Jack and Eva

This is John Steel Bratton at Provincial Laundries as a young man (pre War)

On 15th March 1940 he became T169093 a Driver in the RASC. After intensive training using broomshanks for weapons he set off for war ( 4th Light Field Ambulance supporting the Royal Medical Corps )and by Christmas 1940 he was in Egypt

This is him in Egypt in early 1941. From there he went to Greece. Captured on Crete he spent the next 4 years or so as a POW in Austris

The story of Jack's War

On release in 1945 Dad returned to Old Blighty and in a relatively short period of time met and married Mam, Eva Loxley

This is a pic of their wedding
Left to right is best man Jack Cordner, Sylvia Bratton, Eva & Jack, Freda Loxley and Betty Loxley
The wedding was on 26th January 1946 at St Helen's Church, Low Fell

Dad worked at the Laundries from leaving school, spent 5 years in the army during WW2 then the next 20 years or so, back at the Laundries
He eventually gave up working outside when Bronchitis, acquired while a POW during WW2, made the Winter extremely difficult. He did factory work, had a spell unemployed but eventually became a Civil Servant at the DHSS in Longbenton, doing internal mail deliveries. He retired a little ahead of time as Alzheimers was kicking in and affecting his work

Jack and Eva spent their first few years of marriage living in at their parents homes. Alan was born on 12 Aug 1946 at QE Hospital, Low Fell,

This is Eva Bratton with baby Alan
Jon was next born on 8 Oct 1948 at the QE Hospital.
When Rob was born on 5 Aug 1953 at the Bensham Hospital they had managed to get a Council flat on the

 newly built Springwell Estate.

Shortly after that they moved to 1a Dean Street, Low Fell.
On 19 April 1957 Jim was born at the QE Hospital.

This is Rob in 1957
All four went to Kells Lane Primary School and then Alan and Jon went to Gateshead Grammar
Rob went to Elgin Secondary Technical. Jim went to Greenwell and then Dryden Rd Senior High

This is Jon Bratton and Alan Bratton shortly after they joined the US Cavalry

Alan Bratton met and married Pauline Kirton (b 23.1.48) at Denewell Ave Pres Church on 17 Sept 1966
Alan and Pauline emigrated to Canada in Sept 1966. They have two sons John Alan b 15.5.67 and Scott David b 25.8.70

Jon Bratton married Liz Stobbs (b 21.8.46) on 11 Oct 1969 at St Andrews Church, Fewster Square, Leam Lane
This is Susan and Derek Coulson presenting a bouquet

Jon and Liz have son Gary Jon born 27 Oct 1976 and daughter Lesley Anne born 25 June 1979.
They all spent 7 years in Saudi Arabia from 1983 to 1990


Rob Bratton married Margaret Scott on 23rd March ? at St Cuthbert's Church Bensham
(Sir Walter Scott penned these words, allegedly

I swear by Almighty God
As sure as I 've got my hat on
I shall not rest until a Scott
Get's married to a Bratton

Said at the wedding by me, the best man)

Rob and Marg emigrated to Canada in 1976. They had son Peter Robert b 22.8.80 there..
and son David James b 21.12.87 on their return to England

Jim Bratton married Erica Penwright (b 19.1.?) at St Helen's Church, Low Fell on 19th January 1987

Jim and Erica have daughter Michelle Carole b 25.2.89 and son Lee James b 7.3.91

All four lads are separated from their respective wives, one is now divorced the first three after 27 years apiece, that's coincidence, not a rule, and Jim after a meagre 17 years

This is Eva, aged 46, when she came 2nd in the Glamorous Grandma Competition at Butlins in 1970

And now for a brief explanation as to why the domain names is www.39steps.com

39 steps was so important to this family as the kids were growing up. Dad liked to go to the local pub, The Black Horse, and he always said that it was 39 steps to the pub from our house, 1A Dean Street. As kids we believed him but it was in fact about 100 steps...but 100 steps has no literary significance
Dad never read a novel in his life, but he did see the movie, Hitchcock's 18th and reputedly his favourite, made in 1935, starring Robert Donat and based very loosley on John Buchan's novel of 1915
We could have lived in a beautiful detached house but it was never considered because it was more than 39 steps from the Black Horse. Dad never missed a day at the pub in var nye 40 years, not even when he was bad .The photo below, which is proof positive, was taken by a bloke called Reg Smythe

There's a Catherine Cookson style novel right there just waiting to be written...and I'm the bloke to write it.
Now this is a bit spooky because that book, my book, would be tracking a family from Springwell to Dean Street, (and ultimately to Kellfied Road) with The Black Horse featuring more highly than it should. Well, you wouldn't credit it, but such a book has already been written by a bloke living in Normandy...only those paying the closest of attention to this website will spot that extra bit of spookiness

Because it completely steals my thunder, I ought not to give it any publicity but, unfortunately, it's beautifully written, and more particularly, remembered in a detail that would have escaped me. Written by Robert Rowell, the Nick Hornby of Dean Street, 'Back Lanes and Muddy Pitches' is very funny and yet pulls no punches..at least one former Dean Street resident will, undoubtedly, be suing for defamation ....of trousers.
It comes highly recommended at £6.99 from Waterstones.
I have a real soft spot for the Rowells (e.g.Ellen of my youth... having a pint, in my non-youth, outside the BH, waving at Margaret and Mam going to the Wesleyan... watching Harry, only a couple of years back, in my wise years, felling trees and fixing fences at Kellfield Road... in his eighties but acting like a 40 year old and, curiously, whistling 'Oh I do like to be beside the seaside' -what's that all about?) but I have to say this. Scoring a goal every time against the Toon, and worse yet, celebrating with gusto, is ne way te gan on and brings shame on the Rowells. You know who you are, SS.Seriously, well done Robert, and good luck with the sales. When negotiating film rights, diven't let them give the lead to a Californian.

