Excuse me but where is Middlesbrough?
Walk from North Ormesby
Sources and Resources
Only a Short Time in History
Memories of Parliament Road
Football on the Roof
St Patrick's Church
The Tees (Newport) Bridge
Don't Mention the War?
Laws Street Block
Albert Park and 'Owld 'Enry
An Ayresome Childhood
St Paul's School
Victoria St/Greta St Now
The 'New' Newport School
Newport Bombing 15 April 1942
Closing of St Paul's School
More Memories of Parliament Rd.
Round and About King George Street
Memories of Duncombe Street
Honeymans of Cannon Street
Sun Sea & Sand
Fox Heads Page 1
Why DOGGY Town??
Fox Heads Page 2
Memories of St Paul's
A Mohawk in Middlesbrough
Remembering Craven Street
Marsh Road School
Luftwaffe Over Middlesbrough
First World War Shell Explodes in Middlesbrough
Queries:Can You Help?
St Columba's Parish in the Sixties
More Street Games
Memories Baxter Street
Judith's Middlesbrough Childhood
Links for Newport, Middlesbrough
Meetings under the Bridge
Frank was born in Fox Heads in 1944. He continues his story:-
At the junction of Marsh St and Frederick St in Fox Heads there was a road bridge that led to the steel works.It spanned the end of Newport St and the railway lines. Kids from St Pats collected, after school, under the bridge at the end of Newport St. to settle our differences. We formed a circle around the combatants and the urged on whomever we supported.If we were impartial we would chant"Go on the winner" ( So innocent compared to the knife culture of today)
I always wondered why there were no houses on the east side of Arthur St, they would have backed on the ramp of the bridge. I wonder if they were demolished to make way for the bridge.
Marsh St came to an abrupt end at the retaining wall of the Forty Foot road. The retaining wall was part of the structure of the bridge.The last 25 yards or so of Marsh St was annexed by the firm of PA Mudd and used for storage. Right at the juncture of the bridge and the Forty Foot road on the end of Marsh St a huge pipe emerged from the ground, it was about 30 feet high and was known locally as the "Stinky Pole" I think it was an air vent for the sewer.
I can remember my Mam sending me out with a Sixpence or a Shilling to exchange for Pennies for the gas meter.I used to stand on the bridge ask the men passing to and from work if they had any Pennies "For the gas"
The gas man would call periodically to empty the meter. He counted all the pennies and gave some back to my Mam as a rebate.Inevitably,in Fox Heads,when people were short of money,they sometimes broke in the gas meter and stole the contents.They finished up paying far more than they stole when they were taken to court.A standing joke in those days was "He has done more meters than Zatopec."
Over to the Works
At the northern end of the bridge the road turned right down the Forty Foot Road and to the left there was a kind of narrow slip road that led down to an area known locally as "The Prairie".When you crossed the prairie you arrived at Dorman Longs Steel Works.There were two rolling mills named 1 and 2 mill and 3 and 4 mill. There was also the Fish Plant (made fish plate for railway lines) and the Wire Works. I think Teesside Bridge and Engineering Works were also in that area. In those day these works were in full production and worked a three shift system I can remember when the shifts changed the bridge would be teeming with bodies on foot and on bikes travelling to and from work. We used to collect on the bridge at these times and ask the men who were finishing work if they had any bait left.If we were lucky we would be given a sandwich,or if we were very lucky we would get a biscuit.
School and Church
I started school at St Patrick's Infants school on Lawson St.Two things stick in my mind about this school,One ,The head mistress was a nun, To me she seemed always to be bad tempered and quick to use the cane even though we were only 5 or 6 years old.The other was I remember our teacher announcing to the class,with tears in her eyes, that the King had died.I don't think I knew what a King was in those days.When we were 9 we graduated to the "Big " school,St Pats on Marsh St.The boys school was on the top floor and the girls school was on the ground floor,there were also separate play yards so the boys and girls never mixed.It was about this time that I began to realise that there was a stigma attached to being a Foxheader Some teachers spoke disparagingly about the area and the people who lived there and wherever we went in the town people seemed to hold Fox Heads in low esteem.
I was never a good scholar and the when I sat the "Scholarship"(Eleven Plus) I attended the morning session but never went back for the afternoon session. I gave it up as a lost cause.Like a previous poster I also played football on the school's flat roof.It took an awful long time to recover the ball when it went over the barrier.
Every Friday lunchtime the whole school was marched to St Pats church for Benediction and the school choir assembled in the choir stalls to sing the various hymns.I had a couple of mates who sang in the choir and one day I joined them in the choir but the music teacher soon singled me out and banned me from ever singing in the choir again!
Attending Sunday Mass was compulsory and on Monday morning the teacher always quizzed us as to which mass we had attended and if it was discovered we had missed mass we were caned.I hated mass and was caned frequently until I learned to say I had stayed at my sister's house and had attended mass at another church.My soul was condemned to Hell from an early age.
Beer and Pubs played a large part in the lives of most Fox Heads men and some of the women.There was an old woman who ran a second hand shop on Cannon St. I often went to the County Public House on Newport Road to fetch her a jug of beer.Although I was only about 10 years old I was always served at the Off Licence at the back of the pub.My Dadís favourite watering hole was The Vine on the next block to the County..I can remember passing these pubs when I was on my way to the pictures and there would usually be a handful of men cadging coppers off passers by. When they had accumulated enough money to buy a pint(Entrance Money they called it) they would go in to the pub and carry on "Bumming"on the inside.
Saturday night was fight night in Fox Heads.The pubs closed at 10 pm in those days and by about 10.30 there would be a fight going on somewhere.It might be between individuals or families or even groups.Crowds would gather to watch the proceedings. No one ever interfered unless it was too one sided then the spectators would step in and break it up. The police never got involved.Then next Saturday night the argument would be dragged up again.I can remember one feud going on for months.
Farewell to Fox Heads
My Mam died suddenly in her sleep on the 25th October 1956. I was twelve. My Dad collapsed on his way to work just a couple of weeks later. Dad was taken into hospital where it was discovered he had TB.Being an Engine driver and breathing in smoke and coal dust for a number of years had broughtit on.TB was a common ailment among footplatemen Dad finished up in Pool Sanitorium, Nunthorpe where he spent many months. He eventually made a full recovery but he was never allowed on the footplate again.Myself and my two brothers were taken in by my sister and her husband who lived in Thornaby.So we said goodbye to Fox Heads.Fox Heads was to disappear for good within the next twelve months.
We have no control over where we are born and raised and since I left Fox Heads I have been in many worse places,and met people who make Foxheaders seem like angels.