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 girls worked in what became known as “The Cage.” Not many of the girls who had left school together and started work their liked the job. It took a long time before you got trained to use the sewing machines and they taught you on old models and many a girl nearly lost a thumb or finger whilst learning how to sew.

Florence Freeman, Anne Colquhoun, Edith Holding, and her sister Pat, Betty Dobson, Ellen Heads, Lizzy Fox, and Cathleen Patterson were among the many girls who worked in the factory. The young lads who were just starting were afraid to walk through the factory alone because the girls, who were always up for a laugh and would gang up on the young lads and strip them of all of their clothes then tie balloons around them to hide their modesty; Each department had its own foreman. Mr Amos, Mr Benning, Mrs Ella McIntyre watched everyone like hawks because of pilfering. It didn’t stop them though, as workers found inventive ways to get goods out of the factory. They would stuff pyjamas, jumpers, and Shirts up their overalls then go to the toilets and then place them into their shopping bags. The lads in the packing department had orders from some of the hard men of North Shields like Paddy Devlin, and Paddy Leonard who bought stolen goods and then sold them on. Each week a consignment of stolen goods would be delivered to the Mariners Arms or the Ballarat. Where there was money to be made these men were into it. The coppers of North Shields turned a blind eye because they were in on it as well. Most of your clothe shops were buying knocked off goods then reselling them. Paddy Devlin ran a protection racket around the many pubs in North Shields. There were over twenty pubs on Saville Street alone. Devlin would pressure the landlords to pay him to keep their pubs safe. It started out at ten pounds a week from every pub. Paddy paid his team of Henchmen to sort out any bother and to keep the landlords happy. He got his beer or anything he wanted free and he was feared by just about everyone who knew him.

Anyone who came up against him was swiftly dealt with by his squad or himself.

In North Shields there were nearly 200 pubs and then there was the clubs. “The Carlston and the Cresta were his favourite haunts after pub closing time then games of poker would take place and large sums of money would exchange hands. The prostitutes that frequented the Jungle bar near the ferry landing were also protected by Paddy’s men. Paddy should have been a rich man, he was in some respects, but he could have been very wealthy had he used his brains. He drank and gambled most of his money away.

 

Further up Norham Road was The Foam factory and Welch’s Sweet factory where eight boilers were kept going from seven thirty until 5 pm five days a week. Tons of toffees and sweets were made. Next to Welch’s was the Universal Bedding Company that turned out three piece suites and Matresses. Next to that was Commercial Plastics which made snappy bags. Across the Coast Road was the Formica factory that made everything from kitchens to laminated tops used in boats and houses all over the world. Then Thor Tools, Hall Sections and Dukes and Marks another clothing factory.

The houses on the Ridges Estate and surrounding areas supplied most of the workforce. Built on farmland around 1934 these houses provided shelter for many families. They were council owned and consisted of three bedrooms, a small scullery, A kitchen area, Garden’s back and front with a privet hedge Many gardens were like a wilderness because many didn’t have the time or the inclination to keep them tidy. privets grew to about twelve feet high in most of gardens and it was only cut when someone from the council came around to complain. Each house had a coal fire which heated a galley stove in the scullery. 

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