Old South Bank
The 21st Century
Victoria Street School
Cromwell Road School
Princess Street School
St. Peter's RC Schools
The Boys Clubs
Ex - Pats Index
Maps & Aerial Pix
The Pubs and Clubs
Smiths Dock & Gala Days
More Slaggy Tales
Some Slaggy Islanders
Pub and Club Activities
Reunion 2002 Pics
More Slaggy Islanders
Smith Family Album
Yet More Slaggies
Reunion 2003 Pics
South Bank Football
South Bank Tomorrow
For All Ex-Pats!
Reunion 2004 pics
Reunion 2005 Pics
Rix Pix 2005
Tears for South Bank
This Is Your Life
Reunion 2006 pics
Reunion 2007 pix
Contact Information for South Bank Nostalgic Society
Links for South Bank Nostalgia Society
1. The Archbishop of Brisbane
|Sir James Duhig, Archbishop of Brisbane and ex Slaggy Islander!
Michael McLoughlin in Australia tells us about the first of our achievers:
James Duhig was born into an impoverished family in Limerick, Ireland, on September 2 1871. I have been unable to trace the date the family left Ireland for England but they were in Middlesbrough area in the early 1880's. They lived at Vaughan Street in Grangetown at first, close to the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour - later known as St Mary's Grangetown. The Duhig's later moved to South Bank when James' father found a job in the brass foundry there. It was at South Bank that young James when aged under 11 years attended school for the first time in his life at the catholic St Peter's School in York Street. It was at this school that James received a certificate signed by the diocesan inspector of schools stating that he had passed an examination in Religious Knowledge. This was for his confirmation by Bishop Lacy, the first Bishop of Middlesbrough.
Within a few years the family emmigrated to Australia in search of a better life and arrived in Brisbane aboard the Merkard on April 9 1885. Young James soon got a job in Brisbane working as a clerk for a butchery company but at times had to deliver meat to households on a carrier push bike. In 1891 James started on the road to commence his priestly future leaving Brisbane on board RMS Jumma on his way to Rome to study there. Over the years he held several senior positions within the catholic church and eventually became Archbishop of Brisbane in 1917. He was a great admirer the Irish leader Michael Collins and actually attended Michael's funeral in 1922 in Dublin.
On April 20 1947 he was given an Honorary Doctorate of Law by the University of Queensland. Then in 1954 he was created a Cavaliere in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic for his services to the Italian community in Queensland and on April 20 1955 he was made a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George, thus becoming Sir James Duhig.
An extract taken from Remember When dated November 9 1996 refers to Michael McLoughlin "attending St Peter's School for the first time in 1934. Little did he know then that more than half a century later on the opposite side of the world he was to meet the great nephew of Archbishop Duhig, Dr James Duhig in Michael's office, where he served as officer to the Resident Medical Officer's at the Royal Brisbane Hospital Complex.
James Duhig was an Archbishop, a Statesman, and a towering figure in the R.C. church in Australia. He was also an astute business man whose purchases of land and properties put the church on a sound foundation. A wheeler dealer to some but truly a product of old South Bank! He died in 1965 and is buried in the crypt of his own cathedral - St Stephens in Brisbane. Not bad for a Slaggy Islander!
And from an article by Megan Lyneham in the
University Archives, dated October 2002...
Sir James Duhig was born on September 2nd 1871 in County Limerick, Ireland. During the Depression he and his family joined the continuing Irish migration of the time and went first to north east England (South Bank) then... sailed for Brisbane, arriving aboard the Merkara in April 1885.
In Brisbane Duhig attended the Christian Brothers College of St Josephs, Gregory Terrace, leaving when almost 14 to begin work as a clerk for the Cooperative Butchery Company in the city.
The Duhig family were part of a solid Catholic Community. Whilst working as a clerk, Duhig was a member of the Catholic Young Men’s Society and took part in public speaking and debating run by the society. The CYMS could be said to have launched the speaking career of one of Queensland’s great orators. It was in these early years that Duhig felt the call to priesthood.
Duhig sailed for Italy in 1891 where he lived at the Irish College, Rome, and studied for the priesthood at the Propaganda University. Although he was a diligent student and developed a taste for the study of theology, he did not become a great theologian. Rather, during his studies he "laboured at perfecting the expression of thought" and developed the ability to express "the word with clarity, strength and moving power" (Boland 1986:55).
On 19 September 1896, at the age of 25, Duhig was ordained a priest and returned to Brisbane the following year. He began work as a curate in Ipswich, at the time a bustling township, rich from agriculture and coal. He took on special responsibility for the county districts surrounding Ipswich and also gained experience in administration and building.
Duhig spent seven years as curate in Ipswich, before Archbishop Dunne sent for him to proceed to St Stephens Cathedral, Brisbane. In March 1905 he became its administrator, but although he made a deep impression at that time on the diocese, the position was short lived.
In December 1905 Duhig was ordained the Bishop of Rockhampton, a very large archdiocese of over 900,000 square kilometres. He travelled the area widely, becoming well acquainted with the religious and socio-economic issues facing the people. Many of his outback experiences are recounted in his autobiography Crowded years.
On 26 February 1912 Duhig came back to Brisbane to be appointed titular archbishop of Amida (an honorary title) and coadjutor of Archbishop Dunne, whom he succeeded as Archbishop of Brisbane, on 13 January 1917.
Seeing his position as one of service to the community, and having had such wide contact with the State, Duhig also saw his role to be a guiding force in the community. He had great influence upon the development of the state of Queensland. He was involved in many aspects that concerned the community: education, urban development, the arts and the family.
Duhig believed in and enabled close contact between the clergy and the people, and easy access to the church, schools and charitable institutions. During his time he created over fifty new parishes and introduced twenty new orders of religious brothers and sisters.
Throughout his career Duhig also developed his well-known passion for building and the acquisition of properties. Duhig’s biographer recounts how in his early days, to view the Old Gothic St Mary’s in Ipswich, Duhig had had to look down upon it. Duhig went on to devote his years to ensuring he never looked down upon the church either literally or metaphorically in Queensland again (Boland, 1986:72). He was responsible for the building of many churches on top of the many hills that characterise the Brisbane landscape. As Archbishop of Brisbane, "Duhig the builder" added more than 400 major buildings to the Brisbane landscape, including hospitals and educational, charitable and religious institutions. To achieve these aims he spent over 3 million dollars.
The pinnacle was to have been the building of the Cathedral of the Holy Name in Fortitude Valley. The cathedral was to have been the largest to be built anywhere in the world since the seventeenth century. The Laying of the Foundation Stone ceremony for the cathedral in 1928 was spectacular. Over 35,000 people of Brisbane assembled on Duncan’s Hill after a massive procession for the ceremony.
The following year, the Depression hit, and the whole venture crashed. The architect Hennessy, who had shared the dream of a new cathedral for Brisbane, went on to sue Duhig in 1949 for non-payment of fees for plans and specifications he made for the cathedral.
After such a public and spectacular cathedral failure, Duhig was still energetic in leadership in the church and state, but perhaps less ambitious.
Sir James Duhig and the University of Queensland
Throughout his career Duhig was also very much involved in education including the University of Queensland. Duhig joined the Senate of the University of Queensland on 1 July 1916 and from that time he was a revered and valued member of the Senate and remained a Senator until his death in 1965. He took a leading part in the establishment of the University and was considered one of its most active members in its organisation and administration, being a member of various committees and subcommittees. The progress and development of the University was dear to his heart. He established St Leo’s College and was an early advocate for the establishment of a full Medical School at UQ.
James Duhig was also a generous benefactor to the University: he gave valuable scientific equipment to the University as well as seismographic equipment to the Geology Department, at a time when there were no instruments or installations of that type in Australia.
In recognition of his deep commitment and unwavering service to the University of Queensland, the University conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws on Duhig. At the Senate meeting held 4th October 1946 it was unanimously resolved: -
That, in recognition of his deep learning, his public and private contributions to the cultural life of the people of Queensland, his encouragement of movements directed to the advancement of knowledge, his lifelong interest in and courageous pronouncements upon questions affecting the true welfare of the people and his long and devoted service to the University as a member of its Senate and otherwise, the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws be conferred upon the Most Reverend Dr James Duhig, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane. (UQA S1)
The Senate marked the occasion of Duhig’s Episcopal golden jubilee in 1955 by having a portrait of the Archbishop painted. It now forms part of the University Art Museum and a copy hangs on the ground floor of the Duhig building today. In 1966, after extra floors had been added to what used to be called the Undergraduate Library, the University named it the Duhig building in his honour.
Duhig was also honoured around the world with honorary doctorates of Laws from the University of Ottawa in 1947 and the National University of Ireland in 1955. He was also awarded a knighthood (K.C.M.G.) in 1959.
Duhig died on 10 April 1965 in his home at New Farm and was buried in the vault of St Stephen’s Cathedral. At the time Duhig became the bishop of Rockhampton in 1905, he was the youngest Roman Catholic bishop in the world. When he died whilst still in office, he had been the longest serving bishop in office. He had been a bishop for almost 60 years and a priest for nearly 70.
Duhig’s legacy is not only the unrivalled impression he left on the Brisbane landscape, but also the very significant degree of influence he had in shaping and contributing to the religious, social and political life of Queensland. His contribution to education was unparalleled and he is also well remembered for his eloquence as a preacher, his kindness and compassion, and his magnanimity.
2. The Maris Priest
John Vincent Carroll was born in South Bank in 1900 and lived with his family in 106 North Street, one of the so-called "garret" houses next to the alley to Danny Ireland's allotment! These houses had attic rooms which allowed a bit more space for the Carroll parents and eleven children! He attended York Street School and from a very early age he declared his intention to become a priest, a promise readily accepted by his family, and he conducted a daily morning mass over his siblings in their attic bedroom.
After leaving school, he worked as a cellar man at the Princess Alice pub, studying hard in his spare time until he felt he was ready for the priesthood. He was ordained in Belgium and became a Marist priest through the Society of Mary. Later, he even became Headmaster of the Marist College in Hull from 1946 to 1952.
When his sister Margaret, Dan Pluck's mother, was going to get married at St. Peter's Church, John Vincent was given special dispensation to carry out the ceremony - and thus a brother married his sister!!
But, of course, his greatest claim to fame is the fact that he was the uncle of Dan Pluck!
Michael McLoughlin writes in:
I'm back again..... After reading the above I now wonder if he was related to the Carrolls - the caretakers and bell ringers at St Peters Church. The Carroll family lived in the caretakers house in Middle Napier Street - which was attached to the church. Mr Carroll as a routine played hymns on the church bells before the 6.30 p.m. evening service every Sunday. As a member of the choir I used to often see Mr Carroll accending the bell tower from the organ loft in St Peters......I wonder?
I checked this with Dan Pluck and it was the same family! Incidentally they were also related to the Kirkbrights.
3. Wilf Mannion
|Statue of Wilf outside the Riverside Stadium
Without doubt Wilf Mannion is our most famous Achiever. Born in Napier Street on the 16th of May 1918, Wilf went to St. Peter's School where he was "discovered" and went on to captain Middlesbrough FC and play for England. He was also in the Great Britain team that beat the Rest Of Europe 7-2. He is thought by many to be the greatest football player to ever kick a ball even though the public was prevented from seeing the best of Wilf when his career was unfortunately interrupted by the war and afterwards when he was involved with a dispute with the Middlesbrough Club Officials. Deadlocked, he returned to the fold and saved the club from relegation.
