The Ridgalite

The Rigalite focuses on the People who lived in Marina Avenue in the Ridges Estate in North Shields. Eddie Saint owns the Roaring venture a trawler moored at the fish quay- his crew work hard and play hard - one of them is Ron Lee a young lad who has aspirations of becoming a rock star. He was in the Royal Navy on board the HMS Illustrious as a trained chef before joining the trawler boat. The lads all tell him that his songs are crap because they don't wan't to lose a good cook. The story also tells of two rival shop keepers- Ronnie Hancock and Billy Burston have been each others throats for years- read the comic antics of both men. "The Ridgalite is an insite of life in the early sixties on an an estate with high unemployment and little hope - where every day is a constant struggle. There are some though who prove that if you have hope then dreams can come true.

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This time they were going to the Faroe Islands to the fishing grounds favoured by his father some years before him. The cod was plentiful and there were rich pickings to be had.

 

 

 

At seven o’clock the shops along Marina Avenue opened the place was a hive of activity as the delivery vans brought fresh Homepride bread and bakers brought buns and cream cakes. In Hoults the butcher and pork shop Rob Mather was in the back preparing the meat. He was trimming joints of meat to be placed in the window along with pork and beef sausages, liver, and kidneys. There would be tripe on a plate and pigs trotters. Hanging on hooks there would be various cuts of pork and there would be a pigs head hanging up. Mrs Hoult in her red striped butcher’s apron would be busy too laying down fresh sawdust upon the floor. Next door at Rutherford’s Harry and Dickie in white overalls would be serving customers that were going to work. They would stand wearing their Jackets, bib and braces, work boots, and caps on as Dickie sold them cigarettes. At potsie’s the newsagents the Daily Mirror went out like hot cakes and the smell of Golden Virginia and Old Holborn rolling tobacco was in the air as the young boys who delivered the papers took out their canvas bags with Evening chronicle written on the front. The boys wrote out the addresses of all the papers they had to deliver each morning and they ran around the streets of the Ridges dodging dogs and jumping fences and gates to save time. Men would be filling a pipe or lighting up a Woodbine as they stood at the bus stop or were walking along West Percy Road to work down at the ship yard at Smith Dock. Many men worked with their father’s in the same yard; building and repairing the ships that would eventually be either launched or refloated once they were finished. There was a real sense of pride in the work that these men did as they all stood on the river bank watching the newly built vessel slip out of the floated dock to be escorted down the Tyne by the Northsider and Southsider tug boats as the ropes attached to them at each side of the ship pulled the ship out past the bar at Tynemouth Piers.

Further along at the Fish quay wagons would either be loading or unloading whilst the filleter’s made ready for the fish bought from market was brought by the popper lorry to the stores. The wet fishmonger’s dressed the windows with an array of fishy delicacies to temp the paying customers to buy. The seagull’s song would be heard as the boats unloaded their catches. The smell of polish cigarettes from the boats that came from fishing in Iceland was in the air mixed with the smells from the kipper houses, Tyne brand canning factory, and the guano works. In the main town centre Atkinson’s the fruiter shop opened its doors. Clothes shops like Summer’s, Stone Dry, Burton’s, made ready for people coming in. Timpson’s and Clarks shoe shops waited. The rent offices on Bedford Street were all singing from the same hymn sheet. As many families were behind with their rent and the threat of eviction was looming. In 1962 even though the Second World War had been won; rationing had gone on until 1958. The Bevin Boys were still being used up to that point too. Poverty still had a grip on the town of North Shields and every day was a constant struggle to survive. Children had to be fed and clothed and “Staggie” the rag man was a welcome sight. The people of Shields bought hand me down clothes which they either wore or adapted to make new clothes with. Fisher’s the pawn shop was a source of money because families couldn’t afford to live on the wages they worked hard for. Sickness and death were common place and Turnbull’s funeral parlour was kept busy every day.

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