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. Robbie McTurk
|Robbie is down front dragging on a fag.
South Bank had a fair collection of characters over the years and none was better known than Robbie McTurk. In fact he even had a song sung about him. Now there's fame! Kevin Doyle recently recited it to me so I'll try to get him to write it down.
I finally got Kevin Doyle to write it down when I collared him last night in the RAFA Club in Redcar! It's as near as he can remember and I've added a last line to sort of finish it off (with apologies to Anon)! Any comments or additions will be appreciated.
"Now who will come?" said Robin Hood. "Who'll come to my wedding, I said."
"I" said Robbie Turk, "I'll have a day off work!" said Robbie Turk to Robin Hood at Robin Hood's wedding.
"Now who will come?" said Robin Hood. "Who'll come to my wedding, I said."
"I" said Georgie Hall, "I'll bring my draughtboard!" said Georgie Hall to Robin Hood at Robin Hood's wedding.
"Now who will come?" said Robin Hood. "Who'll come to my wedding, I said."
"I" said Jackie Twight, "I'll come in the night!" said Jackie Twight to Robin Hood at Robin Hood's wedding.
"Now who will come?" said Robin Hood. "Who'll come to my wedding, I said."
"I" said Paddy Crack, "I'll come in a horse and trap!" said Paddy Crack to Robin Hood at Robin Hood's wedding.
"Now who will come?" said Robin Hood. "Who'll come to my wedding, I said."
"We'll come" said all of South Bank, "We'll all come to Robin Hood's wedding!"
I'm sure I heard a different version of Jackie Twite! About the pic - this photo is so rare it should be in the National Archives! It shows Robbie when he had a job as a shovel leaner with the council. I remember Robbie telling me his life's history once as he scrounged a couple of fags and a pint.
It amounted to his service in the Royal Aircorps (really!) then a short spell with the council (I think it was only a couple of weeks in 1928 if my memory serves me) and an even shorter spell at Smith's Docks!
I think Robbie had taken part of the famous working man's poem too literally. (My thanks to Eddie Healy for reminding me of the words!)
If you work and do your best
You'll get the sack like all the rest.
But if you laze around and bugger about
You'll live to see the job right out.
The work is hard - the pay is small
So take your time and sod them all.
'Cos when you're dead you'll be forgot,
So don't try to do the bloody lot.
Or on your tombstone neatly laquered,
Those famous words:
"Just Bleeding Knackered"!
I knew Robbie well because I knocked around with his nephew Brian (Mack) McTurk and I usually slipped him a couple of cigarettes and the price of a pint. He was alright.
When he was approaching the end of his life he had to go into St. Luke's Geriatric Ward and one night Mack was taking his mother to visit him. I said I would go with them. Mack's mother warned me that he wouldn't know me as he often didn't even know her.
When we walked in he perked up immediately and said "Now then, Dick, how're keeping? Here, - have you got any smokes?" Then, much to his sister's amazement he chatted away the whole visiting time and kept telling me that his fellow patients were "all crackers"!
That was Rob. A character to the end.
2. Danny Ireland
|Danny at the age of 71 posing for reporters
Photocopy of a photocopy of a newspaper clipping from Terry Larkin.
Michael McElvaney wrote in to mention that well-known Slaggy character, Danny Ireland.
When I was a young you could always see Danny with his Council Dustcart and broom in hand - one of the people keeping South Bank clean. Sorely missed now. Danny would spot you (he never missed anything!)
"Hey, Kid," he would say. "Here, is it you going round saying I'm barmy?"! Funny thing, he called me "Kid" right up to when he died!
He had moved to Redcar in the '80's and lived near me and if you passed his bungalow he would drag you in for a chin-wag! In fact, if you had something to do it was better to change your route or you could be there for hours. I just wish I could remember the boxing tales that would fit in here. The trouble was that he always mixed in a lot of "old woman's" gossip.
