The Oakton Family

Hello Kiveton,

We have been invited to say “Hello” from Saltburn by the Sea where we have lived for the past twenty years. We left Kiveton in 1966 when Les went to work as a supervisor at Nypro, a new chemical company near Scunthorpe. Some people may remember the big explosion there in June 1974, as a result of which, six years later the Company folded. We then went to work in an English School in Kuwait. I taught children at Primary level and Les set up and organised the laboratory in the Secondary department. We remained in Kuwait for three years, returning to the U.K. in 1983 when we bought a General Store in Guisborough, which we ran for four years before selling up and moving to Saltburn. I returned to teaching and Les to chemical research.

My sister Brenda, together with her husband and family also live in Saltburn. My brother Stuart lives in Thurcroft. Les has one sister, Cynthia living in Carlton, near Worksop and one, Sylvia who lives in Australia.

We are now enjoying retirement (we celebrated our Golden Wedding Anniversary last year) and spend a good deal of time in Northern Cyprus where our daughter lives and we have an apartment. We both have fond memories of growing up in Kiveton and look forward to frequent trips to the area when we visit Stuart and his family.

Although we have lost touch with most of the people we knew, we would be more than pleased to hear from anyone who remembers us. We can be contacted either through the Kiveton /Wales web site or by e mail, margaretoakton7@hotmail.com or johnleslie.oakton@ntlworld.com.

Best Wishes,

Les and Margaret Oakton

The War Years

I was two years old in 1939 when war was declared so my recollections are really centred on the period towards and just after the end of hostilities. I do remember children being issued with gas masks that were designed to look like Mickey Mouse and had a long red tongue that moved in and out as we breathed. They fit into cardboard boxes with string attached. The string went over our heads and we were supposed to carry them with us wherever we went in case we were caught in a raid.

I also remember the air raid shelters where families were meant to go in the event of an air raid. There was one in the schoolyard but the only time it was ever used was to make sure that we knew what to do if the air raid siren sounded when we were in school. I suppose some families did use their designated shelters but the majority made provision within their homes. We had beds made up in the space under the stairs and it seemed like quite an adventure on the few occasions that we needed to use them.

A major event was the arrival of evacuees in the village. I do not know where they came from but I remember that most of the village children waited outside the Methodist Chapel for their arrival by coach and to watch as they were led inside. These children were assigned to various families who had volunteered to take them for the duration. Two of them went to families in Dawson Terrace where I lived. One was a boy, Dennis someone; he went to Harry and Sarah Evans. The other was a girl, Barbara Hanky who was taken to stay with another Evans family, Bill and Mary. There was also a girl called Betty who went to a family somewhere in the Lime Tree Avenue area. I seem to recall that she remained with them after the war and eventually married a local person but the details escape me. Another one was an Irish girl, Maureen O’Sullivan and my main memory of her is that she did not participate in our R.E. lessons but sat in the Hall with a book. I don’t imagine there were many Catholics in Kiveton at that time. I am sure there were other evacuees but these are the ones I remember.

I also remember queuing in the hope of getting oranges or bananas when the local shops received an allocation, black out blinds at the windows and the ‘buses being allowed just enough light to enable the driver to see where he was going. What a treat it was when the pit lights went on for the first time after the war. I saw them through the bedroom window and thought I was looking at fairyland.

To celebrate V.E. night, the adults organised a bonfire party and some of the men wheeled a piano from one of the houses into the row (street) and Harry Wood drove his car close enough for the headlights to provide light for the pianist. The singing and dancing went on until the early hours.

There was also a victory parade with people in fancy dress followed by a party for the children. The party took place in the yard behind the infant school and was a huge

success, with jelly and ice cream for everyone.

Oh Happy Days!

Memories

School Days

The Infant School was on the left over the bridge, on the same side as the Co-op. Miss Thorpe was the Head as well as the Reception, commonly known as “The Babies” class teacher. I remember quite a lot of time in this class being spent listening to and learning short poems and action rhymes and being encouraged to recite any new poems to the class. There were several wooden toys to play with, many of them made by my uncle, from old or broken desks. Some of the older boys would take the desks to him and when the toys were ready would be sent to collect them – no p.c. or Health and Safety Regulations then!

