Came to live here in the 1930's and lived in the house that is now the Cottage Inn, lived there for a few years until they were condemned and we went from there to Proctors Stead, I was still at school at that time. In 1939 we came down to Heugh Road. When I left school I worked in the garden at Dunston Hall. There was a fellow called Murch bought Proctors Stead and he built the new wing on, he was the Managing Director of Reyrolle &. Co. I got interested in the building, The gardener there was Andrew Tate, he was an ex-shepherd, I didn't like that sort of work at all. I then started to work for a timber firm, I started on a Wednesday dinner time and never went back to the garden, I got 10/-d. a week and he came to me and paid me £2 at the end of the month, long time to wait for a smoke. I worked all over Northumberland after that, selling timber, I was on the haulage side, life was pretty good then, apprentices were appreciated, a laddy that couldn't drive was no use to them so to get someone that could jump onto a tractor and drive it, even just controlling it.

When I was 17, I started to drive for Robsons. During this time Craster Quarry was working, my father loaded the boats 'cause they came here from Beadnell because they weren't making money at the sea. They were catching 100 stone of crabs but they just couldn't sell them. That's one of the things that should have been kept - the engine and things that were in that quarry, where they went, I don't know. When it first started they had a big 2-cylinder diesel engine. They put a tar planter in after that, making tarmacadam and that was run with a diesel engine. The quarry was quite interesting. They used to bring a ship in and it would go out on the same tide, they got about 450 tons, you couldn't see the North Side for all these shutes and the stone and the dust, it must have been terrible over there when it was windy. When the sea came in they had to have their bins full, for weight There must have been about 1000 tons sitting on that piece on the end of the pier, they were big wooden bins, which were taken down during the war for salvage, not knocked down, taken down piece by piece. When you were coming in from sea, you saw the bins long before you saw Craster.

There was quite a fishing industry then. There were eight or ten boats. Life wasn't bad in Craster during the war, you could always get a rabbit or something, especially in the corn time, it was better than what it is now. You could get a bag of potatoes from the farm (Howick Seahouses), meat was rationed. He grew pigeon beans, for feeding pigeons, small beans, everybody got them from Eric Thompson.

I went into the army in early 1944, when I joined it was the push before the Rhine, in Belgium, I was in the 52nd Lowland Division, HLI. When the war finished in Germany, I was in Bremerhaven and then we went across to Brussels and stayed there for a bit and then they decided they were going to do an assault on Japan, so everybody from the 56 Group, they made new regiments and they made a new division, so I went into the First HLI, came home on leave then went back to Calais, we were watching Ivy Benson's Band, actually, and she came and said they had just dropped the H bomb, the war's over. We had this trouble in the Middle East with the Jews and the Arabs, so I was sent to Cairo in what I was standing up in, I had no gear, nothing. Went to Tel Al Kabir, picked up vehicles and we were on the golf course in Jerusalem. 1 could never get into MT at all, I tried all ways, I was a Corporal Section Commander then and there was a notice come up on detail that they were stuck for drivers, so I applied for it. When I got into driving, I had the best job in the army, I was driving the Quartermaster, so I got new boots and any manner of things. When he retired I took him to Port Said. When he left I drove big vehicles and I was MT Sergeant within six months.

I came out of the army in 1947 and then went back to Robsons. They didn't pay good money, especially when you had got married. The rent for this house was 19/11d, then. 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 to the dyke for a bit conversation. Everybody met at the harbour wall, Beadnell Square and the kiln at Seahouses, there were always fishermen there. Anybody coming down the road when you were hauling boats up, helped, you never walked past anybody when they are stuck. I learned to be a fitter by looking after vehicles when I was driving.

The publicans in the Jolly Fisherman, were, Walter Proudlock, Tommy Abbott, George Fenwick, Albert George. There was an off-licence at the North Side. The place used to be beautiful, the grass used to all be cut, they did it with a shovel and a scythe, the village was always clean. I tell you what I find as well, in the winter, (the workman was called Edward Dawson, he went to work for the Council), the Tower Bank and the Harbour Hill were gritted before the vehicles went out in the morning. They worked hours to suit themselves, to make sure the roads were clear in the winter. From Craster to the field where the gate is, the path was always cleared. There used to be a good walk from Craster Quarry to the Radar. I carried coal to the Radar in a 5-ton truck. You could drive straight from the Quarry, there was a road all the way down to the bottom of that hill. There were Italian prisoners there- I've got a picture I bought from a German prisoner, where he got it from, 1 don't know. This is like a little trawl, you got hold of the ends and came to the beach with it and pulled it across the beach, right from the harbour mouth and it would be full of small fish, when the fishermen were short of bait, and it would be full of bait just with one pull across the harbour. Now you never see any sort of fish and it makes you wonder what has happened to them all.

