Herbert Mole '“ an appreciation

Herbert Mole was born at Felkington in 1920 to Henry and Ellen Mole and was one of eight children.

Saturday, 3rd February 2018, 07:30 am
Herbert Mole with his pot of daffodils at Horncliffe Spring Show. Picture by Jane Coltman

The family moved to Loanend, near Horncliffe, and it was there that Herbert grew up. After a spell at the salmon fishing in Yarrow, Herbert joined the Royal Navy at the outset of war.

His ship, HMS Urania, was torpedoed in the Atlantic but failed to sink, the hole being patched up with a big tarpaulin. The boat returned to Glasgow with all of her crew, much to everyone’s surprise. Thereafter, he was sent to the Mediterranean.

Having returned home and received some training, he took up employment with Tom Smart as a plasterer. During the early spring of 1963, when there was so much snow and no work for the building trade, he took up employment as a digger driver with Andy Houston.

This involved working anywhere and everywhere but he was mainly involved in helping the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Co in providing water and rectifying faults.

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Herbert often mentioned that while supplying good water to households, he reminded himself that half the world was without a decent water supply.

He had an encyclopedic knowledge of drains and water pipes but he was less sure of the whereabouts of electric and telephone cables having dug up the electricity supply to the Prior Park Chippy on a Friday.

He helped many, many others with their building projects for little or no money and with Mr Houston’s acquiescence and, I dare say, encouragement.

During the Sixties and going forward there was a robust economy, mostly agriculture and fishing, and this resulted in very strong communities and Herbert devoted most of his spare time to community work. He was a leader in the community without expecting any recognition.

Horncliffe Hall was rebuilt in 1959 and added to at a later date. Money was raised locally through whist drives and such like and there were enough tradesmen in the village to build the hall so that when it was finished it carried no deficit. That was real community and Herbert was the chairman. He received an MBE in 2005.

He gave a great amount of time to the St John Ambulance with his friend Jack Hardy. Together with John Crawford, he worked hard to restore the St John’s Hall in Church Street, later renamed the St Aidan’s Hall. He became Grand Superintendent and was then made a serving brother of the order of St John in 1983.

He had a resolute faith in Christianity and attended Norham Church every Sunday for most of his life and was a sidesman there for 53 years.

He also kept honeybees for the best part of 90 years and was most knowledgeable about them and could work with them without a fuss and with only the most basic of protection.

In 1959, he bought the property known as the Priory from Miss Horn, the onetime owner of Horncliffe House, who considered that he deserved a start on the property ladder.

Herbert married Alice Oats in 1947, who would be very forbearing and she would go with him to many of the village events. They had four children: Colin; Alan; Shirley; and Jennifer. Alan was tragically drowned in the river in 1954 at a time when children roamed freely about the countryside.

One of his favourite clubs was the Bulb Show and a month or so back his bulbs were planted and are being looked after. So, on February 10, his daffodils, along with many others, will be seen at Horncliffe Village Hall.