Some Memories of Burradon
By Elizabeth Means
I was born in 1961 and brought home to start life at 32 Office Row Burradon. This was also the house my Mother had been born in around 1932. It has been difficult remembering the order in which my neighbours lived, so forgive any errors. Number 32 was almost opposite the school gates and I often would wave to my Mam at play time as she washed the step or went out to Cloughies van. She would often buy food and bits and pieces from the van. Our immediate neighbours were Mrs Dunn and her daughters Daisy, Shirley and Wendy ( two children Tracey and Glen Parker). Next door to her was Mr & Mrs Lee. On the other side was Mr & Mrs Robinson, he was an Ambulance man at the Pit. She didn't like me taking the heads off her roses, which I often did to decorate the mud pies I had made in the old Fray Bentos tins !! Then, Les and Sheila Hopper with their brood, all the names escape me now. Then a couple I can only recall as Bette and Jimmy. Next to them was Mrs Cuthbertson, lovely lady. Then the Maskew's. Taffy Isobel, Janice and Lesley. At the end was Norman, Lily,Rosalin and Rolan Tate.
We moved out of the rows in 1968 when I was 7 years old. I can recall the sadness of leaving and the excitement of the new house in Attlee Close. Many of the Mam's helped to clean the houses out when they were finished, in preparation for the people moving in. They also helped the pensioners and the disabled, as were so close to each other. Some neighbours loaned my Fathers ' wheel barra'. Which was a huge home built contraption like a large trailer that you buy now and not at all like a wheel barra. Norman Tate was very kind and helped move some of us with his works van/lorry.
No one really wanted to move away from the Rows, but to the women of the village the prospect of an inside lavvy and a proper bath was a big draw. I can remember tears from many, they were for the loss of the community, friendship etc. My uncle was Billy Means a local councillor, he tried unsuccessfully to have the Rows refurbished and modernised, there was also talk I believe of them being rented out to students?? When this was mentioned, everyone thought it was best that they were pulled down.
We all moved more or less at the same time, and the houses were pulled down in their rows I think. What a shame they demolished the camaraderie as well !
We still had Mrs Dunn right next door and some of the other people that lived in the street were now closer to us. However the 'townies' that moved in were not of the back ground as us and they were as bit ' beyond themselves'. This in turn made the miners wives go a bit doolally and some of them got high ideas about how posh they were.
It was EXTRAORDINARY moving into the new house. I thought that I really was a Princess ! Not only did we have an inside toilet, we had two !! The place was huge. Where in the Rows we had the living room and the scullery. This had a Kitchen with fitted units and cupboards, an electric oven. A toilet ( cloak room) with basin in a porch no less. Then we had a dining room with sliding doors, leading into a living room with a posh fire, it had a door on it but no oven on the side. The hall and staircase was the biggest I had ever seen, this lead up to 3 bedrooms and a bathroom. I spent many hours investigating all the cupboards in the bedrooms and walking around each room looking out of the windows. In my old room I did not have a window, but a sky light.As for the bathroom, well I had never been so clean. And the water I must have wasted just turning the taps on and off. I had always had to have the tin bath filled with endless pots and and pans.
The community was lost in the new place however and even though we had some new friends they were not the same as the ones from the Rows. And their Dads were not like ours, they were posh and had jobs where they came home clean.
They didn't have the 10shillings at the beginning of the six weeks holidays though. Or the trips our to Cullercoats and the like, as these were paid for by our Dads from the savings they had contributed. They didn't know what it was like to have the best ball bearings or the biggest, cause ya Dad knew a man at the Pit. They would never know what it was like to walk around with a stick of Rhubarb and a twist of sugar with all your friends. They would never experience the warmth, and security that us kids felt whichever Row you played in, cause everyone new you and looked out for you.
All the new houses were open plan, My Dad built a fence around ours, and soon had requests from all the neighbours to do there's the same.
My Great Aunt, Bette Hardcastle lived around the corner from us on Means Drive. This was named after her brother Billy Means the councillor.