Nancy’s Memories of Growing up and Going to Work

I was asked if I wanted to go to the Empress Ballroom in Whitley Bay, to run the bar there. I did and I chose my own staff to work with me.

Editor’s note: Nancy was born in 1926 in South Shields and now lives in Wallsend.  She took part in the Hand in Hand Reminiscence project in 2008.

I had three sisters and two brothers and people used to say that we were ‘steps and stairs’ when we stood in a line together.  My dad was a miner and worked underground, he often did nightshifts.  My older brother worked on a nearby farm, getting the milk and then selling it.  I always wanted to go with him but he would say “there’s enough trouble without you coming”.

I looked up to my sisters, they were always smart while I was always untidy (or so it seemed to me) – dad used to go mad when I said I thought they were better than me.

Most of my working life was spent at the Newcastle Brewery, where I learned the licensing trade from the bottom up.  Eventually, I got to run the brewery office’s private bar, where the guests were entertained.  I bet a lot of business was done there.  We used to host special events like dances there too.

Later on, I was asked if I wanted to go to the Empress Ballroom in Whitley Bay, to run the bar there.  I did and I chose my own staff to work with me.  I was quite strict with them and wouldn’t allow them to drink while they were on duty.  My rule was that you could have one once all the work was done, but not while you were doing it.  I had a good team.

The ballroom was lovely, and you got lovely people coming in to have a good time.  They were always smart, and the women had beautiful dresses.  No one went to town with their drinks – they couldn’t afford to.  Drinks were expensive in comparison to what they cost these days.  You rarely saw anyone who was drunk.

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