Wilf retired from professional football at the age of 36 but was tempted out of retirement for one season by Hull but was then suspended by the Football League as a result of newspaper articles he wrote while retired. He later played non-league football for Poole, Kings Lyn and Earlstown before hanging up his boots at the age of 44 in 1962.
On the 13th of April 2000 I had to go to Stead Hospital in Redcar as an outpatient with an ingrowing toenail. I knew Wilf was a patient there and asked after a friend. The nurse enquired, then came back and said he was fine. "Did I want to see him? I could go up." However his daughter was visiting so, to my great regret, I declined. If he had known I was there he would have insisted because not only was Wilf a great footballer he was a great gentleman.
Wilf Mannion died in the early hours of the next day.
When Wilf died tributes flowed into the Evening Gazette offices. Ged O'Neill sent in his own thoughts on his hero but, as he said, they only wanted short e-mails and one liners. Here is the
A Tribute To Wilf Mannion by Ged O'Neill.
I can recall the day when an interest in playing football as a youth became a single-minded desire to succeed as a player in that most insecure of professions. It was a day that I had been anticipating all through the War Years -1939-45. As a boy of eleven I had seen my first professional game at Ayresome Park after the divisions had been scrapped and football fixtures had been arranged in Zones, North and South. That had happened for many reasons but mainly because the team strengths had been decimated due to conscription and the demands of war.
Teams were composed of: the older players, the exempt players, permit players, guest players and players from the amateur leagues. Football was encouraged nay, ordered to continue within those constraints. It was considered to be an essential part of national morale to have the great game performed every Saturday under the auspices of the League clubs. Golf courses could be ploughed and sown with crops, Athletic fixtures could be suspended but football was played despite any handicaps.
None of that mattered to myself as a young, hopeful teenager whose introduction to the professional game was to watch a hotch-potch collection of players masquerading under the banner of Middlesbrough F.C. playing against teams from the prewar lower divisions. Darlington, Hartlepool, York City, but also Sunderland and Newcastle were the opposition.
It was magic for me to watch Cliff Whitelum from Sunderland playing for our own team. He was stationed with an army battery at GrangeTown. I admired the elegance of Bobby Hardisty from Bishop Auckland and the terrier-like Jacky Towers from Darlington. During those war years a little centre forward named Bobby Stobbart averaged twenty goals per season despite his ever-changing teammates. He was doing his war service in the Durham coalmines.
Throughout all those years we had been promised something extra special when the war ended and things returned to normal and all those far flung players returned to their home grounds. In our own particular case as youngsters we were told by all knowing adults to "Just wait until you see Mickey Fenton" or "Wait until George Hardwick comes home"! About one player in particular we were regaled with anecdotes and stories until we felt that we knew him as well as they did. As the war years grew to a close our anticipation grew also. No Biblical Jew could have anticipated the Messiah as much as we looked forward to this advent.
At long last as a lad of sixteen I stood in the queue at Ayresome Park the likes of which I had never seen before at any football ground. It was an evening match against Stoke City and our man was to make his first home appearance since his call up. On entering the ground I marvelled at the numbers. The estimate was 25,000 and eclipsed the previous attendance for Mickey Fenton’s reappearance of 16,000.
The teams came on the field and the crowd roared, as I had never heard it during those wartime contests. I recognized him immediately. How could I fail to do so? After all he had been described to me on a hundred occasions by older football followers until I felt that I could have drawn a recognizable picture of him myself. His name passed from mouth to mouth "Mannion Mannion!" we all chanted.
From the first time that he touched the ball I was entranced and as the match progressed so did that enchantment grow and my decision was made. That was what I wanted to do: to emulate the grace and style of this footballing genius. For my part that evening I could only see one figure among the twenty two: that flopping mass of fair hair, the distinctive way that he held his hands at right angles to his body for balance. The way he accepted the ball from any direction or angle and brought it under immediate control, the accuracy of the pass when he released the ball in the air or along the ground. The body sway and swerve which took him past one, two three players at a time. The humour when he took defenders away with a quick dart when the ball was elsewhere. The extraordinary height he achieved in jumping to head a ball, and the finishing power with either feet when he was anywhere near goal.
Throughout it all serenity shone through! Not for him the waste of energy in any outburst of frustration or anger. As I travelled home that night I knew that I had seen my first "Footballer Extraordinaire". That was only one of many occasions when I attended a soccer match for the one simple reason that "Mannion is Playing" irrespective of the other twenty one players or the quality of the opposing team.
I was there at the last match of the season in 1947 at Brentford on a sunny, dry, windy day with nothing at stake. I had persuaded my college football team colleagues to come and see him. The poor conditions for good football caused him to miskick in the first few minutes and he stumbled and hurt his ankle. My friends jeered at me knowingly. Football on both sides for the next 88 minutes was poor but throughout it all his ability shone through. At the end of the match their judgement was: what a poor match it had been but what a brilliant player he was.
I was there with Val on his first return to football after his abortive one-man strike against poor wages. How squalidly Middlesbrough FC treated him at that time! The match was England ‘B’ v Holland and there was an estimated 60,000 people at this non-ticket game. The selectors were anxious to have him back in the ‘A’ team as soon as possible and this match was the prelude to his next full international game.
For the first twenty minutes of the game the ball appeared to be tied to Len Shackleton’s feet but for the next seventy, Mannion gave a superb display of football artistry and was the man of the match according to all the critics. The Great Britain match was called "Mannion’s Match" during which he scored two of the winning goals, one from a penalty. According to some football correspondents it was he who was instrumental in helping Billy Steele the other inside forward to attain his £25,000 status shortly afterwards, which was the highest transfer fee ever paid up to that time.
I remember the first tour by an English team in Europe after the war. Mannion played in every game. One result was: Portugal :0, England 10!
I never made it to the professional ranks and my interest in football has receded somewhat. Wilf never made it to the million pound bracket! People have speculated how he would have fared in the modern game? In my opinion: On the evidence of his playing on dry, muddy, heavy, light pitches, on wet, sunny, snowy days, with a heavy, light leather ball and wearing the old type boots, then modern conditions and equipment would be a further extension of his genius and he would shine like a beacon!
4. Dan Pluck
|Dan does his stuff!
Then there was Denis "Dan" Pluck who took up weightlifting and in 1965 was English Heavyweight Weight Lifting Champion. Maybe it was something to do with being a Slaggy Islander but, like Wilf Mannion, a dispute with the authorities saw Dan retire before he reached his true potential. At the time he had been training with World Champion Louis Martin, who envied Dan his technique which could have seen him progress to world ranking.
5. Vin Garbutt
Sir Leon Britten presents Vin with an Honorary Degree
South Bank's second most famous son, Vin Garbutt, also attended St.Peter's and later wrote and performed a song about Wilf.
Vin Garbutt, singer / songwriter, penny whistler and brilliant raconteur, was awarded an Honorary Master of Arts degree on the 30th of December 2001 at Teesside University for services to music and to the region of Teesside.
This followed being voted 'Best Live Act in Britain' at the Radio 2 Folk Awards earlier in the year.
At the degree ceremony in Middlesbrough Town Hall, the Master of Arts award was presented by Sir Leon Britten and Vin was accompanied by his family, who were bursting with pride. Vin was absolutely thrilled and said of the degree award, "This is absolutely terrific. It's a great honour for a Teesside lad who left school without passing too many exams."
Vin has been on the music scene for 35 years. He is one of the busiest artists on the roots scene, and as well as an army of devoted fans in Britain, he has collected admirers around the world. Indeed, in his home area, Vin is known as "Teesside's Ambassador of Folk", a title bestowed upon him by the press when, back in 1977, he became the first British folk artist to be invited to tour Australia.
Isn't it strange that all the "Achievers" went to St. Peter's Schools? Dan Pluck reckoned it was because of the sense of discipline instilled in them.- Surely there must have been others? I did hear that the person who writes speeches for Ian Duncan Smith comes from South Bank but - I mean! Conservative! Is there a Slaggy Islander you would like to nominate for inclusion to "The Achievers" Page.
I'd like to add a word from Bill Sullivan who took me to task over the Pete Betts song "They don't write them like that anymore" (since corrected).
There's another line in it that goes
"A bored audience is watching while Kenny is
And messing up easy card tricks," Kenny is Kenny Gatiss, my Nephew, though he is 59 like me. Kenny owns "The Tiger" in Normanby. He has spent a
lifetime involved with Boys Clubs and particularly Grangetown. The Tigers were the Grangetown Boys Club football team.
His Pub is wall to wall memorabilia. He is a long standing friend of Vin Garbut and Pete Betts. When I went to see Ken for the Millenium he got Pete and Vin to sing the song for me at a party at Ken's house in Normanby. Go and have a beer with Kenny sometime. He's a fantastic personality.
I laughed like hell when he took me to The Tiger and in his verbal jousting with the more mature ladies in the crowd he would shout at them "Behave
yourselves or I'll ejaculate you!"
He'd been a close friend of Wilf Mannion and Bob Campbell, when they were alive. Bob apparently gave Ken a thumping one time when he was chucking Ken out of somewhere. Ken saw Bob years later when Bob was walking down the street and he was very well oiled. Ken seized the only chance he was likely to get and gave Bob a thumping. Ken said they laughed like hell about it over many a beer.
My sister Mary Taylor and husband Harry Taylor still live in South Bank.
They both worked on TRTB for yonks.
6. Eddie Healy
|Eddie Healy many moons ago
I knew Edward Anthony Healy when he lived in Scarborough Street, just round the corner from me. After school, I didn't see him again until the 12th of December, 1975 - which was also the last time I saw him! I know the date because I have in front of me my security pass as a contractor on the "Redcar Project" of British Steel (I was a joiner for Norwest Holst, building the coke ovens) and the pass was issued by none other than - E.A.Healy on that date!
Eddie served an apprenticeship and then worked as a qualified bricklayer (at one time Blackie Watson was his hod carrier!) until he suffered a fractured spine. He recovered but was unable to continue his trade and thereafter worked in offices in a variety of positions, rising to Labour Manager and finally Industrial Relations Advisor. Impressive!
However, over the years, he had to put up with a host of degenerative illnesses which undoubtedly stemmed from his spinal injury and reading just some of them makes me realise why I've always been fit and healthy - Eddie had collared the market in ailments leaving nothing for me! (Thanks Eddie.)
Unable to continue working, Eddie developed a flair for writing and composed some wonderful poems, putting them together in a book dedicated to his family. He also included a potted genealogy and personal history uncovering his direct descent from the Kings of Tara in the County of Meath in Ireland! (Little did Muhammad Ali realise when I met him in 1977 that he was shaking the hand which shook the hand of a descendant of the Kings of Tara!!!)
Here is one of Eddie's poems that I particularly like, echoing my sentiments although I'm not religously minded, entitled-
The Seventh Millennium
Is it better to be blind and not see the pain
Is it better to be deaf and not hear them complain
Is it better to be dumb and so not offend
Or should we be Worldly and follow the trend?
Why can't we all just lower our aim
No need to compete - for we're all the same
But the time it will come when all men are as one
When a world of transition is over and gone
Will be Nature's response for the deeds not now known
When Colour and Creed - Accepted - Condoned
And our Paradise lost - Will be - Worldly need
When prisoners of conscience from their shackles are freed
It will take more Millenniums before God's final call
When Emperors and Kings to the meek they will fall
And so by that time - we hope there's no crime
Then each coloured brother, Universal by that time
And remember Christ's words "They'll inherit the earth"
A civilisation United - same colour ALL at birth.
