From Charlotte Street to ‘Rosemont’

Ray Fowler was born at 23 Charlotte Street, New Skelton. Even as a 5 year old child he had a spirit of adventure. He and his brother, Arthur, liked nothing better than exploring the visiting fairgrounds. At that time, Sammy Crow and Carters dominated the fields where the fairs were situated. The two lads were so popular with the staff of the fair that one befriended them and to their delight let them help him on his goldfish and ‘pick a straw’ stall.

Ray wasn’t a lover of school. He remembers very clearly the day he started Eston Technical College - he took an instant dislike to it. As his attendance records would show, he played truant as often as he possibly could. Ray’s dad, Leonard, worked hard at Marske Army Store; Winifred, his mam, had her work cut out looking after the rest of the family - five sisters and one brother.

After World War 2 finished, Ray’s dad came home but his uncle settled in Australia. He wrote many letters to Len asking him and his family to emigrate and join him. He promised to look after them until they got established, but after much thought, Ray’s parents decided against it. From that day a seed was sown in Ray’s head - he realized that there was another life outside New Skelton.

The day Ray left school was the happiest day of his life. He started work at Kilton Pit as an apprentice electrician and was transferred to North Skelton when Kilton closed down. He remembers, with a deep sense of respect, working and learning from Bill Turnbull and Fred Sunley. His next move was to Skinningrove Works. In Ray’s own words he says of Joe Garbutt, “He taught me most of my trade, a good bloke”. Ray’s last move in this country was to South Bank, and it was here that his adventurous spirit rose to the fore - Australia beckoned!

He courted and married Sandra Leng and they settled in Sandra’s home village of Liverton Mines. They had a son and daughter. By now, Ray began to take his thoughts of emigrating seriously. Finally on the 4th June 1971, Ray’s dreams came true, and the family set off for ‘Ozzy’. The years seemed to fly by, and any problems that arose they overcame, never once regretting the huge step they had taken. Ray’s first job on the other side of the world was as an electrician, and he practiced his trade for 3 years. His final job in Australia was with the Water Filtration Industry. In February 1999 he retired - well he thought he had, but Sandi had other plans! They sunk their capital into a Bed ‘n’ Breakfast, and bought a beautiful ranch style house and called it ‘ROSEMONT’.

It’s now well established, catering mainly for adults. Business is always brisk - a short walk away is the breathtaking Lake Nagambie and many of their guests are golfers, a golf course being ‘just around the corner’ as they say in Australia. Sandi and Ray keep the ‘Rosemont’ immaculate and the two venues above make it an attractive place to stay. (For those of you with the internet, go to www.mcmedia.com.au/nagambie to see the breathtaking scenery of the area - ’Rosemont Guesthouse’ is listed under the ‘Accommodation’ section).

Ray and Sandi have never forgotten their roots, and over the years they have returned to England many times, visiting family and friends. In a recent visit, Ray came alone, staying with Sandi’s mum and dad in Staithes, and looking up his mother and family in Skelton and other local areas.

Nagambie is in Victoria - will you be in that area? If so, why not give Ray and Sandi a call, you’ll be sure of a good old Cleveland welcome!

Ray, we wish you and your family, along with any other emigrants from our area, a Very Merry Christmas!


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