Community spirit in South Tyneside streets

Mothers and children enjoying themselves in Mozart Street in April 1975.
Mothers and children enjoying themselves in Mozart Street in April 1975.

As one reader put it after we posted a picture of Mozart Street in South Shields in 1975 – community spirit was very much alive in the town in those days.

And she should know, for she was the founder of an amazingly active community group there.

Thanks to the picture, showing residents stood and seated behind a tressel table, reader Elsie Patience got in touch.

She wrote: “I was very interested to see the photo of our group in Mozart Street in the Gazette.

“I started this group in our street, and we called ourselves the Mozart and Hyde Street Venture Group, which brought the local mothers and children together.”

Not only did they socialise, they also took part in a great many activities as Elsie explains.

“We did a number of activities with the group over a number of years until the children were grown up,” added Elsie.

“These are some of the things we did.

“Every year we had pancake races, we also had Easter bonnet and Easter eggs competitions (this is what the residents were doing when the Gazette’s photographer called into the street).

“We also held firework displays in the street, as well as trick or treating on Halloween and children’s Christmas parties.”

Another annual activity that the Venture Group took part in, helped bring a little bit of fame to the residents.

“We used to compete in the South Tyneside float parade – and won it a number of times,” added Elsie.

“We also did carol singing, where we all got dressed in Victorian dress, going to old people’s homes and round the neighbours’ doors.

“Then on a Wednesday, on the afternoons and nights, we took turns at each other’s houses to get together and just have tea and a chat. In the evenings we would play games such as bingo, quizzes etc.

“At these, we would invite older people in the street.

“We also took part in the local drama festival and presented a play, and we also went camping.”

As if Elsie wasn’t busy enough, she also volunteered for a rather special royal occasion.

“I was the Silver Jubilee Voluntary organiser for South Tyneside,” she explained, “and the mothers helped me out with this by doing fashion parades for clothes from the last 25 years.

“You can certainly say that the community spirit was alive then. Unfortunately now people don’t seem to have time for anything but themselves, which is very sad.

“The children still talk about the good times they had when we meet.”

What wonderful memories, thank you so much Elsie for sharing them with us.

Meanwhile, in the light of the local camel parade, we posted a picture of circus elephants plodding through South Shields in days gone by. It generated a lot of online comment.

Marion Nicholson said: “I remember this well, they used to come into the goods yard on Station Road, where the old B&Q was, then they paraded up Western Approach and Laygate to Brinkburn where the circus was.”

Jimmy Campbell posted: “Remember them back in the Sixties. Great sight at the time.

Julie Ann Robson emailed: “I remember the circus on the field half-way down Mortimer Road, now part of the school football pitch.”

Mavis Douglass said: “ I think animals should be living in their own environment, camels belong in the desert and elephants on the plains of Africa or in the case of Indian elephants in India!”

Lee Kirton took to Facebook to say: “Disgusting! Poor elephants and camels.”

Vivienne Hinds got in touch to say: “Nobody worried about these parades in those days, they just went and enjoyed seeing them.”