When we were very young, we went out in the morning and played out all day. I suppose that's why I find it easy now. When I was working and all these fitters went first thing in the morning for their coffee, I couldn't understand it. .When I went to the Northumberland Whinstone Co., from Robsons, in 1953, when the Quarry closed. It was very difficult to serve your time during the war, Reyrolles. There was never any demarcation at the quarry, if there had been, we would never have got on in the future. I did everything there. I did the electrics there, everything from tar tanks, to putting new plant in and everything. It was all inspected,. it stood me in good stead for the future. There was a different electrical system in the quarry.

There were a lot of people worked in the quarries in those days, there was Howick, Ratcheugh, Craster, Embleton. Embleton quarry had a railway that went to Christon Bank. The men used to go and work on the farms after they had been to work in the quarries. I knew a fellow, William Anderson, he used to come from the quarry every night and he worked for the fish merchant, Tom Gray. Jackie Gray was the joiner and undertaker. Hard work in the quarries, breaking the stone, etc. I've often said if these lot got time and went to Dartmoor, they would have laughed at that lot. They looked at the stone, it didn't matter how big it was, they could smash it up. One of the things in my lifetime, when I first went to the quarry, they had people that made setts, kerbs and things like that, you had to get big stone for that, they didn't have to have stone which had been burned by a very high explosive. The idea of doing that was, drill a hole, put gunpowder in, put a small shot in and what they used to call 'shake it', when these shots were shook, then they would pour gunpowder down the back and drill the hole, that took quite a bit of doing, that was so they got stone that wasn't burnt.

Later on the process of making kerbs out of concrete came, so what they wanted after that was a big hole which was four and a half inches, put a great load of dynamite down it and blow the whole lot straight over, 4,000 tons. All the stone, to start with was hand drilled, a bloke melled it and knocked it up. He would knock up more than 20 ton a day. When I finished at the quarry there were no men there at all, the rocks of any size at all, we just blasted and used what we called 'plasters' these were designed to fire to the hard, didn't blow away from the rock, blows towards it and then after that there was demonstration blasting and I was at one of them and they called the bloke Hindley and I came in with a wagon and I had to take the explosive up for that bloke, the wagon body was half full of explosives. He wired this and explained to me that it was going to be one blast with a split second behind the other one, so it went in a shock right down the face and they got about 4,000 - 5,000 tons out at one time. What they did they blew the bottom out and the top dropped down the back.

The workers started at 7,30 a.m., cup of tea at nine o'clock, quarter of an hour, 12-12.30 for dinner, finished at 4.15p.m. All the stone men at this quarry were pieceworkers, they worked singly, every man working for himself. When I went to the quarry in 1953, they were producing 300 tons a day and when I finished at the quarry, they had machines and that and were producing into the thousands. They had great big dumpers and that. Everything was weighed prior to that, even the tubs, everybody had a token with their number on and they put the token on the tub, or if there was an old truck leading it up, the drivers got the token when they came back so when it was weighed, they knew exactly whose tubs they were.

I started to work for myself but it went wrong, I put my trust in people. When that packed up I went to work .... Hares, the long distance lorry people at Felton, I was workshop foreman. I was told on a Thursday that I was finished on the Friday, they went into liquidation. I went to Skania, it was solely chassis welding design work, making special vehicles, I didn't do any greasing or any servicing. Saab were the people that made Skania.

Not many characters left now in the village. There was a billiard table in the Reading Room, it was kept in control of, they didn't run riot, you listened and you watched shots, that was every night. It was taken out to make room for dances. Lots of dances in those days, there was quite a lot to do. In 1942 there were two big mines come in, took the windows out of all the houses. Craster finished at the Church, in a straight line to the beach This was all the Heugh, where we used to play football. There was a rocket house up beside the Coastguard Cottages, all the fishermen and quarry men were all volunteer lifesavers.

Craster Quarry was closed before the war and it was opened again by a firm called Kings & Co., of Glasgow and then when Boulmer and Brunton aerodromes were built, they were fetching stone out of the quarry for the runways they started blasting back again. In those days you could walk into the quarry and walk straight up to the top, there must have been 100,000 tons of dust. Dust was a waste commodity, you couldn't tar stone with dust on it, you had to get it clean to get the old gas tar off, that came from the making of coke in Newcastle. When I first went to the quarry they were using gas tar and then they started to get bitumen. You could sit in in the clothes you're wearing now, it was ultra modem and it was 24 volts controlling 440 volt in the plant, so the whole panel was 24 volt, you just pressed buttons, in the old age, you pulled the tar, you tipped the tar in among the stone and all that sort of things but then it became modem.

I was driving a truck and one of the fitters hurt his hand and was off work and the gaffer asked if I would go to the garage for a little bit, so I did that but someone else was driving my truck and I didn't like that 'cause they didn't clean it out. So I stayed in the garage, the old fellow came back, now he was a steam man so we were working on big diesels, it was very interesting. If you are going to light a little fire to do something, a lot of people light a little fire and then they put coal on, you don't do that You get all the coal and everything on there because once you put coal on, you cool the fire down. That steams the boiler, you have all the vents set. I've never driven a wagon with a heater in.


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