PTE Wilfrid Hope, DLI

My Grandad, Wilfrid Hope, was born in Huxley, Cheshire and moved to Darlington before WWI after he had met my Grandma Elizabeth Yates at Colwyn Bay.

Elizabeth (Lizzie) was working in service as a nanny for a family called the Whitles who lived in Fife Road in the west end of Darlington and they had gone to Colwyn Bay for a holiday with my Gran in tow.

Wilfrid (Wilf) ended up in the D.L.I. and was wounded in the knee at Ypres.  He also had continuous chest problems following on from his time in the trenches.

PTE Wilfrid Hope DLI

PTE Wilfrid Hope

He returned home and married Lizzie in 1921 and worked at Summerson's forge on Albert Hill as a labourer.  My Mam, Mary, was born in 1924.  They had a second daughter Annie who was born with a heart defect and sadly passed away aged 3.  Wilf and Lizzie moved to No 3 Stockton Road, Haughton-le-Skerne in the mid 20's.

Wilf Lizzie In Garden At 3 Stockton Road

Wilf & Lizzie in their rear garden at 3 Stockton Road, Haughton-le-Skerne

During the 1930's depression Wilf found himself in and out of work but would go and sit outside the forge when laid off just in case he would be called in to work.

My sister Christine, recently told me a story passed down from our Mam, of Wilf asking Lizzie to put any left-over home baked bread crusts into his bait box as some of the children on Albert Hill were starving.

Wilf grew his own fruit and veg in their lovely long garden at No 3 and Lizzie made fantastic jams with the soft fruit.

My mam left school and worked at Fryer grocers shop on the green at Haughton in the late 1930's, she would deliver groceries by bicycle as far as Sadberge. One of Fryer's customers were the Shotton family in Norton Crescent, the youngest family member Harold (Lal) took a shine to Mary but was too shy to ask her out.

Harold joined the RAF in 1941 as a Leading Aircraftsman and was sent to North Africa with a squadron of the brand new Lancaster bombers in an effort to help drive Rommel and the Afrika Korp out of Tunisia and Egypt.

He then followed the 8th Army into Italy and was in Rome by Christmas 1944 before joining a unit which erected temporary radar equipment. 

After being demobbed 1946, Harold returned home and hung around outside of Fryer’s shop waiting for Mary to finish work so he could ask her out.  Mary asked him “What are you doing here Lal?”  He replied that he was waiting for a bus but none had turned up but would she like to go to the pictures!

They eventually married in 1949, living briefly in one of the little cottages near the chip shop, then Woodland Road before moving to Stockton Road in late 1950's. They had three children: Christine (1951), Peter (1954-77) and then an un planned me (1963)!

Christine Shotton Mrs Hope Mary Shotton Peter Shotton And Mr Hope

Wilf Hope with his grandaughter Christine Shotton, wife Lizzie, daughter Mary Shotton and grandson Peter

I can only just remember Wilf as he died in April 1967 when I was 4.

Lizzie continued to live at number 3 until 1976 when she became bed-bound due to Rheumatism then spent the next 5 years living at No 21 in the front room, waving to all the locals and school kids on their way out on a morning (she got loads of Christmas cards off random children addressed to the old lady) She would request a search party sent out if Anne Metcalfe didn’t set out to work on time!

Wilf and Lizzie's garden was later to inspire me to start growing my own fruit and veg and I have been a proud owner of an allotment on Barmpton Lane since 2005. It’s not the tidiest plot but it is very productive.

The taste of raw peas picked fresh from the plot has lived with me for over 45 years and can’t be surpassed!

Andy Shotton

Written May, 2014,


Andrew Shotton,