Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Who Invented the Steam Blast - a tract by John Wesley Hackworth 1876

 After the controversy surrounding the publication of Samuel Smiles book The Life of George Stephenson in 1857, John Wesley Hackworth and the descendants of other locomotive pioneers debated and defended their forebears reputation in the press. 

The controversy surround the steam Blast (Blast pipe) invention raised its head again after the jubilee is 1875. John Wesley Hackworth's reply to the Times was not published and he reconfigured it as a tract which he sent out or made available in 1876. The tract is on this site in various relevant places but I've typed it out to make it easier to read - the typeface is very small and to make it easier to copy and paste from for the purpose of quotes. The typed text is below the graphic version..


To the Editor of the “Northern Echo”

By John Wesley Hackworth 1876

Sir – In answer to the letters of Miss Gurney and Mr Smiles on the above subject, which appeared in the Times 27th ult. And 1st inst., I beg to say that 16 years before Sir Goldsworthy Gurney professed to have discovered the “steam jet” or “blast,” William Nicolson patented, illustrated, described it in his specification No 2990, and dated 22nd November 1806. This invention he applied to most of the purposes enumerated by Miss Gurney; but it now almost entirely superseded by more economical and modern inventions. While Nicholson’s specifications and Gurney’s pamphlet of 1859 prove that they represent one and the same thing, they are equally conclusive as to the locomotive steam-blast being essentially different. For example, we are informed – “The steam must be high pressure, the steam draught cannot be produced by exhaust steam” Now, as the exhaust steam is the agency employed to produce the locomotive blast - the intermittent sound of which (only emitted when the engine is in motion) is familiar to the ear of everyone, where as the steam jet or ‘blower’ has a continuous sound, caused by steam issuing direct from a boiler when at rest, as well as when in motion – it follows that they are unquestionably two distinct things. It is equally certain that Miss Gurney is in error in her supposition that “Timothy Hackworth conveyed her father’s plan to the north of England” as will be clearly seen in the following facts, which will likewise correct Mr Smiles’s statements. George Stephenson, in his first locomotive at Killingworth in 1814, adopted Blenkinsop’s exhaust, ejecting the steam vertically into the air from an inverted T pipe ; and in his subsequent engines, Stephenson resorted to the plan used by Timothy Hackworth in the Wylam locomotives four or five years before, the method being to carry the exhaust pipes just within the circumference of the chimney, and allow the steam to escape upwards. This became the established mode and the engines did tolerably well in conveying coals at three to five miles an hour on short lines of four and five miles, when due attention was paid to having plentiful supply of steam and water in the boiler with which to commence the journey ; but even with strict observance of these conditions, the engines not infrequently came to a halt and had so to remain till steam was generated to complete the distance. Matters were in this state when the Stockton and Darlington Railway approached completion, and as the distance intended to be worked by horses or locomotives was 20 miles, it was predicted by competent judges that it would be impractical by the latter power, and such it proved to be, for after 18 months’ trial of the locomotives the directors determined to abandon them, as horses were found to do the work at less cost. Letters which I hold from George and Robert Stephenson to my father show their disappointment at this decision. At this juncture Timothy Hackworth proposed to make an engine to answer the purpose. This proposition was considered, and the directors resolved, as a last experiment, that Hackworth should be allowed to carry out his plan. This engine, the “Royal George,” was started in 1827.We can not stop here to enumerate the novelties in its construction ; suffice to say it had his invention “the blast pipe” for the first time, and as used at the present day, only that the contraction is doubled. The result of the working of this engine may be asserted from data adduced from an experiment witnessed by Robert Stephenson, Joseph Lock, my father and myself, which Robert Stephenson had inserted in Rastrick and Walker’s report, which was laid before the directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in March, 1829, to show what a locomotive could accomplish.   

Report p.17 “Hackworth’s engine took 48 ¾ at 112.10 miles an hour, on a level, and the steam was blowing off when the experiment concluded” … “I state the preceding as it has been given to us. Hackworth’s engine is undoubtably the most powerful that has yet been made, as the amount of tons that have been conveyed, compared with the other engines, prove.

In 1828, George Stephenson being wishful to produce an equally powerful engine built the Lancashire Witch, which, besides having the Wylam mode of exhaust, was provided with two bellows – an arrangement he was sanguine would effect the desired result. After the trial – he wrote the following to his friend, Timothy Hackworth –

Liverpool July 25th 1828. We have tried the new locomotive engine at Bolton ; we have also tried the blast to it for burning coke, and I believe it will answer. There are two bellows worked by eccentrics underneath the tender.”

It did not answer, and it is obvious at this date, Stephenson knew nothing of the blast pipe, nor did he acquire a knowledge of it October 1829.At a preliminary trial of the Sanspareil, Hackworth gave Stephenson a brisk run on his engine, when the latter made his observations, and at length put the question – “Timothy, what makes the sparks fly out of the chimney?” Mr Hackworth touched the exhaust pipe near the cylinders and said – “It is the end of this little fellow that does the business”

That night men were sent to purloin Hackworth’s invention, and the Rocket was fitted with a similar blast pipe for the race. I think it unfair on the part of Nicholas Wood to have chronicled (p. 290 e., 1831) the fuel destroyed by a disorganised engine working with an internally burst cylinder. However, after the engine was fitted with a new cylinder, Wood, (in table V11., p. 387) shows that, taking the difference of speed into account, she had the advantage of fuel in the economy of fuel over her rival “Rocket” 14 miles per hour consumed 2,41lbs per ton per mile.

Moreover, the short history sent by Mr John Hick, M.P., with the old engine, when he presented it to the South Kensington Museum, shows the Sanspariel to have been a much superior engine to the Rocket. William Gowland, an engine driver whom George Stephenson brought from Killingworth to assist in opening the Stockton and Darlington line in 1825, after having run the Royal George two years, and been the driver of the Sanspariel at Rainhill, gives testimony in a letter to The Engineer, 23rd October, 1857, to the following effect :-

I was driver of the Royal George on the Stockton and Darlington Railway for about two years, it having come out of Shildon works in 1827 - the complete production of Timothy Hackworth. It contained the blast pipe as perfect as any used at the present day…I can solemnly assure you that when the Sanspariel left Shildon it contained the blast pipe not only by accident but by clear design, with a full knowledge of its value, as proved in the case of the Royal George. Of course everybody knew that the Rocket had not the blast pipe when it came to Rainhill. The Sanspariel had.”

Respecting Nicholas Wood (in treatise 1825), noting the slightly increased draught obtained from his colleague, George Stephenson, turning the exhaust steam into the chimney at Killingworth, this was merely recording an old face known at Wylam years before, which Wood and Stephenson were familiar with, though they differed in opinion as to the utility of adopting it, the effect being so slight. The same phenomenon was observed in Trevithick’s engine, and, although noted in Nicholson’s journal, in 1806, there is no mention made of using the exhaust steam to produce a blast in Trevithick’s minutely drawn patent specification (No. 2,599), the omission proving beyond question that he neither knew its value nor apprehended its principal. In further proof, he patented (Fanners, &c., for creating an artificial draft in the chimney,)

The error in the Encyclopaedia Britannica has been corrected in subsequent editions. Referring to the quotations given by Mr Smiles, first, that –

“During the construction of the Rocket a series of experiments was made with blast pipes of different diameters, and their efficiency was tested by the amount of vacuum that was found in the smoke-box.”

