• Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub


A RETIRED Stockton Borough Council gardener took a trishaw ride down memory lane when he rolled into his former workplace – Ropner Park.

John Hobday, 88, oversaw grass cutting and general maintenance at the park from 1955-60 as his first job for the council.

Now living at The Beeches Care Home, on Green Lane, John and several other residents were taken to the park and given a tour by Cycling Without Age Stockton-on-Tees Chapter.

The community interest company takes Stockton care home residents on rides around the local community in a specially made trishaw.

On entering the park, John immediately started recalling memories from 68 years ago, when he worked there in his twenties.

He reminisced about being paid, when his supervisor would drive around the park and hand out pay packets.

He said: “I can’t believe how much the park has changed. We didn’t have such a big playground in my day. The lake and the bandstand are the same though. There are so many ducks and geese now.”

Fellow resident Edith Ayre, 88, also took a trishaw ride around the park and recalled how she would bike there from Norton with her friends after school.

Tom Knight, activities coordinator at The Beeches Care Home, said: “John’s an amazing man. He’s so full of life and interested in everything around him. Going to Ropner Park was a trip down memory lane for him.

“I grew up over the road and remember the playground being built. It was fascinating to hear what John remembers about the park.”

John had another reminder of his past when an old photo of him appeared on Facebook group Stockton-Ians, which piqued the interest of Preston Park Museum.

The photo showed John with an elderly man called Jack Roberts, who used to charge a penny to guess the weight of passersby in the town centre. John visited the museum with Tom and discussed the photo with volunteer curator Donald Robertson, who has added it to the Hidden Stories exhibition, which shares stories of the lives of those in Stockton.

Tom added: “At the museum it was a real wow moment when John spoke to the curator about the photo with Jack. John’s eyes lit up as he shared the background to the old photo. It really brought history alive.”