthur Dowson; Peggy Wharf; Mollie Dowson; Thelma Robson; Marie Walker (my mother); Dolly Walker (my grandmother).
The four chaps at the back are, left to right, Herbert Walker (my grandfather); Ken Robson and his son, Stuart, and Jimmy Wharf.
On summer evenings, the grassy patch would begin to resemble some sort of shanty town, as camping-out fever took over. There could be 4 or 5 tents pitched at any one time, around the fire. I can remember marvelling at the Fryetts’ tent. It was a bit special. Possibly some kind of military tent. A very large bell-tent. It wouldn’t look out of place at Glastonbury festival today. John and Catherine Fryett, (Catherine was a couple of years older than me, John the same age), always fascinated me. I can remember Catherine taking me up a ladder into the extension which Hedley had had built above their garage, and showing me an ingenious heated box, where her cat – Snagglepuss – slept. It was heated by a light bulb in a compartment beneath the box, separate from the cat’s quarters. Catherine was also a great den-builder. With a bit of help from the rest of us, she designed and built a long tunnel-like den behind the hedgerow at the end of the Fryetts’, or the Milnes’ garden, and then lined the inside with war-time black-out curtains, making the den a dark, mysterious and memorable place. She called the den La Poule.
Catherine was gentle, but fearless. She would climb to the tops of trees without batting an eyelid. But she had her mother Betty’s sweet nature. John was equally fearless and had an infectious sense of humour. He would sing “The Wibbly Wobbly Way” with a Mickey Mouse voice. He had a motorised go-cart, and one day Hedley took him to a stretch of disused road on the way to Stokesley, so he could speed up and down it on his cart. I was invited to go with John and have a go at driving the machine. Being a “Cautious Walker”, I, when it was my turn to have a go, drove the cart at a moderate speed, while, when it was John’s turn, he went like a bat out of hell. While we were driving the go-cart, Hedley noticed that a nut and bolt in the suspension was coming loose from time to time, and rattling, so he had to check it and tighten it up at frequent intervals. At one point in the carting session, after I had had a go, and was getting out of the cart, Hedley observed:
“That’s funny. The bolt hasn’t come loose. Oh. It must be because Stephen was driving it”.
The only other times I remember venturing away from Green Way with the “gang” was when we would walk or cycle out to a bridge over the river Tame, in Tunstall Lane, beyond old Nunthorpe. We would catch sticklebacks and bullheads, eventually releasing the fish, after imprisoning and traumatising them in buckets, and returning home, with me merrily singing “Hey Hey We’re the Monkees” on at least one occasion, according to Cath.
“Stickleback Bridge” in Tunstall Lane, taken by Cath Fryett, Spring, 2016.
The camping at the top of the road was fun, and we were left to do what we wanted. Nothing untoward ever happened, as I remember. We fiddled around with the tents and tried to cook on our fires, we talked, and eventually we slept. As we got older, we moved the camp site on to a more remote patch of ground on grass beyond the top of Green Way. We were probably 10 or 11 years of age then. Again, we had innocent fun, peppered with some less innocent chat and a bit of fantasising. It was there that we became aware that the camp site was being patrolled by adults……
Thanks to Steve Walker
Memories of Nunthorpe
by Tony Walton
Some time between 1905 and 1911 my maternal grandparents, John Edward & Margaret Anne Dodds arrived in Nunthorpe with two or three of their children, Mary (my mother) b.1905, Henry (Harry) b. 1907 and Elizabeth (Bessie) b. 1909. Initially the lived in the end terrace house at the corner of Marton Moor Road and Rookwood Road. Eventually, this house was to become Wards shop. I don’t know how long the spent in this house, but the family moved some time later to a detached house on the other side of Marton Moor Road which became no. 20 when house numbers were finally “allowed”. My grandfather ran a cooperage in Middlesbrough and must have been fairly successful as he built 4 semi-detached homes on the Avenue between Marton Moor Road and Clarence Road – nos. 8, 10, 12, & 14. Numbers 8 and 10 were rented out, but my family lived at no. 12 and my mother’s brother (Uncle Bob) lived with his family at no. 14. His business was located next to the level crossing on Cargo Fleet Road. When I started work in Middlesbrough in 1966 I sometimes took the train and could still quite clearly see his name “J E DODDS COOPER on the roof of the building.
Dodds family - Margaret Anne, Robert (Bob), Henry (Harry), Mary (My mother), Elizabeth (Bessie) and John Edward
Sadly, I remember very little of my grandfather he died in 1948 after suffering a heart attack climbing the stairs from the beach to the upper esplanade at Saltburn carrying his 11 month old grandson – me! Both he and my grandmother are buried in St Mary’s churchyard as well as with some other family members. My grandmother outlived him by 17 years and remained in the house in Marton Moor Road until her death. My mother drove my father mad by always saying that she was just nipping “over home”. She never seemed to have grasped that 12, The Avenue was her family home. In some ways that wasn’t surprising as, in true Victorian fashion, as she was the eldest daughter she was expected to stay at home to help her mother and I don’t think that this duty ever left her despite bringing up 5 children of her own!
My paternal grandparents moved to Nunthorpe much later than the Dodds’s. John James Walton my grandfather was a plumber who had worked his way up to a management position with TB Watson & Coates a well known Middlesbrough company. By the time of his retirement John James had acquired a plot of land just off Gypsy Lane where he built a new home, Beveler House, and kept himself busy, and self sufficient, with a small holding.
Beveler House, Gypsy Lane, possibly late 20’s or early 30’s. The picture of the house from the railway cutting shows the land that was sold for building which is now part of Kirkwood/Mayfield Roads.
The house itself was set some distance from the lane, but the land extended down to the Middlesbrough - Whitby railway line. The drive down to Beveler house ran between a property owned by Dr Blowers (a great supporter of Nunthorpe Cricket Club) and Watson’s small farm which was a provider of farm produce to the Nunthorpe community. I remember Watson’s milk being delivered by horse and cart. I don’t know for sure, but I think owning a small holding had been a lifetime ambition and I am sure he was very happy in his retirement looking after a small collection of animals (including a cow !) and growing a copious amount of vegetables. When it all came to be too much for him in the early 50’s he sold up and moved to Stockton where my aunt was a Sister at the children's hospital. Timing can’t have been his best asset for not too many years later that strip of land was sold for housing development on what is now the Kirkham/Mayfield Road Estates, probably for significantly more than John James received.
Growing up in Nunthorpe in the 50’s and 60’s was a delight, as many other contributors have pointed out. My recollections are of a very small community where almost everyone was known to everyone else. Only 3 shops, Wards, Robinsons and Tates (great name for a greengrocer!) and Anderson’s garage. 4 more shops were added on the east side of the level crossing in the 50’s, Pearsons (baby linen), Cundalls (chemists), Gjertsens (general store) and Pantons (butcher). Mr Panton’s business was bought out by Hintons after a short while, but if I remember correctly he stayed on and ran the business on their behalf. Also at the end of the cutting between Cundalls and Gjertsens there was a smaller unit which started life as a bank – Martins I believe. It didn’t last long and my last memory of it is as a hairdressers.
The Methodist church played a big part in our family life, although quite how my grandfather Dodds reconciled being tee-total with manufacturing beer barrels I’m not sure. My father, Harold Walton, played the organ at both the old chapel and the new church. The organ at the chapel must have taken some effort as it was powered by foot pump. The new church saw the introduction of a pipe organ which was far easier for my dad to play. Mother sang in the choir as well, but I think it was a great disappointment to both of them that not one of their 5 offspring showed any musical talent whatsoever!
