When East met West on South Tyneside

Pupils from Toner Avenue Nursery Infant School meet Native Americans in July 1987.
Pupils from Toner Avenue Nursery Infant School meet Native Americans in July 1987.
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It’s not every day that you get to meet with native Americans, in full regalia, in South Tyneside, but that’s what happened to pupils at Toner Avenue Nursery Infant School in 1987.

It must have been quite a memorable occasion for the children. Were you one of them? If so, please get in touch with your recollections of the meeting.

Meanwhile, the recent article on Barbour’s in South Shields, prompted Wendy Shepherd to get in touch to write: “I worked there as stock controller in the 80s, loved every minute of it.”

Emma Jane Sloane posted: “My mam worked there a few year ago, I think she enjoyed it x.”

Harking back to the days when there seemed to be a Co-operative store on every street corner, Paul Gray went online to say: “Remembering my nanna’s Co-op number when I went a message for her and getting a small paper ticket, that you claimed your dividend with, along with the change.”

James Hughes said: “My mam worked in that Co-op.”

Meanwhile, Susan Sinclair got in touch to mourn the passing of a one of South Shields’ iconic stores.

“ Miss Marks and Sparks, took the heart out of South Shields when it closed!”

Last week, on Facebook and in the paper, we featured a photo of the South Shields Stadium, prompting the online audience and readers to guess at the location.

Well, local history expert Janet Wylie believes the photo was taken at the Horsley Hill Stadium – as do many others.

“For one reason,” said Janet, “there are houses behind the stadium which would not be seen at Gypsies Green. Also Gypsies Green had a cycle track. In this photo you can see the greyhound track.”

George Elstob agreed, emailing: “I am 110% sure that this photo is the old greyhoud track in Horsley Hill Road.

“Just after the war South Shields football team played at this stadium for many years. Just behind the stand in the photo is Horsley Hill Road (houses can just be seen).I am sure this photo was taken from the old Totaliser building (this was to total the bets which were being placed on the dogs).At the far end of the photo is the Ground End where ‘our gang’ used to go to watch SSAFC in the old North Eastern League. The rail for the hare can just be made out. “Opposite this stand was the big stand which ran the full length of the field. Because of the dog track SSAFC could not play FA Cup ties because the pitch was not wide enough.”

Reevel Alderson was in agreement, explaining: “It is most definitely the Horsley Hill greyhound stadium, which was also where South Shields FC played before their move to Simonside Hall. I think the stand on the left-hand side of the picture was demolished for the Dog’s Bowl 10-pin bowling alley. The big Tote board was just out of sight at the top of the picture, backing onto the old Marsden Welfare ground, which became Alderman Jack Clark Park.

“Gypsy’s Green would have opened around this time though, and became the focus for South Shields’ Sports Week events. These included cycling events, but because the cycle track was a quarter-mile track, runners were forced to make do with a circuit which required five laps to the mile. This meant no athletics events of any significance could take place there.

“I’ve always had an interest in the Horsley Hill stadium where you could see the terracing which was never used for the dog racing. My first piece of journalism was a letter to the Gazette asking why Shields FC couldn’t move back there to attract better crowds than they managed at Simonside Hall – and we all know how that ended!”

Peter Short confirmed the suggestion, saying: “Your picture has to be the greyhound stadium on Horsley Hill Road. That has to be the greyhound track round the outside of the field. The stand is pretty unique and the houses behind add to the identification.”