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.


16. 16

Shawn Crawford got on the bogie with Tony Santos and Pam Saunders with Manny. Terry Lane whose bogie was buckled slightly had Janice and Tracy brown on the back. Tucker and Mattheed’s bogies were too badly damaged to race again so he sat on the steps of the Tiger Stairs as another race got under way.

The girls screamed and held on for all they were worth as the bogies descended down the bank.

This time it was Manny who only had Pam Saunders on board won the race.

They played until it began to get dark and someone suggested getting some chips.’

“It’s Sunday you idiot they are all closed.

“Its home then said Ralphie; who’s for Hawkey’s Lane baths tomorrow.

“I’ll go said Manny, Alright me too said Tony but no pushing in this time.’

“Are you girls coming?

“Nowt else to do is there.

“Right then one o’clock outside my house said Ralph.’

“Why your house asked Mattheed?’

“Because it was my idea that’s why Mattheed.’

Ralph said goodbye to his friends as they all went home.


The wagon pulled in outside the Abattoir on Scotswood Road in Newcastle. Pat Chan got out and walked up the short ramp where there was a little green painted door. He banged his fist on it and waited until it was opened by one of the slaughter men. The smell of death was in the air as the cattle were being led into the killing area. The beast could sense something as it became anxious. Bob Redfern loaded the gun with a cartridge then placed it between the beast’s eyes and fired. He then secured a shackle around the beast’s hooves and it was raised by winch. It was dead but its nerves were still twitching and its legs moved still. Taking a large knife Bob slit the beast until all of its innards fell out onto the floor. The liver and heart were kept and sold. Then with a few deft cuts the hide was torn from the dead animal. Once the head was removed it was hung up to bleed out. It was moved along on a hook and the next animal was led in to be slaughtered.

In another part of the abattoir; pigs and sheep were stunned by electrodes and then had their throats cut. Again they were disembowelled and then skinned. The kidneys liver and intestines were separated. This was the most humane way of slaughtering animals for food but it still turned Pat’s stomach no matter how many times he saw the process done.

All the intestines and offal were placed into big metal tubs and Pat loaded them onto the wagon then secured it so that they wouldn’t fall out. He then went and got a slip from the foreman before heading to the canteen for a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich.

Pat picked up some meat in a plastic bag which he paid for as his family owned a restaurant called “The Golden Sun’ and to get meat cheap was the name of the game.

Each day Pat made the journey to the abattoir and each day he got his meat for his father. The restaurant cooked strips of beef and noodles and pork mostly. They did use the odd lamb for customers. Pat made a trip to a chicken farm after he had collected the intestines that would go back to be processed at the Skin Shop. He would pick up about 80lbs of chicken including wings and breast meat that was used to make a variety of Chinese dishes. Pat stopped off at his father’s restaurant before taking the offal into North Shields.

He dropped off his father’s meat before heading to the Skin Shop.

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