Secondly –

The contraction of the orifice in many of our best locomotives is totally unnecessary, and rather disadvantageous, than otherwise, for since the speed of the engines have been increased the velocity of the steam is quite sufficient to produce the needful rarefaction in the chimney without any contraction whatever.”

In the first place, the smokebox had not then been introduced. The Rocket had not one, she merely had a chimney with a right-angle bend to fix to the boiler end, into which the copper tubes were inserted. And secondly, the early engine exhausts at the cylinder faces and blast orifices were in proportion of three or three and half to one. The present practice is six or seven to one. Hence the contraction is doubled. Imagine an engine constructed with the modern blast orifice - say 16 square inches – carried down uniformly to the cylinder faces - that is eight inches to each, we need no philosopher to tell us that such an engine could not run ; yet this is just what the world is asked to believe. It seems incredible that Robert Stephenson should d have so committed himself, but if on the authority of Mr Smiles we receive these statements they are almost as damaging to Stephenson’s reputation as the Suez canal affair. Instead of Robert Stephenson making such detrimental assertions, would it not have been wiser to have honourably accepted my challenge (in the Engineer, August 14th, 1857) and settled this question on evidence before a properly constituted tribunal?

I am, &c., John Wesley Hackworth

January 12th 1876


This letter is published separately, owing to having been excluded from the Times. A copy can be had on application to John W. Hackworth, Darlington, enclosing postage stamp.

Darlington: Bell, Priestgate.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Esther - Extended Poem by Jane Elizabeth Holmes 1865 (Grand daughter of Timothy Hackworth)

Jane Elizabeth Holmes, born in 1838, (the grand daughter of Locomotive pioneer, Timothy Hackworth) wrote the book 'Esther'

"Though Esther was as wild and free 
As light wind sweeping o'er the lea, 
Her mind had been improved with care,
And to its natural powers - as rare" p22 Esther.

An extended poem of a 110 pages, in the early 1860's, published posthumously in 1865. The poem is set in the lakes, around Pooley Bridge and Ullswater, moving on to London, but more specifically centered in and around Lyulph's Tower, Aira Force Waterfall, Dockray, Cumbria, where Wordsworth set the poem “The Somnambulist”  (1828) in response to the legend of the ghost of Aira Force.

Trish Campbell (a teacher) describes it as "a story of a girl (Esther Stafford) from 16 to 23, just 7 years. She dies at 23, so similar to her own life. I wonder if it was imagination or autobiographical maybe. It reads like a minstrel or a bard recounting / singing a tale to preserve history and it really touched me. Very sensitive and religious. The moral is 'don't let pride get in the way of love'. It took me a while to get used to the style but it made me cry. So sad and yet beautifully descriptive. It's hard to imagine it was written by one so young but then Kate Bush was the same. It's set in the hall and the falls around Ullswater at the beginning, but then life's journey of joys and sorrows goes to London..a tale of love, pride and sorrow. In particular I liked the description on pages 20 - 22, 39,40,79, 87,114, 121 to the end"

Jane Elizabeth Holmes, never got to see her poem in print, although that was her desire.

Sadly, she died in 1863 at the age of 24 and her poem  was sent to print by her family, in 1865 and published by HJ Tresidder, 17, Ave Marie Lane, London EC and printed by Spottiswoode and Co. 5, New Street Square, London EC.

I found a hard copy in the archives of Joan Hackworth Weir in 2021, which belonged to her forebear, John Wesley Hackworth, son of Timothy. The page with the signature is on this page below. The book was already on line as a pdf and in other formats which you can view here.

Here is the book / Poem Esther by Jane Elizabeth Holmes, in pdf form and below it you'll find some background to the poem and also Jane's family history.

This is a link to where the book Esther is located on Open Books

Who Was Jane Elizabeth Holmes?
First a disclaimer: While sharing the same name, Jane Elizabeth Holmes, the author of Esther, was NOT Mrs Jerram! If you search the internet, the book Esther, Jane's name is associated with Mrs Jerram as author but it is an error. Mrs Jerram, whose maiden name was also Jane Elizabeth Holmes, published a book called The Children's own Story Book and Dialogues for Nursery in 1849 but not Esther. Esther was written by another Jane Elizabeth Holmes - a grand daughter of Timothy Hackworth. According to this  site
Mrs Jerram was married in 1836 which is two years before the author of Esther was born! Also the author of Esther never married.

This is what the site says of Mrs. Jerram "Predominantly a children’s writer, Jane Jerram wrote under two names, her birth name Jane Elizabeth Holmes and Mrs Jerram. She was married at St Mary’s in 1836. Under the wing of the Nottingham writer Mary Howitt, Jerram wrote in the easiest language she could command “so that a child of three years old can understand it,” as she wrote in her introduction to her 1937 book The Child's Own Story Book; Or, Tales and Dialogues for the Nursery."

And no mention of Esther on that site! here is some biographical details of the author of Esther.

Jane Elizabeth Homes - Author of Esther Published 1865 (1838 - 1863)

Jane Hackworth-Young (descendent and researcher for the Timothy Hackworth

Museum at Shildon, Co Durham UK) has provided the following - 

Jane Elizabeth Holmes was the grand daughter of Timothy Hackworth, Superintendent of the Stockton and Darlington Railway and inventor and Locomotive engineer who built the Royal George.

Her mother was Elizabeth Hackworth, third child of Timothy Hackworth and she married Benjamin Holmes on the 8th November 1837 and they settled in Leeds where he was a Linen merchant. The couple had 4 children Jane Elizabeth (07.11. 1838 - 20.10. 1863). Ann (13.07.1841 - 08.12.1898), Mary (26.03. 1843 - not known) and Samuel Holmes 09.11.1845 - 1920).

Her father Benjamin Holmes died on 05.01.1847 from Phthisis (TB).

The little family then returned to Soho Cottage to stay with Timothy Hackworth and his wife Jane. Timothy died in 1850 and Jane in 1852 and so Elizabeth and the family went to live with Prudence (5th child of Timothy Hackworth). Prudence rented a farm in Heighington in Co Durham. 

Education - Prudence ran her own school in Penrith in the 1840's a Seminary for Young Ladies - the building is still there - and it is where Jane Elizabeth went to school - presumably from the age of 5 to about the age of 8 when her father died and they moved in with Timothy Hackworth. Elizabeth would have probably been familiar with the Pooley Bridge and Ullswater which is only some 4 or 5 miles from Penrith and this formed the background to her poem Esther. it is likely that she wrote the poem later though as the introduction to the book states that she finished the last lines of Esther two years before her death - about 1861 when she was 22 / 23. Prudence had to give up the school after her parents died and rented a farm at Heighington and brought Elizabeth and her children including Jane Elizabeth, to live with her. It's not hard to imagine that Prudence continued to have an education influence on Jane Elizabeth after the move.

In the introduction to the book it is written "Her school days were were passed in the neighbourhood of the English lakes where the scene of this poem is laid. Imagination ,emotion stirred, descriptive powers, tenderness and pathos and charmed with the purity of sentiment pervading the whole."

