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Bowburn shops remembered by Lily Schoffield, 1998

[LS’s handwritten account, made in April 1998, has been transcribed here in April 2019 with some spelling and punctuation added or amended for the sake of clarity.]


The Indian Shop used to be an old building with all sand bags round it and the house next door was all made into one by Mr Outram. He made it into a Chemists and a beautiful house. My husband and Keal [Keith?] Harding did all the decorations and Sylvia at the Post Office is his daughter.

The first Post Office was in the little shop at 2, Ash Terrace, [run] by Mrs Dodds and Miss Watson. Then it moved [to the] top.  The old Post Office was at Oxford Terrace and it was owned by Mrs Dodds and her sister Miss Watson. It finished about the ’50s-’60s.

Mr Jack Ramshaw lived at the other end of Oxford Terrace. He was a Mayor of Durham once and the Council man for Bowburn.

Across the road, Durham West, the first house was Mr & Mrs Holmes. He was the Head Master of Bowburn Junior School. Then there was the Chemist. Then the house next to it was Mr & Mrs Mason, who lived there and Mr Mason hung himself over the banister in the house as he was an ill man.

There there was the little Chapel where a lot of folks used to go on a Sunday.

Then there was a Hairdressing Shop owned by Maisie Owens, now known as Mrs Lloyd.

Below that is four houses. The first one is owned by Mrs Willis. Then the next one was owned by Mrs Marr. Then Mr & Mrs Stoker [Stokoe - no. 9]. Then Mr Cheesy [no. 10]. Then Mr & Mrs Luke [no. 11].

The next door was Sherburn Store [no. 11A] and a man called Mr Alf Money used to run it and we used to go there when the War was on and stand in the queue for one loaf of bread and a quarter of butter off your ration book.

Next door was your local Newsagent Shop and that was owned by Mr & Mrs Ernest Thompson and your Northern Echo was a penny in [sic] which I have had for 59 years. It has always sold sweets and cigs. It has been [run by] three different people.

Then across was a Drapery & Grocery Shop. It was owned by Mrs Nellie Johnson, where you could buy your cloth for a shilling a week.

Where the Chinese is it was a Fish Shop owned by Mr & Mrs Richardson. It had a coal range which they used to cook the fish & chips [on]. Fish was 3p [sic – i.e. 3d?] and chips were a penny a bag. Then when they sold it Mrs Marr & her sister Masie Luke bought it and ran it for a few years. Then it was sold to Mr & Mrs Noel Gardener who changed the range to electric.

Then just further down [no. 20A]  where Sylvia’s Head [i.e. Hair] Dresser [is now] was a Sweet Shop in the ’30s-’40s. It was owned by Mr & Mrs Spencer, where we went for our sweets for a penny.

Then next door [no. 21] was Mr & Mrs Cheetham which is now Mrs Coates. She is the daughter and they own the land behind.

Then next to it was little cottages with gardens before the War. Then they were knocked down and they builded the Picture House which Mr Iseton bought and they couldn’t finish the Crown part with the War starting but they opened it. The seats were 6 pence downstairs and a shilling upstairs. Then it was sold to Mr & Mrs Davison from Sunderland, who made it into a Bingo Hall and used to bring home-made pies and pork sandwiches and made a cup of tea, as I used to sell them with Audrey and it used to be lovely and friendly. Then it was sold to Mr Hearn and he knocked all the stage out and made it into a bar. It was never the same, and now it is a mess.

Then you come to Ash Terrace, where [there] was the Butchers, which was bought by Mr & Mrs Tommy Sweeting, who used to have his meat hanging in the shop, with sawdust on the floor for the blood to drip on to, and he used to make his own sausages and black pudding and pies. They were the Good Days.

When the War was on, the shop next door to the Butcher there was all sand bags round the front and the Air [Raid] Warden[s] used to go in. Then it was made into a Sweet Shop. Mr & Mrs Spencer moved from their other shop. Then, when they retired, Sergeant Walton, from Coxhoe, bought it, after he retired. But before he retired he used to be Sergeant at Bowburn.

