Many tributes paid to popular Morpethian

Maurice Ridley making the very last casting at Swinney's Iron Works.
Maurice Ridley making the very last casting at Swinney's Iron Works.

Dozens of people from Morpeth paid their respects to one of their own following his death at the age of 91.

Maurice Ridley was particularly well known for being a foreman at Swinney’s Iron Works when it was based in the town – he worked there for about 50 years – and teaching people how to swim.

He was also a member of a walking group and built a range of items in his garage for family, friends and neighbours, including a small boat that was used for holidays.

He died peacefully at his home in Alexandra Road on April 16 and St Mary’s Church in Morpeth was packed for his funeral earlier this month.

Maurice leaves wife Ada, son David, daughter Anne Weatherly and five grandchildren.

David, a partner at the town’s Greystoke Surgery, said: “We’re grateful to all those who have spoken to us, sent a letter or left a message of condolence. They included quite a few men who worked with him at Swinney’s and people who knew him from his involvement with Morpeth Swimming Club.

“If you knew my dad well, you probably have something that he made – for example, it could be an item of furniture, a plant pot or a wooden pelmet.

“He was very approachable and he enjoyed a good chinwag with people when he was out and about in Morpeth.”

He added that some of his patients at Greystoke have offered their condolences.

For the vast majority of his life, Maurice lived in the Alexandra Road house. He was born and grew up there and after living in accommodation at the Swinney’s site on Stanley Terrace when he was a young adult, he and Ada bought the house when Anne was four and David was two.

Maurice was the second oldest of six children in the house when growing up and he joined Swinney’s as an apprentice at the age of 14. His father Bart was the foreman in charge of the women who made brass shells during the First World War.

He was a member of a Scout group and became a King Scout. He also played drums and the double bass in a dance band led by Billy McCarthy.

He met Ada in Morpeth Town Hall during the Victory in Japan (VJ) Day celebrations in August 1945. They got married at St Mary’s Church in December 1950.

Maurice was also involved in the formation of Morpeth Amateur Swimming Club in the late 1960s.

Anne said: “Mum and dad were quite adventurous and we had the most amazing trips, including to the south of France and northern Spain for sailing holidays. He was active in the community and had a big love for nature.

“Some of the men who were apprentices at Swinney’s under him told us how grateful they were that he encouraged them to study for qualifications during evenings.”

Maurice retired soon after overseeing the closure of the Swinney’s premises in Morpeth and move to a bigger site in the mid-1980s.

His brother Bill said that he very much enjoyed being part of a group that went on walks in various parts of Northumberland, including the Cheviot Hills.