Jane Elizabeth became seriously ill in 1854 when she around 16 years old and a letter it says "Leeches were applied to her temples and cat-collops to the soles of her feet" She survived and she and her two sisters were full of fun and were known as the "three beautiful Miss Holmes".

I've no idea how long it took her to write it or if she revisited the location of the poem but it's clear it was written in her early 20's.

In terms of personality, we are told in the introduction that "her temper was naturally sweet and her manners gentle and graceful, adorned as they were by the higher excellences of Christian holiness which rendered her greatly endeared and universally beloved."

Jane Elizabeth never married. Jane's younger brother was Samuel Holmes who left for America, an engineer who wrote the proposed introduction to Robert Young's book on Timothy Hackworth which we have published on this site.

Below - Soho Cottage New Shildon where Timothy Hackworth and his wife lived.

Notes on Esther - The Poem 1865

The poem starts off rhythmically and descriptively but soon picks up and carries the story. Set mostly in Ullswater with references to Pooley Bridge and is largely set  by Aria Falls and Lyulph's Tower where Wordsworth gained the inspiration for Daffodils and The Somnambulist (or sleepwalker) and in fact Jane refers to Sir Eglamore from Wordsworth poem in her own. There is some good description of Penrith's history, in rhyme page 20-22. 

You can read more here

Below Lyulph's Tower


Lyulph's Tower

Aira Force

John Wesley Hackworth's signature in his copy. Jane Elizabeth Holmes would be his niece. The cover of our copy is red not greem.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Samuel Holmes - A Proposed Forward to Robert Young's Book on Timothy Hackworth.

This pdf below, by Samuel Holmes is published here as a resource and was for the FOREWORD to 'Timothy Hackworth & the Locomotive' by Robert Young.  Jane Hackworth Young, who sent this copy, says

 "As it went to 75 pages. Robert Young wanted to be very careful at not completely degenerating George Stephenson, but it does contain some very important details as well as some incorrect ones."

Who was Samuel Holmes?
Jane, who has been busy transcribing letters written by Samuel Holmes to his cousin Robert Young (both men grandsons of Timothy Hackworth) says in an article in Globe, a journal published by the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway that "the letters verify many claims and provide invaluable information to researchers. The main aim of Samuel and Robert was to obtain recognition of Timothy Hackworth's important contribution to the Steam Locomotive. Both were well qualified to write about him as they were successful engineers - Samuel in New York and Robert in Malaya. While Robert's claims were measured, Samuel sometimes overstated the case."

 While more information has come to light since, this forward from the 1920's may be a useful resource for anyone researching the history of the locomotive.

Jane Hackworth Young writes - "Samuel served a five year apprenticeship in the drawing office and shipyard of messers Pease and Co in Sheffield and was then appointed its chief draughtsman, so the Pease / SDR connection remained. In 1870 Samuel was contracted to build an iron road for the Canadian Government. He went on to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad,subsequently setting up his own shipping business and then moving to New York. Samuel Holmes died in 1920. Samuel,who retired in 1916, wrote letters of advice to Robert Young, supporting Timothy Hackworth's engineering skills and this PDF tract was a proposed but unused forward to Robert Young's Timothy Hackworth & the Locomotive'.

Samuel Holmes (Timothy hackworth's Grandson) in Quebec.

 The Globe - Journal of the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Edited by Caroline Hardie.

Samuel Holmes Proposed Forward to Robert Young's Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive. You can scroll down it or click the arrow top right to see it full size and down load or print via Google Drive.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Railway Centenary Supplement 1925 - Northern Echo.

Among the archives of Joan Hackworth Weir, we found this Northern Echo supplement from 1925 and it's here on pdf to view online or download if you click on the arrow back to google drive where it is hosted. This is a scan of this A3 sized magazine. There are some very interesting articles and photos in this but someone suggested that you check some of the facts in places.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Timothy Hackworth Museum - 40th Anniversary - Jane Hackworth Young

This article was sent to my by Jane Hackworth Young who was also the author of the piece.

The 2nd Railway Centenary 2025

Hackworth descendants 1975 - left Ulick Loring - in Pink Joan Hackworth Weir and in white Margaret Weir.

Ulick Loring, Joan Hackworth Weir, Jane Hackworth Young.

Ulick Loring, Reginald Young and Jane Hackworth Young.

Friday, 10 July 2015

'The Accomplishments of Timothy Hackworth' Article for Northern Echo July 1950

This proposed article (or series of notes towards one) was submitted to The Northern Echo on July 1st 1950 by Esther Alderslade (Nee Hackworth) of  Thornaby on Tees on the Centenary of  Timothy Hackworth's death. Timothy died in 1850. The Northern Echo covered Timothy Hackworth on many occasion and interviewed the family along the way but on this occasion the article was rejected by the editor as they had planned to do a "staff article on rather different lines". However, the article below, some of which pulls out information from Robert Young's book Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive, gives a useful overview of Timothy's many achievements as a Railway engineer and a man of the community - ie New Shildon.

First - here is Esther's letter and the reply from the Northern Echo -

by Esther Alderslade (nee Hackworth), including content abridged from Robert Young's book Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive. On the occasion of  the Centenary of his death in 1950

On the approach of the Centenary of  Timothy Hackworth's death it may be of interest to revive the memory of some of the work he accomplished.

To the question "Which was the first successful Locomotive?" the vast majority of people would answer without hesitation "George Stephenson's Rocket". Few people are aware that the problem of steam locomotion as a commercial proposition was solved in 1827 when the Royal George was built by Timothy Hackworth.

The promise of the Stockton and Darlington Railway which was opened with such enthusiasm in 1825 by Locomotion No 1 had not been fulfilled. Shares were falling, most shareholders wanted to sell and the company all but decided to revert to horsepower.

The Royal George and the Steam Blast Pipe Letter.
On Timothy Hackworth's undertaking to build a locomotive which would meet with requirements, the
Hackworth's Royal George 1827 had the steam Blast pipe.
Royal George was built as a last experiment. For the sake of economy, an old boiler was used and adapted. Amongst a number of new features in this locomotive the most important was the Steam Blast Pipe which was attached for the first time. The Royal George was a great success and was the first locomotive to exceed the efficiency of horsepower, carrying coal at less than half the cost. It opened a new and successful era of the locomotive. Two Years later in 1829 George Stephenson built The Rocket which made him famous.

The origin of the Steam Blast Pipe, which was the deciding factor in making steam locomotion triumph over horses, was never disputed until Samuel Smiles wrote his book on George Stephenson. (link is to a free pdf book download) In this, with little experience, he attributed the invention to him. There is still in existence, however, an original letter written by George Stephenson to Timothy Hackworth which proves that he knew nothing of the blast pipe at the time the Royal George was built. The popularly entitled  'blast pipe letter' from George Stephenson to Timothy Hackworth can now be see on this site here -

Jane Hackworth Young with the 'blast Pipe letter' c2004 at Locomotion.

