John Iddon remembers;
Writing about my Mother brings back some memories. One was the day she gave a man a good hiding. I was about three or four and my elder brother was playing outside with some mates when he ran in holding his neck. The man two doors away for some reason had tried to choke my brother. My Mother was hot-tempered and went outside and gave this chap a good ‘scudding’.
Later in the day, a policeman knocked on our door stating that the person wanted to press charges for an assault and battery. My mother said ‘Look at my bairn’s neck.’ He looked and went to see the man.
They both had to go to Castle Eden court and my Mother wouldn’t shut up, ‘Nobody touches my bairns!’ she kept on shouting. Both were bound over to keep the peace but the old lady was told later she would have won her case, if she had kept her head.
The case was a laughing stock because it had never been heard of a man bringing a woman up for assault and battery rather the other way round. If the man thought that was the end of the matter he was to find out otherwise.
Some period later, Mother was going to the fish shop with an enamel tureen in her hand. Now the chippy was set on some waste-ground with no street-lights on hand. This man came out of the chippy and into the darkness outside and he was momentarily blinded. He became more blinded when Mother swung her arm and hit him with the tureen. He never found out yet who stunned him.
One old-timer named Dick Rickaby lived in a hut near the ‘Locomotive’ at Trimdon Colliery and the old ‘Burton Hotel.’ He must have been a hard man living in these conditions. Oil lamp and water butt were the sources of lighting and washing for this old-timer.
Another character was ‘Spider’ Wood who lived in a caravan and wore an eye patch over one eye. I was only a bairn but I can still remember vaguely. Ned Scully was another character who kept ducks, hens and goats etc. Usually, the goats ended up in a reservoir between Deaf Hill and Wingate. He had a house full of kids and one tale goes that a man went and asked Ned ifhe had any cabbages for sale. The reply was ‘Yes’ and when the man went to Ned’s house one Sunday morning for a cabbage he asked how much he wanted, Ned said ‘Just give the bairns a copper or two.’ But when the man saw all the kids it dawned on him that it was an expensive cabbage!
The Lowe family were another laugh with some queer tales. The father was named Matt and was nicknamed ‘Crock’. He worked on the screens or aerial flight at Deaf Hill Colliery. One night Matt had gone out for a drink and must have gone over the eight. He collapsed in the yard and it was teeming with rain. Someone passing the yard went and knocked on the
door and when Mrs Lowe answered she was told ‘Mrs. Lowe your Matt’s lying in the yard.’ She replied, ‘Just put it over the wall and it will dry out in the morning.’ One son was not a full shovel, he had black-heads as big as ants. When the parents had died, this son lived in a bungalow and usually had cats, dogs and sometimes rabbits as pets. I’ve seen him take a cat for a walk tethered to a leader.
One old friend of mine was a great character and was one of the saviours of Deaf Hill pit when it flooded. He told me many years after ‘I must have been mad.’ He decided that the pit was not for him and went to work at Winterton Hospital and progressed to chief male nurse. There was hell to pay when he packed the pit in.
He was retired before I came to live in Trimdon Grange and he was a mine of information and tales. One tale concerned Charlie Thompson’s donkey. Charlie live in Station Town and this donkey was reckoned to be the fastest thing around and a challenge was made. An old timer came up from the Skegness area. When the locals saw the state of this bloke and his donkey, remarks were made: ‘The bloke looks dead, my money goes on Thompson’s donkey.’ Hundreds of pounds were bet on the local donkey.
Come the day of the race, the old timer had a pigs bladder inflated and tied on the end of a stick. When the race was due to be off, the old timer hit the donkey between the eyes with the pig’s bladder. The end result was that the donkey won by a mile, and the local one hardly got started.