Research: Harold Hunter

My great uncle Harold Hunter was the second oldest son of William and Dorothy Annie May Hunter (nee House). He was born on 30th April 1933 in one of the two rooms that William and Dorothy were living in, in The Old Hall. The Old Hall is in Hedon, East Yorkshire. The photo below shows the hall from an old postcard. The two rooms that they were living in, were on the bottom right, which can be seen in the photograph below.Old Hall.jpg

The two photographs below show Harold as a toddler and young boy.

Harold attended Hedon School, which was just a tin hut then and was known as the Tin Tabernacle. It was on the site where Hedon Primary School is now. He then attended the Junior school on Market Hill and then Withernsea School.

Harold never took to school and he didn’t really like it. His daughter told me that she remembered my great-grandmother telling her that she would meet him at the bottom of the stairs with a comb and a slice of toast, and most mornings he would have to run across the road from their house, and after the bus, grabbing hold of the bar at the back, so that he didn’t miss it!

After leaving school, Harold worked at the Brickyard in Hedon where his father, Bill worked.

Harold was a member of the Hedon cadets, alongside his younger brother George. They can be seen in the photograph below, which was taken at Spurn Point in the 1940s. Harold on the far right of the front row, and George in the middle of the front row.

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In about 1949/50 Harold met a 16-year-old Aldbrough girl called Betty Collinson, at Holderness Ballrooms in Hedon. Betty used to bike from Aldbrough to Hedon in order to attend the dances there. She also attended the dances at Stamford Hall in Aldbrough. Because Harold didn’t think his name was ‘cool’, he told Betty that his name was Ron. All of Betty’s side of the family called and still refer to him as Ron!

Shortly after meeting Betty, Harold was called up into the army through the national service scheme of the time. The photo below shows Harold on the left and was taken in about 1951.

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Harold did 2 years in Germany for his National Service, and also did a spell of Sentry duty at Edinburgh Castle. He used to drive a jeep and a Universal Carrier, also known as the Bren Gun Carrier. Whilst he was away, Harold used to send Betty 10 shillings home every payday, and she saved it until he returned to England. The first photograph below shows Harold driving a jeep, and the second around shows Harold around the same time.

On 14th August 1954, Harold Hunter married Betty Collinson at Saint Augustine’s Church in Hedon, East Yorkshire. The couple went on to have 2 children; Susan Dorothy and Trevor. The photograph below shows Harold and Betty on their special day. Also on the photograph from left to right on the back row: Harold’s brothers Cec (William Cecil Hunter) and George Henry Hunter, and their grandmother Emma Eliza House (nee Cook).Image (68)

After their marriage, Harold and Betty first lived with Betty’s eldest sister, Ivy, who lived on Boulevard in Hull. The couple then moved into 8 St. Augustine’s Gate (the main street of Hedon).

Harold played football in his younger days. He often played as a halfback (Midfielder). The photograph below shows the Thorngumbald Rangers football team. Harold is on the back row, second from the right. My great uncle George (Harold’s younger brother) said that no one on the opposite team could ever get past Harold because no matter what it took, he wouldn’t let them!

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Harold’s cousin Doug Storey, told me that when he was younger, Harold and older brother Cec would make a make-shift boxing ring out of leaves on the ground of George Street in Hedon for him. They would both hold Doug’s head and tell him to try and fight them. Doug would keep trying to fight them and would get a few hits back, in order to toughen him up!

Harold worked at Salt End, at Hull Distillery, which is now called BP. He worked there with a lifelong friend called Freddie Mendham. He used to use cut ice there, which was then distributed to pubs and other businesses. One time, Harold cut off his thumb whilst using a band saw. Harold and another employee were both working together on a band saw. They both reached over to remove the excess ice, but the other employee knocked Harold’s hand into the  band saw, which resulted in his thumb being cut clean off. When the hospital reattached the thumb, they didn’t do it properly, which meant he was unable to use it properly.

Harold was promised a job for life at Hull Distillery because of the accident. He did work there for some time after the accident, but he eventually walked out of the job, following an incident that resulted in him punching a security guard!

In about 1958, Harold, Betty, Susan and Trevor moved into 30 Westlands Drive. This is where I remember uncle Harold and auntie Betty living.

