The days when budgeting was a way of life…
In July, SunLife will be coming to the city of Newcastle to play host to the Mirror’s Money Matters roadshow. Under the watchful eye of Charles Grey at Grey’s monument, we’ll be sharing hints and tips on making the most of your money.
In celebration of this event, we’re looking back at life in post-war Newcastle. A time when people had to make every penny count, and find creative ways to make do and mend.
We’ve rummaged around the Internet to find first-hand accounts from Tyneside bloggers, historians and authors. And we’d like to share some of our favourites with you. They might even trigger some memories of your own.
Playing out all day
In post-war Newcastle, children didn’t have much. So the local streets and green spaces like Heaton Park were their playground from morning until night. Games like ‘Knocky-Nine-Doors’ and 'Jack Jack show your light’ were popular sources of mischief after dark!
Newcastle’s streets made perfect racecourses too. Ray Shenton remembers his homemade bogey: "My brother Joe made me a bogey from bits of wood salvaged from the Tyne on Skinnerburn Road. It even had a handbrake on!”.
Darning, patching and fixing were a way of life and most clothes were home made. Young women would rustle themselves up fabulous outfits on the sewing machine at home, before heading out to dance the night away at venues like the Oxford Galleries and Newcastle Jazz Club.
A trip to the pictures
Low priced entertainment came in the form of going to the pictures. On Saturday morning, ABC Minors and Odeon boys and girls flocked to see the likes of Roy Rogers, Flash Gordon and Zorro.
A summer day out
A day out in the park or a trip to Whitley Bay was the closest many Geordies came to a holiday back then. Local author Andrew Clark remembers his family taking their own teapot to the beach and getting a jug of hot water from a nearby kiosk.
He also remembers everyone’s favourite - wet knitted swimsuits! “… that costume felt like you were in a sack of potatoes!” Too true.
Calling for a hand-out
Times were hard. According to the children waited outside Vickers Armstrong and the Power Station at the end of a shift, shouting for a ‘Sporting Man or bait?’; (bait is a packed lunch to anyone not from these parts!). The bait was for them and the Sporting Man for their unemployed dad.
Was your father a member of a pig club? During the war, families across the city chipped in to buy, feed and look after pigs in small pig farms.
Local man, Albert Henry, told the BBC how on slaughter day it was the ones who’d not been much help with the upkeep who’d usually be first in the queue when the meat and bacon was being shared out!
And finally… free entertainment at the Quayside Market
The Quayside market on a Sunday morning sounds like a place of wonder for a small child. David Armstrong has shared vivid memories of knife swallowers, fire jugglers, plate spinners and even an escape artist transfixing onlookers with their dazzling skills.
What memories do you have of growing up in post-war Newcastle? How did you make do and mend – and does the frugal attitude stay with you today? We’d love to hear your stories.
We’d like to say a very big thank you for all the memories we have collected from nufc-forum, Francisfrith.com, Old Pictures of Newcastle Facebook page, Chronicle Live, bbc.co.uk and the Whickham Web Wanderers blog. It’s been a pleasure discovering such wonderful stories from your fantastic city.