Boldon History - People - Our Memories - Thomas Gibbon Kirton Header

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T.G. KIRTON 1872-1938  

My grandfather Thomas Gibbon Kirton was born in 1872 at Stone Cellars Farm Usworth, later going with his parents to Cleadon.
.His father Hugh Kirton was a farmer as was his grandfather Thomas Gibbon who farmed at Cleadon Hills Farm.
Thomas Gibbon's daughter Ellen Gibbon married my Great grandfather Hugh Kirton in 1871

In 1897 my grandfather married Margaret Armstrong, born in Cleadon who I have been told was a teacher at  East Boldon or it may have been Cleadon school before their marriage.
My grandfather started work at 15 years of age as a boy apprentice in the butchering department of the Boldon Co-operative Society Ltd. and subsequently became head of the department.

In 1917 he left the Coop to start business on his own account as a butcher at North Road Boldon Colliery which he carried out successfully until his death in 1938.

In his obituary in the Newcastle Journal it says that he was a member of the Deleval Lodge of Freemasons and also of local leek and vegetable societies
The obituary also mentions that he gained much popularity locally by his philanthropic acts during the depression. Amongst other things maybe this referred refer to his allowing customers extended credit, perhaps never expecting the bills to be paid  but hoping to retain their custom when times improved and the men were back in work.. Another thing which may have been referred to was, along  with many other local business men, councillors etc he may have made a contribution to the building of the aged Miners Homes at Hedworth. Along with many others there is a Foundation stone bearing his name at these homes (It is worth if anyone is interested going along to these homes to look at all the names on the aforementioned stones, some of them are dated 1914 and some1928 suggesting the homes were built in two stages )

A further account in the Newcastle Journal following his funeral states that there was a large gathering at West Boldon, including farmers, butchers and business men from many districts and continues with a long list of all the mourners who attended.  The service in St. Nicholas Church was conducted by the Rev. F Aubrey E Leake assisted by Rev. J Stirk with Miss Dorothy  Walker at the organ, followed by interment at Boldon Cemetery.

Following my grandfathers death the butchery business continued to be run as it had been for a number of years by my father Robert Lawson Kirton and my uncle Thomas Gibbon Kirton. This continued, followed by my brother Bob Kirton and myself until we  retired and closed the shop in April 2000.

Over the years since my grandfather started in butchering there have been many changes.  When he first opened all the animals were killed on the premises having been first of all bought at Newcastle Auction Mart  Scotswood Road and driven down along with animals for other local butchers. The man who usually did the droving was known as John Blott  and he with his dogs would drive the animals down for several butchers reputedly being paid for his troubles in Sheep Heads.  As far as I know this would have been prior to the second world war.

 After that  a more updated mode of transport would have been used and slaughtering transferred to Coop Slaughterhouse in Don Gardens West Boldon and later to the new Abattoir in Shields road Sunderland both now demolished. Both my father and my brother slaughtered and although on occasions I had to visit the slaughterhouse it was definitely not for me.

Another point to make is the demise in the number of butchers shops in Boldon over the years
I think there are only two now Pickings and Gordon's whereas not so long ago there was John Gosney, Stan Brock, John Leonard, Bob Oxley, Harry Burdon, Two Coop  at Boldon Colliery and one at East Boldon as well as ourselves. I also recall my father telling me there was a Butchers at the top of West Boldon bank

There have also been a lot of changes in our own shop even in my time, when I first started in 1958  as I recall there were seven of us working  full time plus part time help from my aunt Lillian   and later my wife Margaret and Bob's wife Elsie. At this time we also had two vans hawking to the outlying areas such as Cleadon, South Shields, Jarrow, Hylton etc.  As things progressed we moved from serving from the back of open vans to the more modern Travelling Shops.

Eventually as peoples shopping habits changed, staff retired, and butchering wasn't as it used to be  we decided to retire ourselves and closed the shop in North   Road after three generations
and 83 years of trading.    

John Kirton.



Plaque inscription reads -

As a Mark of their Respect
30th Dec 1882

Remember Milk Tokens
from the Co-op.

East Boldon Boy Scouts

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