(I'll be putting some of the boxing tales in the "Boys Clubs" section while other stories will be under Terry Larkin's own page - coming shortly.)
However, Danny's story goes back to the '20's and '30's. In the Station Hotel yard was a building which had been stables and when it became obsolete Danny took it over as a gym. More than that... A Boxing Academy! He taught boxing to deprived kids in spite of having a withered leg, a handicap which had never stopped him doing anything, including boxing. In fact, I seem to remember he had been a champion of some sort. Maybe someone can help me out on that point.
Michael Mcloughlin has sent me a further e-mail from Brisbane, Oz, to clear up a couple of points. Over to Michael:
Sighted the query within the Danny Ireland feature-thought I would send the following to you:-
It was Danny Ireland's younger brother-Jim-who was the professional boxer -he trained under Danny.
Danny Ireland's father-also called Daniel- had been instrumental in the founding of the Victoria Athletics Club in South Bank. Members of this club would meet in a former stable at the rear of the Station Hotel South Bank. My late father-Jimmy McLoughlin- as a devotee of boxing was a frequent visitor to this venue-and often used to perform a few rounds of boxing under the watchful eye of Danny Ireland.My dad ended up throughout his adult life with a flattened nose caused by his boxing bouts-even to the extent to having the tattooing of two boxers in action on one of his arms.
I myself as a youngster used to go to Dannys allotment- and there in the shed -had my "basin cut" hair styled -all for 3d-but no cabbage-though my father often used to bring one home as a present from his mate Danny Ireland.
Should add-that Danny was the eldest of a large family-I believe ten in all-and he suffered from Polio. It was during his treatment for this complaint in a London hospital that he learned to become a hairdresser.
A further note comes from Allan Thompson who said he remembered a fatal accident taking place on the junction of Nelson and Napier Streets. A man on a bike was run over by a Rankin's tanker in, he thought, the late 50's. The story went round that it was Danny Ireland but turned out to be incorrect. It seemed that the dead man had had a win in the bookies and was dashing home with his winnings when the accident occurred. The driver was taken into the Napier Street house of Leila and Dennis Mayo while awaiting the arrival of the police and an ambulance.
Can anyone add to that?
Yes! Eileen Turner nee Patton can remember the incident vividly - but it wasn't Danny Ireland! Read about the accident and other memories on the "Remember...?" page under her name.
3. Reuben Tranter
A young Reuben Tranter. Photo from Alec Breen.
Alec Breen's mother-in-law is Sheila Morris nee Tranter, great niece of Reuben Tranter. Incidentally, Alec has called his dog after Reuben but he has four legs to make up for his namesake. Looks like Reuben wasn't the only character in the family!
Michael McElvaney mentioned Reuben Tranter and his wooden leg - certainly a "Slaggy Island Character".
It was said that he had lost his leg in a motor cycling accident but Reuben wasn't averse to letting people believe a shark had bitten it off! In spite of his handicap he didn't let it get the better of him and he was a regular entrant in the River Tees Annual Swim in his younger days. (It's a wonder the swimmers weren't poisoned!)
When he was older Reuben got fixed up with a regular summer job at Scarborough, dressing up as Long John Silver on the replica of the Hispaniola!
When he was older still, in the late 60's, I missed the chance of (I think) a winning photograph. It was a quiet, sunny Sunday lunchtime in the Station Hotel. It was early and only a couple of people were in. Rueben was sat looking at a newspaper with his wooden peg propped on a stool. The sun was streaming through the windows in shafts of light catching the chalk-dust laden air and, while Reuben was in the shade, every detail of the stubble on his unshaven face showed up clearly. Very atmospheric.
I debated going home for my camera but realised that because light conditions change so quickly I had already missed the opportunity. Anyway, just then a friend came in for a game of darts and the moment was gone.