Not many televisions around in those days and I can recall being invited, along with Glyn and Robin Wright, who lived next door, to Mr & Mrs Swan’s house further down the Avenue to watch children's TV on Sunday afternoons. I’m not sure what we watched, but Circus Boy was one series and a series called the Silver Sword (?). The “circus” boy was child actor Micky Dolenz who later found fame with the pop group the Monkees. The TV itself probably had a screen of around 12” – microscopic when you consider the size of some of the 3D monsters that are around today !
There were no playgrounds in those days so we made our own entertainment. The cricket and football fields were a magnet for the boys. Just a short walk over the polo field (carefully avoiding anything left by Jack Brunton’s cows !) and the world was your oyster. Games were very seasonal usually depending on which major tournaments had just been played – test matches and it was cricket, Wimbledon and it was tennis etc, but football was probably the most popular. The cricket field was always kept in good condition, the football field less so. The football team was run by Jack Eldridge who lived next door to the Fletchers on Marton Moor Road. It was a real makeshift local side. The shirt colours were blue and gold quarters and I don’t suppose for a minute that they were ever renewed in my time there. The team weren’t overly successful and, with apologies to Billy Connolly, were best known as Nunthorpe Nil! The cricket team had more success and was better supported by the local community. As I mentioned earlier, Doc Blowers was a great supporter of the club. When I was about 12 he asked me if I would be interested in scoring for the 2ndXI. It seemed like a good idea and he meticulously went through the procedures with me over a couple of Saturdays and that was it. I was the official scorer. I must have done the scoring for two or three years. It was great fun! In the depths of winter the weather determined what our entertainment would be. The snow was always very welcome, as long as it stayed that is ! For easy sledging we would use the hill at the western end of Marton Moor Road, taking the right hand bend into the Avenue, or Clarence Road or Greenway for a straight run. Not much traffic in the 1950’s! For more adventurous sledging we would trek all the way to “the clump” at Swan’s Corner – a steep hill with a fence at the bottom to stop you ending up on the Ormesby to Guisborough road.
A photo of interest, possibly mid 1920s- Unknown group of ladies, possibly W.I.
My grandmother and mother are 4th and 5th from the left in the middle row
Thanks to Tony Walton
Correspondence to Nunthorpe History Group from Tony Walton, ex-Nunthorpe now living in sunny Portugal.
BACK ROW L-R
Roger Lee (The Avenue, then Guisborough Road), Michael Goodwin (The Avenue), David Hutchinson (Poole Lodge, then Clarence Road), David Horsley (Clarence Road, then Marton Moor Rd), Michael Stirling (Farm Cottages, Church Lane), Stephen Walkley (Gypsy Lane), Me (The Avenue), Roy Stirling (Farm Cottages, Church Lane), Johnny Kehoe (Gypsy Lane), Robin Wright (The Avenue)
FRONT ROW L-R
Antony Ward (Guisborough Rd), David Frankland (Rookwood Rd), Carol Elliot (Swan’s Corner), Jane Briggs (Connaught Rd), ??????, Linda Lund (The Avenue) Ruth Wilson (Clarence Rd), Christine Lawn (Marton Moor Rd), Pauline Fletcher (Marton Moor Rd), ??? Greenwood (?), Penny Farrier (The Avenue), ??????, Catherine Johnson (Clarence Rd), Pamela Johnson (Greenway), Beryl Foster (The Avenue), David Farrier (?), Arthur Evans (Connaught Rd).
Dear NHG Editor,
I find it remarkable that looking back, Nunthorpe (Station) had only 8 streets in those days – and that included Guisborough Road and Gypsy Lane! I know I have more old photos hidden away somewhere so I’ve set myself the task of searching them out and I’ll forward those which I think may be of interest. I’d also like to put together some of my memories for inclusion on the site if that’s OK. I could also let you have some names for the photos of the school nativity of 1952 and also of the characters in the play which carries the same date, but which must have been some years later, I’d say about 1957 – I’m the paper boy, back centre in that one ! Somewhat prescient, I actually was a paper boy for Wards from 1961 to 1966! Morning papers on Gypsy Lane – 10 shillings a week was the going rate, but I got 11 shillings as the round was so far from the shop!
Incidentally, the maternal side of my family must have been one of the earliest to live in the station area. My mother was born in 1905 and must have moved from Middlesbrough with her parents and at least one other sibling some time between then and the 1911 census as they appear in that census as living on Marton Moor Road – no numbers in those days by order of Sir Arthur ! I know that they moved into the end terrace house at the corner of Marton Moor Road and Rookwood Road, which eventually became Ward’s shop. The family moved further along Marton Moor Road at some time to the detached house which is now No. 20. Anyway, like I say I’ll try to put a little more flesh on the bones and you can use it if you like.
Looking at your site has brought back many memories not least least the names of some more famous faces. Sir John Harvey-Jones (minus the knighthood) lived on Clarence Road for a time in the 50’s and early 60’s. His daughter Gaby attended the primary school and I think eventually married David Horsley who is in the 1953 class photo. Frank Bough, the TV presenter, lived on Windsor Crescent and played cricket for Nunthorpe for a short period. I remember being scorer for the 2nd team when he played for the first time. Hilarious ! Newcomers were always given a try out in the 2nds and he’d been a blue at university. He quite simply took the opposition apart ! Then there were two Middlesbrough footballers Ken Thomson who played for the Boro’ in the early 60’s. He moved on to Hartlepool and became implicated in the 1964 betting scandal. Tragically he died at the age of 39, on a golf course I believe. Finally Dave Chadwick who played in the late 60’s lived at the Brunton Arms end of The Avenue.
Many thanks to Tony.
“I remember the hunt meeting at Nunthorpe Station, steam trains going through and the Station gas lamp being lit”.
June Bonnington, February 2012
The following is the combined reminiscences of three Nunthorpe residents growing up in Nunthorpe over fifty years ago. Many reminiscences centred on the rural nature of living in Nunthorpe, country lanes, walks, bike rides and childhood freedoms. A pond at the corner of Rookwood Road and Westwood Avenue was good for frogspawn as was a pond in a Nunthorpe field, which it was then rumoured, contained a bomb crater; wild mushrooms were also to be had in fields down the Avenue. Everyone knew everyone and looked out for each other and great pride in one’s home was demonstrated by well-tended gardens, scrubbed doorsteps and polished letterboxes and doorknobs.
Sisters June and Pauline and their younger sister Pam were born in Nunthorpe. Their parents Peter and Irene Fletcher moved from Middlesbrough to live in two rooms of the house in 23, Marton Moor Road, Nunthorpe. June recalls her parents telling her that before the move their family and friends had misgivings regarding them moving to, “ the back of beyond”. Their father worked for Dorman Long and their mother was a trained ballet dance teacher. Soon after the move they were able to buy the house and Irene set up a ballet dance studio named, “Nunthorpe School of Dancing”, by converting its two front rooms into one large studio, with the family living area at the back of the house.
Erica Rankin when a teenager moved with her younger sister Helen and parents George and Renee Rankin from Scunthorpe to Nunthorpe. George also worked for Dorman Long and Renee taught at St Mary’s Primary School Nunthorpe. Erica recalls her father recounting how, on his way back to Scunthorpe from his Redcar “digs”, his route taking him up Ormesby Bank and through Nunthorpe he spotted a house for sale on Marton Moor Road in, “this lovely little village of Nunthorpe”. Subsequently he bought the house, which then had an old-fashioned cast iron range in the kitchen and lived there until his death in 2001.
