Craster Village Life, Pastimes

Jimmy Hall
The biggest change I find in this village is, if you go out, for instance to the harbour wall, you never see anyone, except a stranger. In those days, every night there were men on the harbour wall, arguing about football. Everybody had their dinner and walked down for a bit conversation. Everybody met at the harbour wall, it was the same at Beadnell Square and the kiln at Seahouses -there were always fishermen there.

Eleanor Venus
If Nancy and I went to the pictures or anything, we were always in on the 8.15 p.m. bus. Never mind we went to the pictures, it was Susan Hayward and I always say it was the night we got our roots topped. We walked down the pastures and he said he (future husband, Ken) couldn't let me go on the 8.15pm- well the next one was 10 p.m. We enjoyed our walk and once again Mother and Mrs. Lumsden were there to meet us. 'Get yourself over those fields as sharp as you like, your father's going stone mad'......

Willie Mitford
I think we had a better social life than the youngsters have today, we used to cycle into Alnwick to the pictures. You either walked or cycled everywhere.

Marjorie Lumsden
It was a safe place to live, we used to go to dances at Embleton, Howick, Rennington. There were no houses here [at this end of the village], just the Heugh, so there were loads of places to play. We played rounders and cricket, everything, the girls and boys all joined in.

Willie Mitford
As we got older we used to go to dances, it was the main entertainment you had. I used to go to about four or five dances a week, every village had a dance on a different night. We went to Rennington, Embleton, Seahouses, Alnmouth, Brunton Aerodrome when the RAF had it, Howick. Sometimes we had dances here. There was a big billiard table in the hall and we used to dance around it. I met my wife after I came out of the Army, in 1948/9, at Newton.

Bill Curry
I was pally with Eddie Williams and Adam Durham and we weren't made welcome in the pub at Craster, 'cos they wouldn't speak to us some of them old fishermen. I don't know if it was because we were young or what. It wasn't as big as it is now. We used to go to Embleton and Newton by the Sea, to the Joiners. I had a van, they didn't have a car, and we used to go across there. In those days you never bothered about drinking and driving. We went to the local dance at Embleton. The dances used to be good - Watty Frater and his Hawaiian Serenaders......

Billy Lumsden
There's always been a football team. When the war finished that was the best team they ever had. When all the lads came back from the war you know. They must have had a good team earlier when Adam Dawson played as well, 'cos he went to play for Chesterfield. That was before the war......

Adam Dawson
The sport in the village was football. Now we couldn't find a pitch as you know, and we eventually found a pitch. It was through the gate as you go to the Castle and the top fields were quite level. Now Craster is a very old football side, they had been playing for years and years, before we started. We had a good side in Craster. We used to play the North Northumberland League and there were some good teams in that league.

Even Alnwick had three teams in that league. There was Wooler, Amble and all districts around here. There was some good teams. Now we had a good side. There were 4 brothers of mine who played in the team. One season we won the North Northumberland League, the year we won was 1927-28. I was only 16 when I played in that team, but I was good. I was very good. (He left Craster to become a professional player at Chesterfield). On the team was my brother Edward, he was the goalkeeper, there was Matt Stephenson fullback, and John Archbold, half backs were Billy Grey from Howick, Jack Carss from Craster and an Embleton boy called Varnum. Now on the wings were Riddell, me, my brother Ralph, Dickens inside left, and another Varnum, brother to the other Varnum, they were twins, and we won the league. If we were short of a player, sometimes Sir John Craster used to come and play for us.

When that (season) was all over, we were in the Reading Room and we were all presented with the medals and the cup from Sir John Craster......

Neil Robson
The Craster football team used to get big crowds watching them, even at the old pitch which was on top of the Castle field. There would be 50 or 60 people watching and they would get a bus to go to away games. I think I was fourteen when I first started playing. I went to Swarland, it was a night game and we went for a half past six kick off, they were struggling for a team and I had to play. There were three fathers and three sons playing then, there was Michael and Willy (Robson), Dad and me, Les Turnbull from Embleton and his son, Michael. I think we won as well.