Tommy Holvanhill (ex Queen Street, now in Teesville), talking of his years as a taxi driver told me a couple of tales about Reuben. Once when Tommy picked him up at the Vic Reuben, being worse for wear, insisted on sticking his peg-leg out of the window - so Tommy tied a hanky on the leg! Asked where he wanted to go Reuben said "Surrey Street". At that time all the houses there were empty and awaiting demolition but Tommy asked which number he wanted. "Any" replied Reuben who was sleeping rough and could take his pick.
On another occasion, Reuben staggered over the road from the Vic and got his peg-leg stuck in a drain and couldn't get it out. He made such a noise that a policeman came out of the Police Station to see what was going on. He tried to held Reuben but eventually had to unstrap the leg to get it out. Reuben got it back on, staggered, and put his leg back in the same drain!!
For another story concerning Reuben see Georgie Holmes below.
4. The Barbers!
Michael McElvaney's entry in the Guestbook on Danny Ireland haircutting expertise inspired me to add this bit on other South Bank barbers, but then I decided to do the "personal history" thing of all those who experimented on my hair in the 23 years I lived in South Bank from 1946 - 1969. They weren't all "characters" so we'll consider some of them as support artists! I'll start with the two that Michael mentions:
On the corner of Nelson Street next to Woods was Harrison Watson's shop with his sulphur crested cockatoo squawking in it's cage. I only went there once and old Watson kept going out the back for ages at a time and consequently made a right mess of my hair. I think he kept listening to horse racing or it could be for a swig. Whatever, I didn't go back!
Danny Ireland moonlighted in his allotment shed and was cheaper than anywhere else so if your mother gave you a tanner to get your hair cut and Danny did it for thru'pence you were in pocket and no one was the wiser. At least that was the theory! I went and he cut the lot off, just leaving a "topping" at the front! My mother went mad!
Then for a period of time I went to Tilley's which was next to the Erimus Club at Bennett's Corner. Tilley's two daughters usually cut your hair and had a more gentle touch! However, once when I had a cold and no hanky I kept sniffing while one of them was cutting my hair. It must have got on her nerves because she told me in no uncertain terms to blow my nose. Embarrassed, I confessed that I had no hanky (after all I couldn't use my usual sleeve while in the barbers!). Angrily she went to a cupboard and tore a square of cloth from an old sheet and threw it at me. I blew my nose, she finished my hair cut and they lost a customer!
Matty Innes the comedian had his shop on Nelson Street and he became my regular barber for a while. However, one day I was in the chair while he was telling another customer of his previous night out in Redcar and as he talked he emphasised his words by digging the shears into my neck.
It seemed that he'd had a skinful, missed the late bus back and had to walk all the way back to Slaggy. He still had a hangover - and didn't I know it! However, at this time I was big enough to tell him where he could put his shears and never went back!
For some years I went to Laurie Johnson's on King Street who was a good dependable barber. If you look at the 21st Century page you'll find a photo of the Cleveland which I took yesterday (11/2/2002) from outside what used to be Lauries shop.
When we bought a house in Aire Street I began to go to Maurice Jevrons' shop in Hawthorn Terrace as it was just around the corner and I stayed with him until we moved to Redcar in 1969.
So there you have it, the saga of the barbers! If you want to add to that write in.
Jimmy Collins tells me there was one barber I hadn't been to called Tom Dixon who had a shop on Nelson Street and, from Jimmy's description, he appears to have been the previous tennant in Peter Minza's shop! At any rate, I can't remember him but Jimmy said "He was a right bad tempered little bastard"! (Must be quote of the day!)