Harold’s daughter told me that she has many happy memories of the holidays she shared with her parents and brother. Harold and Betty would always take their children to Butlin’s when they were younger, and as their children grew older they were taken to Great Yarmouth. Lots of other family members would also go with them. When Harold and Betty’s niece lived in Kent, they would also visit her with Harold’s brother, George and his wife Marie.

Harold worked at Paull Shipyard for a short period of time. He worked there as a welder and a labourer. After working at Paull Shipyard, Harold worked, for a short time, as a driver for Ralphs.

I have included another photograph of Harold that I like, below, alongside one of his wife Betty that was taken on the same day.

Harold worked at R.A. Johnson (Haulage) Limited, for about 27 years. He was a welder by trade and he also drove JCB’s, cranes, coaches and lorries etc. He drove the snow plough some winters when the weather was bad. He did a short spell driving a small crane for Johnsons on the Isle of Flotta, Orkney Islands. The photograph below shows him there. He is on the left of the photograph.

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After he was made redundant from Johnsons, he did a spell working for Billy Draper Junior welding and making skips. The photograph below shows Harold on his break whilst working for the company.

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Harold did a lot of volunteering work for the football clubs in Hedon during the 1970s/80s. He was the Chairman of the Hedon Men’s Football Club and also helped manage the under 14’s boys’ team, which 2 of his grandsons played for. He had a lot of time for the young footballers and their parents. There were many great times and laughs at the Cricket Club when there were fundraising events for the team. Many of the friends he made in the 80’s are still in touch with the family now.   The photo below shows Harold with one of the football teams from 1981. He is at the back holding the trophy.

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In 1977, Harold’s older brother Cec suddenly passed away at the age of 47. Then in 1982, Harold’s father William Hunter passed away at the age of 76. Harold was 48 years old at the time. This was a very upsetting time for not only Harold but also for the rest of the family. Harold thought a lot of his brother and father. He was devastated.

In his retirement, Harold enjoyed making wrought iron gates and was so proud of his work in Hedon and the surrounding villages. There are many of these gates and fences still around. Harold’s daughter told me that he used to drive around with her in the car and he would always point out the fences and gates that he made!

Harold also had a passion for golf. He made many friends whilst playing the sport and also at the functions and trips he went on. The photograph below shows Harold at a golf course with three of his friends. He stands 2nd from the right.image-120.jpg

Harold was very passionate about most sports, but rugby was his favourite. He followed Hull FC most of his life. When he wasn’t watching them on the television, he was at the games. He had a season pass and would go with his son, grandson and great-grandson. He liked nothing more than watching his beloved club.

The photograph below shows the dart committee. Harold is 3rd from right and his older brother Cec is on the far left. Harold was a good darts player and he won a lot of trophies.image-80.jpg

In 2001, Harold’s mother passed away at the age of 87. Harold and the rest of the family, including myself, were so upset when my great-grandmother died. Harold cared a lot about his mother. After his father had passed away he would often visit her in her bungalow, in order to make sure that she was ok. Harold used to have his mother around at his house for tea, a couple of nights a week, along with other family members such as my grandmother and his sisters-in-law. He would have everyone laughing, as usual!

In about 2012, Harold had a stroke, which left him immobile. He spent most of that year in hospital and in a care home, before returning back to his home later in the year. Despite being back home, he wasn’t very independent and had to sleep downstairs in a hospital bed. After his stroke, Harold’s life totally changed as he couldn’t do a lot of the things he enjoyed doing.

In 2014, Harold and Betty moved into a bungalow on Sergeant Close. They lived at number 6, which was next door to Harold’s brother George and wife, Marie. George and Marie had lived at number 5 for quite a few years already. The photograph below, which was taken a few years before they moved in, shows their homes. The bungalow with the red door on the left was Harold’s and the one to the right of it, was George’s. The appearance of these bungalows changed, such as when Harold became very immobile, he had to use a scooter so a ramp was installed. Harold also wanted to be able to see who was knocking at his door, so a friend of his fitted a tractor mirror to the outside of the living room window. These cannot be seen in the photo.

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The photograph below shows Harold (left) with his younger brother George (right). It was taken on 26th February 2015, during the wake of George’s late wife, Marie. The wake took place at the Kingston Theatre Hotel in Hull.

