GRANGETOWN IN TIMES PAST
St Marys School
Mick Traynor - Boer War Recruit + Others
Streets and Buildings
World War One 1914 -18
Parish, Priests and Processions
Street Stories + Characters
1925 Ladies Parish Outing + More
A Tale from the Duckie + other stories
World War Two 1939 - 45
Messages from Home & Abroad
Shops and Shopkeepers
The World of Work
Upstairs and Downstairs...
The Board School
Pochin Road Infants School
Leisure & Sports
Grangetown Boys' Club
Sir Wm Worsley School
Maps, Plans & Aerial Photos
St Peter's Senior School
St Matthew's Parish
Eston Grammar School
Trolley Buses TRTB
Grangetown Methodist Church
Contact Information for Grangetown in Times Past
Links for Grangetown in Times Past
The McElvaneys of Grangetown
|The McElvaneys of Grangetown - courtesy of Eugene McElvaney
My Grangetown grandparents Henry and Isabella McElvaney of Birchington Avenue, lost two sons in WW2. (photos attached) Dominic Anthony McElvaney (Wearing the FEZ) of the Royal Horse Artillery Regiment was 21 years old when he was killed in action on Friday, 21st November, 1941 against Rommels Afrika Corps in North Africa. He is buried in the Knightsbridge War Cemetery. 25 kilometres west of Tobruk, Libya.
His brother James McElvaney (Green Howards) was also involved in those battles in North Africa. Fortunately, James who was captured, managed to escape and survived the war and went on to become the father of ten children. (me included). However, the youngest member of the McElvaney family Ronald, then only aged 22, an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy was also killed in action when his ship the HMS Capel was torpedoed by a German U Boat on Boxing Day 1944 whilst escorting an American Convoy through the Scapa Flow bound for Russia. Ronald's body was never found.
That was the official story for over forty years. However, Thanks to this website the story came to the attention of Guy Roberts of Nottingham who emailed John O'Neill with the new official truth, that was only recently revealed. Which is: The HMS Capel and Affleck were actually chasing a U boat (off Cherbourg, France) that two days earlier had sunk a troop ship the SS Leopoldville with the loss of 763 Americans GIs. The u-boat U-486 captained by Oblt. Gerhard Meyer then also sank both British ships.These sinkings were covered up because the Allies Authorities were embarrassed by being caught off guard in an area they controlled, it was during the Christmas festivities and they did not respond quickly enough to save the troops or crews. The truth was not discovered until about 1998 when the wreck of the SS Leopoldville was found five miles from the French coast! They say "The first casualty of war is always the Truth".
Tragically, James named his new born son (Born January, 1945) Ronald in memory of his dead brother, but the child died during the night of the last major WW2 air raid on the local Steelworks and Shipyards in Southbank and Grangetown. Sadly, Henry, Dominic and Ronald's father died soon after the war was over.
As you can see the McElvaneys' did not have a good war. In 1969 when I was having a medical with the Australian Immigration Department's doctors, I was asked the question "What was the major cause of death of the deceased males in your family"? After thinking for a few minutes, I replied "Germans" .
The McElvaney's are only one of the many Grangetown families who made the ultimate sacrifice,so hopefully,the generations to come could enjoy the fruits of our so called democratic societies. Lets hope they are the last.
Top : Uncles Johnny, Tommy Traynor & John Mannix
Bottom : Jackie Doyle and Percy Jones
Johnny Traynor served in the Army Medical Corps, Tommy and John Mannix in the RAF working on aeroplanes. Able Seaman Jack Doyle served on the HMS Chamois as a stoker for three years in Icelandic waters and later on the HMS Fairy . He was blown off his bunk once when a mine struck the ship and suffered minor injuries. Other ships in the flotilla suffered more serious losses near Blyth. He participated in the D Day Landings and when asked what his favourite food was, replied "Rum"! A portion of which was enjoyed daily by all. Happy Days!
Percy Jones joined the RAF in 1941 and was somehow drafted into the Scots Guards later and fought in France and Germany. He says that a Sgt McPhee saved his life when he came to his aid with a sten gun - holding off a machine gun fusillade which had already killed one of Percy's comrades as he was entangled in barbed wire. He later received a Military Medal for his bravery. "He should have got the V.C."said Percy. This was just one of many incidents which Percy witnessed in his six years of wartime action. He received a leg wound in the final days of the war and was hospitalised.
