MEMORY LANE: Hartlepool emigrants came home for a decent bag of chips

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FOR the first time in 25 years four Hartlepudlians returned to their home town to be met with a welcome fit for royalty.

Cheers and union jack flags greeted brothers Harold and George Doyle and their wives Olive and Audrey when they arrived at Teesside Airport from Sydney.

The couple went down under in 1950 to find new lives for themselves.

Harold and George, who had trained as boilermakers at a Hartlepool shipyard, carried on the trade so successfully in Sydney that they returned as owners of their own company, Longhill Boilermakers, named after their birthplace.

“We had a fantastic reception,” George told the Mail.

“There were people from all over the place who remembered us and we had a real celebration.”

They stayed with Harold and George’s sister and her husband, Margaret and Thomas Whitehead, of Campbell Raod, Hartlepool, and said they were enjoying their visit so much they were reluctant to go back.

“The only thing we miss is the sun,” admitted Harold.

“It’s perishing over here. I don’t know how I ever stood it.”

On reflection, it wasn’t just the sun, with Harold also missing the clear atmosphere of Sydney.

“There’s never any smog or anything like that, and the air is much cleaner.”

A third thing they missed was Australian beer: “English beer tastes like water.

“Australian beer is much stronger than the stuff over here and it’s kept at exactly 36F (2.2C).

“One degree over and it goes straight back.”

But the fish and chips at the Doyles’ unnamed favourite Hartlepool chip shop were still “the best in the world”.

“Australian chips are awful,” said Harold. “They are cooked the night before and heated up so most of the flavour is lost.”

Amazingly, though they had travelled half-way around the world there was another Hartlepool couple living six doors away from them in Sydney.

And, said Audrey, they were talking in the club to an old woman who said her daughter was living in Sydney, and that’s who it was.

“It’s a small world,” she remarked.

George concluded: “It’s going to be a real wrench leaving Hartlepool.

“After all we grew up here and all our happiest memories are linked with the town.”

Email andrew.levett@jpress.co.uk or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.