The Skin Shop

The story which is semi autobiographical tells the story of Ralph Mason Growing up in Collingwood Terrace in North Shields in 1948. it is a story of Hardship, poverty, love, and friendship just after the Second World War. Some names have been changed and I have used some poetic licence to bring the story to back to life as some of the places talked about in this story are no longer with us. "The Skin Shop is one boys journey into manhood.


109. 109

“I will.’

Ralph stayed with them all until five o’clock then made his way back home on his bike.





June 1954 Five years had past since Ralph Mason had left Collingwood Terrace and all of his friends had now left school like him and were now working.

Ralph was working as an upholsterer’s apprentice for the Northern Bedding Company.

Then when it closed down Ralph moved to Levine’s Ltd working as a cutting room apprentice.

His sister Agnes and Norman parted company after comments from Gertrude upset her and she realised that she would never be good enough for her son. In fact she told Norman that as long as his mother was alive no woman would be good enough and advised him to move away from his mother altogether.’

In the summer of 1954 she met Alan Banfield and they were going steady Alan popped the question the following year and Agnes accepted they moved to Folkestone in Kent. Ralph went to live there with his sister and her husband after Ralph left home aged just 17. Agnes found it difficult to get on with Alan’s parents who looked down on her because her family were poor. He called her family commoners which she disliked immensely. Alan’s father who was also called Alan owned a hotel and was the Mayor of the town his wife was called Joan; He was not averse to voicing his opinions in front of Agnes who refused to go with her husband to the hotel after being insulted by his father every time she made an appearance.

 Alan was working as an instrument fitter for BOAC. Ralph lived with his sister in the bungalow in Crowthorne in Berkshire where they eventually settled but there was unrest in the cottage because Alan didn’t get on with young Ralph who was working in Camberley in Surrey not far from his sister as a trimmer. The relationship was strained because of the family problem. What made matters worse was Alan was conducting an affair behind Agnes’s back and when it was discovered she promptly divorced him.

Ralph went to live in a bedsit in Camberley and it was there where he met young Pat Bray who was a machinist. They got on so well that Ralph plucked up the courage to ask her out and she said yes.’ Ralph lived a lonely existence in the bedsit; he was now 20 years of age and Pat five years younger. After a lot of stress from both of Pats parents they were married five years later Pat had a brother called John and he was a pageboy aged only 2 years at their wedding. She also had a brother called Paul. Who sadly passed away in 2014 with cancer; he was only 47 years old.

Ralph and Pat have been married forty seven years and are still happy together. They have three children. Cy who is 45, Aaron who is 41, and Hannah who is 40. They have seven grand children and one great grand daughter.


John Mason, Ralph’s older brother met and married Alice Jensen who had a sister called Lillian who lived in Oakwood Avenue and they knocked about with Ester Bridgett who lived on the corner of Front Street Chirton. John travelled around the world with the army before getting married. He died of cancer aged only 39. He left behind six daughters and one son.

Agnes Mason never remarried and still lives in Berkshire.

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