When smart new homes were like another world

Recalling the interior decor choices of the 1930s.
Recalling the interior decor choices of the 1930s.

An era of social change turns out to have been recalled for one reader by recent notes on Lock’s, who had a small chain of newsagent’s shops in Shields on either side of the last war.

One of them was at The Nook, whose sign was recently uncovered during work on the building.

It greatly interested my old reader, retired bosun Mr Baines, as mention of Lock’s, he reckons, will have great resonance for lads of his generation.

It does for him, recalling the period in the 1930s when the Corporation was demolishing the old dilapidated housing along the riverside and moving folk out to new homes closer to the edge of town.

Mr Baines’s was one of 40 families who relocated to what he describes was “another world,” in his case a four-room council house in Egerton Square, between Brownlow Road and Westcott Road. “It was just a small square. We all knew each other and most of us went to Stanhope Road School, to start with,” he says. “I remember when the school caught fire and we all stood and watched it burn. This would be in about 1932-1933.”

Lock’s comes into his tale because on election day, the lads would make their way, with others from Tay Street, to the Fad (the old nickname for the Boldon Lane area), past the old ‘Impy’ (the Imperial Cinema), then up Stoddart Street, to Lock’s Corner, which was the junction of Stoddart Street and Boldon Lane.

There they would wait for the lads from the Fad to have a fight with their respective voting balls (you may recall our old dialect writer Dorfy writing about similar battles between youngsters on voting day), before going home, all to meet up again at school the next day.

Other shops nearby which Mr Baines remembers were the fish shop, and a pawnbrokers “which most people used to use in those days”.

Mr B recalling his family’s move to Egerton Square brings to mind that inter-war era when many new homes – council and private – were being built in Shields.

This advert recalls another old business, one which would have benefited from all the interior decoration required.

What I love about this is the name of some of the paints – Caer Urfa, one of the ancient names of Shields, and Pen-Bal-Crag which is the old Saxon name of the headland on which Tynemouth Priory stands.