PS. Did I tell you all my heroes were black? -
Paul Robeson, Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali, Al Jolson...
|Alan Winton's Medal
Alan Winton went to the Central School, then served his time with TRTB as a coach builder after which he did his National Service with the Northumberland Fusiliers. While stationed in Hong Kong , Alan Winton requested leave to come home to get married. His request was granted on condition that he agreed to box for the company. Alan had no option but to agree - and finished up Battalion Light Heavyweight Champion! He also finished up married to Shirley Hughes on the 27th of December 1958 and Jack Young, who was with him in Hong Kong, was married on the same day.
8. Paul Daniels
|"You'll like this! Not a lot - but you'll like it!"
Paul Daniels is without doubt the most successful entertainer to ever come from South Bank and for that alone deserves to be on this page.
As a magician he has received plaudits from all over the world for being the best in the business and his down to earth (Slaggy Island) style, laced with wit and humour, has stamped him as unique in the entertainment world - except for Vin!
He was presented with the prestigious "Magician Of The Year Award" by the Hollywood Academy of Magical Arts in Los Angeles - the first non American to win it! No wonder he has topped the bill in Las Vegas!
One of his BBC shows also won the coveted Golden Rose Of Montreux Trophy and he was feted by the Variety Club of Great Britain. Not bad for a South Banker and this piece only mentions a fraction of the accolades that have gone his way.
9. Alex Hart
Alex Hart lived in Surrey Street and took up weightlifting. Despite having to train in a shed on his allotment he became Light Heavyweight Weightlifting Champion of England in the 1960's and sustained a long career in international competition. Rumour has it that he is still working out with his weights!
10. Kid Rich
|Kid Rich ready for all-comers
I knew Davey "Kid Rich" Richards in the late fifties and early sixties when he lived with his family in Jones Road. He was a club man and nice bloke. Knowing of my interest in boxing he always promised me a copy of his fight record which ran to around two hundred and sixty contests. Unfortunately we never got around to it before he died but his son Davey is now trying to get a me copy from a sister who lives down South.
It wasn't surprising that he had so many fights as he took up the sport at the age of twelve at the Royal Oak Gymnasium in Cannon Street, Middlesbrough and had his first official contest at the age of fourteen. This bout was unusual in several ways. His tutor was Tom Raistrick who was signed to box at Portrack Park and took Davey along to experience the atmosphere. However the billed fighter failed to turn up and in desperation the promoter and Raistrick persuaded the fourteen year old to get into the ring against his teacher.
The Kid was an instant hit, moreover winning his debut battle and starting on a long career which would have been much longer except for World War Two. Davey served in the Royal Navy during the conflict but continued to fight in inter-service contests and won nine bouts in a row before sustaining a smashed arm during gun drill which effectively ended his boxing career.
In an era when your face had to fit to get a championship fight Davey was kept out, even though (or because!) he regularly topped the bill in the thirties and had beaten British and Empire Champions in non-title fights (a ploy to safeguard their titles).
While never a champion of the world he was our Slaggy Island Champion! Later he coached at St.Peter's School.
When I get The Kid's record I'll put it on this page.
11. Keith Craddy
Keith proudly displays his award
A little over ten years ago, South Banker Keith Craddy was doing voluntary work for the Council, including delivering talking books for the visually impaired. After some time he realised that he never actually saw any sight impaired youngsters and asked why. He discovered that although most of these kids attended special schools there were no facilities provided for after school hours activities. This struck him as unfair to the kids and he set about doing something to rectify the situation.
After a lot of hard work and hard talking Keith founded the Cleveland Youth Club For Sight Impaired where both sighted and visually impaired youngsters meet and take part in a variety of social activities which include parties and holidays. This club has given a lot of pleasure to many visually impaired kids and led to an increase in confidence.
In 2001 two brothers from the Club, Robert and Peter Bowstead nominated Keith for a Community Champions award which made him intensely proud, especially when he was then short listed! Then, when he was actually given the award, sponsored by Huntsman, he was flabbergasted. The trophy now has pride of place on the mantlepiece and his wife Lynn makes sure it has a regular polishing!
The club, which has members aged five to eighteen, meets regularly at the Teesside Society for the Blind at Stockton Road, Middlesbrough and Keith is now in the process of building a web site for the club.
12. Gerry Walsh - Checkmate!
|Gerry pictured with Ashok Kumar, MP.
Gerry Walsh was born in Napier Street but became a highly respected International Chess Champion and now travels the world refereeing International Competitions.
He is also the President of the British Chess Federation and the Cleveland Chess Association.
13. Jacqueline Smith
|Jackie meets Prince Charles who seems to be saying "Ooh, nice!"
I had long intended to write a piece about Jackie and I was waiting for material from her sister Marion (Wyke). However, our friend Eugene McElvaney sat in the sunshine (or is it smoke?) of Australia has beaten me to it. Not only that he has made a very good job of it so I'll put it on as is (!) and he has photos to follow.
Over to Eugene:
"Southbanker and World Champion!!!
What does it take to become the best in the world?
To be better than 6 billion people at your chosen interest the experts would say that you need talent, physical and mental fitness, guts, determination, willpower, strength of character, ability to mix with people, to be a team player, persistence, single mindedness, the ability to accept defeat and keep trying one more time, hard work, self confidence, motivation, a supportive family and friends and most importantly, a good sense of humour to get you through the hard times.
I’m not sure if South Bank has many who would have all of those attributes, but Slaggy Islander Jacqueline Smith is a champion in one of the toughest and scariest sports imaginable - parachuting.
Jacqueline Smith, the fourth child of Ted and Mary Smith was born in George St. Southbank during the mid fifties. At the age of eighteen months Jacqueline moved to 42 Bevanlee Road with her two brothers and two sisters, Ted, James, Marian (Wyke) and Jeanne (Carr). Jackie (as she likes to be called) was educated at St. Peter’s Napier Street and St. Anne’s (now St, Peter’s) in Normanby Road.
Not too long after leaving school, sports mad Jackie joined the Women's Royal Army Corps hoping to become a Physical Training Instructor. She was posted to Aldershot in Hampshire where the Parachute Regiment was stationed and she took up skydiving as a sport. Jackie showed exceptional talent as a Sky Diver and was invited to become the first female Red Devil as a full time member of the Parachute Regiment’s Freefall Team. Many people would have seen her performing death defying feats at shows and exhibitions and on television during the seventies without realizing that they were watching a fellow Southbanker. Jackie left the army in 1977 and the next year as a civilian she won the ‘World Parachuting Championship’ in Zagreb (former Yugoslavia). She has done over 4000 jumps and worked extensively as a Specialist Sky Diver in America and Australia. Jackie now lives near Salisbury in Wiltshire with her two sons Scott (15) and Ross (13) and still works in the skydiving world.
I learnt of the amazing exploits of Jacqueline Smith in late 2001 and it has taken until now to obtain photographs and get the full story from the modest Jackie. I have enjoyed corresponding immensely with Jackie. She possesses a very sharp Southbank wit and sense of humour which is evident from the interview with her below that was done in January 2003. (Eugene McElvaney)
Question: Where did you live when you were growing up?
I was born at 6 George Street in South Bank which was not far from the Peter's church. I don't think it is there anymore. How on earth we all lived in such a small house I do not know (I don't remember it at all but can imagine how cramped it must have been with us lot but that was how everyone lived then I suppose. We then moved to 42 Bevanlee Road when I was about 18 months old and I left home at 17 to join the Army. I can still name everyone on Bevanlee Road. There were the Forrestals, Walkers, Warners, Troddons, Purvis (still there at 38), Burns, us, Brooks, Tranter, Martin, Clark, Pepper. Golden, Collins, Turners, Drawbridge, Graftons, Kirlew still at 23, Spencely, Lundy, Councillor Seed, Clarke and at the top of the road was 'Fatty' Harrison, Totty McNeil, Rita, Pinchbecks. I came back home a few years ago as my niece was getting married (Father Ryan of South Bank Church married her... well, he didn't marry her ... he performed the ceremony!) and I drove up Bevanlee Road and at the garages at the top of the road was a gang of lads. I suddenly got scared and thought I might not get my car out in one piece. It used to be so safe when I was a little girl, we had less money than what they have today but society has definitely gone into a rapid decline in what seems such a short period of time.
Question: How often do you visit South Bank?
I don't visit South Bank as often as I should because it is such a long drive and my children find the journey tiresome (I have no-one to share the driving with and it is such a long way). The last time we went to South Bank we traveled by train and it took us 12 hours. Lately, I have been getting a 'calling' to go back to live in South Bank (if you know what I mean!) but it is never going to be the same, is it?
Question: What are your happiest memories of South Bank?
My happiest memories of South Bank? Hmm. we lived half way up Bevanlee Road and our back garden had the 'Beck' running at the bottom of it. I used to play 'funkies' on the 'Beck' (and to anyone who never played 'Funkies' I would like to assure them it was nothing like it sounds!). Funkies was a game of 'dare' and you had to jump the 'Beck' at some very wide points. If you didn't make it to the other side without splashing the water or fell backwards into the 'Beck' you were 'Funkied' until eventually you were the last person. That person was then a demi-god until someone beat their record. We used to go across to the 'Pox' and catch newts and frogs. The fields all had names. There was the 'Dumps, The School Field, The 'Greenie' and the 'Fessie Field'. The 'Fessie Field' had horses in it and we used to ride them bareback. Across the Trunk Road was the Rec where I spent hours on the 'Ocean Wave' and next to it was the rings (like the gymnastic high rings) which would swing and bang against the metal post making such a loud 'doiiiiiiing' you could hear it all over South Bank. Outside our house on Bevanlee Road we had a lamp-post with a piece of rope on it which we used as a swirly swing. Hide and seek. We would play 'Cannie' for hours. An empty tin can in the middle of the road with lolly sticks on it. One team on each side of the road, standing on the pavement. You had to throw the ball at the tin and knock the lolly sticks off. The team who knocked them off had to run away and could only be caught by being touched with the ball. Riding my dad's sit-up-and-beg bike but not being able to reach the pedals when I sat on the seat so I had to ride in an 'S' shape with my hands on the handle bars and body through the frame. Not easy! It was awkward but I used to cycle to Redcar like that. On a Saturday, 'Albert' would do the rounds with his horse and cart selling potatoes and veg. When I used to visit my gran, Selina Welsh in Beacham Street I used to watch Maggie White across the road, wearing her apron, hair wrapped up an a net, scrubbing her doorstep until it was like brand new. I loved the freedom I had then and even as a little girl I used to walk with my dog, Lassie, past 'Titty-Bottle Park, right up Eston Hills, sitting at the Nab and admiring the view, Bluebell Wood, drinking the iron-rich water, walking over to Skelton and eventually to Saltburn. We only had a coal fire in the living room, no central heating, no double glazing and lino in most of the rooms. When my mam or dad tucked me into bed there were so many heavy blankets on top of me I couldn't turn over to sleep on my side. I used to sleep with my head under the blankets to keep my head, face and nose warm. Never having warm feet in bed. It was so cold we had ice on the INSIDE' of the windows. One bath a week (and we all went in the same water). We didn't dare sit in our dad's chair, he used to sit by the fire, next to the 'ducket' and woe-betide if you were sitting on it when he came home from work. I have happy memories of the Majestic picture house where we all used to go on a Saturday morning to watch the 'flicks'. There was Mrs. Price in the Kiosk at the bottom of the road where I would buy threepenny lucky bags and calypso's. We had two shops around the corner, Daniels and Millers (I think). Mam and Dad used to send me around the shops for beer but I had to wait outside for ages and ask an adult to buy it for me as I was too young. I used to hate it but as there was a threepence returnable value on the empty bottles I used to make a bit of pocket money. I used to go potato picking every October and earn 10 and 6 a day (which was loads then) but phew...what hard work. The Peter's Club. My best friend was Patsy Morris who used to live next to my gran at 45 Beacham Street. She then moved to Straus Road. She was a really good friend.