Michael McLoughlin recalled getting his hair cut:
Just finished reading the story of Lena Groves. The story brings back to me the memories of her husband - George Groves who was the barber I always went to, commencing with my dad taking me to see Mr Groves for a simple haircut when I would have been just over 2 years of age. I continued my visits right up to WW 11-George cut mens and boys hair in the front room of his house in Lower Branch Street South Bank. The one single feature of my visits to Mr Groves which is still vivid in my mind is that he always was having sips of cold water from a large tumbler that was in place on the shelf with his tools of trade below the facing mirror. Each and every visit I had to make - and whilst I was sitting on the chair during my hair cut was the remark by Mr Groves: "Always remember that water is the best and healthiest drink!" I will never forget this remark for surely the barber would not be giving me advice at such an early age of me - his customer."
5. Dan Pluck
|Some weights can be quite shapely!
We tend to think of "South Bank Characters" as being from before our era but Dan Pluck qualified to be included on such a list from the day he was born. Always big, with twinkling baby blue eyes, dimpled cheeks and an instant hearty laugh Dan was always going to stand out in a crowd.
Christened Denis (after the Saint he insists!), he has always been known as Dan, supposedly because of his resemblance to the "Dandy" comic hero Desperate Dan! Above average size and strength he was also surprisingly agile and absolutely fearless - something he demonstrated at an early age.
While he was a pupil at St. Peter's School, he was playing with others outside of school hours in the Central schoolyard, when he climbed on to the roof of the school. Then, to the astonishment of all who witnessed it, he did a hand spring on the parapet (a somersault) some 45 feet above the ground!
Of course, while admired for the feat, he got a reputation as being a non-conformist; someone to be wary of as being "different" but it never bothered Dan who is that same free-thinker today!
Eventually he channelled his strength into weight lifting and trained with world champion Louis Martin and competed for his country at international level with his sights set on the Olympic Games.
Dan made his mark in more ways than one in a memorable international match against Scotland which was held in the Co-op dance hall in Stockton.
The heavyweights are always on last and, because of the massive weights they lift, are a big attraction, ensuring that the audience stays to the end. And so it was in the Stockton competitition but the audience never see the necessary lengthy warming up that take place behind the scenes usually for at least an hour. Dan had completed his early lifts and then he was called forward for "the snatch".
Taking his time he adjusted his belt and flashed some chalk dust about. He walked forward, bent over the bar and took a comfortable grip, and shuffled his feet into position. With a few deep breathes he steadied himself, then with a surge of power, he hauled the bar up and over his head while his legs took the strain. More quick breathes and he was up, with the tremendous weight above him, bearing down.
He strained to hold the lift steady but his balance wasn't quite right. His feet made little jerking movements forward, trying to correct things. More forward movements. There wasn't much room. The five foot high stage wasn't really big enough. Tottering, tilting, forward... something had to give.
Dan saved himself but the bar with the huge weights on it crashed down to the polished dance floor and through it, smashing the buffed wood like matchsticks and then bounced out of the crushed timber and trundled on towards the audience. The first six rows scattered. They reckon that if there was a record for a stampeding audience - they would have beaten it!
There was a bit of a delay while seats were rearranged and the competition continued and Dan went on to win his class.
Before he left, Dan apologised for the gaping hole in the floor and won everyone over with his smile!
You're wondering why you can't remember Dan at the Olympic Games? Well, it's because he didn't go. Let me tell you the story.
Dan was representing England against Denmark in one of the competitions leading up to the Olympics and the early rounds at the lighter weights were dragging on a bit. The officials became worried that they would run out of time so they decided to put other weight classes on at the same time. Unfortunately they didn't tell Dan of their decision and called him forward to compete. Dan hadn't even begun his warm up routine and to compete without toning up the muscles first can be dangerous and lead to injuries.
Dan shook his head at the decision, knowing that he couldn't hope to get anywhere near his best form without warming up but just got on with his job. The competition was neck and neck and the result depended on Dan. So straight in while cold, Dan failed in his first attempt. He struggled on and managed his second lift but it was way below his best.
The third lift was to be his last in more ways than one. He failed to clear the weight utterly and was seething at a decision taken which, in effect, robbed him and England of a victory over Denmark. However, always the gentleman but a Slaggy Islander non-the-less, Dan contented himself with a remark to the international referee, Jim Mason.
