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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“Well there are the arcades and the Spanish City fun park.’

“I would like to have some fun said Beth so let’s go to the Spanish City.’

“What do you think then Margaret said Tom?’

“Me I’m easy, I will go anywhere.’

“Alright then we will take a tram to Whitley bay.’ The lads downed their pints and waited for the girls to finish theirs.

The said goodbye to Brenda before they all left the snug.

“If you can’t be good be careful said Brenda as Tom held the door.’

They turned the corner and walked onto Albion Road and crossed the road to the bus stop. The tram came about ten minutes later and they all got on. Tom paid for Margaret and Chris and Steve for the other two girls.

Tom pointed out things of interest as they went along.’

“What’s it like on the Isle of Barra then asked Steve?’

“Well there is only 870 of us living on the entire island, everyone knows everyone and nothing is kept a secret for long.’

“We get all our food from the mainland and have to take a ferry to get there. “There is only one policeman on the island; that’s Mr Poulter and he’s sixty two years old.’

We have a radio station that is used in case of an emergencies.  A plane has to take anyone seriously ill to hospital. “There is an infirmary but only one doctor and two nurses.’

“God forbid you get ill there then said Steve.’

“It’s surprising but not many of us ever get ill. It must be that sea air.’

“Is it cold there in the winter?’

“Very cold and the winds are bone chilling.’

“It’s like that here as well last year the snow was so high we had to dig our way out of the house.’

“In winter they fly us in emergency supplies in case the ferry cannot sail.’

The tram reached Tynemouth and Tom pointed out the Priory Castle. “The castle was built to keep out the French during battle of Hastings when William the Conqueror tried to invade.’

“There was a monastery over there where the monks lived.’

“We will have to come and have a look at that in more detail.’

Tom then showed them the boating lake and the Plaza ballroom with its glass domed roof.

The sun was going down but it was still quite warm as the girls gazed out to sea as Tom explained where he and his crew fished.

“So you catch the herring that we gut and pack into barrels then Tom said Margaret.’

“Sort of yes, but I’m not the only one.’ There are a couple of hundred of us who fish all the way up the coast and into Ireland.’

There must be millions of herring.’

“Four billion in one shoal was recorded earlier this year.’ It stretched for over two and a half miles.’

“Wow; no wonder we have to work like Trojans to fill barrel after barrel of the little buggers said Kerstin.’

“Steve had a laugh to himself and was promptly dug in the ribs by Kerstin who didn’t find it funny at all.’

The tram went past Cullercoats bay and they looked out at the fishermen’s cottages on the bank top.’

That is what it is like on Barra, Beth pointed out to Chris Lorrimer, the rangy lad with a mop of black curls. We are cut off from the mainland all together on Barra. 

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