Archive for the ‘1910s’ Category
Tags: consett, royal hotel
Bob Ritchie was the manger of the pub downstairs.
He’d just turned fifty when I started because they had a bit of a do for him. He had a wife, Beth, and a daughter Jane.
The pub would be packed on Mondays, but the hotel itself was never busy.
I had Bob Ritchie and his wife convinced the place was haunted
There was this telephone in a wooden booth. It was down the passageway from the office. You could just get in and close the door and get yourself sat down. There was a ledge you could lean on to write messages and that. There was this missing panel underneath with a piece of canvas across that was probably put in to service the bell-pull strings that came in from the various rooms, but it seems everyone had forgotten about that. There were all these strings coming from all the rooms. I’d be in there waiting for a phone call for someone to put their order in and I’d fiddle on with these strings. House telephones would often exploit the wiring previously provided for the bell pushes which summoned servants … or in this case the hotel manager or his wife. This access point must have been created when the Hotel and Offices had the wiring carried out with many of the pull strings for the guest rooms remaining. The telephone was known as butter-stamp receiver, because of its shape.
Beth Ritchie was so terrified by all these bells going off that she wouldn’t go to bed.
I kept it going for some time and I never let on. I wasn’t aware I was doing anything. It would die down then Muggins would be in the box waiting for someone to make a call and it would start up again. Bob Ritchie died at the Royal Hotel, Blackhill, on January 19th, 1911. I’d just been there six months. He had a heart attack. When I heard someone suggest it was to do with the torment of the bells going off I worked it out and thought I might get the blame.
Tags: benfieldside, gamages, jack, jack wilson, shotley bridge, toy plane
Toy Planes from Gamages
We used to send off to A.W. Gamages for these model aeroplanes made from balsa wood.
They were made with three-ply tea-chest wood and had a propeller with a bit of an elastic band. Gamages were at 116-128 Holborn, London. They sent you a 900 page catalogue every Christmas. Billy and I got paid lugging this equipment around for Lubbock, making deliveries to the big houses, which is how we got to know everyone, and fixing the cars. We knew what made the things tick and with no mechanics about we learnt to do the job. I could drive at 13; I’d manoeuvre them about the yard and from time to time father would take one of the cars saying he had to run it in or check the new tyres or something. There was no traffic to speak of, mostly gigs and tub traps. You had to watch out for startling horses and upsetting old ladies who liked to carry their loads down the middle of the road.
Tags: benfieldside, bil barron, consett iron company, jack wilson, JGMurray, north eartern, north eastern brewery, tom young
Office Boy in the offices of the North Eastern Brewery
One day my father comes up to me and says.
“Mr Murray wants to see you up at the house at Six O’clock. There’s a vacancy in the office.”
I was not fourteen so I couldn’t leave school.
I went up to the house where J.G. had me writing and one thing and another. He asked what class I was in. “Standard Seven” I said, which was about as far as you could get.
“You’ll learn a lot more in the office.” He said. And he was right.
I started work at the North Eastern Breweries in August 1910.
I was fourteen years of age. I was on Five Shillings per week and got an annual increment of Half a Crown which was (2/6d) – 2 shillings and 6 pence (Around £11 in 2012 money)
(In today’s money, 2012, Jack was getting around £25 a week for doing five days plus Saturday mornings. A 44 hour week? He was only 14 though and learning the ropes).
I walked the two miles up the hill to work.
Bill Baron, who was the cashier lived down in Shotley Bridge took me in. He’d started work as a clerk at a railway station. His mother Margaret lived in Bywell. He had two sisters. He was a bit older than me; he was 28 when I started. He walked up from Shotley Bridge which was further away still and fetched me up to the offices which were right up at the top.
Tom Young was in my class; his Family lived on Harvey St.
He joined the Consett Iron Company works as a clear. And one called Ripley, who made a fortune; his father was a coalminer and his mother was from Stanhope.
He became a foreman at the works.
Tags: bass, bill barron, blackhill, busby pit, cleveland dray hourse, consett, consett iron works, crossley gas engine, ernie caldell, guiness, jack, jack wilson, JGMurray, Lanchester, medomsley, northeastern brewery, ommy blackburn, pub stock, ridley, royal hotel, venutre bus company, wheatley hops
The Royal Hotel
The Royal Hotel was a huge stone built building with these five massive windows.
It was built for business; it’s all finished now. There was a station near by and next door the Mart for all the Blackhill farmers round about Lanchester. There was a huge yard. The station took all the deliveries for the Paper Mill and Flour Mill in Shotley Bridge.
There were six in the office above the bar and taproom.
J.G. had a private office across the passageway. I was the office boy. Joe Trones was on the sales ledger, Bill Barron, was the principal ledger clerk (tenants, free trade). Tommy Morland, who came from Medomsley, was the cashier; he held the bank cash book. He was 38 when I stared. Then there was Ernie Caldwell, the estate agent and local brewery area manager. Mr Gardener was General Manager of the branch and stores. Mr Gardener was in his fifties. He’d been with the North Eastern Breweries for 26 years. I got to know his son later on. John Gardener was just a year older than me. His mother lived into her eighties as did John. I must have been the Spa water we were used to drinking!
Bill and I used to do the column.
