Strange discussions in Manhattan

Whitton's butchers
Whitton's butchers

THANKS for printing the photo of the Headland shops (Memory Lane, March 31) which brought back some happy memories for me.

The shops in the picture were in fact in Middlegate.

My dad, Arthur, owned the butcher’s shop at number seven, whilst Bill and Alma Davison owned the newsagent’s next door at number nine.

Dad started trading in 1975, taking over from Bill and Lil Robson who had retired after running the shop for many years.

He retired in 1993, with my brother Alan taking over.

Sadly my father had a short retirement and died in 1994.

As a teenager I earned my pocket-money by travelling over from ‘West’ after school on Fridays to help deliver orders, and then on Saturdays to help in the shop.

I had pretty mundane tasks, given my age, such as baking pies, pasties and ‘savoury ducks’ (faggots), preparing pease pudding, mince and sausage meat.

I hated scrubbing the wooden cutting block after the shop had closed!

In winter the shop was freezing cold to work in, especially if the wind was blowing in from the sea.

I also delivered orders to homes across the Headland.

The family names Broughton, Wrigley, Lancaster, Truefitt, Lister, Snowdon and McLelland immediately spring to mind.

I recall dropping orders off at the Fish Quay on to boats owned or skippered by the likes of Freddie Boagey, Norman Wallace and Jack Brunson.

The Headland was full of characters, and I got on really well with the local beat bobby, Ian Ferguson, who knew most – both good and bad!

He often spent his lunch break having a chat, a cup of tea and a ham sandwich in the back shop.

One of my strongest recollections was that of the coxswain of the lifeboat, Robbie Maiden senior who lived in Baptist Street, buying his weekend joint one Saturday, getting a call out, dropping all of his shopping on the floor and legging it out of the shop to respond!

I remember going over to the Town Wall to see our brand new lifeboat, The Scout, speed past with that courageous man at the helm. I had the greatest respect for him from that day on.

I chose a career outside of butchery but had a strange reminder of the shop when I was in New York City working on a Museum project in 2006 for The Expanded Metal Co.

I was in a queue in a shop and chatted to the guy in front, who happened to be from the East Midlands.

I was taken aback when he asked if I was from Hartlepool.

It transpired that he used to go fishing with the Holland family from the Headland, and he called at my dad’s shop to buy sandwiches beforehand.

I never dreamt that one day I’d be discussing Whitton’s pork sandwiches in the middle of Manhattan!

Paul Whitton,

Claremont Drive,

Hartlepool.