John Robinson worked at Richardson Westgarth from 1949 to 1963. Due to the uncertainties of work, John then left to work for English Electric in Rugby. After four years in Rugby, he emigrated to Canada and worked for the next 30 years as a consulting engineer until retirement in 1997.
Created by John Robinson
Donated by John Robinson
To get from Hartlepool to his work in Fishburn, Jim Robinson bought a second-hand Austin 7 car for £65 in 1952. The engine used to seize up and Jim would strip it down and fix it overnight in time to go to work next day. The generator used to overheat and melt the solder on the commutator wiring thus losing all electrical power to the car. He kept a hand cranked generator in the glove compartment and used to hand crank this while driving to keep the car running until he could re-solder the wires.
John Robinson (seated far right on the front row), and others in a group of Higher National Students from Hartlepool Technical College visiting Vane Tempest Colliery at Seaham in 1957. Visiting various industries was part of the course. The course lecturer is standing immediately behind John.
In 1954 a group from Richies Drawing Office were sent to do a performance test at Battersea Power Station in London. The group are (l to r): Cliff Fleetham, Arthur ?, ?, Dick Hunter and Jack Watson. Dick Hunter was the engineer in charge of the condenser and feedheater design.
Former Richrdson Westgarth apprentice Fred Gook (centre, kneeling), and his wife Pat (nee Ward) both from Hartlepool. Pat was secretary to one of the RW directors, Bernard Wyatt. Fred worked as an engineer in the condenser and feedwater heating department. Standing behind Fred are myself (John Robinson) and my wife Ann.
Created by Billy Robinson
Donated by John Robinson
A group photograph of the Robinson family about to set off for the baptism of John and Anne's son Paul, at Holy Trinity Seaton Carew in 1962. Holding baby Paul is Mary Robinson, wife of John's brother Harry and formerly a secretary at "Richies". The photographer was Billy Robinson.
The cyclists in the picture are left to right: Jim Robinson, Cliff Sorensen, Harry Robinson and Tommy Kell. Cliff, Harry and Tommy were at that time (mid to late 1940’s) apprentices at Richardson Westgarth. At this time, Tommy and Harry were members of a Hartlepool cycling club and Jim occasionally would join them in their rides. They often cycled to Billingham to swim at the baths. What they had not realised on the first visit was that Harry could not swim; he saw them in the pool treading water and thought they were standing and jumped in and Jim had to rescue him.
Created by Jim Robinson
Donated by John Robinson
Dave was born in Hartlepool in 1924, and married Audrey Pugh in 1950. He attended school with my uncle Tommy Kell and served his apprenticeship at Richardson Westgarth. He was a lifelong friend of my uncle, and my brother's Harry and Jim Robinson. I also worked with him for five years in the drawing office. The photograph was taken in 1990, with Dave, his wife Audrey (center) and Doris Robinson (Jim's wife).
Ellen Kell, a widow, had successfully supported herself and her family from the time her husband died, at a young age in 1908, by operating a small shop selling baked goods in Trimdon Colliery and a summer tea shop on Hart Sands. The Trimdon shop closed in 1936. The Hart tea shop also closed about 1936, when they were forced to move from beach area to the headland, which was a bad location, not profitable.
In 1936, the family moved from Trimdon to 11 South Road, Hartlepool, to live with daughter Jennie, a nurse at the Hartlepool hospital. Jennie married and moved to Nunthorpe.
Ellen moved across the street to 14 South Rd., a larger house, with sons Ozzy and Tommy. Here she kept boarding house until retirement age. She also had an arrangement with local bakers to make and decorate wedding cakes etc. (very artistic designs with delicate lace work and roses).
Created by Eveline Robinson
Donated by John Robinson
Hartlepool graduates Lois Searle (fourth from right, centre row) and John Robinson (fourth from right, front row), photographed outside Durham University (Castle) by John's mother Eveline Robinson. Both studied for their Degrees at Sunderland Technical College and graduated in July 1957.
This is a 1925 photograph (probably taken in a studio with a painted backdrop of a ship at sea), of Hilda Shorthouse, daughter of Tom and Charlotte Shorthouse (formerly Charlotte Russell), and her Aunt Annie Shorthouse.