Harold and George Hunter

On the 14th August 2014, Harold and his wife Betty celebrated 60 years of married life – their Diamond Wedding Anniversary. They were so chuffed when they received a telegram from the Queen.  They had a little party at their bungalow and their picture was in the Hull Daily Mail.

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Harold sadly passed away on 26th July 2016 in Hull, East Yorkshire – a few months after an awful crime took place in his home. I have not included any more detail about this for the sake of my family. The funeral took place at St. Augustine’s Church in Hedon on 8th August 2016. It was a really nice service for him and a lot of family and friends were present, in order to see him off that very last time. A Hull FC flag was draped over his coffin along with his favourite cap. Harold’s cousin Tony, was dressed in his military uniform to honour the time that Harold had spent in the army. After the service, we walked to Hedon Town Cemetery and Harold was buried next to his wife Betty who had passed away 4 months before he did.

The photographs below show the gravestone and memorial bench for my great uncle Harold and his wife Betty. They are now laid next to each other once again, with their little dog called Sherrie.

I have very fond memories of “Uncle Harold” that range from being very young, to just before he passed away. I always remember him going to get his car from the garages at the back of my Grandma’s house, wearing his eagle cap, carrying his golf clubs and Sherrie his dog not far behind him. If we ever passed him, he would always talk to us and give me and my brother a pound each to go and spend on sweets.

He was always a joker, and I don’t think there was ever a time where I didn’t see him laughing or smiling. Even when he was in a lot of pain, and when he lost his beloved wife Betty, he would always make an effort to talk to you and make you laugh.

A more recent memory is from one of the many times I used to visit Uncle Harold at his bungalow with my Grandma. By this time he wasn’t very good on his feet but he managed around the house and would often be seen driving into Hedon for a paper and some fresh air. This one time though, he was telling me that he had seen a pear tree just around the corner from his home and that they looked like the best pears he’d seen for years, but he said that he couldn’t get them. I got up and told him that I wouldn’t be a minute. I ran to the garden, jumped over the fence and got as many pears as I could carry. When I went back into uncle Harold’s home, he had a massive grin on his face and started to laugh!

 

The next little paragraph was written by Harold’s daughter. “He had the most fantastic sense of humour and that never changed even when life dealt him a few blows.  He was a strong man who adapted his life to the changes he had to make. I think lots of people would have a story to tell about the laughs they have shared with him. He was a kind and genuine man with a lot of good friends, who adored his wife and family, and would do anything for them. His family was his pride and joy and he was so proud of all their achievements in life.”

I had a lot of time for my great Uncle Harold, as he had a lot of time for his family and friends. I will never forget him, his stories, his jokes, his laugh and all-around great personality. If you ever met him, you were very lucky.

Thank you very much for reading,
Tony.

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer Heron says:

    Lovely to read and remember someone I knew from being a child. His daughter Susan was in the same year as me at school. Fond memories. Well done.
    Jenny Heron

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tony Beacock says:

      Thank you very much for your comments Jenny, I really appreciate them!

      Like

  2. Louise Mabey says:

    What a wonderful account of your Great Uncle’s life, very heart-warming

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tony Beacock says:

      Thank you very much, Louise. That means a lot to me and I’m glad you found it interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Robert says:

    What a very interesting story. Certainly one of Hedon’s great characters.
    I was just wondering when Harold was in the Army Cadets was he at Magdalen Lane Camp.
    I was there late 50’s to early 60’s

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tony Beacock says:

      Thank you very much! He would have been in the cadets in the 40’s!

      Like

  4. Tracey Metcalfe says:

    Aww, how lovely is this💕Known to me as Uncle Ron( auntie Betty’s side of the family) was fab to read👍😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tony Beacock says:

      Thank you very much Tracey, I’m glad you enjoyed it! 😁

      Like

  5. Eileen Fox. says:

    Enjoyed reading your story, met both of your uncles as my uncle (Fred Witham) was the landlord of Queens head. Being a Hedon boy my other uncle (Harry Riseham) was a friend of theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tony Beacock says:

      Thank you very much for your comments! They were very well known and loved in Hedon!

      Like

  6. Val says:

    Sounds like he was a good bloke. You’ve a nice blog, I’ve followed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tony Beacock says:

      Thank you so much, Val. I have followed you back! You are great at colouring photographs, looking forward to seeing more!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tony Beacock says:

        You’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

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