"Well, you buggered that up for me, Jim" he said (or words to that effect!). A massive understatement which hit it's mark. Dan was immediately suspended for swearing at the referee and cold-shouldered by the rest of the team.
Nor was that the end of the matter. When he reported back to his Newport Club in Middlesbrough he was told that because of his suspension he was "sine die" and could no longer train there or anywhere else. He was reduced to training on his own in the tiny back yard of his Costa Street home and without any sophisticated equipment.
While he was in training as an international weight lifter, Dan was also on the books for Wakefield Trinity. He got five pounds a week for "being available" to play if he was needed as in the case of injuries in the team. This carried on for a time while Dan struggled to train without facilities but eventually Dan gave it all up. Although he was never actually called on to play a game for Wakefield Trinity, the sport of Rugby treated him better than his first love, Weightlifting, did.
Dan tried a comeback some years later but by then he had reduced his bulk and his strength with it and he eventually called it a day. It was over. However, Denis "Dan" Pluck was not bitter. He just got on with life and today he is still that same jolly lad with the touch of individuality that he always was.
A final word to illustrate the different facets of Dan's character: at the same time that he was an international weight lifter he was also a member of the Stockton Philharmonic Society and played the flute and clarinet! You can't get more diverse than that!
6. Bev Bulmer
Bev is another of the more modern (compared to Robbie) characters and well deserves his place on this page. Last time I saw Bev was a couple of years ago in Loftus and he looked like General Custer with flowing blond hair and blond Cody-type beard and he looked great! Much better than his Jesus look.
Bev is best known for a turn of phrase that put him in the Gazette. His friend (I can't remember who) was being marched along Middlesbrough Road to the Cop Shop for creating a disturbance and Bev decided that he was being unfairly treated.
Not being one to allow injustices to go unchallenged, Bev jumped onto the policeman's back and shouted "Okay, Copper! Let him go or I'll knock you into the stratosphere!" Much to his surprise, the policeman released his captive - and arrested Bev instead! The result was a court appearance, a fine, and immortality as witnessed by this narrative.
They were talking about this page in the Cleveland, Normanby, and I was reminded about another episode in "The Bev Bulmer Story". Bev was "messing about" with a cleaver and his brother bet him a fiver he daren't chop one of his fingers off! Bev didn't hesitate and off came one of his digits. After all, a fiver is a fiver!
Bev was also a bit of a poet and I remember one of his efforts to this day:
Jack Sowerby reminded me of another of Bev's efforts:
A Poet Laureate in the making?
I got mail from Eugene McElvaney in Oz about Bev:I was just looking at your site and although I have read your bit about Bev Bulmer before, I didn't really take in the poetry. The poem about Little Bill was about little Bill Floyd (or maybe Massey because I know it was Arthur, Tony, Billy Etc Massey's uncle). little Bill lived in a little place with his brother or cousin between Clarendon Street and Millbank Streets opposite the club and on the same side that the Clarendon Street Gang had there annual bonfire. Bev would have know Bill well. Poor Bill was a nice little harmless chap who like a lot of guys from that era drank too much for their own good. (some still do) One day after an heavy afternoon session Bill went for a nap upstairs. Hearing noises from outside (probably us kids who were playing cricket in the street at the time). He open his window and leaned out, Unfortunately, he over balanced and fell, landing on his head, poor Little Bill died instantly. (I think Tony Massey was there with me at the time). So Bev Bulmer's poem was really an ode to Little Bill.
7. Legends in our time!
I received an e-mail from Michael McElvaney with references to two Slaggy Island characters which I reproduce here:
Hi There again,
The site just gets better and better,loved the bit about Dan Pluck. There used to be air raid shelters at the back of the Peters school and
I heard that Dan used to jump from one to another but carrying someone piggy-back while he was doing it.I also remember meeting him at the corner of York St when I was very little and he was very smartly dressed and unusually for those times he had a goatee beard. He pulled my hair and tapped my chin and called me a little 'Hairchin'. He also said 'Well,well,well,
Straaaanger than Fiction!!!then he threw me up into the air and after what seemed like an eternity I descended to be caught.
