Peggy’s Memories of Wallsend

I was a Ward Maid in a couple of local hospitals. Most of the cleaning was done on hands and knees, but we did have one machine, called ‘The Dummy’, which cleaned the floors – that made life easier!

Editor’s Note: Peggy was born in 1915 in Wallsend and took part in the Hand in Hand Reminiscence project in 2008

When I was little, we moved a few times.  We lived in Neptune Road, near the river and later moved to a new house in High Farm, which was almost out in the country in comparison.  I always went to Sunday School (Primitive Methodist) and one of the highlights of the Sunday School year was the Good Friday procession of witness.  This was always special for me because my father polished up his coal wagon so it could take part in the procession, carrying kiddies on it.  There were two procession routes, the high one and the low one, which were taken alternately.  The ‘low’ route went through Neptune Road, The Avenue and Vine Street as well as other streets.  At the end of the procession all the children got an orange.

I’ve been all over the shop with different jobs and was a Ward Maid in a couple of local hospitals.  I was at Walkergate, the City Hospital for Infectious Diseases (usually just called the Fever Hospital) and also the one that used to be on the Coast Road, it might have been Scaffold Hill.  Most of the cleaning was done on hands and knees, but we did have one machine, called ‘The Dummy’, which cleaned the floors – that made life easier!

During the war I worked in an ammunition factory in Warrington.  People said it was a really dangerous job to have but I only remember getting powder rash.  I think the factory was known as Risley Royal Ordnance Factory and it was huge.

Editor’s Note: It is likely that Peggy worked at Risley and she would have been one of 22,000 people, mostly women, who were there to keep the production of ammunition going for the war effort.  It was dangerous work and people got hurt.  Parts of the job were known as ‘suicide squads’.  More than half a million bombs and more than one million mines were assembled at the factory, including the 22,000lb bomb ‘Grand Slam’ which sank the German battleship Tirpitz in November 1944.

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