May 11, 1867

A LOVELY little article was published in the D&S Times of exactly 150 years ago, informing readers that “the bathing season commenced at Redcar on Saturday last”.

The article said: “The day was so exceedingly fine, and there being every prospect of a continuance of fine weather, that the bath proprietor, Mr Skinner, had several of his machines drawn from their winter quarters, and several visitors were tempted to take a 'dip'.”

This gives a good excuse to publish a favourite picture of the horsedrawn bathing machines at Saltburn, just down the coast from Redcar, taken on a Hurworth family outing in 1902 when ladies in particular were still not encouraged to show too much flesh when frolicking in the waves.

Back in 1867, the D&S said: “It is expected that the influx of visitors will be as great during the present as in former years, and will not be affected by the Paris Exhibition.

“Since last season a great change has come over Redcar and its neighbour, Coatham, and better accommodation has been provided for visitors by the erection of a large number of new houses, conspicuous among which are those built on the promenade at Coatham.”

Even though the exhibition in Paris was large and international, it is difficult to see how it could have attracted seasiders away from Redcar. The D&S, though, was right about the growth of Redcar, which had begun to take off as a tourist resort following the arrival of the railway in 1846. In the early 1870s, its two piers were constructed.

May 12, 1917

THE D&S Times this week 100 years ago had interviewed Private David Foxton, of the 2nd Yorkshire Regiment, who in June 1915 had become the first man from Thirsk to be awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Two years on from his heroics, he was in a bad way, poor lad.

He was one of six Foxton brothers, from Norby, who had gone off to fight, along with a fostered brother.

David had been called up on August 4, 1914, and in the opening battle of the First World War later that month, at Mons, he lost several toes.

After recovering in hospital in Brighton, he went back to the front and won his medal at Loos.

“We were ordered over the top,” he said. “I was carrying a Maxim gun and a corporal was with me to fire it.

“We found 12 Germans in the front trench and took them prisoners. In the second trench they were packed like herrings and we were driven back to our own trenches. I lost my regiment and the corporal was knocked out, so I set up the Maxim in the first line trench and kept it in action three days and nights under heavy shrapnel and explosive fire. There were only a few of us, 60 or 70 yards between each man. We had nothing to eat or drink for three days and never a minute to spare until reinforcements arrived.”

It must have been a harrowing experience, but then the D&S said: “At the end of his long vigil, Foxton was blown up by a mine. Of this experience he remembers nothing. One moment he was standing to his Maxim in the face of the enemy, the next of which he has any knowledge, he was in King George's Hospital, London.”

David wasn’t discharged from hospital until September 1916. “The shock of the mine explosion rendered him deaf and dumb for a time, and though he has recovered his speech and hearing, the former is marred by a terrible stammer.”

May 13, 1967

THERE was election fever in the D&S 50 years ago, much as there is today, with the local election results hinting that the political tides were turning. In fact, the newly formed Teesside County Borough Council produced a result that was mirrored by last week’s Tees Valley mayoral election, with the Conservatives surprisingly taking control.

“This is the end of 22 years in which Labour has dominated local politics on Teesside,” said the D&S.

Turnout in those days was a lot higher. At Leyburn, it was 90 per cent; in Finghall, where two independents were battling fiercely, it was almost 100 per cent. In West Rounton, a village between Northallerton and Yarm, the parish council was contested for the first time, and the rectory was used as the polling station. Of the 91 eligible to vote, 81 turned out, and three candidates chasing two seats were separated by five votes.

The most notable result in the North Riding, said the D&S, concerned Labour’s loss of its only seat on Northallerton Rural Council. This was in Brompton, where Cllr Pat Lisle was defeated. He said afterwards: "I will never give the voters of Brompton the chance to vote for me again. I have represented them vigorously for nine years."

Twenty-seven stone Lisle was the epitome of a colourful candidate. A wartime evacuee from Gateshead, he drove his Bentley to the isolated Welbury signalbox, where he was the signalman – until he was demoted to the role of Northallerton station porter for allowing two trains into the same sector.

In 1966, he had stood for Labour against Richmond’s Conservative MP Tim Kitson, using the slogan “never fear, Pat’s here”. It hadn’t worked, although he had made a slight dent in Mr Kitson’s 13,331 majority.

Mr Lisle died aged 80 in 2010.