Golden memories of Marsden beach

VIBRANT ... a colourful view of Marsden before change.
VIBRANT ... a colourful view of Marsden before change.

HAVE you ever seen sand more golden, or grass more green?

It’s as if the sunshine of the Mediterranean had been imported to the North East coast

Isn’t this a splendid picture, not least for being a smashing view of Marsden Rock before, years later, the arch crumbled and crashed into the sea?

It’s another delight from reader Alan Rogers, and follows on from my recent piece on the exhibition of postcards that runs at South Shields Museum until late January.

I mentioned then that in one or two postcards of South Shields, the colours had that slightly unreal vividness that I always associate with those Pearl and Dean advertisements that used to feature at cinemas back in the day.

This picture is one of six robustly-coloured views of Marsden Bay and the Grotto which comprised a Coloured Lettercard, produced by the company of Harvey Barton.

Barton’s belonged to Bristol and were in business from the 1880s, up until 1960.

They were pretty innovative in their day, as apparently one of their products was Vistasound cards, that could also be played as 45rpm records. Imagine that!

What is also appealing about the picture is that we’re seeing a well-known location before change took over.

The lift shaft for the Grotto has yet to be bricked-in, for instance; while beyond the Coast Road above, there is no caravan site.

Actually, I’ve been told an interesting tale about this location - that it was - or was at least intended to be, at one time - a whippet racing track for the miners.

I’ve dug around a bit, and I can find a reference to a licence being granted for a racing site - colourful whether this, or another, I’m not sure - for one year, in the early 1960s.

It seems that this was en era when there was an upsurge, in Northumberland and Durham, of this traditional miners’ sport.

Certainly within a couple of years - say, the mid-1960s - whipper racing was being held on Harton Colliery Welfare Ground.

I’ve a note from the early summer of 1965, of a contest between Harton and Westoe Colliery Whippet Club and Murton Colliery Club, with 20 dogs contesting from each side.

The Harton and Westoe Club had by then be established for about a year, an enthusiastic supporter of it being the then-miners’ lodge secretary, the now late Paddy Cain.