Quality Row was situated just off Wagonway Road (north side), about 40 yards east from the car park that now covers the plot of the late Nellie Patrick’s shop, with the pit wheel in view nearby.
Originally, Quality Row - home of pit managers - was a square ‘C’-shaped group of properties, which were surrounded by a crescent road. The ‘C’ was lying over to the left - the bottom line of the square ‘C’ ran south west to north east, along Wagonway Road; the upright of the square ‘C’ ran south east to north west, and the top line of the square ‘C’ ran south west to north east.
ALEX BAKER: “Most of Quality Row was gone by WWII, except for a detached house, overlooking a football pitch (known as Fennick’s Field), occupied by Nurse Macintosh and her two daughters, Mona and Cilla.” [This property was the last remnant - north west part - of the square letter ‘C’].
The Wesleyan Chapel and its attached Board School, although part of Quality Row, were slightly further along to the east, and separated from the crescent by fields, and entered via a separate road.
Quality Row and the Granary were separated by the Hebburn Colliery Railway.
The Hebburn pitmen lived ‘on bank’ - that is anywhere above the grimy pit head - in long rows: Smokey Row, Store Row, The Square, etc., and the deputies and other bigwigs, lived in Quality Row, set back from the pit, on the other side of the highway, surrounded by lovely gardens, trees and open fields.
The coal miner’s cottages, were gas-lit, with two rooms and an attic, and outside dry toilets, known locally as netties or middens.
The fireplaces were huge and often had buckets of coal lined up nearby ready to be used. The coal was so plentiful that in winter the fires never went out - very handy for boiling water for the pitmen coming home, black head-to-foot, to have a soak in the tin bath, after a hard day down the pit. The men would bathe, and then eat a hearty meal along with a hot beverage.
Later, they would relax with a pipe, reading a newspaper or book; some would go to the pub or church - many pitmen were Methodists, and most pit villages had a chapel.
Well before midnight, the pitmen would be in bed, desirous of sleep before the early start the next morning.
Coalmining was very physical work, and most pitmen’s occupations: like the hewers’, could be deduced by their peculiar and individual postures.
It was usual for pit folk to have large families, and widows with many working sons at home were sought after as brides by unmarried men, for the income the sons brought in - so widows didn’t usually stay single for very long.
Named after: The high quality of the row in the early days, when it mainly housed gaffers.
Photograph courtesy of Norman Dunn: http://www.oldtyneside.co.uk/
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