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.

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Nelly Cartwright, Jean Mortimer, Christine Smith, Alison Fisher, Mary Ellis, Beverly Thompson, Christine Robson. Kerstin McDonald, Beth Munro, Margaret Ann Linnie, all worked on the line gutting, and packing of the herring into barrels that were salted and iced before sending them off to be loaded on the lorry the process had to be done fast because if the herrings went soft and they were not as valuable when sold. Softer herrings were often pickled or sauced then canned.

The sweat was pouring off all the girls as the heat of the summer sun shone down on them.’

“I need a break said Jean Mortimer to her friend Nelly Cartwright; I’m passing oot here.

“What time is it?’

“I don’t know said Nelly; the bloody clock in the factory has stopped.’

“What time is it Steve shouted Nelly to the Lorry driver.’

“Steve Weir looked at his watch then shouted back that it was twenty past twelve.

“Just ten minutes to go and we can get our lunch said Jean. “I’m gaspin for a tab said Mary Ellis, has anybody got one.’

“You’ll get the bloody sack if your caught smoking on the job; you know what a stickler Albert is.’

“We’ve been no stop since seven o’clock this mornin’ we should get a break, my bloody back is killin’ me wi bendin’ doon aal the time.’

“You’re not the only one said Kerstin.’

The girls could gut a herring in less than two seconds and it was an endless chain as more and more fish came down the galvanised chute ready to be gutted. Margaret Linnie was helping to pack the fish today with Christine Robson who said that she was going to have words with Albert. “They pay us eight bob a week and they must be making a bloody fortune from us. “We need a rise,’

“Aye well good luck on that one hen said Beth Munro, there’s no union here so how are we going to get a bloody rise?’

“We will go on a go slow.’

“They would sack you on the spot said Nelly.’

“Alright then we could walk oot on strike.’

“Another daft idea, there’s loads of people who would gladly take your place on the line.’

“How do you know said Christine?’

“I’ve seen them come and go in here and so has Jean, haven’t we love.’

“Aye we have that.’

“Well I’m going to his office right now; I think that we should be on at least ten bob a week for what we do.’

“Is anyone coming with me?’

“I’ll gan wi yer Christine said Alison Fisher.’

They placed their gutting knives into the flap pocket of the rubber apron that they wore over they dresses’. The sleeves were rolled up to avoid getting fish scales all over them.

“Come on then let’s do this.’

They stepped off the line then walked through the factory looking for Albert.

There was no sign of him anywhere so they went up the stairs to the big boss’s office.

The manager was Mr Malcolm Thewlis, his name was printed in gold lettering on the door as Christine took a deep breath and knocked on it.

“Come, was a shout from within and Alison stood behind Christine as they both entered the office.’

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