in the same house as Willie Maddren, 12 Young Street. My Nanna lived there with her parents
(my Great Grand-parents) when she gave birth to my Mam. My Great Grandparents moved out
soon after and my Nanna took over the tenancy. I was sent a copy of this article about Willie's
Sister, Claire's life in 12 Young Street which appeared in a 2005 copy of 'Remember when'
With many thanks to Tom Thompson for his research & help!
The attic was not Claire's favourite place, a little remote room with a black leaded fireplace,
wardrobe and bed. Linoleum covered the floor, there was a clippie bedside mat and the fragments
of red on the walls indicated how bright, if garish, the room had been in years gone by.
And the silence - except for the wind buffeting the house. Claire would look out on the street at the
houses with their allotments, their prize leeks, fruit and veg and pigsties, the smell heavy on a
smouldering summer's day, the shipyard on the right - and of course ICI.
And sometimes there'd be men, grimy with much and coal, walking back from the tip, unemployed
men bent nearly double with sacks full of cinders on their backs, for the fire at home.
As Mrs Claire McGregor, Nee Maddren, 65, of Oaksham Drive, Billingham, explains, when she
found herself in the attic it was usually for a very particular reason.
"Mum sent me there if I misbehaved. Such exile soon helped me wish I hadn't been such a brat.
Mum would eventually shout to me from the bottom of the stairs, 'You can come down now girl
and I hope you've said your prayers'".
Claire was born at 12 Young Street, Haverton Hill. Her parents were May and Vince and her
Brothers were Dave ad Chris - and the former Boro star, the late Willie Maddren.
The Maddren household, typical of most, a terraced house of two up two down .... and the attic;
coal fires in the room and a poss tub in the kitchen and a loo in the backyard. Mother baked her
own bread and cooked stews in the kitchen range's side oven while on bath night the Sons bathed last ,
Claire first. The house baked in the summer but froze in winter.
"Sometimes we awoke to find icicles on the insides of the windowsill and we wore army blankets and
used hot water bottles to keep warm and there was Mum's porridge in the morning to see us on our
way to school. At playtime Grandma brought us hot drinks."
"We lived on bread and dripping sprinkled with salt, condensed milk, spoons full of malt, potted beef,
bread and butter pud, tripe and onions, savoury ducks and mushy peas and chicken soup.
"Then there were Cod liver oil and Beechams pills for those winter chills, syrup and figs and bile beans
was the treatment for constipation."
On the day the gasman came to empty the meters the kids gathered round the kitchen table and waited
eagerly. Shillings were counted and stacked neatly into rows on the table. Rebate was calculated - as
the kids paced to and fro. "It was usually a decent amount in surplus cash that we shared out amongst
ourselves and I'd spend mine at the flicks - with 2 ounces of éclairs and an extra treat!"
Games included hopscotch, the street's kids met in the nearby bus shelter, swapped comic;s and cigarette
cards and stayed out until bedtime "then all the Mam's came out onto their doorsteps and shouted that
it was time to come in."
There were fish and chips and hot broken crisps from the factory and the cinema at the end of the street .
"We always sat at the front, almost touching the screen. Watching Dracula and Frankenstein gave us a
There was roller-skating and dances at the Victory hall, which had once been a billiard hall.
"It was an ideal place to congregate, we whizzed round and round, laughing and having fun though we'd
fall flat on our bums half the time.
"Mr Farrowfield taught me my first dance steps in Victory hall, waltzing and quick stepping like Belle of
the ball." The 'bendy' was the playground with four swings; see-saw and slide and once a year the
travelling fair came to town - 3d a ride.
Her younger brother Willie showed natural footballing ability from the start, as a toddler kicking his first
ball and excelling on Young Street's common, "with his little chubby legs and freckled face, rosy and
round and my other Brother's Dave and Chris encouraged him."
Willie played for Port Clarence juniors where a scout spotted his potential. He had a trial for Boro FC -
and the rest is history.
"Willie never got big-headed and he always remembered with pride his Haverton Hill days and kicking
a ball round the common."
ICI arrived in Haverton Hill like a great double bladed sword, bringing employment but also the impact
of heavy industry, breathing problems common and net curtains that rotted with the sulphuric acid.
Many years ago Haverton was known as the garden city, lush meadowland and poppy fields. ICI changed
all that but it brought many jobs to the area, including Claire's Father, Vince, enabling him to provide for his
"My childhood upbringing will stay forever with me," Claire says. "I'm a proud ex-Havertonian and always
"You see, while they took the people out of Haverton Hill they can't take the Haverton Hill out of the people."
Claire has recently had a book about the life and times of Haverton Hill published. Salt of the earth,
Havertonians and Willie Maddren can be ordered from Claire on 01642 874917.
Claire Maddren and her Brother Willie, above,
who went on to become one of Middlesbrough's
greatest ever players, before
succumbing to motor neurone disease at the early
age of 49.