The spitting image of Will Hay


KATH Brooks has plenty of great stories to tell about her grandfather.

She previously told us how he was the key witness in a murder trial.

Yet it seems her granddad John Hayes had another claim to fame. He was the double of the film star Will Hay. In fact, he was so alike, families would come to look at him!

Kath, born in Hartlepool, now living in Yorkshire, said John was an ironmonger by trade and lived in Hartlepool. Such was his desire for work that he would travel to Richmond for employment.

Kath added: “His mother came from the Richmond area and he would even go from Hartlepool to work in Richmond in his sixties, returning to Hartlepool at the weekend.

“I was in contact with a Richmond man who was an apprentice at Spence’s Ironmongers in Richmond when my grandfather worked there. He told me that John was the double of Will Hay who was a famous comedian and film star of the 1930s and 1940s.

“Women would bring their children in to see him. He was always very smart wearing a waistcoat and pocket watch.”

Kath added: “I have been researching my family history since 2006, and have made some good progress.”

But she still has some questions which need answering and local people ma6y be able to help.

Kath said: “I am interested in why my family came to Hartlepool as only my two grandfathers were actually born there.

“John Hayes (known as Jack) was my paternal grandfather, he was born in January 1881 and died in 1959. He was the son of an Irish brewer who came to Hartlepool between 1875-1877 but I don’t know if he was employed in Cameron’s brewery.”

As for Kath, she said: “I moved to Doncaster in 1975. I am a semi retired teacher but still have links to Hartlepool through my brother and his family.”

Anyone who can help Kath should contact Family Roots using the contact details in the panel opposite.