A Leadgate Lad in the Philippines
Stories from abroad!
January 7, 1950 Now I was 13 then and walking home back to leadgate from the Brooms school ( no longer there now) which was about a mile or so. Both my school friend, Brian Cudden and I looked up at the evening sky and commented about the clouds that were coming in from the north west. These clouds were not like the usual clouds, these were very heavy and went up really high into the sky. It was cold but nor too cold, maybe just below freezing.
An old man walking in the opposite direct saw us looking and said "right lads that's bloody snow and lot's of it"
By dark it had started, lots of snow and wind, a real blizzard. I mean it was so heavy I could not see from our house across Watling street to Matthews shop which had it's lights on.
By 8 o'clock it was already a foot deep and blowing into drifts. One of the drifts from the corner of our house was almost as tall as me and spreading across the road. We went to sleep that night wondering what the next day would bring.
Early in the morning being my job to bring the coal in and make sure the fire was up and going well went to the back door to get the coal from the coal house at the other side of the yard.
As I opened the door... I shouted "Da..Da come here" He came running down to see what I was calling about. There was no opening just a solid white wall. The snow was right up to the upstairs window, The font door was almost covered also.
My Dad had to dig up from the back door to get to daylight and then clear enough to get to the coal house. It was still snowing 2 days later.
After it stopped, the snow level now was about 5 feet deep but drifting up higher that the telephone poles. Going down Durham road to ST Ives teenagers were standing on top of the poles and rolling down the drifts . I would be impossible for snowplows to clear this amount of snow from the roads. Later that day they started to clear the snow using bulldozers just to cut a small road from Consett to Leadgate and on towards Newcastle so that food could be brought in.
A week later some of the buses started to run but the roads were really bad as the bulldozers did not go down to the road level so as not to damage the road. So a thick 3inch level of ice with numerous pot holes was everywhere and the now really freezing temperatures meant they were going to stay that way for a while.
So January 2010 is maybe the same, I don't know how much snow you had. However my memory of that winter 60 years ago o\is still fresh in my mind.
re there ant 70 year old's who remember that winter
A Stanza around the Fifties
Roller skates, 45’s and 78's, skipping rope, Kaleidoscope,
11 plus, Northern and Venture Bus, Highway Patrol, Rock 'n Roll,
Rin Tin Tin, Errol Flynn, “Housewives choice”, Cap Gun, Radio Fun,
High Noon, Pat Boone, Amos 'n Andy, Andy Pandy,
Bob Hope, Camay Soap, Noel Coward, Frankie Howard,
Joe Loss, Candy Floss, Educating Archie, Liberace,
Grace Kelly, Black and White Telly, Keil Kraft, George Raft,
Frankie Vaughn, Kenneth Horne, Jeffrey Hunter, Billy Bunter,
Edmundo Ros, Stirling Moss, Danny Kaye, Doris Day,
Four Minute Mile, Valentine Dyall, Dan Dare, Rupert Bear,
Katie Boyle, Olive Oyl, Al Martino, the Dandy and Beano,
Tennessee Ernie, Mike and Bernie, Ovaltine, Terry Dene,
George Dixon, David Nixon, Dinky Toys, Teddy Boys,
Roy 'n Trigger, Bardot's figure, Johnny Ray, Down Your Way,
Humphrey Lestoq, Alfred Hitchcock, Hans and Lottie Hass, Alfie Bass,
Tommy Steele, The Potter's Wheel, Mr Quelch, Leslie Welch,
Anthony Eden, Bert Weedon, Micky Rooney, Rosemary Clooney,
Charlie Gracie, Spencer Tracy, Gabby Hayes, Motorways,
Janet Leigh, Typhoo Tea, Sabrina, Ribena,
Jet Morgan, Cinema Organ, Colonel Parker, Eric Barker,
Carlo Ponti, Harry Belafonte, Tom Dooley, Anthony Newley,
Elsie 'n Doris, Jewell and Warris, Chicken pox, Luminous socks,
Elton Hayes, The Good Old Days, William Tell, Carousel,
Victor Silvester, Matt 'n Chester, Coates' Cider, The Range Rider,
Steve Reeves, Jimmy Greaves, Robert Horton, Charles Laughton,
Bebe Daniels, Christmas Annuals, Billy Fury, Juke Box Jury,
Bugs Bunny, Double Your Money, Palm Toffee, Camp Coffee,
Wilfred and Mable, Clark Gable, Armand and Michaela, Derek Guyler,
John Wayne, Frankie Laine, Cinema Queues, Singing the Blues,
Tin baths and bread and dripping. Whitley bay and Tynemouth tripping
“Back of the shaft”, beer by draught , Mario Lanza, what a stanza!