An early photograph, probably taken in the early 1900s, of James Steele Russell and his wife Alice Hart Russell (nee Hedley). They lived in Carlton St. West Hartlepool, but it is possible this photograph was taken when James was working in Hong Kong.
A happy group standing outside All saints Church, Stranton, after the baptism of their Ozzy and Vera Mortimer's first daughter Joan in 1946. From left to right are: Gladys Kell (Ozzy's sister-in-law), with daughter Florence, Tommy, Ellen Kell and her sister Annie Shorthouse (holding baby Joan), and Vera. Gladys Kell (nee Bushby) was a nurse who worked with Jennie Kell at Hartlepool General Hospital, and had married Harry Kell, Ellen's son.
The following notes were compiled by Mr. John Robinson:
William Thomas (Tom) Shorthouse married Charlotte Russell on July 10th, 1902, at Holy Trinity Church in Throston. Tom was boarding in Cleveland Road Throston and working as a Hotel Barman. Charlotte was living with her sister in Clifton St Throston. Her parents were in Stranton.
Tom and Charlotte had a daughter Hilda in 1905, their residence at that time was Arch Street, Throston. Sadly Charlotte died in 1907 in Hartlepool. Tom did re-marry, served in the Durham Light Infantry during WW1 and died in 1967 in Newcastle (still a bartender).
Hilda had an interesting story. She married and emigrated to Australia in the 1950’s. Her husband left her and she got a job as a lady in waiting for Sir William Slim's wife (the Governor General of Australia 1953-1959) and moved with them between Kiriibili House in Sydney (where she enjoyed swimming during time off) and Government House Canberra. After this she returned to England for the rest of her life.
In 1936, Ellen Kell and her family moved from Trimdon to live with her daughter Jenny, a nurse at Hartlepool Hospital, at 11 South Road, Hartlepool. Jenny later married and moved to Nunthorpe. This photograph was taken in 1930.
1950. Jim Robinson (on the right) with his son John and wife Doris (nee Morgan) in the centre, who lived in Thornton Street and joined "The Land Army" during WW2. Later, they had a nursery school "Robins Nest" on Westbourne Road. Jim was a prominent sailor and member of the Teesside Sailing Club (Middleton) and won many races including National Championships.
Richardsons Westgarth organised a camp for apprentices each summer during the works annual holiday shutdown. This was an inexpensive holiday and open to apprentices from the four constituent companies. This is the 1952 camp at Whitby.
The Richardson Westgarth Apprentice Camp, Whitby, 1952. Left to right are: ?, Terry Harrison, Bruce Lindsay and John Robinson. Terry and Bruce worked in the Boiler Drawing Office and John in the Condensing and Feedwater Drawing Office. Terry, later, Sir Terrance, became the head of the Parsons/Rolls Royce company.
A photograph of Bill Hutchinson and his daughters Ann and Kathleen on the beach Seaton Carew in 1955. The family (who lived in Fishburn), were on a trip organised annually by the Fishburn Working Mens Club. People did not dress casually to go to the beach, they wore their Sunday best.
A photograph of Bill Hutchinson with his wife Winnie and daughter Kathleen at the Seaton Carew Bus Station in 1955. The family (who lived in Fishburn), were on a trip organised annually by the Fishburn Working Mens Club. People did not dress casually to go to the beach, they wore their Sunday best.
A photograph of Bill Hutchinson, his wife Winnie and their daughter Kathleen, enjoying toffee apples on the beach Seaton Carew in 1955. The family (who lived in Fishburn), were on a trip organised annually by the Fishburn Working Mens Club. People did not dress casually to go to the beach, they wore their Sunday best.
Kathleen Hutchinson (the tall girl at the back), with friends on the beach Seaton Carew in 1955. Kathleen's family (who lived in Fishburn), were on a trip organised annually by the Fishburn Working Mens Club.
John and Anne Robinson's next-door neighbours John (Jack) Martin and his wife Patrica (Pat, nee Hodgson)) with son Phillip in Lawson Road. Jack had been a joiner but changed career to Insurance agent, Pat was the local midwife who delivered my son Paul in 1962.
The following has been compiled by family member John Robinson, who now lives in Canada:
Fred Kell (Craggs) was born 22 July 1919, an illegitimate son of Ellen Kell of Commercial Street, Trimdon Colliery, Co Durham. He was baptised 31 July 1919 in the Primitive Methodist Church, Wingate Circuit. His father is unknown.
