A Place Beyond The Priory

 "A Place Beyond the Priory " This is a story about Life in North Shields during the 1900's-1920's Tom Farrow is a third generation coble fisherman, Who meets and falls in love with a young herring girl who has travelled from the isle of Barra in the outer Hebrides looking for work. Margaret Linnie, her two friends Kerstin McDonald and Beth Munro all end up on the gutting line in Tyne Brand - their unscrupulous foreman Albert Mortimer treats all the girls on the line like animals including his wife Lizzie who bares him 11 children. forced into a marriage she did not want, Lizzie is abused by Albert for his own sexual gratification. She was in love with a young Greek boy called Leonidas Kostalas whom she had known from her days at school and lost her virginity to but her father will not allow them to marry- this is a story of love and betrayal and will keep you riveted until the last page is read.


21. 21

let down her hair. There was a full length mirror in the room and she looked at herself for a moment before slipping on her night gown and getting into bed.

She thought about going into Tom’s room then changed her mind; he would think her forward if she did that. The time wasn’t right she thought as she blew out the light and closed her eyes.


Albert Mortimer the foreman at Tyne brand was in a foul mood as usual as he walked down from the packing department onto the line of herring girls who were chatting away as they worked.

“Come on less of the cackle and more of the work shouted Albert.’

Nelly Cartwright one of the older girls who had worked at Tyne brand for ten years since she left school at thirteen years of age. Nelly knew Albert from school when he had holes in the arse end of his trousers and no underpants. They all lived on Clive Street in those days and there was eleven kids in Albert’s family all living in a three bed roomed house. All the wallpaper was coming off the walls and his mother Lizzie, had given up on her husband she would sit at the front door during the day and by the fireside at night as her husband Albert Mortimer worked in the canning factory. The kids were left to fend for themselves and all the older girls did the cooking and cleaning. Nelly’s best friend was Jean Mortimer who was the second oldest of the girls in the family She was the same age as Nelly and had gone to the same schools. Doris was the oldest she was eighteen, and then Jean who was sixteen, Alice who had a twin sister called Irene was fifteen, Maybeth and Sarah were both twins as well they were fourteen. They couldn’t go out to work because they were kept at home to do the cooking and cleaning whilst the other girls worked on the fish quay.

George was the oldest lad he was twenty six he worked in the Ship yard as a labourer Albert was next he was twenty five. Ronnie who was twenty four worked for Cummings the butcher, Alan who was twenty three worked in a factory that made components for cars, and lastly came Peter, he was twenty two and was the cleverest of the family; he had gone to night school and had got himself an education. He worked for the Evening Gazette as a type setter, but he wanted to be a reporter.

Nelly remembers the twins all sleeping in one room in the drawers with one blanket to cover them up. The main bed had four of the other girls in it.

The lads it was the same, Peter slept on a straw mattress on the floor whilst George, Albert, Ronnie, and Alan slept in the large bed with nothing else in the room. There were no carpets just wooden boards and at meal times there were two sittings as there wasn’t enough room to fit everyone in the small scullery. The girls all had to play outside whilst the lads ate first. They lived on soup mostly as because Albert senior liked a drink. They were regulars in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Both Albert and his wife ended up rowing on the way home from the pub then usually made up. Lizzie found herself pregnant again as Albert being a staunch catholic took no precautions.

“I want nae more bairn’s she would tell the neighbour Audrey Watson that was after her fifth child Peter was born, but sure enough they kept on coming. All born at home until there was eleven of them. The doctors told her she could have no more children or it would kill her. She was thirty years old now and she had let herself go, her hair had flecks of grey in it and she had lost that much weight her clothes hung on her.

The Catholic Church had helped her with clothing for the children and she made sure that they all attended mass every Sunday. For over fifteen years she had struggled to bring up her family. Lizzie was a regular visitor at the pawn shop or the local money lender Leonidas Kostalas who was a Greek restaurant owner. She went to Leo every week because they were friends, in fact Leo loved her, and he thought that she would 

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