Village Memories Together
Middleton St. George Local History Group have been working on an oral history project with some of the residents of the village.
Below are some extracts from the interviews. We would love to hear your own memories of the village.
Mr Routledge was the Head teacher, there was Miss Nicholson – she had a degree, and another teacher called Mr Scott.
The Lyric cinema showed 6 films a week, each film was presented on two nights. Stan Race (he was also a bus driver) was the projectionist. Another projectionist sometimes leant his bike against the film screen. The films often broke down. In the wartime (2nd War) the servicemen used the Lyric until they got their own cinema at the base.
There was an Operatic Society in the Parochial Hall – Lillian Heap was very involved in it.
Everyone knew each other in Middleton St George.
There was a fish man who had a horse and cart (he’d let you ride on the back).
Miss Adamson sold all sorts of things in her shop.
Mrs Basham – she was a greengrocer – also had a horse and cart.
Ernie Hall did deliveries for the Co-op (he stabled the horse behind the Co-op – now 12, Central, Hairdressers). He was the last person to commercially use the ford at Neasham to deliver to Eryholme. Most people in Middleton St George used the Co-op – they gave a dividend (I can always remember my number was 20893).
There were two fish and chips shops, Mrs Green owned one of them – she wouldn’t serve you if you were seen at the other shop.
There was a Butcher’s shop.
A lot of people had ‘penny policies’ from the Prudential – the man called and collected every week.
The Londis shop in the village was always a newsagent.
There was Whitfield’s, Philips and Chapman’s – they were General Dealers.
Miss Miller had a milliner’s shop in Chapel Street; she sold children’s clothes, underwear and haberdashery.
Brydons was at Middleton One Row.
Arthur Mudd had a garage in Middleton St George – he had a Rolls Royce and a Taxi Service.
There was Dowson’s Garage in the grounds of Felix House – they had lorries and a workshop/repair business.
At Middleton One Row there was the Queen’s Head pub and The Devonport. The Devonport grew because of the Spa at Dinsdale.
In Middleton St George, the Fighting Cock’s is the oldest pub, the railway here brought bombs from Aycliffe and they were transported by road to the aerodrome during the war.
The Havelock and the Killinghall Arms were popular with the men who worked in the industries.
There was Miss Graham at the Mission, Eleanor Graham was at the Methodist Chapel in Middleton St George (there was another Chapel in Middleton One Row).
We went to Redcar by train on the Sunday school outing (we had knitted swimming costumes).
There was a Pentecostal Church too.
The Chapels had their heyday during the wartime – numbers declined after that.
A Roman Catholic Church was planned for the Irish workers who worked at the Iron Works but it was never built.
The police station had cells – the police often used them for airmen during the wartime.
There were farms and farm workers.
A lot of men worked at Richardson’s Iron Works – I think there were four Blast Furnaces in Middleton St George. In the recession there were dole queues at the Blast Furnaces.
Freeman’s (the Solicitor) lived on Middleton Lane.
The Wooler’s lived in Almora Hall and later on at Sadberge Hall.
Dr Stevenson lived in Felix House and there was another Doctor (Dr Meikle) who had a separate practice opposite.
Station Row was built for the workmen – Station Terrace wasn’t built all at once.
Mostly we made our own entertainment. We went to see films at The Lyric, the most expensive seats were upstairs – the film man was called Stan Race, the films often broke down. There was an Operatic Society – concerts were in the Parochial Hall on Chapel St.
There were cricket teams (the cricket club was on Middleton Lane – now built on). There was a football team and youth club.
Most of us went to Sunday School, either at church or chapel – sometimes both. We had outings to Redcar on the train.
I was in the Brownies (still going I think) – we used the house in the Water Park, there were the Girl Guides and Scouts too. People have always used the Water Park reservoirs to fish and now there are model boats too.
There were many shops in Middleton St George, a fish & chips shop, newsagents, butchers, chemist, etc. The co-op was where 12, Central Hairdresser’s is now. The Post Office is now the pharmacy. There was also a delivery service – you made an order and it was delivered the following week.
There were three pubs in the village – probably for the men who worked at the blast furnace and iron works.
There was St Lawrence’s Church as well as the Chapel, the Mission and the Pentecostal. St Lawrence’s had a Mother’s Union. Most people went to Church then.