Ellen did not have an easy life, her first husband died leaving her with three young children; she remarried and had another two children. Her second husband died in WW1 and when applying for widow’s benefits she was denied as her husband was a bigamist and her marriage ruled illegal. The family lived in a two-roomed terrace house with the bedroom upstairs divided by a curtain. To support herself and her five children, Ellen had started a front room confectionary from which she sold home baked goods. She also took in washing and scrubbed floors to make ends meet. This lifestyle continued through the depression years until 1935 when she moved with her remaining family to West Hartlepool.
When Fred was born in 1919, Ellen gave him to her sister Minnie Craggs to bring up as one of her own children. Minnie and her husband George had left Trimdon and moved to Old Hartlepool where they had a house on the sea wall near the Lifeboat station. Fred was never told about his birth mother, when his adoptive mother Minnie died in 1955, he discovered a copy of his birth certificate in a St Bruno tobacco tin. He was so surprised that he rushed over to Harry Robinson’s house to show him what he had found. He was absolutely stunned to realise that his birth mother was his aunt Ellen Kell.
What is surprising is that there were older siblings in both families that knew the true story of his birth but no one had told him. The families lived in the same community and were reasonably close but the subject was never brought up in conversation. We are sure there was never any formal adoption, just one sister helping the other out in tough times.
From what Harry told me, after Minnie died, Fred decided to go to London to find employment and a new life. We suspect that after his funds ran out he just drifted into vagrancy. It would only be about four or five years after Minnie’s death that he met Anton Wallich-Clifford.
In the late 1950's he was a vagrant with no fixed abode, a "down and out" in London. He was featured in the Book "No Fixed Abode" by Anton Wallich - Clifford, founder of the Simon Community (planning of Simon started in September of 1963).
From current published information, Simon define themselves as a community of homeless people and volunteers living and working together in a spirit of acceptance, tolerance and understanding.
They exist as a community to reach out to, support and campaign for people who are homeless or rootless, and particularly those for whom no other provision exists.
For over 40 years the Simon Community has worked to alleviate the isolation of rough sleepers, provide a place where they can gain a sense of belonging and foster the skills they need to move towards independent living.
The book “NO FIXED ABODE” was first published in 1974. The book has the following dedication:
To my mother, Bunch, Luke and Sally
for sharing some of the pilgrimage with me,
and to Fred Kell, wherever he may be,
on behalf of the homeless and rootless everywhere.
An extract from this book highlights Fred’s life as a vagrant and his part in the formation of the Simon Community.
Even after his probation order had expired Robin continued to visit me until I left the Service, but by the time I came to start Simon I had lost track of him, so he will not know that he was one of those who can be held responsible for ultimately forcing me to act on my own. Another man, however, at least knows that he was influential in what happened afterwards, even if we have never been able to give him the permanence and stability he so badly needs. More important to him is his pride in the fact that he introduced me to the Golborne Centre - and therefore to the Rev. Bram Peake, Tommy Gifford and Colin Calder.
Seen shambling along the Strand or sitting on a park bench, Fred Kell (as I first knew him) is unmistakably a 'tramp'. He fits the popular - and largely false - image from the broken peak of his greasy cap to his flip-flapping, cracked and untied boots. The top coat that he wears permanently, once brown but now compost-coloured, is sometimes belted with string; its frayed edges trail almost to his ankles. Beneath the cap his face juts out like a badly carved meerschaum pipe, and from behind his steel framed spectacles (which he is always losing) his eyes sadly survey the scene in a constant search for fag-ends.
When he first climbed the narrow, twisting stone staircase to the probation office in Broadcourt Chambers he had arrived back in London from one of his many trips. Although a seasoned wayfarer, he had not previously sought assistance from us; but knowing what he wanted, he had shrewdly guessed that, in his penniless condition, and at an hour when he could expect only a Sally Ann (Salvation Army) bed chit from the NAB - a probation officer's help might be more effective.
Poor Jo Knox must have groaned to herself as she opened the door to him and put him in the 'tank', for when she called me on the intercom she said 'It's one of your’s Anton - on tappers', and added as a cautionary note 'probably lousy, so watch your chairs!'