When they built the Police Station at Bowburn, there was one or two Sergeants [who] came from Coxhoe but they were good police them days. Everyone was frighten[ed] [of] them, not like today, as I think it is the other way round and they took notice of you.

The 4 house[s] in Ash Terrace were built and were sold to each owner for £200 as when I lived in No. 5 Auntie Jane told me that’s all they paid and, when I moved out to buy the Fish Shop, I sold it for £1,700. That was 1969 and there was no Edna Street then: they were just gardens [sic].

The end house in Ash Terrace, no. 7, was where the Manager [of the Coxhoe Co-op] lived, Mr & Mrs Littler. Then there was Coxhoe Co-op, built on the end of Ash Terrace: Drapery and Grocery. Then the Chapel at the end. No. 6 Ash Terrace was a Fish Shop in the early ’20s-30s. It was owned by Mr & Mrs Walton. They made the sitting room into a Fish Shop.

The Chapel was run by Mr & Mrs Anderson, from Durham Road West; Mrs & Mr Liddle, from Crowtree Lane, and Mr & Mrs Hinton, of Sherburn Road.

Then you came to the gardens and along the side road was the Little Hut that was a Dance Hall, where you could go for a dance to George Egglestone & Cutty, from Park Hill, and the WI and the Chapel Anniversary, where you said your Peaces [i.e. pieces?] and you could get a cup of tea and the dance every Saturday night. Them days will never come back.

Then there was the Aerial Flight, which ran along the Pit Heap, tipping the coal. And folk used to go up the heaps and collect some small coal and duff with their Bags and Baggies [i.e. buggies?] when they were short of coal.

Then across from my house [i.e. from Slater Place, in 1998] was a hut where the pit men paid their Union money and the office across to where these house[s] [are] was the Drift, which was opened by Mr Billy Parkinson. And where the Barrett Homes are [Carey Close &c.] was the Pit where the men used to go down. 

I remember one day there was a man jump[ed] down the shaft. It was poor Reg Blackburn’s brother and Bowburn was in a bad way.

And there was no Bath[s]. So the men came home black and most of them wouldn’t wash their backs because they used to say it would weaken their back.

They used to take their flask with water in and jam bread and get a chew of tobacco to chew down the pit. 

The bus [was] run by Cheesey who [sic] used to pick up the men and take them to the pits.

The Post Office in The Leazes was a Sweet Shop owned by Mr & Mrs Everest [sic]. Then a couple called Mr & Mrs Hall had it. After they sold it, it was bought by Mr & Mrs Wilson from Sunderland and he made it into a Post Office. On the end at the back was a room and he made it into a Cobblers and a Mr Thompson who lived in No. 5 Edna Street ran it. We used to take our shoe[s] there. I don’t know whether anyone knows, but there is a cellar under the shop floor in the Post Office, because I remember falling down the stairs when I was little.

Then further up the road was the Little Church, which was run by Mr & Mrs Tuesday and Rev Hanson [Hansen], who lived in the Vicarage up Heughall [Heugh Hall] Road, and the first wedding there was Miss Sally Wilson and I was [the] second one, in 1949, 26th March, on my 21st birthday, and both my daughters were christened there and it was a lovely little church. Why Father Bill closed it down I’ll never know, to build that other one which he never finished.

Then there was the Hare [& Grey]Hound, which was run by a Mr & Mrs Pears.

And the Grocery Shop in Romaine Square was owned by Mr & Mrs Brown, then Mr & Mrs Chitty.

The Newsagent[s] was owned by Mr & Mrs Thompson who own[ed] the other Paper Shop and a Mrs Laverick ran it. Then he sold it to Mr & Mrs Helen Bowron[. Before that?] Helen use[d] to work for him.

Then there is Romaine Fish[er]ies [which] was bought by Mr & Mrs Willis. It was built just before the War, 1936-1938. There was [an]other three couple[s] had it after that. Then I bought [it] and I was in it 18 years and my daughter has had it 12 years in June [1998].

