Remember the Tyne Dock railway cottages?

Shaking a hookey mat in years gone by.
Shaking a hookey mat in years gone by.

They stood for 100 years, and although the railway cottages at Tyne Dock have now gone, they’re not forgotten.

For Jean Turnbull has recorded their history in volume five of The Streets of South Shields, produced by Workers’ Educational Association learners, whose group disbanded just a few

weeks ago.

Jean says the cottages, which stood just outside Tyne Dock station, at the top of Hudson Street, were built in approximately 1877 and demolished in 1977.

“They consisted of three streets, and were first owned by the North East Railway Company (NER) and then the London North East Railway (LNER).

“While the cottages belonged to the railways, they were elite homes, and only railway employees and their families lived in them.

“When a resident railway worker died, their families were allowed to continue living in the cottage.”

As mentioned, there were three blocks of cottages, two on one side of the street, and the remaining block on the other side. The cottages were reached by a bridge over Hudson Street.

“All the front doors were varnished and polished. Tenants were expected to keep the property clean, sweep the paths and stone the front steps.

“It was a select area, and any noise resulted in tenants looking out to see what the rumpus was.

“The cottages were small with a backyard which led onto a lane, and overlooked the railway line. The toilet was at the end of the back yard.

“The children played at the front of the cottage on the grass. One of the games they played was making tents using a clothes horse, blankets and sheets borrowed from their beds.

“At the end of the single block of cottages was a piece of spare land. The Congregational Church built a boy scout hut there, which looked like a Nissan hut. It was built in the mid fifties,

and the scout master at that time was called Pop Miller.”

Jean went on to explain that when NER and LNER amalgamated to become British Railways, the cottages were eventually sold.

“There was a power station at the end of the cottages which powered the third rail system for the electric trains.

“Sometimes local boys climbed on the fences of the power station to train spot. The bobby on the beat would clip them round the ear and send them packing if he caught them! Of course it

was very dangerous! And when they got home, if they were daft enough to tell their mother, they got a second clip.”

Meanwhile, fellow amateur historian Margaret Shotton looked back at a “girl’s night out” in Tyne Dock.

First off, she recalls the Perseverance Club, which was built in 1862, and joined the ranks of the CIU in 1905.

“A new version of the club was built in the 1960s when workingmen’s clubs were at the top of their game, and there were a significant number of them in the town.”

She said most people remember the club as The Percy, where every Saturday night couples would sit together in the concert room upstairs.

“Drinks in the workingmen’s clubs were cheap, and ‘turns’ would perform there; either a singer or group or occasionally a comedian.

“Each couple would bring snacks such as cheese, pickles, crackers and the like which would be put on the tables and shared among the group. We would play bingo, and if you won you

would share it with the group, and it would be a fish supper on the way home.”

“At 11pm, when the club closed, we would sometimes go to the Crown Bingo Hall which had a night club upstairs, with a great atmosphere; this would be in the early 1980s.

“The building we now know as the Crown Bingo Hall was bought in 1961 by the Hearn brothers and converted into a bingo hall which coincided with the introduction of the Government’s

Betting and Gaming Act.

The Act made gambling for small amounts of money legal.”