Uncle Diary Part 12a (Superstitious? Who? Me?)
Posted by Mac Cummings on April 24, 2018, 11:04 am
This will be the last extract for a while you will be pleased but for those of you vaguely interested the War Diaries will follow in about 2 weeks. |
Grammar School and 29 Grange Road West In the year 2004, this school, my “Alma Mater” still stands in Field Terrace, but as a Grammar School no more. It is but an adjunct of the Springfield Comprehensive School further down the Terrace. The building has been well looked after but it may yet be demolished. It is not a “Listed building” and this I have checked out. In any event there are no plans for yet another new school – must find out. Whilst in the opinion of most of my contemporaries, the Comprehensive does not match up to the old Grammar School in academic terms, the former have produced many fine musicians and I have attended many of their concerts, both at Field Terrace and other venues. Their “Strings” and “Wind” are very good.
Back to the past. I had passed my GCE’s, but my Maths was not as high as was expected of me. What of my future? I certainly had no manual skills and not enough passes to qualify for further education – no university for me. After the War I was offered a place in a training college at Alnwick to train as a teacher – more later.
So I lingered on at school doing nothing in particular, and as in the “Gilbert and Sullivan” opera “Doing it very well.”
One morning on my way to school across the “Cut” I met Fred Snowball one of my Sunday School Teachers. He was on his way to work at the offices of G.C.Young Architect and Surveyor, Estate agent and Valuer. A conversation ensued in which he informed me that there was a vacancy for a junior and was I interested? A junior in those days meant an “Office Boy.” Nevertheless it was a start, and I agreed to come down for an interview. Being given leave of absence from class, I went to see the boss – George Cunningham Young. He asked me several questions and offered me the job at the princely sum of 8/- (Eight Shillings) per week (40p.) So, having made arrangements with school I was launched on a career in the property world, which was to last 46 years. (Excluding my service in the coming War.)
On a Monday morning I presented myself at exactly 8-30 am at the door of 12, Grange Road West and awaited the arrival of Fred Snowball followed by Len Brewis (who worked in the architects department) and Ella Crawford who was in tandem with Fred Snowball on running the office and was also Mr. Young’s secretary and typist. The offices comprised a general office on the ground floor and also Mr. Young’s office with the usual “Offices” at the rear. Upstairs were the drawing offices and also a “Hairdressing Salon” occupied by Mr. Young’s sister Winnie Young. My first day was spent in learning the ropes and I was soon busy dealing with the scores of Tenants who paid their rents at the offices and not to the rent collectors who turned out to be Mr. Snowball, Ella Crawford, Len Brewis (until I was trained) and a free lance collector. My turn would come in due course. In cases of holidays and illness Mr. Young also collected rents. There were eight collecting books. (1) The area from Berkley Street to Ellison Street and also the lower stretches of James Street, Clayton Street, and areas in North Street and South Street. (2) This book covered the area of Queens Road i.e. Lord Street, Duke Street, and properties in High Street. (3) This book covered areas like Elm Street, Beech Street, Pine Street, Albert Road, Croft Terrace and some cottage properties at the rear of Monkton Terrace. (4) This book covered Cobden Street, Catherine Street, Salem Street, St. Pauls Road and an area between Dee Street and Raglan Street. (5) This book covered the whole of the Hebburn properties. (6) This book covered the properties in Howdon, Wallsend, Walker, Byker and Benwell. (7) This book was the smallest book and which I was to take over from Len Brewis. (8) Was a kind of overflow book and covered areas, which overlapped.
Every week these books were checked for arrears and each day the rents paid at the windows were entered into their respective books. Mr. Snowball and Ella Crawford dealt with the large “Red Book” where all the rents were entered against the “Clients” of which there were many. Ella prepared the accounts on a monthly or quarterly basis. Enough of bookkeeping.
Before long I was taking the Day’s rents to Lloyds Bank in Ellison Street Jarrow – no worries then about crime and there were no security grilles at the bank itself – just a long wide counter onto which you emptied your monies. Mr. Myers was the chief clerk or cashier - a nice man.
Eventually I took over book 7 and this was the smallest book covering properties in Park Road, Bede Burn Road, Wansbeck Road, Breamish Street, Wellesley Street, Kitchener Terrace and Monkton Village and Primrose, but there were not many of them.
So for three years I was trained in Estate Agency, which also included the selling of houses, which before the War was a quiet part of the business.
Mr. Young, being an Architect, I soon began learning all the various building terms, so after some years I knew the difference between a “Jack Rafter” and a “Sleeper Wall.”
The office was a friendly place with an open coal fire in the winter and Tea breaks at 11am and 3pm.
Then came 1938 and Munich
Early 1939 saw Len and me joining the T.A. at Gateshead.The Friday afternoon, 2 days before War was declared, a small boy (whom I knew) came running into the entrance lobby of the office, and, out of breath gave me a message from my Mother, that I, with thousands of others had to report to our units as soon as possible – Mother had heard the news on the wireless. I cleared whatever I was doing, said my goodbyes, received their best wishes and went home 300 yards away. There I changed into uniform and went to War except that it was a “Phoney” War for many months. I would not see No. 12 again for several years.
So the War Diary takes over until 1946 –the years of Peace.