Maurice Teet

Fred Teet.

Maurice Teet moved to live on North Lane in Oulton when he was 6 years old after his father came from South Yorkshire to work at Water Haigh colliery. He went to Oulton school and then Whitwood Technical College. After spending time at a tailoring factory in Leeds and a period doing National Service he spent the rest of his working life in the offices at the Yorkshire Copper Works.

Throughout his life Maurice was involved in the social activities of the village and Oulton church. He was one of the early members of the Oulton-with-Woodlesford Dramatic Society in 1950 and a scoutmaster during the 1950s and 60s. After his father died Maurice and his mother lived at The Elms off Farrer Lane where she was the housekeeper for George Armitage, one of the directors of the family firm which owned the quarries and brickworks at Oulton and Robin Hood.

Maurice’s early years were spent at Swinton near Rotherham where his father, Fred Teet who was born in 1893, had grown up in a mining family. Both his father and grandfather were miners at Kilnhurst colliery owned by J. & J. Charlesworth followed by the steel company Stewarts and Loyds. Fred started as a pony driver underground when he was just 13 years old. He served for four years in the First World War and was taken prisoner in 1918. In 1922 after being promoted to “colliery corporal” he married Miranda Heavisides from Holbeck, who had been working as a manageress in a draper’s shop. As a young boy Maurice remembers travelling by train from Swinton through Woodlesford on visits to see his relatives in Leeds.

Fred Teet became skilled on the new conveyor belts and other machines that were being introduced in the pits and moved to bring his expertise to Water Haigh in 1933. He arrived just a few weeks after the shotfiring accident in which three colliers lost their lives and Maurice remembers seeing the newly dug graves and headstones in Oulton churchyard.

Fred became a deputy and then an overman. He was involved in several minor accidents underground including one just before the outbreak of war in 1939 when he had his hip crushed as he tried to stop a tub which was running away.

A snapshot of the rural surroundings of Oulton and Woodlesford comes from the occasion in January 1950 when Fred Teet was taken to court to answer allegations that his dog had attacked chickens at Water Haigh farm. The farmer, Thomas Stanley Boothroyd, claimed the dog and another, belonging to painter Thomas Bedford from Holmsley Field Lane, had raided a hen house and killed five fowls. Two others were so badly mauled they had to be destroyed. Boothroyd said he’d followed the dogs with a farm hand and shot one of them. In court Fred testified that his dog was seen in Oulton at the time of the raid and the summons against him was dismissed. Tom Bedford, whose dog had an injury, was fined £4 10 shillings.

About a year before his court appearance Fred had lost part of a finger in another accident. He was off sick until he died in May 1951.

Click on the link below to listen to Maurice Teet recalling his childhood days in Oulton.

Watching the winding engines at Water Haigh

1951 “Guide to the Coalfields” map of local collieries.