The birth of a South Tyneside jazz band

The South Shields Cleadonaires on the march.
The South Shields Cleadonaires on the march.

Over the years, thousands of South Tyneside youngsters have been involved in juvenile jazz bands.

Most simply went along to where the bands used to practise and were enlisted into their ranks.

But reader Ellen Winter (nee Arnold) has a different tale to tell – how she and her two young friends came up with the idea of forming their own band – the first to do so after the Second World War.

“I used to live in Prince Edward Road,” explains Mrs Winter, “along with my friends Angela Todd and Winnie Telfer. All three of use used to go to Cleadon Park School.

“One day, after we had been to the carnival, we decided to start our own jazz band.”

So young Ellen went to her mam, Mrs Norah Arnold with the idea, while the others approached their mothers – and the seed was sown.

Soon, lots of other children wanted to join in, and eventually the South Shields Cleadonaires were born.

Ellen, who was a drum majorette, said her mother (despite having a poorly arm) made the uniforms for the band – all 40 of them – which were made-up of a magenta tunic and black trousers.

“I remember one weekend when we were trying to raise money to pay for the buses that used to take us all over the place, we got an old-fashioned record player and put it on top of a pram.

“We set it playing, and pushed it down Prince Edward Road, but it fell off in the snow.

“We went here and there as a band, playing all over Cleadon as well as the South Shields Carnival. Everybody knew who the Cleadonaires were”

And the band’s fame soon spread beyond South Tyneside when they won the chance to perform at the Blaydon Races.

“Our name was put in a hat, and we were drawn out, so we got to play at the Blaydon Races.

“My sister Jennifer, who was a mascot, was only four at the time, but she marched all the way to Blaydon. We gave her boiled sweets to keep her going.”

After a while, Ellen and her family (including three sisters and two brothers, moved to London, near Wembley (where her dad saw all the matches during England’s 1966 World Cup win) and then on to Elstree.

But she never forgot her time with the Cleadonaires, who continued despite losing two of their stalwarts, Ellen and mam Norah, who is now 91.

“I would really like to hear from any of the old Cleadonaires,” added 62-year-old Ellen. It might be nice to have a reunion.”

So, if you’re interested, let in touch, and I’ll let Ellen know.

Meanwhile, another Mrs Winter, Mrs Kathleen Winter (whose maiden name was Stobert), got in touch after we featured a photo of the finishing process in the manufacture of rope at Tyne Wire Ropes, South Shields, in 1964.

“My father’s brother, Jack Stobert, was the managing director of Tyne Wire Ropes.

“He went from office boy to managing director. My brother George, was company secretary, and he took over from Jack when he retired.

“While he was managing director, the company was taken over by Firth Cleveland Ropes and the factory in South Shields was closed and moved to Sheffield.

“My brother and his family moved there, but later left the company and, after eventually became director of social services in Salford.”