24 thoughts on “Head Wrightson Apprentice School Football Team

  1. I am sorry to hear that Rip Kirby passed away. I spent many a happy time with Ian at the Crusaders Ovington camp. He also helped me get through a serious rta when I was knocked down by a car on Durham Road. He used to come and take me out to give my mam a break. R.I.P Rip, I’ve very good memories of you.

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  2. I was born in 1963 some time after this photo, but I do remember Ian Kirby, Sylvia his wife and three daughters Amanda, Elizabeth and Juliet. Ian ran the Crusaders group in Stockton Baptist Church and I went to Crusader Camp with him over a period of 3 years. We played football every week (Friday?) in The Grange School girls Gym. Ian was the most honest and kind person I have ever met and his attitude remains a strong influence over me even though I haven’t seen him since last century.

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  3. I’m also very sorry to hear that Rip Kirby has passed on and I fully agree with Benny its hard to believe that HW history has all gone down the pan. A few forward looking people when HW finally close down obtained most of the drawings from Teesdale DO and set up a business selling spares drawing copies to firms all over the world and with the training centre keeping the original phone number a number calls came to me and I managed to get a couple of bottles for passing on details to the new HW supplies office.

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  4. Sorry to hear that Rip Kirby had died, that makes three of that Apprentices team of 1952 who have passed away, the others being that I know of Kenny Milburn a very clever Boiler maker, and Eddie Highfield another one with whom I spent time at Stockton Technical College – both being very good footballers. Does any one know of any of the others in the team and their history over the past 58 years? I would like to get in touch with Harry Hall or Happy Hall as we knew him. I know Chas Pickering is living in Saltburn. I played cricket with Chas for Stockton Cricket Club. I will be visiting Teesside end of May until early August, anyone who would like to contact me for a beer and a chat can get my e-mail from the Stockton team. I find it hard to believe that the history of Head Wrightsons would not have been carefully preserved as they were one of the outstanding British Engineering companies in the World.

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  5. Bob a couple more names spring to mind – Freddy Maglouglan? who ended up as a directer in the foundry and Johnny Wilkinson who ended up at Heads Billingham foundry. Both of these lads served their time at Stockton Steel Foundry in the pattern shop as patternmakers under the Forman Billy Hopper. Both lads, as they were then, helped me to settle down in my new surroundings when I left Croswaites foundry in Thornaby to work for the next 15years at Oxbridge. Both Freddy and John became my(?) apprentices till they both left to go to college and return as trainee managers and later in Freds case a Directer of the company. I don’t remember the chap from the Cliffe – Sorry.

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  6. I’m sure I’ve seen Ian Kirby in the last 3 years or so. Ken do you remember at the same time as Ian was a trainee foundry manager at Stockton Steel, there was a lad at Eaglescliffe doing the same thing. He was in the apprentice school with me. He was ginger haired. Age catching up on me for naming some people.

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  7. I remember Ian(Rip) Kirby when he was working at Stockton Steel Foundry as a trainee manager after attending the Foundry trainimg college for a couple of years. I can always remember Rip travelling up and down the tracks in the overhead crane shouting ‘I’m going to be a manager’, he had just recived his exam results. The last time I saw Ian was when he was visiting his late wife in hospital. Is Ian still with us Anon?

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  8. The Head Wrightsons Inter-Departmental football competition had some characters, does anybody remember the German P.O.W. Willie Steiz who played for Eaglescliffe Foundry? You could see he had played at a good level of football & held his own with the young tough players. He later came to work in the Bridgeyard, Thornaby.

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  9. Len. You are right. There was not much interest when I was an under 18 year old. We just managed to get a team together for the Maintenance Dept. In fact when we played we had 2 men short. It took a lot of work to get the team together even getting players from other departments. With all the ex HW”s employees on this site we could have a good “get together” and talk of old times. After 45 years I still get in touch with old workmates from HW”s. Remember Benny Harle, nearly 90 and still going strong.

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  10. Bob & Ken the reason I queried this is that there was a Junior Inter-Departmental competition for under 18 years old,the competition folded after 1958,due to lack of interest,so it might have started in 1952.

