REDWORTH is a small village that clings to the side of a hill and has the A6072 from Heighington to Shildon running through it.

In fact, it is said that in 1744, when Robert Surtees was building Redworth Hall, he looked out of his window and decided he could see too much of the plebs’ houses in the village. Therefore, he had them all moved further down the hill towards Shildon so they didn’t interfere with his view of the countryside.

Robert had the money and inclination to do such a thing – afterall, he was demolishing the mediaeval manor house that had been the home of his new wife’s family for centuries just so he could replace it with a hall – but whether he really did is doubtful.

Loading article content

However, the Surtees family did once own practically all of the cottages in the village and they definitely stand outside Robert’s tall walls and they are low enough not to obscure his expensive outlook.

Because of the patronage of the Surtees, Redworth did quite well: in 1851, it had a population of 322 and it supported two pubs, a blacksmith, a cartwright and a grocer’s. In 1878, a Wesleyan Chapel was built (it is now a community centre) and towards the end of the century, Redworth even got its own post office.

The pubs were called the Pack Horse Inn and the Surtees Arms. The Pack Horse, on the steep village green, was famed locally for "the bull ring game". A ring was suspended from the ceiling by a cord which was the same length as the distance to the wall on which there was a hook to catch the ring. The object of the game was to swing the ring so that it hooked on the hook – you probably had to be drunk to enjoy it.

The Surtees Arms was even more exciting. It is said that in its cellar was a secret tunnel down which smugglers could escape if ever the need for a hasty exit arose.

Opposite the Surtees was the blacksmith’s shop. It was in the smithy’s garden that the cameraman was standing in 1960 when he looked across the A6072 and photographed the houses that were about to be demolished so the road to Shildon could be widened. We published that picture on December 30, and noted that there was a very large garden gnome by the wall.

“I was born in the house, and the little girl in the garden is my cousin,” says Mike Lockett. “She is one of twins so there must be another gnome somewhere about – it could be either Jill or Jean Weatherall.

“When we lived there, it was known as Blacksmith’s House although it is now known as The Old Forge.”

The Northern Echo: REDWORTH CLEARANCE: This is looking north on the A6072 towards Shildon on May 10, 1960. On the back of the picture someone has written "bad corner at Redworth which is to be improved". All the buildings in the picture were cleared a part from th

The A6072 looking north towards Shildon through Redworth on May 10, 1960. To the right of the telegraph pole on the right of the picture is the Surtees Arms; every building to the left was cleared to make the road safer. The picture also features a large gnome in the garden of The Old Forge

ON the picture above of the Redworth gnome there is also a blurred car speeding around the corner, emphasising how unsafe the village was – a recurrent theme over the years.

There was unanimity among our old car spotters – that means that the cars they are spotting are old rather than that the spotters themselves are of advanced years – about the identity of the vehicle.

Ian in Teesdale, Mr Errington, Brian Wilkins, John Waddleton, Derek Lavery, Mark Cooper, John Middlemiss all agreed with John Weighell in Neasham, who said: “The car is a Vauxhall Wyvern. Two Vauxhalls used the same body but the Wyvern didn't have rear wheel spats but the Velox did. The Cresta used the same body but usually had two tone paintwork.”

John Biggs of Etherley Grange added: “It is a Vauxhall Wyvern E type, produced 1951 to 1956. This was Vauxhall’s first true post-war design. Basically, the same body could be had as a four cylinder (Wyvern) or six cylinder (Velox). The car in the photo has the grille found on the earliest E types and so it’s an early 1950s model.”

Rob Hind of Sadberge said: “I bought a Vauxhall Wyvern (E model) in 1959 for £12 and 10 shillings – it was my first car when I was a 17-year-old.”

Derek Jago in Bishop Auckland said: “The Vauxhall Wyvern was commonly called a Vauxhall Rot Box. The styling of the body was more forward thinking and more pleasant than most British post-war vehicles which generally were left-overs from pre-war times. However, the rust usually began to make its appearance once they reached two to three years old.

“I have a vivid memory of seeing one in my home town of Willington, with its maroon paintwork turning blue in patches as the rust mites got to work.”

Derek ends his email: “Happy New Year to you and to everyone who contributes to Echo Memories making it such an enjoyable weekly read.”

Indeed, many thanks, as ever, to everyone who contributes.