|Dustbin Men and the Snowmen||Farming||Remember the Bus Services?||Odds and Ends||Cosy and other Cinemas|
This page is devoted to some more memories of Swalwell, both old and new, including some reminiscences of Swalwell in the period after the Second World War up to the 1960's. There is also a daily quote from a film, changed irregularly, and anything else that I feel like adding.
THE DUSTBIN MEN AND THE SNOWMENUntil the sixties there was a council rubbish tip on land adjoining the Crowley pub. It is now the site of the BMX track whose entrance it was. The old refuse or bin wagons used to come around every week before the days of wheelie bins, and the dustbin men would lift the metal bins, made heavy with the daily ashes from the grates of all the coal fires, onto their shoulders emptying them into the wagon through a hatch which had a sliding top. On snowy or icy days the householders would scatter the ashes onto the pavement to give a good foothold, After a period of snow which had turned to ice on the pavements, council workmen would break up the ice with shovels and throw it into lorries to be taken away. 1947 was an exceptionaly severe winter and roads and railways suffered serious disruption, leading to a power crisis, made worse because Britain was still recovering from the war. In Swalwell householders cut paths in the snow so that they could walk down their street and the snow was piled high in drifts alongside the road going up to the cemetery and the Crowley.
Kids would often make snowmen with lumps of coal for eyes and mouth and create giant snowballs by rolling an ordinary size snowball downhill in the snow until it got bigger and bigger. Snowball fights were common, especially in the mornings while waiting for school to start, and when the overnight fall was still fresh. Sledging took place down Coalway Lane, then an unsurfaced path, and known as The Bankies, and which gave a nice long run down to the bottom at Clavering Road. Other streets were used too, Grosvenor Avenue up the Greenfields being one. Lying face down on the sledge and steering with your feet was known as going belly-flappers. With all the dirt of industry, smokey chimneys, steam locomotives etc. the snow did not stay pure and white for long. The picture shows Colbeck Avenue in the snow in the 1960's
FARMINGThere were two farms, East Farm (Clark's) and Mill Farm or North Farm (Oxley's), Some of the fields around Swalwell were farmed and animals were often grazed on the fields to the south and east of the village, also in the fields above the railway line. Potato pickers were sometimes employed in October, especially in the field now occupied by Beverley Drive and Oaklands. Cows were often seen in the field which was entered between Coalway Lane and Colbeck Avenue and were taken to and from the field each day. In the same field (Italian?) prisoners of war worked during the war.
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REMEMBER THE BUS SERVICES?After the war bus services to Swalwell were operated by Northern and Venture,(tickets illustrated), the latter's distinctive yellow buses running from Marlborough Crescent in Newcastle, to Consett via Scotswood Road and Swalwell Bridge. Northern ran the number 9 service (Newcastle to Blaydon), 9A (Newcastle to Whickham via Swalwell Estate, i.e. Milton Road and North View), 11 (Newcastle to Consett via Dunston, see picture, right) and 89 (Gateshead Wellington Street to Blaydon).
When this last service commenced in the early 'fifties it was the only one to use double-decker buses through Swalwell and it was reported in the Evening Chronicle that some boys had spent several shillings just travelling back and forth on the first day, upstairs of course. The fare to Blaydon in about 1952 was 5d (about 2p) return and in 1968 one and twopence (about 6p) to Newcastle.
The routes and numbers have changed over the years and most services are currently operated by the Go North Eastern company. There is also a service to Hexham No 602 operated by Arriva and various mini bus services, mostly to the Metro Centre. Also the 639 which goes from Ryton to Sunderland via a very indirect route indeed taking about 2 hours. It is recommended if you have time to spare and want to see Blaydon, Winlaton, Swalwell, Whickham, Lobley Hill, Bensham, Low Fell, Wrekenton, Springwell, numerous obscure corners of Washington New Town, Fencehouses, Penshaw, Hylton and, of course, Sunderland.
Dale Coaches and then Frasers used to operate a bus service over the first part of this route from Ryton to Whickham via Winlaton and Swalwell which ran up Whickham Bank. You could sit right at the front opposite the driver on wooden slatted seats and the Bedford engines made a great sound as they slowly climbed the steep hill (1 in 6) up to Whickham. Finally there was Derwent Coaches (private hire) and Thirlwell's established 1919, and which still operates from a former Axwell colliery building.
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Click on the pictures for bus timetables for summer 1968
Some things about Swalwell you may not know.
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THE COSY AND OTHER CINEMASBecause this last part of the page is about cinemas and because films are one of my interests I have added a daily film quote. A screenwriter often puts in his screenplay a piece of dialogue or action which is memorable or quite clever or which sticks in the mind; so, for every day of the week a different quote will appear that might be either famous or completely unknown, but which I at least, find interesting. These will be changed from time to time.
