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Living and Working in North Shields

They fired the gun in Northumberland Square to welcome in the new year

Though I lived in North Shields, my favourite memory is of an ice cream shop in South Shields. The shop was owned by Nortrianni’s and we would go over from North to South Shields on the car ferry – that was our Saturday treat; my favourite was a rum baba

My father was a watchmaker and we had a shop in Prudhoe Street for thirty-eight years. Further along the street was a bakers and a pork shop which was owned by Germans, I remember their saveloys and pork sandwiches.

I remember going shopping on a Saturday; lots of people went on a Saturday night as the things were sold cheaper then. I remember Campbell and Mellor’s the butcher shop. On Christmas Eve some shops were open till half-past eleven; there was always someone who forgot to buy a present.

I trained as a hairdresser when I was 14 years old and worked until I was 70. I worked in a salon at the top of Nile Street and one customer we had was covered in tattoos all over, she was a hard person. I can remember working late on a New Years Eve and running to Northumberland Square to be there when they fired the gun to welcome the New Year in. For a few years, I worked as a mobile hairdresser.

When I was very young I went to dancing classes and danced solo at the Rotunda, I also went roller skating and I learned to play the violin and played at The Theatre Royal in North Shields. I also sang and danced with the Marsh Accordion Band, I remember singing “Little Old Lady Passing By.”

We were bombed out 3 times and we lost everything, we had no clothes. One of the times we were bombed was the night they dropped 7 bombs on the cemetery.

I remember the North Shields Carnival, I went dressed up as a rabbit, and we were joined by the Pearly Kings and Queens.

We had our holidays in Hexham or Chester-le-street, and during the summer all the family would meet on Tynemouth beach where we would spend the day together.

When I had scarlet fever I had to go into the Fever Hospital and parents were only allowed to see us from a distance, my mam would throw a comic over to me with a bar of chocolate hidden inside, but they always found it and took it off me.

About 1936 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited North Shields and my mother made me an outfit with a Princess Marina style hat to match; it was turquoise. I stood on the steps of the YMCA and when they arrived the Queen was wearing the same colour as me, everybody was asking me where I had bought the outfit from.

Maud Wales, born, 8th June 1924



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