Memories of Swalwell
Over a number of years I have had many Swalwell people
relate some of their memories to me. Others I have received from members
of Swalwell Local History Society, some from our Facebook page, and some have been reproduced
courtesy of Whickham Web Wanderers Some of the memories are
just one-liners, others several paragraphs. If you would like to see
your memories here, please email to me at
If you have a
Facebook account you are welcome to visit our Swalwell
page at the address below and post your memories
or images there.
I lived in Jubilee Terrace
until the early 50's. My uncle was John Halfpenny, the
Bookies runner. He used to stand at the top of Napier /
Clavering Road. If he saw a policeman he would disappear
into one of the backyards of Park Terrace.
Percy Crozier had to have the school gate open at a
certain time every morning so he could drive his shiny
black Vauxhall straight in. It was as shiny as the
brylcreem on his hair.
I remember the three wheeled railway lorries with a
trailer on the back? One of the lads was sledging from
North View down to Swalwell. When he got to Clavering
Road he went straight under the trailer and out the
other side. What the driver said was unprintable.
If ashes were spread in Ruskin Road to stop the sledging
we just poured water on top to freeze them. Not many
sledges would survive the night.
At the finish of Axwell Park pit I was one of the team
of 8 that did the closing down.I worked with two
brothers called Napper and Tommy Halliday. We had to
extract arch girders where we could. As you can imagine
it was a bit on the dangerous side, and we did have to
move away fast on more than one occasion. It was all
done with a piece of equipment called a ''silvester''
used by hand power. One thing that really stands out was
bringing one of the pit ponies to the surface. It hadn't
seen daylight for a couple of years. We came out of the
drift at Swalwell and its nostrils started flaring as it
got excited at the smell of fresh air. In the end I had
to put my coat over its head to calm it a bit. Going
through the pit yard people kept well out of its way as
it was up on its hind legs by then. When I left Axwell
Park I went to Mary Pit at Winlaton. From there to
Winlaton Mill which was attached to Marley Hill pit.
From there I went into the Navy.
"My grandfather, a pitman sitting on his back doorstep in
Lonnen Drive, Swalwell cleaning his boots with Dubbin."
"When I was six years old, sitting on our back doorstep with
my brothers and sisters waiting for our grandfather to call
on his way home from his shift at Blaydon Burn pit. He
always saved some of the jam sandwiches from his bait to
give to his grandchildren. We waited and waited but he
didn't come that day. Later we were told that he was dead,
killed by a roof fall at the pit."
"My mother telling me about her and auntie Elsie walking to
Swalwell Bridge to catch the Venture bus (because it was
cheaper) to travel to Robertsons in Newcastle, where they
both worked as dressmakers. They did this to save a ½p a
journey, 1 old penny a day. The money they saved was used to
pay for a weeks holiday at Whitley Bay!"
Alma Willis (Now Deceased) remembers from around 1930
in Church View. My dad was a miner and he used to
come home in his pit clothes as they had no baths in
the pits then. I used to clean and dry his pit
boots, hoggers etc. My mam used to make new mats for
Christmas and also Christmas trees made from Holly.
I remember going on the club trips and shouting "hoy
out" at weddings. The whole village seemed to be
related and I could visit anyone's house for help. I
used to stand on the stairs of the Cosy (cinema)
with my Penny. They used to let adults in first so
if you were with an adult you got in. I remember the
start of the war. I had a wonderful childhood in Swalwell.
Coleman (now deceased) remembers from around 1928;
Watching the farmers pass through the village with
their sheep on a Monday morning.
The village shops where you could buy shoes for 1s
6d a pair.
Going on the Club Trip every year on the train.
Swalwell Hoppings and playing with toy shops.
Playing up the Dam Head in Summer
Best remembers from around 1956;
My mother would send me down to the Co-op for a few
messages and I forgot to bring our store check back.
Our store number was 8876 and it was very important
to bring back that very important piece of paper
which was kept in my mother's purse until the
dividend was due. You NEVER lost your divi check!
Booth remembers from around 1950;
Helping my grandmother on washing day when I
used to help with the possing and boiling of
her dad's pit clothes. I used to get up
early and before going to school I would
fill the bowl from the set-pot. I also used
to fill up the boiler with water and light
the gas tap under the boiler. Then after
having breakfast and going to school, I
would return at lunch time in time to hang
out the clothes on the line. When I returned
home from school in the evening I would
clean the back kitchen. When the towels and
sheets were dry, I helped my grandmother to
fold them and
put them through the mangle to press them.
Life in Swalwell being one BIG happy memory,
especially her childhood. "My memories of
life in Swalwell as a child were all happy
ones and too numerous to record here" says
I went to Railway Street Chapel (Primitive
Methodist) and in 1939 I was selected to
recite a poem to celebrate their
anniversary. I especially remember the new
dress which I wore for the occasion. It was
Green with smocking on the bodice. Charlie
Harbottle was the organiser.
As a youngster going to the Cosy Cinema with
my grandmother, then going to Tinnions for a
packet of chips. I was a member of the local
Methodist chapel and have great memories of
the annual anniversary. On the anniversary
day morning we would go around the streets
singing hymns. I hated Mondays as it was
washing day and my aunt used to have the
drying frames out, making mats and we always
had Pot Pie for dinner. At night time I
loved sitting around the roaring fire
listening to the wireless.