The mention of Ormesby Bank prompted memories of other roads and lanes around Nunthorpe and the general topography of the area over half a century ago. It was remembered that Ormesby Bank had its top sliced off, self evident today when looking at the land at each side, this in aid of lessening the steepness of the bank. About this time Dixon’s Bank also undertook a little, “cosmetic surgery”, with three humps being removed as a means of road improvement, and changes were also made and an embankment built opposite Nunthorpe’s War Memorial. Then Nunthorpe was still a small community borne out by Erica’s reminiscences of her student job delivering the Christmas post in the mid 1950’s, when she, one other student and the regular postman, completed the Nunthorpe delivery, which included Nunthorpe Village, well before midday.
In addition to Dixons Bank, as today, Gypsy Lane connected Nunthorpe and Marton and was much used for walks and bike rides. However, in those days Gypsy Lane was a narrow country road with high hedges with a number of small country lanes and footpaths leading onto it from other parts of Nunthorpe. It has been confirmed by Mrs Purvis, a long time resident of Nunthorpe and sister of Nunthorpe’s famous author Queenie Ward, that there used to be, “a right of way”, from Rookwood Road to Gypsy Lane. Nunthorpe did not have a Girl Guide Group so girls from Nunthorpe attended Marton Girl Guides held in Marton Community Hall. Memories came flooding back to June and Pauline of walking to Guides down the narrow Gypsy Lane and occasionally stopping off to buy crisps from the back door of the Rudds Arms, Marton, which then they recall, was no more than an old house on the main road with its back entrance down the path at the side.
The countryside and the rural aspect of Nunthorpe featured strongly in all the reminiscences, much of Nunthorpe that we know today was fields. Connaught Road stopped at the top of the bank with a vista of fields looking across to Marton and Middlesbrough beyond. The Avenue, despite a few house built at the top, was little more than a country lane with fields on either side yielding wild mushrooms. On the other side of the railway line, looking towards Swans Corner, Guisborough Road is remembered as fields with lots of wild flowers with the parade of shops on the left hand side, one of which was Tates the vegetable shop. After consultation with Mrs Purvis it was established that the parade of shops was built by Mr Gertsen and it is thought among its first occupiers were, The Post Office, Gertsens, Tates and Cundalls the Chemists. Andersons Garage, and,“ Nessfield”, a large house hidden by trees - later to become a Nursing home - were on the opposite side, with fields up to Swans Corner.
Even the sense of living in the country was felt in the back lanes between Marton Moor Road, Rookwood Road and Connaught Road. Wild flowers grew along the lane edges and the adjoining gardens had bushes and fruit trees. A Mr Briggs lived in Connaught Road and kept beehives in his back garden, it was remembered that if any Nunthorpe resident had any problems with swarming bees Mr Briggs would collect the offending bees and look after them in his hives. Many Nunthorpe gardens were large, a lady named Mrs Richardson lived at 78, Gypsy Lane and held a very well attended Sunday school at her home; her garden is remembered by June and Pauline as a huge exciting wilderness where they, together with their sister Pam were allowed to play. Another exciting play area was in the large garden of the Marshall family who lived opposite the now Methodist church in Connaught Road, their garden housed an old railway carriage used as a playhouse by the two young Marshall boys and their friends.
Available schooling was, “The Firs”, a small private school situated on the corner of Marton Moor Road and Guisborough Road, although it was thought this school had closed by the late 1950’s. The village primary school came under the control of Yorkshire County Council; built in Church Lane by Sir Arthur Dorman in 1903 it was situated near St Mary’s Church, in the same building that today is the Omega Health Club. In summer it was acceptable for Nunthorpe children to walk across the fields to school, a favourite game of, “bagging the mouse”, was often played on the way, this was simply a competition to see which child would be the first to touch a Robert Thompson mouse carved into the Lych Gate of St. Mary’s Church as they passed through. This walk was not always without incident as Pauline vividly remembers the day she was carrying a bunch of Michaelmas Daisies across the field for her school Harvest Festival offering and was accosted by a horse that took and ate her flowers, a young Pauline remembers running home in distress anxious to replace the flowers with something as she simply could not go to the harvest festival without a gift! In winter the school route took a different turn along Guisborough Road, and down Stokesley Road with warnings from parents not to go into the woods along Stokesley Road.
Dinners at the school were served in the hut at the side of the school -now the Scout Hut, the toilets were outside across the school yard and froze in the winter and the school had no central heating. A lady from Nunthorpe, named Mrs Sterling cooked at the school and it was remembered how she coped with the cooking having only one arm. Erica’s mother was one of the teachers at the school and the head teacher was Miss Carter followed later by Miss Turner. In those days the population of Nunthorpe was far too small to warrant a secondary school and Nunthorpe children attended Eston County Modern School and later Stokesley County Modern School with scholarship children attending Guisborough Grammar school or Middlesbrough High School.
Nunthorpe Station was often the start of Sunday School outings by steam train to Whitby. Both June and Pauline attended Sunday School at the Methodist church, then in Rookwood Road and remember being taught by Ken English and sometimes Sylvia English. Nunthorpe station was also the meeting place for the local hunt which June remembered watching the horses and hounds gathering around the railway crossing and earlier as a very young child she remembered being taken by her father to see the Station gas lamp being lit.
The Station then had its own Station Master with his own office. Erica recalled as a college student taking her trunk to the station and the Station Master assuring her it would be safely delivered to its destination. The area of Nunthorpe around the Station, which also contained the Police House at No. 1 Marton Moor Road, was then referred to as “Nunthorpe Station”, to distinguish it from, “Nunthorpe Village”. It was agreed the village had changed very little over the years, although it is now no longer the main road through to Stokesley. Interestingly, it was recalled that Nunthorpe Hall was used as a maternity hospital during and for a few years after the Second World War and named, “Ardencaple”, both June and Pauline and sister Pam were born at “Ardencaple” as they believe were a number of present day Nunthorpe residents.
Back in those days, entertainment and recreational facilities were pretty limited for Nunthorpe children. Neither Pauline, June nor Erica had any recollection of a tennis club in Nunthorpe, ”tennis” for them was played on the quiet Marton Moor Road. Marton Moor Road was also fine for skipping, the rope being held across the width of the road. Sledging down Clarence Road and looking for snowdrifts in the fields were winter pastime. Children played quite freely around Nunthorpe Station often making up their own stories about particular houses and places.
One such story concerned the black door at the side of The Box, a large red brick house on the site that is now Nunthorpe Oaks. This door inspired mysterious tales of what lay behind it for imaginative Nunthorpe children including the young June and Pauline. Mr and Mrs Gerald Cochrane of Cochrane & Co. of North Ormesby Foundry lived in The Box. Mr and Mrs Cochrane were patrons of North Ormesby Hospital. A lady named Mrs Lamb who was a well-liked and respected member of the Nunthorpe Community worked as housekeeper for the Cochranes.
Nunthorpe Institute in Connaught Road is remembered as being the hub for much of Nunthorpe’s entertainment and social occasions as well as the local baby and health clinic. They remember it being used for family dances when everyone happily took part in such dances as the, “Gay Gordons”. The Pilgrim Dance School taught ballroom in its large front space and the Nunthorpe School of Dancing moved out of the front rooms of the Fletcher home at Marton Moor Road and held ballet classes in the room at the back of the Institute. The Institute had a curtained stage and both Fletcher sisters remember taking part in the dancing displays held on this stage in front of an audience. These productions were put on to raise money for charities such as Dr Banardo’s, and parents and volunteers made all the scenery and costumes. At the back of the Institute was the library with a lady named Mrs Pearse as librarian.
As teenagers, all three remember how dependent they were on public or family transport taking them to the cinema or other entertainments in the area. The last bus left Middlesbrough just after 10.00pm, well before the main film ended, which necessitated in going early to watch the end of the film first! Many older residents will remember films in the 1950-60’s were often shown on a loop. It was also remembered that walking back along the poorly lit Guisborough Road from the bus stop at Marton Moor Corner was not too pleasant!
