Wednesday, 12 May 2010

1980: The Merricks Arrive...

The Skipton bus conveyed some passengers of great interest to Beckindale in September 1980...

... it was Pat Merrick and her teenage offspring, Jackie and Sandie. Pat had already paid one visit to Beckindale a month or two earlier, but minus her children. Now she had returned with them and much luggage...

Of course, their arrival did not go unnoticed!

The Merricks had at least one friend in Beckindale - Nellie Ratcliffe who remembered Pat from years before and extended the hand of friendship. She and the kids were welcome to pop into her cottage for a cup of tea any time!

The family was bound for Pat's auntie's house...

Jack Sugden was surprised to see Pat back in the village so soon after her last visit. Was this another visit, he asked?

No, replied Pat - this time she had come back to Beckindale "for keeps".

Annie Sugden told Pat that if there was anything she could do to help, she had only to ask. The folk at Emmerdale Farm had faults like anybody else, but they weren't gossips.

Pat told Annie that she'd cope, but that she'd finished with her husband Tom for good.

Life with Pat's Auntie Elsie was not exactly harmonious. Elsie Harker was used to having her house to herself, and kept it spotlessly clean. Two teenagers around the place, marking her table and playing loud music was not her idea of happiness. And then there was the little matter of Pat's cigarettes - they did smell so!

Pat confided in Nellie Ratcliffe that she needed a job and other accommodation for herself and the kids. Nellie knew that neither would be easy to find, but Pat solved her first problem by landing a job as a waitress at Hotten Market Cafe.

Nellie went to see Richard Anstey at NY Estates about the stone flagged floor in her kitchen. If she had to endure another winter with it she'd catch her death of cold, she told him! Richard promised to get it looked at, then Nellie asked if NY Estates had any other affordable accommodation in the village - for Pat and her family.

As it happened, Richard knew of a caravan on the estate, intended as accommodation for the gamekeeper, but as Seth had a cottage in the village...

Pat was extremely grateful, and although the caravan was cramped and on the grotty side, it was vastly preferable to life with Auntie Elsie's constant harping.

Then, not long before Christmas, Tom Merrick came swanning (or rather sneering!) into The Woolpack, and was soon paying a visit to the caravan.

Pat told him that their marriage was over.

Tom asked her who was taking care of her needs? He'd heard a rumour about Jack Sugden... just like the old days, was it?

Pat told him to leave.

Tom teamed up with Derek Warner to steal Christmas trees from the plantation at NY Estates. The duo were nearly caught by Joe Sugden, and Derek, who was driving, bumped Joe with his van, knocking him flying. Joe was not really injured - just some aches and bruises, but Sandie had seen the occupants of the van and was pretty sure Tom was in the passenger seat...

As Beckindale headed into 1981, it seemed that more troubled times ahead - and that the Merricks' stay in the village was going to be anything but peaceful...


  1. Benjamin13.5.10

    Hi Andy. That is my fave pic of Tom Merrick the dark horse type villain.

    And I visited Esholt, took lots of photos which I have uploaded to my flickr account and even recreated the pose Amos did when he saw the Merricks arrive in 1980 at that same spot.

  2. You recreated the Amos '80 pose? Excellent, Benjamin! I haven't been to Esholt in years. I hope you enjoyed it.

  3. Benjamin13.5.10

    Do you want to see the pic on my flickr photostream?

  4. Okay, that would be good!

  5. Benjamin14.5.10

    Here is the link to my set on flickr. The pic is in my set of Esholt pics and is on the end of the second row of photos down.

  6. Memories, Benjamin! Lovely to see your shots of Esholt, Beckindale for so many years, including the entire 1980s - the decade of Al Dixon's Walter, Jenny the donkey, the bulk of the saga of Amos and Mr Wilks, and who could forget Alan Turner and Mrs Bates?

    And, of course, Edward Peel as Tom Merrick!

  7. Benjamin13.6.10

    That photo of Tom sneering, I take it then that was directed at Amos? Lol. Fancy that, a grimacing customer in the name of Tom Merrick.