By Keith Jones

The Boldon Band

During the 1920’s there was a young man called George Swift, he would be in his teens and he was rated to become the best cornet or trumpet player in the world but it those days George was very bow-legged so he didn’t go solo but he used to play with all of the top bands and in the 1920’s there was an impresario called Jack Hilton and he had heard about George Swift but he had never heard him play and he found out that George was playing in an RAF band in Canada so Jack Hilton went to Canada and brought George back and on the way asked him to play in the aeroplane and George reached the note which seemed virtually impossible and Jack Hilton thought that will do for me.  In later days George mad a record called “El Shreeda” named after his German wife, and he included this note in the piece of music.  In those days he was classed alongside Harry James, and Lewis Armstrong and he was always a credit to Boldon Band.  In those days a lot of the bandsmen in Boldon used to guest for various orchestras and bands and George used to play regularly for Mantovani.

The Mad Parson of  Boldon

The Mad Parson’s name was John Alan and in the 1940’s he was accused of murdering a man who had already murdered his girl friend and John Alan was put away in Broadmoor, anyway, he escaped from Broadmoor with the intention a trying to prove that he wasn’t insane.  Now John Alan’s parents lived in Arnold Street in East Boldon, his mother had married again to a foreign chap called Lapsom and he had two sons and I’ll tell you about them later.  Anyway while John Allan was on the run he used to go an read his “Wanted” notices at police stations and on occasions, apparently he used to serve as a waiter at police functions and he got the name “The Mad Parson” because he used to ware a parson’s collar naturally that would get him into various places and while he was on the run Arnold Street, Charles Street and the New Road was swamped with policemen and you can imagine that in those days they did not have patrol cars etc most of them were on foot so it was obvious that there was something up, now them he did eventually give himself up and they took him back to court and he got parole and after a few years he was released.

The Lapsom’s

The  Lapsom’s had two sons Walter and Jimmie and my father claims that the Cray twins modelled themselves on the Lapsom brothers, they were real tearaways and one of them used to work at Boldon Pit for a number of years and he worked for my father and was out of prison and on one accession he came to my father’s house and asked if he would speak for him to get a job to get him started again at the local pit and it was near the Christmas time and in those days the pit used to be known as “hanging on “ which meant that if you went to work on your regular shift, say at two o’clock in the afternoon you would finish about half past seven or eight night he used to go into the pit perhaps at 12 noon and finish earlier and my father, he used to go to work at about half past three in the morning and he was telling this Lapsom’s boy he was going to work  at twelve o’clock that night so when Lapsom’s boy left our home my mother nearly went off the deep end she said that he would probably come back and break in and goodness knows what but my father assured her that he wouldn’t because of who my father was and my father had brothers who could have dealt with the Lapsom’s in those days.  Eventually both of the Lapsom boys went away and I think they were killed in a car crash, probably a getaway car but I’m not sure on that.


On a lighter note Boldon Colliery has had many successful footballers, professional footballers, On in particular was a goal keeper called Sam Bartram and he played in the 1947 cup final for Charlton Athletic and he came from “Boldon Villa” What happened was that  Charlton Athletic had sent a scout to Boldon Welfare to see a chap called Tommy Wood who played in goal but unfortunately Tommy got lame and Sammy Bartram went in goal, he was the centre-half at the time and he played a blinder so Charlton Athletic pick Sammy up and he went to Charlton where he stayed for a number of years and played for them in the 1947 cup final against Derby County.  He was a character because again he worked down the pit again for my father so every time Charlton came to Sunderland to play at Roker Park we used to get tickets off Sammy and it was noted that Sammy was supposed to be the best uncapped goal keeper in the country.  In the same football team Charlton Athletic there was another boy from Boldon called John Shrieve and he used to live opposite the police station and Miners’ Hall at Boldon and he played in the cup final but he did not get the notability that Sammy got.  Another chap was called Jimmie Snowdon, and he played centre-half forDerby County.  Now I don’t think Jimmie played in the cup final as he was probably not old enough at the time that I’m talking about or again he held a regular place in Drby County's team.  Another centre-half was a chap called George Holt, now George’s parents had the Queen’s Head pub, better known as the “Flat Tops” at Boldon Colliery and he played for Blackburn Rovers.  Another notable chap Albert Franks now Albert went to school with me and he was a police cadet, a fine lad, and he went to play football for Newcastle United, later he went to Glasgow Rangers and also to Lincoln City.  The last time I saw him was at Bob Stoko’s funeral.


Boldon Colliery was noted for having three cartoonists at one time.  There was a chap called Lavery now he used to do the “Brooms” in the “Sunday Post” and there was also a chap called Jim Huntingdon better known as “Dodge” he used to do cartoons for the Shields Gazette and the “Coal News” and there was yours truly, Keith Jones I used to do the cartoons for the Northern Press, which included the    and a magazine called “The Revallie” and also the “Coal News”

Editor's note
If you have any photos of any of the above characters please email them to me so that I can put them on the site or join the group and put them on directly yourself.

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