Middlesbrough (Port Darlington) and Timothy Hackworth's Coal Staithes 1830
An event in which Timothy Hackworth played prominent part was the extension of the railway to Middlesbrough and the opening of the latter as a port. It may be difficult for us to imagine Teesside without this now dominating industrial port, but in 1829 it only consisted of one house called 'Parrington's Farm', or shepherd's hut and a large swamp. Being nearer the mouth of the river, however, it was better situated than the older town of Stockton, where the river narrows to take large ships and the coal export trade was growing.
Hackworth's Coal Staithes, Middlesbrough 1830

The Railway company advertised for plans for the construction of shipping staithes, offering premiums of 150 guineas and 75 guineas for the best designs. This attracted many engineers of talent and after a patient investigation of 15 plans, the first premium was awarded to Timothy Hackworth and the second of 75 guineas to J. Cooke of Yetholm.(Scotland)

From Bards and Authors of Cleveland -
George Markham Tweddell 1872
In 1830, Hackworth started the construction of the Staithes on behalf of the Railway company. He made all the contracts and superintended the erection and completion of the whole in accordance with his own designs. The staithes were on original lines, excited much interest at the time, and efficiently served their purpose for many years. 'Lip vessels' could be loaded one at a time. The wagons were lifted by steam power twenty feet and covered by means of a cradle from 'sheer legs'. There was an ingenious contrivance by which a loaded wagon in descending raised an empty one and replaced it on rails to take to a siding. 1. (For a description of the Staithes, see the longish footnote at the end of this post - by George Markham Tweddell - local poet, author , printer, publisher and people's historian)

On December 27th 1830, the railway extension to Middlesbrough was opened and the coal Staithes were put into operation for the first time. The coal was duly shipped and the proceedings concluded with a repast served in the gallery of the Staithes where no less than 600 people were feasted under the chairmanship Francis Mewburn.

There were great demonstrations of joy with free rides, firing of guns, toasts and speeches. A medal was struck for the occasion with the Staithes on one side and the new railway suspension bridge over the Tees on the other. ed's note  (In 1980, Jane Hackworth Young launched the plaque to commemorate the Staithes and honour Timothy Hackworth.)

John Wesley Hackworth delivers the first Locomotive to the Tsar of Russia 1836
Amongst the many inventions claimed by the Russians as their owner, is the important one of the Locomotive. It may therefore be of interest to recall the story of the first one ever to run in Russia. This was designed and built at Shildon by Timothy Hackworth. The duty of introducing the locomotive into Russia devolved upon Hackworth's son John Wesley Hackworth, then not quite 17 years old. He was a tall, well set up youth, a keen and clever engineer, absorbed in his profession and in his appearance, much older than his years.

John Wesley Hackworth
Young Mr Hackworth, with a small staff, set off to Russia in the autumn. At that time of the year the ordinary channels of communication were closed and they had to land at an open port in the Baltic, then make the journey to St. Petersburg by sleigh in weather that was so severe that the spirit bottles broke with the frost and they had to run the gauntlet of a pack of wolves.

Hackworth's foreman - George Thompson from Shildon deserves special mention for a smart piece of work which he carried out. When the engine had worked a few days, one of the cylinders cracked and Thompson made the arduous journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow, a distance of 600 miles, to the ordinance factory, made a pattern for the cylinder, got it cast, bored out and fitted, returned to St. Petersburgh and fixed it in the engine.

The locomotive was taken from St. Petersburgh to Tsarskoye Selo where the Imperial Summer Palace Tsar Nicholas and a distinguished company in November 1836.
was situated. It was here that the locomotive started in the presence of

John Wesley Hackworth was introduced to Tsar Nicholas who told him of a visit paid to England in 1816 before his accession to the throne, when he had witnessed with great pleasure the running of Blenkinsop's engines on the colliery line from Middleton to Leeds. The Tsar added some complimentary remarks regarding the new locomotive under their present inspection, saying he "could not have conceived it possible so radical a change could have been effected within twenty years."

The engine, before being brought into public requisition had to be put through a baptismal ceremony of consecration according to the rites of the Greek church. This was done in the presence of the assembled crowd. Water was offered from a neighbouring bog or 'stele' in a golden censer, and sanctified by immersions of a golden cross amid the chanting of choristers and intonations of priests while a hundred tapers were held around it.

This was followed by the invocation of special blessing upon the Tsar and Imperial family, and fervent John Wesley Hackworth was an involuntary partaker.
supplications that on all occasions of travel by the new mode, just being inaugurated, they might be well and safely conveyed. Then came the due administration of the ordinance by one priest bearing the Holy censer while a second, operating a huge brush and dipping in the censer dashed each wheel with the sign of the cross, with final copious showers all over the engine, of  which

Mr Hackworth was granted a passport to travel anywhere he wished in Russia, where he stayed for a while introducing the railway. He returned to England wearing a beard. Of this, his family did not approve but he retained it and some years after the Russian war, beards became fashionable in England.

It would appear that the Russians have got their history rather mixed, and it was the Victorian beard they were responsible for not the locomotive! These achievements form only a small part of  Timothy Hackworth's  life work. he built a large number of locomotives of very varied designs and his inventions were numerous. Rarely did he use the patent office, freely giving his ideas to the world.

Timothy Hackworth, the man
Jane Hackworth (nee Golightly)
Timothy's wife
Although so absorbed in mechanical pursuits he found time for other occupations. The life of the district was Timothy Hackworth as an apprentice was a passport to another job for those who chose to go further afield. He took a personal interest in all, and looked upon them not as 'hands' but fellow workers.
his concern, for most of the people were his employees of his own or the Railway company' and the town of New Shildon grew up around his works. It has been said that Shildon Works was the school of the education of many of the most eminent engineers in the profession. To have been in the employ of

At first there was no place for worship in the neighbourhood so he set himself to provide one, setting aside a room in his own house for the purpose. Through his exertions Methodist chapels were eventually erected in Shildon and new Shildon.

So ardent was he that he had left the church because he could not be a lay preacher there. With both Mechanics Institute of which he
Methodists he occupied every office as a layman, and as a preacher was very popular. Local preaching was very strenuous in those days as it entailed much walking to the various villages in the circuit. He was very fond of children with whom he was a favourite and he gave much time to Sunday school work. He constructed a society class meeting which was extraordinarily successful. It grew so large it had to be divided again and again. For many years he was president of the New Shildon
was one of the founders.

When the British Association for the Advancement of Science was formed, Timothy Hackworth became a member and attended some of its meetings. His home life was very happy, with a large family and a good wife who entered wholeheartedly with all his schemes. Being very much appreciative of music, his daughters were carefully instructed in the art and he himself taught his children to dance.

