The Orphan

A woman is found unconscious in the street with a severe head wound; she is also pregnant.
The woman gives birth to a son but later dies- her dying words was the Name Robin McNally- Police sergeant Bob Cole is out to get McNally a petty thief for murder but he manages to get off in court. The grand parents of the woman bring up the boy as their own. Jackie Boyle has an unusual talent- he has the ability to remember everything he see's. he can read a book in minutes and remember every word. Jackie watches his Grand Mother who he calls mam cooking and when she dies of a stroke is forced to cook and clean so that his father who is really his Grandfather; can go to work down the pit at Battlehill Colliery. The five year old does this until his father is killed in the pit rescuing his friends- Jackie is sent to Oakridge Children's Home where he suffered at the hands of the Matron and the nuns strict regime. The Orphan is a fast paced story that will leave you wanting to read more.

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Nancy Miller ran around to number 79 Briarwood Avenue there was some twenty houses on each side of the Street who lived either upstairs or down. The smoke from the coal fires filled the streets and the Ridges Estate a place that had a reputation and a stigma for anyone who lived there. It was 1950 and World War two was over but people were still on ration books. The houses had been built on farm land known as the Ridges Farm in 1934 to accommodate the residents from the fish quay in North Shields who during the conflict had suffered not only the bombing from the Germans but very poor living standards. There was hardly any running water apart from a stand pipe, the wall paper was so damp with condensation that it was peeling off the walls.

The mould on the window frames and the wood worm was everywhere. In some of the houses you could talk to your neighbour through the holes in the floorboards.

The dilapidated conditions caused many to die from either Tuberculosis or pneumonia.

Children ran around in the same rags day in and day out. Many children didn’t have shoes on their feet.

The men and the women worked long and hard and life expectancy in those days was very low indeed.

Women had large families because many sons and daughters would be felled with sickness and disease and would die.

The North Shields Fish Quay or the Smiths Docks were the main source of employment as the recession hit the town many men would be laid off work. Many children would be seen begging in the streets for bread. The pawn shops were full of things from families who were just trying to see another day. North Shields became a dangerous place at night when the pubs closed because there was gangs of men desperate for money waiting in secluded placed to jump upon unsuspecting visitors and rob them of their possessions; even their clothes.

The prison ship on the Tyne was full of criminals who had fallen foul of the law and had been sentenced to hard labour on board the Wellesley a prison hulk.

Some of the most hardened of men broke under the yoke of the prison hulk.

The endless toil day after day prisoners’ were kept alive with less that a bowl of gruel and a piece of maggot infested bread.

 

The first houses built on the farm land were on Silkey’s Lane, 34 new houses were rented out for the families that had come from Liddell and Clive Street whist the slums they were living in were completely demolished and new houses built along the Tyne.

By the end of 1938 the new estate was completed and the Ridges were born.

 

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