Pre War School Report, St. John’s School

I’ve recently been looking through some family papers and I’ve found a school report going back to the summer term of 1939. It’s from St John’s School, Billingham and concerns my late mum Doreen Birtle nee Wright. She was doing well as her class position of 3rd out of 43 indicates.

Strangely the only subject in which she topped the class was in Nature Studies. Well the years passed and in 2001 Doreen was very proud when her granddaughter was awarded a first class degree from Cambridge University. In Natural Sciences of course.

Photograph and details courtesy of Martin Birtle.

Two County Cricketers at Norton, 1949

This photograph was taken at Norton Cricket field in 1949. It shows my father Tom Birtle on the left with his good friend Jack Fox. Tom was an opening bowler and Jack (or Jackie as he was often called) was the wicket keeper. They combined to take many wickets for the Norton club over the years.

They both played Durham in minor counties cricket and in time they both played first class cricket Tom for Nottinghamshire and Jack for Warwickshire. Jack must have kept himself very fit as he was playing for Devon as late as 1968. He was a joiner and spent many years in Devon.

Photograph and details courtesy of Martin Birtle.

Talk of the Town c1946

40 year old Jess Yates at the Odeon Stockton’s Compton Organ accompanies a dance troupe in 1946. Far right is Nancy Skelton (nee Brigham) who the photograph belongs to. Nancy is part of the Audrey Bailey Dance School who with others are doing Sunday rehearsals at the Cinema for a spot to promote the film “Talk of the Town”. Nancy later had a successful career as a singer and toured with the Kay sisters for a while, her father Eric Brigham ran the Alma Hotel and later the Bridge Hotel in Thornaby. Jess Yates was then touring Rank cinemas as a circuit organist before moving into television production during the 1950’s.

Photograph courtesy of Nancy Skelton, details courtesy of Derek Smith.

Richard Hind School Hike to the Lake District

Langdale Fells, chosen by us instead of The Great Yorkshire Show. My first visit to the Lakes which set my love of the place, health and safety non existent, I wore an old pair of dads steel capped work boots that didn’t fit too well and my waterproof was a yellow cycle cape, and when the rain came I was like a walking yellow funnel! The girls wore their hockey boots. Seated are Pete O’Connor, Norman Hill, Catherine Bell and Liz Hindmarsh. Standing are Barry Moss and Mr Humble the Art Teacher.

Photograph and details courtesy of Norman Hill.

Working Offshore on the Brent Delta

In 1977 I had a year offshore working as a materials controller on the Brent Delta oil rig. The company I worked for was called Vauldale Engineers based at Portrack in Stockton. They had the contract to supply the Electrical installations for the oil rig. Many of the chaps I worked with came from the Stockton area.

Turn the clock forward 40 years and the now redundant Brent Delta was towed to Hartlepool to be scrapped at the Able Wharf facility. All 24000 tons of it. They were saying there would be a 97% recycling rate for this tonnage. These two pictures show the rig in position in the North Sea. Moored next to it was the accommodation barge the Nortrym. Normally attached to the Brent Delta by the clearly seen bridge the Nortrym only moved away during stormy weather. I recall spending a night or two sleeping on the floor of the Brent Delta. You had to use your boots as a pillow or they could ”walk” during the night.

Photographs and details courtesy of Martin Birtle.