Tommy Cave and Company
|photo supplied by Kathleen Percival (Cave)
Ordinary Seaman Thomas Cave P/JX380705 who served on the HMS Collingwood died of wounds received on the ship on Wed March 8th 1944 whilst on a training exercise.
The Grangetown RAF Boys of WW2
|The Grangetown RAF Boys of WW2:
photo of aeroplane + group - courtesy of Jimmy Rooney of Eston
photo of John Conway - courtesy of Kevin Conway of Eston
photo of Jim Conway - courtesy of Jo Fox
The two Conway Brothers John and Jim-both rear gunners in WW2-were killed flying over enemy territory. John is buried in Holland, Jim in Eritrea East Africa.
There is a fine but now poignant picture of Jim with friends outside the Poverina or Cross Keys a few years before the start of World War 2 in the thirties section - the lull before the storm.
Jimmy Rooney pictured piloting the aeroplane and with 3 comrades, died only last year.
Here is a tribute to the Conway brothers penned recently by their cousin Gerald O'Neill
Come Ye Blessed.
Two sons dead in distant exotic places,
Names emblazoned on monuments perpetuate.
Death they challenged in many a sortie traces,
Alas! One too many. A peace too late!
Albion their motherís adopted nation,
She who sprung from Erinís hallowed hall!
Which steered such warriors into acclamation,
Where dissenting clans still hold their countryís thrall.
How many families left to decimate?
To joust and die in Irelandís glorious strife
And leave other mothers wearying,
With naught but gentle names to mark a life?
Our pair as countless others previous,
Stepped forth united in Old Englandís cause.
Unbound by tribal oaths and pledges,
As their forebears in those faction war
What pipes and drums accompanied their excursions?
Only the grumbling tunes of Brits inveterate.
No rebellious songs afforded their incursions,
Their ditties learned from antique almanacs quaint.
Once more a piteous mother grieving
Despair deep, her sorrow long and great
Though we to her bear well the usual catechism
That valiant death will open wide the gate?
Gerald O'Neill 2005
The WAF Girls of Bessemer Street
|The WAF Girls of Bessemer Street -photo and info - Sheila Barker
This photo shows the Duckering sisters of 77 Bessemer St.
On the left is Thelma who served as a radio operator in the UK and was then posted to Cairo where she met and married husband Ray an airman .
On the right is Joan who worked as a Barrage balloon operator in various parts of the UK .
Joan is still a very good friend of mine
as she says "we go back four generations"
The Telegram 1943
|photo and info - Sheila Barker
I was a little girl during the second world war, and remember the air raids and the shelters very well, but one night stands out in my memory. The sirens had gone and of course it was the usual- grab a pillow and blanket, help Gran out who slept downstairs and I can still remember the huge bolt in the back door.
Dad was straight off to his duty as an Air Raid Patrol Warden. Mam was trying to persuade my uncle Bill Nicolson.who was on leave from the Merchant Navy, to come down to the shelter.
"No Liz - you all go.. I have been in the Atlantic and he is not getting me out of this warm bed !"
And that is where he stayed.
Uncle Bill had been torpedoed twice and this was his leave following one of these awful times. He had been to the Legion Club with his brother Jack and I can now imagine - was obviously ready for a good nights sleep.
This week my memory took on a new meaning when I was shown this telegram that had been sent to another brother Tom who lived in Thornaby
Selected Group of Soldiers
|photo - courtesy of Dennis King
This appears to be a selected group of officers and Sergeants of the Home Guard? Any names would be most welcome.
Barrage Balloon Girls of Bessemer St
|photo - courtesy of Sheila Barker|
The Bombing of Grangetown
The following is a transcribed letter from October 1944 issued by the District Controller at Cleveland House - supplied by Elaine Meadows of Yarm.
It makes me wonder which was the night that my father recalled the hundreds of flares which surrounded the works - ready for more intense bombing...a night that many people in Grangetown thought... was the end !
25th October 1944
Notes by the District Controller for the Emergency Committee
The first bombs to be dropped in this area after the outbreak of war occurred on the 25th May 1940 This consisted of 12 H.E's. The last was on the 11th March 1943 with three H.E.'s, There have been 430 alerts and 107 H.E's and 489 incendiaries dropped in this Council' area. This includes 9 UXB's.
As a result of these attacks, we suffered 33 deaths, 24 cases of serious injury and 67 minor ones. Divided into men, women and boys and girl under 16 years of age, we got the following details:
Deaths ....... 15 Men 12 Women 2 Boys and 4 Girls
Injured (Serious)........15 men and 9 women
Injuries (Minor)........ 48 men 16 women 1 boy and 2 girls
Bombs were dropped in this area upon 22 occasions.
