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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 In the other rooms it was the sound of snoring that woke Margaret; she looked at the clock and it was just gone five am and she went to the toilet to relieve herself.

She didn’t want to get up; she wanted Tom to make love to her again because in her mother’s house they would have to sleep apart. She washed her hands after using the toilet then placed the kettle on after lighting the fire and emptying the ashes into a bucket. She used a metal sheet that had been made in the ship yard by Tom’s friend Wilfy Watson. It was made of aluminium and had a handle which she could hold over the fire it drew oxygen from the chimney and the coals began to glow red.

She took it down and set the kettle over it.

She made tea Tom got up; he scratched his head then sat on the edge of the bed. Tom took out a clean pair of long johns and put them on and then took out clean shirts, socks and two heavy woollen jumpers that had been made in Scandinavia and were worn by a lot of the fishermen.

Margaret had bought porridge oats and she made some but added sugar not salt which was the way the Scots people ate it. She kept stirring it until it was thick and creamy then set the bowls out onto the table. The others started to get up because they could smell the oatmeal. Tom had a shave in cold water as he always did with his cutthroat razor which was sharpened on a leather strop that hung on the door.

“Morning love said Tom as he kissed Margaret.’ Tom had said no matter how old they got he would kiss her first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Chris and Steve remained in bed for another fifteen minutes as the women got up and did their ablutions.

“What time is high water?

“I want to be down on the quay side by six thirty no later; high water is seven so we need to get the boat out before then.

Tom ate his porridge and drank a cup of tea before filling a hold all with all of his clothes he would need. He took a pair of rigging boots with him as Margaret had told all of them about the deep snow at this time of the year on Barra. It would be no good wearing suits there thick woollens were needed. Chris and Steve took heed and were packing all the warm clothing they could carry for a week. Like Tom, they wore rigging boots and a Scandinavian woollen jumper and a woollen hat as well.

They all had heavy coats with a hood. Tom, took goggles so if there was a snow storm he could still navigate the Outcast.

Kerstin and Beth made sandwiches and some hot tea that they would drink once the boat was launched as it would only keep hot for an hour or so even wrapped in towels.

Tom locked up then they all made their way down onto the Quayside. The women had already informed Christine Robson of their trip and she told them that their jobs would be there for them when they returned.

The Stairs were icy and the men held onto the women as they walked slowly down to the bottom. The girls were well wrapped up for the journey as they knew how cold it could get on Barra.

They passed the stores and the factory then turned right. The distinctive smell from the kipper houses hit their nostrils as the lads carried the bags onto the beach then placed them into the Outcast they took hold of the ropes and began to drag the boat down the beach. Something they had done hundreds of times before. They made it look easy as the boat hit the water and it was steered by oars to the jetty where the women would get on board.

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