|Memories of Childhood in Craster
I've heard from Eva Archbold, she went to Dunstan
School, and she said they got a visit from the Vicar every
they also got visits from Mrs.Craster, that was the Squire's
mother and she would come and they all had to stand up and
We used to walk to Dunstan. There was nothing else,
so we used to walk it. Now on very bad days, we used to get
very rough weather, our mother used to bring us our dinners
up to school. We used to have all sorts at school, we didn't
miss nothing, we used to have May Day we used to dance around
the May pole with all the ribbons -we were all dressed up in
whites and different sorts of ribbons on, it was lovely. There
was a piece of land outside our school, a good bit of land,
and it was common land. Now the gypsies could come and stay
on that land for a few hours, but they had to go at a certain
time, cos we used to use the common for football and May poles
all those sorts of sports.
If you were clever at school, you used to go to Dukes School
in Alnwick, it was a high school, much higher, something like
a grammar school in them days. Yes we had some clever lads
and girls, and some went to Dukes school, and there was a Duchess
school for the girls. The old Squire, I don't mean John, Sir
John, I mean his father - he used to come to the school to
see if everything was going alright.
I don't think life was that hard when
I was young, we hadn't as many facilities as what you
have today. When I went to school, you had to go to Dunstan
back for your dinner and go back for 1 o'clock, there
were no buses, you walked. Some were lucky and had a bike - that was a grand affair, if
you had a bike. You were brought up that way and didn't
know anything else.
I went to school in Dunstan - no canteens
in those days. You had to walk up and down at lunch time. If
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.
Me and Dennis went to school together and we were
always in trouble. I remember going up there, just before Guy
and we threw bangers at the teacher. We got into some trouble
over that - got the cane in those days, got about six at that
time. Me and him were always in trouble, like. When we were
younger we used to play a lot in the quarry - there was a big
pond there, and we used to get metal roofing sheets and gan
down the crusher dust - dangerous but never hurt ourselves
to go along the Castle field and all over, build tree houses
and things like that.
The tree houses were handy because
some mornings we didn't get to school and we'd
hide in them. We really slipped up one day, me and my mate,
Bob McLaren, we got up ready for the school, this was Seahouses
school, and we went for the bus and then we run past the bus
and hid up this tree house and we stopped there till about
3 o'clock in the afternoon, and had no trouble 'cause
nobody had missed wer. We were sitting up in this tree-house,
cooking something and this policeman come along, 'cause
somebody had pinched some chain from the North Side, and we
got into trouble then. Policeman said we'd better get
away home - asked if we were off school. We said we were 'bad'.
We got into trouble then, got a clip along the lug and put
to bed. Dad wasn't ower bad.
There were about 50 in the school and still just
two teachers, Mr. Blackburn and Miss Barber. There were no
-we came home every day, unless it was thick of snow and we
would take sandwiches. We got horlicks in the winter and milk
in the summer. There was a big stove and unless you were around
it, you were frozen. You wore lots of jumpers and woollen stockings
and things in the winter. We had wellingtons, mackintoshes
and so'westers. We were never off school.
We used to play cowboys
and Indians up the lonnen. In the summertime we all had boats
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.
Marjorie Lumsden / Winnie Hogg
I can remember playing on a
see saw on the Heugh, when there were long planks, and we used
on a barrel.
Heugh was all rough grass, we used to play on it. We found
lots of places to play, we
were never off the rocks - they don't seem to play on the rocks
like we used to - you don't get the weather that we used to.
We used to go in swimming when it was raining, during the summer
holidays. We used to play on the big hill, there was like a
proper round swimming pool, when the tide went out, you could
jump in. We didn't swim in the harbour.
When I was very young, my mother was working at the kipper
yard, so you had to be there to come back for
your meals. Winnie's mother bought her a watch for a
birthday, so she knew when to come back in time for dinner,
'cause she wouldn't know where to look for the children.
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.
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.
There used to be a division along each field.
We used to go and skate up there, the girl who was the best
district was Bella Mary's sister, Rachel. The water was just
inside the Heugh, it really filled up. My father used to go
mad when we went there in case the ice cracked. We used to
take the brush up and brush the ice before skating.
My job, as soon as
I come out of school and the other kids, we had to make a
jug of tea and maybe a few biscuits and tek them over to
the line hut 'cause it was away from our house, away
on the North Side and they would get a mug of tea at the
line, 'cause they daren't go away for a full
meal 'cause the lines had to be done, so they just
a quick bite and they would get their meal when they had
finished. I used to have to empty the mussel shells into
the harbour. The harbour was full of mussel shells. The boats
used to crush them down and it made a grand place there.
Of course now they're all washed away.
My grandfather was a fisherman and I can remember
my granny telling me - we used to play Ludo in the evenings
ask her things about what my dad did as a little boy - she
said that when my grandfather was at the sea, (my dad) had
to go away in the morning before he went to Dunstan school,
with two zinc buckets and he used to have to go to the limpets,
get the limpets off the rocks, they were for baiting the lines,
and she told me that sometimes in the winter, he was so cold
that he couldn't put the buckets down - the handles were fast
to his fingers and she used to have to lift them -that was
before he went to school.