The Cosy was a tiny upstairs cinema tucked away up a back lane (on the west side of Spencer's Bank) just past the Co-op buildings and near Arthur Kimber's newsagent's shop. Opened in 1908 as a hall it was converted into a cinema two years later and catered for about 200 patrons. Starting life as an assembly hall it was the Central, then the Bijou and finally The Cosy. The cinema was triangular with the screen at the base and the projector at the apex, behind a partition. There was gas lighting and it seated less than 200 persons on wooden seats and in a far from
Odeon - like atmosphere. Poor ventilation and the absence of any natural light led to its closure in 1957 after a police inspection resulted in magistrates refusing to renew the licence on safety grounds. It was demolished on 29 October 1971.|
Mrs Doris Mitcheson, born in 1905, remembered
the Cosy about 88 years later.
"The Cosy was there as long as I can remember
and I went there from the age of about seven or eight years. It
was on Spencer's bank, a short cobbled road leading up from Market
Lane and stretched over several shops on the west side of the
street. There was a fruit shop, Faldon's, also on Spencer's Bank.
Then on Market Lane was Butcher Brown's, Kimber's, a paper shop
selling sweets, cigarettes, tobacco, stationery and all sorts
of oddments, like fishing nets for catching baggies, tops and
whips etc., and up the alley on Spencer's bank was Davey's fish
shop, while The Co-op , Spencer's House, lay opposite, with Butcher
Brown's killing shop behind. Watson's kept the Cosy until about
the 1920's or 1930's. Then Nichalls (foreigners from Scotswood),
then it was taken over by the Whitfields. Hockey Watson, the owner*,
acted as projectionist. He was helped by his two daughters and
his son who was also called Hockey. One daughter, Bella**, had a
voice like a foghorn and kept the kids in order. Like most of
the other children, not to mention the adults, I went to the pictures
once or twice a week, almost always including the Monday Matinee,
which was at 4.30. I used to meet my father on The Hopping Field
coming home from work. (He was a moulder at Archer's foundry in
Dunston. His father (my grandfather) was Foreman there and when
they were short of work he always sacked his own sons first. (That
was why he later became Licensee of The Old Crowley). I would
tell father what was on and that I had no money. He always had
enough coppers in his pocket to give me the entrance money, 2d
or 3d, and a penny extra for dates, which I would buy at Faldon's
fruit shop, to eat during the show."
"The hall was lit by gas lamps on the walls. They
would be turned down when the first picture began. The programme
changed twice a week and we would look at the poster on the door
to see what was on. There were usually three pictures, first a
comedy (Charlie Chaplin, The Keystone Kops, and Fattie Arbuckle
among them). Then a serial like The Peril's of Pauline with Grace
Cunard. And finally a drama."
Other Local Cinemas
Swalwell filmgoers, however, patronised the cinemas in nearby Blaydon
after the war, and so I record here a brief note about them.|
In Church Street (opened 1910, closed 1954) was the oldest of the three cinemas. It had Saturday afternoon matinees for children in the 1950's (prices were 4d, 5d and 6d; doors open 1.30 PM and commenced at 2.0 PM) and could be quite rowdy, but a formidable usherette kept order by flashing her torch on offenders and shouting 'I'll put ye out mind ' in a high pitched voice. There is now no trace of the building. In 1948 admission for adults was one shilling, children 6d, in the circle; in the stalls 9d and 5d respectively; while in the pit stalls it was 6d and 4d. The programme changed mid -week and there was a Sunday show.
|Click here for Blaydon cinema programmes for week commencing 31 October 1948 and Click here for programmes for week commencing 18 June 1950. The Pavilion did not advertise in the newspaper. (The Blaydon Courier)|
|Advertisements were shown at the start of each programme, some of these were stills advertising local businesses like cafes or hairdressers. 'Meet your friends at Betty's' (a cafe in Scotswood Road), was one which was often shown at the Pavilion, an orange soft drink, 'No-ra!, Kia-ora!' was another. A visit to the Pavilion meant getting off the bus at James Street and on the way you'd maybe buy some sweets at the shop you passed on the way - Spangles, Rowntrees Fruit Gums or Trebor Mints were my own favourites. At the Plaza's children's matinees you could get an Eldorado ice cream for threepence - whatever happened to them? On the way back for the bus from Wesley Square you could buy more sweets at Shanley's if you had any money left.|
Click on the pictures for Albert cinema (Dunston) programmes from 1954
Whickham had a small cinema, the Regal in Church
Chare, and there were two cinemas at nearby Dunston, The Imperial
and The Albert, both in Ravensworth Road. Typical programmes
for the Albert dating from 1954 are shown above as an example of cinema programming
of the time. The Albert was demolished in 1968. A Mr Stephenson was manager -
he was also an amateur ventriloquist. The dummy eventually turned professional and the act split up. |
Some facts, dates etc. are taken from 'Cinemas of Gateshead' by Frank Manders, published by Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council.
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