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One-time “gloom” fears over new South Tyneside flats development

Building St Rollox Street flats in Hebburn in January 1972.
Building St Rollox Street flats in Hebburn in January 1972.

Back in 1972, people living in St Rollox Street in Hebburn were complaining that a new block of flats being built in the town was making their homes gloomy.

Looking at the photo, taken in 1972, and posted by us on Facebook, it certainly seems to dominate the local landscape.

But readers who lived there or who had family who did, were quick to point out that it wasn’t all “gloom and doom”.

Marlene May Beckett took to social media to post: “I lived on the sixth floor, loved my flat and the view was fab,” while Brian Dennison spoke of Westmorland Court, saying: “I lived at number 49. Lovely flats.”

Karen Bishop told how he lived in 15 St Rollox Street as a child, while Michelle Donkin was also a former St Rollox Street resident.

She wrote: “Oh, am not gonna miss these.”

John Thompson-Vear took to Facebook to reveal that: “My great grandfather bought a new house in St Rollox Street, I don’t think he appreciated the new flats.”

Geordie Mick got in touch to say: “I lived in number 65, when I first moved in my lights where permanently on due to cockroaches but never had any problems or seen them until I was moving out, apart from that they were great to live in.”

Lisa Bainbridge was also a resident of the area. She said: “I lived in number five, from 1996 to 1998.”

David Bainbridge posted: “I lived two streets over from there in 1970, in one of the apparently ‘gloomy’ houses,” while Victoria Downey reminisced, “Ah that wall on the left used to be our back yard in Tennent Street x”.

Wendy Woods stated: “I thought they were older than that mind,” while Josh Kirkham also pondered as to the date, saying: “1972? It looks like the photo was taken in 1842!”

What are your memories of the flats and the houses nearby?

Meanwhile, the other photo on the page, also taken in 1972, shows pedestrians in St Vincent Street in South Shields.

The picture was taken to illustrate a story in the Gazette at the time which reported on the disappearance of the street’s cobbles.

Like many streets up and down the land, cobble stones were taken up and replaced (or as one Facebook reader revealed, covered over) by a more modern road surface.

Although they could cause a twisted ankle or two, some people still mourn their passing. Were you glad to see the back of them or did they add character to streets?

You will remember that last week, John Barker got in touch to ask readers for help in connection with his time in South Shields during the Second World War.

John, who lived in London at the time of the blitz, was, along with his brother and a train-full of other children, evacuated here to keep him safe from the Luftwaffe.

Being just five-years-old at the time, the 79-year-old explained that he remembers little of his experience, and so is keen to find out more his time on South Tyneside.

As a result, Pamela Siegel (nee Stobbs) got in touch to say: “I’ve just read with great interest the story of ‘Seeking Details of Evacuee’s stay in South Shields’.

“John was asking as to why he was evacuated to Shields as the blitz ended in May 1942 – perhaps it was due to the V1 and V2 Rockets (also known as the ‘buzz bomb’ or ‘doodlebug’).

“The first V-1 was launched at London on June 13, 1944.

“I’m wondering if John got the year he was evacuated to Shields wrong, perhaps it was 1944 not 1943. The Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums may hold records of children evacuees arriving at South Shields and/or newspaper cuttings.

“I do hope he finds the answers he is looking for.”