Betty S’s Memories of Wallsend

On Sundays a big crowd of people used to gather at Marshi’s Ice Cream Parlour at the top of the High Street.

Editor’s Note: Betty was born in 1932 in High Farm, Wallsend and took part in the Hand in Hand Reminiscence project in 2008

I went to the Buddle School first, when I was five years old and then on to Carville School until I was fourteen.  I had a number of jobs, starting with the Co-op at Wallsend at both the grocery and cobblers shops.  It was interesting working at Thermal Syndicate on Neptune Bank, where I was in the Cutting Room, cutting silicone tubes into the right lengths for all the different uses they had.  I think some of the tubes went into aeroplanes, but I’m not really sure.  It was very precise work but not very pleasant because it was so hot, the furnaces were going all the time.  Later on in my life I worked as a Warden at Eden Court for ten years.

I spent a lot of time at Hadrian Road Chapel.  It was really friendly and I remember Harry Park, who used to run it and Effie Bocomb who ran the Guides.  On Sunday afternoons we used to sing in the local streets, and we had a little organ that we could carry around with us.  The Chapel was a bustling sort of place, with lots going on.  I remember all the anniversaries that used to happen, and the Youth Club was great.

I met my husband at the Memorial Hall in Frank Street, at a New Year’s Eve dance.  No alcohol was served in those days and it didn’t really matter if you knew how to do the dances.  People used to ask you to dance and then say “can you do this dance, cos I can’t!”.  On Sundays a big crowd of people used to gather at Marshi’s Ice Cream Parlour at the top of the High Street.  There was a great mix of people and you’d soon get talking to someone.

I lived in The Avenue, often known as “the Boundary” (between Northumberland and Newcastle upon Tyne) and I can remember all the trades people coming down the back lane, delivering and selling their wares.  The coalman was a regular, ours was called Tony Wilson, but the fishman came too.  He had a strange cry that sounded like “calahorn, calahorn”, which I think meant “come and get your herring.”  Everyone knew what it meant, even if it didn’t sound right!

Editor’s Note: One of Thermal Syndicate’s products was Vitreosil, pure electrically-fused quartz or silica which had many uses for engineers and chemists.  This was one of the most technologically advanced factories of its time in the North East and had a world-wide reputation.

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