These new houses were going to have water inside and, unbelievably, a bathroom!
In the 1930s, the council in North Shields was busy building a new housing estate, which was to house all families who were living in condemned property such as us.
Most people were excited; these new houses were going to have water inside and, unbelievably, a bathroom! But my mother had misgivings. She realised that problem families would be living with decent people, and believe me there were plenty of undesirables round the streets of the East End. They would all be mixed together, so my mother decided she didn’t want a new house.
Instead, she put her name down at every estate agent office in the town, requesting a nice decent flat. Every Monday morning, she did her rounds. She went to every agent so they wouldn’t forget her. They gave her the keys to two flats but after inspecting them she turned them down, they were dirty and definitely not suitable.
Eventually, she got the keys of a nice flat in Coburg Street, which was far superior to where we were living. Of course, it still wasn’t ideal; there were only two bedrooms and a large kitchen, and the gas cooker was on the landing on the top of the stairs. I think we did have water but no bathroom, however, it was a nice area so my mother took it.
Eventually, everyone, where we had lived, were re-housed on the new estate and all those tenement buildings were demolished. Queen Street is still there but now with new modern houses. Now when I go for a walk, I often go up to Queen Street and think about when I lived there; the cobblestones and the gas lamps. I stand at the spot where we lived, where I was born and the memories come flooding back, I see myself skipping in the street and remember the bull chasing me.
After we moved our lives changed for the better. My father left the trawlers to work on cargo ships, so he was earning more money. We didn’t stay in Coburg Street very long due to my mother’s efforts. We moved into a large, self-contained house with six rooms and a bathroom. It was marvellous and became the family home.