The Ridgalite

The Rigalite focuses on the People who lived in Marina Avenue in the Ridges Estate in North Shields. Eddie Saint owns the Roaring venture a trawler moored at the fish quay- his crew work hard and play hard - one of them is Ron Lee a young lad who has aspirations of becoming a rock star. He was in the Royal Navy on board the HMS Illustrious as a trained chef before joining the trawler boat. The lads all tell him that his songs are crap because they don't wan't to lose a good cook. The story also tells of two rival shop keepers- Ronnie Hancock and Billy Burston have been each others throats for years- read the comic antics of both men. "The Ridgalite is an insite of life in the early sixties on an an estate with high unemployment and little hope - where every day is a constant struggle. There are some though who prove that if you have hope then dreams can come true.


5. 5

Customers were waiting as Connie put on her overall and the first lady she served wanted five pounds of potatoes. The potatoes were weighed out the back of the shop to conserve space. Billy was selling his freshly made bread and buns which were better than Hancock’s they would say. There was a steady flow of customers until ten thirty then it quietened down until the lunch time rush. Connie would make tea for Billy his wife Sally and herself before the school kids would come in wanting sweets, pop, crisps, Chocolate bars, and frozen jublys. Billy would often place a shilling inside a blue ice cup so you couldn’t see inside then they were sold by the dozen. People would make themselves ill eating them trying to find the money. In the Hadrian Store on the corner, Lorrain McLaughlin served an influx of pensioners who got their money on a Monday from the post office; they would move from shop to shop right along Marina Avenue. At each end there was a fish and chip shop Gerry Burt owned the one near the Ridges Inn at one end and McDonalds’. After Gerry’s shop there was Harry Newham’s, then Hoults the butcher shop, Rutherford’s General dealers, Pot’s paper shop, Gibson’s Wool shop, then John Day the fruit shop Hoults pork shop, the library then the Hadrian Store, Ronnie Hancock’s, Billy Burston, Dury’s, then McDonald’s fish and chips. There were 924 houses built on what was the Ridges Farm land. In 1934 the first houses were built to house the many fishermen who were living in appalling conditions. There were many deaths due to pneumonia, tuberculosis, and typhoid due to damp living conditions and poor sanitation. By the end of 1938 most of the Estate which came to be known as the Ridges was formed.

No sooner had the houses been built when similar problems sprang up. Houses built on poor foundations caused dampness, rats, and disease followed.

“The Ridges was a place to avoid at all costs. After the Second World War mass migration by Polish, Greek, and Italians spread throughout North Shields. Unemployment was a big factor throughout the 1950’s through to the late 1960’s

One in every three families had someone out of work. The stigma associated with the Ridges Estate made it very difficult to find work; because as soon as an employer asked you for your address and you told them they were very reluctant to take you on.

Men in their hundreds went to the wood yards at Percy Hudson’s or Smiths Dock Ship repair yard. Some went to Preston Colliery, others to Billy Mill pit and Battlehill in Wallsend. Employers could hire and fire as they chose. There was always someone else to fill your place if you didn’t like the work. A lot of women who had been employed during the war were kept on as it was cheaper to pay them to do the work than it would if they were paying a man to do exactly the same work.

No more would women be expected to slave over a kitchen sink and bring up children. They had had a taste of earning money in their own right and they liked it. More factories began to spring up all over the North East and women were being employed to help run them. They were now regarded as a valuable asset not only to the community but to the country as a whole.



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