Childhood In Longhirst - a Memory of Longhirst.

Hello, my name is Mick Turnbull. I was born in 1957 and lived at 1, Cairns Avenue. My parents were Robert Davison Turnbull and Jean Turnbull. My mother's parents were Adam and Nellie Chirnside and had lived in the same house of which the ownership went back to the Smith family who, it seems , was the Manager of the mine leading up to the closure of the Colliery. Robert Chirnside had moved south from Tweedmouth in the late 19th century (approx 1870) and brought his family where he obtained work at The Brocks farm. It was one of his sons, John, who married into the Smith family when he completed his courtship with Jane on 24 January 1885 at Longhirst Church. Their family had many children, one of which was killed in the Great War and his inscription adorns the War Memorial at the junction into Longhirst Village - it is that of James Smith Chirnside. Of the remainder, Isabella married James Whyllis, Robert married Elizabeth Hulse, Jane married John Thomas Hindmarsh, Adam married Eleanor Clark, Margaret married William Wilson, Mary married Ernest Lenton Chester, John Thomas married Violet Gray, Ruby married James Manning and Sydney married Mary Camsell
Adam and Nellie produced six children but unfortunately Elizabeth was only to survive three months. Jane ,( my mother) had four brothers, William, Benjamin, James and John.. William, John and James eventually married and went to live in either Widdrington or Morpeth. Jane and Ben remained at the Colliery. Jane married Tom Bray in 1942 and three weeks after the birth of their first child, Anne, Tom was tragically killed in action in the Second World War near Rouen in France. Jane married again in 1950 this time to my father Robert Davison Turnbull. Two streets made up the entire Colliery - these were Cairns Avenue and Straker Terrace. These names had been changed since their first being built. In those days they were simply referred to as North and South Street as appears on the early Census forms. We left the street in 1966 for Mansfield and vacated No1 to Elsie and Bill Holland with their two children, John and Carol. No. 2 housed the Nelson sisters, Alice, Edith, Cissie and Cath whilst No.3 was the home of the Imesons. My uncle Ben Chirnside lived at No.4 with his wife Isabel and son John. 5 was the Heckleys and 6 was where the Hollands had moved from. 7 housed the Wharton family after Evelyn and Tommy Dixon had moved into the old people's places on the lower part of Straker Terrace - William being a good friend of mine, 8 was the Appdales, 9 the Harrigans - Andy and Dot and son Paul and daughter Marie. 10 was Violet Waddell who used to collect cinders and sticks from the local tip This is where I struggle. Maud Elliott and her family of boys, all aged twenty something, lived in 13 and Keenans lived in 14. Greens lived near to the bottom and in final house was Violet Bewick. As kids we played around the tip area and the site of the old Colliery where the 'Batteries' still exist to this very day. Trainspotting the old steam trains before the modern diesels took over was a massive past time as was bird nesting in the local woods and ponds. Never was there a dull moment. Bike rides were frequent along the back roads to Ulgham, Linton and Ashington. Billy Jordan and his wife Margaret ran The Brocks farm together with the Old Moor Farm. They had two children, Rosemary and David; David currently runs the farm as his father enjoys retirement. Billy's sister Elizabeth resided at The Old Moor with her son Gordon Cameron (currently the Doctor at Rothbury), her mother Betty and the home help, Alice Wilson. The dwellings on Straker Terrace in the Colliery were demolished in 1964 when all the occupants were rehoused in nearby Pegswood. Some names to conjure with from this street are Mona Bruce, the Cunninghams, Beatons, Pollards, Ayres and Leggetts. The bottom house on Straker Terrace was Sydney Cottage - the home of a truly astonishing and remarkable man by the name of Billy Tilley. Billy lost a lung in the First World War due to the effects of mustard gas but still led an active life following Sunderland AFC with my father, home and away. Billy always used to come for Xmas and New Year after we'd moved south but sadly died shortly before his one hundreth birthday, I do believe. Middle Moor farm was opposite The Brocks and was run by Cyril Waterson. His son Ian was a good friend of mine.
The school in Longhirst comprised two classrooms and two teachers taught children up to the age of 11. Miss Jackson taught the infants whilst Miss Robinson took charge of the elder members. The school closed when the Head Teacher, Miss Robinson, confirmed her retirement in the summer of 1965. The school still stands as dwellings on the opposite side of the Brocks burn from the farm itself. The village was the place where Longhirst Hall was situated - the home of the bad lads whom we'd see on their occasional jaunts around the area in their shorts and red socks.. . . . but you never upset them for fear of reprisals. People from the village included Chris Morris, Robin and Medina Wintle, John and Gordon Boulding and further afield in Ulgham lived the Fisher family and James Brunning. Peter Scott (Forge Inn) and Colin Cuthbert were also from this area. Upon closure of the school, it meant that we all had to move to Pegswood Junior. This was where Ifound myself in Miss Cadwells class alongside the likes of Billy Weir, John Archer, Bernie Dawson, Colin Walker, Stephen Scott to name but a few. One year later we found ourselves moving south due to the pending closure of Linton Colliery leaving behind the best area and people in the whole wide world.

A memory shared by Mick Turnbull on May 17th, 2013.
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