Some moments later Fred shuffled into my room. At my invitation he flopped on to the fireside chair like some gaunt, moulting bird of prey descending on a bough, and in one movement taloned the proffered cigarette and produced a mouth-organ from his bulging pocket.
'This is my mouth-organ' he introduced himself, or rather the instrument which he waved in front of me. 'I don't beg. I'm Fred, Fred Kell and I play this in pubs. I works my way around, I'm known all over the place. I've just got back from my home in Northampton, you know - and I wonder if you can help me?'
He drawled out the short sentences in a heavily accented voice that sounded as though he thought he was puffing and blowing on the mouth organ; and in fact as he gasped to a stop he quickly blew a little tune. 'Like it?' he asked, and before I had made any reply he launched into an account of his travelling years playing his way from town to town.
Eventually I gathered that the purpose of his visit was to see if I would 'give him a bed chit for the Golborne Centre. 'I know Dr Peake' he said. 'I've been to his Centre before. He's a very nice man. The Doc'll help me. I'm not going to a bloody doss-house. It's just that I haven't any cash right now. But I'll get some. I'll play in a few pubs. It's just that a note would help. He's always very full, you know, but if I have a chitty from you I'll be all right.'
He puffed to a stop, and then played another little tune, watching to see my reaction. 'If you know Mr Peake and you've been there before, why didn't you go straight there?' I countered. "Well, it's a place for ex-cons, you know. I've done some bird. That's how I went there first, but he won't take casuals. You have to be referred. That's why I thought you might refer me'.
The wily old bird has it all sewn up, I thought, but secretly I was delighted, because although I had collected several cuttings about the Golborne Centre I still had not traced its exact whereabouts. I knew vaguely that it was in the Notting Hill area, and that it was a church which the pastor had converted into a sort of half-way house for discharged prisoners. In official circles it was looked upon with some suspicion because of its sensational publicity, and I was still too new and inexperienced in the daily search for beds to have made any serious attempt to locate or use it. I had an opportunity thrown right into my lap. I could give Fred a note and a bed voucher, and if his confidence was as justified as he made out, I would have an excellent case for 'home visiting' a 'voluntary supervision' case.
This in fact is exactly what happened, for Fred left happily, puffing and blowing 'I'll take you home again, Kathleen', armed with his official note and bed ticket, and the following evening, on his very precise and careful directions, I found myself entering the church doorway of the Golborne Centre for the first time. There I met Tom Gifford, at that time Warden, with his assistant, Colin Calder, and of course a jubilant and contented Fred Kell. It was only some days later that I actually met the rumbustious and exuberant Rev. Dr B.E. Peake DD* ('I got my DD by correspondence with an American evangelical college'), and began a relationship with the Centre, Bram, his wife, children and staff which was to lead to my eventually cramming his unique and never-to-be-forgotten 'hostel-in-a-church' with homeless Bow Street clients to the almost total exclusion of other agencies. From that first moment, I knew that Golborne, and Bram Peake's system of 'con boss' leadership, house meetings and do-it-yourself home-from-home kit, provided the answer to the problem which I was fast realising would be my biggest headache at Bow Street. From our initial meeting something clicked; but neither of us realised then that in time his warm, natural and amateur attempts to make life bearable for the homeless offender within the confines of his tiny Free Congregational Church would grow to the point where he would set up a trust of which I became a member, and that I would write the booklet 'One Man's Answer'* about him and his work.
Fred himself settled down for a few weeks before again being drawn irresistibly back on the road in his fruitless search for identity. He always ended up in Northampton because that was the town in which he had been born some forty-five years before. He could remember his mother very well, and with deep affection, but almost everything else had been blotted out in the intervening experiences of children's homes, rootless wanderings in search of work, army service, short spells in prison and the endless post-war miles flapping from Sally Ann to Church Army, from town to city and from hamlet to village, puffing and blowing his mouth-organ, eking out the pennies and shillings for food and a night's kip. Nothing permanent or lasting. No relationships that were meaningful. No place to settle. And now - even with his real acceptance of Golborne and its acceptance of him - he could not overcome the need to keep returning to his place of birth. So he kept on moving; but at least whenever he got back to London, if only to get his spectacles repaired or replaced, and to enjoy the companionship of Golborne, he always called to see me.