Question: Were you a good student?
I was too scared not to be a good student at school - went up in the 'A' stream in juniors and seniors. I had Sister Mary Stanislaus in Napier Street School so that was very very strict. Then in St Anne's School I had Sister Mary Imelda and she was just as bad. I must admit to getting the cane on a few occasions but that was only because I told lies when they did the register on a Monday morning asking if I had been to Confession, Mass and Holy Communion. I remember once saying I had been to Mass. Sister Mary Imelda asked me what time mass? I said 6pm. She must have known I was telling porkies as she wanted to know what colour vestments, and which priest took mass. I said Father Ryan and Green. Then she told me we were in Lent and it was purple. I said I wasn't sure because I was stood behind Mr. Skillen and couldn't see past him. She didn't believe me and I got the cane on both hands. She was vicious and really enjoyed it. I only went to church because of the fear of the cane on a Monday morning.
Question: What were your favourite subjects and which teachers inspired you?
I loved PE (my teacher was Miss Thornhill) and she took me on Duke of Edinburgh Awards. I felt she really liked me and could see how much I wanted to do well. I used to go to Whinney Banks every weekend with her and 4 other girls for trampolining and badminton. I was the main stay of the rounders team and loved any physical activity. I did very well in Art and was taught by Miss Brown throughout my Senior School. If I had the time I would like to study art - if I say so myself I think I have a good eye but time is of the essence and in too short supply at the moment.
Question: Who else inspired you to achieve?
Miss Thornhill was absolutely fabulous and wherever she is I would just love to thank her for giving me the opportunity to do what I did. She boosted my confidence and allowed me to do something I really enjoyed. Miss Brown was passionate about her subject and I was always in the top three in my year in art because of her. I also used to swim and dive for the school (I could dive off the top board at Eston Baths). It was Miss Thornhill who coaxed me into the first dive from such a great height after tirelessly talking to me from the side of the baths for about half an hour. Such patience. From the age of 12 to 15 when I left school I used to go swimming EVERY night after school. I think if I had pursued a career in swimming I would have done equally as well as I did in Parachuting.
Miss King taught Domestic Science and she was an absolute nightmare. (Army Sergeant Majors’ had nothing on her.) God forbid you do, say, look the wrong way. She would throw pans at you (even knives and forks) and rant and rave. After one particular cookery lesson we had to scrupulously wash the pots and pans awaiting her inspection. My pan didn't quite come up to scratch and she nearly burst a blood vessel shouting at me. She screamed like a banshee and told me to put some 'elbow grease' into it so I went into the cupboard looking for this 'elbow grease'. After looking for what seemed like an eternity I wimpishly approached her to ask where it was. I thought I was going to die. 'Cringe!'
Question: Did you feel that being brought up in a tough area gave you determination to succeed?
Although it was tough it was still disciplined and we all had great respect for others. I am certain that this discipline and respect gave me a good footing for anything thrown at me in my life and I didn't find any of the Army training hard. If I was given something to do, even if it wasn't a very nice job, I just got on with it and did as good a job as I could. I could tolerate any amount of shouting even if it was from my Sergeant in training when her nose was next to my nose and she was reaching mega-decibel range shouting in my face if I had a bit of fluff on my beret. I just took it all in my stride. I'm not saying I was a goody goody. I was very mischievous and got up to some hilarious things and had really great fun. I must admit though to always having a feeling of 'inferiority' when I was growing up because I think we were all brought up to believe everyone else was 'better than us'.
Question: Are your parents still living in South Bank?
My mam (Mary) and dad (Ted) have passed on now. Dad sadly died on 2nd February 1982 at the age of 62. The last few months were very tragic for dad. He had lost his best mate ‘Codger’ and he had been laid off work with no prospects for his future employment. My mam died fourteen years after my dad and I think she still missed him.
Question: Are your siblings still living in South Bank?
Marion (and Ged Wyke) now live in South Bank and her four children, Mandy, Tracy, Gerald and Alison have all grown up and have families of their own. They all still live in South Bank. Marion used to work 'on the buses' as a 'clippie'. Ted left home at the age of 14 and has lived in Hucclecote (Gloucester) ever since. Ted used to work on the bread vans 'Wonderloaf'. James did his apprenticeship with John Collier (sing John Collier, John Collier, the window to watch) as a tailor but has now married and settled in a place just outside Edinburgh. Jeanne married Steven Carr of Eston and they live at Eston Under Nab with their grown up family. My cousin Lana also lives in Southbank still. She really had it tough when she was growing up, that knowing how dreadful it was for Lana it made me really appreciate everything I had, even though it wasn't very much.
Question: What year did you join the Army?
I joined the Army in 1969 and wanted to be a PTI (Physical Training Instructor). You have to do a year in a 'trade' before you can be a PTI so I went into Royal Signals. After doing my basic training (drill and discipline) at Guildford, I then went to Catterick for Signals training. Too young to be posted abroad (you have to be 17 and 10 months to go abroad) I was posted to Aldershot which was the home of the Airborne Forces, the Parachute Regiment. Scary stuff then!
Question: What year did you join the Red Devils?
After watching the Parachute Regiment jumping out of a 'Barage Balloon' on Queens Avenue in Aldershot I thought to myself, 'I've got to have some of that!' and enrolled on a parachute course. I went to Netheravon in Wiltshire and embarked on a four jump course. I had never so much as been near an aircraft and there I was sitting in one, getting ready to jump out! I took to the sport like a duck to water and after about 20 jumps entered the Army Championships Novice Event. I won and Major Peter Schofield (who was then the Team Leader of the Red Devils) came up to me and gave me the biggest pat on the back ever. He told me I had a lot of talent and if I kept the sport up I had what it would take to get to the top. What words of inspiration they were. I felt like 'Bill and Ted' and nearly got down on my knees chanting, 'I am not worthy, I am not worthy!'
Major Peter Schofield contacted me and asked would I like to join the Red Devils (he wrote to my mam and dad first and asked their permission). It took a year of letter writing to my 'Queen Bee' in HQ MOD. I joined the Team as a fully fledged member in March 1971. I was on a team with 29 skydiving colleagues from the Parachute Regiment.
Question: What year did you win the World Parachuting Championship and was it has an individual or as part of the Red Devils?
I left the Army at the end of 1977 and won the World Championships in 1978 in Zagreb (formerly Yugoslavia) as a civilian. My training in the Red Devils gave me what it took to do it. I had jumped into a field in every town in the country at Army Shows, Fetes, Carnivals, etc and had competed every weekend at a different parachute centre in the UK. I had also traveled extensively around the world representing the team (and Great Britain) at demonstrations meeting royalty, astronauts, dignitaries etc, facing press, TV crews and television interviews. It was all part of the firm foundations necessary to face any pressures.
Question: How many jumps have you made to date?
I made over 4,000 jumps and you have to log each jump in a log book listing date, aircraft jumped out of, height, what type of parachute and place.
Question: What is your present connection with Sky Diving?
The British Parachute Association gave me life membership. I live only three miles from the Army Parachute Association where I worked for 15 years as Courses Clerk/book-keeper and am still strongly connected to all my friends there. Also, the Red Devils reside and work at the Parachute Centre at Netheravon so some of the younger team members live in the next road to me. It is like having a big family all around me.
My sons Scott and Ross would like to do a skydive when they are old enough. Scott is 16 next month (which is the minimum age in this country with parental consent) so I will take him up to Netheravon Parachute Centre and he will most probably do a Tandem Skydive (where he is strapped to the front of an instructor). I might even try and jump with him! Ross has another 2 years before he is 16 but can't wait.
Question: What advice would you give young people living in South Bank?
Think about this....
Don't walk in front of me - I may not want to follow... Don't walk behind me - I may not want to lead.. Just walk beside me and be my friend!
Thank you, Jacqueline Smith, I believe the people of Southbank will be very proud of you and your achievements. Well done!!!" Eugene McElvaney.
PS. Daniels shop was run by Paul Daniels parents. Also I think Jeanne (pronounced Jan) was the youngest! Dick.
14. Florence Easton
|Florence Easton. Photo from Ged O'Neill.
I received this story of Florence Easton, the opera singer, from Gerald O'Neill. While I was aware of her existence I couldn't recall her name but I believe she lived in Napier Street.
"Florence Easton was a very famous soprano born in South Bank on 25th October 1882. The family emigrated to Canada when she was five and settled in Toronto. She came back to England aged 18 and trained at the Royal Academy of Music. Her operatic career started at Newcastle and after marrying Francis McLennan, an American tenor, they were both engaged by Court opera in Berlin from 1907-13, then on to Hamburg from 1913-15 and thence to America for various roles with other opera companies.
Then began her celebrated association with the Metropolitan Opera in New York where she sang over 150 different roles during her eleven years there which ended in 1929. She sang with most of the world's best tenors: Caruso, De Luca, Martinelli and Gigli among them. She came back to England between the wars and sang a few roles at Covent Garden and made her farewell performance at the Town Hall in New York on December 6th 1943 where she gave a formidable performance of Lieder. She was sixty years old.
She died on 13th August 1955 after spendnig her later years in "Teaching and Social Retirement"
There is no doubt that she was considered to be one of the ten best singers of her day at a time when operatic singers were held in the same esteem and treated with the same adulation as the world's best 'Pop' stars of the present.
All that from her 'Slaggy Island' origins. I always said that those Coke Ovens had something going for them!
15. John Elderfield
|Dr.John Elderfield examines a William de Kooning painting
This nomination came from John "Snitch" Richards who wrote:
"John Elderfield, twin to Harry, who left Eston Grammar around 1963 is now curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
My curiosity aroused, I typed his name in Yahoo and clicked Search. This man is a Mega Achiever. There are 1810 sites to look at!
His title is: Doctor John Elderfield, Chief Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art, New York City! He is a World Authority on Modern Art, has written numerous books and gives lectures all over the world! Wow!
I print here just one of my findings:
5 November 2002.
Adventures Of The Optic Nerve
The University of Essex will be welcoming one the world's leading art historians to its Wivenhoe Park campus to deliver a special lecture in celebration of the centenary of the British Academy.
The lecture at Essex is one of nine special lectures being held across the UK to celebrate the centenary of the British Academy. Each one covers a different discipline represented by the Academy, the national academy for the humanities and the social sciences.
Entitled, 'The Adventures of the Optic Nerve', the lecture will be given by Dr John Elderfield, Chief Curator At Large, of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and co-curator of the recent Matisse Picasso exhibition at the Tate, the most successful exhibition in the Gallery's history.
Dr Elderfield's lecture will concentrate on modern art. Beginning with the transformation of British art history from a connoisseur's pursuit into an academic discipline, Dr Elderfield will explore the ways in which language can represent visual practice. He will consider the responsibilities of the art historical viewer with respect to modern objects that have become, or are becoming, distant to us.
