EBB AND FLOW

"Ebb and flow" which is centred around the Charley Clays Clothing Factory during the early sixties. The story focuses on different kinds of life in North Shields at that time - There's Helen Smith the young woman who dreams of a better life for herself, she wants to live like the rich people. When she marries Thomas Lattimer who is a wealthy banker she discovers that the life that she wanted is not all it was made up to be. Jimmy Mulligan who works for Hoults the butchers, lives over the road with his parents he has been in love with Helen since they were at school together. He tells her of his love and that he will wait for her no matter how long it takes. Allan Forster has been in and out of Borstal for petty crimes he dreams of one big job that will net him enough money to live the high life - He gets involved with Paddy Leonard a notorious hardman. A power struggle takes place in North Shields for supremacy. Paddy Devlin another bouncer, come gangster is running a protection racket

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When lunch time arrived women from other factories came down to see what was going on. Frances Hogarth urged them to support them in their fight for better wages and equality.

 

The women picked up scrap bits of wood and pieces of old cardboard and made signs painted in black writing asking other women to support them in their fight against low wages and equality. Before the day was out the reporters arrived. Charley Clay had left the factory and was on his way to London to speak with his sons about the situation.

 crews from Tyne Tees Television covered the strike and it was on the six o’clock news  Frances Hogarth the elected Shop Steward set out her proposals on television and urged every woman in Britain to stand up for their rights. Frances went home and Typed up the demands on an old typewriter. She addressed it to the Transport and General Workers Union calling for them to recognise this as an official strike and posted it that day. The pickets stood firm supported by other women in the nearby houses who brought them food and warm blankets. They were given Tilley lamps to use and someone brought an old oil drum where they made a fire and used wood given to them. The winter snow bit hard into their bodies as they tried to get the delivery vans to join them. The men sympathized with them and many tooted as they went past. Cars also beeped in support. The first night was the worst as they brought a complete shut down of the factory. No materials were going in and none coming out again. The next morning the women were given access to use toilets from nearby houses and to wash and change themselves. Some left to go and see to their children then returned with them to stand on the picket lines as the snow beat down upon them.

Many men walking or riding their bikes to work gave the ladies the thumbs up sign as they went to work.

Frances heard that women from Dukes & Marks Ltd had followed suit and they had walked out too. Other women from Tyne Brand and the kipper houses in North Shields came out on strike too. The domino effect had begun and many shops and businesses were brought to a halt as women stood up against unscrupulous employers.

Everyone was talking about it on the Streets and in the pubs and clubs.

“Storm in a tea cup” was the Daily Mirror’s headline as it showed pickets drinking tea from thermos flasks made by local women. The Evening Chronicle was more in favour as it backed the women to win the fight on low wages.

The union reps came out and met Frances and Doreen Laws Hart who was the elected shop steward for Dukes & Marks Ltd. The union said that it was in talks with both Employers to try and reach a compromise. Charley Clay refused to meet with the union. His two sons were dealing with it.’

 

After nearly a week the women started to feel the pinch they had no money coming in and they could not afford to pay the rent or feed their children. Kids carried banners with the words “MY MOTHER’S ON STRIKE PLEASE HELP.’ A fund was set up and each woman on the picket line given two pounds so that the children could buy some chips to eat each night or a loaf of bread, butter, and some beans. Single parent families were given three. Anne Colquhoun was put in charge of funds. Every penny that was collected in buckets was counted then changed and then distributed. The women who now resembled Russian peasants dressed in heavy coats scarves and woollen hats and boots. Those who did not own any were loaned them by kind neighbours. 

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