Hackworth House, Shildon
With Hackworth's Ulick, Reg and Jane
The care of the garden was another pastime which he enjoyed. His position as a pioneer in engineering John Wesley) .It was a great pleasure to show hospitality to all who came. Thus busily and happily with little person ambition for wealth and fame, passed the life of  Timothy Hackworth, a benefactor of mankind who earned the respect and affection of all around him. He passed away after a short illness at the age of 64 and was buried in the churchyard of  Shildon Parish Church where the whole population assembled to pay tribute for his character and also for the people of Shildon, that in this age of speed and quick forgetfulness they pause to remember one who died a hundred years ago.
brought many visitors and his interest in Methodism made his house the destination of most visiting preachers. (He was a personal friend of

Mrs Esther Alderslade (nee Hackworth) 1.7.1950

Footnote 1.            From -   A HISTORY MIDDLESBROUGH  
From the Tweddell family archives originally published in Bulmers North Yorkshire directory 1890 and
George Markham Tweddell
described by historian Asa Briggs, as the best history of the town, when he was researching his book Victorian Cities. This is an extract from the full history which can be read here on my Tweddell Hub site.
George Markham Tweddell on the coal staithes in Middlebrough.
"The railway to Middlesbrough was opened December 20th, 1830, with a train of passengers and coal, one immense block of "black diamonds" from the Old Boy Colliery figuring conspicuously, which, when broken, was calculated to make two London chaldrons. Staiths had already been erected to load six ships at one time, and the visitors witnessed the loading of the Sunnyside, under the management of Mr. William Fallows, then in his thirty-third year, who the year previous had been appointed agent to the Stockton and Darlington Railway at Stockton, and who, in 1831, became a permanent resident of Middlesbrough, where for fifty-eight years he was a main mover in every movement for the material, mental, and moral progress of the place of his adoption. The mode of loading the vessels laying along the low-banked river was very ingenious. Each waggon of coal was run on to a cradle, then raised by steam power to the staiths, and lowered by "drops" to the decks, a labourer descending with each waggon, undoing the fastening of the bottom, and thus allowing the coals to fall at once into the ship's hold, when he ascended with the empty waggon, which was returned to the railway with the same machinery, In the principal gallery of the staiths, covered in and adorned for the festive occasion, and lighted by portable gas - the first ever burnt in Middleshrough - a table, 134 yards long, loaded with provisions, supplied the needed bodily refreshment to nearly six hundred hungry spectators, all of whom entertained glowing hopes of the prosperity of the new venture. But none then were so very sanguine as to imagine, for one moment, that its miles of streets would ever extend far beyond the proposed new town; that it would soon become a municipal borough, with Mr. Fallows for one of its mayors and justices of the peace; that in thirty-seven years' time it would have its own special representative in the House of Commons; and that, in the lifetime of some then present, its manufactures, both useful and artistic (its Linthorpe pottery among the latter), would become famous throughout the world."

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


(An interview conducted by Margaret Weir and Trev Teasdel in 1995)

"An insight into the conjoining of the Parsons family and descendants of Timothy Hackworth in  Stockton and Thornaby And a fascinating glimpse into the social and economic life of late 19thC / early 20th C Teesside."

Joan was a great storyteller and these stories had been handed down through the family...

  • The Parsons and the Hackworths 
  • Migration from Staffordshire to Teesside in 19thC
  • A Stockton Story - Castlegate and Thistle Green, Pubs and Property
  • Making a Mint of Cherry Fair Day 
  • A Redcar Story - Surviving Poverty
  • Sugar Mill Manager - Pumphreys, Thornaby
  • Harry Parsons marries Prudence Winifred Hackworth
  • And much more...
Joan Hackworth Weir nee Parsons was the great great granddaughter of Timothy Hackworth through Timothy's son John Wesley Hackworth. Born at 43, Stephenson Street, Thornaby on Tees in September 1920, she appeared with the Hackworth relatives as a 5 year old in the Northern Echo during the 1925 Centenary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, and as this site shows, kept a goodly amount of  the Hackworth archives, handed down to her through the John Wesley Hackworth line.

A five year old Joan Hackworth Weir nee Parsons centre
during the 1925 Stockton and Darlington Railway Centenary.

'Blast Pipe Letters'
Joan's archives included material now referred to as the 'Blast Pipe Letters' from George and Robert
Joan, in pink, at the opening of the Timothy Hackworth Museum
Shildon 1975 with daughter Margaret, Ulick Loring etc.
(on this site) that purport to prove that Timothy had the 'Blast pipe' before the Stephensons on the Royal George and before The Rocket. The family were custodians of this material and the archives show that they discussed the content with various magazines and newspapers along the way as well as providing access to Robert Young, the Hackworth descendant who wrote Timothy Hackworth and the Locomotive. The letters were donated to NRM at Shildon in 2004 via her cousin Jane Hackworth Young and caused much debate among Locomotive historians.

Her lineage on the Hackworth side was Timothy Hackworth - John Wesley Hackworth - Albert Hackworth and Prudence Winifred Hackworth who married Harry Parsons in Stockton on  Tees. Joan married John Weir, a soldier based originally at Fort George in Scotland.  From Albert Hackworth onwards, the family lived in Thornaby on Tees where Joan, a Cleveland County librarian, campaigned for the original Thornaby library to remain open. After marriage, the family moved to Stokesley and latterly to Great Ayton in North Yorkshire. She had one daughter - Margaret Weir and four grandchildren. Joan passed away in her 80's in 2007.


Joan was the daughter of  Prudence Winifred Hackworth and Harry Parsons, who at the time of Joan's birth, was an assistant foreman fitter at the Bridge works, Head Wrightsons. We asked her to tell us about her father's side of the family first - The Parsons.

"Henry Parsons was my great granddad and one of  5 brothers who came north from Staffordshire during the Industrial Revolution to make their fortunes in the Iron and Steel industry. They settled in Stockton in Castlegate and Thistle Green and other parts of  Teesside and they all had biblical names like Elijah, Eli and Daniel."

Martin Parsons adds "Their paternal line can be traced to the Parsons of Baptists End, Netherton, Dudley who were mostly Ironworkers and many of them migrated to the North East in the 1800's when a rich seam of iron ore was discovered in the Cleveland Hills, particularly at Eston near Middlesbrough. Dudley, it lay in a small enclave of Worcestershire completely surrounded by Staffordshire. It is now part of the West Midlands"

Thanks to Martin Parsons Wikitree site we have the following profile of  Henry -

Henry Parsons Profile
Born 1823 in Netherton, Nr Dudley. Moved to Stockton on Tees where he owned two pubs and various properties in the Castlegate and Thistle green areas of Stockton all of which were redeveloped in the 1970's. Henry was Son of Thomas Parsons and Sophia Whitehouse. Husband of Hannah Maria Roper, born 1836 in Dudley and died February 1905 in Thornaby. They married July 10, 1854 in St Thomas, Dudley, Worcestershire, England. Brother of William Parsons, William Parsons, Samuel Parsons, Thomas Parsons,Thomas Parsons, Phoebe Parsons, Mary Ann Parsons, Elijah Parsons, Daniel Parsons, Nanny Parsons, Eli Parsons and Rosanna Parsons. Father of  Eli Parsons, Daniel Parsons, Henry Parsons, John Parsons and David Parsons. Died 1913 in County Durham. Presumably Stockton.
Stockton Castle via  Picture Stockton

Joan continues -
"The Swallow Hotel site is in Castlegate, roughly where Stockton Castle used to be and it was in that area that the early Parsons family settled in Stockton. They were located mainly in and around the High Street before it was redeveloped. It was a wider area than just the Swallow Hotel though, taking in Thistle Green where the library and police station now are..

The alleyway down the side of the Swallow was called Castlegate. When my father (Harry Parsons) was a kid, the gates were still there. There were lots of small streets and alleyways and 2 or 3 old pubs and one called the Vane Arms. The Vane family were part of Lord Londonderry's family.