Jack Aspery remembers;
The death of Robin Oliver aged 7 who was run
over by a bus outside the Seven Stars Public
Setting fire to other people's bonfires
before Guy Fawkes Night.
I was born in Ramsays Cottages (known as
the poor hoose yard) in 1922. These
houses were demolished in the early
1930's but as I remember, these are the
families that lived there: Coming
through the arch from the Waterside, the
first house on the left was No. 9, Mrs
Palmer. We lived at No. 10, Roberts No.
11, Anne Braddock No. 12, Gills No. 13, Alpins No. 14, Downeys No. 15, Rolfs No.
16, Halls No. 17, Collingwoods (my
grandparents) No. 19, Ileys No. 20,
Armstrongs No. 21, Owens No. 22, Turners
No. 23 and Gainsfords No. 24.
Is there anyone who knows anything
about these families and what happened
My Aunt Madge (nee Collingwood) and is
in her nineties, was married from the
Cottages and now lives in Winlaton. My
brother Ken lives in Whickham.
I remember the names of all the lads and
about my age (85) and often wonder about
My most memorable event of life
in Swalwell was when I was only a few years old. I
remember quite vividly being taken up to the Dam
Head with my brother and a few more people. The
reason was that my sister Mary (who was 19) had died
and it was the day of her funeral.
Also, 'Coffee Johnny' was my Great Grandfather. His
daughter Marjorie was my Grandmother and lived with
us at Rose Villa. She was a very pretty woman and sat
near The Wherry Inn and was famous for knitting 'pit
stockings' for all the men-folk of our family worked
in the local coal mines.
Margaret Wardle remembers;
Living in Northumberland House which used to be
located where Swalwell Gardens (allotments) used to
be. My grand parents lived at 8 Hood Street and my
father, Jack Foster, was born above The Seven Stars
public house. He used to play in goal for the
Swalwell football team and got the nickname of
'Jumper Foster'. He died aged 95 in 1982 and my
mother died aged 90 in 1980.
I started school at Swalwell but moved to Whickham
School when I was 6 or 7 years old.
Marjorie Brown remembers;
As a small child starting Sunday School
(Presbyterian) and enjoying the excitement of their
anniversary. Learning poetry and songs etc. Going to
the Ebenezer Chapel youth club during the week the
club trip and picnics. The snowy winters of the
1940s and starting school. School dinners were
brought in a big wagon and the meals were eaten at
your desk. When I was about 3-4 going up to the
Bagnalls to visit my Great Gran Noble and running
through the fields chasing cows.
remembers the 1950s;
Every year we had 6 weeks holiday
from school when we could forget lessons and
teachers and do what we liked - parents
On fine days we would go fishing
for sticklebacks up The Forge, play various games,
marbles and dig holes in the ground which we would
cover with corrugated iron sheets and sit in to talk
and scheme. We would go for walks up the lonnen,
down the 12 score and along to Dunston pond near the
current Federation Brewery site, and up to Whickham
to play in the park.
On rainy days we would sit in
someone's garden shed and talk or maybe just stay at
home and play with toys or read books. Swapping
comics was another pastime I enjoyed, especially
visiting other kid's homes and taking home piles of
comics to read. Captain Marvel or the Knockout were
In the evenings we'd go to the
pictures twice a week, usually Blaydon Plaza or
Pavilion. You couldn't possibly see all the films
that were released in those days, you had neither
the time or money. I try and catch up with old films
I missed when they come on TV - thought some never
seem to be shown.
We'd walk home from Blaydon and
visit either the top or the bottom fish and chips
shop if we had money left. Fish and chips wrapped up
the proper way in old newspapers - The Sunday Sun or
The Weekly News maybe. Saturday meant a visit to
Newcastle or elsewhere - maybe visiting relatives in
Shields or Amble. It was always nice to get back
Sundays were not so good -
everything was closed and you couldn't wear your
everyday clothes. If you played football or played
in the street there might be objections from
religious neighbours. Television and radio programs
were not so good on Sundays. Sunday's TV was often
boring in the 1950s apart from the odd show for
children and maybe 'What's My Line" for want of
something better to watch, only one channel in those
days of course.
I remember the week before school
re-started in September. That last week wasn't such
fun because school kept coming into your thoughts -
a new class with a new teacher. Everything you
wanted to do during the holidays but hadn't done had
to be squeezed into the last week.
By October the nights had drawn
in and it was much darker and colder in the
evenings. That still left Saturdays to play out of
course but that meant that things had to be done in
darkness - building bonfires for example.
Yes, there was
Christmas and two weeks holiday at Easter but the
Summer holidays were by far the best.
Spoors remembers in 1950;
Finding a thrush's nest in a hedge near the old
forge. The nest had five speckled eggs in it - magic
to a child.
Valerie Atkinson remembers
from around 1949;
Being at my Grandmother's house at 37 Clavering
Road. I was a would-be ballerina and went to Mrs.
Scott's dancing class in a wooden hut at the top of
the hopping field (British Legion?). One Saturday I
came out of the house clutching my Half Crown class
fee and dropped it down the back of the step. As far
as I know, it is still there.
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