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.


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The Stargazer went down with William Higgins, still at the wheel trying to rescue her and John Henry Macey in the engine room.

Seven crew members also perished in the storm and it brought it all home to Jack just how dangerous the sea could be.

Tom spent two days in the RVI Hospital along with his father; they were both lucky to be alive.’

A week later they held his brothers funeral and a memorial service for the other crew members who were lost on board the Stargazer.

September 5th 1908 would be forever imbedded into his memory. His brother Jack was only nine years old.

Mollie his wife never forgave Jack for the death of her son. She took to drinking laudanum better known as whole opium; a highly addictive morphine based narcotic. For years she drank the stuff, missing meals until she became so dependent on it that she could not go a day without it. It was easy to obtain as it was sold over the counter in the chemist shops without prescription.

Mollie became so thin that her clothes hung on her.

Tom came home from school one afternoon in April 1912 to find his mother slumped on the floor dead.

She was buried along side her son Jack in Preston Cemetery as the rain pelted down. Now there was only his older sister Darcy to look after her father. Who withdrew into himself. He went to work and came home and went to bed. When the outbreak of The Great War began in 1914 Jack tried to enlist but was told that he was needed to provide food for the people of North Shields. Jack did however join a crew to work on a mine laying boat called the Apollo until the war was over. Tom’s father died of a heart attack whilst coming home from a fishing trip a year later and there was now only he and his older sister Darcy left in the house.

Tom had gone through his school years after his parents both had died. He worked on his old grandfather’s coble; Tom changed the old boats name that was damaged during the war to “The Outcast,’ maybe that was how he felt after the death of his brother. He had spent months repairing the boat then finally in October 1918 she was ready to be re-launched.

His father had rarely spoken to him up to his death when they went out in the coble from the fish quay; he never mentioned his son’s name. As he lay dying his last words were of his son Jack. “I’m coming Jack,’ he whispered with his last breath.


Darcy met a school teacher called Edward Collin’s one evening on the ward of the hospital where she was then working. She wasn’t bad looking considering she had taken over the role of mother and house keeper after her mother had died.

She went to study to become a nurse during the war years and ended up working in the RVI.

Edward was one of her patients after he joined the Northumberland Fusiliers. He got wounded with some shrapnel in his back after a cannon shell exploded and he was in hospital a long time after. He was given a discharge from the army because he needed a walking stick in order to get around and went back into teaching.

Darcy cooked and kept house whilst Tom went out fishing.

Edward returned to the ward after his discharge and asked Darcy out. He’d brought her a huge bunch of red roses from his mother’s garden; so how could she refuse. Darcy went out with Edward for two years until he popped the question.

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