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Elizabeth’s Day at the beach

We all spent the day together it was wonderful it always seemed to be long sunny days just like the Riviera.


Day at the Seaside Project 2012

Interviewee: Elizabeth Stewart, born in Howdon 1947


Photo of Shuggy Boats at Whiley BayFrom about seven years old I remember going to the seaside.  The excitement started when we had to go for the bus.  We used to catch the green bus from Howdon to the North Shields terminus at Coach Lane, then we got off the bus and raced around the corner to the Sir Colin Campbell pub which is still there; it is an old pub.  Then we had to wait for the red bus coming up the bank.  We would shout “here’s the bus, here’s the bus” – we were so excited we would run up the stairs.  The bus went through old North Shields, along King Street, then The Broadway to Mast Lane, over the railway bridge and then we could see the sea.  We would all shout excitedly “there’s the sea, there’s the sea.”  Then we would get off the bus at Tynemouth Longsands.

That was on a weekday when we went with friends, we always felt safe in those days, but on a Sunday there were about five or six families in our street, and we all went together with our packed lunches.  We had a car at the time and my dad would make two or three trips to ferry everybody there  We took everything but the kitchen sink.  We all spent the day together, it was wonderful it always seemed to be long sunny days just like the Riviera.  I suppose there must have been rainy days then, but I can’t remember the cold windy days.  I remember leaving the beach and being burned and skin peeling off my shoulders a few days later; no sun cream or sun glasses in those days.

As soon as we got to the beach it was straight into the water, we plodged around and there was a sand bank.  We would wade out to it about chest high and wait for the waves to knock us off and wash us back to the shore line.  We would stay on the beach all day long.  There was the Candy Floss lady with her candy floss stall on the Longsands between where the cafe is now and where the Plaza would have been.  She was right in the middle of the beach, just this candy floss stall; that’s what she did all day just making candy floss for people there was a Punch and Judy show too.

There was a place where you could get hot water to make your tea and there was the lost children’s hut.  You could also get your deck chairs and the big green tents and there was the shuggy shoes; they were great, they were right along by the Plaza between the ramp and the Plaza, which is no longer there.  You would get on the shuggy shoes one at each end and there was a rope you had to pull, and you went higher and higher.  When the tide was right out you could go along by the open air swimming pool and go rock pooling to see what you could pick up.  Always in your bare feet and you were wincing all the time because you were in your bare feet and the rocks were very rough.  We found all sorts – crabs; and the other things I can remember on the sea shore were the blood suckers big horrible red things.  They used to come out of the water, you had to keep away from them and if there was a lot of them you weren’t allowed in the water in case you got stung.

We always stayed on the Longsands; we only went to Whitley Bay to go to the Spanish City.  Some days we went to the open air swimming  pool and what I remember about there was the changing rooms.  When you went in you were given this huge basket and you hung your jacket on the top and put your other things inside the basket.  A girl would then give you a band with your number on, then she would hook the basket onto a wire and push it round.  It used to fascinate me how it was done then when you went to get your things back, she would just whizz it back again. They did all the Miss Tynemouth competitions there, and in those days, when they were on, you couldn’t get into the swimming pool so on the bank side people just used to sit on the grass.  They were steep banks and you could see them parading around in the swimming pool.

At the back of the Plaza there was an outdoor roller skating rink which came out onto the beach; there was also an indoor one.  No matter what we did we always enjoyed it, burying ourselves in the sand.  Then when we were older, we made beds in the sand with pillows and we would sunbathe.  You could swim in the North Sea in those days.  When I was about fifteen, I didn’t go to the beach as often because by then I used to go to the Church Youth Clubs.

We stayed on the beach all day long.  We took our food with us; my mother would cook a joint of meat and boil potatoes the day before and she would take salad.  We had this for dinner and then for tea we had egg and tomato sandwiches; with sand in! We never bought food at the beach, we didn’t have the money and there weren’t many food outlets in those days, maybe one fish and chip shop, otherwise it was just candy floss and ice cream.

Photograph – Shuggy Boats at Whitley Bay

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