Summer holiday we used to go and make Craster kipper
boxes for pin money. We used to do OK. The wood used to come
cut and we just had to nail them up. There were large boxes,
half boxes and quarter boxes, for the kippers to go in. That's
how the kippers were sold, in these boxes. They had paper wrapped
round inside, they were quite clean. They went to the markets
to be sold, Newcastle, Alnwick and different markets.
Marjorie Lumsden / Ada Archbold
I wanted a new bike and pestered
my mother until 1 got one. It was £7. 1s. with a pump.
He charged me for the pump. I said to Edna to bike in to Alnwick
bus, get the bike and we would ride out together, so my mother
gave me the money. I went to the shop, pleased as punch, getting
a new bike. Me and her sets off riding and gets down the Aln
Bridge - we were seeing how far we could climb without getting
off and I went smack into her back wheel and knocked two spokes
out of the new bike. I didn't know what to do, so I told Edna
to bike to Craster and I would go back to the shop to see if
he would put the spokes in. He said 'that didn't last long'.
He hadn't time to do it that day, he was busy and he said he
would have it ready for Monday teatime. He said it would cost
2s to repair. I came back on the bus and I was thinking of
an excuse to tell me mother, so I decided to say, it was in
the shop window and there were other bikes behind it and he
had no help and he couldn't get the bike out till Monday. I
went back on the Monday and got it and she never knew.
- through the field - Bella Mary, showed me a picture, "cause it was her granny that lived in that
house -that garden where that house is was like a field - there
was no Joiners' Shop. My Dad told me that she was as
deaf as a stone and he said that she had a muckle trumpet in
her ear and he says that when they were kids they used to go
to the house and would speak to her and she would hold the
trumpet that they used to yell as hard as they could down the
trumpet and she used the jump. Every New Years' day you got
a penny and at Easter you got a hen's egg and nobody ever went
twice, it was never abused.
I was born in 1928 and after that, we came to Craster
every other weekend until he (my father) died in 1935, aged
my memories (of Craster) way back, were the memories of a child.
I always loved Craster and my mother told me that when it came
time on a Sunday night to go back to Low Fell, I never wanted
to go, I wanted to stop here. I never thought I would come
here to live, not in a working life - in retirement perhaps.
My grandmother lived until I was 21 and she died in 1950, so
I came to Craster over all those years very regularly, including
holidays. The War came in that time and of course you couldn't
go away for holidays, so I always came here and spent nearly
all my school holidays here.
A typical day- when I was here - I loved going on the rocks
and we went quite a lot to the Chantey Hole and the harbour.
My granny would say to me, when I was 12, 13'ish, she would
give me a basket and say 'Hadaway and get some black sticks'.
They were black because when they burnt the whin bushes on
the hills, what was left were very brittle sticks which were
marvelous for lighting the fire. As you can imagine, you got
absolutely filthy and I really hated that job, but never mind
I did it. The fisherman burnt the gorse bushes to clean them
out, so that they didn't get too big.
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.
Craster Feast -
my mother used to make a spiced loaf. Now that was a fruit
cake, a rice cake was a plain cake and scones,
girdle scones. Craster feast always came on the Bank Holiday
Monday in May. Every house in Craster was painted inside and
outside, for the Craster feast and the peg rugs used to come
out that day. It was sparkling and clean, looked gorgeous.
Now my father used to buy a ham, a whole ham, and my mam used
to boil it for the relations at Boulmer, cos they used to come
on the Sunday. Craster feast was a day of sports - that was
on the Monday. Even the fishermen used to race their cobles
and there was plenty of talent in Craster. They used to make
small boats to sail in the harbour for racing. It was all racing,
it was good. Also there was a pigeon race, I couldn't forget
that. We also had a holiday, it was an annual holiday. We also
had one on the Tuesday for the older men, they used to bring
kites. There was also a greasy pole, with a ham on top, and
it was fun trying to get that ham off the top of the pole.
There used to be a colliery band come, and they used to play
at night in the Reading Room, dances and all that. It used
to be a sort of a carnival. It was great.
Once a year, when it was nice weather, we used to go to Craster
Towers. We used to have strawberries, tea and cakes. It was
good. It was the old squire. Where they used to get the water
from, there was a windmill in a field not far away from the
Towers. It was pumped up, and we used to call it Windmill field,
and it's still there. The day at the Towers was held on the
lawns, and sometimes there used to be sports, running for the
kiddies. It was good for us. Old Mrs Craster was very nice,
a very nice person indeed. She used to mix with us all the
Every New Year we used to go to Newcastle - we had a cousin
who used to organise this trip. It was a very good trip. We
use to go to Newcastle in a bus, go to the football match first,
then go to a restaurant, Carricks, to have a good feed. After
that we used to go to a pantomime. That was the day's outing.
We used to get back about midnight.
(Sources: Ada Archbold , Willie
Archbold , Adam Dawson, Geordie Grey, Winnie Hogg, Dougie
Hogg, Marjorie Lumsdon, Willie Mitford
, Joyce Shaw, Edwina Simpson?, Gladys Simpson, Meggie Wilson)