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The Camel

For people new to Burradon, the Camel’s Hump was a large heap next to the ash path bordering the Welfare.

Photograph of Show jumping ponies at Burradon

Show jumping ponies at Burradon

The wind would be blowing a gale and we would stand on the camel’s hump high above the rooftops with our coats above our heads and thrilled to be lifted off our feet and placed unceremoniously on our backsides to howls of laughter. The dust would whip up into the air and into your eyes and as a consequence, you couldn’t see and you couldn’t breathe, however, it was innocent fun and it didn’t cost a penny.

We would hunt around for parts of the rubber screens from the pit and pull the fronts up (they resembled flying carpets from ancient Persia), and we would gently ease ourselves forward until we disappeared over the edge followed by a trail of dust. It wasn’t any use going down after it rained, it had to be bone dry. A successful trip would usually mean you ended up in the gutter, either soaked or covered in a muddy stinking slime with the cheers of your pals the only consolation and the prospect of going home to face your mother. You tried to clean yourself on the grass, it wasn’t much good. If you went home you wouldn’t be back, we didn’t have that many changes of clothes and your mother wouldn’t be too happy.

When you were steering the screens you had to remember not to put your hands underneath, I saw lads who had their fingers ripped wide open and the skin was burned, worst of all the open wound would contain coal dust and it was agony, over the years I saw many lads lying in the grass tending to their injuries. You always had bits of coal in your shoe and when you arrived home it looked as though you been down the pit, absolutely black.

Best of all was the winter-snow! We would rush to the top of the white peaks with only a piece of plastic and great anticipation. The north wind would sometimes burn into your skin, that didn’t matter – you were going to have excellent fun and with no burns. Inevitably you had to go home early, you always ended up soaked to the skin and suffering from the effects of the cold, the plastic bread bags on your feet only kept you dry for part of the day. Another benefit of the snow, if you ended up in the gutter you landed on the snow rather than in the water or the mud. Happy days!

For people new to the village, the Camel’s Hump was a large heap next to the ash path bordering the welfare. The gutter was the trench which bordered the Camel’s Hump and was an overflow from the pit pond.

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