Jean’s Memories of Wallsend

Our family was ‘poor as pee’ but all I remember is having fun.

Editor’s Note: Jean was born in 1924 in Willington Quay and took part in the Hand in Hand Reminiscence project in 2008

I was born in a house near the ferry landing in Willington Quay, opposite Cookson’s, at a time when there were still trams running down Potter Street, near the Pearl Cinema (the Lop). I went to Addison Potter School. Other places I remember are Poochin’s Buildings, Stephenson Street and the Jail Passage.

Photo of Ballast Hill North ShieldsWe played games and got into scrapes but it was all fun. We played bays (hopscotch), multi kitty and knocky door neighbour. Sometimes when we did this people would come out of their houses and we’d get clipped.

The back lane of Bewick Street led into the ballast hill and we played there a lot. Ships coming into the river would unload ballast here and it had formed a huge mound. Halfway up it was a funny shaped vent and if you climbed in there in winter it was nice and warm. We used to slide down the ballast hill on old flour bags.

During the war I had a job in the Hadrian Stores in Bedford Street, North Shields. I walked to work and remember watching the German bombers bombing the wood yards on the Percy Main road. It was after this that I learned to drive, although I never took a test. I worked for the L & N Tea Co. in Grainger Street, Newcastle, because there was such a shortage of people to do the work. Then I went to work for the railway, delivering parcels.

I got paid off after the war but got back into driving soon after, working for Backley’s Cakes. I would drive anywhere and reverse into the tightest space. The blokes used to shout at me as I was putting the vans away at the end of a shift. Later on I remember working for Willington Quay Co-operative. They had a travelling shop but the bloke who was supposed to drive it couldn’t pass his test. So I got the job of teaching him to drive!

Ballast Hill North Shields c1905
Photograph from Newcastle City Library Photographic Collection

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