This article was first published in the Shields Gazette on September 5th
It is based on the wartime memories of Elizabeth Harris - who now lives in York and is a much valued friend of the Hebburn website.
The 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War will have found mixed emotions among many. And not least among them is former Hebburn woman Mrs. Elizabeth Harris who may better be remembered as Belly Goodall by those with whom she grew-up in Arthur Street, Hebburn, during the war years.
Betty now lives in York and recollections of those dark days of the war have set her to wondering how many folk remember she and her family and may care to get in touch again.
Her mother was Mollie Goodall (formerly Brown) who was brought up in Edmund Street and lived with Betty and her brothers Ronnie, Leslie and Norman at 16 Arthur Street while their father was serving in the Army.
Betty remembers the terrifying trips across the backyard to the family's damp and cheerless Anderson shelter, "We were bombed every night, being only about half-a-mile from Palmers shipyard on Wagonway Road, she said. "We called it the Low Road and I never knew its real name until recently
August 1940 bomb wrecked the roadway outside the CWS Store in Hebburn Quay
- but amazingly it didn't shatter the shopfronts
(Picture from "Tyneside at War" - a pictorial account
of 1939-45 published by the Evening Chronicle)
Neighbours she recalls included the Salmons, the Hargreaves, the Pulleyns, all in Arthur Street - and the O'Connors in Frederick Street. Arthur Street, Frederick Street and Harvey Street were quite a little community in Hebburn Quay she said, being bordered by a level crossing on one side of Argyle Street and the pit heap at Hebburn colliery on the other."
Betty attended Hebburn Colliery Board School, in High Lane Row, a grim building with an equally grim headmaster. Mr. Patrick. Canings for being late caused through having to run messages or a trip to the pawn shop - "I still remember the shame of that" - are acutely remembered.
The most important shop was Tollicks, the grocers just over the crossing in Argyle Street. Here rations of fat bacon, sugar etc were dispensed, the appropriate boxes on the ration card being pencil led off by the shopkeeper. "Mam in desperation to feed us used to rub out these pencil lines with a small piece of bread I well remember her presenting the ration books to Mr. Tollick who would peer over his specs, give me a long look and promptly re-pencil them and give us the rations again. How kind he was," remembers Betty
"There was also Jeffreys, the fruiterer's where you could queue for hours for bananas and then not get any, as well as many corner shops dotted all over Hebburn Quay and the NewTown.
"I remember kind Mrs. Robson who ran the Methodist chapel just behind our school. We loved going to Chapel and the 'anniversaries' were great occasions when you learnt your piece - a short poem - and said it to the listening congregation.
'There were no such things as holidays. A trip to Jarrow on the bus, or to Newcastle, was the extent of our travels." But once went to London in l945, aged eight, travelling alone in a bus which I boarded at Station Road. The journey took 12 hours and I was to stay with my uncle, aunt and cousin. I remember being devastated not to find the streets paved with gold I was always an imaginative child, even in Arthur Street!
"I remember the joy of peacetime. No more black-out material at peoples windows. Seeing lighted curtains was sheer magic." she said. Betty and her family went from Hebburn to York in 1946 but, as she said. "my childhood never leaves me."
If there are any childhood friends who would like to get in touch with her again, please email the editor or leave a message on the Board.