The Skin Shop

The story which is semi autobiographical tells the story of Ralph Mason Growing up in Collingwood Terrace in North Shields in 1948. it is a story of Hardship, poverty, love, and friendship just after the Second World War. Some names have been changed and I have used some poetic licence to bring the story to back to life as some of the places talked about in this story are no longer with us. "The Skin Shop is one boys journey into manhood.


100. 100

Agnes replaced the book mark then got up and turned off the light.








After a whole week of hard work the shop was ready for the fittings to go in. George had used some of the smaller paintings in glass frames that Frank Johnson had painted to decorate the walls. The interior walls had been painted with a washable egg shell white and the woodwork blue. The frying machine and the chipper were coming later that afternoon. George had done out the back of the shop to accommodate the chipping machine and there would be four stainless steel buckets and two large dishes coming to put the chipped potatoes in and to mix batter. George had his own recipe handed down from his grand mother to make his crisp batter which had proved a success in his other shop.

Bobby and Peter couldn’t wait to move into the new cottage. Florrie Grant was a little bit apprehensive. George had promised to buy both Bobby and Peter fishing rods so they could go fishing with him at weekends.

“George wanted to make up for lost time with his son. He knew that Florie would take a while to settle in to her new surroundings but it would be worth all the effort if she came to like it here in Seahouses. George had removed all of the paintings that were done by Frank Johnson; he’d painted out the studio; put another bed in there and put up some new curtains. It didn’t take him long to get his first customer he decided to let the flat out as a holiday home for up to a month at a time and the revenue from that would more than pay for the chipper and the frying machines by the end of the year.

There were a lot of Chinese tourists coming over and he hoped to cash in on them by letting them use the flat.

The wagon arrived and two men came and the back of the wagon was opened. Out came the chipper first he directed the men on where it was to go; then out came the frying machine. That was to be placed upon the black and white lino upon the floor leaving enough room for customers to get in.

The beef dripping would be added later and the potatoes and fish would be delivered later that day. He was buying his fish direct from a fishing boat called the “Silver Darling” that fished out of Seahouses. He wanted a wide selection from Cod to lemon sole so he could cater for everyone’s taste until he found which were his best sellers then he would adapt accordingly.

He had Bobby and Peter help him a couple of nights back at the old shop so they knew how to make the chips and also how to fry fish and how long to leave the chips before taking them out. Both lads were eager to start. Florie would also help with the ordering of the potatoes and go and pick up the fish each day from the harbour. He had organised that she have driving lessons so she could pick the fish up in his van.

Florie had had a couple of lessons and was getting the hang of it. George wasted no time. He wanted the business open that weekend to cash in on the weekend tourists. There was only three months before the summer season would close and it was then that he would stay open from lunch time to twelve o’clock each evening. He had written a letter to the council asking if he could open during Sunday as well. He would still be in demand by the tourist industry that needed to eat.

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