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


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“We have done well my friend and we can sail straight into North Shields to market right now. How fresh is that?

“Keep me a bit of that haddock and monk will you.”

“Half an hour later they were unloading the catch they paid for the ice at the factory then put some into every box but left one fish on top to show what size the fish were.










Waiting in the market was the long part; they had to sit and watch their catch until a buyer came.

Peter left him and went to the toilet when he returned Joe was smiling.

“What’s funny did I leave my flies open or something.” He looked down to check then shrugged his shoulders.

I just sold all the fish for seven pounds a box. That’s my biggest price this year. The crab and lobster went for £80 pounds.

“Here is the thirty pounds you paid for the engine and there is fifty pounds for today.

“Are you sure Joe? That’s a lot of money.”

“Well worth it Peter I can go out to morrow if the weather is good and make more.”

“Here there is the haddock and monk fish you asked for.”

Joe picked up a bag with his fish in it then the two men headed back to the Emily Rose.

Once on board Joe started the engine and they cast off again. “This is marvellous Pater what time is it?

“It’s six o’clock.

“I would have just been bringing in my catch now.”

“Getting here early meant a pound more per box Peter.”

“Yes but don’t forget you have to put money away for diesel and oil.”

“I will still make more money than I was before. I am going to buy another twenty pots so that I can go out maybe twice a day. Empty one line of pots and haul a net then come back and do another.” “Two hauls a day Peter; I will make twenty thousand pounds in a year.”

“You could buy a mansion with that.”

“I will never move from the cottage Peter; I’m the forth generation of Donnelly’s to live and fish here in Cullercoats. Hopefully Little George will carry on when I retire.

“What if he doesn’t want to be a fisherman Joe?

“I don’t know Peter; to be honest I never thought of that.”

“Look at your brothers Joe; they joined the army.

“True, Alan, and George had no interest in fishing no mater how hard my father tried to get them to fish.”

“Don’t push little George and he will come to you himself.”

“Good advice mate.”

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