I wish I had a pound for every time you called out to a boat “your time is up!"
When I was a lad at Linka school I would go down to the Tynemouth Lake at weekends to help out with the lad who looked after and hired out the boats.
The boats at that time were all wooden and it kept you fit as a lop when you rowed up and down that lake all day. The lad would give us the number of the boats that were due in as their time was just about up and off we went back up the lake again. I wish I had a pound for every time you called out to a boat “your time is up! “.
Now in the summer, the place was jumping, with thousands of day-trippers from all over. Often you got the lads and lasses of around the 15 to 20 age group trying to show off in front of each other. They would start off with the odd bit of splashing then slowly but surely it got a bit mad and one or two would end up in the lake. That was it! The boss would jump into a boat screaming through his horn telling them to stop and settle down – but to no avail. The young ones would just make a beeline for the lakeside when he got near, then jump out, setting the boat adrift and running off laughing. Mind, I have to add, no one ever got hurt when I was at the lake (about 3 years) and all the spectators just joined in laughing, kind of putting the icing on the cake of a good day out.
When bored with the lake a lot of the people just ambled over the road to the Plaza amusements or went downstairs to the Roller Rink. The lad in charge at the lake at that time was called Hector and I never saw him row a boat himself. He was a great guy and only stood about five feet tall, along with his wife Minnie who was just about the same height. I always remember on a Sunday she would come down with sandwiches and scones for us to have for dinner. These were two great people who sadly have long gone, and I bet they could have told some funny stories about what happened there over the years.
Before we started on a Sunday in the morning me and one of the other lads would go looking for model boats that had sunk. Armed with a garden rake we fished them up and the owner, nine times out of ten, would give us a couple of bob for a job well done. I would say one of the most popular models at that time was an
RAF rescue boat, for it could shift in the water, quite fast indeed.
Like I say, the place used to be heaving with crazy kids doing crazy things, having loads of fun and laughter, but today, in 2006, Tynemouth is like a morgue. The old Plaza building is long gone, along with the lake. It is just sad, all the day-trippers that brought the madness now nip over to the likes of France and Spain for the weekend. Still, they were happy times to remember.