Move To Trimdon Village
In the summer of 1933 the family moved to Trimdon Village. New council houses were being built west of the crossroads, several families were moved in from condemned housing in the Trimdons. Families were allocated a house by drawing names out of a hat. The house we got was No. 1 Tees View later re- named to No. 1 Cleveland Ave, it was semi-detached with three bedrooms, an end corner lot, with a large garden. The furniture was loaded on to a horse drawn flat cart and moved to the Village along Horseclose Lane. The family walked through the plantation. Jim often wondered why mother chose that route as I was in a pram and had to be lifted over the stiles.
I do not have many memories of the early years. My first recollections would be from about the age of three. I recall walking down the street to the fish shop at the crossroads and playing with their daughter, of about the same age. We sat at a small table outside in the sun and had a bowl of cereal. While today it would not be very significant, at that time with our family circumstance, cereal was a luxury that the family could not afford. In fact it was the first time I had ever seen such food. This girl also had a small tricycle which they allowed me to ride and I rode it home (about 100 yards). Mother took a picture of me sitting on this in the front garden.
I do remember my sister Hannah taking me to Sunday school at St Mary Magdalene Church. The “babies” as the pre-schoolers were called were taken to the vicarage schoolhouse, at the end of the vicarage garden, accessed from Cherry Wapping lane. Here we were told stories and played children’s games. On the warm summer days these activities took place on the vicarage lawn.
The Village had very few shops unlike the Grange or the Colliery. My parents usually walked to the Colliery and did their grocery shopping mostly at Thompsons Red Stamp Store. They delivered orders around the Trimdons on the same flatbed cart that moved our furniture.
Father usually took me on these trips especially if we needed a haircut. Frank Sawdon had a barber shop in a shack at the end of Tank Street, backing on to the pit. I had to kneel on a plank across the arms of the chair, holding on to the back while he was cutting my hair. It cost two pence for a child (four pence for an adult) and he gave you a comic to take home. Next stop was the Locomotive for a half pint before walking home through the plantation. I believe that the publican, an Elliot, was a distant cousin of my dad. Saturdays he took me to the Rec at Trimdon Grange to watch football and play on the swings.
Two very strong memories remain from this period, the first was a visit to see our great grandmother Annie Shorthouse. Annie who live in Station Lane, Deaf Hill was at this time confined to her bed. She was near the end of her life and had a rodent ulcer on the left side of her face. This had eaten away the skin around and below her left eye. Normally she had this covered with a lace cloth, on this visit the cloth was missing and it was a frightening sight for a young child.
Grandma Kell had a bakery/confectionery shop next door to Harry Baldwin’s newspaper shop in Commercial Street. The house was in a Terrace and only had two rooms. The business was conducted from her living room/kitchen on the ground floor. The toilet was in the backyard and could only be accessed through an enclosed passageway from this room. I recall being stuck in this windowless passage, very frightened, as I was too small to open the door.
I do not recall the early summers of these depression years, but the family camped in a small tent near the beach at Hart (Crimdon Dene). Grandma Kell had a small shop in a hut on the beach that sold tea and hot water to the visitors. This was the focal point for the family who could sleep on the floor of the hut when the weather turned bad. We have several photographs in our possession from these times at Hart.
The Village continued to expand after we moved there from Trimdon Colliery, private houses were being built on the south side of West Lane and along Broadway. The council started to build behind us which would be Burn Oval and Skerne Avenue. This attracted workers from as far away as Hartlepool. I recall that one crew of joiners came from Hartlepool led by a man called Taffy. They cycled to Trimdon every day and used to get mother to make tea in cans several times a day. I remember as a young child taking tea to them and found them working in the rafters of a house. I climbed up a ladder with the tea and when going over the joists, slipped and fell with my legs going through the bedroom ceiling, fortunately I got stuck and did not fall to the floor below.
Mother had delivered all of her children at home, Ellen and Paul were the only ones born in the Village. I have a vague memory of Ellen’s birth and being taken into the back bedroom to see the new baby. My sister Hannah used to take us everywhere but at this time had left school and started work in domestic service. The day before I started school, workmen had just finished placing a concrete retaining wall in front of the Manor House where Mr. Stubbs, the headmaster of the parochial school lived. On the way back from Sunday school, Hannah, let me walk over the top of the wall which had not fully set and I left a beautiful set of footprints embedded in the concrete. The next day at school (my first) they were trying to find out whose footprints they were but I do not believe that I confessed as I did not get into trouble.