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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Frances Hogarth was hailed a hero for working class woman. She had proved that women were as valuable as any man when it came to working in the factories around Britain. Never again would women exploited by employers. The gap in men’s wages to that of women was still grater but at least now it had begun to close. Frances Hogarth left Charley Clays to work full time as a TGWU representative for women.

 

Telford Hutchinson moved down onto Bridge Road North after only collecting a few pounds in Briarwood. He knew it was futile work and it would be the same story here as well. Letters sent to each household with the threat of eviction were ignored and it was costing the council more in the long run to send out letters than it was to collect arrears. They tried to scare people into paying by evicting a few families but it didn’t work. The new Social Security Scheme brought in to help poor families paid each man seventeen pounds seven shillings and sixpence for each child in the home a Family Allowance payment four pounds and ten pence. The average family income was only £29.00 per week per married couple in 1963. The food bill cost an average family £20.00 per week leaving only nine pounds to buy clothes and pay bills. It just couldn’t be done on the money they gave you. Times were hard and many families suffered as a result. Children went without new clothes and shoes and were forced to wear hand me downs and second hand ones. Food was restricted as families tightened belts in order to keep a roof over their heads. Men stood in line looking for work as unemployment raged. Even the ones who were working felt no better off than those who were on Social Security (SS) it gave them no incentive to work and the benefit culture was born out of this. No one wanted to go to work for just a few pounds more than what they received in benefit payments. The more kids you had the more benefit was paid out so many families had six or more kids to feed and clothe. Many children were on free school meals which was seen by other people as scrounging. The children were looked down on not only by other kids in the school but by school teachers as well. Many of them knew that these children were never going to aspire to anything and showed them little encouragement. Children from better off families who came to school wearing a school uniform were treated far differently from those who looked like they’d jumped off the back of a ragman’s barrow. They were thin, dirty looking, and some carried head lice. Personal hygiene was certainly a problem at school and “Nitty Nora” the dickey explorer was a regular visitor. Each Childs head was raked with a stainless steel dickey comb soaked in a foul smelling disinfectant to try and kill the lice. They were given vitamin supplements and cod liver oil to combat rickets. Children growing up on the Ridges Estate didn’t have a chance to succeed as the stigma attached to the place was known to everyone from other areas.

“As soon as you told an employer where you lived you could see the expression on their faces change. Many were forced to either go to work on the fish quay, do labouring jobs, or go to work in the factories. Life expectancy was about 55 years if you were lucky.

 

 

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