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Willow Bridge, Choppington

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fascinating post Pete - the reference to Whinney Hill made me recall my great aunt lived there in the first house on the right - she was called Isabel - a formidable type in tweeds and like a galleon in full sail - her husband had lost an arm and was a draughtsman for the colliery. they moved to a house at Sheepwash on the bank on the left side opposite the anglers but roughly opposite the chapel (I think the Million family had the shop there on the other side)

John Million [of that family],worked down Choppington High Pit,when I was a laddie,he was a nice natured fella,and his photo ,along with John Dawson's

family,taken underground at the pit,stands at the entrance of Choppington woods,up Guide Post road,on the left side of the road.

The lady who ran the shop,and whose husband had the sawmill down sheepwash bank,[a lot of years ago!!],is a very good friend of my Wife and myself.

She is now 84 years old,and quick as a button,very sprightly,and dedicates her life to helping those in need,such as the shoebox appeal,and loads of other christian work.

If I can think on,I will ask her about the place,who lived where etc.....mind,she canna mind of my Mother living at the top of the bank,where the Seahorse is.

I was born there,but moved to Willow Bridge,Storey's Buildings,by the time I was about a year old.

Fascinating reading you guys,about the history and origins of our land here,ye got me lost off in places......!!

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i vaguely recall one of the 'Millions' had something to do with the chapel that next to the shop? (I went to sunday school there) and I do recall that they kept loads of firewood etc at the back of the shop.

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I will have old E... asked when we [My Wife and me],next see her.

She always mentions the sawmill,down Sheepwash bank,and the shop,but has never mentioned having the shop in Storey's Buildings,where I lived as a child,or I would have been all ears,and asking questions about it.

I vividly remember,as a three year old,looking in the shop window,only a few doors away up the street,with my then six year old Brother,at all the sweety jars ....MASSIVE  jars,they were....[or so it seemed!],and there was a small piece of glass missing from the bottom left hand corner,just big enough to wiggle your finger through,but sadly,to two hungry little kids,in 1947,not big enough to wangle even one sweety through!!

We tried poking bits of sticks into the small hole,well,I should say , my Brother did,and I watched,desperately hoping he could get some sweeties,cos we didn't know what they were like......cos we didn't get any,cos Mother used to swap her sweet ration coupons,for food coupons,and now,thinking back,for cigarette coupons as well probably,cos both her and me Father both smoked all thier life.[priorities!]

What a sad story!![.....cue violins....!]

Every word true.

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the Millions had a son called Christopher and I was at school with at choppington primary -- (that's choppington as in Scotland gate to avoid any confusion!!!)

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Pil,the sprightly old Lady I mentioned above,is Christopher's Mother,and they the closest Mother and Son I think I have ever encountered!

Chris is a Lecturer at Newcastle University,and teaches teacher's.

He has degrees in music theory,plays piano as good if not better than anyone you are likely to hear these days..classical and every other type of music also!

Altogether a really smashing bloke.

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It must be 50 yrs since i saw christopher !!! I passed the 11 plus, as it was in them days, and went to Morpeth and then the family had a house built in Cramlington when it started being developed and we moved there. there were 5 of us that year that passed the 11 plus but all went to different 'grammar' schools, strange thing in those days -- on passing there was a letter from the education authority at the time asking which of the 5 schools I would prefer to go to (Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth, Morpeth, and I think The other was RGS or KIngs at Tynemouth, a far cry from today when folks are fighting to get their kids into any school!!!)

I passed through Scotland Gate a while back and noted the primary school buildings -- was amused to see that what was the dining hall which was a temporary building in the 1950's is still standing!

I recall getting called out in assembly one morning with some others and getting severely chastised in front of everyone as a few of us had climbed the pit heap and rolled boulders down it. I seem to recall that there were some ponds there as well which had a very unhealthy rusty colour with chemical deposits around the edges (not that we knew any different then)

I think these days it would have been cordoned off by men in white suits and gas masks!!!

The air raid shelters were still in the school yard when I was there - probably still will be.

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Going towards Bedlington after the gates to the stables was another row of houses that extended to where the Netherton waggon way crossed the road these were called Sunnyside for some reason. I used to get off the No3 bus from Ashington tech then walk up the waggon way home after a pint in the Lord Clyde. I remember the barman in there towered above me and I am over 6ft! I had a look over the bar to see if he was stood on something! Can't remember the name of the second pub though.

