bags with their record collections to either sell or swap for other records that they didn’t have. There was a lot of drug taking going on and the toilets were a hive of activity where the lads and lasses were getting high on coke or popping pills like “uppers or downers.’ The high energy dance went on until one o’clock in the morning and lots of bottled water was consumed. The trip home consisted on a massive queue outside of Mo’s fish and chip shop where everyone sat on the walls eating their supper before boarding the bus back home.
Christmas 1945 saw people rejoicing in the streets. Celebration parties were being held all over the country. The war was now over, we had defeated Hitler’s Nazi army, and destroyed the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain and people could now return to some kind of normality again. The rebuilding of bomb damaged buildings began and Britain as a nation endured. Rationing of food continued which annoyed many people in the North East because certain goods were still not freely available to buy. The Bevin Boys still were being used by the government and continued until 1948.
Boys as young as 18-25 were being sent down the coalmines to work. This was an alternative than going to war. Some volunteered but most were ordered to work.
The coalmines had lost some 36.000 men due to the war as men were called up to join the forces. Britain needed the extra workforce to produce coal for industry and keeping home fires burning during the winter months. Ernest Bevin a former trade union official and Member of Parliament came up with the idea to use conscripted young men. Lloyd George who was then minister of fuel and power announced in the House of Commons that some of the conscripts would be used as there was a desperate shortage of fuel. Ernest Bevin explained the scheme in more detail on the 2 December 1943. Some 720.000 young men were ordered to work down the pits of Britain. One in every ten men was sent to work down the mines. Many of the young lads felt by going down the mines that they were being under valued as they wanted to fight for their country. Bevin told the young men that “our fighting men will not be able to achieve their purpose unless an adequate supply of coal is mined.’ They were taunted as cowards because they wore no uniform. Many thought that they were just trying to dodge conscription. Bevin later said that even conscientious objectors who have refused to take up arms have shown as much courage as anyone in Civil Defence. The young lads were given six weeks training then supplied with helmets and boots. They were often stopped by the police and questioned about avoiding the call up. “Conchies’ as they were called were separated from the ordinary young men but they were all tarred with the same brush so to speak. The Bevin boys did not receive any recognition for their efforts until 1995 when Queen Elizabeth 11 made a speech. 50 years had elapsed before medals were handed out to these men. In 2007 Tony Blair the then Prime Minister said that all conscripted men who had worked down the mines during the conflict were to be awarded veterans badges similar to those who had served in the armed forces. The first of these badges wasn’t presented until 2008 by Gordon Brown the new Prime Minister.
Jimmy Bridgett was demobbed in September 1945 and he returned home. He was now twenty six years old he could now make plans for what he really wanted to do. Jimmy took a job with the United Salvage Company Ltd clearing mines that were left from the war. It was dangerous work but he was well paid. He saved up enough money to approach former squad divers to join him on his quest to find the lost