Finally he will consider how modern histories can accommodate objects that are alien to us - not only because they are of the past but because they are not normally situated in modern histories. He will argue that the history of art, as the explanation of historical visual practice, is a discipline neither for the mind alone, nor only for eye and mind, but for eye, mind, and imagination.
Curator of many major exhibitions across the world Dr John Elderfield has written extensively on modern art and received the first Mitchell Prize for his book on twentieth century art. He was also recipient of a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres awarded by the French Government and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Fine Arts at The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
'The Adventure of the optic nerve' by Dr John Elderfield will be held on Tuesday 12 November in LTB 7 at the University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester at 6.30pm. Drinks from 6pm. The lecture is free and open to members of the public.
Notes to editors:
The British Academy, established by Royal Charter in 1902, is an independent learned society promoting the humanities and social sciences. It is composed of Fellows elected in recognition of their distinction as scholars in the humanities and social sciences.
© Copyright 1999, 2002 University of Essex. All rights reserved."
Mind you, there was no mention of Slaggy Island.
I went back to the sites later and to my surprise it led me to my own site of Slaggy Island and the Cromwell Road School with a photo of Miss Baxter's Class of 1952-53! There, in the back row, was John next to his twin Harry!! I could have understood it if his teacher had been the sadistic Miss Unthank whose nasty methods instilled facts never-to-be-forgotten but she didn't "do Art". Nor can I recall much graffiti in South bank in those days to inspire a love of modern art. But there must have been something...
I can't help wondering what Dr. John Elderfield would have thought of the two houses in Hardcourt Road "decorated" by an unknown Slaggy Island artist not long before they were demolished. To my regret I only took a low quality digital snap of them, shown on the 21st Century page.
When I think about it, this page is probably also among the 1,810 sites featuring John Elderfield but I'm stopping right here in case I get caught up in Quantum Physics or whatever!!!
See also 35 on this page
16. Marylin Whiteside
Another nomination from John "Snitch" Richards. Again I'd like a photo if anyone can oblige.
"Marylin Whiteside (of whom fond memories as an early bopping partner!) is Clerk to The Tynwald Council IoM. Can't remember which street her family lived in. John."
17. Geoff Readman
Another of Snitch Richards' nominations:
"Geoff Readman, younger brother of Bill who was music teacher at Eston Grammar, is Head of Drama at a the Island School in Hong Kong. He and I learnt to smoke together, among other things! John."
Geoff corresponded with this site some time ago so if he looks in again - how about a pic, Geoff?
I went to school with his brother Don. Dick.
18. Jack Searle
|Recommendation for Gallantry
John (Jack) Searle served in the Army in The First World War reaching the rank of Sergeant and being awarded the Military Medal.
Jack later worked at Smith's Docks.
19. Mike Huddlestone
|Chief of Police
Ex Peter's boy Mike emigrated to Australia in 1970 and is now the Chief of Police in Mount Isa in Western Queensland which is known state-wide as "The Isa". Michael McLoughlin tells me that it is about 1000 miles from Brisbane, miles from anywhere, is very hot, has a high beer consumption - especially in the summer, and can be a very rough place. Sounds the ideal town for a South Banker to be Chief of Police!
When I was putting Mike's photo on the site my son happened to look in (on holiday from Singapore where he works as a Mining Engineer). He spotted Mount Isa and casually mentioned that he knew of it. "A mining area" he said, and then told me how he once was tempted to take a job there but had opted for a three year contract in Bangkok instead. Slaggy Islanders always have the ability to surprise. In this case, whoever would have thought that a South Banker would become a Chief of Police and, closer to home for me, that my son almost went to work there - in which case I would have had a holiday in Mike's patch!!
Mike's mother Betty, from Upper Graham Street, also lives in The Isa and enjoys reminising with Michael McLoughlin on "the good old days in Slaggy Island" although they don't meet up very often as it takes the train two days from Brisbane, home of the McLoughlin!
Mike's brother Frank is on one of the St. Peter's School photographs and now also lives in Brisbane, not too far from Michael.
20. Rick Wilkinson - Nearly Famous!
Rick Wilkinson as Ricky Masters in 1961
I received an e-mail from Rick Wilkinson which I found fascinating and worth reproducing here:
"Hi Dick, sorry for not getting back to you I had a touch of the flu. I was born at 54 Upper Princess Street and my parents lived at no 40 (don't ask). I spent 6 months in hospital with Osteomytitis in my last year in school. In 1958 I went into Poole Hospital with T.B. I was in 11 months and Lenny Moorfoot came to visit a few times after I came out of hospital. In 1959 I met my future wife who is a Boro girl, so from the age of 18 I spent very little time in South Bank.
Spending time in the Boro was to change my life for the next 6 years. In 1960 I entered a Rock'n Roll competition at the Astoria ballroom and won, and a little while later I signed a contract with Top Rank as a D.J. and M.C. I changed my name to Ricky Masters, and shared the bill with my Rock'n'Roll idols Gene Vincent , Chuck Berry , Tommy Roe, Chris Montez.
When I shook hands with Chuck Berry his hands were smooth and silky and I coudn't understand a word he said. Gene Vincent was very mixed up, his manager did the talking and he really did have a bad leg.
I had lot's of fun and shared billing up and down the country with all the big names of the middle sixties. I went to the Dorchester in London to attend a cocktail party and was intoduced to a very frail and sick lady who looked like a Japanes Geisha girl. I later found out it was Judy Garland!
The night I shared the bill with the Beatles at the Astoria ballroom in the Boro has got to be the best night ever, it was June 1963. They arrived at lunchtime and I had to share my dressing room with them and for the very first time I asked for an autograph. They all signed for me, not once but twice, my wife has the autographs in a safe place and keeps threatening to sell them but I want to hang on to them.
My Mother Julie and my sister Pam went along to see the show. It was a shocking night we had oversold on the tickets which were 7/6p and the place was full. My mother was at the corner of the stage and I was on stage working the acoustics when to my horror as I glanced down I saw my mother grab John Lennons leg! He just looked and laughed but a bouncer grabbed my mother and took her off stage. Meanwhile I had accidently turned the wrong sound switch down for George Harrison's mic and he started yelling at me and as reported in the Evening Gazette I told him in Slaggy fashion to belt up.
The next day I went with my wife to the dance to collect my records and was told by the manager to open my pockets and he filled every pocket and my wife's with half crowns. I made more money that night than the Beatles! They were only paid £30 because they had signed a contract the year previous with Top Rank to do the full circuit and in the meantime Please Please Me had become a huge hit! My wife and I went to the Golden Dragon in Wilson Street and had a good meal to celebrate.
I also met Jane Mansfield, Johnny Ray and a host of others. I am pleased to say I was at the heart of the swinging sixties and had lots of fun. My one regret was not joining Radio Caroline. My manager had something to say about that. The job went to Tony Blackburn and Kenny Everett.
Then I did a stint for a while at the Sporting Club in South Bank and my last gig was in the dance hall above the Co-op in Normanby Road about 1967. There was a mix up with the promoter and myself. I thought he had a D.J set up in the hall (with his gear) and he thought I had brought my own gear but it was still set up in the Astoria. We went ahead with the gig but it was terrible. All I had was a little portable record player. I felt sorry for the kids and the promoter (I think he used to play drums in a local group). I wonder if there is anybody out there who remembers that night?
As for myself, I went home and told my wife I had had enough and was calling it a day. I gave about 600 records to a guy named Norman who worked on Stockton market and forgot that there were many which had been autographed. I did not ask a penny for them. Later that year I joined I.C.I.
I am now retired and we are spending the kids inheritance. Do what you like with the info Dick, I have rambled on and perhaps it's too long. Regards, Rick Wilkinson"
"Hi Dick, I missed a few things out of my last email but my memory is being jogged. I have never given a thought over the years as to what I did but when you have a malt and a good cigar in front of you the days come back like yesterday.
I remember I once did a gig at the Majestic in Newcastle and M.C'd a show of 40 groups in one night. A good job they had a revolving stage for the groups to take turns on doing their act! I was stone deaf for two days afterwards and I think a group from Whitby named The Renegades won the competition.
As time's gone by I find I can't stand Discos, Karaoke or listening to pop groups. Now, my wife and I like ballroom dancing and Latin American and we do a mean jive! I had a whale of a time and it's nice to say it's all true and I had a real pleasure telling people I was from South Bank. I have many more stories but I'll stick with what you have. regards Rick."
Enjoyed every word, Rick. I was at the Astoria with my mate Allan Thompson on the night of The Beatles appearance and the noise there was so tremendous we couldn't hear the group properly and consequently we thought they were rubbish! How wrong can you be!!
Received e-mail from Rick:
"Hi Dick , Just heard last night about a reunion at the old Astoria Ballroom for people who were there on the night the beatles played 40 years ago. It is free and it's on tonight 17th of April, there is a tribute band playing. They have a V.I.P. lounge lined up from 20.00 hrs to... ? Regards Rick."
Too late was the cry!!!
21. Lord Pennock
I had received an e-mail from Graham Sivills who, like me, attended Sir William Turner's Grammar School, Coatham, Redcar. He runs a website on the old school and, browsing through it, I spotted a letter from one Duncan Ascough who attended the school from 1936-40. I didn't know him but a passage from his letter leapt out at me and I copy it here:
"Some names of fellow students of my day come easily to mind; They include:
Raymond Pennock, Cochranes (House), from South Bank, Head Prefect, scholar and athlete extraordinary. He later became Lord Pennock. His brother, Charlie, also attended Coatham."
The italics are mine. I later discovered that his full title was Lord Pennock of Norton in Cleveland and he was head of ICI and then presided over the CBI.
22. Jim Smith
|James Smith, MCIPS, toasts the health of all Slaggy Islanders
This is my favourite page showing Slaggy Islanders who have made something of their lives. Here we have Jim Smith, ex-Bevanlee Road and brother of Marion, Jackie, Ted and Jeanne who is Head of Administration of The Supreme Courts of Scotland.
I dare say that if all the towns in Britain had a similar website with an Achievers Page, not many would have two Achievers from the same family - but Slaggy Island has!
Jim signed in on the Guestbook so I'll put it in here:
"I was born in No.6 George Street, South Bank on 12th February 1947, and recall my mother Mary telling me (many years later) that the men in the area had to dig a pathway through the snow to the house for the midwife, such was the Winter that year. My father was Ted Smith who worked at Smith's Dock as a Chain Inspector, and I have three sisters, Marion and Jeanne who still live in the area, Jacqueline, who went on to join the Red Devils Parachute Display Team and who now lives in Aldershot; and one brother also Ted, who now lives in Gloucester with his family.
I went to York Street Infant School where I remember my enrolment day with Sister Mary Rosario who was a Saint. I also went to Middlesbrough Road School opposite the St.Peters Club (as it then was), and on to Napier Street Junior School where I suffered physical and emotional torture in the tender care of the Headmistress Sister Mary Stanislaus, whose ministrations were only relieved by the saintly Canon Nerny. Then on to St. Peter's Senior School with wonderful teachers such as Joe Mullen, Mr. Coughlan, Mrs. Thomson, Mr. Fitzgibbons, and Freddy MacGeeghan(?) all under the supervision of Mr. Bill Skillen, another Saint. Then off to Eston Technical School for a year and finished up at Eston Grammar School.
