14 thoughts on “The Sheraton family, Billingham

  1. You brought a memory back there Bob, WD Cartridges. Dad could get hold of them for some reason and gave them to Uncle Arthur who had the farm. Dad also often transported loads of brass cartridge cases of all sizes to a place to be melted down. He would put the truck in the garage overnight ready for an early start next day. An ideal time for me to scramble among them on the back of the truck to find the odd unfired blank. They made a lovely noise when held in a vice and hit on the end with a nail and hammer. We could also open them and take out the black powder to experiment with down the Mill or in the Showfield. It makes me wonder how any of us managed to live through the war when I look back at the things we got up to. That Catapult of Dads was something else. Solid elastic and metal frame, with the lead shot he was deadly, we would walk the warren with shotguns and he would get the rabbits. Of course we had been ordered by Aunt Mabel to shoot them in the head, she did not want shot in the pie, a bit difficult with a running rabbit.

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  2. You keep pulling at the memory strings Frank. Sad times when you lost your best marble down the grate. To get over this we had the perfect marble (allie) pitch between the 3 trees in Ragworth Place. No grates nearby. Also the lead balls. My Grandfather a keen shot with the 12 bore. He managed to get the WD 12 bore cartridges. He had a machine to compress the shot into the cartridge after we had removed the lead ball from the cartridge. As you say they were perfect ammo for the catapult.

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  3. The love of Norton Green seems to be inherent in those who lived played courted on or around it. I often took my little Westie on the green for a walk along the Mill Lane to look at the house I spent many years living in and the memories of those good fun days in the Show field no longer there, the Mill, no longer there and my first real kiss with Elsey, still around so no names. Benji and I would share a hot pie sitting on a seat on the green and it was like a time warp. I could hear the voices, see the lads and lasses as we played our games, roller skated, rode our bikes or just sitting on the grass in the sun well away from the smell of the smoke screen generators. We discussed major issues such as who had the best marble collection, they changed hands many times as we played Motty along the path. People objected to us scouring three holes in the path in line for the allies as we called them to drop into, dangerous in the black out. Bradbury Road with its banks was ideal for the roller skates, we all had them and in those days of steel wheels were never off them again in season, every game had its season from whip and top to cricket and football. There was one problem, the paves in Bradbury road for some reason had small indentations and as we belted down the bank the wheels started to scream sounding much like the air raid warning as we got up to speed then slowed down. We got quite a few tellings off and the odd clip on the ear, Ken with his cheeky grin often getting the abuse as it looked as if he was mocking the one giving us an ear full, we never ran, it was all together good or bad. The building site was wonderful for us to play on. Hide and seek in the part built walls up and down the scaffold with no hand rails in those days and then we discovered you could melt lead from the buildings and make moulds to shape it, out of the puddled clay they used on site. I started it because dad and I would melt lead pour it into a hole on a hand held mould dip it in water then open it to get a perfectly round ball for Dads catapult. A big heavy thing he used to kill rabbits with for the pot, he often came back with a brace of rabbits he had shot hanging off the cab of the truck. So with an old tin and a fire we would put scraps of lead in the tin over the fire melt it and by pressing some object in the clay then pouring the lead into the mould get something we would keep in our pockets until it caused a hole and fell out, another clip from Mother as she sewed the hole yet again. A few years back a BBC camera crew came up from London to do an interview about VE day and the war from a young lads point of view, some four hours later they pictured me on the Green supposedly remembering those long gone days, only I was remembering as I walked down to the pond pausing whilst they changed the camera angle. The girl directing the film at one stop had to wipe an odd tear from my cheek as it had all come back. It all seems like yesterday, probably because the war and its horrors engraved the period in our memory. An idyllic time for us kids in an awful time for our parents, not many of us left to remember it.

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  4. Thank you again Mr Mee. For many years my Dad walked our Golden Retriever dog, Belle, down the Mill Lane track alongside the ring road and down to Billingham Bottoms. You have just brought alive for me my Dad’s own memories and I cannot thank you enough. These are things he never told me, although I do know he had a great fondness for the Green where he said he met my mother in the gang “properly.” I fulfilled his last wishes and surreptitiously sprinkled his and my mother’s ashes on the green. This just shows he was romantic and I love him for it. Again you made me smile.