2,212 properties were damaged of which 53 houses were at the time or eventually demolished.
Apart from direct enemy attacks, one enemy plane crashed at Eston Nab on the 30th March 1941.
Although not dropping inside our area some of the crew baled out near Flatt's Lane. None survived.
On the 15 th January 1942, an enemy plane fouled one of the balloon cables and crashed on Dorman's land in Clay Lane, South Bank. The larger attacks are the following:
25th May.... From Cargo Fleet to Grangetown...... 12 H.E.
25th Aug... Garden Cotts, Robert St, Grangetown and Teesport.....16 H.E.
27th Aug..... Stapylton St. area Grangetown...... 15 H.E.
16th Feb..... Middlebrough Rd.,West, South Bank...... 4 H.E
7th May..... Cargo Fleet & Teesport....... 3 H.E & 400 I.B.
17th May..... Works at Grangetown ( Slag Tip )...... 5 H.E.
19th Aug..... Grangetown High Tip and Teesport....... 6 H.E
2nd June..... Cornfield near Works at Grangetown....... 7 H.E
2nd Oct..... Coral St and Harcourt Rd South Bank...... 6 H.E
5th June..... Normanby Rd, RC School, South Bank....... 2 Delayed Action
5th June..... Grangetown Station ....... Several I B
5th June..... Flatt's Lane Normanby....... 4 H.E and several 1 B
8th July..... Cargo Fleet....... Several I B
6th Sep..... North Lackenby....... 4 H.E
14th Dec..... Works at Grangetown....... 3 H.E
11th March Damage to Police Station and Y Fire Station and large area, South Bank 3 H.E
Apart from this, bombs fell on farms in the area, a number of UXB near Eston Cemetery, H.E's in Normanby and UXB in Eston township.
Identity Cards and National Registration
Identity Card of Patrick O'Neill
These cards were issued in October 1939 based initially on the enumeration carried out in Sep 1939 for the 1941 Census - which was not carried out - owing to the war.
From then until 22nd Feb 1952 every civilian had to carry such a card at all times as proof of identity and address.
This card is dated 9th June 1943 and stamped National Registration Office
photo - courtesy of Traynor Family
Does anyone recognise anyone in this group? - It was found in my uncle's place...and I presume it was wartime.
I'm certain that the girl to the right of the picture is Peggy Donnelly and the soldier above is Buddy O'Neill, John Arthur's eldest son and an Irish Guardsman.
She was one of our Mary's bosom pals and lived at the top end of Vaughan Street near the Bottom pub, 140, I believe. Her sister was Kathleen and her brother was John Lagan , a good pal of Micky Traynor. Kathleen was Mrs Nugent I think. Wasn't there a son called Brian?
Donnelly family was: Mother Maggie (Lagan) Donnelly, John Lagan was her brother, Daughters: Kathleen (Nugent) Donnelly, Peggy(O'Neill)Donnelly.
Billy O'Brien (Bookie) was Maggie O'Brien's brother.
Now it's a mystery twosome! Can anyone else name the couple on the left?
Ration Books and Rationing
The Second World War saw the disappearance from the shops of all but the necessities.
Rationing of food and clothing was extensive. Issued in October 1939, the Ration Book became familiar to every citizen during the war. The start of rationing was postponed, owing it was said to a Stop Rationing! campaign by the, The Daily Express, from November 1939 until Monday, 8th. January 1940. Rationing began on 8 January 1940. Each person was allowed a specific mount of basic foods.
Typical examples of the amounts allowed to each person were:
Meat - between 1s. (5p) and 2s. (10p) a head a week
Bacon - 4 oz. (113 gm) to 8 oz. (227 gm) a week
Tea - 2 oz. (57 gm) to 4 oz. (113 gm) a week
Cheese ó 1 oz. (28 gm) to 8 oz. (227 gm) a week
Sugar - 8 oz. (227 gm) a week.
War-Time Memories by Brian Morris
photo of Albert and Mary Morris "Outside No 10" - courtesy of Brian Morris via Alec Breen
Bolckow Terrace in the War years
Being brought up in Grangetown during the war years and 5 years old when war started, I can recall many events in the following 17 years we lived in Bolckow Terrace - that row of 24 houses facing the coke ovens and wooden cooling towers.