Served an apprenticeship with John Collier Tailoring on Saltwells Road in Middlesbrough and moved around the country with them until I left for Scotland in 1976 and eventually joined the Civil Service and am now looking forward to retiring in 3 years from The Supreme Courts in Edinburgh. Very happily married to Margaret, who was a Midwifery Sister in Falkirk when we met, and is now a Social Worker in East Lothian near our home. I have two children and two grand-children, who I will ensure read all the memorabilia on this wonderful website to discover something of their roots. What deep roots they are. And what a great place was Slaggy Island."
23. We Wuz Robbed!
|Shirley Bassey should have been on this page... well, maybe not!
Shirley Bassey's mother lived in North Street but moved to Tiger Bay, Cardiff when she was several months pregnant (robbing us of a talent that would have seen her daughter on this page).
This is the story that circulated in South Bank for years but simply was not true and Irene Blackburn (nee Walker) sent me an e-mail to put things right.
"Eliza Jane Start (Shirley's mam) moved to Wales long before Shirley was born. Shirley is the youngest of a family of eight, not seven as often stated. Doris Irene being the oldest and born in South Bank, followed by Ella, born in Middlesbrough. Then Eliza moved to Wales and had a further five children before Shirley. (Edith Grace, Iris, Henry, Eileen, Marina(deceased) and Shirley).
Irene Blackburn nee Walker (South Bank born)
Niece of Shirley Bassey."
(The story is also on the "Slaggy Tales" page...)
When Shirley was at the height of her fame, drinkers in The Commercial were often moved by a beautiful, lonely voice singing the Bassey number "I, Who Have Nothing".
The voice belonged to Pauline Higgins, the ultimate non-achiever who had been married to Joe Foster. Their's was a sad love story. Unable to live together they had parted, resulting in both deteriorating in life and both eventually dying.
At her lowest ebb, Pauline's features had changed beyond recognition. Her face had puffed up and with no teeth she looked years older than her true age. She would go into the Commercial and sit on "the old women's bench" in the passage, quietly drinking but becoming more morose as she did so.
Eventually, she would break into song, singing to herself, but the whole pub would become hushed and someone would turn off the jukebox. She sang from the heart like a nightingale. She was even better than Bassey, as all who ever heard her will testify. Rest in peace, Pauline.
24. Robert Nixon Obituary
Robert Thomas Nixon 1939 - 2002
Robert Nixon was a highly rated cartoonist and, incidentally, my wife's cousin although the branches of the family had lost contact. When he died in October his obituary was in various top newspapers and journals. This is what The Guardian had to say:
Illustrator and cartoonist who brought comic characters to life
by Paul Gravett
Thursday November 7, 2002
Long associated with the Beano, the British children's comics illustrator and cartoonist Robert Nixon has died aged 63. During his lengthy career, he drew Roger The Dodger and many more of DC Thomson's famous characters, as well as contributing for 12 years to the weekly comics of rival publishers IPC. His editor at the Beano said that Nixon would have been able to illustrate a note to the milkman and "make it look appealing".
Nixon was born in Southbank, near Middlesbrough, where his father worked in the steel industry. One of six children, he was educated at the Central secondary modern school in Southbank, where his artistic talents were recognised early. He won several art competitions and a scholarship to Middlesbrough Art College, but he was forced to leave without graduating because of his father's death.
In 1955 he got a job in the art department at a printing factory, where he served an apprenticeship as a lithographic artist. He started submitting work to the Beano in 1964 and had his first set of pictures published in April that year in an episode of Little Plum, Your Redskin Chum, first drawn by Leo Baxendale.
Later that year, following the departure of the original artist, Ken Reid, Nixon took over Roger The Dodger. By 1965 he had enough assignments to go freelance fulltime. Nixon proved especially skilled at "ghosting" various styles, while adding his own distinctive cuteness. He inherited Lord Snooty And His Pals in 1968 from Dudley Watkins and revived Grandpa in 1971, as well as drawing Esky Mo and Captain Cutler for Sparky.
In late 1972, he left Thomson's to join IPC. Nixon proved invaluable, taking over successful series and originating bizarre characters of his own. At IPC, he signed his own work in contrast to Thomson, where company policy meant he had to work anonymously. He enjoyed drawing mildly macabre horror humour, an IPC speciality inspired by the Addams Family and the Munsters television shows, in new titles like Monster Fun and Shiver And Shake. Nixon continued such regulars as Hire A Horror, about a mad monster agency, and the bolt-necked buffoon Frankie Stein. He also visualised the giant boy gorilla Kid Kong, adopted by short-sighted Granny Smith, and Gums, a parody of Jaws starring a shark who is always losing his dentures.
Other fondly remembered series include his lavish medieval romp King Arthur And His Frights Of The Round Table, which helped launch the comic Whoopee in 1974, and the surreal eco-comedy Family Trees, about a gang of trees always on the run from humans.
Shortly after Euan Kerr became editor of the Beano in November 1984, he approached Nixon to resume some of his former strips, but Nixon did not want to have a foot in both camps and declined. The following week, however, Nixon lost several IPC assignments and, wary of his prospects there, he returned to the Beano - and to Roger The Dodger - in January 1985. On May 4 1985 Nixon created the look of the "enfant terrible" Ivy The Terrible, his favourite character. In the 1990s, he also drew Korky The Cat in the Dandy and illustrated merchandise from jigsaw puzzles to Easter Egg boxes.
Nixon also drew the newspaper strips, The Gems, about a gang of children (from 1977) and Parkie the park keeper (from 1982) in the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette. He illustrated cartoon greeting cards for the Noel Tatt Company and joke books written by Giles Brandreth. For his own pleasure, he painted in oils, watercolours and pastels.
He is survived by his wife Rita, and his children Paul, Tony, Wendy and Catherine.
Robert Nixon, comics illustrator and cartoonist, born July 7 1939; died October 22 2002"
And, I might add, a South Bank Achiever.
My thanks to Paul Gravett and The Guardian Newspaper.
Robert Thomas Nixon [1939 - 2002] - Filling in the gaps.
(Robert's daughter Catherine has put together a website of her father so that his work will never be forgotten and this biography of Bob is taken from that - so click on the link and see the rest. There is also a piece on the PLUGS page. Dick.)
Robert Thomas Nixon (Bob Nixon) was born in South Bank, Middlesbrough, in North Yorkshire on July 7th, 1939. He was the fifth of six children born to Arthur Nixon and Phylis Thompson. Robert's mother Phylis worked as a housewife while his father worked locally as a steelworker. As a child, Robert spent much of his time drawing and sketching, and his artistic skills were recognised when he was seven years old by teachers at Cromwell Road School which he attended in South Bank. During his early years as an artist, and supported by teachers at the Central Secondary Modern School (Victoria Street, Southbank), Robert won several art competitions and a scholarship to Middlesbrough art college in 1955 when he was sixteen.
Although his time at art college was cut short by the death of his father, Bob gained employment locally as a lithographic artist and left in 1965 to pursue his career as a full-time cartoonist, initially for DC Thomson's of Dundee. During this transition Robert met and married Rita Kelly and after living in Middlesbrough for several years they moved to Guisborough in Cleveland where they raised their four children - Paul, Tony, Wendy and Catherine.
In 1972 Bob left Thomson's, selling his work to Fleetway publishers - the comic division of the International Publishing Corporation (IPC) - for the next 13 years before returning to Thomson's in 1985 - where he was employed until his death in 2002. Whilst self-employed, Bob worked for several publishers designing greetings cards, joke book covers and illustrations, and company logos etc.
Working from his home in Guisborough, Bob enjoyed his life as a cartoonist for over 35 years, and is best known for his work in Dandy, Beano, Whoopee, Monster Fun, and Shiver & Shake comics, 'ghosting' many popular comic characters such as 'Lord Snooty' , 'Roger the Dodger', 'Korky the Cat', 'Frankie Stein', and bringing to life his own creations, including 'Kid Kong', 'Gums', 'King Arthur and his Frights of the Round Table' and 'Ivy the Terrible'. Click here for links to comic websites.
In addition to his skills as a cartoonist, Bob also enjoyed drawing and painting for his own pleasure. Using pastels, oils, watercolours, inks, pencils, and scraper-boards, Bob developed unique styles in surreal and fantasy art, art for children, landscapes and other scenes of nature.
This is an opportunity to see and purchase a selection of Bob's artwork that for many years, only family members and close friends have been fortunate enough to enjoy. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
25. "Lights, Camera, Action!"
|Steve Oxley, April 2003
I got this long e-mail from Steve Oxley which makes good reading:
"I was born in Middlesborough in 1958; my mother (Betty Oxley) worked as a cinema usherette and my dad (Albert Oxley) was a projectionist. Apparently, they met in a cinema they were both working in, in Scarborough, a few years before I came along. Due to my father’s job as chief projectionist in many of the large cinemas at the time, we travelled the length and breadth of the country in order for him to find the best post, offering the better salary. Well, that was the idea anyway. I must have been about 18 months old when the cinema industry took us to South Wales and it was here that I spent the next eight years or so, living in a flat above the cinema where dad worked, in a small Valleys town called Tonypandy, in the Rhondda. I would have been around 6 or 7 years old when I became seriously interested in photography, the cinema and how it all worked. I remember being totally fascinated with the concept of the moving image on the screen after my dad had explained the basic principals to me. I was hooked! I wanted to know more. I would spend hours and hours up there in the projection box watching him work, helping where I could, and of course, watching the films. This would be in effect, the start of my career.
If my memory is correct, at the age of ten years, we moved back to the North East – to South Bank. Money was short (cinema pay was not good) and my dad took a break from the cinema to work in I.C.I. as a process worker. I think he managed to earn more in this line of work than in the cinema, but we ended up living in a two up two down rented house in Lower Graham Street. No.11, I seem to recall. It was a tiny house. You walked straight in off the street and into the front room. Behind that room was the ‘kitchen’, which was about 6feet square (or seemed it) and in here, everything took place. We didn’t have a bathroom, so the galvanised tin bath would be brought in from the yard and placed in the kitchen. Always took a lifetime to fill, with kettles boiling everywhere. The sink would be dual purpose – for washing plates and for washing us. No fridge (didn’t need one, it was cold enough) and the washing machine was a clapped out second hand affair with a mangle that used to tear your clothes to shreds. That was on a good day.
The only toilet was in the form of a hut in the back yard and apart from being unbelievably freezing cold in the winter, for your own sake you had to make friends with the resident spider community in order to make your visit not too traumatic!
Mr. Beadle the rent collector would come round each week on his bicycle to take the money from my mother. He was an odd man; a bit scary really. He wore the same trilby hat and grubby beige gabardine Mac every week and sported the classic wire rimmed glasses. Quite often it was a case of hiding behind the sofa and pretending we weren’t in, just to avoid payment! Mum and dad were stony broke, as usual. We got away with it most times, but when things got to the stage where it looked as though we would be out on the street, I was the mug who had to hand Mr. Beadle a note from mum explaining why yet again, we haven’t got that weeks’ rent. I always recall promising my mum that when I grow up to be a cameraman, I will buy her a new coat (all of her clothes were second-hand) and a new house.
I remember fantastic fish and chips from that chippy around the corner on the main road. (The same road as St. Peter’s church). They were cooked in old-fashioned beef dripping and the vinegar was dark, strong and malty. Lovely! I don’t think I’ve come across anything like that since.
