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Joan’s Memories of Byker and Walker

It was hard for families to make the decision about evacuating their children

Editor’s Note: Joan was born in 1930 in Byker and Walker before moving to Wallsend.  She took part in the Hand in Hand Reminiscence project in 2008

I remember going to Wharrier Street School and also to Sunday School at Walker Parish Church, which was near to a lovely park.  I grew up during the war and the area I lived in got a lot of heavy air raids, enough to keep you awake at night.  I had two brothers in the forces, and I worried about them a lot.

It was hard for families to make the decision about evacuating their children, but people used to tell our parents that the area was so dangerous that it was better to give your children a chance by having them somewhere out of the way of the bombs. So, I ended up going to Butterknowle, near Bishop Auckland in County Durham.   It seemed like such a long journey but when we got there people really made a fuss of us.  I was with my sister but she couldn’t settle and she went home.

Being in the country was so different.  It was the first time I saw chickens hatch.  The family also had goats, but when the young kids were born they got drowned, I can’t remember why.  Later on, I was moved to a mining village called Shincliffe, also in County Durham.  This was very different and people lived much harder lives.

When I was eighteen I went back to visit Butterknowle, to see the family I had stayed with.  I went with my boyfriend (later husband) on the back of his motorbike.  We got such a welcome.  As for the motorbike it had to be sold after we had our first baby!

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