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. i


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“I will get the other big cooking pot where you should be able to put two big puddings into.

Dolly set about mixing suet with flour into the big brown bowl as Cissie filled the other pan and placed it on the stove. She chopped up the leeks and onion into another pan after washing them then fried them until they were soft.

Then they were added to the suet and flour mix and shaped into big round balls about three pounds each. Then they were placed into the muslin cloth and tied at each end and placed into boiling water.

Once that was done both the women sat down and drank another cup of tea.

The day was not yet over for them though, they had washing to do and then house cleaning.



W R Greggs had a roofing builder repair the sky light where young Terry Lane had fallen through. Both Percy Anderson’s and Greggs had decided not to press charges against the boy because the insurance company would pay for it to be done.

Brian Harman the young apprentice joiner was busy on with making a chest of drawers he was worried sick because Margaret Cummings the girl he was going out with was pregnant. She was only fifteen and he wasn’t much older himself. He didn’t know what to do. Brian hadn’t told his parents yet and he knew he must and soon because they would not support him if he left it too late. He knew his mother would be alright about it but his father was another matter altogether. He ruled with an iron rod in their house and woe betides anyone who brought shame to the doorstep.

Margaret hadn’t said anything to her mother but she could see her mother looking at her as the bump in her belly got larger every day. The constant visits to the outside toilet were a dead give away.

“Your in the family way aren’t you said her mother one afternoon when her husband was at the Ballarat.’

“Yes mam I am, she began to sob.’

“You’re a silly lass, could you not have waited until you were both wed first.

“How far gone are you?’

“I’m four and a half months mam.’

“Had you come to me sooner we could have done something about it but now it’s too late.’

“I was afraid to tell you mam; you know what dad is like.’

“Well he’s going to have to be told tonight.’

“What about the boy does he know?’

“Yes mam he does; he say’s his father will kill him when he finds out.’

“Well I have no sympathy for either of yer.’

“You are too young to get wed so I don’t know what you are both going to do.’

“I know one thing; you’re father won’t have you in this house so I suggest that you go and find somewhere to live.’

“My father wouldn’t put me out on the street mam would he?’

“I don’t know; he told me about his sister when she got herself a bun in the oven.’ “There was hell on and she was twenty two.’

“You are only fifteen for God sakes.’

“I’m sixteen shortly.’

“Sixteen is no age to be bringing up a child Margaret you are but a child yourself.’

“You will have to go away somewhere. I will ring your Aunt Sarah in Morpeth and ask if she will put you up. If not you will have to find somewhere else to live.’

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