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  5. I can only tell things as I saw them Sarah, growing up in the company of so many boys and girls from the area was a wonderful training ground for tolerance. We fitted in, what we did at a particular time was usually what the majority wanted to do and the rest following without too much argument. We were thrown together at a time when the grown ups had too much to do and too many other worries to curtail our freedom. Our time was from the start of Kendrew building his estate to my leaving for the army in 1947 a period of ten to twelve years of constant togetherness, some lucky escapes and the constant scrapes kids get up to. Ken very nearly got us both killed in one such scrape. We could get our hands on Carbide powder used for acetylene lamps and torches back then. Digging a hole putting a milk bottle in it with a drop of water in the bottle, then put some carbide powder in the bottle, seal the top with a plug of clay and retiring to wait produced a loud bang and and a fountain of glass soil and clay into the air. Ken came up with a better one, a Lowcocks screw top lemonade bottle, put in water and carbide powder screw top back on and throw in the Show-field then wait, one huge bang and glass all over the place. We got just a bit too close one night and had used just a bit too much carbide powder, I do remember glass flying past my head and luckily we had both turned away as it went up. Our next discovery was that we could make our own gunpowder with charcoal saltpetre and sulphur, that produced some lovely bangs and some right telling offs for frightening people. Boys and girls mixed as equals played all the games as they came into season together, rode our bikes out for country picnics together and in the gentle ways of the time did a little courting together. Holding hands sweethearts we called them as that was all we did, the odd dry kiss during a party game was something you remembered, (thank you Christine) and those long Sunday night walks down the Mill when we held hands talked but always as the group. We danced at Church hall and the odd school dance, the Army Cadets and the Scouts held dances in the William Newton hall, we all went. Then progressed to the big time, Palais Maison and Jubilee Hall, gloriously wonderful times of freedom and togetherness. Meeting on the green walking to Stockton, dancing the night away then walking home with a stop at the Regal Fish shop eating fish, chips and scraps as we walked up the High Street to the green. The girls Dads would be waiting for us and we would disperse to our beds happy contented lads and lasses. Simple pleasures, wonderful memories. I wonder what today’s youngsters will remember.

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  6. As a boy at the home games (late 40’s) it was a race to who manned the scoreboard. The runs were shouted from the main scores who were in a small room that was accessed from a ladder inside the pavilion and the opening was like dormer window. The numbers were on small metal boards and hung on hooks on the main board. We got a free tea at the interval but only after the main serving and also the cricketers.

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  7. Yes, my father Ken, right, was involved with Norton Cricket Club for most of his life, enjoying socializing most evenings with friends there. He did tell me that he used to get paid a little money as a child there by keeping the scoreboard right. He was the Branch Manager of Abbey National in Stockton, yes. He was a founder member of ANSA, the Abbey National Staff Association (Union) and spent many days in London meeting with Abbey National’s top bosses, negotiating. So he belonged on both sides of the fence – boss and staff. He told me that he preferred to stay in Stockton rather than take a regional post he’d been offered as promotion and in Stockton on Friday afternoons, the staff would bring the cheques to be signed around the corner to the pub for him to sign as senior staff enjoyed a “long lunch” there! (Another thing you wouldn’t see nowadays.) Mr Mee, I thank you again for your kind words and fascinating account of your childhood with my Dad. Your words:”Ken I remember as a friend from my boyhood who never had a bad word for any one.” are very special and true for me. On the day of his funeral, St. Mary’s Church in Norton was packed – standing room only – which only goes to prove what a popular man he still was at the age of 76, with all generations. If you search the Picture Stockton site for Sheraton you will find other photos of our family which were taken by my Dad. Even though he is gone I still have happy, proud and precious memories of him.

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  8. A wonderful recount of life of the past, why have we allowed such days to be thrown away with our Heritage which was indeed fought for by OUR friends and loved ones. I have said before, the wars touched everybody – and we all made sacrifices to win them. I am a realist, not a pessimist and unless some common sense is brought to bear now, this former Great Country will be lost forever.

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  9. What a great story, I was not even a twinkle in my dads eye during the war but remember games of the like when I was growing up in the 70″s. Isn”t this one of the reasons why our fathers and grandfathers went to fight in the war, so that we could still experience the privelages, freedoms and maintain the some of the things that essentially can be described as British, like cricket in the park, I think so! Great story!!!

