Childhood in East Howdon

We would take our dolls and prams and dress up in our mothers' high heels.

Brenda, Margaret, Elizabeth, Maureen and myself (Elizabeth), would play houses in Mr Bowie’s garden shed.  It was at the bottom of Chatton Street, East Howdon.  We would take our dolls and prams and dress up in our mothers’ high heels and old clothes, before walking from our house to his shed.  We put up net curtains, kept books and board games there and spent many afternoons playing.  Mr Bowie kept chickens, in a chicken run just inside the gate.  Every time we opened the gate the chickens would go ballistic.

My friends and I would walk to Percy Main Primary School from East Howdon.  We would pass the reservoir, across some wasteland where the new school is now.  There were lots of little pools (we called them wells) full of frogs’ spawn.  We would put handfuls of it in jam jars.  I can’t remember what we did with it after that.  At dinnertime, my dad would pick some of us up in his coal lorry and then take us back to school for the afternoon session.

My grandmother, who lived two doors up from us and her neighbour, Mrs Gray, always liked a bet.  I was often given the job of taking their bets to the bookies.  This was the backyard of Buzz Ray’s in Easten Terrace, East Howdon.  He took the bets in a shed.  I can’t remember ever going back to collect the winnings.

Because my dad played cricket all day on a Saturday, Friday night was picture night for my mam and dad, me and my sister, Ann.  We would go to the Albion, Rex, Gaumont, Boro or the Carlton, depending on what was showing at the time.  It was usually a good musical or a cowboy movie.  Sunday during the summer would usually be spent at the beach.  In Barrasford Street, there were lots of families with kids all the same age.  We would get the green bus to Borough Road in North Shields, then round to Saville Street to get a red bus that would take us to the beach.  We always went upstairs, so that when we reached the top of Percy Park Road we could see the sea.  Often in the summer Mrs Wright, who lived at the top of Barrasford Street, would hire a trip bus and almost half the street would go on the street trip.  Two places that come to mind were Newbiggin by the Sea and Seaton Carew.  Both were beach trips and both had funfairs.  My friends and I loved to go on the Waltzer.

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