The great thing about growing up there as a kid was that everyone knew you and looked out for you,lots of adults would stop you and ask how you were or how your Mam and Dad were doing,they all knew you because they knew your brothers or sisters[never a shortage of them in many families]or your parents.
Bev Bulmer was also a legend too,this story (which I think is an Urban Myth) was very popular when I was young. One Monday morning Bev was up before the magistrate after yet another very drunken and disorderly weekend and the magistrate said,
'Mr Bulmer,this is not the 1st time you have been
before this court,is there any reason why I shouldn't pass a custodial sentence?'
Bev said'Yes' and took out a box of matches from his pocket.He opened the box and shook it to make a rattling sound.Then he held the box between his ear and mouth and said
'BEAM ME UP SCOTTY!!!!THERE'S NO SIGN OF INTELLIGENT LIFE!!'
'Three months and £20 fine'said the Magistrate.
Don't know if that ones true?
Yeah, that sounds like Bev! Anyone got a photo of him?
8. Paddy Crack
Tommy Searle's mother used to tell me tales of Paddy Crack but all I can remember is that he wore white plimsoles! Over to you...
It wasn't long in coming! Here's something from Alan Winton.
... just a snippet of what I can remember about Paddy Crack:
He used to hang around Nelson St and Napier St area - the kids used follow him and shout " Paddy Crack " and he used to set chase and scatter the kids in his white plimsoles. I was only a kid at the time and he was getting on in years but he could shift so you made sure you had a good start before you shouted at him.
He was quite a character and in a way he was
a trend setter because loads of young ones now walk round in their sports shoes same thing as plimsoles in those days eh? See you, Alan Winton.
9. The Earls of South Bank
|Lenny standing by Bert at Bert's 90th Birthday Party
Sounds like a grand title, doesn't it? The Earls were quite a large family but the best known were Bert and Lenny. Both were hardworking and self employed but in different lines.
Their father died in 1930 when Bert was only seventeen. He took over his Dad's chimney sweeping business but, in the early days, he could also be seen with a horse-drawn flat cart delivering milk which he collected from John Dales' farm on the Trunk Road opposite the Rec. He needed this steady income while he built up his chimney sweeping round.
Later Bert was able to give up the milk round and concentrate on being a chimney sweep, becoming one of the best known people in South Bank. I know he came to our house regularly every six months and was extremely busy until the Clean Air Act saw many of his customers switching to other forms of heating. However, there were always a couple of sidelines. For instance, who would have thought of selling the bags of soot to the commercial tomato growers down South?! And, of course, it was always considered lucky to have a chimney sweep attend your wedding!!
However, there was more to Bert than being lucky -he was also a film star! He once featured in a short film which was given its premier in The Crypt at Middlesbrough Town Hall and I think its main theme was slagging off the Council! Unfortunately the film disappeared but if anyone can shed a light on its whereabouts Bert, now 89 and living in Redcar, would be grateful.
My thanks for this story go to Bert's ex son-in-law Stan Moore (formerly of South Terrace) and our old friend Michael McLoughlin in Australia who contacted me within twelve hours of the story going on the site! He put me right on a couple of points and then told me he had seen the film a couple of years ago! He has given me the contact to follow up and I'll let you know what happens! Watch this space, as they say!!
The e-mail address Michael gave me failed but then he gave me the contacts home address in Selly Oak(?) which I passed on to Stan but it seems it fizzled out. If anyone can help with this matter his family would be grateful.
I was neglecting Bert's brother Lenny who aquired a furniture van and became a general haulier. Self-employed in his own right.