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  11. Bob.I can remember being at school watching my dad play in the HW Inter Competition so the cup has been on the go for a lot of years.I also played when I worked at Stockton Steel.but did”nt do very well. We at the time of the demolition of the old canteen and training centre offices were not allowed to touch anything in the buildings on threat of dismissal and prosecution.Old photos and all kinds of papers etc relating to the history of the company from day one. A great loss.

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  12. Ken Rhodes.It appears that it has never been any different regarding getting rid of the past history. HW bought out the offices and ground of the old Richardson Ducks property. We as Joiners were clearing out with the Erectors the laying out Loft. There were a number of models of ships that they had built. I asked for one of these models but was refused. They were dumped and set fire to with other things. Probably I could have been the owner of some of the Richardson Ducks memos. At that time probably some of these items could have been passed onto local Museums,

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  13. Hi Len. Attached to the photo which was in the “Remember When” magazine was a write up together with the names of team members. It mentions, quote, “50 Years Ago. Half a century has elapsed since these Head Wrightson apprentices lined up as first winners of the Inter Departmental Cup”. (I do not have the “Remember When” magazine now, only the photo so the year could be 1952). It could mean that they were the first juniors to win the Senior Cup or it was the first time the competition had been run. I think that it was the 1951-52 Apprentice School year so the competition would have been held in 1952. Does this answer your query Len?

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  14. Len, Bob, as the old song goes,I may be right, I may be wrong but I think I remember some old trophies being thrown out when we closed the old HW Training Centre down and moved to a new centre on the Bon Lea Trading Estate.We were the last part of HW to leave the Tessdale site so the Inter Dept Cup may have been dumped.We tried to save old papers etc before it was demolished but the buildings had been sold to a company who were removing all the equipment from the canteen and they locked the buildings up and stopped us from taking lots of old items from the building.Shame.Happy New Year to everybody.

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  15. Hi Len. This picture is a copy from the “Remember When” magazine and was submitted by Charlie Pickering. He stated that it was this team that did win the “Inter Departmental Cup”. I spoke to him later mentioning this and he did confirm that it was right. I also passed this photo onto Benny Brown in Melbourne Australia who was the Captain of the Team. He replied with the same answer and stated that he had the actual photograph. Benny will probably tell you where the missing cup was.

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  16. Bob are you sure this team were winners and not runners up to the Bridgeyard in 1951,the players all have mementoes but where”s the Inter-Departmental Cup.

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  17. How right you are Bob, the young apprentices must have played out of their socks throughout the tournament to play against people a lot older and stronger than themselves. I knew both of Tate boys but I did”nt know that Ian Kirby played football. Harry Soppett was known to stand to attention when speaking to John Wrightson or John Eccles on the telephone so Ican believe the tale about the cabin fire

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  18. Ken. When you look at the team and realise that these boys were only in the Apprentice School and were only 15 and 16 year olds playing against men, it is quite an achievement. I don”t know whether you realise that Eric Tate was the brother of Les Tate the Richard Hind and Town Goalkeeper. He was also a keeper but played in a different position in this team. Probably Benny Brown a contributer to this site could fill you in on any more info. Harry Soppett if you remember was also the Fire Chief at HW. Funny story about Harry. An Erectors cabin placed behind the Joiners Shop caught fire. Our machinist phoned Harry, and he said, “How bad is it”. The Machinist replied. Don”t worry Harry we”ll keep it going with Naptha until you arrive”. Harry replied, “Don”t do that for heavens sake”.

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  19. Bob, Eddie Highfield on this team is not the person I thought it was but I do regonise Ian Kirby, Eric Tate and Benny and of course my late Boss Harry Soppett a very nice man and a fellow Patternmaker.It must have been a very good team to beat some of the teams in HW Inter Dept Cup because there was plenty of good players at HW in other departments and a lot of cloggers as well.

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  20. This is the team of Head Wrightsons Apprentice School that won the Departmental Cup in 1951.Team as follows:-Back row. Jim Rickleton. Trainer. Unidentified.. Kenny Burns. Harry Hall. Ian Kirby. Ron Craggs. Ken Milburn. Paul Skelton. Harry Soppett head of Apprentice School). Bob Summers (Teacher). Front Row. Eddie Highfield. Len Walker. Benny Brown (Captain). Eric Tate. Charlie Pickering. For the attention of Ken Rhodes…. Eddie Highfield is 1st left front row.

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