Maurice Legg

I was born in Langley Park in Co Durham on the 12th June 1926. My father was 31, my mother 28 years of age. I was the younger of two brothers; my elder brother John was born in April 1925. Like 99% of our contemporaries we were delivered by the midwife in the upstairs bedroom without the benefit of doctors, hospitals or the NHS. Our house was owned by the railway company and had two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and an outside “dry” toilet. There was a large railway embankment some 20 yards high on one side of the house and a road on the other and the house was sandwiched in the middle. In those days there was very little traffic on either the railway or the road otherwise the noise would have been intolerable. What noise there was stopped at around 7pm, as did all outside life as far as I was aware!


My father was a signalman on the railway. He was born in Whitby in 1896. His father, grandfather and great grandfather had been railway engine drivers and, since my grandfather was driving in the 1850’s, he may well have driven the original Rocket on the first railway - the Stockton and Darlington Railway. I have all of their birth certificates but sadly never did find out definitively about my great grandfather. Interestingly he was born out of wedlock which was not so uncommon in those days. It is back in fashion!

    My mother Mabel Williams was a Nurse at the local Ryhope Mental Home and they met and married in 1924. Mabel was one of seven children. Her father, Thomas, was a miner who had been promoted over the years to be a Deputy which, so far as I was able to discover, was the foreman of a shift of miners at the coal face and he had worked down the pit all his life.

        The major-domo of the process of breaking down the trainloads coming in, sending the individual trucks to their point of use and gathering the final products into trainloads for a particular destination was my signalman father known in the trade as “wee Jackie Legg”. If he made a mistake and sent wagons to the wrong destination, the result would have been chaos. 
    I travelled from Newcastle to London with Margaret Foster, a tall, beautiful Jarrow girl, who was escaping from one of those family Christmas get - togethers ( also known as pitched battles) We talked a lot; it is possible to cover a lot of ground in a 6 hour train journey and, by the time we arrived in London, we guessed that we had a future together.
    Margaret said that by the time the train arrived in London that she’d decided to marry me.    
  If someone asks me what we did which we were proudest of, my answer is that our children were and remain good friends.
  My rowing career with Thames is described fully in Thames yearbooks and in Geoffrey Page’s book. Over the years 1950 to 1956, Thames was by far the most successful club in England . I won the Olympic trials in 1952,  a Silver and a Bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games in Vancouver in 1954, a fourth place in the World Championships in Belgium in 1955 and the Stewards at Henley in 1956. Additionally, and for me probably the satisfying achievement, was to win the Thames Head of the River for the three years 1953,1955 and 1956 since I was the first three- time winner of this event each time with different crews.    
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