Expat fondly recalls growing up in 1940s Hartlepool

Former Hartlepool man Joe Richmond enjoys life in Western Australia these days.

Wednesday, 31st August 2016, 10:00 am
Joe at work in 1982.

But back in 1936 he came into the world during troubled times for the North East.

It was tough but it shaped a lifetime of memories.

Joe, bottom left, with the 1947 Brougham School under 11s football team.

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Today, Joe – who now lives in Perth in Australia – shares his story. It’s a fond look back at the town through the eyes of a former Hartlepool lad.

It all started in October 1936 in Brougham Terrace.

“This was the month I entered the world, not the best of times to make an entry as thousands of unemployed shipbuilders, steelworkers and miners had just set out to march from Jarrow to London to inform the government of the plight of most in the North East at that time.

“But they were then told after marching 250 miles, ‘Sorry lads nothing we can do, go back home’. So they did. But then a miracle happened.

Joe, bottom left, with the 1947 Brougham School under 11s football team.

“It was reference to Hitler marching on Poland and the effect it would have on industry back at home.

“Suddenly shipyards, steelworks, and coal mines were opened up, and people were told to work seven days a week.”

Joe was a mere lad in those days.

“I was five-years-old at the time so don’t remember much about it, But I do remember a year or so later, having an Anderson air raid shelter built in the front garden.”

It was well used in Joe’s household, as he recalls.

“I do remember a lot of times being dragged out of bed, in the middle of the night, as German bombers tried to blow up the ICI in Billingham, and the shipyards in Hartlepool.

“I also remember food being rationed, and even bags of coal, But this was a blessing in disguise for me, because that was the start of my career as a sea coal merchant.

“You could go over to ‘Old’ Hartlepool to Thorpe Street, and if you were lucky, the tide would have left four or five inches of good small coal.”

Back in those days, it yielded a decent return.

“Gather this up, put into three bags, and you could then sell these for 2 bob (10p) each. 3x10 = 30p. A fortune in 1947.

“This was more than the entry fee to the Odeon cinema, to then watch John Wayne, or Tarzan,” said Joe.

People were very resourceful and did whatever it took to keep going.

Joe remembered: “We kept ducks, chickens, anything to eke out the meagre food ration.”

Our thanks go to him and watch out for more of his story this Friday, including potato picking week and getting a job in the shipbuilding industry.

To share your own memories, email [email protected]