Bert is featured on the "50 More Slaggy Islanders" page and also his own page - Bert Earl.
10. An Alligator Named Fred
Someone I'd forgotten about until reminded by Michael McLoughlin in Brisbane was Clocky Lloyd who had a jewelry, clock and watch shop next to the Princess Alice on Normanby Road. I'll let Michael tell the tale of how legends are made and leave it to you to decide which one is "the character".
The "players" in the tale are Clocky, Michael's dad James McLoughlin and the Alligator (name unknown but Fred sounds alright!) Over to Michael.
Another South Bank Character For Consideration? - Clocky LLoyd and his stuffed alligator
Despite the cynic's - this alligator was certainly a stuffed one and about five feet in length. Clocky had his jewellery shop on Normanby Road near the Princess Alice Hotel. Clocky being a friend of my dad's family, one day my father persuaded Clocky to loan him this very fine specimen of a reptile. I can recall the time that I first clapped eyes on this alligator - I was with my mam and her horde of kids in the kitchen of our abode in Lower Oxford Street. My dad pushed the reptile through the front door into the small kitchen - the screams of us kids and my mother worst of all must have been heard miles away I suppose! Of course as we used to say in those days "the street was out". The old man after this tied an old clothes line to the monster and went walking up the street to more screams from the neighbours from their front doorsteps. Then into the public bar at the Globe Hotel did the old man go - which happened to be a Sunday dinner time - the rest is now history.
Despite the talk of Clocky LLoyd keeping a live alligator in the cellar of his shop and the same being seen walking over the puddling and down back alleys, while romantic and good theatre, you now know the truth!
Personally I think "the character" was Michael's dad James!
11. Georgie Holmes
Georgie was well known for his antics and clowning around with his fingers outstretched. He worked at Smith's Docks as a lagger and one day went into the toilets where Reuben Tranter was employed as a cleaner. He found Reuben asleep in his chair with his peg leg propped up on a box. This was too good an opportunity for Georgie to miss and he hurried back to his job for a bucket of ready mixed lagging. Back in the toilet block he skilfully lagged Reuben's false limb and left the building.
By the time Reuben woke the lagging had set, as he found out when he swung his leg off the box and the unaccustomed weight caused it to drop to the ground with a thud!
One week Georgie had a change of fortune and won the pools! I don't know how much he got but he decided to buy a television set and went to the Stores to pick one out, paying cash. The salesman asked where they should send it but Georgie said he'd take it with him and picked it up. They opened the door for him and he walked out - and dropped the TV on the pavement, smashing it with a crash!
Enraged, Georgie gave it a good kicking to finish it off then went back into the shop and promptly bought another one!!
See also Pubs and Clubs/The Royal.
12. Lizzy & Jack Searle
|Lizzy and Jack Searle in later years
Not all the South Bank characters were men. Mrs.Searle was a wonderful woman with a wicked sense of humour. Once when describing a fight with her husband when they were young she said with a twinkle in her eyes "I had the devil in me!" She was talking about the hardships of the twenties and I think Jack had to be a real man to handle her, and there was no doubting Jack's credentials, having been awarded The Military Medal in the First World War.
I used to go to their house in Jack's latter years and Mrs.Searle told me that "He's a bugger for tablets! He'll take anything!" She had to hide his medication but to keep him calm she used to buy Twizzels (sweets that looked like tablets in various colours). She used to separate them into the different colours, put them into pill boxes and hide them all over the house! He used to find them and take them and be happy that he'd got one over on his wife!
Lizzy had a laugh when he told her he thought the pink ones were doing him good!
Another instance of Mrs.Searle's humour was when I called she would say to me "You f'coffee?"
Jack invariably would say "Oh, I'll have a cup of coffee as well, Ma".
Son Tommy provided a snap of "The only photo we have of them..." which was on a plate on the sideboard.
Life was all the better for knowing such nice people.