The Vane Arms, Stockton High Street, via  Picture Stockton

Castlegate is also where my sister's husband's family had their workshop - they were Cabinet Makers and Joinery. (Joan's sister / Harry Parsons daughter) was Margaret Ruth Estelle Ferguson (nee Parsons) and her husband Donald Ferguson. There were other little businesses in Castlegate including a Locksmith, Tripestore etc. When they decided to redevelop Stockton High Street area in 1970, all of the people were offered new premises but none of them could afford the rent!!

They knocked all that property down on the site of what is now the Swallow Hotel, and in my time it was also the location of the Empire Cinema for years and years. The whole of the property along the side of the High Street where Boots and Woolworth were latterly was knocked down. (as can be seen in the photo below).
View from the south end of the site looking north towards Finkle Street – 
1970. Photograph courtesy of Cliff Thornton on the Picture Stockton website here

The Vane Arms and The Royal Hotel were there and the Royal Hotel was where I had my  wedding reception. The Vane Arms had a particularly interesting frontage but they swept it all away. It was outstanding.
Royal Hotel Stockton High Street.

Henry Parsons, owned property on Stockton High Street and Thistle Green. He was quite comfortably off.

Cherry Fair Day
They used to have a Cherry Fair Day with a Donkey Derby. The Donkey Derby was on Stockton High Street and it was a jollification, everyone enjoyed it. And if  Henry, didn't make a £100 on Cherry Fair Day, he was disappointed. (The implication is that he was never disappointed!). Considering that a pint of beer cost 1d penny back then, it took some doing! Obviously he wasn't hard up for a penny and he owned all this property.

Cherry Fair races 1904

My grandfather (John Parsons) knew some of them quite well. There were two sisters who were my father's friends and they lived in Stockton. One of them was married and had 2 sons and they used to be at my grandmothers sometimes and helped to entertain me as they were a bit older.

The sisters were my father's great aunts and one of them was a Methodist at Fairfield Chapel.

Of  the brothers Daniel Parsons was the youngest and was the father of my father's organist. My father, Harry Parsons, had a band who played in the front room at  Thornaby on Tees (Mansfield Road) - a classical quartet or quintet with piano. Harry played double bass in this classical ensemble. Mostly popular classical tunes.

This made Harry Parson's organist my grandfather's cousin. Harry Parson's organist and Joan's dad, were approximately the same age and although they were the same age, they were of different generations as one was the youngest of the lot that came up from Staffordshire.

When my father was little, his grandfather Henry would take him to Fairfield to visit one of his brothers.  My father said they had a beautiful garden with strawberry baskets in the summer but he wasn't big enough to pick them but he used to lie down on his tummy and bite them off with his mouth! Harry's mother (Lily Parsons nee Faith) would have been quite cross at the mess he was in because she was notoriously strict, so the aunts had to tidy him up before he went home!

Burning the Deeds!
It was great grandfather Henry Parsons who owned the pubs. Something happened - one day he came home very drunk and in a terrible mood and took all the deeds to all the property he owned and burnt them!
Now then, when it came to the time that all that property in Stockton was being redeveloped years later, if it had still been in the family, it would have been worth something. Oddly enough when my father was young, some people came to the house to offer to pay rent on the property that my great grandfather owned but they couldn't take the money as they had no proof of ownership! The property that he owned that they offered to pay rent for was in the Thistle Green area of Stockton, which is now where Stockton Police Station and the library are.

My grandfather, with some of the cousins, thought they should contact a solicitor to see where they stood about the property and the solicitor said they would have to research all of the relatives dates and birth since, before they could put in any claim. They did this as far as they could but one relative was missing and that was it! They didn't get a penny and eventually, by default (or as Joan put it by devious means!) all that property became the property of  the solicitors!.

Anyway that's just one little family story!

John Parsons
My grandfather (John) spent his childhood in one of Henry's the pub and grew up running around the cellar where the beer barrels were kept, licking the drips off all the beer barrel taps. Later, in his 20's he had a very nice voice and joined the Apollo Male Voice Choir.

Thanks to Martin Parsons Wikitree site we have the following profile of  John Parsons.
"Born 1865 in Netherton, Worcestershire, England. Son of  Henry Parsons and Hannah Maria Roper. Brother of  Eli Parsons, Daniel Parsons, Henry Parsons and David Parsons. Husband of Lily Jane Faith, born about 1867 in Stockton on Tees, daughter of Thomas Faith and Anne Faith.

They married February 1889 in Stockton on Tees, Durham. Father of Ruth Parsons and Harry Parsons. Died date and location unknown. Presumably Thornaby on Tees."
Lily Jane Faith (Parsons)
My grandmother on the Parson's side was Lily Jane Faith. They were all steeped in music and taught the piano and would mend violins. My great grandfather on the Faith side was. Thomas Faith was a violin maker. He went to Whitby and met the daughter of a well off shipping family - Anne Faith whose maiden name was Gibson and they eloped in a coach and four to Stockton and got married. Her father (a Gibson) was a Whitby Whaler who lived in, we think, Stephenson Yard near the old part of the Whitby harbour early 1800's. Grandmother Lily Faith married John Parsons, Harry's father.

When John Parsons was a lad, he used to help the Doctor as an errand boy, delivering medicines because doctors back then made them themselves. John was very interested in medicine and would have liked to have been a doctor but his father wouldn't pay for him to be a doctor and sent him to work in the ironworks at 9 years old. He was self educated and actually quite well educated. He worked in the ironworks on and off all his life as a labourer really and never apprenticed.

It was through the course of his music that he met Lily Faith and asked her to marry him. Somehow he became a Quaker, possibly because grandmother Faith was a Quaker. She said she wouldn't marry him unless he became teetotal and he had to agree to sign the pledge. So he signed the pledge and used to run past all the pubs so he wouldn't be tempted to go in!

When the Quakers first came to Stockton they started a school to teach adults to read and write. John joined in with all of this. John and Lily were married in February 1889 and as far as I know, had a Quaker marriage. He always wore a wedding ring, a heavy gold band which was uncommon in those days.They got married they were only about 24 & 22. (When Joan was born (1920) Lily said ' she needn't think she's going to call me grandma" because she didn't like to be called grandma at a relatively young age! She would actually only be 31 in 1920.

Lily was ultra house-proud and John stuck to his word and never drank again but he was actually quite bigoted and when his daughter Ruth Parsons  who was middle aged by then, was given a bottle of champagne, John forbade her to bring it into the house and so she took it round to her brother Harry's house.
Stockton High Street showing the old cobblestones.

Anyway, John and Lily had a pretty rough time of it. When times were hard and he was out of work, they had to use the soup kitchen. They lived in a flat above a grocer's shop in Stockton (on the way out of Stockton). The grocer's shop was owned by John Towling. Harry was born in the flat above.  Harry used to ride his tricycle down the centre of Stockton High Street, which was all cobbled at that time. He got up to all kinds of mischief  like going fishing at Billingham Bottoms and bringing home a pail full of newts. Lily wouldn't have them in the house and poured them down the drain and nearly broke his heart. She wasn't very sympathetic like that.

Hard Times in Redcar
A postcard sent by Harry Parsons to Prudence W. Hackworth
Anyway when Harry Parsons was about 10 (about 1901), John and Lily hit a bad patch and decided to move to Redcar where Lily would run a boarding house. They did very well in summer but the winters were hard and Harry used to go down to the beach and help the fishermen bring in the boats and they used to give him a fish for his pains. That provided the family tea!

