History of Cropton during the Second World War
(With help from Cropton’s Story by the History Group)
During the Second World War the village population was swelled by a number of evacuees from mainly the Middlesbrough area. The children, aged between 12 and 14, went to the local Cropton school and were set to work with gardening tasks. The verges on the High Lane at Cropton were cultivated and made into allotments.
The children were billeted to houses in Cropton and a campsite at Fairy Lane, near Prospect Farm. Others were sent to Keldy Castle and Black Park where a massive searchlight was positioned during the war. The children at the Fairy Lane campsite used the barn at Prospect Farm as their cookhouse. Some recalled that when the food was prepared the cooking pot included vegetables, soil and anything else that came to hand.
A lot of the evacuee children loved the Cropton area so much that they stayed after the war. Some of these included Keith Walker, Malc Truran and George Hope.
There were many soldiers present in the area and some were based at Keldy. There was a prisoner of war camp too and many of the Italian inmates were sent to the local farms to help with agricultural tasks. Many locals joined the home guard in addition to their farming duties for the war effort.
Members of Cropton / Hartoft area Home Guard
Sadly, some Cropton residents were victims of the Second World War. Four memorial seats, with the names of the soldiers, have been placed in different parts of the parish. Each seat is dedicated to a Cropton man that lost his life. With the help of the Heritage Group these seats have recently been repainted.
The Cropton community played its part in the war effort by raising money. Dances, auctions and other activities raised a massive amount. A lot of this money went to the Christmas Parcels Fund. Lots of articles were knitted by residents and sent to the forces.
Here is an interesting World War Two evacuee story from George Hope of South Shields. It tells of how four generations their family have visited Cropton over the past few years. George’s father, also George Hope, was stationed at Black Park, near Cropton, working on the BOFOR Guns and whilst he was in the village he met Mr. Hammond who lived at Peepoday Cottage in Cropton forest.
One day George (Senior) was speaking to Mr.Hammond and he asked if it would be possible for his wife, who was pregnant with George Hope (Junior), and his son to stay with them at Peepoday Cottage. George (Senior) was worried for their safety due to the heavy bombing of South Shields during the war.
At first Mr Hammond was not very keen on the idea but every time George Senior met him he asked if he had changed his mind. Mr.Hammond finally gave in and said that they could stay for a month, but if he didn’t like them or they didn’t like him when the month was over they would have to return home to South Shields. George (Senior) was glad that they would be safe for at least a month so he told his wife to come down to Cropton.
When the month was finally over Mrs Hope and her son waited for Mr Hammonds verdict. He asked if they liked the village and Mrs.Hope said that she did so he said that they could stay. When Mrs Hope was closer to the date to give birth she decided to go back to South Shields. By this time Mr Hammond and his daughter Hannah were against the idea, but Mrs.Hope felt it was for the best so she moved temporarily back to South Shields to have George Hope (Junior). If Mr Hammond had managed to change her mind, George would have been born a Yorkshireman.
When Mrs Hope was back in South Shields there was an air raid and she hid in an air raid shelter. It was hit by a bomb. She was trapped and had to be dug out. Luckily everything went well and George (Junior) was eventually born. When she later went back to Peepoday, Mr Hammond and Hannah told her off and said that she should have stayed at Peepoday Cottage.
Ever since that day George Hope (Senior) brought his family regularly to the village of Cropton. George (Junior) has brought his son and now his son brings his daughter to the area. All this has happened because of the day when George (Senior) asked Mr Hammond about his wife staying at Peepoday Cottage during the Second World War. Four generations of the Hope family have been coming to the village ever since.