Then, as now, Nunthorpe did not have a nightclub, dance or live music venues, these were to found in the nearby towns of Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar. Pauline remembered Redcar Jazz Club was popular, with well-known performers including Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball. The Fiesta at Stockton was also the venue for famous bands of the day. Modern dancing at the alcohol free Astoria in Wilson Street Middlesbrough attracted Nunthorpe’s younger people. Popular entertainers of the day played at a number of venues in Middlesbrough and Stockton and Pauline and Erica recalled household names as, Chris Barber, Lonnie Donegan and Cilla Black appearing in the area.
Reflecting on all their memories, June, Pauline and Erica all agreed that growing up in Nunthorpe as a young child was quite idyllic. However, later, as teenagers, living in Nunthorpe presented problems, frequently concerning transport , for any young person wanting to experience more than the quiet village existence that Nunthorpe offered over fifty years ago.
Reminiscences from the three ladies were collated by Lesley Tomlinson.
Click on picture for larger image. To return to this page from larger image click Reminiscences.htm
Dancing Display for Charity
Nunthorpe School Christmas 1952
Nunthorpe School Christmas 1952
St Marys C of E School, Nunthorpe
St Marys C of E School, Nunthorpe
Councillor John Cundall was the well known proprietor of our local pharmacy and has lived in Nunthorpe 42 years. He looks back on how The Station shopping parade was and express concern for the future of local shops.
Back in the 1950s when the village was beginning to grow, with houses appearing almost overnight on the surrounding green fields and open spaces (on which I used to play as a child), the shopping area looked quite different to the present day. Many of the older residents will remember Lloyds Bank started out in the present Fruit and Vegetable shop and the butchers was a ladies hairdressing salon. The Building Society was a drapers and the Doctor’s surgery a sweet shop etc. etc. How things have been changed!
The winds of change continue to blow, but sadly not always for the good. We have lost our bakers and more recently Lloyds Bank, who in their wisdom and with little apparent concern for customers locally also decided to close their doors. What next?
With the advent of supermarkets and out of town shopping complex, small community shopping centres the length and breadth of the country are under great pressure and are suffering quite badly, a fact that even the government now accept. Nunthorpe is no exception.
Whilst I have never been a great advocate of the expression “use it or lose it”, preferring a more positive and proactive approach to flagging sales, I am now beginning to wonder whether a re-think is in order. Yes, one stop shopping is convenient but at what price is the convenience achieved? Is bigger necessarily cheaper in the long term and can we in all honesty afford to tolerate closure of neighbourhood shops and services?
Shopping in Nunthorpe has been a feature of our lives for a long time, providing a broad spread of vital services of particular importance to our OAPs and those without transport and a real boon for that quick shopping trip.
Let us ALL ensure that these services continue with our active support, and that any changes in the future are changes for the benefit and not the detriment of our community.
John Cundall, 1988
by Grant Milne
We arrived in Nunthorpe in 1958, as
Wimpey were connecting The Avenue to Gypsy Lane. Gypsy Lane was a true lane in
those days, built up as now from Guisborough Road to the railway crossing but
from thereon meandering between fields to Stokesley Road, Marton where the shops
Architecturally Red Cottage is a very impressive example of a large Edwardian suburban family home. It has, as architects used to say, 'aspect and prospect'. The two symmetrically placed double-height bay windows make a strong architectural statement, as well as an appealing and welcoming first impression. In addition the house has been sited to take advantage of the view across the fields to Roseberry Topping. Both of these characteristics indicate an expensive and well considered design. It is also interesting to note that as one travels around adjacent villages, just how many houses have been positioned to take in this extraordinary local landmark.
At first glance the roof presented a challenge in dating, as it is clearly of a later style of design and workmanship. It is a beautifully tiled, steeply pitched example (seen at its impressive best above the north east elevation) which I guessed to date from the 'interwar' period. This is indeed the case, as Teesside Archives hold the plans drawn up for the application for permission for its addition, plus internal alterations and a garage, in 1929. The application was submitted by J F Harrison and the architect was Stephen H Clarke (b.1886) from Middlesbrough, who lived in Egglescliffe. In 1935 Clarke was Surveyor for Stockton R D C and also on the Advisory Panel for the C P R E, the Committee for the Preservation of Rural England.
Unfortunately the name of the original architect has yet to be attributed. The house first appears on the Ordnance Survey map of 1915 (surveyed in 1913), and its 'footprint' is the same as the much more recent land registry plan. Also in 1913, Red Cottage is listed in Kelly's Directory of the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, and Frederick Hansen is in residence at that time. I have also located what appears to be a child's hand-drawn map of 'Nunthorpe (station section)' dated 'Feb. 1916 A.D.' and attributed to Peter Hood. A number of the properties have names attached, and another hand has added corrections or explanation. Next to the Red Cottage site (labelled mysteriously 'the N.G.') the second hand has written: 'site was Hansens (Mr & Mrs Coates Hansen) who built it (Forbes didn't) they treated him awfully!'
The Coates Hansens were both politically active in the Middlesbrough Independent Labour Party from about 1900.
'The branch really became established when Charles Coates, his sister Marion Coates Hansen and her husband Frederick Hansen took over the running of the branch. . . Charles Coates and Frederick Hansen were wealthy middle-class businessmen and often used their money to finance the branch.'
In 1906 Marion Coates Hansen acted as George Lansbury's election agent when he stood as the I.L.P. candidate in Middlesbrough. It is thought his positive support of votes for women, adopted under the influence of his agent, lost him the election. Marion Coates Hansen was elected to the Middlesbrough Board of Guardians in 1909, and stood for Middlesbrough Borough Council in 1910, the first woman to do so, although she was not successful at that time. A staunch campaigner for women's suffrage she continued to emphasise the need for women councillors to look after the concerns of women and children. She eventually became a Member of the Town Council in 1919 and remained until 1935. Her sister-in-law, Alice Schofield Coates, another well known suffragist, was also elected a councillor in 1919 and served until 1926.
The planning application of 1929 for the Red Cottage roof, interiors and garage was submitted by J F Harrison, but it is not immediately clear when they first moved to Red Cottage. Sir John Fowler Harrison and Lady Harrison were actively involved in Nunthorpe's affairs, an important and distinguished part of the local community, although my research in this direction has been curtailed by time constraints.
However, I would argue that this house has both architectural and historical significance,
Who's Who in Yorkshire, North and East Ridings (Hereford, 1935) p.41
Teesside Archives Reference: U/S/694
Margaret Shippey, Women in Cleveland Politics c.1894-1919, Unpublished MA Dissertation Thesis,
University of Teesside, 1990.
by Anne Morley
If you’d gone down to the woods on a fine summer evening you might have seen a bunch of small girls clad in brown cotton dresses and brown woolly hats scampering around making dens. Brown Owl would give a word and the girls would have to bring items with the initial letters making up that word, so learning the names of trees and flowers. The wood was a small triangle of trees at the junction of Church Lane and Stokesley Road, the girls were the Nunthorpe (St Mary’s) Brownie Pack and their Brown Owl, Miss Margaret Potts, lived at Home Farm near Grey Towers. From the age of 7, I was one of those Brownies and recall the fun we had for 2d weekly subs (less than 1p).
When the weather was not fine, we would stay in the canteen beside the Village School where some of the tables and benches had been pushed back so in our sixes we could dance round our rather battered toadstool. There were the Elves and the Fairies and to this day I remember the rhyme my six sang, ‘We’re the little Scottish Kelpies, Quick and smart and ready helpers.’