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32 minutes ago, bluebarby said:

Going towards Bedlington after the gates to the stables was another row of houses that extended to where the Netherton waggon way crossed the road these were called Sunnyside for some reason. I used to get off the No3 bus from Ashington tech then walk up the waggon way home after a pint in the Lord Clyde. I remember the barman in there towered above me and I am over 6ft! I had a look over the bar to see if he was stood on something! Can't remember the name of the second pub though.

It's here.

the railway tavern copyn.jpg

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That brings back memories! 

Between the railway and the Willow Burn there was an area that we always knew as the golf course, was it ever a golf course? 

I have a drawing some where of the wooden viaduct that the railway to the Pit went over. 

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On 1/15/2015 at 08:30, mercuryg said:

Thanks for the info Pilgrim, I have lived in Choppington - just up the hill from the Willow Bridge - now for a couple of years and love the place. It's quiet, I have great neighbours, two pubs and shops within a short walk and a lovely nature reserve outside my back gate.

 

I'm interested in a few details: where was Station Terrace?  I note "at the top of the bank and over the railway line on the right side (west) was station terrace"; I'm no good with directions, is/was this terrace on the Swan/Lord Clyde side of the road, or the other? Also, where exactly was the station? I was in The Swan last night; the current owner's father is looking after the place while Chris and Kirsty are away; he apparently took the place on when it still was the Lord Clyde. It's a very friendly place to sit and have a couple of beers while reading the paper, and the food is good too. One thing I discovered last night that may have just changed my life is that they do take-out meals!

Google street view approaching the railway lines + some old photos of what used to be there.

Choppington Road.jpg

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Thank you Eggy, that helps a great deal!

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Something reminded me of an earlier post referring to  "the curious 'Pace or Peas Bush'" in a list of Choppington place names. Someone, I can't remember who or where - either the Choppington or Bygone Bedlington groups on Facebook - recently posted a picture of 'all that remains of Pace Bush Farm' - a bit of a gatepost, I think. It was, I believe, located a little way behind the Swan (Lord Clyde), so mystery solved there!

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20 hours ago, bluebarby said:

That brings back memories! 

Between the railway and the Willow Burn there was an area that we always knew as the golf course, was it ever a golf course? 

I have a drawing some where of the wooden viaduct that the railway to the Pit went over. 

I'm intrigued to see references to a golf course. Is there any more info? It's a bit surreal to think of such a thing in the midst of so much industry.

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On 18/01/2016 at 14:08, bluebarby said:

That brings back memories! 

Between the railway and the Willow Burn there was an area that we always knew as the golf course, was it ever a golf course? 

I have a drawing some where of the wooden viaduct that the railway to the Pit went over. 

Hi! I lived in Storey's Buildings,[right side of the road going down to the Willow Bridge from Bedlington],from about 1945-48-ish.

At a time before the pits were nationalised,and miners went through really hard times due to the viciousness of the coal-owners,the idea of even a suggestion of a golf course in the front fields would have been ludicrous!

Who would have afforded to play on it? Choppington was an infant village totally centred around the two pits.[but mainly the Low pit as it WAS in the village!]

Those fields had huge ponds along them as a result of the Willow Burn flooding in bad weather.the fields were wide open,with no plantations then,apart from the

Willow saplings that grew along the banks of the burn.

The Black Bridge was a couple of hundred yards up the burn,from the bridge,and carried coal from the Choppington pits[ A and B pits.],to the main line.

The first golf course I ever saw was constructed at Acorn Bank,Hartford road,in Bedlington,after Costain Mining opencast re-instated the land after mining operations ceased.

Mind who am I ti taak aboot golf,when,in those days,I and a think most hardworking miners also,wouldn't even have known wat one waas!

Even in the late 1960's,it was well-known that the Bedlington Golf Club members consisted of businessmen,Doctor's,Lawyers,and such well to do people!

Eventually,my next door Neighbour and pit marra,at Bedlington A pit,managed to secure membership,to the amazement of aal his marra's,and he had loads of mickey-tekkin aboot being in wi thi "Nobs"!!

The Barrington pit ponies were aalwis in thi back fields,nae golf there....unless this rumour went back even further than before the pits came alang...1700's maybe?

