The Mining Community
Although I no longer live in Northumberland, I still have a soft spot for North Broomhill.
I was born in School Row in 1943. From there we moved to Coronation Terrace in 1947 which was a complex of rudimentary row of two terraces of corrugated dwelling places at the foot of the pit heap.
The street was a dirt thoroughfare and from each house was a brick footpath which lead to the toilet (netty) and the midden, which was a part of the netty where the everyday rubbish was thrown, not a nice place to be when you were sitting on the netty when the rubbish man came to empty the rubbish and the human waste which was deposited from the entire family. After he emptied the contents, he would then scatter a pink powder inside the midden and then you would receive a lung full of pink dust.
I attended the Broomhill County Primary School where the Headmaster was an awful individual called Donaldson who I hated with a passion and still do to this very day. I recieved many a lash from his strap which was dealt with maximum force.
North Broomhill then was a vibrant community and where you knew every family in the street and everyone was friendly to each other. Where is that community spirit now?
My father was an electrician at Broomhill colliery which was a two-minute bike ride (not many cars on the road then) from Broomhill, I do believe he would cycle to Chevington Drift , Moorhouse and Hauxley.
My mother was always a housewife where she spent many hours cleaning, baking and doing the washing in the wash house which was adjacent to the netty, standing over a tub of hot soapy water full of clothes, beating them senseless with a poss stick then rinsing the clothes out then putting them through the mangle.
The weekends were wonderful where as kids we would run around with cap guns playing cowboys (I was always Roy Rogers) and we would continue to do this for hours (or until everyone died). Can you imagine the kids doing this today?
Milk, groceries, butchers meat were all delivered by horse and cart. Fish was delivered by a lady called Phyllis who pushed a pram from Amble which was about four miles to the north, calling at villages on the way and selling cod and kippers and when I think about it, I have never tasted a better kipper since.
Many wonderful times were had when my brother and I would visit friends whose father was the colliery horse-keeper who would allow us to ride the pit ponies. I vividly remember this place to be an extremely happy place to be and it was always a treat to be allowed to camp there during the school holidays.
There are also memories of the local 'sheriff' Sgt Martin and his 'deputy, PC Mcallister, who ran a very law abiding society. However, I do believe my father was apprehended for riding two on a bike from Amble (you see we all have skeletons in the cupboard!).
On the way to school I was given ration coupons once a week to get sweets from the sweet shop outside the school, my favourite was a tube of sherbet which included a liquorice straw (can you imagine having white powder outside a school these days!).
I have not been to North Broomhill for over twenty years now, as I joined the Royal Air Force in 1961. Although I was stationed in many places such as Cyprus, Singapore, Malaya and Hong Kong I still have many fond memories of North Broomhill and I have promised myself I will pay another visit very soon.
Tips & Ideas
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How has North Broomhill changed over the years?
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