The families living there in the forties and fifties were, as I remember: - Nol, Breeze. Kane, Able, Thomas. Tumer, Maitchel, Davison, Pearson, Tumer, Morris, (us) Ferguson, Campbell, Caterson, Harper, Larum, Page, Easby, Mulholland, Hart, Grassham, Beach, Fairless, Wiles, Warner. I can still picture them even now. All could tell their own stories no doubt. All the kids played together, enjoying whatever pastimes we could make-do with in those austere years.
Everyone moaned about the fumes off the coke ovens which turned brass door knobs blue, making the growing of cabbages or anything above soil uneatable in their long gardens, and supposedly killing us all off. However most of them survived to see 80 or 90 Years.
Most of them worked in Dorman's, or Smith's Dock or similar wartime jobs. My dad worked for sometime as a caulker making landing craft at Dixonís yard in Middlesbrough Dock. I can remember the Anderson shelters being delivered and erected by a crew of Eston council men, then the Rocket guns in the field next to us facing the coke ovens; also Bofer & Lewis guns on the slag tip behind us (one of our playgrounds for years). A Barrage balloon was somewhere near Cleveland House and the Branch fire station.
One night during a raid a rocket gun managed to put a hole through one of the coke oven's tall brick chimneys. The patch-up job could be seen for years. Of course like many other kids we used to collect shrapnel after air raids together with cartridge casings. Every piece of alloy found was claimed to be off a German Dornier or Junkers.
Does anyone recall the many barricades built on the local roads? I can remember one in Church Lane near the subway and the concrete posts erected in many fields in the area. - not sure what to deter- the United buses painted khaki but not the TRTB buses. I expect green was camouflage itself and the gas bags (fuel) towed behind petrol engine buses or on the roofs of cars.
As a school kid the only good thing after a night air raid was not going to school next day until 10.30. We watched from our back gardens one day, as it looked onto Peters school in the distance. An unexploded or time bomb was due to go off at lunch time which it did, causing quite a lot of damage, I believe.
Everyone received a food parcel from Australia once during the war years. Ours was from a family called McAvoy whom we thanked by letter. Later, letters passed between us for many years. They did visit us in the fifties while here on holiday. The parcels had in them tins of foods we kids had never seen or heard of. Don't forget we kids had yet to taste bananas.
I lived in 10 Bolckow Terrace till getting married in 1956 to Sheila ( nee Tranter ). We moved to Upper Branch Street, then King Street, South Bank until 1968 when we moved to Normanby for 25 years. I am now retired; living in Marton but never forgetting those early years in Bolckow Terrace.
Grangetown POW in Stalag XXA1 1941
|photo - researched by Jim White
Pte T J Sowler of Alexandra Road Grangetown on the far right front row is pictured in the Evening Gazette on October 8th 1941 - other Teesside men are believed to be in the group.
The Aytons of Grangetown in 1940
|The Aytons of Grangetown - courtesy of George Ayton
The photograph was taken on 30th July 1940 and is of my father and his two brothers. They all lived at 112 Vickers Street before the war, and by the time of the photograph in Shakespeare Avenue. Although Jim was married by this time and was living in Dormanstown.
Standing at the back is Edward James Ayton (Jim) who born in Eston in 1907. He served in the Norfolk Regiment and he was eventually taken prisoner-of-war by the Japanese. Jim married Emily Ankers and he worked as a bread delivery man with Welford's in Redcar.
Seated on the left is Robert William Ayton (Rob) who was born in Vickers Street in 1918. He served with the Royal Engineers. After the war he married Alma Ash. He worked as a crane driver at the works.
Front right is my father George Albert Ayton who was born at 112 Vickers Street on Boxing Day 1919. He served in the Royal Scots and he was billeted in South Shields where he met my mother. He was involved in the 'D' Day Landings and was in an explosion in which 39 of his comrades died. He left the army in 1946 and worked for a time as a caretaker in one of the schools in Grangetown before moving to South Shields where he settled.
I am going to get in touch with my cousins about Jim and Rob and I'll update you shortly.
I have a little more information for the caption under the photograph in your WWII section.
Robert William Ayton
Rob spent part of the war in the desert in a place that is topical at the moment, Basra. He was in Europe after D Day and saved the lives of a mother and daughter in Germany.
Edward James Ayton
During the depression Jim and his brother Ben played in Tom Smith's harmonica Band, Jim played the drums and amongst other places, they played at the Dorchester Hotel. Times were hard and Jim's son, Peter says that thier cummerbunds were made from pillow cases.
