Whatever Happened To Blyth

A Memory of 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.

A memory shared by Tony Steadman , on Dec 25th, 2008.

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