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Whatever Happened to Blyth?

My family moved to Blyth in the early 1950s, leaving in 1959, just before everything seemed to go wrong. We had the Traveller's Rest pub at the junction of Regent Street and Thompson Street. On the other corner was Jack Turnbull's corner shop and further up, where the road takes a sharp turn, was a Co-op where the money was sent in a pod along a rail to the cashier who sent it back with the change and the 'divi' ticket. The pub was three storeys high, but the floors were rotten in the very top floor. This didn't stop the press using it to record ship launchings from the yard over the road. I remember ships being built from nothing, and it wasn't until the launching that they received their names. (I remember the 'Orangutan' and the 'Hamilton Trader'.) They were launched by famous people, but the only one I ever recognised was Professor Jimmy Edwards. The yard was very busy, as were the colliery and the railway station, which is now the site of a supermarket. There was an ancient chain ferry across to Cambois which cost 1d.
The beaches are still lovely, but the Jubilee cafe seems to have gone. I remember going to one of the four cinemas in the town. The main pastime seemed to be fishing, and Da was a member of the High Ferry Sea Angling Club. The Cambois side was also very busy, with one of the town's two railway engine sheds, and Hughes Bolckow's ship breakers (and in the 1960s a very busy steam locomotive dismantler.) A feature of that side was the massive coal staithes which were an adventure playground, as were most of the bombsites still around at that time. The town seemed very friendly and happy at the time. I remember Da got his crisps from Tower crisps and his pies from Alfie Shy, oh and he might have put on the odd bet with Jackie Harris, but least said soonest mended! I went to the old St Wilfrid's Infants, only three rooms but countless memories, including a huge first communion parade, followed by ice cream from Sagheni's(?). Children were kept under strict control in those days, but in retrospect people had so little but always gave the bairns their best. Other memories were bus trips to the panto in Newcastle, starring Eve Boswell and Vic Oliver, and in the summer a special train chartered to take us all to Morpeth, where we had a wonderful day in an outdoor paddling pool, oh and a summer festival where men competed in fancy dress.
The pub went downhill, the yards closed, a very sad decline which doesn't seem to have let up since, but maybe the future will be better; I hope so. Blyth brought magic to my early years.

Written by Tony Steadman. To send Tony Steadman a private message, click here.

A memory of Blyth in Northumberland shared on Thursday, 25th December 2008.

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RE: Whatever Happened to Blyth?

I remember the Traveller's Rest pub but only as a derelict building, but its outer shell stood strong till the day they demolished it. We used to sneak in and have a look round, I can remember we had to be very careful in places and there were wooden stairs that were ready to collapse. I can always remember a group of us wanting to do an all-night sit-in but we were unable to get to the heart of the pub, all we wanted to find out was if the place was haunted. I still live in Blyth and if I pass that site I always see the image of the pub. I'm trying to find out the history of the shop that stands vacant, but rotting to the core, in William Street in Blyth. I keep getting told different information about it. My interest in this place is only brought about by the fact that I'm drawn to the place as I pass it and it stays with me for days, it's like it's shouting out to be saved and I can't help feeling that it holds a lot of memories. So if you know anything about this shop I would be very grateful if you would share it.

Comment from Barbara Burt on Saturday, 21st November 2009.

RE: Whatever Happened to Blyth?

The shop was in the 1950's one of two shops on the west side of William Street, Blyth, the one on the corner of Bishopton Street (leading to Croft Park gate) was affectionately referred as "the school shop". A general dealers in the spirit of the times it sold Redheads sweets, liquorice straps/pipes/rolls, Willards sherbet in a red triangular box. The school kids appeared to be the main patrons. Joe Martino the ice cream man (sugar cones!!) on a three wheeler cycle would slowly ply his trade between that corner down to the Crofton Junior entrance near Kingsway at lunch times in the Summer. Shop hours were limited at the time so confectionary, tinnned food, bread and cigarettes sold to adults would be what sustained the shop. A second general dealers shop with a recessed entrance was between George Street and Plessey Road, but it was less frequently open, a guess suggests it may have been a second-hand shop in his later trading days.

Comment from Mike Cutchie on Friday, 25th November 2011.


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