Peter Cox was my best friend at Princess Road Primary School. We were almost inseparable and then, at the age of 11, I went to Sarah Metcalfe Secondary in Eston and I think Peter went to the Grammar School; although I might be wrong. At some stage, maybe when I was about 12 or 13, we moved from South Bank to Grangetown. Langdale Crescent was to be the next place to live. This made it easier for school too, of course. This time, the house we had was still rented but from the council. We were going up in the world! We had a bathroom, and a fridge! AND, an inside toilet! No spiders. Hey, we were almost posh!
Sarah Metcalfe School was ok, I guess; it did the job, although it was probably a bit rough round the edges compared to some other schools of the time. By the time I had reached the 3rd year, my interest in photography and filmmaking was starting to become an obsession. I will mention at this point that I owe a lot to my art teacher, Mr Tom Dalton. He was regarded as a hard man – he would think nothing of caning the whole class (girls too) just for talking too loud whilst he was out of the classroom! But his attitude to life and being confident and assertive in whatever you do certainly rubbed off on me. He encouraged me, inspired me and offered the guidance I needed to pursue my interests, and eventually, my career. Tom, if you are reading this, I thank you very much! I would sneak out of the lessons I hated, i.e., maths, R.E., etc, just to be in the art department darkroom. Some of the other kids couldn’t get a look in because I was always in there messing about making pictures.
One of my best mates was John Weldon and so I decided to make my first film about his love of racing pigeons. It was shot on super 8mm film, in colour, complete with sound. Most of the equipment was either borrowed or bought from second hand shops. That little film is probably on a shelf somewhere in the school in an inch layer of dust . . . Who knows?
The so called ‘careers guidance’ people came to the school shortly before we were all about to be thrown out into the big bad world as adults, and when they came to interview me, there was a fair amount of head scratching and blank, frustrated looks from them when I stressed my interest in photography and filmmaking. “Sorry son, there’s nowt of that nature round here”, was the comment from one of them. “There might be a vacancy in a photo lab, developing people’s holiday snaps”. Probably, to make everyone’s life easier, they would have been happy to see me start an apprenticeship as a fitter or a welder, or even join the army! Not saying that there is anything wrong with these trades – it was just not what I wanted. I had come this far; there was no stopping me now.
So, when it was ‘decided’ that I should attend sixth form college for the next three years in order to get a “proper” job, my dad was furious and stormed up to the school and insisted that I should be enrolled at Middlesborough Art college. I ended up doing a foundation course in art and design for one year before moving on to the next chapter in my life.
Middlesborough College was fine, except that their film and photographic facilities were somewhat limited. There was one college though, that could offer a two year dedicated course in applied professional photography. This was in Gloucester. I had just turned 17, and the thought of leaving home for two years to live in a strange place a few hundred miles away both scared and excited me. The course taught me an incredible amount about the science of photography as well as how to make it in a very competitive world. It was also here that I started to experiment more with film; to the point where the college could help me no further due to lack of resources and staff etc. It was then suggested that I move to Bournemouth College of Art to study film and television in greater detail.
By this stage, I was moving further and further away from home. Not just physically, but spiritually too – if that makes any sense. South Bank seemed like a million miles away. Like an alien planet, almost! There I was, amongst people from all walks of life. They spoke differently, too. They had ‘posh accents’, they dressed well, some came from middle class backgrounds and their parents drove expensive cars. This was all very new to me. I wanted to have a life like theirs. Lets face it, I was young and impressionable. I wanted to drive around in a nice car one day, and live in a nice house - with an inside toilet! Most of all, I wanted to be working in film and television.
Eventually, without realising, (honest) my own accent had begun to change. I only became aware of this when I went back to the North East to visit my girlfriend and my parents. “Why are you talking all posh, son?” was one of the questions asked. “Yer haven’t gone all queer and that have yer lad?” Was this to be my first experience of the ‘north/south divide’? I dare think so. My friends could not comprehend the fact that I was doing something that was regarded as ‘not possible’, considering that I came from South Bank. “Only puffs do that, son!” I took their comments with a pinch of salt and returned to Bournemouth.
Bournemouth College was heaven for me. The main reason being was that they had just purchased a brand new 16mm professional motion picture camera. This camera was identical to ones that were being used by television companies at the time. I spent almost an entire year, getting to know the ins and outs of that machine and ended up shooting several films for my fellow students.
On leaving college, my first paid job was working as a general assistant for a small corporate (non broadcast) company in Bristol. That was ok for a year. My boss suddenly announced one day that he had no more work for me. Ok, what happens now, I thought. Well, I wrote dozens of letters to just about every TV station in the country enquiring about possible vacancies and day after day, reply after reply came through the letterbox with the standard paragraph . . . . “We thank you for your interest in our company. . . .blah, blah, blah, . . . . we will keep your details on file”. Until one day, things changed!
Granada TV, in Manchester, wrote to me in June 1980 and was interested in me attending an interview at their main studios. At first, I could not believe this was true. It was really only after the second interview, and I was told at the end of the interview, that I had the job, that it all begun to sink in!
I FLOATED BACK TO BRISTOL, THAT DAY! I was absolutely ecstatic at the prospect of starting work with a major network television company like Granada. I was on cloud 9, 10, 11 . . . . . . I’d made it! I was in! It felt like I had won the Lottery! It really did. My head was in a spin; I didn’t know whom to tell first.
I started work at Granada in July 1980 as a trainee camera assistant within the film unit. The first few months had me working on local documentaries and then I did quite a long stint on “World in Action”. This would mean a lot of travelling across the world to places like America, most of Europe and the Middle East. Granada also ran a programme called “Clapperboard”, presented by Chris Kelly. Quite often we would travel abroad to interview a ‘star’ at some film festival promoting his or her new film. Clint Eastwood was the one I remember most! He was in France promoting “Every Which Way But Lose”. Other names included Roger Moore and Dudley Moore. I would send postcards to my parents and I know for a fact they were absolutely thrilled that I had achieved so much. My mum couldn’t stop telling her friends and neighbours.
I had been at Granada for about a year, when, sadly my mother died of cancer. She was 54.
I was totally devastated. My dad rang me very early one morning to tell me the news and my knees literally buckled from under me and I collapsed on the floor. I never had chance to buy her that new house – or the coat.
By the early to mid eighties, there was I, this working class lad from ‘Slaggyisland’, working alongside big names like Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews in “Brideshead Revisited”. Later, I would go on to work with John Bird and Fred Molina in “El cid”, Jeremy Brett in “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”, Helen Mirren in “Prime Suspect”, Tom Baker in “Medics” and Edward Woodwood in “In suspicious circumstances”.
I had decided to try the freelance world around 1988 and so left the company to go it alone. Eventually, I found myself working on numerous commercials, programmes for the BBC and various TV films. I was now working with the likes of Robson Green on Agatha Christie’s, “The Gambling Man”, Dennis Waterman in “Stay Lucky” and more recent, Jane Horrocks, Neil Morrissey and Frank Skinner in “The Flint Street Nativity” and Sarah Lancashire in “Seeing Red”.
I could ramble on and on with famous names but that’s not the point of this writing. They are only people doing a job, after all. The point being; if you really, really feel passionate about doing something in your life – GO FOR IT! !
To present day then; I now live in a comfy house in Shropshire – it’s not a mansion but I would say it’s not bad, considering where I started out; (I have three loos now), and a huge rear garden as opposed to a 10-foot square back yard. Funny thing is, South Bank has felt like a million miles away until recently. . . . . .that is, until a couple of old school friends, Bev Rutledge and John Weldon have been in touch with me through the Friends Reunited website.
It's all come flooding back!
Stephen (Steve) Oxley."
26. South Bank Author (Plug)
A new author is released on the public this month but you won't recognise the name...
Richard Stead is the pen name of Dick Walkington from Aire Street (see the bombed-out kid on the 1940's page!) and, now that he is retired he has decided on a new career as a writer of childrens books! He tells me that Stead was his mother's maiden name.
27. The Epitaph of Felix Hughes
|Goodbye South Bank's Mr.Football
Cutting from Peter Hughes on the demise of his Grandfather.
This newspaper cutting from December 1970 chronicles the passing of Felix Hughes of South Bank. To understand why I have placed this on the Achievers page read the cutting. He made his mark.
28. Ronnie Burns
|Ronnie "Chicky" Burns with his Russian medal
I received the following e-mail:
"Hi, Dave Mescus here,
I've got a photo here of RONNIE(CHICKY)BURNS with the medal he received from the Russian Embassy in London. He was awarded this medal for his part in the PQ17 Aid Convoys to Russia 60 years ago!
The lads in the Peter's club had a collection for him so he and Ronnie Sharples could spend the night in London and have a beer or 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 etc. Hope you can use this on your site.
Glad to oblige Dave.
29. Malcolm Pidgeon
South Bank boxer Malcolm Pidgeon
Photo and info from Terry Larkin
Malcolm Pidgeon was born around 1930 and took up boxing at an early age. In a long amateur career he had over 250 bouts, including fights during his spell in the Army, becoming Regimental Champion and also reaching the ABA Finals in London.
When Malcolm came out of the Army he turned professional being managed by Eric Munro, a North Ormesby butcher. However, by this time he was 23 years old which was a considered to be a little late in the day for a new pro. Nevertheless, Malcolm still reached the final eliminators for the Northern Area Welterweight Title being beaten over 10 rounds. No mean feat when you realise that the Northern Area stretched from Manchester to Scotland and was filled with hungry fighters in those days.
Terry Larkin remembered being sat in a billet at Aldershot (because he was skint) listening on a small portable radio to the voice of Raymond Glendenning being broadcast as he was commentating on a fight in the Durham Icerink.
Malcolm Pidgeon was involved in a battle with Dave Brandon which was described as a bloodbath. Barrington Dalby gave his inter-round opinions and said: "I've never seen a left hook delivered like that of this South Bank man Pidgeon"! The eight round bout ended in a draw.
Recognising the limitations imposed by his late entry to the professional ranks Malcolm later retired from the sport and became a licensee of several public houses. He also had the first bowling alley in the country at Billingham. Finally he opened a nightclub in Darlington which eventually he sold to Scottish Breweries and decided to sit back and enjoy life.
30. World Champion!
World Champion Jim Ireland at the 1920 Scout Jamboree
Information provided by Terry Larkin
In 1920 scouts from twenty countries flocked to London and camped out in several locations around the capital. Eighteen boys from South Bank were sponsered by Smiths Docks, and were allocated space with 10,000 others in Old Deer Park, Richmond-on-Thames. All were assembled for the Scouts equivalent of the Olympic Games to be held in Olympia.
The boys from the Smiths Docks party were accompanied by Mr.Ireland who travelled at his own expense as trainer. There were all sorts of sports, displays and competitions with 360 boys competing in the boxing.
Jim Ireland won the 5st.7lb. World Championship even though he weighed in at only 4st.5lb!
It was midnight when the South Bank scouts arrived back in the town to be greeted by a welcome home party who cheered them right down Station Road.
Jimmy Ireland later turned pro and his brother Danny often accompanied him to the halls and booths and had many fights himself in spite of having a withered left leg.
31. Jim Ireland - Pro
|Jim Ireland turned professional at the age of 19
Photocopy and info from Terry Larkin
Jimmy's first fight as a professional was at the old Winter Gardens at Middlesbrough and his greatest bout was a top-of-the-bill match against the British Flyweight Champion Bert Kirby at Belle View, Manchester in the early 1930's.