Much of what we learnt stood us in good stead and most was enjoyable but I’m not so sure about the hours practising knots. Reef knots had to be tied behind our necks to keep those triangular ties in place, supposedly useful if you needed a sling or a bandage (woe-betide you if you tied a granny knot by mistake) then came the round turn and two half hitches, in case you needed to tie a dog to a post, and finally the sheepshank for shortening, to be used if your washing line broke! (The rabbit comes up the hole, round the tree and back ...)
Kim’s game was a favourite together with singing games like ‘The little elephant’ and ‘In and out the dusky (or was it ‘dusty’?) bluebells’. We took our Brownie promise seriously as each week with our two fingered salute we vowed, ‘to serve God and the King (Queen Elizabeth’s father) and to help other people every day, especially those at home’ and chanted, ‘Lend a hand, lah, lah, lah.’
There was trouble if our little brass Brownie badges were not shining both back and front when inspected, they were oval with an embossed dancing figure and had to be pinned just so on our ties. We worked to gain badges, one involved making tea: first warm the pot, then add a spoonful of tea for each person and one for the pot, pour on the boiling water and leave to stand for five minutes. We would also make items from felt, like embroidered egg cosies and needle cases for our sewing badge.
An annual highlight was Brownie Revels for all the Brownies in the area. I particularly remember going to Mrs Penneyman’s at Ormesby Hall one sunny summer’s day. We followed a trail through the grounds to find a lady dressed as a gypsy in a Romany caravan and put foxglove flowers on our fingers, pure magic. Mrs Nielson who lived in Morton Carr Lane was a Commissioner and would visit the pack from time to time; Miss Margaret Mary Montgomery Smith, the Vicar’s daughter, had run the Guides and took an interest in us too.
Our meetings took place after school, which finished at 3.15, and probably lasted an hour and a half. I do not remember how or where we changed out of our school clothes but we walked home together, often in the dark, over a mile across the fields or round the road by Marton Moor corner to Nunthorpe Station whilst others had a similar walk to Nunthorpe Village.
I left Brownies in 1952 when I left the Village School, later some of us went on to join the newly formed Guide Company run by Pat Eldridge in the old Methodist Chapel but that’s another story.
Anne Morley (née Ward) - January 2011
by Anne Morley
In the early 1950s, television was black and white with limited viewing hours, the term ‘teenager’ was beginning to make itself felt, we had started to ‘Rock around the Clock’ and the school leaving age had gone up from 14 to 15 years. So what did the young people of Nunthorpe do by way of entertainment? Well there was the Friday night Youth Club, Cubs and Scouts for boys in a hut at the back of the village school canteen and Brownies and Guides for girls. I was allowed to join the Girl Guides.
Sometime in the early 50s the 2nd Nunthorpe Girl Guide Company was formed. I am not sure what happened to the first company my Aunt Halcyone had belonged to but we had a gap between leaving the Brownies and joining the new Guides. Pat Eldridge was the Guide Leader and there were other helpers, Margaret Walton may have been one, but time has blurred their names in my memory.
We met weekly in the Methodist Church, not the present one but in the square, red brick building with its domed roof and arched windows that stood where the Gospel Hall is now in Rookwood Road. When the wooden chairs were cleared to the sides it gave sufficient space for the three or four patrols to meet. I began as a Robin but later transferred to the Swallows to become a Patrol Leader, I think another patrol was the Sparrows. We wore our navy school skirts and bright blue cotton blouses, the leather belts had the guide badge on the clasp and we proudly pinned a well polished trefoil badge on our red triangular ties, as in the Brownies tied at the back of the neck with a reef knot. Patrol Leaders sported a white lanyard with whistle attached. I think the air-hostess style hats came in shortly before I left.
I remember practising drill, lining up and falling out, for when Mrs. Nielson, the Commissioner, came to inspect us, and working for badges to sew on the sleeve of our blouses. Someone from The Red Cross came to teach us First Aid so we were able to put our ties to good use as slings and bandages. It was before the recovery position had been discovered but we did learn to send for the ambulance from a public phone box by dialling 999 without having to put the pennies in the slot and press button B. For Child Care we went to Mrs Nielson’s house, ‘Nesfield’ in Morton Carr Lane. Then there was bed-making, we spent a lot of time perfecting out ‘hospital corners’, how I wish we had had duvets then!
Our range of knot-tying grew to include the bowline (quite irrelevant as I have never needed to tie wet ropes) and the requirements for Cookery were a bit more interesting than the rice pudding I made as a Brownie. My friends at the High School who attended other Guide Companies in Middlesbrough were going in for the Sewing badge so I would join them with the Domestic Science teacher at lunch time – what a failure, patches, darning and buttonholes were not for me!
We were expected to attend monthly Church Parades alternating between St Mary’s and the Methodist Chapel. If you were the one in the Colour Party to carry the flag in its leather holster, you had to be careful to avoid the low doorway in the Chapel. Sometimes a Guide would be chosen to read the lesson in Church.
Anne Morley (née Ward) - January 2011
Picture Brunton’s milk cart and hear the clatter of the horse’s hooves along the fan shaped cobbles of a yet-to-be adopted Bedford Road. You’ll see a group of children, me included, clamouring for a ride back to the Clarence Road junction. The horse used to wait patiently at each stop while Martha (a refugee) took the full bottles to the doorstep and collected the well-rinsed empties. We got our milk from Watson’s Dairy in Gypsy Lane, they came in a van and ladled fresh milk directly from the churn into our jug. No free rides there but when we went to pay the bill, we were often given tiny tomatoes from Mr Watson’s greenhouse – that nose-tingling smell lingers still. One of the Miss Watsons used to make ice cream; I couldn’t understand why such cold stuff had to be boiled in a pan.
Bedford Road was not very long as it ended at the narrow strip of woodland that ran between Connaught Road and The Avenue. Beyond the wood was a large field which sometimes grew corn (we played in the stooks when it had been harvested) and other times grew mangelwurzels, probably to feed Jacky Brunton’s prize Ayrshire Longhorn cows that grazed in the Polo Field. We used to make dens in the wood and once we ventured to play hide and seek in Farrier’s hen runs at the end of Connaught Road, I remember coming home covered in chicken fleas.
Occasionally, although it was strictly out of bounds, we took jam jars to catch tadpoles in ‘the resevoy’ (otherwise ‘the reservoir’ between Rookwood Road and Gypsy Lane). In the opposite direction, we would cross the beck at the bottom of The Avenue by jumping over from the sewer pipe or by swinging on a rope permanently tied to a convenient branch, and make our way to High Farm. This was one of Brunton’s tenant farms and run by the Hide Family, Jacky and Marjorie went to school with us but were much older. It was also possible to cross the back fields to Marton Moor Farm and watch the cows being milked in the byre, but we gave the bull pen a wide berth.
Turning into Bedford Road from Clarence Road, there was a dark paling fence on your right, the end of the Hewson’s garden ‘The White House’ on Connaught Road. On the left was a piece of common land, Mrs. Florey’s bungalow had not yet been built. The common provided us with pea-shooters, courtesy of the hollow stalks from the shepherd’s purse, sloes that grew on the blackthorn and rosehips to gather in September. Delrosa paid the village school 3d a pound to make rosehip syrup and from the proceeds Miss Carter, the Headmistress, bought a wireless so we could receive BBC schools programmes. When it was used for the village bonfire on 5th November, Dad got anxious for our hedge. Later, when the council houses were built both on Clarence Road and at the bottom of The Avenue, we had fun practising our gymnastic skills on the scaffolding, forbidden of course.
