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The Gill Family

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My Wife Barbara Gill was born in 42 High Hope Street, Crook, County Durham, coincidentally the same date as my own birthday, but three years later.  Her parents were Roger Gill (Born 17 March 1920) and Nancy Bell (Born 17 February 1922).   They already had a daughter Patricia Ann and later they had a son Ian Rodger and somewhat unexpectedly and much later, another daughter Janice Margery.

According to family members Barbara weighed less than 2 pounds at birth, and was not expected to survive. The midwife in attendance set her aside, but her Great Grandmother Lister used an age-old technique of alternately dipping her in hot and cold water until her colour improved and she made her first weak cries. The cause of her small size was thought to be a major shock during the pregnancy when Nancy had received information that Roger who had sailed to France on D-Day + Four had been seriously wounded during action in Normandy in WW2, and she had to travel to Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary to visit him. After such an entry to the world, no wonder Barbara has a fear of water and never learned to swim more than a few strokes.

Barbara was duly baptised at St Catherine's Church in Crook and shortly afterwards her parents moved to Greenhead and then to Howden le Wear, where she attended the local primary school, helping the small children to read and write. Unlike myself who failed the 11 plus exam, Barbara was successful and attended the Wolsingham Grammar School in Weardale, and rebelled against wearing a hat on the school bus and was duly reported by the prefects on numerous occasions.

Barbara gained places on the school netball team, helped out with the local Brownies, and recalls the time when she was the rounder's team hero by catching a ball in mid-air, and saving the team from another defeat. Eager to get out into the world and clever enough, but rather mischievous and disruptive in class, she did not stay to take her final examinations.

She tells how she took her sister Pat's new China doll to the local park, sitting it on the swing, with disastrous results, and returning home with the doll in pieces. There was also an occasion when playing tag in the local park she fell on broken glass and had to have the stitches put in without anaesthetic, and she still has the large scars to prove it.

My first meeting with Barbara was in 1957 when a school friend George Hutchinson had invited me to the Church Youth Club. The clubhouse was being decorated for a party and as I entered, Barbara was sitting in the middle of the room atop a set of stepladders in a bright turquoise blue dress with white polka dots. The memory is vivid, and the rest is history.

During our courting years, when rock and roll was beginning to change the world of music we would rush to get the best seat in Crook Cinema and finish off the night with a bag of chips and scrapings from Moscadini's for the princely sum of a "tanner", 6 old pence or 5 new pence today. We made our plans for the future, and fortunately the majority have been achieved.


On leaving school her first job was at Hunwick Brickworks testing samples of specialist fireclays for making the bricks for lining blast furnaces. She would often walk the 3 miles from her home, and sometimes in wintry conditions get a lift from one of her workmates. She then moved to the Post Office in Bishop Auckland as a telephonist, using the antiquated plug in leads and headsets. Rubber Knees sounds very like Number Please, but no one complained. Barbara spent time in Crook, Northallerton, Darlington and Hartlepool telephone exchanges.

She played table tennis for the works team, and after we were married she worked for both Hargreaves Quarries and J T Atkinsons as a company telephonist.  Barbara has always been exceptionally good with small babies, regularly minding the neighbour's children and looking after a baby in a Blackpool boarding house whilst she was on holiday, and of course her younger sister Janice. There were also occasions when we were first married that there would be an extra child in our house whilst the parents were out at work.

Barbara's father Roger served in the Seaforth Highlanders in North Africa.  He drove a carrier, transporting troops across the desert, and could tell tall tales about the risks from sniper's bullets whilst relieving yourself, and the scarab dung beetles that carried away the waste. In civilian life Roger worked as a labourer, pressing ceramic clay into moulds, and loading and unloading the hot bricks from Crossleys at Crook and Hunwick Brickyards. For a short time he stayed with relatives in Doncaster, with every intention of moving permanently down there, but returned when Barbara had had her accident with the glass bottle.