It was on one such visit that he solemnly informed me that he had changed his name to Cragge - 'It's me mother's maiden name' he said, 'and that must be my real name.' So Fred the Organ duly became Fred Cragge; and our friendship has travelled much like Fred himself down the years. He spends a few days in a Simon house of hospitality but there is no hope of rooting him. The last time I met him was with my wife, in the waiting-room at Charing Cross station last year. 'Hello, Mr. Clifford' (he never would call me Anton) he puffed, "how are you these days? I haven't got me mouth-organ. I lost it.' But nothing else had changed.
Fred, contrary to what he related to Anton, was raised in a normal family with other siblings. He had two older brothers, two younger brothers and a younger sister. Minnie’s husband George had worked as a coal miner in Trimdon but on moving to Old Hartlepool got a job as a labourer in the local shipyard. He did not always have work and went through some hard times. Minnie had been brought up as a strict Methodist and was a hard worker. Like her sister Ellen she was an accomplished baker and started to sell homemade goods from her home to supplement the family income.
Other Old Hartlepool residents remembered Fred:
He was known locally in Hartlepool as "Teacake Freddie" hawking his mothers baking around the streets.
The book "Look Back for a While" by Nick Cannon remembered Freddie Craggs: "Fred was a happy lad, going around the Croft with a large wicker basket full of his mother's large home baked teacakes covered with a white muslin towel. These teacakes tasted delicious and very popular around the Croft."
Up until the death of his adoptive mother Minnie, Fred had led what we would call a fairly normal life. The families in Hartlepool and Trimdon were in fairly close contact with each other, Fred was part of this larger family group.
Jim Robinson (nephew) recalled:
Grandma Kell had the tea shop in the dene at Hart (Crimdon), the family in the depression years camped there during the summers. Fred was a constant visitor, he walked along the sands from and to Hartlepool. He also often walked from Hartlepool (12 miles) to visit his cousin (half sister) Eveline Robinson in Trimdon Village, she always gave him busfare for the trip home.
He at one time worked as an Eldorado Ice Cream man. Used to come all way from Hartlepool to Trimdon on the Ice Cream Bike. Sadly it took so long the ice cream used to melt away. He used to have his birth certificate in a little tin box and was always showing it to people and telling them that his Aunt Nellie was his mother. He used to wander about the town on a Saturday hoping to see someone in the family, and expected them to give him some money.
The males in the Craggs family were social drinkers, son George had an excellent voice and sang many of the popular classical pieces. He mainly sang as an entertainer in pubs around Hartlepool, passing the hat to earn a few pounds. Fred obviously had a good example to follow with his mouth organ.
Of course he was never in “children’s homes” and his roots were in Hartlepool not Northampton. During the time he was meeting with Anton, his birth mother and most of his siblings, and adoptive siblings, were alive and could have helped him in his situation. Apparently he was always a “happy-go-lucky” type of person and his assumed lifestyle must have made him content. We are not aware that he made any contact with the family during his excursions; Hartlepool is a long walk from London.
We believe that Fred died in London, July Quarter, 1990 in the Lambeth District. Anton died 30 July 1978 aged 55 from cancer.
Three Richies draughtsmen. The man in the centre is Mr. J. H. Stonebank at the time living in Blackhall Colliery and now residing in Chelmsford, Essex, the names of the men either side are not known. The photograph is taken from the the boiler drawing office sitting on a boat outside the old lifeboat station at the Middleton Ferry c.1950.
A wedding picture of William Thomas (Tom) Shorthouse and Charlotte Russell, who were married on July 10th, 1902 at Holy Trinity Church in Throston. Tom was boarding in Cleveland Road Throston and working as a Hotel Barman. Charlotte was living with her sister in Clifton St Throston. Her parents lived in Stranton.
1960. Tommy Kell (left), was a gas turbine erector at this time working on the units exported to Kuwait. Tommy started as an office boy in 1940, completed his apprenticeship as a fitter, joined the Merchant Navy as an Engineering Officer, returned to RW as an erector on gas turbines (mostly overseas).
The Depression caused great hardship across the country. In 1930, Eveline Robinson camped with her children at Hart (Crimdon Dene), for most of the summer. Here she is holding baby John behind a group of children including her own three, Hannah, Billy and Jim.