Memories Of Leadgate And Iveston 1938 1943 - a Memory of Leadgate.
I came to live at Leadgate when I was 12 years old and attended Leadgate Council School which was a large red brick building for infants and juniors, boys and girls. I was at the school for only 2 years, leaving when I was 14 years old. Those two years were good ones for me as I was fortunate to have a dedicated teacher called David Scott, who lived at Castleside. His influence remained with me through my youthful years, through my 5 years in the Royal Air Force, and on into my married life.
There were twin girls in my class, whose names I do not recall,also there were two lads, one was called Tommy Griffiths. He had a lovely singing voice and often sang solos at school, the other was called Alan Bell, he had a talent to paint wild birds on glass. I wonder if Tommy and Alan are still with us today?
Just round the corner from the school was the Co-op and the then Manager was Joe Irwin who introduced me to the Sunday School at the Methodist Chapel on Front Street. I clearly remember the Sunday that war was declared; just after 11 o'clock the siren was heard and everybody came outside to see what was going on. We did not know about the wireless broadcast, declaring war with Germany.
During Saturday mornings I used to go and help Tom. Armstrong, who had his Smithy's forge just down Watling Street, he also worked at Iveston and in my older years,when working at Iveston. I was able to help him there.
There was Walter Wilsons selling tea and groceries whose store was on the high pavement of Front Street, a barbers shop, where I went to have my hair cut, on the opposite side was a shop selling ice cream, which was the best from all around. At the other end, opposite the Co-op, by the railway bridge, was a small sweet shop where I uded to buy a "hapeth" (halfpenny) worth of sweets, that was before rationing came into being. The lady who owned the shop, I do not remember her name, but she always seemed to give me a"good measure"of sweets.
My memories of Iveston started when I was 16 years old and started work for Fred Kilpatrick at Rock Cottage, who had a dairy farm and between us hand milked around 30 cows. The milk was delivered to houses in Iveston, Leadgate, Consett (where I was born) and to Templetown. We had a horse called Robin who pulled the milk float. The milk was contained in churns and then delivered by hand using a gill measure putting the milk in either basins or jugs, which only has a plate or saucer on top to keep out the dust (there was no health and safety rules then). The milk was delivered every day whatever the weather.
The Smithy belonging to Tom Armstrong was on the Green, and when I had finished work on the farm, I used to call there and help him as much as I could. When a farmer brought a wheel to have a new iron rim fitted, that was the time when the smithy was very busy. Extra men were required to carry to re hot iron rim using tongs,out of the smithy to where the wooden spoked wheel was fixed onto a frame. Then when the hot iron was placed around the spokes, much water was poured onto it, to cool it down so that Tom could make sure it fitted correctly.
When hay and harvest seasons came round, it was usual for the workers on other farms to assist with work. I enjoyed driving a horse and "bogie" which had a "pike" of hay on it baack to a farm. At harvest time, when the threshing machine, which had to be hired, came to the Bate's farm on the Green, I would go and help, everyone was always covered in dust when the corn sheaves were put into the thresher to get the corn out, and with double summer time in force, work could go on right up to 10pm.
My work at the dairy farm and memories of Iveston came to an end in December 1943 when I joined the R.A.F.
About 10 years ago, when I was about 75 years old, I was driven around Iveston, Leadgate and Consett, and noticed how very much each place had changed, it was quite a shock to look for places that I used to know, only to find that they had gone. But that is progress I suppose.
I now live in Gloucestershire with my wife.
A memory shared by on Jun 25th, 2011.
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