I remember my Dad telling a story, they were playing Seahouses and someone tackled a Seahouses player and broke his leg, not intentionally, and they had to escape in the cars afterwards. They used to bring the boats over from Seahouses when they were playing Craster. They reckon there were once about 300 watching a Seahouses game at Craster......

Alan Dixon
Craster Leek Club started on 21st November 1966 and it covered Craster, Embleton, Howick and Newton by the Sea. The first show was in October 1967 and the total prize money then was £241/ 10s / 10d. At that time the annual fees were £3 and pensioners paid 15 shillings. The first Chairman was Billy Lumsden and he remained in office until 1991. Paddy Raeburn was secretary for the first two years and then George Butters was secretary until he died in 1983. I took it on in 1985 and I am still doing the job now......

Billy Lumsden checks his leek bed. He has won the George Butters memorial Cup eleven times since it was first presented in 1983.

Eddie Williams
The Pigeon Club used to have about 27 members at one time. There were the Durham brothers, Adam's father and his Uncles Bob and George, Tommy Simpson, Willie Harle, Freddie Watson, George Butters and Sid Wilson (Colin's still going). There was Dennis Dawson on the north-side. My dad had them with his brother Geordie and when he died, about twenty year ago, I ended up with them. Clippie had a bungalow with half for making and mending nets and pots and the other half was for the pigeons. Then they moved on top of the quarry......

Carol Grey
The Pigeon Club has been in existence since about 1947, although I think some flew in Alnwick before a club was formed here. My father used to tell his two favourite stories; one about Bill Archbold (Clippie) and one about George Butters.

He said that George Butters, who had a droll sense of humour, came into the shop one Friday morning after the Racing Pigeon Weekly magazine had arrived. Dad said to George that there was a grand scraper advertised in the Racing Pigeon, but that it was a bit expensive - about £4- a lot of money. Dad said just hesitated a second or two, then replied, 'it doesn't gan itsel does't? '

Doris Clarke
I joined the Guides in 1940. We used to go to Curry's hut at the Guides along there. It was a shed - it's just for storage now, down on the farm. We used to walk over this back way. I remember who ran the guides, she was called Miss Barbara Nichol.

I can remember coming to services in the village, the Sunday school being involved. You used to go to the Tower and pick the snowdrops for Mothering Sunday. There were Scouts here, and they were just ticking over, with the two Greenley boys, and their father who used to take them to Seahouses and the girls used to say there was nothing for girls. So when she got to about 12 years old, I said to Pauline, we'll see what interest there is. So we had a meeting and there was about 14 turned up. So we started the Guides here......

Joan Angus
There was a tragedy with the scouts that happened on the 6th August 1931, the year before I was born. The scouts went off to camp with Percy Adams, who had founded the first Embleton Group, on moving to the area two years previously. I believe he was the curate. They were camping at Norham on the River Tweed and arrived on the 3rd August. On the Thursday following at 12 o'clock, Albert Butters was playing around the edge of the river, with all the other scouts. He being the adventurous type, he waded deeper, although he couldn't swim. Desmond, who was looking on, heard a scream as Albert got into difficulties and watched frantically as William Butters who could not swim, ran into the water to aid him. He grasped hold of him to hold him up and at this point Percy Adams, who was in a boat nearby, had seen the commotion, and he dived overboard to swim to them, but on reaching them he too was pulled under by a strong current.

One of the seven remaining scouts ran to the 18th, 19th and 24th Midlothian Girl Guides which was about 200 yards away to obtain help, whilst the other 6 stood on the bank, powerless to help. When the Guides arrived, Miss Stewart, the leader, organized two girls who were strong swimmers to swim into the area, and look to see if they could find them. They couldn't find the boys or Percy Adams. Eventually the police arrived and at that point Miss Stewart sent the guides back to their camp and she took charge of the 7 remaining scouts, and drove them back to Craster.

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