Reynolds News, Singing the Blues, Picture Post, Sunday Roast,
Henry Hall, Berlin Wall, Gene Autry, Charles Hawtrey,
Ladybird Books, Newman's look, Norman Mailer, Robert Taylor,
Four Feather Falls, Vernons Pools, Ken Dodd, Richard Todd,
Eisenhower, Tyrone Power, Iron Curtain, Richard Burton,
Hula Hoops, Heinzs' Soups, Marghanita Lasky, Arthur Askey,
Ruby Murray, Fred Mc Murray, old steam irons, Life with the Lyons,
Ray's a Laugh, in front of the fire in an old tin bath, Gary Cooper, Pea Souper,
Perry Como, Tide and Omo, Elvis the King, Bob and Bing,
B Western, Charlton Heston, Last train to San Fernando!, Marlon Brando
Its Boring and Nothing to Do!
No Television , no computers, no video games…..no problem.!
Very rarely did kids say “It’s boring there’s nothing to do” in the 50's except maybe on rainy days when they could not play outside. Parents usually had to drag their kids into the house when it was getting late on school days.
In the summer it was playing cricket with a 2x4 shaped like a bat with a wicket drawn on a yard wall with chalk and we played until it was too dark to see the ball , or a game of “Leave oh” or maybe cowboys on the heaps. We tested out our box cars going down the hill from the top of Watling street to the bottom of Pont valley at what seemed to be amazing speeds. Because we had very limited controls we would upset the Venture or Armstrong bus drivers when we came too close to them.
Playing marbles in the dirt on the corner of “The Square” or having “Conka “competitions to see who had the hardest horse chestnut. (after soaking them in vinegar and baking in them in the oven)
Maybe off to Moskadini’s on front street on a wet day, where the young teens met ( not quite sure of the spelling or even the correct name) for an ice cream or oxo, playing the penny slot machines or listening to “The woody woodpecker” or Doris Day’s latest rendering . They never did have any really good records on their jukebox but their ice cream sandwich was the best.
Going to the Roxy was a treat especially on Saturday to the Children’s Matinee which was made up of cartoons, cowboy installment movies such as the Darango Kid, Johney Macbrown, Jean Autrey, the Phantom cowboys , Flash Gordon and Ming the terrible.
When you went in through the bottom exit (they did not us e the main) we were given an apple or orange and sometimes an ice Popsicle which you would suck all the juice out and be left with just a piece of ice the shape of the Popsicle on the stick
The 5th of November saw the competition for the biggest bonfire and the best ”Guy” which was set up in Leadgate in the centre of each of the squares, or a suitable location for all to enjoy. All the families got involved by contributing old furniture, mattresses etc. If it would burn, it went onto the bonfire. In most cases we had to get a ladder to put things on the top and place the “guy”
In the winter with a good snow covering it was off to the hill near “sprize pond” for the most dangerous sledging or getting together on the first street going down through the pont cottages where we would tie several sledges together, maybe four or five or more in tandem and a whole family or numerous teens some even lying on top of each other would go hurling down at breakneck speed screaming with excitement and many others jumping out of the way as they trekked back up the hill to do it all over again
Later in the 50’s some of you may remember we had a pirate radio station called radio Luxembourg which broadcast from a ship off Suffolk. They played all the very latest pop records much to the dismay of the BBC..
Quite frankly we did not have time to be bored, we were too busy enjoying ourselves...... what a pity, kids now must have a TV, Cell phone, video games etc to enjoy themselves and they don't realize the fun they are missing outside with their friends
The Leadgate Lad : Brian Daly ………….from a beach on the pacific island of Panay
Snotty Nosed School Kids!
Why is that Kids were less sickly 50 years ago?
Most had snotty noses during the winter and various degrees of sunburn in the summer and that’s all. Very rarely did anyone have the flu. Well except the “China Flu” in the late fifties which only the posh kids seem to get.
