When they manned a bin barricade in South Shields

Keeping an eye on the dustbin barricade in the back lane of Byethorne Street in July 1967.
Keeping an eye on the dustbin barricade in the back lane of Byethorne Street in July 1967.

Sometimes, when I pose a question, the answers that come back can differ from one person to the other.

Such is the case with a recent call for your help regarding an old photo taken in Byethorne Street, South Shields.

Taken in 1967, it shows Mrs M Brownsword, Mrs G Clarke, Mrs D Gray and Mrs L Turner “keeping their eye on the dustbin barricade in the back lane”.

The question posed was ‘what was the reason for the barricade?’.

No sooner had the paper appeared in print than Mrs Brownsword herself got in touch to explain.

Seventy-nine-year-old Margaret said the bin barricade came about due to a near miss involving her daughter Kathryn.

“Byethorne Street was only a little street,” she said, “and my daughter was nearly killed by one of the coal lorries that used to go into the back lane.

“So me, Lilly Turner, Doreen Gray and another woman, whose name I can’t remember, decided to put the bins out to keep the children safe.

“We stayed in the street, and if anyone tooted we would move the bins and let them in and out.”

Mrs Brownsword said the protest centred around Byethorne, Taylor, Blyth and Walpole streets, and lasted “quite some time”.

“The bins went out at one end of the street and the other end to protect the children,” she added.

“Eventually someone came out and where they were demolishing houses, a couple of streets down, they turned it into a little park for the children. It helped a little bit.

“Not long afterwards we got shifted too because the area was condemned, and we moved to Candlish Street.”

However, another reader, Phil Turner, was told of a different reason for the erection of the barricade.

“I read your article with some interest,” emailed Phil.

“I’m afraid it is a sad tale. Lilian Turner, better known as Lil (who is standing furthest from the camera in the photograph) is my aunt, who lived in West Walpole Street at the time.

“She explained that the dustbin barricade was put up after two young children, a boy and a girl wandered off from the street, and went down to the public landing next to the Readheads shipyard.

“Unfortunately the young lad fell in the river, and although the girl raised the alarm, he was drowned.

“The dustbins were put up to stop any more little ones from wandering off.

“One of the children in the photo incidentally is Lil’s son, Martin.”

Meanwhile, a photo of South Shields Boys’ football team, taken in 1962, and which appeared in last week’s Time Of Our Lives pages, prompted Dominic James to pick up the telephone.

Mr James, who was a teacher in South Shields, recognised one of the people in the photograph as dedicated football official Bill Donagher.

He said Mr Donagher, who he described as “a lovely man”, was secretary of the South Tyneside schools football association in the 1960s.

“Together with chairman Tom Thornicroft, they were like the two legs of a footballer,” said Mr James, who became involved in the local junior football scene when he started teaching at St Bede’s Junior School.

“I used to take the football team at St Bede’s until I moved into secondary education at St Cuthbert’s where I taught biology. St Bede’s teams did well in those days.”

As well as teaching, Mr James’ other love was music.

A founding member of The Crusaders pop group, here in South Shields, Mr James, who is in his 70s, still plays bass guitar and performs publicly today.

In the past, as well as performing as part of The Frasers, he also played with The Beacon Band.

Do you recall seeing either band play? Which of the many local groups from over the years do you miss and which would you like to see performing again?