Digging in for a great 1950s day out at the beach

The north foreshore in the era, still, of donkey rides.
The north foreshore in the era, still, of donkey rides.

THEY say that God looks after drunks and small children.

Looking back, there was an element of that to days out on the sands at Shields.

The seashore, when you think about it, is shockingly dangerous terrain on which to unleash small fry, what with the water, the jellyfish, the sharp rocks.

Even buckets and spades upped the risk factor on occasion!

This goes back to reader Norman McGlasham’s lovely memories of days spent on the north beach, clad in knitted woolly swimming costumes and with nothing but an inner tube on which to launch yourself into the waves.

Another reader, John Bage, instantly recognised the image.

“We had lots of great days out at the little beach in the 1950s,” says John.

“We were on the go from early morning to late afternoon and then had the long trek home on the bus to South Palmerston Street where we lived. The sandwiches were always egg and tomato, plus sand, as stated in your article.”

But there were sometimes tribulations before bedtime, not least because sand pails and spades, for making sandcastles with, were made with metal in those days.

Says John: “There were a few occasions were the fun ended in tears though. We were playing a very enthusiastic game of rounders on the beach using a child’s spade. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the plastic type used these days. I was behind the batsman and when he hit the ball, he threw the metal spade into the air and it hit me on the brow. A visit to the first aid station, which was nearby, swiftly followed and I ended up with a big Elastoplast on my forehead.”

There were also more serious accidents, such as those that arose from digging too ethusiastically.

“ There were some I witnessed,” says John, “such as when kids would dig a hole in the sand but it got too deep and collapsed on them. This would result in a frantic rescue attempt as everyone tried to dig them out.”

I know the accompanying picture pre-dates Norman and John’s time, but it’s one I especially like of the little beach during the era, still, of donkey rides, in the late 1920s-early 1930s.

Yay! Water, jellyfish, sharp rocks and donkey poo!