“AT THE TOP OF THE BANK”
by Rachel Ord
I was born in Station Town, Wingate. I had three sisters and three brothers; two of the brothers are dead.
My father belonged Wingate and my mother belonged Sacriston -she played first violin in Sacriston Orchestra. They were married at Wingate and then they went to Blackhall and to Shotton and finally to Trimdon.
We lived in the first house at the top of the bank. I was brought up there from the age of 10.
From 17 years old, my Dad worked down the pit at Shotton Colliery and he had a heart attack so that at the age of 22 he was advised to get out of the pit straight away and he managed to get an Attendance Officer’s job (School Board Man) for the Trimdon area.
My Mother’s youngest sister was a District Nurse at South Hetton and I used to go there for my holidays! She used to take me round with her and I thought then that that was what I was going to be.
When I was at school at Trimdon my Father always said that I had to be a school-teacher but I was determined I wouldn’t be. So, when it came to 10
the II-plus, I never put pen to paper because I hadn’t the sense then to value the benefits of a secondary education.
But I don’t regret it now because I went to work at St. James’s Infirmary, Leeds when I was 17. I was only there for a year and studying for my prelims when I had to come home because my Mother just couldn’t manage with the other six children.
I came home on the Friday and the week after I started at Winterton Hospital and I was there for 28 years.
We are all brought up staunch Methodists. My Father was a Methodist local preacher. There was Father, Mother and the seven of us in the choir at the old Methodist Chapel in Trimdon Village.
Peter Lee (Durham Miners’ Leader) was my half-uncle. My Grandmother, my Father’s Mother, married twice and her first husband was Peter Lee’s brother, Jack Lee.
Peter Lee used to come to our house when he lectured. I can remember him quite distinctly. My Father and he were really good friends.
It was only a council house where we lived at the top of the bank. There was a living room, sitting room and three bedrooms. The boys had one bedroom and the girls the other.
My Father and Mother being strict Methodists, we went to Chapel three times every Sunday.
We had two days washing – one for the white, and one for the coloured.
I don’t know how they coped in those days, with the poss-tub and the possstick. I had a poss-stick and my Mother had a poss-stick, and I stood on a cracket – when she came up, I went down! And we had two days ironing – and that was at the age of 10, you know.
We had all the brasses which the other sisters had to do. We all had our own jobs to do. As the oldest girl I had a lot of slogging to do, but I was never unhappy, I can never remember being unhappy.
EDUCATION AT HOME
I was sent to elocution lessons. I had drama lessons, I even went to dancing lessons.
My Grandfather founded Blackhall Colliery Band. I have a boy in Canada who’s Head Teacher in a school of Music with 700 students. So it’s carried through the family. I have another son who’s Nursing Officer at Brandon and he’s also a good pianist.
My Father always wanted the family to learn music but they could never afford an instrument. When I started work at Winterton, we got a piano.
We were never very well off but when it came to the 1926 General Strike he wouldn’t allow any of us to go to the soup kitchens. At the top of the Bank, we had a small-holding and we kept a lot of hens. he sold the eggs, you see. His pride wouldn’t allow us to go to the soup kitchens.
My Father dropped down dead coming out of Sunday School. He crossed over to arrange the Anniversary with a man called Coggan and whilst he was in the house he just had a heart attack and died.
My mother lived until she was 89, but at 84 she began doing silly things like leaving the hot-plate on and the place was practically on fire.
I’d just retired so Bob and I decided to bring her here and she lived here for five years. I wouldn’t let her go into a home, because in her mind she was active and she’d been a marvellous mother.
My Father and Mother were very close, where one went the other one went.