Born in 1899, John lived at Beamish, Co Durham, but latterly moved to Billingham, Teesside.
John was interviewed by IRT members on the following dates:
A schoolboy contemporary of Johnson Ellwood, his uncle “Billy” (thus perhaps William Surtees) was also a clog dancer who had taught both John and his two brothers, Bobby and Joss. John’s brothers had gone on to learn from Jimmy Ellwood but John had learned further material from Jack Burrell to whom he paid 2/- (now 10p) a week for lessons.
His favourite steps were in waltz time and he often used to perform these in go-as-you-pleases (talent competitions as a duet with a friend Tom. He also learned steps in hornpipe and schottische rhythm from Jack Burrell. He had also danced in pub competitions but never in a proper championship. He was not a fan of competitions, believing that they were often fixed. However he remembered the Northumberland and Durham Championship at Stanley in 1935. It was later confirmed that he had competed in this event, although he was unplaced. (Information from the Stanley News for 21/6/1935.)
John taught the IRT 6 steps in waltz time, 8 steps in hornpipe time, plus his favourite “Uncle Billy’s Finish”, and 3 in schottische time. These were subsequently published – Jarman, J., & Metherell, C., The Clog Steps of Mr John Surtees, Newcastle: Newcastle Series, (1982).