I was lucky enough to land a job selling both the Chronicle and Gazette papers for a man called Johnny.
In its heyday, Smith’s Dry Dock Yard at North Shields employed hundreds and hundreds of workers that came from both north and south of the river.
I was lucky enough to land a job selling both the Chronicle and Gazette papers for a man called Johnny. In those good old days, you had three working gate-houses. No. 1 was the main entrance in Burdon Main Row, no. 2 was in Coach Lane and no. 3 was next to the ferry landing at Duke Street.
Now if you were on number 2 or 3 gates, we would call into Smith’s canteen on Coach Lane (2006 – Fleur de Lys), next to no. 2 gate, to see if anybody wanted a paper. Most of the time it was no, but we knew if we mingled with the lads you would get a sandwich or a bit of cake or biscuit, but to cap it off one of the workers would always shout to the lasses to give the kids a cup of tea. By the time I got back to no. 1 gate it was time to do what we called the Round.
Now I will just say it will not be the first time you drop off on of the old biddies’ papers and you get them immortal words, “my shopping list’s on the table son”. This means you are off to the corner shop for there is no way you could refuse, otherwise life would not be worth living. This could happen once, twice or more in one shift.
Friday dinner time was Weekly News day and you would just sell them to the lads, but beware if you were in the way when those gates opened at 12 o’clock, for it was like the Charge of the Light Brigade and if you were in the middle you just went with the flow or else you would get trampled on. Now when I think of it, I was on a good little earner, for I got 5 shillings a week (25 new pence), which quite often I would sub off Johnny for one reason or another, when skint. Now I might be wrong, but those happy times will never ever come back, which is a pity for a good time was had by all.