The Black Middens

A story of love and struggle to bring up three children during the war years.
Joe Donnelly, a coble fisherman from cullercoats meets the girl of his dreams when Emily Rose Higgins crashes into him on her bicycle whilst out with her sister Mary Jane. Joe and his brother George, a captain in the British Army ask the two girls out to a dance at the plaza in Tynemouth and they both fall in love. Alan Donnelly the youngest of the brothers is in the Northumberland Fusiliers. it is not long before they all get married. Emily Rose has two children but there are complications during the birth of her third child and she dies leaving Joe to bring up Marina, George, and Helen the newborn child.
After some attempts to try and hire a nanny come house keeper Joe hires a dutch girl called Alina Classen whose parents were both killed by the Germans in the first world war.
Not speaking much English Alina works very hard and teaches the children to speak Dutch and they in turn teach her English. What dev


3. 3

Joe removed the woollen jumper and set it down on the floor then finished his bowl of soup.

“Mary returned with some dry clothes for him.

“I have given you a pair of Peter’s long johns and some of his woollen socks to wear. “They are going to be short in the leg for you; you big bugger; but they are dry.”

“Here go in the spare room and get changed.”

“Thanks said Joe as he stood up his head scraped the ceiling in the cottage and he pushed his huge hand through his mass of black curly hair. Joe stood six feet six inches tall and was as wide as he was tall. His bulging biceps picked up the clothes and he walked to wards the door and ducked under it. Joe Donnelly was twenty nine years old he had Romany looks about him and green eyes sparkled like emeralds.

Peter put on his waterproof coat and cap as Joe came out of the room.

Mary was right; the trousers were about five inches too short but he wasn’t bothered he fastened the buttons on the flies and fastened the leather belt around his trim waist.

The heavy coat fitted perfectly though.

“Here said Peter; put on my old cap. It will keep your head dry.”

“Peter kissed his wife and told her that he wouldn’t be long.”

They went outside to the stable where he hooked up Goliath his horse to the cart.

Joe opened the gates so that Peter could lead Goliath out, the rain had eased now and it was just like a fine sea fret coming down.

Joe jumped onto the cart and Peter clicked his tongue and flapped the reins and the horse began to trot until it came down mast lane it turned right and then hit the cobbled road. Peter then made the horse gallop.


They reached the bank that led onto the beach the boat had to be emptied of water that had collected they scooped out the sea water with some metal pans then they got the coble at one end then dragged it onto the cart. It was secured with a rope then the horse was led up the bank until they got onto the road again

Joe and Peter had to sit in the boat as there wasn’t enough room for them to sit in the usual place.

“Move on lad called Peter to Goliath and the horse obeyed. They took it easy going back because they didn’t want the boat to overturn the cart.

It was now nine o’clock and starting to get dark so Peter stopped he walked around then lit the lamps on either side of the cart.

Then they carried on until they reached the bank at Cullercoats.

They both jumped off and steadied the horse slowly down the ramp then onto the beach. Joe brought up the trailer for the boat then they unhitched Goliath and gently lowered the cart onto the trailer then untied the boat.

“Thanks said Joe once he had got the boat in place Joe gutted the fish that he had caught then gave Peter two large cod to take home.

Joe placed the fish into the boxes then loaded them onto the cart after Goliath was hooked up again. They now had to take the twelve boxes of fish to the quay at North Shields where they would be sold.


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