We just romped about the place as youngsters never thinking of time we just played and played and played.
Voda Day at the Seaside project 2012
Interviewee: Alan Connon – born in North Shields 19.01.1928
Most of the time I was with my brother and we’d move from say the Fish Quay Sands and we’d move round. There was no breakwater there as there is now. We used to climb up onto the top of the cliffs, walk to the top of the cliffs, come down into the Haven, which is the Haven sands which adjoins the pier and if we didn’t stay there for that long we’d go up the bank to where the Gibraltar Rock pub is and I’d go all the way down these very steep stairs onto what is called King Edward’s Bay and then if we really felt energetic we’d walk round the rocks from the pier and that would bring us onto the Long Sands and we’d stop there. That was far enough for us to go, but a lot of sand and a lot of open spaces to enjoy and we just romped about the place as youngsters, never thinking of time, did we have dinner or could we have dinner, we just played and played and played.
Often my mam (and I think she had my younger sister, she was still only a baby so she had the pram), well she decided to take us to the sands, she used to tag along with me and we’d make our way down. The main road down to Tynemouth which is Tynemouth Road, that would have been the route that we’d have taken and go all the way down to the bottom to go into Tynemouth itself and then we could go along towards where the lake was and just opposite the lake there was a nice grassy patch which was down from the road, away from the road, and you looked down onto a great vista of sand and sea and she would stay there with sandwiches and things for later and we’d be off to play on the rocks, to play on the sand.
We walked there. There were no buses as such. We never got a bus. I can’t ever remember getting on a bus when I was young.
We didn’t have much in the way of toys or anything like that. I don’t think we even had a bucket or a spade in fact, but you could buy them on the beach because there were little huts and places spaced out on the beach and you could go there and buy tea, you could buy cakes, you could have sandwiches if you wanted to, but mainly my mother would already have sandwiches arranged and with her. So all we had to do was take the tea pot and go down to one of these places and they’d give you hot water, just for coppers you see, so we’d just have the tea to put in and that’s about as much as we would spend really. Times were hard.
We played around a lot and I always remember what they call the ‘shuggy shoos’ were there, but you had to have money to get on them. I don’t think we ever got the chance to go on. As I say we just didn’t have the money, but they were a favourite thing. We did go on once when I got a bit older. So I did that once. If I had a few coppers I’d maybe spend it there.
It seemed every day was a lovely day to me. It did rain certainly, but when we were out it seemed to be, especially in the holiday period when you were off for about six weeks. You could go down every day in fact and really enjoy yourself. I liked more, I was never one for building anything out of sand which, well if you had a spade and a pail you’d make a few pot pies, what we called pot pies, but I’d rather be on the rocks and look in the rock pools and that’s where my interest was and if you were lucky enough you might even see a little fish or you’d see a starfish you know. I took one of those home once and they’re remarkable because they’ve got hundreds of little legs under them as they move along. Incredible really to think such a small creature has such small tiny legs and moves so slowly. It dried out, it absolutely dried out and I think we just put it on the shelf somewhere at home. We had it for a long time. I don’t know what happened to it.
It hasn’t changed that much really. Not really it hasn’t. Some buildings have changed but in the main, if you go to the beach you’re not bothered about what’s around at the top of the cliff or what’s going on, you’re involved in what’s here and now on the beach or on the rocks and the pastime that you’re enjoying. It fills your mind all the time, you’re not worried about what’s happening up there or what’s going on unless you have to go up there sometime. No, your life’s there, you just enjoy it to the full. Just running into the water from the beach is just real fun and if you love going on rocks and things like that it’s even better. You have to watch for tides, that’s a thing, you can get trapped. I’ve never been trapped, I think we were always wary as children. We knew about tides, we knew it was low tide naturally and we could see and know by pictures of our own minds when the tide was coming in. It was, you know, the sand was disappearing so to speak, so we’d take notice and move on. We never got trapped on the rocks, ever.