Christmas card from ICI Directors and Staff. 1958

A Christmas card from The Directors and Staff at ICI sent out to their many visitors. The scene shows the village smithy at Norton, there has been a smithy in the village since 1722. It was closed down in October 1958: this is a reminder of the changing pattern of rural England.

20 thoughts on “Christmas card from ICI Directors and Staff. 1958

  1. I started to work at flanges ltd on Norton Road next to Hills wood yard in early 1966 – 1969 I worked for George Harker, Fred Damm, Kens, Dad John Gibb. We moved to Blue House Point Road, Portrack when I worked there.

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  2. My great grandfather Frank Kirby worked in the Smithy. Gran would tell how he’d lead the horses into the pond to cool their shoes after they were shod.

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  3. Going back to the picture – I can confirm what Dave Harker says. Fred Damm married my mother’s sister (Peggy Ellis) and he is the one in the beret, crouching down. If I remember correctly, he was prisoner of war in Kiora near Junction Road Norton.

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  4. “Oh” yes that was mother, she would have made a better Sergeant Major than I did. Never did do papers. I had a laundry round. With a small cart I picked up baskets of washing from various houses on the Green, down the High Street Mill Lane and Redwing lane. Well it did take a couple of runs. These went to Cook Crescent just off Station Road to a lady who did the washing, The fresh laundry baskets would be ready to deliver and I got one shilling per basket, sixpence each way from the owners. That was my Saturday job after the twopenny rush at the Avenue Cinema, well some before and some after. I did it through most of the war when Dad, who”s contract it was, had to watch his petrol ration for the truck. Would the kids do it now I wonder?

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  5. I”m glad we have worked that one out Frank. As boys, we would get upto our tricks with Miss Foster and her assistant Margaret Lythe, but not when your Mother arrived. Nobody “put one over”on her, very strict. Mind you we worked very hard for our 7 shillings a week. (35p) Up at 6.30am every day, starting our rounds about 7am. I had the North Albert Road estate. Had to be back home for breakfast and then catch the School Special to Richard Hind at 8.30am from the Red Lion Corner. After school at 4pm, leave my satchel at the shop for my paper bag and off again delivering. 6 evenings a week. Didn”t even add upto 6d in old money per round. We did have the chance of the complimentary ticket to the Moderne or The Avenue pictures because she advertised the shows at her shop, but you did have to take your turn for this amongst about 15 boys.

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  6. Sounds right Bob, I was away at that time and she never mentioned it in letters. It would be more so if she arrived on a motor bike, people thought me mad but she could trump me. Mother spent the war in war work at Goosepool and who was it crawling about in the hanger roof fitting lights, you got it. We had a Ford 8 and an Austin Chummy in the garage, Dad got petrol for the car because the Ford was on standby to be used by the police if an invasion did ever happen. Mum was late and had missed her train one morning so she got me to start the Chummy and took off up the back lanes to Goosepool. On the way it seems she had a kerfuffle with a horse and cart and on the way back another one with a Steamroller and road crew who were widening the back lane by tarring the edges. It had ended with the road crew diving under the moving steam roller to escape, not exactly “elf and safety”. The local Bobby whom we all knew duly arrived a day or so later and I was in at the time. “Well Gladys what you been up to this time?” and read his report which had filtered through. “This is official and I have to do something”. “Fancy a cigarette?” said Dad to the Bobby and off they went up the garden. Some while later they came back in “Right Glad, I have given you a caution if any one asks and do not do it again” Mother suitably subdued “Yes” and winked at me. Bobby departed with a brown paper parcel of bacon in his pocket to last him a weeks breakfasts. Dad removed the Rotor arms from the cars and hid them and Mother was early from then on. It was the way things were done in the war and I add, Mother had never had a driving lesson and did not have a licence of any kind even though they were not issued during the war. I also add the brakes on the Chummy had a stopping distance of a supertanker in the North Sea. It ended up after the war on a farm being used as a tractor for some years, wish I still had it.

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  7. Well Frank, it wasn”t an 18 year old girl. Miss Foster told us we had to call her Mrs Mee. It”s a long time ago now but thinking back I would say dark hair, tallish, probably the height of Miss Foster. I don”t think that she was full time but only worked during the busy period when the Gazettes came in and did the counting and making up the rounds for us to deliver.

