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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The tram stopped to allow two gentlemen to get on who promptly sat down at the front of the tram which now made its way towards Whitley bay town centre.

The terrace houses along Whitley Road were own by doctors, solicitors, teachers and the like. They had cultivated gardens with rose bushes and perennial flowers in various colours. They passed the station hotel and Tom pointed out the train station that they could take on the way back. The tram continued on its journey until it stopped near the sea front. They all got off and walked across the road seeing other couples walking along with pretty long dresses and fancy bonnets carrying little umbrellas. Some walked arm in arm along the promenade whilst others walk around in the fairground. They made their way there through the crowds to the portable stalls where there were games of ha’ penny roll going on. You had to roll a half penny down a chute and if it landed on a numbered square without touching the sides you got what ever was the number in question. Then there was the mini goldfish bowls which you had to get a ping pong ball into to win the prize. Tom liked the rifle shooting which he was good at and he paid his money then loaded the lead slug into the rifle and took aim. He fired knocking the steel platelets back his ten shots never missed and he was given a painted plaster of Paris ornament that he gave to Margaret.’

“Thank you Tom I will treasure this.’

Chris and Steve promptly had a go and they won too.

Tom won a shilling on the ha’penny roll. Tom had always been lucky though; he remembered how one day he had gone out on the boat with his brother Jack who was two years older than him. His father also called Jack got caught out in rough weather and he and his brother got swept overboard. His father dived over the side as the waves crashed against the side of the Stargazer, a boat that his father worked on then. It was taking in water as the men fought frantically to get the pumps started after the engine failed. Jack got to his two sons as the other seamen had to abandon the boat. She was sinking fast. They treaded water as their father told them tales to keep them awake. The sea was bitterly cold and Tom, who was only seven years old couldn’t feel his hands and feet. His father held onto them both as wave after wave crashed against them. After four hours in the water the Stargazer went down. There was no sign of William Higgins the captain or John Henry Macey the first mate. Jack caught sight of two others in the water and kicked his legs in an effort to reach them but the tide kept forcing him back and soon the two men disappeared from sight.

Jack asked his sons to sing to keep them alive.’

Tom sang Lilly Bolero over and over as the light began to fade.’

“Sing Jack said his father to his oldest son who was now so cold and weak that his father was having trouble holding on to him without him going under.’

Jack mouthed the words but no sound escaped from his lips.

After six hours in the water they had almost given up hope of being picked up but a passing trawler called the Trident had heard the singing of Tom in the darkness and had asked the captain to shine a light into the sea.

There half dead were the three of them in the water where the deckhand who had heard the singing as he pointed in the darkness. Jack and his two boys were rescued but his son Jack was in a bad way. He was suffering badly from Hypothermia they tried to get hot drinks down him and covered him in several blankets but he died two hours later.

It was the first time Tom had ever seen his father cry as they covered his brother’s body. It didn’t really register to Tom that he’d lost his older brother; he was in shock and fighting for his own life.

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