Then there was the Little Shop in Norton Avenue [which] was owned by Mr & Mrs Richardson Vera Olaf Mam & Dad [sic]. Then Mr & Mrs Knox bought it. Then it was bought by Mr & Mrs Sugden.

Then when they built the Council house[s] Bowburn was never the same as [before]. Bowburn was a nice little clean village and everyone was very friendly. I know times have changed but everybody used to scrub their steps and keep their yards and fronts tidy.

There used to be Baby Shows and Fancy Dress up the Rec & Park. In the early ’50s there was a big Scottish Band and some judges came from Scotland to do the Baby Show, for the Bonnie Baby, and my daughter Hilary won it in the under 6 months and I have a photo of all the people in Bowburn who were there.

Then when the new Welfare opened, Frankie Vaughan came to open it and Mr & Mrs Billy Freeman had concert on [sic], called the BooBells [sic – i.e. Bow Bells) and Mrs Freeman used to teach the young ones to sing and dance and then they would take them on Scarlet Band to entertain at other places and my two daughters were in it and Tom & John Bell and Tommy Mason’s daughter and a lot more, and I have photos that was taken and Mrs Freeman made most of the clothes and played the piano and they were all little stars. But the children today have no interest in anything like that nowadays.

Then there was the Bakery at Crow Tree Lane [which] was owned by Mr & Mrs Johnny Miller, who did the catering for wedding[s] and other thing[s], and the bread. Everything were the Real I Am, them days, not like the food you get today. And Jack Harrod used to do the baking. And Mrs Miller had one daughter, Judith Miller, who took it over after her Mam & Dad died. I worked there for a few years.

The Police in Bowburn were in the ’40s-’50s-’60s: Mr Hurry, who lived in 13, Durham Road. Mr Hepplewhite lived [in] Prince Charles Avenue. Mr Eric Yates lived down Lansdowne Crescent. Mr George Hall lived down Lansdowne Crescent. Mr Colin Metcalfe lived down Lansdowne Crescent. Sergeant Walton came from Coxhoe to Bowburn. Sergeant Johnson came from Coxhoe.

They were Police, them days. They spoke to everyone, not like the Police now.

When the War started, the evacuees all came to Bowburn Infants School, Sep 1st 1939, and they had an air raid shelter at the bottom of the school yard, where there was some little gardens near Sherburn Road, and when the siren went we had to go in with our gas mask on. It was under the ground. Everyone had to have tape across their windows, even the school windows, in case they shatter[ed] with the bombs and you had to put up dark curtains or black paper in case the lights showed out your window. The Air Raid Warden would knock on your door if he saw a speck of light.

I remember when the bombs did drop in Bowburn. The windows shook and the bombs drop[ped] in the farm of Story & Hodgson, up Heugh Hall, and it killed some cows and sheep and it was very frightening. I hope we have no more wars.

I was 15 years old when Mary Tickell, Ethel Latue and a girl called Minnie Longstaff, who lived near Mary [Downs], Lansdowne Crescent, but Minnie died when she was sixteen… We used to go down to the Pit Laddie and wait in the Blacksmith[s] which belong[ed] to Bob Greathead and his father, out of the cold, at 6 o’clock in the morning, waiting for the G&B Bus, Gillett & Baker, to take us to the Clothing Factory, West Auckland, and we used to get back home between 5-0pm [and] 5-30pm every day, for 3 pounds a week.

We had hard times them days but we got by and we didn’t get in to [debt]. Aunt Jane [Parkinson] only had 10 shillings for her father and 8 shillings for me and she kept her home and food for the three of us. You got your Dividend from the store and it helped out with clothes and I remember the dividend number we had was 482. I took it over when Aunt Jane died.

I wish them days were back because there was no trouble and you could go to Durham and leave your door open and have peace of mind and they were very happy days. When the War finished in 1945, 6 June, we had lovely parties in the streets and everybody joined in.