She spent several weeks in a wheelchair, and he willingly pushed her around. Roger was a strong Christian, and his first love, apart from his family was playing the church organ in St Mary's at Howden le Wear. As an organist he was exceptionally talented and supplemented his wages at the brickyards by playing for weddings and funerals, but was also very involved in the church choir, with a good tenor voice. On the 13 th December 1995 he drove down to the local Post Office, came home, sat down in his favourite chair with a cup of tea, and tragically had a major heart attack from which he never recovered. Admired and loved by everyone that he left behind, but leaving us with immediacy and no personal suffering or pain.

Barbara's mother Nancy had lost her mother Edith and young sister Eva to tuberculosis or consumption as it was then called, and was brought up by Grandma Lister, Aunty Bet and her father who had remarried. Nancy has described her difficult childhood and early teenage life and sadness due to the death of her mother. Nancy was "in-service" for a short time, as a general maid and cleaner. Nancy and Roger were married at Saint Catherine's Church in Crook in January 1941.  

At the time Nancy was aged 18 and Roger 20, and she was living at 61 High Street Crook, and he at 29 Greenhead Rows, and was already a serving soldier.
As well as bringing up her three small children during the war years, when "poss-tubs" and "mangles" were in general use, after the war Nancy supplemented their income by doing part-time work cleaning offices and even later on worked for over 20 years as an agent for the "Provident", which helped put both Ian and Janice through Degree courses at University and Teacher
Training colleges.



Due to the fact that many of the family ancestors on the GILL, HALL, LISTER and BELL side were followers of the Methodist church I have been unable to find details of baptisms, marriages and burials but I shall simply list the information that I have, mainly from gossip and the 1901 Census for Crook on microfilm M81 19/4653 at Durham County Archives.

Nancy Gill (nee Bell)

Father             Edward Bell       Born 1896 age 5 on 1901C
Mother            Edith Lister      Born 1900 age 1 on 1901C

Paternal Grandparents   William Bell      Born 1869 age 32 Miner on 1901C
           Hannah Bell      Born 1874 age 27 on 1901C
Maternal Grandparents   Anthony Lister   Born 1874 age 27 Miner on 1901C
           Elizabeth Lister   Born 1876 age 25 on 1901C

Roger Gill

Father            Frederick Roger Gill   Born 1895 age 6 on 1901C
Mother            Charlotte Hall      Born 1894 age 7 on 1901C
Paternal Grandparents    George Gill      Born 1860 age 41 Mine Engineer 1901C
Elizabeth Gill      Born 1865 age 36 on 1901C
Maternal Grandparents   Thomas Hall      Born 1866 age 37 Engine Driver 1901C
Jane Hall       Born 1865 age 36 on 1901C

Basic Details of Barbara's Siblings

Patricia Ann Gill.

Married to Alan Sergeant Teasdale,  at St Mary's Howden Le Wear. Tragically Alan suffered a series of mini strokes which eventually led to his death in hospital on 19 th November 1996.

Pat and Alan had two children.
Joanne Teasdale, married to Tony Whittle, at St Barnabas' Church in Burnmoor Co Durham. They have one daughter Bethany Whittle.
Andrew Teasdale married to Donna Kay Watmore at St Mary and St John's Church in Rothley Parish Mountsorrel, Leicestershire. They have one son Harry Alan Teasdale.

Ian Rodger Gill.

Ian married Jane Patterson in Epsom. They had two children.
Edward Gill who married Katherine Francesca Lazare at Wellington in Somerset.  They have two sons, Jason Gabriel Lazare Gill, and Louis Peter Lazare Gill.

Sophie Gill who married Graham Stewart in Barbados and had a Celtic Blessing Ceremony at Comlongon Castle in Clarencefield Dumfrieshire

Ian is now married to Kate Farquar Davison Redhead.

Janice Margery Gill

Janice married Vaughan Clements at the Central Methodist Church, Crook.
Janice married David Scott at the Sunderland Civic Register Office

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