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.


98. 98

Lilly Thewlis was among the many who was questioning where Tom Farrow was being the sort of neighbourly person that she was. Most said she was a nosey bugger who needed to know everyone’s business. She lived next door to Isabella Rosa an Italian family. Giovanni her husband was a carpenter; his craftsmanship was highly sought after in the ship yards where he built cabinets, desks, and fitted bunks into small spaces. Lilly banged constantly through the walls because Giovanni like to play his records by Enrico Caruso; he would sing along to Santa Lucia, O sol mio, Love is mine, and pagliacci. The dulcet tones would reverberate through the walls from his gramophone and she would get the end of her broom and bang through. Gio took no notice of the old bat and turned up the volume.

Lilly put on her shawl and head square and went trooping next door to the house where the Italian’s lived.

She banged her fist on the door, standing with her arms folded she waited until Gio came to the door.

When Gio opened it Lilly gave him a piece of her mind. The thin looking Italian with a mop of black curly hair and thick black moustache stood his ground.

“Why you not lika my music eh.’

“Because is isn’t Gene Austin or Ben Bernie is it?’

“Who are these people I never hear them. Caruso isa known through out the whole world.

“Well if you don’t play something else Caruso will be going into forced retirement.’

 Howa are youa going to stop me woman?’

She pushed past the little man and he went sprawling down the passage as Lilly followed where the sound of the music was coming from. She found the gramophone and then proceeded in smashing the 78 rpm records onto the floorboards of his house.

“Stop you crazy woman; I going to calla the police.’

“Go on then and my husband will come around and beat the shit out of you.’

“You willa pay for this; I have friends too and they will come and slita your throat.’

“Bring em to me; I will punch the living daylights out of them. Lilly walked back to her house and closed the door. Peace resumed in Queen Street once more.


On the Fish quay the herring girls had all but gone the local girls who worked on the line were moved to the canning plant where they were making tins of mince, Irish stew, and steak and kidney puddings. They were still canning haddock rather than turning them into fertiliser; later they would produce pet foods when Tyne Brand sold the factory to Spillers. The money the girls were earning increased so they weren’t bothered. The fishing industry was booming in North Shields with record catches. The introduction of an Ice factory by Richard Irving meant that boats could stay out for weeks at a time. Fish could be salted and iced and stacked high in the hold until it was ready to bring to market. The price of fish became more competitive as buyers from all over the country tried to compete with the demand. Cod was now becoming the most popular fish with haddock and skate selling in most fish and chip shops.

In North Shields alone there was one hundred and fifty and in the whole of Britain over 35.000. Fish was a great staple and a good source of protein and vitamins. Potatoes contained vitamin C. Once more it was cheap; many families ate a fish and chip supper at least three times a week.



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