32. Bob Gray aka Eddie Burns
|Primo Carnera squares up to South Banker Bob Gray
Newspaper cutting from Terry Larkin
Bob Gray was born in South Bank in 1903 and fought under the name of Eddie Burns. Years later he worked at ICI and recollected one of the highlights of his boxing career for the in-house ICI Magazine in 1952.
In 1929 he had been asked by Dick Smith, ex-British Heavyweight Champion, to spar with a young Italian heavyweight in London who was due to fight Jack Stanley. His name was Primo Carnera and, although he was only a youth, he already weighed 20 stone. Additionally, his hands were so large he had to have gloves especially made for him. He even had to have beds built for his giagantic frame - reinforced and large!
After Carnera beat Stanley at the Albert Hall he gave exhibitions at the Alhambra Theatre and Bob Gray was one of those hired to spar three times a day for a fortnight!
On one occasion Carnera caught him with a swinging right which left him unconcious for three hours. A worried Primo never left his side until he came round but then Bob astounded him by returning to the ring ready for work within half an hour! They bred them tough in Slaggy Island!!
PS. Four years later Primo Carnera was the World Heavyweight Champion when he knocked out Jack Sharkey in New York.
PS. I heard that Primo Carnera "used to come to South Bank and stay in The Station Hotel"! Any truth in that story?
33. Slaggy British and Empire Champ?
|Boxers Sammy Sullivan and his brother Johnny training on a London tow-path
Photo from Picture Post 1954
Terry Larkin's knowledge of boxing and South Bank goes back a long way. We were talking about the origins of The Cleveland in South Bank and I was aware that at one time the site had been used for boxing. Terry added some interesting details for me. The boxing booth or hall was run by old time fighter Battling Sullivan whose two sons, Sammy and Johnny featured in bouts regularly.
Johnny Sullivan later held the British and Empire Middleweight Champion titles which he won on the 14th of September 1954 with a first round knockout against Gordon Hazell in London. The following June he lost the titles with a disqualification in the 9th round against Pat McAteer.
While Sammy didn't enjoy the same success he was once voted best world prospect.
In the record books Johnny Sullivan is down as being from Preston but Terry Larkin knew Johnny who told him that he didn't know where he was born as his family were Travellers and for all he knew - it might well have been South Bank!
34. Reggie Boyle
|Reg Boyle out with his wife Rene in the 50's
Photo from Terry Larkin
This photo was on the 1950's page but then Reg sold his twenty one betting shops to Coral making him one of the best business men to come out of South Bank. Now the world is his oyster and he moves to the Achievers page. Good luck to a successful Slaggy Islander - not that he needs luck now!
Michael McLoughlin in Brisbane read this piece and sent his two penn'orth...
"Noticed the feature of Reggie Boyle and his wife Rene in The Achievers. When the Boyles had their shop and "off licence" in Middle Milbank Street South Bank - two remaining memories I have of this shop is
(1) My mam sending me to pay Maggie Boyle with the money to "pay off " for goods begotten on strap (credit) during the week - in return Maggie would plunged her hand into one of those big jars of sweets - mixing these goodies in a bag for me as a reward. A sheer luxury for a bit of a kid like me in those far off days.
(2) A relative of mine who lived opposite Boyles shop did from time to time send me over the road to this shop for a half pint of vinegar - the same relative always making quite sure that one of the Boyles daughters whom I think was called Marjorie(?) was not serving in the shop. The reason I was lead to believe from my relative was that Marjorie did not like selling vinegar as she could not bear the smell from the same. Despite this episode occurring almost 70 years passed it is still vivid in my mind.
I recall seeing Reggie Boyle serving at the altar in St. Peters Church at South Bank.
Must say Dickie - it makes one feel so good on seeing yet another lad from South Bank in The Achievers and thanks for your editorial efforts in this regard.
35. Dr. John Elderfield
|Dr. John Elderfield, world authority on Modern Art
Ex Cromwell Road School pupil now Dr John Elderfield, Chief Curator Museum of Modern Art, New York City. See story at 15 on this page.
36. "Normal Service Resumed"
Back in at the deep end
Email dated 28/6/2005.
"Phew! Five gigs in seven days, back in at the deep end. It was a daunting prospect after six months incapacity. Although I had decided that I was strong enough to sing, it would have been impossible to travel without my dear wife Pat who did all the roadying.
Some of the clubs thought that it was too risky to sell tickets in advance as they had graciously accepted that I could cancel at any minute, nevertheless the tour was a sell out. I sat down for my performances and chose my songs carefully to retain my energy but I managed a bit of patter and even subjected the Winchester audience to a look at my scars! I have lost a couple of stones so I managed to sell 47 brass rubbings of my ribcage at Winchester, one in the cathedral, without my permission! Joking apart the audiences were great, so understanding of my situation.
Despite the fact that I have had to cancel Croydon to ease the work load this week (my sincere apologies to all concerned) I am now filled with confidence and feel that my return to work will, God willing, be permanent, although I may not be fully fit until next year.
I would like to thank the staff at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and Woodside Surgery in Loftus for saving my life twice. I am very lucky that the Cardiac Unit up here in the North East of England is second to none. I have had fantastic care from everyone and especially from Pat. I told the doctor that I can manage without the heart but I can’t manage without Pat.
This has been the most difficult six months of my life but the support from all of you out there has been phenomenal. Your hundreds of cards, letters and emails, prayers and good will have contributed to my recovery immeasurably.
Thank you so much from the bottom of my er… dicky ticker. Normal service is now resumed!!
Love Vin. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
c/o Home Roots Music, PO Box 6, Skelton. TS13 4YT.
Agency: Speaking Volumes, The Swan Theatre, The Moors, Worcester. WR1 3EF
01905 611323. firstname.lastname@example.org
37. Commander Howden
|Norman Howden at Marlene Dales 50th Wedding Anniversary September 2006
Norman was born in Graham Street and, when old enough, joined the Royal Navy rising to the rank of Commander.
38. Michael McLoughlin
|Eugene McElvaney with Michael McLoughlin in Paradise Point
Eugene McElvaney and his wife Carole paid a visit to Michael McLoughlin in September 2006 and sent me the following "report" and photographs for the many people who have read Michael's letters over the years.
"After migrating to Australia in 1963, Michael McLoughlin worked his way around the tough Australian outback before finally settling in Brisbane in the sunshine state of Queensland. He was employed as a medical administrator at the Royal Brisbane Hospital - one of the largest teaching hospitals in the Southern Hemisphere.
In the mid 1970s Michael became a member of the pioneering team harvesting human tissue for transplantation. Michael’s work also involved public relations -that of educating the public about the importance of organ donations. This program has saved thousands of lives in Queensland. Later he became the Police Liaison Officer. Michael has been a Justice of the Peace for nigh on 30 years. Despite ageing, he still has interests in community duties.
Michael McLoughlin had it tougher than most South Bankers; born in 1929, the year of the Wall Street stock market crash. Also the year that the large contract for the making of the steel for the Sydney Harbour Bridge was completed and Dorman Long paid off many of their workers.
His parents, Elle (Murphy) and James McLoughlin had fourteen children; Michael, Jimmy, Catherine, Tommy, Winnie, Theresa, Tony, Maureen, Bernard, Pat, Terry Eileen, Sheila, Kevin and Vincent.
Struggling through the great depression, Michael often begged for bread from the workers finishing their shift at the Smith’s Dock gate. It was a way to ward off the constant hunger that Michael and many of the South Bank children of the day had to live with. He now knows that those kind hearted dock workers went hungry themselves to be able to share their lunches with those poor bairns.
WWII broke out and Michael’s dad joined the RAF and as a frightened school child he witnessed the many German air raids over South Bank and Grangetown. He was a student at the new school at St. Peters in Normanby Road when the southern wing was completely destroyed during one of those raids. Thankfully Michael didn’t have to drop bombs on anyone when he did his two years national service in the Air Force.
Michael got his first job at the age of 14 at The Cleveland Slag Roads behind Grangetown Railway Station. Michael left school on the Friday -his mother sent her son into the labour exchange on Nelson Street the following Monday morning and Michael started work the next day. The wage was the princely sum of 14 shillings per week of 44 hours -less 4d a week for his insurance stamp. Michael handed his pay over to his mam and she give him 2/- for his weeks pocket money.
Michael recalls a family scandal from his childhood:
It was common knowledge at the time that Michael’s paternal grandmother - Catherine McLoughlin did not get on with the Murphy women. So, when Michael’s aunt Annie Rodgers (nee Murphy) was found in the back alley standing over Granny McLoughlin’s dead body with a flat iron in her hand, Annie was charged with murder.
There is a comic part to this incident, Michael’s father was known for his tough guy approach to any trouble -and after he found out his mother had dropped dead and believed Annie Rodgers was responsible -he followed Annie into the Murphy's house in Upper Graham Street - only to get knocked over the head with a cabbage by Annie’s sister Tisha. After Michael's dad suffered this indignation, he ran to see his aunt - Mary Ann Kavanagh in Middle Milbank Street - and cried out to old Mary Ann how he had been bashed over the head with a cabbage by Tisha Murphy. Old Mary Ann had an Irish temper and she proceeded to pick up her heavy brolly and dashed off to the Murphy’s house -pushing the front door open then chasing both Annie & Tisha out the back door and up the back alley. Luckily the two girls managed to escape Mary Ann Kavanagh's wrath.
Later, the Coroner found that Granny McLoughlin had actually died of a heart attack and Annie’s story of the chance meeting of the two whilst she was returning the borrowed flat iron was believed to be true and the charges were dropped.
Today, Michael’s life in his lovely home in Paradise Point, Queensland (within hearing distance on the Pacific Ocean) and complete with swimming pool and palm trees appears idyllic. However it hasn’t always been that way. Some years ago, Michael’s beautiful five bedroomed house was completely destroyed in a massive flood. He was devastated when he found that his insurance policy didn’t cover for floods, but he worked harder, saved and built another house. His philosophy, like so many South Bankers is to be stoic and get on with your life.
His accomplishments both for himself and the Queensland community, surely makes Michael McLoughlin another of South Bank’s quiet achievers." Eugene McElvaney.
39. Michael McLoughlin
|Michael poses with Eugene's wife Carole, September 2006|
40. Elsie Hinds
The story of Elsie Hinds and her scrapyards is long overdue and I've been reminded by a request for information from a Graham Morley of Staines who tells me that his father worked in the South Bank yard in the thirties. While I dig about if anyone reading this can help with stories or photos I'd be much obliged - as will Graham!
41. Kathleen Williams
|Kathleen and her husband Colin (Eugene omitted his surname)
Photo from Eugene McElvaney
"Hi Dick, Attached is a little bios on Kathleen Williams. Kathleen and her husband Colin
visited us in April (2006) and it's taken me this long to get my act together to write something which Kathleen has okayed.
I have attached three photos, could you please choose whichever you think is the most suitable. My wife Carole is the one in the lighter shirt. Kathleen (she was in my class at the Peters) has done really well for herself, not only with the large nursing home they own and operate, but they also have a very large portfolio of properties they own and manage in California.
Dick, I would like to thank you for all the work you put into Slaggyisland.
People like you are the real achievers from South Bank.
All the best,
See also the Ex-Pats Gallery
|Wilf Mannion in action in the 1940's
Wilf achieved lasting fame and affection if not fortune and I got to know him quite well when we both worked for Presses and I ferried him to and from work. Then, when we both moved to Redcar from South Bank we lived not far apart on the Lakes Estate.
43. Wilf OAP
|Wilf in later years on the Lakes Estate|