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Fig. 1. Shotley Bridge, above the Flour Mill. The boys on the road are brothers John Arthur Wilson (Jack) and William Nixon Wilson (Billy) … and by the pavement ‘a boy called Moffat whose family ran the baker’s’. Cutler’s Hall Road.
William Lubbock – Photographer
There was a teacher called Lubbock; he was a good amateur photographer.
His name was William. He was born in 1871 and had a wife called Thomasine and a daughter Marion who was two years younger than me. Lubbock taught Standard Seven so I had him in my final year. He didn’t half wallop you with a cane.
He got out to take pictures of these real winter scenes.
I was thought to be a bit of a strapping lad, all the Wilson’s were big lads, we have the blood of Blacksmiths running in our veins which explains why we last so long. I’d go out to help him carry his equipment, trudging out onto the fells through snow that came up to your waist – the drifts could cover a barn.
Talk about winters. It went on for weeks, nothing like now.
Lubbock was Chairman of the Tyneside Photography Society.
He used a box camera with all these brass fittings a tripod, a large wooden affair that weighed a few stone.
The camera used glass plates.
He took a photograph of me and Billy in 1903 or thereabouts.
We wore these wide brimmed straw hats against the sun and I was carrying a cane and jam jar. We were off to fish for tiddlers in the Derwent by the Papermill. It was in front of what is now the King’s Head, with the bank running down to the flour mill and bridge at the bottom. The road back then was wide enough for carriages to pass but was no good for motor cars. A whole row of houses were knocked down for the motorcars and wagons to get through as that was the main route to Newcastle.
Lubbock turned up at the Chancellor Pub once. I filled him with beer and walked him back to the train.
There was another teacher called Evans and a woman teacher whose name I don’t recall.
I took part in Aladdin, a Chinese Play and I was a bugler in the Boy’s Brigade.
They were masterminded by Baden-Powell around 1900.
He who went on to establish the Boy Scout movement. One time we went camping up to Allen’s Ford.
There was a Saturday Matinee in Dally’s Hall.
We’d see these cowboy films and someone would play the piano.
Shotley Bridge and Benfieldside School
Shotley Bridge was a metropolitan, a proper town, a thriving place.
The War and the recession and the rest put paid to that; it’s never been the same. Never will be. Can’t be. Consett and Shotley Bridge drew in workers right up to the outbreak of the War in 1914 for the iron and steel works, the paper mill, saw mill, market gardens, mines of course and the manufactories. Then there were the railways, and shops and theatres of course. And the market every week that filled the town.
I remember taking Billy up to the infant school, Benfieldside School at Highgate and him crying.
Children started school aged six and stayed on until Standard VII. On our when 14th birthday we got a job. There was no staying on unless you had the money for the Grammar School. Lads from the big houses would be sent into Newcastle or they’d be away at boarding preparatory schools from the age of 7 or 8.
The school was divided into two, girls and boys
There was a separate block for infants with the schoolmaster’s house next door and a playground behind where I left him and went back for him. It was a mile walk. There was a two hour break for lunch as most children went home to eat. So back and forth we’d walk six miles a day. There were no buses and no bikes.
There was no gas or electricity either, just paraffin lamps.
The headmaster was Frank Allan; he was a little chap. He signed up, no need, he lied over age, said he was 37, in fact he was 43. He encouraged a lot of boys to lie about their age and got them killed, 14 year olds saying they were 19. Billy did that and joined the Royal Flying Corp when he was 15.
Frank was killed in the Great War.