Harry went to a school run by the Methodist church and strangely, my mother  (Prudence Winifred Hackworth  (later  Parsons) went to that school too. She had been sent to Redcar for the sea air to try and help cure her asthma but they never remembered  knowing each other when they were children. Though later on when they had met and married,  I remember them talking of about their individual memories of the school.

Harry would go out of school at playtime and go down to the beach and catch crabs both for the family and to sell. When Winifred went home, after her asthma was better, the Parson family were once again in a pretty bad way.

Stockton High Street Hirings Day 1909

About 1901, at Christmas, John Parsons had gone to Stockton to see if he could find work of any sort at all.  Lily didn't have any money at all that Christmas and so there was no prospects of a Christmas dinner. However she was a woman who could make do with very little. So she must have been pretty desperate, the children (Harry and Ruth) would be about 10 and 11 at that stage and old enough to know what the situation was. Lily was a Quaker (and Harry said that this was one of his vivid childhood memories) - The house they lived in Redcar had 14 rooms. Lily took them into the kitchen and the 3 of them knelt down in front of the fire and prayed that the father would come back with something. Afterwards, they went to meet John off the last train back from Thornaby which arrived about midnight.

Pumphrey's Sugar Mill
This was Christmas Eve and the shops used to be open until midnight then. They met him off the train and said 'Have you got anything?' and he said "I've got a promise of job at Pumphreys (the Sugar company in Thornaby) and I've got an advance of a couple of shillings" and so they went to the only butchers that was still open and all they had left was a set of giblets and Lily made a pie of these and that was their Christmas dinner.

They moved back to Thornaby in the new year and John got his job at Pumphreys as a Sugar Mill Manager and there was a house that went with the job and they stayed in that house up until Joan's lifetime and Joan was actually born in that house in 1920, in Mandale Road in Thornaby, behind Thornaby town hall.

The Pumphrey family were all Quakers and that's how he got the job. He stayed there a very long time but eventually left and Joan thinks that is because of some disagreement with the Pumphrey family.

The last person to run Pumphrey was the youngest Pumphrey daughter Ruth Waters who lived in Great Ayton and she did some amazing black and white sketches which they used to sell at the Friends School in Great Ayton as Christmas cards. The Quakers had an adult school at Stockton and those who were educated helped to teach those who weren't. John was very well read and used to help there. He'd read all of  Dickens, the Bible and Shakespeare. He read any good book that came out. He was a quiet man but could hold his own in a conversation and was very well respected. On Winifred's and Harry's marriage certificate, John signed himself as Sugar Mill Manager and so was still there at the time, around 1919.

Harry Parsons and Prudence Winifred Hackworth

Thanks to Martin Parsons Wikitree site and Ulick Loring's Hackworth site we have the following profile Harry Parsons -

Born about 1891 in Stockton On Tees. Died 1968. Son of  John Parsons and Lily Jane Faith. Brother of Ruth Parsons. Father of  Joan Hackworth Weir nee Parsons 1920 - 2007 and Margaret Ruth Estelle Ferguson nee Parsons (1932 - 72 - and a Hackworth. Grandfather of  Margaret Weir bn 1956. Great Grandfather of  Kieron and Tristan McGarry and Kyle and Kristian Teasdel. Married to Prudence Winifred Hackworth Thornaby 1919. Prudence Winifred died Thornaby 1956 and was the daughter of Albert and Esther Hackworth, Granddaughter of  John Wesley Hackworth and Great granddaughter of Railway pioneer Timothy Hackworth.

Lily the Midwife - The birth of Joan Hackworth Parsons (later Weir)

When Winifred was quite advanced in her pregnancy, Joan was lying on a nerve or muscle so that Winifred could hardly walk and so grandma Lily was the kind of person who before midwives helped at births and deaths and things like that and that's why Winifred was staying with Lily at the time. Winifred had a pretty tough time of it and after 3 days in labour the doctor said "I've got to save the baby or the mother and I don't think I can do both." Luckily, however, both mother and baby survived. Joan's was a forceps birth. When Harry first saw her, her face was very squashed, one of her ears was stuck back and so they used sticking plaster and it was bent forward and her nose was bent to the side, so they fixed it with sticking plaster too. The sticking plaster worked because Joan's daughter remembers her with her nose and ears in the right position!

"We lived in Gordon Terrace, Thornaby, in the last row of houses. There were just fields behind our house at that time - the early 1920's - right up to where the airfield is now.

My mother was a Prudence Winifred Hackworth and my father was Harry Parsons. His mother was Lily Jane Faith who married John Parsons, so the Hackworths side came in with my mum and dad. Winifred was the granddaughter of  John Wesley Hackworth.

How Did Harry and Prudence Meet?
Prudence Winifred Hackworth / Parsons

Ah! Well, there again music played a large part because after the grandparents moved back to Thornaby, my father left school when he was only 13 and he kept going down to Head Wrightsons to ask for a job. He went to the tool room foreman and he kept saying "Why do you want a job?" and he said "I want to be an engineer". Harry kept turning up with great regularity and eventually the foreman called Mr Marshall gave in and gave him a job. So he started an apprenticeship at 14 and he was so small at that stage they gave him a box to stand on, so he could reach the the work desk. When fully grown he was 5'10" tall. He wasn't exactly small but he hadn't really grown at that stage.

Anyway, during this period Ruth, his sister played piano and he learned to play violin and he had a cousin called Bert who actually had an organ at home. I'm not talking about a little Harmonium  - it was massive and in the sitting room. Bert was very involved with the church music and Sunday School - he was my father's cousin and they lived in Scarborough Street in Thornaby and because they had this musical thing in common, my father sort of gravitated towards the Methodist Sunday school and by that time the grandparents didn't mind so long as he was going to church.

Albert Hackworth
The Sunday school had an outing, like Sunday schools do and because the Hackworths were all  Methodists, because Timothy Hackworth was a personal friend of John Wesley (John Wesley would stay at Timothy's when he was in the area). My Mam (Prudence)  went to the local Methodist church - people went to Sunday School in those days until they were 16 or 17 and they had this outing. My Dad was 16  and my Mam 15 and he pushed her on a swing and I think that was how they met but of course Thornaby wasn't very big place and everybody sort of knew everybody else and of course the Hackworth family were well known just before the first World War because of Timothy Hackworth. By this time my mother's father, Albert Hackworth (John Wesley Hackworth's son) had died and her mother Esther Hackworth nee Williams,was a widow living on what money she had. She was the relative that came from Wales.

When my mother's parents - Albert and Esther - were just married, they lived in Sunderland and they didn't arrive in Thornaby for a while and of course, they were the first Hackworths to move to Thornaby. Anyway, that's how my mum and dad met. At the church they went around as a group of  boys and girls like kids do but eventually, having realised her mother was hard up, she realised that security was important and said she would marry him when he had a £100 saved up. That was a fortune then and so he decided he would go to Canada and make his fortune. So off he went with his cousin Bert and one of the Williams family, my Mum's uncle. They all went and my father stayed there and had a pretty hard time of it and was down to his last dollar, almost before he got any work there. He played violin over there but not for money but he said if you can play an musical instrument you can always find friends who were interested.