The police station was on Middleton Lane (there were cellars I think). People worked on farms in Middleton then the Iron Works and Blast Furnace came.
Arnott-Young (a firm who did metal and railway repairs) was near the Fighting Cocks. The houses on Station Terrace were built around the 1900’s for the men who worked at the furnace and iron works.
The managers of the Iron Works, Blast furnace and Arnott-Young lived in Middleton St George.
The teachers at school mostly lived locally – Miss Carter lived in Neasham and cycled to school every day. Another teacher lived in a big house where St George’s Gate is now. Dr Stevenson lived in the village – he had a caravan at Whitby.
There was a regular bus service into Darlington – this was a private company before Arriva took over. People travelled on the train to Stockton and Darlington, though mostly we walked and cycled. I cycled to Sadberge to catch a bus to school in Stockton – we walked there when there was a dance on.
The school was built in the 1900’s, there were 2 infant classes and about 4 for older children – you stayed until you were 14. There was Woodwork and Domestic Science for the older ones. There were separate playgrounds for boys & girls and outside toilets. We came home for lunch from school – no staying at school then.
I went to school in the village, during the war you were given a third of a pint of milk – they had cardboard tops and we used them to make woollen pom-poms. At school we were told what to do – it was very regimented. At school we always began the day with a prayer and a hymn – I can remember all the hymns we sang. When we were older we went to schools in Stockton (Queen Victoria & Teesside High) and Darlington (Polam) – there were scholarships too.
We walked a lot but there were buses and trains. The freight trains brought bombs from the Aycliffe factory to the airport during the war.
Mrs Hawkins was in the signal box – she would also help you to buy coal from the depot.
There was a garage at Oak Tree. Trevor Adams had the garage in the village.
The managers from the Iron works, etc in the village lived on Middleton Lane, there was also Mr Ingledew (a retired farmer) and the Vardy’s (they had a market garden at the rear of their house). I think a solicitor lived there too?
The Canadians were stationed here in the last war – they came to the Fighting Cocks and the Oak Tree. We saw a lot of them in the village – some of our friends married Canadian airmen and emigrated with them when the war was over.
Most of the people in Middleton St George were farming families before the industries came. There were Walton’s who owned a lot of land, they started off as small owners but grew larger as farmers. You could buy milk and potatoes from them, we used to get half a day off school to go and pick potatoes during the last war.
The Mission was next door to the Lyric Cinema.
Most of the children went to Sunday School (there were large families then so I think our parents were pleased to get us out from under their feet)
There was Holloway’s the Green Grocer, Johnnie Bowes was a General Dealer, so was Miss Adamson. Mrs Ross had a shop where the Art Shop is now. Ernie Hall had a horse and cart and there was a butcher’s van, a milk cart and a fruit & veg cart. I think the fruit & veg cart was pulled by Dolly the horse. There were two fish & chips shops.
There were stables behind the co-op for the horses. There was a Blacksmith in the village too. Mrs Basham had a shop? There was an ordering service for groceries – it may have been Liptons? I remember that there were door to door salesman – and the Prudential penny policies of course.
The Devonport was run by a family called Dosser.
The Lyric Cinema showed films 3 x weekly, though mostly we made our own entertainment. We used to go down the Whinnies and along the old railway.
There was an Operatic Society (with Mrs Heap) in the Parochial Hall on Chapel Street – this was the original school.
The centre of the village is fairly unchanged, though there used to be a horse trough – it was taken away during WW2 to enable lorries going to the aerodrome to negotiate the corner.
There was coal at the railway station at Fighting Cocks – you had to shovel it yourself from the flatbeds into bags. At Fighting Cocks the coal and ore was brought in for the Ironworks. There was a windmill just behind the railway station but it is unclear when it was built and for what exact purpose.
There were at least five bridges in Middleton St George. One carried slag from the blast furnace to the crusher where it produced slag balls – theses were used for the runways at the airport (now Durham Tees Valley airport).
Around 1860 there were blast furnaces in Middleton, there was a welding plant, two brickworks, Middleton Iron Works, the steel mills and wire mills – some of the workers came from Ireland and lived in Shiney Row (Darlington Road now). The managers lived further away down Middleton Lane and Middleton One Row.