There were no asthmatics, no kids sucking on breathing apparatuses in school classrooms, If you did feel a little unwell you went to the doctors office at the top of the bank going to Pont. The doctor always had a cigarette dangling in his mouth and told you just to take two aspirins an see him in the morning..
If you did not feel well…a cup of tea did the trick… when a young man was knocked down by the Venture bus in front of Matthews shop ( No bones broken)…….I heard a woman say “give him a cup of tea it will make him feel better” ! !
So why so little sickness? It seams the houses were built for maximum air flow….. not intentionally mind. But there was always gaps around the doors and windows. In the winter snow would blow in under the door so you would have a mini drift to meet you when you came down stairs in the morning
This also meant you could stand in front of a blazing fire ( no central heating in those days) and front of you would be almost burning while the back of you was almost getting frost bite because of the draft, so you had to keep turning around to keep warm….and the girls legs had “Chillblaines” ( I think that’s how you spell it) if they sat too close.They were red blotches on the front of their legs that took several hours to clear.
Milk on the doorstep froze and popped the seal pushing out the cream, much to the delight of the hungry birds and of course the pantry became a freezer and water was ice cold from the tap. Most winters saw the outside toilets freeze and pipes burst so no one wanted to go outside in the cold of the night to pee! !. So with this in mind everyone kept a pot under the bed… to which the contents also froze. There would even be ice sometimes on the inside of the bedroom windows.
Hot water bottles, a brick or an oven shelf wrapped in a towel was put into the bed to warm it up before you went to bed, otherwise you could not get to sleep because of your shivering.
Some of the older people would wear gloves with the fingers cut out and a balliclava when they went to bed to keep their head and hands warm.
We did not have refrigerators so in the summer butter melted and milk turned sour and that’s why most mothers went shopping every day for meat, sausages, bacon etc
Cooking was done in the fire place or on a little gas stove in the kitchen
The oven was part of the fireplace which was of course in the living room, so for Sunday roast it meant a roaring fire even in the middle of summer …
To day it’s air tight homes, so a lot of dead air, wall to wall carpeting (which contains formaldehyde) and fabric furniture which also contains several chemicals, central heating, a large stove and oven and a refrigerator big enough to store enough food for a couple of weeks, bottled water and sugar free Coca-Cola and Pepsi-cola (When you get a chance read about the dangers of sugar free drinks that contain Aspartame… just search Aspartame in your computer . You may never drink again products that contain it )
We may have a more comfortable lifestyle but at what cost….. Kids seem to be less healthy today and in some areas 20% of all kids suffer from Asthma or other breathing ailments. Schooldays lost to illness is on the rise and the most vulnerable to flu and other strange ailments seems to be the school kids
Oh well maybe I was a snooty nose kid, walking to school in short pants in all weathers, who was happy that I caught the mumps as all kids did, because the doctor said to feed me warm custard or ice cream.
And Mom made homemade Ginger ale to keep us warm, Some times it almost felt it was burning your throat, ‘Black bullets sweets” when you had a sore throat or runny nose and thick dripping sandwiches for breakfast to keep your chest warm. iIt was much better that having goose fat rubbed on your chest
So the next time you see a snotty nose kid, yours or someone else’s think positive ! Say ..... "Now there's a healthy bairn"
A Steamcar in Leadgate?
When you get to my age memories can be long. One such memory is of a steam Car that was regularly seen traveling down Front Street to St Ives road and beyond. No this is not an April fools joke. I did not see it until they put in the traffic lights with the rubber pads to change the lights at the crossroads of Watling street, Durham road and St Ives.. Some of you might remember them. It was about 1950ish. Anyway, I was lucky to see the steam car on several occasions and in particular when it stopped at the lights. It was a fairly large car with the boiler behind the driver. and where the passenger would sit was the coal bunker. So the driver could shovel coal into the boiler as and when required which was behind to the right. The driver always looked like he had just come from the pit as he was covered in coal dust and there was no door on the drivers side. As you can imagine pollution was a major problem, black belching smoke from the stack at the rear
and steam coming out of the sides. The noise was very different from a steam train more of a hissing noise.
Now some where in the local archives there must be some writings about it and maybe even a photograph. I don't know where it came from but it was always coming from the direction of Consett.
Does anyone have any memories
Created on 07/01/2010 07:04 AM by dshields
Updated on 12/04/2010 11:20 PM by dshields