As well as milk, every day we were given cod liver oil mixed with orange juice and it was no use trying to refuse either the milk or the cod liver oil. Nor was not having an afternoon nap an option. On returning to school for the afternoon session (before the introduction of school meals everyone went home for lunch) we found that rows of camp beds had appeared in place of our tables and chairs. Each one had a blanket with a different picture on so that everyone could recognise their own blanket; mine was a beige blanket with a picture of a drum and drumsticks. During the resting time silence reigned and it was woe betide anyone who broke the rule. Miss Thorpe was a strict disciplinarian and had a good slapping hand.

I have two other memories of Miss Thorpe’s classroom – the small wooden chairs were painted in one of two colours, bright green or orange and an open fireplace in which, during the winter, a coal fire kept the room warm and cosy. We sat in a semi circle as close to the fireguard as we could get to listen to the poems and stories.

Miss Jarvis later to become Mrs Doncaster, took the next class. She introduced us to reading and number skills. I still remember that the number five was, “A little man with a bent back and a flat hat”

She was still teaching the same age group in 1964 when our son was there. In fact I still have the Christmas cracker that she helped him to make from a toilet roll middle,crepe paper and wool.

The next move was to Miss Ogden’s class. I remember her as a small, rather plump person bustling about in flowered overalls to protect her clothes from paint, glue and, one suspects, children.

Miss King was responsible for the “Top” class in the Infant school. This was where we received our final training for life across the road in the Junior School.

As far as I remember the transition from infant to junior was quite a simple matter. After all we were only crossing the road and were familiar with the teachers, though perhaps a little in awe of Mr. Bolton, the head. I don’t remember exactly when he retired but it was not long after I moved into the Junior School. Then Mr. Whitaker from Sheffield became the new Headmaster. He had a car, which seemed to spend a lot of time in Worthy Cope’s workshop in South View, or The Field, as it was known locally. On these occasions Mr.Whitaker travelled by train.

There were four classes in the junior school. Miss Jenkinson from Woodall- she usually cycled to school, Mrs Cook, who was the wife of “Captain Cook” the local chimney sweep, and lived close enough to walk to school. Miss Goddard lived at Anston and her mode of transport was a moped-type cycle. Mrs Bradley took the top (scholarship) class and although she lived locally, also cycled to school. She wheeled her cycle straight from the road into the classroom where it remained propped inside the door. The bicycle pump served a dual purpose – she used it instead of a cane.

Members of the top class were “allowed” to make tea for the staff breaks and do the washing up afterwards. There was no such luxury as a staff room with dishwasher; the staff either sat in a classroom to drink their tea or stood in the corridor overlooking the playground.

There were separate playgrounds, divided by a wall, for boys and girls. The boys’ was in the same area as the Schoolhouse and the older boys were responsible for keeping the garden neat and tidy.

Sometimes classes and occasionally the whole school would walk to the cricket field for games and that is also where Sports Days were held.

School Dinners were served in the Methodist Chapel on Wales Road. Mr Ilsley – who was also the Truancy officer (school bobby) took them there in huge metal containers in his van. I have never considered where they were cooked and wonder if it might have been in the pit canteen. I’m sure someone will know.

Until two years before I left Kiveton School, the people who passed the 11+ went on to Woodhouse Grammar School. Those who didn’t remained at Kiveton until they were 14 or 15 and old enough to leave school. Then the system changed and those who failed the 11+ went to the Secondary Modern at Dinnington. Some remained there until they left school and others took another examination a year or so later and if they passed that one, went on to the Technical School where the girls were trained to work in offices and the boys were taught woodwork, metal work or agriculture.

I was one of a third group who as well as taking this examination was given the opportunity to have a second attempt at the 11+. On this occasion I was successful and went on to continue my education at Woodhouse where I stayed until I was sixteen and took G.C.E. “O” level.