Round and About in Monkseaton

Amazingly, the front end of a number 17 double-decker bus was down a big hole in the road.

Bygate School had a crab apple tree, the apples look small and very nice but taste them once and you never do so again, they are amazingly bitter and sour.   They would make an interesting cider though.

The second St. Peter’s church was next door to Bygate School but got demolished by a bomb.  The first temporary St. Peter’s Church was in what is now the Methodist Chapel before the old Church was built about 1880.  My mother took me to Bygate School twice a day and twice a day collected me.  Before each return journey, she lifted my brother out of his pram and put two bits of broken church stone under him.  Over the months she built quite a nice rockery in our garden, the only consecrated one in the area!

The buildings opposite Bygate School (now the Spar Shop etc), formed a working farm in the 1940s.  The little stone shed opposite Jenkinson’s Glass shop housed a bull.  Us kids shouted rude words at the bull whereupon it would charge the wall with an almighty crash – very impressive and a bit scary.

Spar’s car park had a high chicken wire around most of it and housed bantams (about half the size of hens) but much showier, really beautiful birds.  They looked more intelligent – especially the cocks.

Tyne Taxis had a large fleet of coffee coloured Austin cars, operated from the back of Kelly’s DIY.  As the cars got too old after seven years or so they were not all replaced so this business contracted.

One day upon leaving school at lunchtime there was sound of a crash by the Black Horse Hotel, I went to have a look.  Amazingly the front end of a no. 17 double-decker bus was down a big hole in the road, the bus was tilted at nearly 45 degrees.  The sewer by the bus stop had caved in, the last straw was the force of the bus braking for its stop probably.

One night I went down for fish and chips to the then chippy, next to the Fold, on my bike.  Whilst I was in the chippy someone cut the wire of my bike dynamo lights into short strips.  Much annoyed, I got on my bike and after riding ten yards or so a policeman stopped me and told me off for riding without lights.  He was surprised in turn to be well and truly told off (by a nine-year-old boy) for not keeping his eyes open and catching vandals.  I was very angry indeed.

The Fold was a large unkempt garden with a big house at the back and a cottage on either side of the garden, originally it was a farm.  About four hundred years ago Monkseaton Village sprang from about five farms in a defensive ring, like a wagon train being attacked by Redskins.  These farms being longitudinal were said to be Saxon, i.e. from before 1066.  Perhaps they were built this way to repel Viking attacks?

On the corner of St. Ronan’s Road and St. George’s Crescent was another recently derelict farm in the 1940s where Valerie, Pat and I used to lark about.   The Spar shop was farm number three, number four was behind the Brewery behind the Monkseaton Arms.  One hundred yards west of Whitley High School was another farm with attendant cottages.

In the late 1940s, Whitley UDC bought Briardene, a very pleasant little picnic spot, and vandalised it into a council tip.  Council dust cart lorries used to race down the cart track from the end of Deneholm to their Briardene tip, totally wrecking the farmer’s approach track and putting walker, horse riders and cyclists in fear of their lives and covering the farm in fine ash.  No wonder the farmer sold out for building Beaumont Park estate.

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