Norton Sandpits

t9600This is a photograph of the Sandpits from the Mill Lane gate. This photograph was taken in February 1950 by Frank Mee from a ladder up against the inside wall of his garden at 5 Mill Lane. The wall was 10 feet high at the time and although the wall still exists it has been lowered since the house was built in what was once Franks garden.

11 thoughts on “Norton Sandpits

  1. A bit about the Sand-Pit “Show-Field”. Sand and Gravel extracted for over 600 years in the making of Norton Brick. A Church concern known as “Our Lady Kiln from the 1400, it supplied walls “buildings and structures, including Crux-Barn, now Crooks-Barn In 1540 it was seized by Henry VIII agents and sold becoming The Lady Kiln , the kiln being on the site of the present “Chesterfield-House”. A number of late 1600, 1700 houses in the village have these bricks , the most visble is the North wall of Blackwell the Bakers , originally “Town- Ship Farm”. Another of these Sand pits is in Darlington Lane, now flats. I sledged over “Devils-Dip” and still have the scars on my right leg to prove it on in parting company with the Works-made (Head-Wrightson “Forge”) sled my leg caught one of the hand hold runners, result 4 stiches, but I was back as long as the snow lasted , but not the “D D” run

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  2. This photo revives many memories to me,I spent many happy hours in the showfield in younger days,as I have mentioned in a previous comment,the top field was Norton rugby club and it boasted a wooden grandstand. In the top right hand corner of the photo there was a gate which led to Norton Tykes cricket field. My grandparents lived in Hermitage place and the house is still there. When the shows were at the showfield it used to draw hundreds of people.

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  3. The banks in that field were the playground for lots of Norton kids and on bank holidays would be full of people from Stockton as they had their picnic”s. They came off the buses and trooped up to the Sandpits, Showfield, and flooded the green. Egg rolling at Easter on the banks meant there was not much left to eat after they had bounced to the bottom. Then they all got back on the bus and went home until the next bank holiday. My sledge was also home made by Dad and the runners got a good polish when snow was due. We only saw the posh custom made sledges when the toffs came for their exercise. It was a good place for exploding bottles with water and carbide, making home made gunpowder packed cardboard tubes explode and setting fire to the black powder we took from rifle rounds after removing the bullet with pliers. How we managed to live beyond sixteen I have no idea. Some of us snatched our first kiss with our holding hands sweethearts at the back of those fields, what inocent times they were. The area was a safe and healthy playground which shaped our early years, like everything else we took for granted it has gone, what a pity.

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    • Thank you for your memories Mr. Mee. I would never have thought my father (Ken Sheraton) would do such a thing as mess with exploding bottles and use gunpowder. He was very self-assured, I know that. What fun you had together!

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  4. On the very right of this picture under the dark shaded tree was a hump and if you had a good sledge after hitting the hump you finished up crashing into the fence belonging to Manfield House. To the left of the picture and out of sight was another hump but you could sledge right through it to the other side. It was tackled from both sides of the gradients. It was called “Devils Dip.” I believe some people called the other hump “Devils Dip”. I wonder who was correct? You had to be brave to tackle either one.

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  5. Frank, I think you must have lived very close to the Seaward family they were certainly there until 1950. Mr Seaward was a “Radio Ham” who had been allowed to keep hi reciever during the war it was his part time occupation to listen for U-Boats in the North Sea! He was also an elecrical engineer for ICI and a very clever chap. To extend the story of sledging in the showfield/sandpit, when I was in my teens I loaned my sledge which was called “Silver Arrow” to little girl who did not have one, it never came back to me or was even mentioned. Pity because my Dad made it for me. God Bless him.

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  6. This photograph has a special place in my memory. It was a typical snowy winter and the field was a busy site with so many sledges. I only had a home made sledge where the sides had been angled but not rounded. I hit the hump which most of us used for extra excitement – the runners dug in and I shot off the front scrapeing my chin over the ice. Not very comfortable I can assure you. We did not stop sledging, but I rounded of the wooden sides and reshaped the metal runners to fit. Thats what you learned by watching the blacksmith on Norton Green. I later used to take horses to Mr Samuelson for shoeing for Jack Nicholson, oh happy days.

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  7. Most people called the Sandpits the Showfield. The path leading up the bank went to the Tykes cricket field. At the top of the banks were two top fields and the the one furthest to the left of the picture was the showfield this had a vehicle entrance from Station Road past Woodbine house. We spent hours sledging on those banks in winter and as our garden backed onto the Sandpits I just went out of the back gate. The sandpits have been filled in and are now the Redhouse School playing fields. The ring road to Billingham now runs where the Showfield once was and houses built on the rest across that road. None of the sand pits (pots) now exist, it was filled in and levelled to make the Red House School playing field and the ring road runs across what was the Showfield and the field that the Tykes played cricket on. The picture would be taken in 1950 and as I had my birthday in February that will date it fairly accurately, we did have late snow that year.

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    • Thank you very much for sharing your photo and explaining the area the Showfield covered, Mr. Mee. It would seem that the site of my father’s house at 2 Curlew Lane on Crooksbarn would have been part of the Showfield where you both played as children. I remember taking a walk with my father’s family across Billingham Bottoms and the 99 steps, returning via Station Road. (In those days as a child I was not allowed in the Station pub so everyone gave up on the idea of a quick drink.) As we got to the end of Station Road we saw the building site of the roundabout and the Ring Road – deserted with no traffic as we walked round the roundabout on the site of the new road towards The Green on a quiet sunny Sunday.

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      • Sarah, Your Dad ken and I were of another age and like minded to boot. When we lucky enough to have parents who could afford the school uniforms and kit needed for High School got there we had Chemistry and that was hands on, we were taught how to make stink bombs, fireworks, how to handle expanding gases such as Carbide with a drop of water in a sealed bottle and Ice Cream. No H&S so Ken and I in dads garage filing different metals for the coloured sparks in fireworks which we made ourselves the gunpowder being only three easily obtained ingredients was to us normal. We also found that a short piece of pipe filled with powder and plugged at each end made a resounding bang when a short fuse made of string soaked in a chemical and dried then lit, leave at speed went off. We often got told off but it was practicing what we were taught, (homework).
        We roamed those fields and woods, the willow garthe and 99 steps, would you be allowed to cross a live rail; track today? We were free once outside and that was most of the time. We wandered around the Kendrew building site picked up lead made fires and moulded things by pressing something in sand then pouring the molten lead in it, I would imagine H&S being apoplectic about now but we grew up with a wide field of skills todays children can never have.
        I remember coming home after nearly three years away, we got of the boat handed in our Desert gear and were issued Canadian uniforms American shirts and Brown boots also American, given a pass and home on 14 days leave. I went onto the Green all dolled up we were not allowed to wear civvi’s and not a soul in site,. Into the High Street, a woman pushing a pram said hello Philip it took a while to recognise a girl I had danced with even kissed and she was not the only one, everything had moved on and many people had left.
        In the Pub that night I met Ken, big welcome, at last a face that had not changed, Me, I am off to the dance are you coming? only if I want my throat cut said Ken Jean and I are married.
        The Norton I knew had grown up in had moved on in my absence, I returned to my unit early because that had become what I knew.
        Frank.

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