My six weeks in South Shields: Man's treasured memories of Plessey, the New Crown and learning the South Tyneside lingo

A six-week stay in South Tyneside has stuck in the memory of Ron Hunt for more than 50 years.

Ron never forgot his time in South Shields in 1969 – or the people he met when he went to work at Plessey’s.

Now he’s sending his best wishes to the town which made him feel at home all those years ago.

He told the Gazette how it all started one summer in Wigan. He had just gone back to work after his summer holiday.

Ron Hunt has shared his 1969 memories of Plessey.

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Ron was called in by the manager at Plessey’s in Wigan and asked: “How do you fancy a spell at South Shields?’

Ron had been working on the Cross Bar telephone exchange equipment. He was a supervisor in the test department and South Shields branch had just started to produce the Cross Bar equipment.

He had no hesitation at heading north.

"I jumped at the chance,” said Ron. “It seemed like the holiday would be prolonged. I had never been to that part of the country and living on expenses in a hotel sounded okay to me.”

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Plessey's in 1969.

One week later and Ron was joined by a fellow engineer on the journey to South Tyneside.

“I think we were there for about six weeks in all,” he said. “We stayed in a hotel, opposite Gypsies Green Stadium called the New Crown Hotel. On the first day we were a bit of a novelty and every girl who walked past us gave us the once over, as we did to them LOL.”

Soon Ron struck up a friendship with a local girl and made many friends.

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But he remembers one difficulty of being in South Tyneside.

Ron at Marsden Grotto in 1969.

“At times we found it difficult to understand the accent, and they ours. One day, one of the guys we were training said to me ‘when are you gannin hyem’.”

"I hadn’t a clue what he was saying and when we asked, he said “going home” we had a good laugh.”

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Ron’s connections to South Shields did continue.

"About 14 years later I was working at another Plessey site at Huyton in Liverpool, who were manufacturing the SYSTEM X electronic exchange equipment. “Part of my remit as a production engineer was to be involved in the procurement of printed circuit boards. At this time the site in South Shields had gone

The Plessey 5005 Crossbar telephone exchange equipment being assembled at the Company's new £1/2 million factory at South Shields in 1969.

over to PCB production, and I went up to the factory on a couple of occasions.

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“I have very fond memories of my time in South Shields and found the people there were all very friendly to us “Foreigners”.

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Ron described them as ‘great memories from more than 50 years ago but it only seems like last week as they are so fresh in my mind’.

He added: “Best wishes to any ex Plessey employees and any that may remember me and my mate.”

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Do you remember Ron?

The large Plessey Telecomunications factory in South Shields in 1971.

Or did you work in another South Tyneside factory and would like to share your recollections?

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Get in touch and tell us more by emailing [email protected]

Employees of the Plessey factory arriving at work in the 1960s.
A recent photo of Ron.