Clarence Bank made a brilliant sledging slope for dozens of children and adults as well in the winter of 1947, the snow lasted for weeks. I later progressed to the Marton Moor Road hill with a daring sweep round the corner into The Avenue; needless to say there wasn’t much traffic. We couldn’t make it to Marton Moor Corner to get the ha’penny 67 bus ride to school for a while but when we did manage it, the older boys made slides that shone like glass in their playground. Each morning we were given a spoonful of neat cod-liver oil and another of malt (ugh!) to keep us healthy.
Number 9 was the first house in the road, and named ‘Mallerstang’. My parents rented it from people who lived in Darlington. All houses had names then, 13, Marton Moor Road where Nana and Grandpa Ward lived with Aunty Halcyone, behind the shop, was ‘Dolvean’ and the house we moved into a few years later, 3, Marton Moor Road, was called ‘Marwood House’, a three bed-roomed, mid-terrace with such a grand title! ‘Mallerstang’ was a ‘two up, two down’ semi-detached with a brick wash-house in the garden. There was a lawn at the back for the clothes line and my sand-pit, a couple of apple trees then the vegetable patch for potatoes, sprouts, cabbages, turnips, raspberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants. We kept rabbits in hutches supposedly for their meat but when it came to killing our pets I don’t remember them making it to the pot. Mum kept the pelts to make gloves but I don’t think they ever materialised either.
Each week followed a regular pattern as with most families. The Sunday roast went in the oven before we set off to walk to morning service at St Mary’s Church; after dinner the children went to Sunday school, usually in the little Methodist Church in Rookwood Road (either we were a very ecumenical community or perhaps it was simply less far to walk). Come rain or come shine, Monday was washday. Mum lit the fire under the boiler in the wash-house and filled the bowl with water carried down from the kitchen. Dad’s collars were scrubbed on the washboard before being boiled with the other whites. They were possed in the zinc rinsing tub with a copper posser then wound by hand through the mangle. There was a race to see who was first to peg their clothes on the line. Rainy washdays saw the windows streaming with condensation as wet clothes hung on clothes horses in front of the kitchen range. Slices of cold meat from the Sunday joint were served on Mondays together with bubble-and-squeak made from left-over vegetables.
Tuesday, ironing day, saw the rest of the meat as mince and a rice pudding to follow. Baking day would be later in the week with the lingering aroma from a batch of scones, jam tarts and cake.
Mum was the WI Secretary for years. Together with other children, I was dragged along to the afternoon meetings; we could sing ‘Jerusalem’ before we went to school! I think Mrs. Martin from Clarence Road accompanied on the piano. Committee meetings were often held in our front room, Mrs Butterwick was the President, and I seem to remember Mrs. Crosthwaite, mother of my friend Hilary, Mrs. Power, my friend Doreen’s mother, and Mrs Winney among others. The best crockery, scones and embroidered napkins were wheeled in on the trolley. Again through the WI, Mum and I went to make-do-and-mend sessions led by Mrs Punch from Middlesbrough, there’s nothing new about re-cycling.
The Boy Scouts used to go round the village with a large wire trolley to collect jars, perhaps they were used by the WI for jam-making sessions in the old Institute. Doreen and I were given samples of raspberry jam in little Shippam’s paste jars, the smell and the taste were delicious. Mum was also a member of the Mothers’ Union at St. Mary’s Church and I remember going to a special MU Service in York Minster.
Another regular visitor along the road was Annie the post lady on her bicycle. She was based at Robinson’s Post Office and delivered all round Nunthorpe Station, Nunthorpe Village had its own Post Office. There was no butcher in Nunthorpe so various vans visited the village, ours came from Stokesley and the fishman’s van came on Fridays, possibly from Whitby.
A trip on the 58 bus into Middlesbrough was a treat. Hinton’s was a popular shop particularly for different kinds of tea. They had two cafes for special occasions as everything was still rationed; one had beautiful stained glass and was where the businessmen had lunch. Clothes were usually bought in one of the larger stores like Binns at the far end of Corporation Road, Newhouse’s on the corner or Corporation Road and Linthorpe Road (they sold school uniforms) and Dixon and Benson’s in Dundas Road. Their original premises was a bomb site, simply girders and a pool of water. We went into town to the hairdresser, Fullers, by the station. Mrs Millar had a hairdressing establishment in her bungalow at the corner of Rookwood Road. Of course we got most of our groceries from Ward’s of Nunthorpe, Dad’s and Aunty Halcyone’s shop. Ration books must have been a nightmare and contrary to my friends’ belief, I did not get extra sweets, one Mars bar (original size) was cut into slices to last the week.
During the war Dad was drafted into the Police War Reserve and was stationed at South Bank, he had to cycle up and down Ormesby Bank daily. Apparently there was a great scare, the Germans had invaded and had reached The Clump (the hill at the top of Ormesby Bank). The Police had not been informed that the Americans were on manoeuvres!
Dad delivered groceries on his shop bike. It had a large wicker basket in the frame in front of the handlebars and, until I got stuck one day, he let me ride in it. Around 1949, they bought a green Bradford by Jowett van and if there was enough petrol (it too was rationed) we could go out in it on Sunday afternoons. We sold newspapers at our shop and a number of boys and girls earned pocket money delivering them mornings and evenings all round the village.
Mrs. Sladden collected for the National Savings Scheme, she wore her hair in plaits fastened over the top of her head. You could buy a half-crown stamp (12 ½ p in today’s money) to stick into a book with an official government badge on it. I think when you filled the book the money went into the Savings Bank. Her husband worked in Middlesbrough and always wore a suit and bowler hat as he caught the early train. Sadly he died the day he took retirement.
Then there were regular charity collections, my Mum organised the ‘British Sailors’ Society’ one, volunteers collected along the various roads, there was the Poppy Day collection too and Missions to Seamen had an annual whist drive.
All in all, there were a lot of comings and goings in Nunthorpe
Bedford Road in the 1940s (Part 2)
Let me introduce you to the people who lived in Bedford Road when I was a child. Miss Long and Mrs Simpson lived in the house adjoining ours. Miss Long worked in Tate’s the Greengrocers, over the crossing. Mrs Simpson’s husband had been a seagoing captain and she had travelled with him. They used to take in lodgers and one of these was Charlie Elgee who scythed the road verges for the council.
Next came two semi-detached bungalows, Dixons lived in the first, all I remember is he kept a very tidy garden. The Eldridges lived in the second one, sometime later their daughter, Pat, became our Guide Leader. They had a little green caravan at Saltburn we visited one summer, near The Ship Inn.
Number 17 was a large white house with a round rockery in the back garden that was an air-raid shelter, it smelt very strange. The house originally belonged to Mr and Mrs Lowe who may have been related to the Butterwicks. Mr and Mrs Harforth lived in the beautiful bungalow next door with a way through the beech hedge into each others’ gardens. After Mr Lowe died, the house was sold and Mrs Lowe went to live in Marton Moor Road. I was pleased that a young family moved in, Pauline and Susan Curry soon became my friends and I was fascinated by their baby twin sisters. When they left, an older couple, Mr and Mrs Spring, came to live there.
Mr Harforth was another regular early-train traveller to work. Their son, Guy, lived in Chalfont St Giles with his family and they came to visit every summer. Guy would be drafted into the cricket team to play for Nunthorpe, even to my child’s eyes he looked very smart.
One year I noticed that his wife was wearing a scarf over her very short cropped hair and was told in no uncertain terms not to mention it. They were accompanied by their three sons whom I adored. Henry, the eldest, walked his grandfather to the station each morning, swinging his little walking stick, Charles was my age and then came Jamie. I was allowed to play with them, sharing mid-morning orange squash (what a treat) and biscuits. They were connected to lots of people whom we used to visit around the village, a particular favourite destination was a bungalow on Rookwood Road where Miss Mason and Miss Faulkner had an old wind-up phonograph.