13. Foot Featherstone
|Albert "Foot" Featherstone in later years
Photo from Terry (Young Foot) Featherstone
Everyone knew Foot although not many knew his real name was Albert. I wondered on this page how how he got the name of Foot and Margaret Moore rang to tell me that when he was little he used to go to Pidgeon's shop on the corner of North and Connaught Streets and was a favourite of Mrs. Pidgeon who used to say "Ah, here's my little feathery foot!" as a term of endearment.
I pointed out to Margaret that there was a show pidgeon with feathers growing on its feet and was known as a "Feathery-foot" which could never keep its feet clean so... what was Mrs. Pidgeon really thinking!
And has anyone a photo of Albert?
Sadly Foot died in May (2003) after a few years of poor health following his sister Flora's death the November before. Flora is remembered and missed by her friend Margaret Moore (nee Earl) for her love of flowers and wandering around Garden Centres.
Note: Foot's son Terry sent in a couple of photos of his dad. The other one is on the "More Slaggy Islanders" page with one of himself.
14. Cooking Tip!
My friend Alan Thompson phoned me to ask how long he should have the micro-wave on to poach an egg in a new-fangled micro-pot. I'm no cook but I suggested that he try 20 seconds then check it and if it wasn't done try another 10 seconds and so on. He didn't reckon much to my advice and thought it would be much longer.
Later he phoned back to say he had put two eggs in the micro-wave at 5 minutes. There had been two bangs and the inside of the microwave was plastered with a rock-hard coating of steaming egg.
His cooking tip: Don't micro-poach eggs for five minutes!
15. Pet Shop Boys
Colin and Dennis Townsend near South Bank market
I thought this little tale was worth putting on the site but I was at a loss as to where to place it, finally deciding that this page was as good as any...
I received a query from a Laura Jenkins which came via my brother-in-law's website of Tees Ships who asked about pet shops in South Bank and quoted the name of Garrard.
The Garrard name seems familiar but I'll have to ask around.
I recall four such shops when I lived there. First there was a tin-roofed lean-to on the corner of Queen Street/Ann Street run by an old woman called Mrs Dryden. This was later taken over by Arthur Stanley and it was mainly a corn store although I bought a puppy from him in 1946. (I'll have to put a photo of him - Laddie - on the website, after all he was a Slaggy Islander!).
Arthur later moved to Nelson Street and then to Middlesbrough Road (or vice-versa) and really became a pet shop keeper with all sorts of livestock where I bought foreign Finches, etc (I was into bird keeping) and even a foxcub (about 1960) which I called Guy (Guy Fox? Please yourself!).
Anyway, Arthur eventually moved his business to Redcar where his family still trade.
There was another petshop opened on the corner of Middlesbrough Road and Princess Street that previously was Freers wallpaper shop. It was run by two brothers who were friends of mine, Dennis and Colin Townsend and they were bird keepers from way back and exhibited in various bird shows.
There was nothing Dennis didn't know about birds but he had once blotted his copybook by being caught trapping wild birds to breed from and his story was printed in The News of The World of all papers! Sadly the two brothers are no longer with us but the above picture taken at South Bank market shows them in a typical pose and they never seemed to change.
16. Elvis Lives(?)
|Bob(?) suveys Pym Street which is ready for the chop[
Thursday August 16 2007. Today is the 30th Anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley and today The Northern Echo has a page written by Lindsay Jennings about the people who think that The King is still alive and listing where they've seen him.
(Of course, if Elvis was still alive he'd be the same age as me as we were both born in 1935 - it was a good year! I wonder if people still see me as I was rather than as I am?! Dick.)
Lindsay finishes off by writing...
"You never know, there could be a tubby 72-year-old with a black rinse and long, long sideburns sporting a pair of blue suede shoes standing next to you...
On the other hand, he'll probably answer to the name of Bob and hail from South Bank, Middlesbrough."