A Place Beyond The Priory

 "A Place Beyond the Priory " This is a story about Life in North Shields during the 1900's-1920's Tom Farrow is a third generation coble fisherman, Who meets and falls in love with a young herring girl who has travelled from the isle of Barra in the outer Hebrides looking for work. Margaret Linnie, her two friends Kerstin McDonald and Beth Munro all end up on the gutting line in Tyne Brand - their unscrupulous foreman Albert Mortimer treats all the girls on the line like animals including his wife Lizzie who bares him 11 children. forced into a marriage she did not want, Lizzie is abused by Albert for his own sexual gratification. She was in love with a young Greek boy called Leonidas Kostalas whom she had known from her days at school and lost her virginity to but her father will not allow them to marry- this is a story of love and betrayal and will keep you riveted until the last page is read.


39. 39

“Hello Dougie is that you?

“Aye Morag it’s me; your mam and dad are here with Kerstin and Beth’s parents too.

Richard Linnie took hold of the phone and said happy Christmas to his daughter.’

“A Happy Christmas to you too.’

“Are you having a good time there in North Shields?’

“Yes dad, listen I’ve got something to tell you both; I’ve met the most wonderful man and he’s asked me to marry him.’

He’s called Tom Farrow and he’s the captain of his own fishing boat.’

“Have you said yes to him came her mothers voice down the phone?’

“Yes mother, I love him dearly. He bought me a beautiful diamond engagement ring and he placed it inside of a Christmas cracker. “It was so romantic.’

“Well congratulations, when are you planning to get married?’

In the spring on Barra mother; he’s coming up to meet you all and going to stay for a while.’

That’s good said her father, we’d like to meet him.’

“You will love him just like I do dad; he’s such a lovely man.’

Margaret could hear her mother relaying the news to Kerstin and Beth’s parents.

“I will put Kerstin and Beth on now dad speak soon bye.’

Margaret passed the phone to Kerstin and Beth whose parents were all trying to listen as the two girls tried to cram in as much as they could before the pips went.

The phone went dead and they came out feeling homesick. They walked slowly back and then suddenly it began to snow.

“Looks like it’s going to be a white Christmas after all doesn’t it said Margaret.’



Father Peter Woodward addressed the congregation; he looked down from his pulpit and told them all to rejoice, Jesus was born. Many Christmas hymns were sang that morning and the young handsome priest sang out with his beautiful tenor voice.’

Peter played the acoustic guitar as well and all the children loved to hear him.

One woman in particular couldn’t get enough of the young Catholic priest.

“Her name was Iris Williamson and she lived on Rudyerd Street.’

Her husband Kelvin was a heartless man. Her father Michael Cuthbert had introduced his daughter to Kelvin because his father George worked with him as a dock worker. At first Kelvin was charming and even Iris’s mother Nancy liked the young lad. Iris was only eighteen then and the following year Kelvin proposed. Kelvin’s mother opposed the marriage saying that her son was too young to marry.

Kelvin went against his mother’s wishes and they were married in the summer of 1923. It turned out that Kelvin Williamson was just a spoiled little child inside the body of a man.

When ever he could not get his own way he became violent and beat Iris with a leather belt.

She went for help from father Brannigan who told her that the first few years of marriage were always difficult. Two years later the beatings got worse. He forbid that she go out anywhere and she was not allowed to go and visit her own parents unless he was with her. Iris’s only sanctuary was the church. Kelvin didn’t mind her going there as that let him out to do what he really wanted to do.

Unbeknown to his parent’s Kelvin was a homosexual; he frequented the bars and dance halls where practicing homosexuals roamed in Newcastle. He frequently stayed out all night and returned the next morning. His first lover had acquired him a job as a clerk to the courts in Newcastle. He was well able to do this as he was very bright.

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