John Steel Bratton dies

His quality of life at zero through advanced Alzheimer's, John Steel Bratton died on 17th March 1992 in St Mary's Mental Hospital, Stannington (built in 1910 as an asylum for Gateshead's lunatic paupers).
I resented registering his death at Morpeth when he had lived all his life in Gateshead and was only there because, although the 21st Century was just around the corner, Gateshead still shipped it's loonies out the borough

This is Eva at 80. The photo was taken on Christmas Day 2004, only days after she had moved from her 3 storeyed house Maple Cottage, 11 Kellfield Road into a one bedroomed flat in Central Low Fell, in a block occupied by many of her long standing friends. At any age, a house move is traumatic and the strain shows on her face

Jack and Rob standing at the door of the now famous 1A Dean Street, now merely one of several famous Dean Street front doors, thanks to one of them Authors

L to R Dad, Robert Alan, Jim, Mam, Jon, Nana. This was taken 1966

This is 20 years on fom the first photo, in about 1986
L to R Alan Bratton, Jon Bratton, Rob Bratton, Jim Bratton

And here

in 2006 we are 20 years
further on.

You can see them now....balding and beer-bellied but by God's good grace the balding one is slim and the fat one has a full head of hair.
The other two are defying the ageing process by being retired...and some Grecian 2000, I'll be bound .

Here's Eva Bratton as a young looking 82 year old

This is Alan Bratton nowadays, taken during his visit to the UK in August 2006
He has been retired from General Motors for several years now and he winters in Florida, where he has bought a home, and summers in Canada where he shares a home with his partner Cathy
He is a keen boatsman and follows NUFC via TV and Internet

This is a recent picture of Jon Bratton, fat, but with hair.
Jon is in a family business, comprising Liz and Gary and Lesley operating three framing and craft shops plus an eShop. Because he says he is efficient and has perfected the art of delegation he is in semi retirement dividing his extended leisure time between developing this and other websites, golf and beer/red wine drinking.

Here's Rob Bratton taken only yesterday in the pub. It could have been the day before yesterday or the day before that and it would still have been the pub. Rob is retired, early on medical grounds, from The Prison Service and divides his time between developing his website, which is about pubs, and drinking in the pub. He also does a lot of walking ..around Gateshead...photographing...pubs

This is Jim.Bratton. He's been in Prison for so long they've made him a Governor. He was part of the management team at Durham, but because of suicidal tendencies (not his, obviously) his career's gone south...... to Stockton. Because of other commitments, Jim's been forced to give up his beloved car booting and he's also swapped supping for singing...instead of suffering headaches, he now inflicts 'em.
UPDATE: Now married, and retired and back to car booting..but now on an industrial scale

And here is Alan Bratton with partner Cathy
As you can see, Cathy is sporting a fetching, if not overstated, floral hat
Or is she merely standing beneath a hanging basket outside the Vic...you decide

Here's Jon Bratton with partner Margaret, separated by Mumsie and Cathy

Here's Jim with then partner Karen, now wife, standing outside the Vic. From the wistful look on Jim's face, not to mention the restraining hands of Karen, he is clearly wishing that she'd let him go inside the pub, like in the old days

Update: Eva developed Alzheimer's and was in care for the last period of her life which came to end on 1st Dec 2014

Here's the next generation. This is clearly a montage as there are about 24 years separating John, the oldest from Lee, the youngest. They were also, at this age, separated on three different continents
L to R back Michelle, Peter, David, John, Lee L to R front Lesley, Scott, Gary

John Bratton

Lesley Bratton, taken on Boxing Day 2004
Lesley is engaged to Stuart...wedding 2009. She is 29 years old and is in teacher training. She lives with Stuart in Havant.
UPDATE: Lesley Sparks and hubby Stuart have Sophie & Oliver

Gary Bratton, taken in June 2005, on Fathers' Day
Gary is 32 and has his own business, on similar lines to his parents' business
His fiancee is Bailey who he is to marry in Aug 2012
Update: Gary is 40 and his wife is Bailey

Peeta Bratton, UK and Ireland Specialist, International Travel Consultant, Victoria BC V9A 7C5
Email peeta_bratton.bc@flightcentre.ca
UPDATE: Peter now lives in UK and in long term relationship with Richard

This is David Bratton, taken on Boxing Day 2004 just shortly after his 17th birthday, on which he acquired a scooter, which he used for travelling to work and in and around Crawcrook and Low Fell.It is now no more. Car sought...David went to Canada, married and now has a son, Caden

Update: Marriage ended but David very much involved with Caden

This is Michelle Bratton, Sept 2005, with a whole bunch of recently acquired A's in GCSE's . A smart cookie with an X factor. Now at Loughborough University
UPDATE: Now a teacher at Bournemouth

This is Lee Bratton, a very nice lad, but with attitude. He is a young bloke, with some wayward ways, which hopefully he will outgrow very soon and make his old and frail Nana very proud

And this is Scott Bratton in 2006, along with his cousins Lesley, Gary and David.