Laygate lads went ‘to war’ every night

STORE BOUGHT...Laygate Co-op, seen just a few years before the First World War.
STORE BOUGHT...Laygate Co-op, seen just a few years before the First World War.

IT BRINGS you up sharp when you read “War at Laygate!”

What on earth could have been occurring in this otherwise blameless area of Shields?

Well, I came across it while on the hunt for something on these lovely premises – identified only as Laygate Co-op and seen in another super picture from Kevin Blair.

It’s not clear where exactly they were at Laygate, so I can’t really tell you much about them.

The photographer is identified only as J Dunn, also of Laygate.

The date of the picture, 1911, is self-evident.

The ‘war’? Well that was a disturbingly recognisable side-effect of a real conflict.

Just under a dozen years before this picture was taken, the police had been called in to deal with nightly battles in Laygate Lane between young lads from Orange Street and Eglesfield Road.

They would don full ‘war-paint’ it was said, and vigorously assault each other with sticks and stones.  

Interestingly, a police witness said that the trouble dated only from the beginning of the war in South Africa – the Boer War.

It had obviously struck some martial note with youngsters in the area.

The police wanted the lads birched, but instead the magistrates settled for fining them a shilling each.