Intriguing suggestion!!

Mind,I used to take my family up the Cheviots with our little touring caravan,for nearly twenty years,most weekends through the year,[from around 1977-1996],

and it was not long before I had to give up the Caravan due to my Wife's ill-health,that I found out from the locals,in conversation about the history of the surrounding countryside,that there was a golf course on top of one of the hills on a plateau!![Doddington golf course]

It was madness trying to walk up to the area,never mind play a roond of golf up there!!...ninety mile an hour winds......etc!![seriously ill-exposed!]

So!....in context,maybe there might have been an amatuer course,owa the fields,at Chopington, for the lads who might have used a stottie baal and  a hezzel twig,or a willow twig,for a club!!

We used ti play quoits at bait-time,doon Choppington high pit,for ten minutes or so,[You were only allowed twenty minutes bait for a whole shift in stinking wet conditions],and we used ponies shoes for quoits!![ improvisation by way of example!]

I would love to see any pictures of the bridge,as I used to play in those fields and  watch the coal trains going over the bridge very frequently....very exciting

for us little whippersnappers in those days!...we were used to seeing horse and carts,so a tankey was like a hero of a thing to see!

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Thank you HPW, once again your recollections paint such wonderful pictures of landscapes long gone. You are a living local history book.

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Thank you HPW  you  are an inspiration to the Bedlington community .       "  Choppington"  might not have had a real golf course but it did have a really "Good Park"with tennis court's  bowling green swings, teapot lid , roundabout see saw everything was first class  it was situated  in an area across the road from Tates shop I used to go and play there after school . I also played under the black bridge you mentioned  trying to get across the burn with stepping stones .

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Heh heh!

Many thanks for your kind comments,Bayardm and Margaret!

You reminded me of a tale me old deceased Mother used to relate to  me.

We lived just a few yards up from the burn,at the Willow Bridge..and I was only a wee bairn,when me Granda,who lived in with us,answered the door to a knock.

Two little lassies were standing there,aboot 6 years old,one was covered in black sleck...[filthy black coal silt and mud],and was unrecogniseable.

They were both sobbing their little hearts out terrified.

Me Granda looked at them both,and said to the "clean" lassie.."Eh!who's this little bairn,where dae yi belang me bonny lass,tek that bairn yem....she'll get hor deeth o' caad..!"

The lassie said "Mr,it's your Betty,she fell in thi born trying ti waak owa thi pipe ti cross thi born"..[burn]....

Me Granda didn't knaa it was he's own Grand-daughter!

Me Sister got cleaned up and her hint-end clipped for "coming in droonded"!![hard-up times during thi war,nae money ti buy new claas....folk had ti "mend and make do"]....it wud be easy for modern P.C. folk ti be horrified at me Mother clipping thi bairn,withoot knaa-in' thi stress she was under bringin a family of four kids up wi a Man who wadn't work sumtimes,and used ti gaan away gambling wi he's aan family for days on end and drinking he's pay when he DID work!!!

Later on[ from me Sister's plight] ,as I grew up,at age three,I can clearly remember me me Granda opening the door to  a knock ,exactly the same,and me seeing me older Brother,blood all over him,sobbing,and being held up by he's little friend,both would  have been aboot 6yrs old.When Granda asked what happened my Brother's friend said they were climbing the Black Bridge,when my Brother had fallen off and had split his head badly.

My Mother went beserk and clipped him after rushing him to Doctor Hickey's surgery,just a few yards up the bank from where we lived,and the Doctor stitched my Brother's head.

She had warned him before he went out to play,not to go near the bridge,cos that's where aal the bairns played.

He got clipped for disobeying orders!!

He recently told me that he hadn't been playing on the bridge at all that day!![aboot 70 years later mind...but never too late to confess!]

What HAD happened was,he and his friend had been playing in a side-tipping pit tub,beside the Low pit[up thi fields,in thi pit timber yard].,and they were trying ti move the tub,which must have had a stone under the wheel,[which was how you sometimes stopped tubs running amain...out of control].

The tub started to run amain,down a slight gradient,getting faster as it went ,and my Brother was half in and half out of the tub,with his head literally bouncing off the railway sleepers.

