Extracts from an interview given by Grace Clark nee Gamble in 1998
courtesy of Cliff Thornton
Grace Gamble was born in Front Street, Shotton on 14 July 1907 to Samuel Paisley GAMBLE and his wife Jane Sutherland Kyle (nee WINTER). Her father was a mason and bricklayer and found ready work in and around the pit villages of Durham.
About 1908, Samuel obtained work at Trimdon Colliery, presumably using his bricklaying skills. He took his family to live at old Trimdon where he had rented an old cottage from Jim McCULLEY. The owner lived at the top of the village on the way to Garmondsway Quarries(1). Grace described the cottage as being in Cherry Lane, next to the Vicarage, and near, almost attached, to the Chapel. The 3-roomed cottage was rather run down and Grace’s father put a lot of work into repairing and refurbishing the premises. The Gamble family were to live there for nearly 50 years.
Grace was educated at the Parochial School at the bottom of the village. The head teacher was a Mrs CONKERTON(2), who lived in the village with her son. Also teaching there was a Miss PLASKET (?) and a Miss PURVIS.
In those days the pupils were arranged boy – girl – boy – girl, and Grace found herself sharing a double desk with Joe Robinson. They were both left handed. Grace was at school until she was 14 years old. She had been diagnosed with deteriorating eyesight and many years later became blind. There were limited work opportunities for those living in the village, it was either a job at Sedgefield Asylum or farm work. Grace’s parents would not allow her to work in the asylum.
An opportunity had presented itself in 1919 when their new neighbour, Mrs RAINBOW, asked Grace if she could help look after her two children. Mrs RAINBOW was the wife of the Reverend Fredrick A. RAINBOW the new vicar at the church of St Mary Magdalene. Their two children were Gerald (b.1915) and Mary(3) (b.1916). A third child arrived in 1922, a daughter who was called Fredith – a blend of the parents’ christian names. When Grace left school, her previous part-time role in looking after the Rainbow’s children, became full-time. In the early 1920s, when Gerald and Mary reached 7 years of age they were sent to boarding school, leaving Grace to look after Fredith. With only one child to look after, Grace’s role gradually expanded to become a housemaid for the family.
The time came when Rev. Rainbow was appointed to another parish, meaning that Grace’s services would no longer be required and she would have to look for another position. The vicar’s wife said that she would try and find Grace a new job. Mrs Rainbow was successful and found Grace a position as a parlour-maid at the vicarage of North Stainley, a few miles N-W of Ripon. Her new employer was Reverend Lewis WILLIAMS, Chaplain to the Bishop of Ripon. The Williams family had two infant children.
When Grace became 18, her parents bought her a bicycle. Her free time at the vicarage was limited to ½ day a week. She would cycle all over the area on her bicycle. One day she rode 7 miles to Northallerton to meet a friend from Trimdon who was working for a dentist in the town. She said that the girl(4) had lived in Coronation Terrace, Trimdon, and had an older sister named Dorothy CANNELL. The older sister was now Dorothy CLARK, aged 95 and living in Thirwell Grange. Dorothy had married “Gunner” CLARK(5), who used to be a footballer for the Trimdon Village team.
But her bicycle lost Grace her job at Kirkby Wiske. One day she came off her bike. She was on her way back from setting a friend to Otterington Station when she had an accident and fell off her bike and fractured her collar bone. Now it was Mrs Williams turn to look after Grace for a change!
Mrs Williams wrote to Grace’s parents asking them to collect her, as she could no longer perform her duties. Fortunately Grace’s father knew Jack ALTON who was just starting up his bus company. Jack also had a car which he used as a taxi. Jack Alton drove down to Kirkby Wiske with Grace’s father to collect her and her case. Her bicycle was carried home on top of the car.
Grace was laid up for 9 weeks whilst her collar bone mended. Her younger sister Jane was only 12 but had a part time job at the village store. “Craddocks”, the name of the shop(6), was run by the DOWDINGS. It was a general dealers and the village post office, and the shop stood next to the Black Bull pub.
When Grace was ready to start work again she was offered employment by Mr & Mrs STUBBS. Mr Stubbs was now the head teacher at the village school. They lived next door to the Manor House on Front Street. Grace remembered that the words “Manor House” were written in gold letters on the skylight above the main door to the house. She recalled having to do everything for the Stubbs, as Mrs Stubbs was working as well.
She worked for the STUBBS for just under a year before handing in her notice. The STUBBS did not want her to leave, but Grace wanted to see more of the country before she lost her sight. She was at home about a month before she saw an advert in a newspaper. Colonel CLOUGH in Bradford was seeking two parlour-maids. Grace had a friend at Trimdon Colliery called “Sally”. Sarah BRUCE had never worked away from home, but there were so many children in her parent’s small house that she felt that she ought to leave. Sally’s father said that she could apply for the position in Bradford as long as she was going there with Grace. It was a good move for the young ladies, as Sally subsequently met and married a young man from Heckmondwike.
Grace worked at Bradford for 2 years. She returned to Trimdon after receiving a letter from her parents asking her to come home and look after her late sister’s family (the YORKs) at Shadforth.
1. At the time of his death in 1941, Jim McCULLEY’s address was Green Side Farm, Garmondsway, County Durham.
2. The 1911 Census shows that the head teacher at Trimdon Parochial School was 38 year old Lydia H. CONKERTON.
3. Mary Florence Elinor RAINBOW went on to achieve fame as a writer under her married name of Mary Stewart.
4. Grace’s friend is thought to be Harriett “Harrie” CANNELL, born 1906 in Hartlepool. She was the younger sister to Dorothy CANNELL.
5. Dorothy CANNELL married Frederick W CLARKE in 1926.
6. The 1911 Census shows that the village store was run by Robert CRADDOCK and family.
Extracts from an interview given by Grace Clark nee Gamble in 1998, many thanks to Cliff Thornton for providing this information
Added 29th August 2016