Games and Gymnastics
Football I enjoyed, Cricket not as well, but in old age I do enjoy the Test Matches.
The Girls played Tennis and Hockey.
I was not keen on Gym sessions especially the vaulting horse. James Patterson who became a very close friend of mine in 1950 had fallen from the Wall bars and left paralysed for the rest of his life. More later.
School holidays were long, about 5 or 6 weeks.
One glorious summer, Charley Reid and I went to a farm in
Gilsland and we cycled all the way complete with packs and a small tent – a very long road indeed. A relative of Charlie’s Father owned the farm, and they made us very welcome. The tent was pitched near the farmhouse. We had taken food and were able to do some cooking – not very well, however the lady of the house was often kind to us and took us in for farmhouse teas’. We ate tons of Cadburys Chocolate’s. This we bought at the village store and in due course made friends with the local girls. The main Inn was the “Samson” – but no drinking for us as yet.
We helped in the Hay fields and one of the highlights was when the Farmer’s Wife and his Daughter brought up afternoon tea all in Enamelled Basins covered with clean Tea cloths and of course the Tea – scrumptious - Sandwiches, Sausage Rolls and Cake.
Made one visit to the nearest Cinema at Haltwhistle in the company of two girls. The journey was by bus, and I can’t remember the film.
Another day I met my Mother and Aunt Annie who were taking a holiday at the Co-op’s Gilsland home.
Coming home some two weeks later and in heavy rain my
Front wheel got caught in the Tramlines in Mosley Street, the result a fall with my “Load” and me skidding all over the place. No damage was done – not much traffic about. I straightened the handlebars and made for Jarrow another 7 miles. We had however enjoyed our holiday.
My next holiday was in a LNER Camping Coach at Alston. My Aunt Dorothy and her friends Mr and Mrs Glaholme and their son Teddy took me. We were then 14 years old. The Glahomes’ kept a Bakers Shop in Welbeck Road, Walker. Teddy was about 15 years old. “A bit of a Lad” as they say. Camping Coaches were a new venture by the LNER – they provided adequate sleeping, eating and sitting accommodation, also a “Chemical Closet.” We were also given the key to the main door of Alston station. Linen was provided by the LNER and brought down to the coach on a bogie.
We spent a very enjoyable holiday (2 Weeks.) Mr. Glaholme took us two lads for long walks to Nenthead where Lead was mined, and brought back home samples of Lead Ore and which I handed over to “Pop” Skinner who was the Chemistry Master at the Grammar School.
The two women went walks along the Tyne Valley or shopping in Alston. Sometimes the five of us took to the fells. One of Teddy’s cousins, aged about 17 came to visit us and Teddy teased her no end. Another time Uncle Fred came one weekend and went swimming in one of the deep pools. The first time, so he told us, that he had swam since his war years in Mesopotamia.
We once spent a whole afternoon on the fell overlooking Alston, picking Bilberries and these were packed and put on a train back to Mr. Glaholme’s Bakery. Auntie Dorothy was taken poorly because of the altitude – so they said – she quickly recovered.
I last saw Teddy sometime in the early 80’s when I went to the Bakery in Welbeck Road and advised him on matters relating to his lease with the City and Corporation of Newcastle, and also some insurance matters. He was happily married and I met his wife a very nice lass. Since then I have lost touch.
Grammar School Parties These we looked forward to and were held in the Hall, the chairs removed and plenty of French chalk put down. Supper was served on the upstairs corridor over looking the Hall – a long set of tables always beautifully set with Xmas decorations and flowers and White table cloths and everything sparkling. They really went to town. The tables ran the length of the corridor.
Afterwards dancing – the “Lancers” and the “Quadrilles”
and some Modern dances of the period (1931-36.) I was not a great dancer but I did enjoy the Lancers.
Home after a most enjoyable evening – the supper was good too. Also we had Form parties at the end of term – also very good – but we had to do the washing up.
Back to Jarrow Residing at 29 Grange Road West. West Park in those days was very popular having a Tennis Court, Putting Greens, then “Unfenced,” – there being no vandalism. Years later the Tennis Courts and Putting Greens were no more. The park, at one time, boasted a Peacock. In the summer and on Sunday the highlight of the week was a Brass Band playing in the park – and very good they were – usually from the “Collieries” in the surrounding districts. A large white sheet was laid on the ground near the main entrance and the public threw down their pennies or more if they could afford it and received in turn a programme.
It was good hearing “Brass” and which I still like – “Poet and Peasant” and marches of Sousa etc. The children played around the Bandstand but never noisily and the grown ups sat on seats around.
Games Playing Football in the West Park, “jackets” or “Jerseys” were used for goalposts. At night the Boy’s played “Multi – Kitty” against a suitable gable wall usually in the Berkley Street area, and also “Leavo.” For the Girl’s Skipping and Bays. Both Boy’s and Girl’s played “Catchy Kissie.” You were always on the look out for Blakey the Copper on the beat, who was ready to swipe you with his cape if in a bad temper.
On winter nights we gathered around the watchman’s fire for a warm. His job was to look after the holes in the road and to see that the warning lamps were never short of Oil. A lonely job but they seemed to like it.
Divi Day A Red letter day when Mother went to the Store offices in Albert Road to collect the “Divi” – 2/6 in the pound – and cream cakes for tea.
I must go back many years to the late 20’s. I was 8 or 9 years
old. My Grandmother’s Sister was still living in Wood Street, Hebburn, a Colliery house long since demolished. Grandmother used to visit her usually on a Sunday and I was detailed to accompany her, not that it was my cup of tea. I loved my Grandmother – who always called me “Willy.” You always entered by the back door, never the front, and the reason why I will explain later.
You crossed a “Brick Yard” passing the rain barrel, which caught the rainwater from a small offshoot roof – rainwater being ideal for washing purposes. There was an outside “Lavy and Coalhouse.”
You entered a very large living room cum kitchen, with a kitchen range and a round oven, and where in winter the stone hot water bottles were kept. On the hob there sat an enormous Black kettle always simmering, so that cups of tea were on constant tap. In the centre of the room was a large table, and it being Sunday, a heavy Red Damask cloth covered the everyday Oilcloth.
On the window wall there was a smaller table also covered with Oilcloth, and on which were kept the Chapel magazines and other Religious Tracts. Poor reading for a young boy whose only reading was the “Rover” “Hotspur” and others. Two forms were in place along each table and the other chairs were covered in “Horse Hair” material. There were no carpets of course but canvas and “clippie” mats. There were some Religious pictures on the walls. Off the living room an open staircase led to the bedrooms above.
The front room was a Holy of Holies. I never entered it, but one Sunday the door had been left open for some reason or other. I caught a glimpse of lots of dark furniture and a fireplace, which was covered with clean newspapers. This room was reserved for special visitors who gained entry through the front door – viz, the Doctor, the Minister and of course in the fullness of time, the Undertaker. Hence friends and we mere relatives were perforce to use the back door. – Always.