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  8. I think Bob it may well have been my Mother. I was away in the army from 1947 on and when the work at Goosepool dried up she could well of worked to help out at Miss Forster”s as she knew her very well. I do have a Sister Sylvia who would have been around 18 then, so which one was it? I have no recollection of either working there and Mother did end up-back at Goosepool for a year or so.

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  9. I was a Paperboy at Fosters Shop in 1950 and at that time there was a lady there by the name of Mee who lived in Mill Lane. Maybe your sister then?

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  10. “Whoa oop” I am afraid I was not married back then and for a good while after. My wife worked at the Yeast Factory as a secretary and then the Electricity Office. Both in Stockton and then Hartlepool. Who I ask is this mystery woman?

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  11. The coal merchant was Geldart and when he retired his son took over from him. I remember your wife working at Fosters shop when I was a paper boy there. The cart wheels that the Blacksmith worked on were made by a man called Whitehead who lived in the 1st house in Oakwell Road. His wife had the little sweet shop at the start of the High Street next to Harlands the Coblers.

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  12. For the 18 years I lived in Mill Lane off the Green the doors of the forge were facing the pond. The Blacksmith would put the iron rings onto the wooden cart wheels then run them into the pond still smoking and burning, the cold douch would shrink the iron tyre onto the wooden wheel. Dad would send his truck springs when they broke which was often. Horses were shoed whilst we all watched and I was a regular watcher as he worked, with his Daughters swinging the big hammers. The shop on the corner from the Blacksmith was Miss Forster who sold all the old fashioned sweets in paper packets. Round the corner was the barber Edgar Parsons until he went in the RAF and then Hawes Grocery shop. Over the road on the Green corner was the Butcher Billy Toulson and along that block was the Coal Merchant. Norton had a good shopping centre back then and we only went into Stockton for the stalls on market day or to go to the pictures.

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  13. My father George , who died November 2007, went into partnership with Fred Damm (no longer with us) taking over the smithy on Norton Green , then moved to Norton road next door to Hills Ltd. About 4 years later with J. Gibb flanges Ltd came into existence. A couple of years later they moved Flanges Ltd to Bluehouse Point Rd where it has been ever since.

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    • I worked for your dad, Fred Damm & Ken Gibbs dad John in 1966-1970 next to Hills woodyard & later moved to Blue House Point Road, Portrack I remember buying
      an old car off your dad.

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  14. When I was a young lad (of 10 in 1949) the doors to the smithy were on the front and overlooked the duck pond, the shop on the end to the right of the picture was a newsagents, Patterson’s if my memory serves me correct, the bank was round the corner in the middle of the row looking down Norton high street to the left was, and still is I believe Blackwell’s butchers (famous for it’s pies )

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  15. Fred Webster. Checking on the database for Norton Green you can see photographs of the Blacksmiths Shop with door at the front dating 1890. 1900. 1904. and 1951. In those days when the door was at the front the furnace inside the shop was alongside the gable end wall. Probably it changed round for safety reasons because a lot of the work was carried on outside the shop with horses and people would have to walk into the road to get past. The dangers would be the more use of the road with motor vehicles.

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  16. Living in Norton High Street close to the green in the early 50s/60s I can only remember the doors ever being on the side or gable end,the blacksmith”s name I believe was Samuelson and the German was called Damm, did not think he was the son in law but came from the camp near Carlton.Another young man also worked there at the time called Harker and they later took over the smithy under the name of Damm & Harker and then re- located to a workshop on Norton road near Hill”s.

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  17. Bob Irwin – Bob completely agree with you this must have been in the late 50″s or early 60″s. The whole block is white and I”m sure that during my time at the school, which became the fiends meeting house, this was not the case. The bay windows to the right were, I believe, originally a shop, which became a National Westminster bank branch.

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  18. I can never remember the doors being on the gable end of the building. They were at the front and overlooking the pond. The Smithy I believe was called Smithson, who”s son-in-law an ex German Prisoner of War worked with him and later took over the business. The horses were shod either inside the building or at the front. If you notice a concrete circle in front of the shop and on the floor. This was to hold cart wheels on while the Blacksmith heated the mettle hoop that surrounded the wooden wheel.. Whilst the hoop was red hot he would force it onto the wooden wheel using a large hammer. The Cartright who made the wheels was a man called Mr. Whitehead who worked from the back of his house in Oakwell Road. He also made the carts. Spent many an hour watching both men at work.

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  19. My maternal grandmother”s father worked here as a blacksmith. On my mother”s side my family goes back generations and most of them were christened, confirmed, married and buried in the nearby St Mary”s church.

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