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Nunthorpe Village c1900s 


Nunthorpe Village as I Remember it During the Early Part of the 20th Century

by George Gent

The village consisted of fourteen houses, the Hall and Hall Farm. One of the houses was a Post Office and Store combined; selling certain things like note-paper, stamps, yeast, sweet biscuits and flour. (Now No. 10 Westside).

The mail cart (a horse and trap) came from Stokesley collecting mail at Great Ayton, Nunthorpe and Marton and taking it to the General Post Office in Middlesbrough. It also brought any mail for Nunthorpe Village and this was delivered by bicycle from Nunthorpe Station Post Office and taken as far as Newby and surrounding farms. At this time there were very few houses at Nunthorpe Station and no shops, so people there also used the shop in the village.

Another house in the village was Waller’s Temperance Hotel (now No. 6 Westside). People passing through on cycles bought mineral waters there. They also sold paraffin for the lamps as of course there was no electricity. Any other shopping which couldn’t be got there we got from Great Ayton.

Three Waller brothers, Tot, Alf and Bob (who lived at the Temperance Hotel) were blacksmiths in the village and we used to spend hours watching them repairing farm implements, shoeing horses and making hoops for cart-wheels. The latter was a big job needing all three men, one holding, one hammering and one pouring water on the cart-wheel to prevent the wood from being burnt. If in a good mood, Mr Waller would make “bowlers” or hoops for the children to play with. We took them to school or bowled them to Great Ayton by the roadside. The girls mostly had skipping ropes.

A joiner, Mr Johnson, lived in another house in Westside. He made wheel-barrows, carts, farm implements etc. He was also the Undertaker and had a small-holding. He kept 2 or 3 cows to serve the village and used to supply a few houses at Nunthorpe Station, delivering the milk on a bicycle. The farm only supplied the Hall. There was also a saw-mill, worked by traction engine, dealing with trees on the estate. Mr Ballingall (a Scot) was in charge. He was later helped by his daughter, Mary, who continued after her father’s retirement. (The Ballingall's lived at No. 8 Westside).

During the First World War soldiers were billeted in Stewart's Park and used to have a route march through Nunthorpe Village where they stopped and bought mineral waters and biscuits at the Temperance Hotel shop. They bought small packets of Henderson's biscuits and I got my first watch by sending away the wrappers collected from the biscuits.

Our butcher, Mr Thomlinson, used to come from Great Broughton on a Saturday night in his pony and trap.

The Evening Gazettes were delivered to Nunthorpe Station by train and I used to cycle down to collect and deliver the bundle for the village. I think they were one penny each in those days.

My mother used to go by train to Hinton's in Middlesbrough every Sunday for her main groceries. They told her that if she could get a certain number of customers for them they would send out a traveller to collect orders and then deliver them a day or so later by horse or wagon. This she did and from then on Mr Mood, the traveller, used to call every week and had his dinner at our house.

When anyone died in the village there was always a collection for a village wreath.

The Doctor used to come from Great Ayton in a pony and gig. The driver had to wait many a cold hour or two outside peoples houses.

There was a little church in the village and the clergy came from Great Ayton at 3pm on Sundays. There was a little bell behind the door which was rung about 10 minutes before the service. A coke stove, also behind the door, supplied the heating. There was a curtain round the stove and the clergy used to robe and disrobe there. One Sunday afternoon I remember Mr Illingworth (the clergy) got too near the stove and set fire to his surplice. Burials were at the cemetery at Great Ayton following a service at Nunthorpe.

Sunday School was run by the Wesleyans from Nunthorpe Station. They were Mr Huby, the Station Master, and his daughter. It was held in a little school room which has since been demolished by a tree. For the annual outing we walked to Quarry Hill farm (owned by the Robson's) about half a mile away and we had tea in the granary and games in the fields. We had stamp books at Sunday School and were presented at Christmas with books for good attendance. The Sunday School room was also used as an Institute for cards, billiards, darts and dominoes etc. Anyone in the village could take part, paying a small subscription.

I don’t remember a great deal about the Hall but it was empty during the First World War. Before this some people called Edwards lived there. Mr Edwards was connected with Smith's Dock. One of his daughters helped with the Sunday School and often in the summer invited us into the grounds for rides in a punt on the lake. They had a farm bailiff for the Hall Farm and kept lots of pedigree pigs and cows. I remember the pig sties were tiled. The Hall Farm had their own electricity generator whereas everyone else had paraffin lamps.

At the Harvest Festival the farmers gave so much produce that after decorating the church the overflow filled the Sunday School room. Later it was distributed round the Middlesbrough hospitals and was greatly appreciated in those days.

All the people in the village were employed by Mr Dorman (later to become Sir Arthur Dorman) who lived at Grey Towers, now Poole Hospital. As lads we used to go bush-beating for the Dorman's on a Saturday. The area covered about a three mile radius of the village. Pheasants, partridge, rabbits and hares were shot. After the shoot some of us went with the game carts (pulled by horses) to collect all the game. We took them to Grey Towers where they had a special shed filled with blocks of ice as there were no fridges.

I remember going with my father to Middlesbrough in the horse and cart to collect the ice. We had to pay a toll to go through the Toll Gates. Near Marton Moor, hidden by trees, there was a building called the Powder House where explosives for the Cleveland mines were kept away from all the buildings.

When the Meet met at Grey Towers we were allowed out of school to see it but had to go back to school in the afternoon. Many of the boys used to forget this! I remember going off on my own and getting lost somewhere near Newby. I met up with some Miners from Guisborough who were poaching rabbits. They said they would see me home and left me at Marton Moor, by which time it was getting dark. I didn’t get a very good welcome back home.

Just before the First World War I remember a four day Bazaar being held in the field in front of Grey Towers to raise money for building St Mary’s Church. A big funfair (Murphy's or Crow's) was there with roundabouts etc.

In our leisure time we used to dam the beck at Tree Bridge and swim there. We also helped the blacksmith and joiner with their hay-time. The men sometimes played quoits. They had a pitch in the farm stack yard.

We used to cycle to Great Ayton to the pictures on Saturday nights. They were held in the Friends School Hall. The films were silent ones with a piano playing of course. They often used to break down and we never saw the end. They used to rent a serial and we couldn’t wait until the following week to see the next part.

When we came out we used to have fish and chips. We used to have carbide lamps for our bicycles. We paid a copper to park our bicycles inside Thomas’s Cycles shop while we went to the pictures and bought our carbide there at the same time.

Life and pastimes in Nunthorpe are very different today and I’m sure that all my generation would agree that we had many happy times in the old days.

Printed with the kind permission of Eric and Christine Gent


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