Housing Development in Thornaby, 1954

Bricklayers from Thornaby contractors Coultas and Shaw working on Belvedere Road, Thornaby in 1954. Second from Left is Denis Riordan of Westbury Street and second right is Alf Bayles of Thornaby Road whose niece Ann Peterson has preserved his remarkable album of snapshots.

Courtesy of Derek Smith.

7 thoughts on “Housing Development in Thornaby, 1954

  1. It is remarkable that the man on the right is wearing a “bib and brace”, standard attire for building tradesmen of the period(?), but underneath has a waistcoat and collar and tie.
    Somewhere I have a similar photograph of my dad a Norton man who served his apprenticeship with John Fletcher of Norton, showing him and his workmates working on a council house project in Bristol in the early 1930’s. He also is, trowel in hand, formally dressed in collar and tie. I wonder when, and why, this formal dress became fashionable for building tradesmen, and why it ceased to be so.
    David R. Thompson


    • David, simple really, he would be the Tradesman on the job the others his labourers, Hod carriers. It was a class system where a trade was supposedly higher in the strata and also better paid. It was the days when a Bus Driver was also a trade and they also wore collar and tie to work complete with uniform, a Tradesman’s uniform was the Bib and Brace. The same Hierarchy was in place when I started to serve my time in 1945. My mentor Old Pa Forrester would arrive at work wearing a collar and tie, he would take them off while we worked then put them back on to go home, he would never have dreamt of leaving or returning home without his tie on.
      A chap who came from Darlington would arrive in Plus Fours with his sandwiches in a document case strip into overalls work all day then go home spotless, we had no showers in those days so how did he manage that.
      It was a pride in what they had achieved in a time of hardship and no education after 14 for most apart from Night School which we all attended in our own time if we wanted to succeed.
      As I told my Grandson a different time with different values and a work ethic bred into us, what happened I ask?


      • When I started work as an apprentice joiner it was bib a brace overall but someone didn’t tell my mother about the colours. The foreman wore brown bib and brace and my mother bought brown ones for me. I was like a foreman apprentice.


        • We do not know for sure Anon, they worked in gangs as they do today. There would be a mixer, no cement truck deliveries at that time, a Hod carrier to bring the bricks and stack them and a mate to hand the Trademan bricks hold lines and help stack the bricks to make it easy for the layer. I saw plenty of it as I went everywhere with Dad in his truck mainly Kendrew building around the green delivering bricks. The helpers would stack the bricks as we hand balled them off the truck, no fork lifts either and you could not tip them as they would break, they were handballed on as well at St Ann’s brick works.
          Serving my time everyone from the Blacksmith to the Marker off wore bib and brace, blue ones Bob, we did not want to join the brown jobs. Some of the tradesmen brought them to work carrying them, some changed at work it was only us scaly wags who dirtied the bus seats by wearing them to and from work.
          Until well after the war a Foreman had a suit collar and tie plus Bowler hat and ruled his patch, he would also hire and fire, do Dole or compensation and that was still in force even when I was an apprentice. Hard times Anon.


  2. My aunty lived at 157 Westbury St. and I remember the Riordans lived next door I think Dennis was a friend of my uncle Roland who lived at 141 he was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1948.


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