The Black Middens

A story of love and struggle to bring up three children during the war years.
Joe Donnelly, a coble fisherman from cullercoats meets the girl of his dreams when Emily Rose Higgins crashes into him on her bicycle whilst out with her sister Mary Jane. Joe and his brother George, a captain in the British Army ask the two girls out to a dance at the plaza in Tynemouth and they both fall in love. Alan Donnelly the youngest of the brothers is in the Northumberland Fusiliers. it is not long before they all get married. Emily Rose has two children but there are complications during the birth of her third child and she dies leaving Joe to bring up Marina, George, and Helen the newborn child.
After some attempts to try and hire a nanny come house keeper Joe hires a dutch girl called Alina Classen whose parents were both killed by the Germans in the first world war.
Not speaking much English Alina works very hard and teaches the children to speak Dutch and they in turn teach her English. What dev


4. 4

The fish market at North Shields was busy as usual as Joe unloaded his catch.

He hoped that he would make four pounds per box. Joe had a box full of mixed fish like plaice, dabs, and whiting which would fetch about three pounds but the vast majority of his catch was good sized cod.

The bidding got under way and the prices were good; was fetching four pounds ten a box and Joe waited until his came up at auction.

“Emily Rose fifteen boxes of prime cod just caught tonight what will you give me?

“Three pounds per box? Who will start the bidding?

“Three pounds, came a reply,

“Three pounds two shillings.”

“Three pounds ten shillings; came a shout from the back.”

“Four pounds said a man in the front.”

“Four pounds ten shillings, replied a man to Joe’s right.

“Are there any more bids please? We have a bid of four pounds ten shillings.”

“Four pounds twelve shillings replied the man in front.”

“Four pounds twelve gentleman.”

There was silence; Joe had got twelve shilling more for his catch than he expected which made his struggle out at sea all the more worth while.”

“Sold to Mr Joe Appleby.”

Joe received his money in cash then gave Peter Thompson two pounds for helping him. They got back on the cart and headed home; Joe had made seventy pounds today but he would need to set aside money for new nets and the up keep of the boat he hoped to buy a boat with a motor so it would save him from rowing out and back.

It was now twenty past twelve when Joe got in. He said thank you to his friend and said that he would be going out again in two days time.

Emily Rose had been worried about her husband as he was normally in long before now.

“Where have you been love? I’ve been at my wits end.”

“The weather forced me to beach at King Edward’s Bay I had to get Peter to help me get the boat back, and then take the fish to market.”

“I got a very good price though Emily; they gave me four pounds twelve per box.”

“That’s good; you are not going out tomorrow are you?

“No I told Peter it would be a couple of days.”

“I need to get a boat with a motor Emily; or convert the boat I have.

“How much would that cost?”

“A hundred pounds I would expect.”

“I may be able to pick up an engine from the scrap yard. I’ve asked peter to keep his eyes peeled in case one comes up.

It would cut my time in half Emily.”

“Sooner the better then I say; are you hungry?

I had a bowl of soup at Peters earlier.

“Well I made a pie with ham and egg; would you like some?



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