Archive for the ‘Royal Hotel’ Category
There were no wireless or crystal sets in those days. You just read what was in the paper.
My father took the Penny Pictorial that only cost a penny.
A crystal set had a bit of shiny coal with a coil and earphones. There was a cat’s whisker in a holder with a variometer.
Before the War, we moved to 25 Consett Road, Castleside, which is just behind the Royal Hotel. Father got a car and we ran taxis. I’d help on a Saturday. We had this big Mercedes for Weddings.
Pubs in those days were open from 6 in the morning ‘til 11 at night until the Gretna Crash on 22nd May 1915 in which the driver was found to have been drunk. The two signalmen were imprisoned.
It was soon after that I went up to the recruiting office.
We learnt about the ‘Fourteen Eighteen’ War through one of these huge posters which were put up all over the place in August of 1915 with Kitchener pointing his finger and saying.
“Your Country Needs You.”
Ernie Caldwell and Tom Brown joined early on. They were in the Royal Garrison Artillery. There were two divisions, the Royal Field Artillery and the Royal Garrison Artillery. Ernie Caldwell joined the Royal Field Artillery. He was a driver. He was killed on the 16th September 1916. Tom’s brother Dick got his leg shot in Amsterdam early on. I bumped into Tom at Passchendale in late 1917.
One lunchtime Bill Baron and I went down to the recruiting centre.
Bill and I took it all in a jovial way.
“Fancy going up to the recruiting office in Consett one lunch time?”
I was nineteen but there were lads a lot younger than me who got passed the Recruiting Officer. Boys of 14 and 15 were taken on. My young brother Billy got into the Royal Flying Corps and he was only 16. He claimed to know a bit about planes though, which probably helped. He was flying by the time he was 17, a bomber pilot.
Consett was the recruiting office for the area. It wasn’t far from the office, only about a quarter mile. Up Blackhill by the bank. Bill failed the medical on account of a groin rupture whereas I passed.
Within a few weeks I was called up.
I remember the Forman Joiner, Jack Walton, getting his arm torn off in a crusher
Down the lane from the Royal Hotel there were the stables and the joinery. They had slats of mahogany used for wood storage. They made their own furniture.
Walton was a Cockney – he always had to be right.
This corn crusher had a steel roll and you put the corn in at the top and caught it out the bottom. It was driven by a belt from the pop factory. It got choked and Paddy Rafferty went to fetch Walton. Paddy was an Irish Labourer. He lived at 21 John Street.
Walton got on an empty crate, propped it up to stand on so he could take a look to see what was blocking the crusher and the crate collapsed. His arm went straight through. He was left hanging there by his arm. They had to dismantle the crusher to get him out, the muscles were all torn.
They took him down to the infirmary where they amputated the arm.
To get some sense of what it was like a hundred years ago I turn to books such as this.
|From First World War|
The other thing to do is to rent a holiday cottage with no electricity, an outside low and a peat fire.
I found a two room cottage in Donegal that took me back at least 100 years!
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.