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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.

Written by Albert Taylor. To send Albert Taylor a private message, click here.

A memory of North Broomhill in Northumberland shared on Friday, 7th August 2009.

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Comments

RE: The Mining Community

Reading Albert Taylor's account of his North Broomhill memories just brought many questions to mind about the many hours I played "kick-the-can" with North Broomhill kids when I visited my grandparents, Bill and Margaret Harmison. Those wonder years were from 1947 through to 1957. Then as I looked up at my office wall, another bell rang in my head! Maybe Albert and I have some connectivity in the area. My dad's best man was a Taylor, his first name too could be Albert - it will come back to me. I have my mum and dad's wedding picture with Mr Taylor prominently by my dad's side.

Mum and dad are long gone, but many a time I have wondered who the other members were in the wedding party. Maybe you, Albert, are the link I need!  My uncle was a Sergeant in the RAF, Mr Robert Lay, who worked many years in Acklington Air Base. Before moving to North Broomhill, my grandparents operated the crossing gates at the aerodrome for the coal trains heading to the pit at North Broomhill.

Approaching 69, I need to regain all those fond memories around North Broomhill since those times as I now have taken up residence in Ontario, Canada.  If you think we do have connection, I would appreciate any information.

Awra best

Ron Harmison

Comment from Ronald Harmison on Monday, 17th August 2009.

RE: The Mining Community

Having received a reply from Ron Harmison it has jolted my memory to the extent that I do recall the railway crossing at the RAF base at Acklington and I do remember on occasions that the gates had to be operated by someone who came out of the gate keepers house. I do remember that we came from Coronation Terrace (The Tinpots) to go to Acklington, we had to go via Barties Town and up the farm track past the farm and Peters Wood, which I believe was about a mile and a half.

I cannot confirm if my father was best man for Ron's parents, but my sister, Alma, who is 72 can vaguely remember a party at the Togston Club when she was very young. However, she does remember an Evelyn Lay, whose father was in the RAF and Alma describes Evelyn with blonde curly hair, well dressed and had no Geordie dialect, apparently they were very good friends.

My father was tall, slim and wore spectacles. I was 26 when he died in 1970 so I only knew him with grey hair.

I do hope Ron can find some of this information useful.

Comment from Albert Taylor on Thursday, 20th August 2009.

RE: The Mining Community

I was at RAF Acklington from 1964 to 67 and have very fond memories of the Red Row and Broomhill communities. I used to have many chats with the proprietor of the Garage at Red Row, but cannot remember his name. Can anyone help? He told me about his father or grandfather building an aeroplane in 1910(?) and attempting to fly it on the beach at Druridge. He showed me a photograph and we did feature it in a history display on the occasion of a Jubilee display at Acklington. I am interested in trying to resurrect a little more detail of the event.

Comment from Michael Skipsey on Wednesday, 8th January 2014.

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