I was born in Morpeth, I came to live in Craster when I was about 2-year old because my mother belonged to Craster, she was a Robson, my grandfather started the kipper business. My father was a Morpeth man. We came here during the Miners' strike, my father was a miner and we came here and he got a job in the quarry, with McLaren. I went to school in Dunston, no canteens in those days, you had to walk up and down at lunch time. If the hounds were out, we used to go away with them and get into school late and we used to get the stick about six times
on your backside and if you laughed you maybe got another stick. We still thought a lot of the schoolteacher, he had quite a life with us all, 'cause he had ulcers and now that I have ulcers, I wonder what sort of life he had. He took about four classes, there were just two teachers and
60 or 70 going to school. There was the little room and then he went into the big room, where there about four different classes. We used to say we went to the High School 'cause it was up the hill.

I was at school till I was fourteen and had to get a job and I went to work at Howick Quarry, first of all 1 worked in the quarry and then I worked in the weighbridge office, till I went to the Army in 1943. I didn't need to go into the Army, I could have been exempt 'cause they were bringing men out of the Army to work in the quarry to get the stone for the aerodromes. I went in February, 1943, to Clitheroe in Lancashire, then I went to Chester to train to be in the engineers and from there I went to Aldershot From there to the Isle of Wight, then to Felixtowe, to Scarborough and trained for the Normandy landings. The Normandy landings were pretty rough, it was no picnic, there was a lot of fighting before we got through by Caen and we were kind of stuck for a long time because the British were up against the Panzers, the Americans moved but they weren't having the heaviest fighting, the Panzers were against the British and Canadians at Caen and that held us up. Once we got to past that, we went straight through, no stopping until we got to Paris.

We used to play cowboys and Indians up the lonnen, in the summertime we all had boats and we used to go along the coast towards the Castle. We would spend all day sailing them in the pools, we were always in trouble because we didn't come back for our meals, nobody played around the doors in those days- We used to swim at the Hole in the Dyke over to Muckle Carr and along at the big hill towards the Castle. We never swam off the sand, we always swam from the rocks. 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 Remiington, Embleton, Seahouses, Ainmouth, 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. The big snowstorm was in 1947 and I came out of the Army just before that because I can remember the cold, I had just come home from the Far East, I went there when the Germans were finished, I was put on what they called "the Burma posting', the Japanese were still on and we went out to India and were preparing to invade Singapore. When they dropped the atom bomb, the Japs packed in and we went over and took over from them in Singapore. The bomb was the best thing that ever happened, it saved a lot of our lives.

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. When I came home I went back to the Quarry, you had to get your job back, I worked there for a while and I didn't like being in one place at a time after being in the Army so I started driving a lorry for them, I drove for them for a year or so and then 1 came and drove for Willy Robson at Craster and I drove for him for 30+ years.

The Quarry here was worked by McLaren then Crow Catchpole took it over and then it was closed and then Kings came in the wartime to get stone for the aerodromes, they were a Scottish company. I went back to the quarry on piecework, breaking stone with the hammer, for l/6d. a ton, you had break it up and fill a tub and take it down to the crusher, you worked in twos, I worked with Chris Breeze, sometimes you filled lorries, which was easier than riding the tubs out and coming back again, that took time. We were making good money compared to what other men were making, if you made £12 a week in those days, you were making good money. I packed it in to start driving for £5.10s, but I wanted to get out on the road. You had two hammers a 'slogger' and a 'mell' the mell had a round end and a sharp end, to cut a big stone. The slogger had a sharp square and you cut sideways on, you had to know how to hit it The stone had to reduced to about nine inches to be able to get through the crusher. If you were cutting them for setts, they had to be cut specially by experienced 'knockers up. Unbelievably some parts of the quarry, the stone was harder than other, the south side of Howick quarry the stone was like cutting cheese but it took a lot of breaking at the other side, coarser stone altogether. Whinstone is the toughest stone you can get

I first delivered stone for the quarry and then started to drive for Willy Robson. The lorry was hired out to the Council, I used to pick a gang up for the Council. After that I led out of the quarry, down to Newcastle, Durham, Middlesbrough, and places to Council depots. I never did long distance, I was always home at night. Then we went on to agricultural lime, leading to the farms. We used to go to Ayr and Perth with lime and bring fertiliser back.

The houses were all evacuated along the bottom, we lived nearest in the house Edith Robson lives in now, when the mine went up. It shattered the windows of several houses, that was in 1941. They knew it would go off at a certain time when the tide brought it onto the rocks and once it hit the rocks it would blow up, it was coming in between the Carrs.

The German dropped bombs at Howick, right on the comer beside the Hall, one was dropped in the woods there. We used to sit out on the harbour wall and listen to the planes, if they dropped anything it was just as they were going out, to get back as soon as they could.

There was a radar station on the top of the Heughs and then they put the Italian prisoners of war up there. They were working on the farms. The huts were so far down the hillside, there's a little brick building which I think has been a cess pool. All the villages had what they called a Feast, the children ran in races and there was a big greasy pole to climb, with a ham or something at the top and whoever got to the top got it There used to be few sideshows and they used to park alongside the wall beside the pub. Easter time we used to go round the farms collecting eggs and we had to be at the Tower at 11 o'clock and we went down and knocked at the door and Mrs Craster would come out and give us all a new penny, we used to stand for hours waiting for it. The Crasters saw to everything then, they owned the old houses. On rent day, when you went to pay the rent you got your dinner at the Towers, they always gave Christmas parties, everything that was on was given by the Crasters. The old Square was owned by the Squire. The burn divided the north side from the south. The land on the north side was all owned by the Sutherlands.