Anyway, he just about got his £100 saved up and the 1914 war broke out and they advertised in Montreal for people to volunteer and come over here in what was called the Workman's Army. They wanted skilled workers, so he thought it was a way of getting home, so he signed on for this and came home and was dumped in Barrow in Furness and sent to work at Vickers Armstrong. He was working on rifling for the big guns on ships and on things for submarines. he would only be 23/24 i suppose and of course all his friends were going to war and so he volunteered for every service in term and as soon as they asked him what his occupation was, they turned him down because he was too valuable where he was. He was working on the rifling that goes inside a gun that makes the bullet or whatever it is spin and working on those big guns on navel ships. he had a terrible time there in Barrow in Furness because they dumped ever so many thousand men there and they worked different shifts and as one got up out of bed another came home from work and fell into the same bed and having grown up with his mother, Lily Faith (Parsons) to whom cleanliness was next to godliness, it was hell.

(An interesting article on Barrow in Furness during World War 1 from the Independent)

There was one place he was so crawly that he bought himself a brand new set of clothes, went to the local Rice Pudding Lin, Kipperdelly Avenue and so on, and they knew where these places were.
Vickers Armstrong, Barrow in Furness
bath house, got bathed with disinfectant, wrapped the clothes in a sack and said to the attendant, you can burn those and moved out and found himself new lodgings. There was another place he wakened to find the person he was sharing a bed with had a TB haemorrhage and he left there and didn't go back and the food was shocking because they weren't paid very much - they were billeted like soldiers and he said the names of the streets got known because the housewives used to gang up and use certain recipes and foods to feed them. there was

Well eventually he asked if he could get transferred to Head Wrightsons where he served his apprenticeship
and that was how he got back to Thornaby and Head Wrightsons were producing for the war and had women working there for the 1st time, making bombs and shells amongst other things. And so he was lucky in a sense that he didn't see active service but he did want to go and because of that, dozens of  their friends never came back. He had a cousin, they never found him - just lost. It was pretty awful.

My Mam's name was Prudence but everyone called her Win. If anyone was ever called Prudence, it was my Mam, she wouldn't marry him until he had a £100 saved up and then she wouldn't marry him while the war was on, so they didn't get married until he was 26 and she 27 in 1919.

The £100 bought them a dinning room suit and the rest of the furniture was inherited from her mum's house, because after mother died, the three girls all lived together - Mary, Esther and Winifred - 3 Hackworth sisters. When my Mam and dad got married, Essie got herself a job, Essie and Mary were both teachers.

Esther and Mary Hackworth 1925
Mary was teaching at Stockton and went to live with her great aunt and uncle. Essie got herself a job at a Hutton Henry in County Durham. However, she can't have stayed there a long time because I never remember a time in my early life when Aunt Essie didn't live with us, until she got married when I was about 7 years old. Aunty Mary died, she had a weak heart and when she was only 30 and I was 5, she got rheumatic fever and she died of it. Their brother, the oldest one who was called Albert, named after his father, emigrated to Canada and started at an engineering company called the Worth Engineering Company. It was someone else whose name was Worth and he was victim of sugar diabetes and died of it before insulin was discovered. He died a few months before I was born - he must have died about 1920. So two of them died without being married and aunty Essie and Uncle Norman got married when I was 7 and they never had any family, so my sister and I were the only ones in this line, you see and then only me - it was shrinking and then expanded - it's interesting - the thing that impresses me is - in a sense it depresses me a bit about now, is the fact that they all valued education and knowledge and thought it was important.

The Other Christmas Story
Harry Parsons

When I was 9 or 10 and the depression was on and a lot of men were out of work, The local Methodist Church had what was called a brotherhood which was a special event on a Sunday afternoon. There was an orchestra and volunteers and my father Harry Parsons used to play his violin there, well at Christmas.brotherhood decided they would use some of their funds to give men who were out of work a Christmas gift, to help the family through Christmas and they elected a committee and it was suggested that each family should be given 10/- and my father said "Well, surely we can do a bit better than that, we have on our committee a man is the manager of a Coop foodstore. He could arrange to have parcels made up to the value of 10/- in groceries and this would mean a lot to the families. The whole family would benefit." So the committee agreed to do this. So then they said "We need volunteers to deliver these parcels" so my father volunteered to deliver some of the parcels and went out one Christmas eve on a parcel delivery. He'd been to see one family that he was particularly sorry for, they had small children, the mother had been ill and the father was very worried and they were hard up and my father felt very sorry for them. So he came home and he had a chicken for Christmas and he said to my mother, I'm going to give our chicken away and he told my mother why and she didn't object because she had a soft spot for the children and he gave it to this family who were very very grateful, because he remembered all those years ago when he nearly didn't have a Christmas dinner because they were hard up. Back then, there used to be a postal delivery on Christmas day and that year some people that we knew in the country sent us a chicken - we'd never had one before from them and we never had one afterwards so we had our Christmas dinner after all! Call it providence or what you will but there you are!

It was Brenda and Sheila's granny's farm - I went to school with them. That's where the chicken came from. Sometime before, my father had been ill and he'd lost the use of his legs and when he got better he went and stayed on the farm for a week to recuperate and they must have remembered and thought oh well, maybe they had the odd chicken that nobody had bought and just thought they'd send it.

Clack lane Ends, Osmotherly
The farm was at Clack Lane End, Osmotherly near Nether Silton. Brenda was only 10 when her father died and she passed her scholarship that year to go to the High School and Sheila and Joan came between them. Brenda was older and Sheila was younger. Brenda was at the High school (Constantine now part of Teesside University) in Middlesbrough. The boy, William, didn't go to the High school and the grandmother mother had a 10/- widows pension which is all it was in those days and she ran a Corsetiere business, Spirella Corsets and they would them a chicken too. They always sent them one and other things they had and Mrs Sadler's sister was married to the inspector of weights and measures, so he had a reasonably good job and no family and they used to buy the kids things like winter coats, the aunts and uncles, in the summer holidays and that was how I once went to visit them on the farm at Nether Silton, Clack Lane Ends, Near Osmotherley.

It was a beautiful day, from Stockton to Clack Lane end, one little pub there then. The girls came to meet me and then we had to walk and everybody in the fields said good morning and it seemed like a long walk. It wouldn't be quite at Nether Silton but that was the address. There was an old granny who was at that time still unmarried. There were two unmarried brothers who did the outside farm work and they had one of these huge scrub white wood tables and a stone floor.

We had rabbit pie and I never liked Rabbit pie so I didn't get to eat it. I don;t know what else we had but it was very nice. I had a lovely dinner there but was a bit timid of  all the animals. They were used to them. They went to bring the horse in that had been working in the field, a shire horse and they rode on his back, both of them. The horse stopped in the middle of the duck pond. I suspect it was hot and the duck pond would be cool for its feet. It stayed there for a few minutes and kept patting its rump part saying 'come on'.

A sketch of  Joan's father, Harry Parsons.

John Wesley Hackworth 1820 - 1891
Joan's great great granddad
and Timothy Hackworth's son.
John Weir as a young soldier at Fort George, Scotland.