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Northumberland Dock

We loved fishing from the staithes, tying large cod heads to a length of string, leaving them on the bottom for a time and then pulling them up to see if you had any crabs clinging to them.

Northumberland Dock was our most exciting playground despite constant dire threats and warnings from our parents, we would still go there.

We loved it, fishing from the staithes, we tied large cod heads (rescued from North Shields Fish Quay) to a length of string, left it on the bottom for a time and pulled it up to see if you had any crabs clinging to it.  They were totally inedible, but we loved doing it.  We also fished for eels (again, totally inedible).  This was a different technique.  We tied large hooks onto long poles, and we would try and gaff the eels. It wasn’t easy but if you could get one, you had to be very careful – they could give you a nasty bite. We made bows and arrows, catapults – it was a great place to play.

One of our most daring pranks was to spy on courting couples. We knew every secluded place and we would let them get settled then we would taunt them from a safe distance, usually hidden in the trees which covered the riverside.  Many a frustrated man chased us bu,t they never caught any of us, great fun.

Once we must have forgotten what time it was for when we got back to St John’s Street, we spotted all our mam’s waiting on Mary High’s shop corner.  Fortunately, we saw them first.  I don’t know what the rest of the gang did but I ran around to East Howdon through The Lonnens, down Hedley Street, into Backworth Street and knocked on our window and my brother let me in.  I stripped and got into bed.  Later my mother came into the bedroom (I was not asleep), she was with someone and was very angry.  She said “I can’t wake him up to punish him”. I breathed a sigh of relief and thankfully fell asleep.

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