A FORTNIGHT ago, we had a tentative report as part of our series on monkeys from Stuart Johnson of a monkey living on a long lead in a haulage depot in the village of Barton.

This was the Burns Bros depot which was in two large sheds behind the Half Moon pub on Marygate – the sheds, minus roofs, still stand. And minus monkey.

The Northern Echo: A monkey, possibly called Jacko, lived on a long lead in this haulage depot in Barton behind the Half Moon pub. Picture: Google StreetView

A monkey, possibly called Jacko, lived on a long lead in this haulage depot in Barton behind the Half Moon pub. Picture: Google StreetView

Steve Walton reports: “Back in the late 1960s, a group of us were coming back from Richmond one night on our motor bikes and one of us got a puncture just outside Barton on what was the old A1.

“We ended up at Burns Bros Transport next door to the pub. The fitter let us use the workshop to repair the bike and they had a pet monkey fastened up in the workshop tea cabin.”

Craig Alderson agrees: “I was born in Barton in 1970 and lived there until 1979. One of my friends was Paul Burns, and as children us Barton boys played in the two big sheds and I can recall being chased by the monkey.

“The name of the monkey escapes me – Jacko possibly, but it’s a lot of years ago and I was very young.”




The Northern Echo:

Bob Geldof with Patons & Baldwins staff, including Isobel Richardson on the left. He was promoting the Big Knit arm of his Band Aid fund raiser, and is wearing a knitted jumper which features a woodlouse which was the emblem on a Boomtown Rats' album in the 1980s

A COUPLE of weeks ago, Memories gave its talk entitled “P&B: Wonder Factory” to 120 ladies of the North Yorkshire East Federation of the Women’s Institute in the Golden Lion in Northallerton.

Patons & Baldwins’ wonder factory at Lingfield Point to the east of Darlington opened in 1947 and was the largest wool factory in the world, employing more than 3,500 people, mainly women. Indeed, in the early 1950s, a third of all female school leavers in Darlington started their working careers in this factory – it had a huge impact on the town’s economy and people.

The ladies of the WI kindly allowed in another male guest, David Richardson, from Barton-le-Street, near Malton. David's mother, Isobel, was the editor of the Stitchcraft magazine produced in conjunction with P&B in Darlington.

The Northern Echo: David Richardson's tapestry created by Patons & Baldwins to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 1975

To help illustrate the talk, David brought along some P&B memorabilia, including patterns, 1970s knitted jumpers and a tapestry (above) produced at the factory to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. If anyone can tell us how this unique woollen tribute to the railways came into being, we’d love to know.

The talk ends with the production of a beehive-shaped wool-holder (below) which P&B gave its customers in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Northern Echo: A clew, from Paton & Baldwin

P&B’s logo was a beehive, because wool workers are very industrious, and the wool-holder was placed over the knitter’s arm, with the wool coming out of the top and straight onto the needles so that it no longer rolled around the floor picking up dirt.

“It’s a clew,” shouted out a member of the audience, “as in I’m sorry I haven’t got a…”

She’s right. “Clew” was an ancient word for a ball of wound up wool or thread. In Greek mythology, Theseus unravelled a “clew of thread” as he went into the labyrinth. Having killed the minotaur at the centre of the unfathomable maze, he was able to follow the clew and escape from the labyrinth.

And so “clew” came to mean the key to finding a solution, something that puts you on the track of a discovery. Under the influence of the French tongue, it became a “clue”, but in the north of England until recent generations a “clew” was a dialect word for a ball of wool.

Our clew-holder seems to have been made out of Bakelite, so perhaps it was produced in Newton Aycliffe, and we believe it was available in three other pastel shades: rose, beige and light blue. You can still find these pieces of local history at car boot sales or at the back of cupboards.

Do you have one? Or are you going to reply: “No, sorry I haven’t got a clew-holder.”