Monday, November 10, 2008

Childhood best friends

I think my earliest best friends were Brian, who lived along a street just up from our house, Peter who lived opposite us on the main road, Edward who lived further on from Brian and David, who was further down the road from our house. Later on, about the time that I went on to grammar school, another Brian came on the scene and most Sundays, apart from in summer time, we would meet at one or another of our houses and play games – board, card, etc. – remember, no television in those days so you made your own entertainment. Later still, Vance who I met at a local Youth Club and I spent many days cycling around all over.

What were your favourite childhood toys?

I don’t particularly remember early years’ teddy bears and the like but I loved my set(s) of building blocks, Lott’s Bricks. They were ceramic blocks in rectangular and triangle shapes to build houses, etc. with folding cardboard roofs. I later was very lucky – and very spoilt – to get a couple of the smaller Meccano sets, 1 and 1a making 1 up to 2 and so on and one year, joy of joys, I got a second-hand number 10, I think the top of the range at the time. Where the heck Dad got it from, I don’t know but that was heaven with the vast variety of metal strips, plates, rods, wheels, gears and clockwork motors. Wow!! A few years on, I had a Trix Twin model railway set – unique at the time because, with a current-carrying third rail in between the outer ones, you could run two trains on the same line at the same time although the engines and rolling stock were not as realistic as, say Hornby Dublo or some of the German and Swiss systems (Faller was one)

What do you remember about the place/s you lived in as a child?

Mexborough I’ve already said I don’t know any thing about. Huddersfield I grew up in with its double-decker trolley buses covering many routes all round the town – and usually running on time, or more or less! – and large parks where we would play, roller skate, play tennis and have a circus every year as well as children’s model train rides. We lived 3 miles out of town, uphill all the way which was a begger on your bike when it was wet and/or windy. In fact, in the Pennines, there were hills all around and we loved it. We lived in a 3-bedroom detached house with quite a big garden which backed on to a bowling green with tennis courts just past the next house down from us. About one mile up the road the trolley bus route stopped but we could get a bus, or walk/ride another two/three miles up onto the moors to a place called Nont Sarah’s and thereafter wander over the moors and swim in a tarn up there – brrrr most of the time. Gad, you had to be tough!!! Across the road from our house was what I think had been an old recreation area (The Rec.) where we spent many happy times, climbing the rocks, hide and seek, etc.

Please detail what you know of our family tree

See separate listings attached

What interesting information do you know about other people in our family?

My great-grandfather on my Dad’s side was in the British Army in Ireland around the 1850’s as, I think, a groomsman for the regiment horses. My Dad’s father emigrated to Australia in the early 1900’s and for some reason which I never knew, didn’t get his wife and Dad to join him there – was it grandma wouldn’t to go or did he escape!!!!! Mum’s Dad was a tailor – I was told that the reason that they moved into Allen house was that his cutting room was upstairs and the staircase was wide enough to carry a bolt of cloth up. Sounds a tall but quite likely story.

What do you think your parents thought of you as a child?

I think that they spoilt me rotten!! I’m sure that they loved me but probably found me frustrating as I always seemed to want something!

Tell me about your Mum and Dad

My Mum was born Mildred Hutchinson on 30th April 1902 and my Dad, Gordon Beldon, on 30th December 1898 (I was told that I was expected on the 30th of June but I jumped the gun a little!).

Mum was born at Warren Cottage, Acomb near Hexham in Northumberland and later moved to another larger house around the corner called Allan House, a name which I think I remember my Mum saying once that she suggested the name for, after her brother Alan. I have no idea where she went to school, presumably the local school in Acomb and then school in Hexham. She probably left school at 15 and as far as I know, later went to work at Robb’s department store in Hexham as, I think, a clerk. I don’t recall any other job she might have had or how long she worked at Robb’s.

Dad was born at Oswald Terrace, Durham (I think that these houses no longer exist) and as a young boy moved with his parents to Hexham where he grew up. Presumably he went to school in Hexham, maybe 3 or 4 years ahead of my Mum. I’m not sure what jobs he had after leaving school but one of the first was at the Swan Hunter shipyards as a clerk. He went on to work at the Ministry of Employment and I think was there at the time of the Great Depression when the amount of unemployment was horrendous.

Mum and Dad apparently courted for a while in the mid ‘20s, broke up but later, I think in the early thirties, got together again and married in 1934. I don’t know much of their social life but I think Mum was quite a well-dressed social girl (not quite a ‘flapper’) and Dad played rugby for a minor Durham team. I also recall my Dad saying that he had a motor-bike, a Norton Diamond, on which he hit a bump one day, landed on his head (they only had pilot-type helmets in those days) and woke up 4 days later in hospital with severe concussion. He said he was OK, it was only his head!!!