The last house on the left was another bungalow nestling at the edge of the wood and belonging to Mr and Mrs Burrows, a retired couple. Over the road lived the Outhwaits, they had two sons and a daughter, Susan, who all went to boarding school and didn’t mix with us much. An elderly lady lived next door with her companion (could she have been a Miss Swan?) but when the British Raj came to an end in India, my friend Valerie Williams came to live there. Her father had died in India and her mother married another army man, Gordon Smith who became a solicitor. They had a real gramophone and we loved listening to ‘Boots, boots, boots, boots marching up and down again.’
I loved Rosie Eastwood at the next house. She was a maid to the Harrisons at Red Cottage and her husband Harry was the gardener. I would sometimes stay for tea and have a boiled egg. I also visited her at Red Cottage and saw her working in the kitchen wearing a large white apron and a cap. Lady Harrison would hold garden parties for the village, probably run by the WI; one year we performed country dances we had learnt at school especially for the occasion. Rosie died suddenly and I was told not to visit the house any more, but I did go to have a chat with Harry while he pruned the standard rose in his garden. I still have a blue-glass egg cup to remind me of Rosie.
Barkers lived in the adjoining semi. He was a sales rep and left early each morning wearing a trilby hat and carrying an attaché case. Theirs was not a house I visited. The Miss Hunts came next, their gate was always shut, I think to keep in the golden retriever that barked loudly. The taller Miss Hunt taught at Middlesbrough High School for Girls but had retired by the time I passed the scholarship in 1952: the smaller Miss Hunt kept house.
My great friend Janice Fryett lived in the first of the two semi-detached bungalows with an imposing veranda on the front. We were friends from my going to her first birthday party, we played together constantly until they moved away, then I visited her in the holidays. Her father used to work in the forests cutting trees, he had a small lorry and a motorbike and sidecar, later he progressed to a three-wheeler car. When he became unwell Mrs Fryett had to return to her job as a teacher, normally married women were not allowed to teach. Their first move was to Ovington on the River Tees, then to Kilburn near Thirsk, Janice and I still exchange Christmas cards.
Mr and Mrs Baker lived in the next bungalow, their son Brian went away to boarding school and I never got to know him, his mother, Aleen, was in the WI. The Whitwoods lived in the detached house opposite ours, their daughter Peggy was serving in the WRNS, so I called her Peggy Wren. At the end of the war she got married and I remember the excitement as Mrs Whitwood was icing the cake, the lumpy icing sugar had to be sieved and I helped by eating as many lumps as I could. They must have been quite ‘posh’ as I vividly recall her correcting my three-year-old Yorkshire pronunciation of ‘butter’ to something resembling Sunday’s Yorkshire pudding mixture. Mr Whitwood had a factory (possibly making concrete) at Slape Wath and a car. Playing with my toy train, I cut my lip open (this was pre NHS) he kindly rushed me to the surgery in Normanby where Dr Warnock did an early version of butterfly stitch. After Mr Whitwood died, Mrs Whitwood moved to Linthorpe and the Gildons moved in. Incidentally, when we needed a dentist we went to Guisborough where Mr Elliott and his son had their practice; they lived at Swan’s Corner. I had many a nightmare following the day they came to our house to remove some of my teeth when I was about seven (my mouth was overcrowded). I was laid on the bed and held down as they placed a kind of sieve over my face to send me to sleep.
Mrs and Mrs Millar lived on Clarence Road in the bungalow facing down our road with their Scottish Collie dog. She walked with us to school when we first started as she was a dinner lady, the canteen had just been opened. This could have been across the fields or along the Stokesley Road; we liked the little path through the wood until you got to a dense part with the Powder House which was out of bounds. Mrs Millar had an evacuee girl to stay at one point. A small Union Jack was stuck in our garden on my fourth birthday to celebrate VJ Day. Apart from watching terrified as a great convoy of tanks passed along the main road one day, I was not particularly aware of the war but I suppose we knew nothing else. I was told we took cover under the gate-legged table if the sirens went off when I was a baby.
Life changed drastically for me in 1948 when my baby brother Anthony was born, luckily for him two days after my birthday. He was delivered very prematurely by Miss Haining, a retired mid-wife who lived in Connaught Road. Tony will be well remembered in Nunthorpe as he worked in the shop with Dad, Aunty Halcyone and Uncle Arthur on leaving Stokesley County Modern School while I went off to college and took up teaching posts away from home. Mum’s parents, Grandma and Grandpa Strangeway, moved into Eldridge’s bungalow. A veteran of World War 1, Grandpa had a weak heart and died there; shortly afterwards we moved with Grandma to 3 Marton Moor Road.
You could say Bedford Road was a microcosm of the village and of life in England generally. We had a happy childhood in spite of the war, we were safe and free to roam the countryside – so long as we came home in time for tea.
Miss Molly Barker and her Junior Class of 1948/1949
by Anne Morley
Front row l to r: Judith Walton (The Avenue), Penny Rider (Rookwood Road), Judith Webster (Great Ayton), Pauline Wilson (Marton Moor Corner, her parents had a nursery garden) Anne Ward (Bedford Road, Ward’s Shop) Margaret Harrison (moved to Clarence Road), Anthea Peary (Greenway then moved to the top of The Avenue), Ann Lamplugh (Agricultural Cottages, The Village), Hilary Crosthwaite (The Main Road,) Doreen Power (Connaught Road,) Mary Atkinson (Morton Carr Cottages)
Middle row l to r: Roger Anderson (Marton Moor Road, father owned the garage and taxi service) Cyril Lund (Swan’s Corner then moved to The Avenue) Denis Almond (a farm near Tree Brig), Keith Lowery (Gypsey Lane) Anne Watson (moved to The Avenue) Sheila Cole (Iron Houses), Ian Cutter (Poole Cottages) Andrew Marr (Marton Moor Road) David Colley (Poole Hospital Grounds later moved to Rookwood Road), John Ewbank (Connaught Road), Miss Molly Barker.
Back row l to r: Richard (Dickie) ? (Tree Brig camp), Victor Donovan (the lane off Stokesley Road, near Marton Moor Corner), Sammy Jamison (Tree Brig Camp), John Ilsley (Great Ayton, later moved to Gypsey Lane). Not on the photograph, Marjorie Magillicuddy from Tree Brig Camp and Alan Dowson.
Nunthorpe Church of England School
By Anne Morley
We were divided into three classes, infants to the left, juniors to the right and seniors in the middle. The boys’ cloakroom was near the juniors and the girls had one near the infants, each was equipped with small washbasins, communal roller towels (ideal for catching impetigo) and pegs for coats and shoe-bags. Half a dozen steps led from the boy’s side to a small staffroom with a bow window overlooking the front field. There were three teachers, Miss Greenwood, Miss Barker and Miss Carter who taught fulltime with no assistance. The only other person in the school was Mrs Stokoe the cleaner-cum-caretaker, who kept the boiler going in the stoke-hole underneath the staffroom, reached by steps from outside.
There were two playgrounds, the one nearest the Vicarage was for the girls together with the infants, it housed the bicycle shed, and the one near the
canteen was for the boys so they could play rougher games and make glassy slides in the snow. At the far end of each was a block of toilets of the earth closet variety (the staff cubicle was in the girls’ block). You can imagine the aroma in the height of summer but it didn’t shorten the queue asking, ‘Please Miss, can I go across the yard?’
