After we'd made them, boogies used to be pushed, pulled and ridden for mile after mile.
Today me and the lads are going to make a new boogie. Our first port of call is, of course, Percy Main tip. In our days it was just like Aladdin’s Cave, for what we needed always seemed to be found on the tip. Once at the tip you had to sneak round like a commando, for if any of the workers spotted you it was chase time. It never took too long to come across a Silver Cross-type pram or two, with small wheels on the front and larger wheels on the back.
Once your wheels were sorted, off we would head back down Howdon Road towards Robson’s Timber Yard to get a plank and cross pieces for axle supports. Sometimes you were chased from Robson’s (if the bosses were about) so we would just walk round the corner then, along Dock Road to either Pyman Bell’s, Dryden’s or, at the bottom, Robson Miller’s timber yards. We were spoilt for choice. A lot of good lads worked in these yards, for if no gaffers were around they would first cut our timber then, as they put it, chase us for our own good.
Now we head down home (Appleby Street) to borrow a saw, hammer and either nails or, if any are available, staples, for these lasted a lot longer when fixing the axle timber supports on. (If you did not strengthen the axles once two or three of you rode the boogie they would just bend, so you would be wasting your time). Now everything is ready to be put together. The back wheels are fastened rigid to the plank and the front wheels are just fitted with a six inch nail or, if one is handy, a nut and bolt. This is so you can steer. Lastly, either a piece of strong string or rope – most times it was begged from Short’s Scrap Yard at the corner of Burdon Main Row and Lawson Street – would be tied to the front axle to help steer or to pull the boogie itself.
When it comes to entertainment value, considering it cost nothing to us, they were priceless. Another good thing in those days was, if we were struggling, either a couple of the neighbours or any of the Smith’s Docks lads if they were passing, would just automatically stop to give you a hand. When I think about it we must have been fit as fiddles, for the boogies used to be pushed, pulled and ridden for mile after mile.