Recalling South Shields jazz bands, medals and the music

Graham Gaffney.
Graham Gaffney.
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Being in a junior jazz band was obviously a big thing on South Tyneside judging by the response to a recent photo-spread on these kazoo-playing marching groups.

One of those to get in touch was Graham Gaffney who talks about the bands you could be in and the medals you could win.

“I used to be in the South Shields Squadronaires, formed in 1973,” says Graham.

“I was the only male drum major in the South Shields bands.

“All South Shields bands used to compete every year at the South Tyneside sports week when they could win special medals.

“There were numerous bands, such as the South Shields Squadronaires, Cleadon Marines, Golden Eagles, Hussars, Beachcomers, Ravens, Marsden Shoreliners,Tyneside Highlanders, Blue Stars and Simonside Mariners.

“Every Saturday we used to get picked-up and off we would go on our travels to many places in the North East.

“We used to look forward to this outings as many of us could not afford to travel as money was tight, so it was a big journey for us, leaving are estate. We used to get service medals for every year we were in the band.

“We made many friends up and down the North East.”

Meanwhile, a photo posted on Facebook, showing a woman in Colliery Square, Hebburn, shaking a hookey mat, accompanied by the question “How many of you remember seeing your gran or nana beating the mat clean or whitewashing the front step?” prompted a number of online comments.

Pauline Clouston took to email to say: “In my neck of the woods, the North East, they used to ‘donkey stone’ the edge of the doorstep. Rugs were beaten to within an inch of their lives or the carpet sweeper was used occasionally on the larger carpets.”

Mary Hemingway said: “Didn’t know any of my grandparents, but certainly remember carpets being beaten, and I used to use Red Cardinal on my front step.”

Doris Watling got in touch to say that the woman pictured “actually looks bit like my nana, but it isn’t xx”

Anne Sebastenelli Wade commented: “I still shake my bathroom mats, and mam does her front step with Cardinal Red polish,”

Sonia Magpie Brown recalled how: “My nana did it, my mam does, I do and so will my daughter.” ☺️

Mary Lockey recalls: “rubbing stone the steps, blacklead the back boiler” while Janet Thrower says: “My old man still beats ours.”

When it came to another Facebook posting, this time featuring a photograph of Mr James Pearson, South Shields Superintendent, and Mr John Osselton, judging a pair of leeks at the Northfield Allotment Association leek, flower and vegetable show, in the Station Hotel, South Shields, in 1972, Collette Watson was quick to respond.

“They should bring the flower show back,” she suggested.

“Loads of happy memories at Gypsies Green when I was a kid.”

Leek and flower shows were hugely popular throughout the North East in days gone by, with growers competing for the prestige, the prizes and, in some case, the money.

They all had their own way of encouraging their chosen fruit, veg or flower to blossom (with many harbouring well-kept secret feeding formulas) and grow, often to monstrous sizes.

Shows, in clubs and pubs, as well as marquees, up and down the region were graced with produce that made the eyes pop and the mouth water.

Did you or anyone in you family used to grow prize-winning leeks or onions or daffs or chrysanths?

Please get in touch with your memories of these ever-so-popular shows and the people who used to show in them.