Patrick's love of Legerwood
By Daisy Baker
28 November, 2018
MUCH has changed in Legerwood since Patrick Oldham moved there as a child 80 years ago with his family.
He remembers a time before power, when Carisbrook Lane was a gravel road frequented by traction engines.
The train came through Legerwood three times a day carrying goods, and the town supported a pub, several shops, a blackwood mill, and a school, where Mr Oldham began his education.
He says he never thought about leaving the North-East because he loved the region and the lifestyle it offered.
Mr Oldham says he remembers when the train bought the circus through Legerwood when he was a child.
“They stopped for a rest in our paddock and they had elephants and monkeys,” he remembers.
“At the time there were two rows of gooseberries and the monkeys got out and ate them all!”
He says there have been many great events held in Legerwood over the years.
“We used to have great big celebrations here…one of the big ones I remember was the Queen’s coronation day, where we had dress ups, sports and all sorts of things going on in town,” he says.
“In later years we had other great events like the Back to Legerwood races, which happened once a year for six or so years. They were just marvelous.
“Another one we had was Day at Bartletts where there was machinery on display and a ploughing display.”
From his warm Legerwood home, Mr Oldham recounts many successful years as a sportsman, in darts, eight ball, golf, football, tennis, cricket and wood chopping.
He spent more than fifty years in the North-East Axemen’s group, which used to have many well-attended events in the region.
“On Easter Monday we would always have a chop at Branxholm with at least 60 axemen and that always drew a crowd,” he says.
“The competition has really changed now though with all the automation – it’s certainly not what it used to be.”
Mr Oldham spent the last 33 years of his working life as a truck driver for the butter factory but also previously worked at a sawmill and as a bulldozer driver.
He recalls when the Legerwood pub burned down in 1967.
“I found out the next day as I was doing my round in the truck, someone told me and I couldn’t believe it,” he says.
“It was a real shame because it then left all the locals with nowhere to go and have a beer after work.
“It really divided the community, with half going to Ringarooma and others going to Branxholm.”
He says in the future he would like to see more employment opportunities in the North-East to draw more young families to the region.