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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 The snow had started to thaw and it left a dirty grey coloured slush upon the roads and pathways. The only places it remained white was in the gardens where the snow lay undisturbed. In some gardens lay the remnants of snowmen that kids in the streets had made. A car drove into Briarwood Avenue and a man with a brown hat and a cream coloured Macintosh got out. He wore galoshes over his shoes to protect them from the salt and grit that had been put down by the council. He carried a large attaché case that was chained to his wrist. It was 7 am and most parents were either going to work or getting kids up for school. The man carried a black ledger in his other hand as he walked into the first path and banged hard on the door.

“Tommy Toby answered it as he was on his way to work.’

“Good morning I’ve come to collect the rent sir said the man optimistically to the black man who went past him carrying his bait bag over one shoulder. “ You’ll be lucky said Tommy as he shut the gate and walked along the road in a pair of black wellingtons. “Shut that bloody door it’s freezin’ in here shouted Mrs Toby.’

“Excuse me I’ve come to collect the rent you are two week in arrears Mrs Toby.

“Well make it three cos’ I’ve got no money. The door was unceremoniously slammed in his face.’

By the time he’d reached the third house everyone in briar wood knew that the rent man was around. The doors were all banged shut and when Telford Hutchinson knocked no one would answer. Each time this happened a red line in ink was added to all the other red lines that was owed. Telford knew that it was going to be hard getting money off the folks in the Ridges. He was terrified to knock on some doors as he’d already been punched in the face by a woman after suggesting if she didn’t pay her arrears then she could face eviction. The present situation was hopeless with one in every three men out of work. Now that many of the women had come out on strike in other factories it was even worse and it wasn’t just here but all over the country. An emergency meeting was called for in parliament. Where Harold Macmillan, the Conservative party Prime Minister in 1962 discussed the situation in the House of Commons.

Something had to be done to end the strikes and get people back to work as the country was at a stand still with many men coming out on strike over poor pay.

 Miners, Shipyard Workers, and even long distance lorry drivers came out.

The police and army were sent in to try and break up the strikes. Angered by the police fights broke out and many women as well as men were injured by the police horses and truncheons. However the Picket Lines could not be broken and a state of emergency was called. Scab workers were driven in through the factory gates amid the taunts from the strikers. Bricks were thrown through bus windows to try to stop them from going in and eventually busses were fitted with wire mesh to prevent the windows being broken. When the busses slowed their tyres were burst with sharp implements and they could not move. Then they were escorted in by a police patrol.

More violent outbursts by strikers followed. This persisted right through the Christmas and into January. The women from Charley Clays had been out on strike three months now and the union had to recognise that it was an official strike. Negotiations with both sons continued until February 24th 1963 when a deal was struck where every woman would get a basic rate with a five pound increase in their pay and there would also be a bonus scheme for those who produced more.

“The women were delighted; they had won. It was the turning point as other factories that employed women followed suit and they were forced to pay them more.

Slowly the country went back to work. 

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