The Chain Bridge. Courtesy Nick Pearson
The Next Train by Nick Pearson
Born in the early Fifties in what was known as the back streets of Blaydon, pleasures we had as kids were few and far between. One of the enjoyments we had was swimming at the Scottie Road baths. We used to race home at tea time, grab our cossie and towel and off we went to catch a bus to Scotswood Road, just over the chain bridge.
They always used too much chlorine in the water and your eyes always stung after a swimming session. At 8pm they kicked us out and it was into the café for a cup of Oxo and a slice of bread, and if it was the light nights we blew our bus fare on a bag of crisps with the blue bag of salt in, and dipped the crisps in the Oxo.
Walking back to Blaydon we had to cross the old chain bridge and if a bus or heavy lorry came over it bounced all over the place. We also made sure we didn’t stand on the cracks in the wood as we always felt we would plunge into the Tyne below and drown.
Old Shakey, the children called it. Courtesy Tyne & Wear Museums
At the Newcastle end of the road was the market and slaughterhouses, and behind there was the view to the largest railway interchange in Europe. Us kids sat on the wall and watched the great trains coming and going. The Mallard and Flying Scotsman always caused a stir.
When trains were slow we watched the slaughtermen kill sheep and cows through the vent window of the slaughterhouse. Every time they killed one, half a dozen of us would shout “Urgh!” but we were morbid – we always went back again.
I can still hear the shout of “Train coming!”, when we would all dash to the wall and watch the train go past.
Granny's Roots by Elsie Cynthia Thompson
My gran, Hannah Murray Thompson, was living at 227 Scotswood Road on July 14 1916, when her husband, Sergeant Charles Thompson, was killed in France. Gran was about eight months pregnant with her third child – my mother Charlotte – I believe.
My gran Hannah ran a shop on the Scotswood Road and 227 may well be where the shop was. I can only wonder at the hardships that befell the widows of the war as there was no National Health Service and no Benefits either. I suppose my gran was well off compared to many others. Researching the family tree has opened my eyes to how lucky we are in this time and at this date.