In a Stew ... About a Rabbit!
by Chris Snowdon
I now realise, the line went down towards The Haven and
onwards, past Percy Ogg's farm, to Whitton. In fact I remember a straight, fairly substantial, cart track running that way just North of Percy's which must have been the remnants of the railway.
The reason I remember it is because I was riding on the back of Percy's tractor one day (he would never let me drive - but I'm getting over it) when it startled a rabbit which jumped out of the way
and then froze by a gate post.
Percy told me to catch it so I jumped off and got hold of it. Whatever Percy told me to do I did.
I found myself standing there, holding this squirming rabbit and looking for guidance to my agricultural mentor.
"Well aren't you going to kill it?" said Percy. I can't replicate his Winteringham accent in words but I can still hear it.
There was only one answer and it wasn't "No, I'm
going to let it go so that it can continue breeding and eating all your crops." Nor was it "No, I'm taking it home for a pet."
I'd seen my mate, whose Dad ran a free range
chicken small-holding near Middlesbrough, neck chickens by a swift pull downover but it seemed to be a manouvre that required some expertise and I didn't fancy showing myself up as a townie.
"How shall I kill it?" I replied.
"Bang its head on yon gate post." said Percy, stating the obvious patiently.
and so began my interest in bloodsports, fox hunting, otter hunting, bull fighting (although Hemingway was slightly more to blame for that). All because of that old railway track.
the story off Percy insisted that I took the rabbit home. I presented it, nonchalantly, to my Grandmother "... here's something I killed for you to cook." She hung it in the larder and then, a
couple of days later, as we were going back to Teesside, gave it to my Mother to take home.
We arrived home on the Sunday and my Mother started to prepare the rabbit for Monday's main meal.
She was in the kitchen getting ready to skin it when I heard an almighty scream. I dashed into the kitchen to see my Mother, knife in hand, back against the opposite wall to where the corpse lay on the
chopping block (well actually it was the bread board doubling up - it didn't matter about using separate items in those days as there were no germs).
"It's alive!" gasped my Mother, "I felt it move!".
"Nonsense," I said, "it's been dead for three days" as I moved forward, albeit with some
trepidation, to inspect Lazarus the Rabbit. I poked it several times with no response. I picked it up and then made as if it was trying to jump out of my hands. Mother screamed again.
the ringing stopped in my ears further inspection of the rabbit detected that it had fleas and Mother had felt one of them move as she prepared to skin it.
We finally had rabbit pie for
dinner that day. I was going to keep one of the feet for good luck but I reasoned that it hadn't brought much luck to its previous owner so I kept the tail and tied it onto the cowhorn handlebars of my
track bike. It began to smell after a few weeks but you didn't notice it if you pedalled fast enough and it certainly kept the other lads from pinching a ride on my bike.
I didn't intend writing all of this initially but, having done so - does it qualify as a railway story or a Winteringham Recipe?
No Bridge Too Far!
by John Kirk
Pete and me. Ten minutes before Mrs Willis took this photo, my mother had said “Don’t get
this new coat dirty”. 20 minutes after this photo was taken the coat was covered in mud from top to bottom. Pete never could steer that sledge!
By the time our family moved to Winteringham, the railway line had officially closed, though there
was the occasional loco fiddling about with the wagons stored down the line to Whitton, and on one glorious occasion I heard a whistle, and ran down Marsh Lane from our house on West End,
to catch the slightest of glimpses of a tank engine speeding back in the direction of Scunthorpe by the time I was at the end of Western Green. That was pretty much that, though there must
have been quite a bit of activity lifting the line that seems to have passed me by. Let’s put it down to my tender years!
Some time after the line had been lifted, Pete Willis and I went to play at Tony Button’s house (Waterside House) – a marvellous place near the Haven, the drain, the reed beds, and Tony also
had a stationary Mamod model steam engine that from time to time we could persuade him to get into action. Sometimes we’d dig for worms and go fishing for eels, or some other activity
young lads got up to in the fifties. Whatever we played that day I can’t remember, but having gone to Tony’s via Low Burgage, Pete and I decided that we’d go back up the trackbed, cross the
bridge, and end up in the Croft and then to his house – Manor Farm. This seemed such a good idea, that when Tony told us the bridge had been knocked down, our enthusiasm overcame our
common sense, and Pete and I convinced one another that we had seen the bridge just an hour or so earlier on our walk down.
So off we set along the stones where the tracks had recently been, and quickly came to where we confidently expected the bridge to be … and it wasn’t! Now, what were we to do? To turn
back we’d have to admit to Tony that he was right all along, and we couldn’t face being proved wrong. So we decided to make our way along the northern bank of the Haven Drain, opposite
Little Wood, and come out on Marsh Lane. To be honest I can’t remember how easy or not the trek beside the drain was, but eventually all that lay between us and the Lane was the garden of
the first of Lindsey Cottages, fortunately planted with apple trees. Now this was the dangerous bit – especially as my father was the village policeman, and being caught in someone’s garden
with only the weakest of excuses could be the cause of some considerable pain in the backside! We went in best cowboy fashion from tree to tree, hoping that no-one would spot us from the
house, when it seemed someone had! ... The owner came out with his teapot, but instead of seeing us and giving us a piece of his mind, he emptied
the dregs down the outside drain, and went back inside. He hadn’t seen us! We scurried to the Lane as fast as our legs could carry us, crossed the
bridge, through the kissing gate and across the Croft.
So, if anyone is wondering if the bridge is still there, believe me - it hasn’t been there for about 52 years. But there again, you don’t need to take my
word for it any more than Pete and I believed Tony all those years ago!