The Crasters built St. Peter's Church and built the harbour. They took the bins down during the war, they thought it was a guide for enemy planes, but in fact, they could be guided by the Castle. I think it was due to come down anyway, it was a wood construction. We used to climb up it when we were young. We used to get into trouble. I was always in trouble for something. We used to have a little boat, we called 'the punt ' which was my uncle's, who owned the kipper yard, he used it for ferrying the herring ashore when the drifters came and couldn't get into the harbour because they were too big- We used to play in that and I was always in trouble for being away in it. They didn't mind so much if we stayed in the harbour but if we went out, we got wrong. My father was against it cause he didn't like the thing, he was never brought up at the sea. My mother didn't mind so much as she had been brought up at the sea. We used to go as far as the Castle and we would have to row back-

The Crasters were very good to the village, we used to have a Santa Claus giving presents at the parties, it was Sir John's mother and father and I think the family were hit with death duties when they died, cause they kept servants, gardeners and joiners and everything in those days. Two nurses were kept for the father before he died.

When I first started work I worked for 4d. an hour and when you got to fifteen it went up to 5d. and it went up a Id an hour until you got to 21 and then you got a full wage, which for a labourer at the quarry, was about £2.10s. A man who broke stone would get about £3. I was working on piecework, if you didn't work hard you didn't make the money- It was a hard life but you were fit. I always remember. Jimmy ' Turnbull, he used to joke with me, he said that when I first came out of the Army, I had one hip pocket on one side and one on the other side and when I finished knocking up at the quarry, he said them two pockets were overlapping, as I'd lost such a lot of weight

When we were youngsters, we nearly all went up the butcher's shop, especially on killing day. They had a ring on the floor and the rope went through it, they went in and they threw the rope around the beast's neck and everybody pulled and pulled and they got the beast's head right down on the bottom, then they killed it I first remember they used to stun it with a hammer and there was a spike in the other end and they put the spike into it's brain. Later they got a humane killer where they put it against the head and it was like a stun gun- They did the same with the sheep. They used to put pegs through the sheep's throat at one time and bleed them. It was gory but when your a kid you don't mind, as you get older you can't stand it

They made the coffins in the Joiner's Shop, Georgie Grey's father was a good joiner and all the men he trained turned out to be good joiners. Ralph Dawson, the boatbuilder at Seahouses served his time there, old Adam Durham, he was a good joiner, John Archbold. It was a very busy place in those days. Everybody used to end up there on a wet day, it would stop a lot of work 'cause you got on talking. At one time, everybody went to the kipper yard, you cannot go in now like you used to, for Health & Safety reasons. At one time bus loads of school children used to come and be shown round the yard but now you can't do this. Nowadays children never get their hands dirty, we would be filthy and eating things with dirty hands and we had resistance, everything is too clean now.

I gave up driving when I was 64, I couldn't have stood another year, things had changed so much, it was becoming a rat race. When I first started driving, if you got a puncture, all the other drivers would stop and give you a hand to change your wheel but if you stopped now they would run you over, they haven't time. If they stop, the boss knows you've stopped because of the tachographs.

I work two days a week at the yard, doing the post, putting stuff into envelopes, sometimes I vacuum pack, if necessary. I went into the yard when I retired. Ken was ill at the time and I used to take him out in the car and that, until he died- I just carried on there, it was part of my life, being in the yard. My mother worked there. Vera says if I can get away into that yard, I'm happy. When Edith used to run the restaurant, they opened the place down below and had a bar and sold coffee, they had just lunches and high tea. There were so many people wanted to go that they used to have a booking, and, after their meal, customers used to go down to the bottom and were served their coffee, so that they could have another sitting at the tables.

When I was a youngster the wreck came ashore at the Hole in the Dye, called the 'Hara Fagra' it was loaded with pit props. The next one I can remember was on the sands at Newton and there was one at the Cushet, just below the Castle, it was like a trawler. My uncle, Luke Robson, had sets of clothing to clothe anyone who came ashore from the wrecks, it was the Shipwrecked Mariners'Association, he was their agent here and after that he would take them to Alnwick and maybe fit them out with clothes. There was a boat blew up during the war, it was beside the Fame Islands and all the cigarettes, Chinese money, tennis balls, pencils and things came into the harbour. At Newton where these come up, they buried them in the gardens, some had them hidden in the dungeons at the Castle. We went and collected tins but when you opened them up, the tobacco was alright but the papers were wet so you had to rescue the tobacco and roll them again, kept us going for a while.

We used to play in the Castle, climb the walls, nobody looked after it when we were small, then they had a man from Embleton with one arm, he looked after it for a long time. It was probably dangerous but now if you see a kiddy running along the wall of the harbour you would have a heart attack but you did it yourself and thought nothing of it. The same with the wood on the edge, we used to run along that, you're sure-footed when you're young and have no fear.

Vera used to do bed and breakfast, we had a lot of nice people and made at lot of friends. We have a friend in Newcastle who is like part of the family now, she came and stayed when she was a toddler, her mother and father used to stay with my mother and they came for years and when my mother died they came to stay with us, there were two girls, one is dead now and we keep in touch with the other one. The same people came every year. In those days people used to stay for a week or a fortnight, it's not like now where they just come for one or two nights. They used to come by train in those days and get off at Little Mill. Some used to come by taxi from Newcastle.

Vera used to work at the kippers, nearly all the village women worked in the herring yard, my mother worked there.

We were married 50 years ago and our son, Keith was born on our second anniversary. We had a nice party, with the family, for our anniversary, our family came from Harrogate and Berwick.

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