We’d sneak out of the office and go down the corridor to the billiard room that overlooked the spirit store and bottling factory.
There were two tables. We’d slide in and keep the door from the office locked. We’d sneak back as if we’d come back from the telephone. We got to know Tom Brown who worked for the Consett Iron Works. He used to play billiards when it was open. Tom & Bill were a similar age. Tom was from Wokington. He was nearly 30 when I started at the North Eastern Brewery. He lived at 7 Constance Street, Consett . They were a five of them, there was Bill, Dick, George and his sister Florence. His father, George was from Yorkshire. His mother, Mary was from Durham.
Bill had a brother called Ridley who was a good footballer.
Just before the War Bill got a message to say his brother had been killed in a fall of stone in the mine at Busty Pit, Medomsley. Ridley had started out as a coal hand puller ‘underground’ at Busty Pit when he was 14. He was killed on 8th October 1912. He was kirning in a longwall gateway in a seam 2 feet 2 inches thick when a large stone fell between slips canting out some props and crushing him.
Bill was broken hearted. In those days all the mines were going: Hunter, Busty and Derwent interlinked with their own railway with iron ore from Spain.
Ernie Caldwell used to count all the coins, it was all gold then.
He had this desk next to a massive iron safe. When the figures didn’t add up he’d put it down to petty cash. When they came to move the safe they found all these coins stuck down the back. Ernie Caldwell came to me one day.
“John, I’ll show you how to work a pub stock out.”
And he put this pub stock sheet in front of me.
One of my jobs was to take all the coins down to the bank.
With it being the brewing trade a lot of them got sticky. I remember once the bank manger got fed up with getting sticky fingers and handed me the bag back.
“Go and wash them; I’m not handling them like that.”
So from then on before I went to the bank I’d take the coins into the lavatory and wash them in the sink.
There were three joiners and two horse keepers for the twelve Cleveland Dray Horses. The pop factory was run by Tommy Blackburn. There were six bottling girls and a bottler we called ‘The Dummy.’ They bottled Bass, Guinness, Wheatley Hops and their own beers.
Crossley Gas Engines ran the machines – there was no electricity. That factory was sold to the Venture Bus Company, now the Northern.
All the letters were hand written with copying ink.
You put an oil sheet in, damped the blotting paper, put your letter in and squeezed it to make a copy – that was before the typewriter.
Tags: cannon ross lewin, church bank, conert iron works, jack wilson, kings head, shotley bridge, snows green, tatty walton, the commercial, the journal
Canon Ross Lewin
There was Tatty Walton’s the Grocer’s and Addison’s the Newsagents. These supermarkets have killed all of that.
The pubs were the ‘Kings Head’ and ‘The Commercial’.
Canon Lewin lived at the Vicarage at 1 Church Bank.
He was in sixties and lived with his two sisters. They had two domestic servants. St. Cuthbert’s was designed by John Dobson, which says something about the money that could be raised in Shotley Bridge at the time.
I noticed in the Homemaker section of the Journal a house for sale by the riverside for £330,000 with twelve stables and lodges and fishing rights.
That was Lois Priestman’s House.
There were three brothers, another one was Jonathan Priestman, a long time MD of Concert Iron Works; he lived at Shotley Lodge. And one of them lived up at Snow’s Green.
Tags: anandales, jack wilson, papermill, river dervwent, shotley bridge, shotley grove, swimming
Swimming by the Papermill Sluice
There were no swimming pools
We went down to the Papermill dam and used to swim under the sluice. The sluice runs for 600 yards alongside a gently running race. There are pools, rapids and diving spots. It’s still there, not operational though. The other place for swimming was Tiger’s below the Papermill.
We spent all our summers with a string and bent pin fishing for tiddlers.
The Paper Mill was owned by the Annandale’s.
They lived in a big mansion, Shotley Grove House up at Snow’s Green. James Annandale lived to be ninety. He was born in 1827 and died January 1917; my mother told me that in a letter I got when I was a Machine Gunner on the Somme. Mr Annandale’s wife was called Anne. They had four children: Charles, Annie, Nora and James. The younger James lived with his old man at Shotley Grove with his wife Elizabeth and their baby daughter Margaret; they had a domestic servant and a nurse of their own.
The Papermill produced 95 tones of paper a week and employed 300.
There were plenty from school got took on by the Mill, which was preferable than going down the mines and liked by some better than going into domestic service. The Papermill was established by John Anandale in 1799; that’s how old the sluice would be they put in to run the machinery.
Tags: blackhill cemetry, jack wislon, JGMurray, murray, richard murray
Richard Murray’s Legacy
When Richard Murray died in 1912 he left £60,000 to build the hospital behind the house.
My father told me he gave each of his sons £30,000. Dick was born in 1839 and died 1912, on February 7th. His wife was called Elizabeth. She was born in 1841 and died on 14th February 1920 and his buried next to her husband in Blackhill Cemetery. They had a daughter Maggie who married a Robert Taylor. She died on the 16th November 1902. She was only 33 years of age. Her family put up this lovely marble column and her parents are buried at the same spot in Blackhill Cemetery.
‘J.G’ (John George) Murray left his legal practice at 42 Westgate Road to take over the business.
There was a horse-trough where horses watered on the way up from Newcastle. And I remember a lamp lighter too – he had a stick with a hook on it.