Jim did not have the best of wars, having had to suffer the evacuation from Dunkirk.
After his capture by the Japanese, Jim spent time in Changi and worked on the Burma Railway, conditions on that project are well publicised. It is said that because he played the bugle it saved his life, as the bugle was the means of communication between Japanese and prisoners and he was considered less disposable. He was left with splinters in his spine, a hernia and malaria.
Grangetown Home Guard?
|Grangetown Home Guard? - courtesy of Craig Hornby
Taken in the playground of Grangetown Board School was this large company of uniformed men. Was this the Home Guard?
Chance Meeting in Wartime - South Africa 1943
|Chance Meeting in Wartime - South Africa 1943 - courtesy of Bill Herlingshaw
This photo was taken in Durban South Africa where Bill Herlingshaw of the Royal Navy accidentally met his own brother Raymond Louis Herlingshaw of the Royal Marines whilst on active service - a strange coincidence fondly remembered by the family.
Peace Perfect Peace
Peace Perfect Peace - Gerald O'Neill
Where are they now, those valiants! Those sons of yesteryear?
Who now extol their virtues? Who now allay their fears?
They trod their youthful ways with such expectancies,
To engage the cosmos sceptical in all its vagaries,
They offered their optimistic selves directed willingly,
At whimsies governmentally cloaked or ventures spiritually.
How simple was the message they carried so abroad!
Their aim to break the cycle of rumours, peace and wars.
To right the wrongs that former years had visited without exception,
Upon their forbears and their seed in ways of cold deception.
What did they hope for in return, which emblems could they gain?
Peace everlasting the only one! For that they fought in vain.
So many died upon those fields, so many lives arrested,
Their joyous natures wrung right out, their youthful hopes depleted.
Gerald O'Neill 2004
Eddie Barry 1940
|Eddie Barry - courtesy of Frank Barry
Eddie Barry on guard outside Buckingham Palace autumn/winter 1940. The photograph was taken by a newspaper photographer, the subject was the gentleman in "civvies" who was going in to see the King. The pressman had told Eddie to stay at his box and he would get him in the shot. Who the gent was nobody now knows.
Eddie was a regular soldier in the Irish Guards before the war, finishing his seven years in 1938; he was promptly called back because war was imminent. He was a member of the 2nd Battalion which fought a rearguard action in Boulogne along with the 2nd Battalion Welsh Guards at the end of May 1940. The action was designed to allow other troop to escape, the last to leave Boulogne were the Guards.
The Irish Guards lost 201 killed wounded and missing, Eddie was slightly wounded on one arm.
Eddie Barry 1941
|Eddie Barry 1941 - courtesy of Frank Barry
Eddie was killed in May 1943 in a training accident. He was an instructor on Bren Gun Carriers when the one he was driving broke a track and overturned. His brother Jack, my father, was devastated.
Paddy Duffy POW
|Paddy Duffy POW - courtesy of Peter Duffy
A brief synopsis of Dad's military career would be as follows:--
Patrick Duffy, 22 Holden Street, Grangetown, joined the Army at Stockton On Tees in 1924. He enlisted with the 'North Staffordshire Regiment'. Following quite a number of years stationed in India he returned to the UK and spent a few years on army reserve. Prior to the outbreak of World War 2, he was called up for active service and rejoined the North Staffs. They were sent to France and together with a couple of other regiments were instrumental in forming the famous rear guard action at Dunkirk in May/June 1940. Fortunately it held out long enough to enable the evacuation of approximately 340,000 English and French Soldiers . However, many of the North and South Staffs troops were either killed or captured. Paddy Duffy was actually captured just behind the front lines in a Military Field Hospital together with other troops, army doctors and medical staff. He spent the remainder of the war in POW camps in France, then in Germany and eventually in Poland. He was liberated by the Americans and eventually repatriated to England in Summer 1945.
Many people remember the homecoming of POWs after the war. Holden Street was no exception because three of its inhabitants were fortunate to return: John Burt, Walter Smith, Royal Navy (3 years, Japanese concentration camp) and Paddy Duffy. The buntings and flags flew together with the big WELCOME home signs all over the streets - great memories.
The following picture is of Walter Smith of Holden Street, who spent 3 years in a Japanese concentration camp.
POW Walter Smith of Holden Street
|POW Walter Smith of Holden Street - courtesy of Peter Duffy|