By 1946 when I started, there was a school canteen serving freshly cooked lunches under the direction of Mrs Helm and her helper, Mrs Lightfoot, both came from Nunthorpe Village and had children at the school. Another helper was Mrs Millar who lived at Nunthorpe Station; she usually gathered up the young ones who were just starting school and saw us safely on our mile long journey to and from school. The Vicar in the Vicarage next door, was a regular visitor giving religious education once a week to the senior class, in my time this was Canon Percival Hedley who had his spinster sister as housekeeper.
Each class was divided into groups so the teacher had to keep everyone busy. Miss Greenwood lodged in Clarence Road with Mrs Bailey, she was an excellent teacher, after two years most of us were competent readers as well as being numerate ready to move into the junior class. The alphabet was practised using chalk on small, wooden-framed blackboards and there were copious amounts of Plasticine, the bright colours quickly merging into a regular grey mass. Using a table as a bridge, I fondly remember us acting out ‘The Three Billy-goats Guff’. Other memories include thawing out our small bottles of milk on the iron pipes on freezing winter days, the cardboard tops standing half an inch above the bottle. These tops, with a circle in the middle to push your straw through, came in handy for making woollen pom-poms in craft lessons - if you didn’t mind the cheesy smell.
The junior class was much stricter with three separate groups. Miss Barker would keep us all busy but I must admit to finding the other groups’ work more interesting than what I was supposed to be doing. Knitting dishcloths and sewing handkerchief cases was very arduous and involved a lot of pulling out. The books for Friday afternoon’s ‘silent reading’ shared a cupboard with the wooden holder for the dip-in, cross-nibbed pens and powdered ink that was poured into the pot inkwells in our tip-up wooden desks with their hinged lids. Miss Barker lived with her parents in a house on the bridle path at the top of Ormesby Bank.
We enjoyed summer PE lessons in the playground, learned country dancing with a wind-up gramophone and played games of Danish Rounders. Sometimes we practised for the inter-schools sports gala, ready to compete in long jump, high jump, hop-step-and-jump, running and obstacle races. One year it was held at Stokesley School and another year we were taken all the way to Kirkbymoorside. In winter the girls played shinty on the edge of the cricket field while the boys played football on a pitch behind the cricket pavilion.
Our learning was extended outdoors, nature walks were a regular feature, sometimes in the grounds of Pool Sanatorium, behind Grey Towers, it was an amazing place, already in disrepair with no-one living there. After following paths with unusual trees and enormous giant hogweed plants, we would watch dragon flies flitting over the boating lake, in amongst irises and bull rushes. It was a good source for tadpoles too which we watched turn into frogs in the classroom. We had pointed out to us some large, rectangular stones, the last remaining evidence of the nunnery from which Nunthorpe got its name.
Once we were taken to Nunthorpe Village to see the old school, predecessor to our building, small, dank and dusty with a bell rope. We studied the snow prints of different animals and birds, were taught how to recognise trees and wild flowers, Roseberry Topping was a favourite subject for art lessons and we cultivated a garden near the War Memorial in front of the school. One cold February morning in 1952, Sir William Worsley, Lord Lieutenant of the County, read the Proclamation of Queen Elizabeth’s accession here too. Dressed in his full regalia complete with sword and spurs, he unrolled the scroll with dramatic effect. Nine years later his daughter, Katharine, married the Duke of Kent in York Minster. (Break)
The senior class meant two years of preparation for the scholarship, which by the time I took it was the 11+.This took the form of working on endless past papers that Miss Carter assiduously copied out on a ‘jelly copier’, very hard to decipher. The exam was taken in two halves, the first in our own school then a selected few were invited to go to Guisborough Grammar School, a place totally unknown to us, on a given Saturday morning where pupils from the area took the second half. My Dad took some of us in the shop van and we had enough money to catch the 58 bus home, a half-hourly service. Unfortunately we did not know that Middlesbrough had a particularly important football match that day and all the buses were full. We walked as far as Windle Bridge before one stopped for the bedraggled scholars. I think out of the ten in the group, about half passed the scholarship.
Implementation of the 1944 Education Act took a while to work its way round the North Riding of Yorkshire and the remaining two groups in this class were those pupils who had not passed to go to either Guisborough Grammar school (boys) or Middlesbrough High School for Girls. They had a second chance with the 13+ exam. and the rest, in their last year travelled by 67 bus to Stokesley School one day a week, the boys learned woodwork and the girls cookery.
Miss Carter kept everyone on their toes, admonishing the big boys with the cane when necessary. I have painful memories of this procedure in one of those ‘It hurts me more than it hurts you’ moments. Cannon Hedley had moved on leaving the vicarage empty; it was September and the apples, so accessible through the loose palings in the playground, beckoned tantalisingly. Our argument that as no-one else wanted them we were not stealing held no sway, they did not belong to us - a lesson well and truly learnt.
Daily mental arithmetic and spelling tests punctuated our learning. Once we made brightly coloured backing paper for our spelling books using flour and water paste mixed with powder paint in which we made patterns with our fingers. Once dry and folded in place, the effect was very satisfying. On returning after the summer holidays, we were dismayed to find the mice had enjoyed them too!
Miss Carter played the piano for assembly when the junior class would squeeze in with the rest and sing hymns that have stayed with me to this day. She taught singing from the dark red traditional ‘National Song Book’ supplemented by Handel’s ‘Where e’re you walk’. Sometimes the School Inspector, Dr Bull would call in and listen to us.
The Christmas party with presents from Santa and dramatic productions from each class was an annual event. We all marched in a crocodile to the Institute, clutching our set contribution for the tea and our costumes for the play. The infants invariably had the Nativity and I remember doing ‘The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ in my last year. We had two excursions with most of the school I think, going by train, one year to York Minster and the following year to Durham Cathedral, on each occasion we ate our sandwiches by arrangement in a local school.
The Village School served the whole community, children from both the Village and the Station had a long walk, others came by bus. If it was fine, the Station children could go across the fields, Jacky Brunton’s Ayrshire longhorn cows held no threat but Mr Joplin’s Friesians were another matter. There was an interesting little pond behind the cricket field, reputedly very deep, and we dared each other to stand on the ice. Another case for daring was the electric-fence protecting the crops in the stretch between the two fields. Seeing how far up your wellies the melted snow would go was another adventure. In bad weather we could catch the 67 bus from Marton Moor Corner, outside Brunton’s Farm for a ha’penny. Miss Carter lived in Rookwood Road and caught this bus daily. An alternative was to walk along the Stokesley Road or even better, take the footpath through the wood, giving a wide berth to the Powder House, to and from school.
South of the Village near Tree Brig were some old Army Huts inhabited by ‘squatters’ and I am ashamed to say we were not always very kind to these children. Their clothes were ragged but given their squalid conditions, probably lacking hot water, they did very well. Towards Great Ayton were some outlying farms, children of the Littles, Almonds, Wrightsons and (Helen and Katherine) at High Tunsall (they kept a badger in their house) all attended the school. John Ilsley and Judith Webster came in from Great Ayton. In the Guisborough direction were Sheila Cole who lived at Iron Houses, near Cross Keys and Alan Dowson, whose parents worked for the MP George Willis at a farm opposite Cross Keys. We had a wide social mix; one of my classmates was the granddaughter of a shipping magnate among the farmhands, solicitor, office workers and suchlike. Apart from ’tatie-picking week (October half-term) few of our mothers went out to work.
A few years after I left, my Father was delivering some bits and pieces to the school after the children had gone home and noticed a light still on in the staff room. There he found Miss Carter slumped over her paperwork. She died from a heart attack, conscientious to the end.
Sir William Worsley at his daughter Katharine’s wedding in York Minster 8 June 1961.
The Middlesbrough High School building, girls to the right, boys to the left.
Apparently it was built there to block Albert Road and stop through traffic.
Guisborough Grammar School