We would have the likes of races on the hill.
Johnny Pie Hill was just where the Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate stands today (2008). As far as we knew, it was an old ballast hill which was for the sailing ships that came in loaded but had no cargo when leaving, so took a small amount of soil and that to help balance the ship out when she went to sea again. Over the years kids like us must have used the old hill for playing on and slowly created footpaths all the way round, over the top and all down the sides.
Now we would have the likes of races, either on foot or on borrowed bikes from others already on the hill. It was way out of the way, so very few adults came by, meaning you could be as mad as you liked without anybody shouting and bawling at you. You could scream and shout ‘til you were hoarse, and it was great. At the end of the day you had been racing around and carrying on that much that when it came to bedtime you went out like a light. The only downside was times racing around like a loony you would crash, or go over the bike’s handlebars, but a few cuts and bruises was all part of the day.
Some of the crazy bikes had no tyres or chains, as we made them out of bits and pieces we salvaged off the tip just down the road; but we still had great times and it never cost a penny. When it had been raining if you went on the hill it was thick of clarts but this was also great fun because you have clarts fights, the only downside was when you got back home. But at the time it was worth it, as all the gang would tell you.