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  10. The Catch. Place Norton Village Green, Date Summer 1943. Time evening. A warm summer evening and we lads were on the green with the cricket pitch set up and a game in full flow. We had come from our various schools by bus then changed from uniform to our short trousers and play shirts the outside summer uniform for lads. We then did our chores before sitting down to a family meal and after clearing away, hearing the six o clock news which was a must for us as we talked through every move made on both sides, we could tell the generals a thing or two. So the evening was now ours. Cricket was a very serious game to us and although it was wartime the local cricket club still played in a local league, us scamps played on the green.The pitch was slightly sloped and tilted slightly too, the grass although well worn with our continuous play was longer than it should be. We had a selection of bats, the stumps were two different sets so one set slightly taller than the other, that was it, no pads hard hats shin guards face cages or gloves. The ball was a well worn full size cricket ball heavy and hard, catch it wrongly and you suffered. We always had about twelve lads who all fielded, we knew our turn to bat and no one cheated, if you went out for a duck hard luck you had to wait for the second innings.There were seats all around the green always full of men and women out for an evenings fresh air. Courting couples would be walking up and down the green and then head down the old mill lane to the beck and the willow Garth a local trysting place, so we had a full audience often shouting advice or well caught, even you great butterfingered clown on occasion. This game was going to be different.I was keeping wicket Billy was bowling and Ray batting. Billy had bowled several slow lifters, the ball hit the centre of the pitch and lofted so the batsman caught it with the top edge straight into my hands or the bottom edge straight onto the stumps. Between us we had decimated the batsmen and now Ray the big hitter was in.The first ball went straight over the heads of the people sitting on the nearest seat who had all ducked in unison, the second one went down the road almost catching the bus to North Ormsby standing at the terminus. Then came one of those moments when time stops, everything happens in slow motion and everyone on that green held their breath Billy sent a fast one. Ray stepped forward and gave a big double arm smack to the ball getting it right off the tip of the bat. The ball went straight up in the air, up and up, ray stopped running to watch as Ken Sheraten ran to the centre of the wicket and stood there with his hands cupped and still it went up, I had never seen a cricket ball go so high.It slowly turned in the air and started to speed up as it came down, Ken stood his ground and I heard someone say sixpence if you hold it.We all heard the thwack as it came into kens hand but then it went straight back up as he hurled it away, he had held the catch and the cheering must have been heard for miles. Ken was holding his hands under his arm pits as we all slapped him on the back. The chap who had said sixpence if you hold it gave him the money and as he held his hand out it was red and sore. So legends are made. For years after some one would say remember the catch and we would all talk about it again. Ken remembered it as he could not hold anything for a week. Ken had committed and he was not backing out, he made the catch and was cheered heartily by all for doing so. That was how we played our games then it was all or nothing. I have painted a scene that probably never happens now in the days of ipods, game boys and computers. Ken made one of the greatest catches I ever saw and he was only fourteen. It was a different time and a war was raging but on a peaceful summers evening we played a memorable game of cricket, war was not all hell. I remember writing this when Sarah prompted memories but do not remember posting it on the site, if it is too long or not suitable edit it or wipe it. Frank. ….. (Thanks Frank for a lovely story well told – the PS team)

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  11. Yes that is Ken, he had that cheeky smile up to the last time I saw him out shopping. I remember them all coming as Kendrew built the new houses in Mill Lane then on the old Norton House site, Bradbury Road and Down Cottersloe plus the roads off. £450 for a three bedroom £550 for a four with garage. We formed a solid clan of boys and girls who did everything together, this was at a time everything for kids was outside the house, inside was for eating and sleeping. We had a very good Green cricket team, roller skates, ball games marbles you name it we all did it. Most of us got bikes at Christmas 1938-39, our parents must have known what was coming and decided on one last good Christmas. I got a Hercules £4/19/6 which would equal around £250 these days. We would all ride up the country lanes in a group, no problems in those seemingly safer times. The fields and lanes were our playground, we had a freedom unknown now. There were very few cars around but we had two as well as a truck so had days away at the sea side often taking some of the gang with us if there was room. It all carried on until I went in the army in 1947, as we got older we all went dancing together still met up on the green for a game of cricket or ball, we shared girl friends and had holding hands sweethearts, that was the limit of expectations then. It was much less frenetic, we grew at a slower rate but like good wine we matured slowly. I went abroad with the army coming back late 1949 on leave and found it all changed. I met Ken in the Top house on the green and over a pint or two he filled me in on who had married who and how they had all gone their own ways, our old gang had gone. Over the years we saw each other and passed the time of day over a pint always talking about those halcyon days which at the time we had not realised what we had. I walk the green now and again and see those faces, hear the laughter, the shouts of well caught or got a hole in your hands? Ken was one of the few that kept meeting over the years, many went off the map. Last year I bumped into one of my old girlfriends from that time after over 60 years, it was instant recognition, she had just moved back from the South coast, some of us do come home again. Ken I remember as a friend from my boyhood who never had a bad word for any one.

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  12. Ken Sheraton was a nice man, I knew him as a “regular” at The Station Tavern in Norton (now The Norton Tavern). It was in this pub that Ken brought all the neccessary paperwork for me to open a savings account with the Abbey National. The forms were signed there and then at a table in the lounge bar, I doubt that could happen today.

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  13. Ken Sheraton was a well known & respected member of Norton Cricket Club(Social Section).He was also a top man in the Abbey National Building Society Organization.

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  14. I recognize the woman and boy both on the right as my Grandmother Ann(ie), known as Nancy Sheraton (nee Dean) and her son, my father, Kenneth Sheraton b.12/05/29 d.27/05/05. I will consult family to identify the others – I believe it could be my Nana Sheraton”s mother and one of Nancy”s sisters plus a cousin of my Dad. We have other photos taken on the same day. Imperial Avenue, Billingham circa mid 1930″s.

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