I remember growing up in Burradon, a little village, in a beautiful old colliery cottage which I loved.
My childhood in the colliery rows in Burradon were the best days of my life, we had a great welfare (park), co-op, the smallest sweet shop, family butchers, and the smallest picture house you could ever find, which I fondly remember. Saturday morning was the matinee of cowboys and Indians, which to this day I still have a great interest in the old wild west. Eventually the picture house was turned into a youth club, which was very popular. All these buildings are now long gone.
The schools we had were very primitive to what they are now, I must admit I did not care for school, but they were the best years of my life and I would give everything I have got to go back. I could write a book about school so that will have to be another story. I cannot start to describe how I felt when they told us those lovely little houses where I grew up were to be demolished.
We were told new houses were being built and we would be moving soon over the road, which to me meant nothing. The demolishing of Office Row made us realize life was about to change. We then began to plan for our new abode. I remember growing up in this little village, a beautiful but old colliery cottage which I loved and lived in as a little girl. The outside toilets and little coal house right opposite the back door. We lived directly in front of the pit baths and canteen where we used to play. Each winter, when the snow would turn to ice, we used to ice-skate up and down the front road without any worries or fears, the days and years just passed by so quickly.
Office Row had approximately 40 houses, we knew just about everyone. We had good neighbours who became good friends, who would look out for you and help you anyway they could. I remember the Gibbs family who lived in No 1, who tragically lost their two boys on holiday, the Richardson family who were at No 2, the Elloits, the Keir family, the Little family, the Gibbisons who lived at No 13; Mam, Dad, my sister and I lived at No 14, the Waugh family at No 15. I also remember Pat and Irene Ryder, and the Lee family who lived a little further down. There were lots of other families, but I cannot remember their names.
The day we moved to Means Drive was 10th August 1968. It took quite a while to get settled and finally grow to love the new house, with an inside toilet and big new bath, a great looking kitchen and fitted carpets, but in my heart was a little old cottage with an outside toilet, long front garden full of flowers and vegetables, and a wonderful coal fire comfy and warm, which I could die for. A long tin bath, which used to hang behind the back door, can you believe that?
When the day came that Office Row and the others was to be demolished, families moved out gradually. I wanted to be there but I could not bring myself to be stuck with a memory like that. I was aware it was pulled down bit by bit till it was flattened and looked like a bomb site, then I plucked up courage with a few tears to look upon what was once my childhood, gone forever….A VERY SAD DAY.
When I walk down Office Row which is now Kirkwood, I look upon a complete change and one could never imagine how it used to be unless you lived there as a child. Now I look back at the best years of my life in the colliery rows with great love and affection and think back on the way of life which built my character and when I think about it now I can only say, it was A VERY SAD DAY but A GREAT STEP FORWARD.