He was thrown out of the tub,fortunately,hurt,but alive and nearly passing out as his friend half-carried him back home.

He was terrified to tell the truth,so he went for the little white lie route to my Mother.

He can vividly recall feeling his head stotting of the sleepers to this day!!

Whey,wat dae yi expect laddies ti dae?!!!!...laddies were laddies in them days...ye HAD ti mek ya aan enjoyment.......!!

We used to sit on thi aforementioned  pipe ti try and catch water spiders at three and a half years aad,wi wor older brothers and sisters!!..[thi pipe is still there yet!!!..just a few yards down from the bridge]

Edited by HIGH PIT WILMA
word insertion
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A just thowt on,as a was on me way oot noo wi LBJ,a came back ti ask if anybody knew the Cadwallenders that lived and worked at thi Low pit,Tommy,and Jackie.

Tommy Morton,and "Syker"[?] Broon.They were aal me relations on me Faatha's side.[Uncles,and "half-Uncles"]

A can mind me folks taakin aboot aad Bob Lumsden,Jimmy Kidd lived beside us at Willow bridge unless aam mixed up,a think he was a Spitfire pilot....not sure,but a knaa sumbody WAS a pilot, definately,in Storeys Buildings,during the war.

Gotta go! LBJ biting me leg!

Nite Nite!

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16 hours ago, HIGH PIT WILMA said:

Heh heh!

Many thanks for your kind comments,Bayardm and Margaret!

You reminded me of a tale me old deceased Mother used to relate to  me.

We lived just a few yards up from the burn,at the Willow Bridge..and I was only a wee bairn,when me Granda,who lived in with us,answered the door to a knock.

Two little lassies were standing there,aboot 6 years old,one was covered in black sleck...[filthy black coal silt and mud],and was unrecogniseable.

They were both sobbing their little hearts out terrified.

Me Granda looked at them both,and said to the "clean" lassie.."Eh!who's this little bairn,where dae yi belang me bonny lass,tek that bairn yem....she'll get hor deeth o' caad..!"

The lassie said "Mr,it's your Betty,she fell in thi born trying ti waak owa thi pipe ti cross thi born"..[burn]....

Me Granda didn't knaa it was he's own Grand-daughter!

Me Sister got cleaned up and her hint-end clipped for "coming in droonded"!![hard-up times during thi war,nae money ti buy new claas....folk had ti "mend and make do"]....it wud be easy for modern P.C. folk ti be horrified at me Mother clipping thi bairn,withoot knaa-in' thi stress she was under bringin a family of four kids up wi a Man who wadn't work sumtimes,and used ti gaan away gambling wi he's aan family for days on end and drinking he's pay when he DID work!!!

Later on[ from me Sister's plight] ,as I grew up,at age three,I can clearly remember me me Granda opening the door to  a knock ,exactly the same,and me seeing me older Brother,blood all over him,sobbing,and being held up by he's little friend,both would  have been aboot 6yrs old.When Granda asked what happened my Brother's friend said they were climbing the Black Bridge,when my Brother had fallen off and had split his head badly.

My Mother went beserk and clipped him after rushing him to Doctor Hickey's surgery,just a few yards up the bank from where we lived,and the Doctor stitched my Brother's head.

She had warned him before he went out to play,not to go near the bridge,cos that's where aal the bairns played.

He got clipped for disobeying orders!!

He recently told me that he hadn't been playing on the bridge at all that day!![aboot 70 years later mind...but never too late to confess!]

What HAD happened was,he and his friend had been playing in a side-tipping pit tub,beside the Low pit[up thi fields,in thi pit timber yard].,and they were trying ti move the tub,which must have had a stone under the wheel,[which was how you sometimes stopped tubs running amain...out of control].

The tub started to run amain,down a slight gradient,getting faster as it went ,and my Brother was half in and half out of the tub,with his head literally bouncing off the railway sleepers.

He was thrown out of the tub,fortunately,hurt,but alive and nearly passing out as his friend half-carried him back home.

He was terrified to tell the truth,so he went for the little white lie route to my Mother.

He can vividly recall feeling his head stotting of the sleepers to this day!!

Whey,wat dae yi expect laddies ti dae?!!!!...laddies were laddies in them days...ye HAD ti mek ya aan enjoyment.......!!

We used to sit on thi aforementioned  pipe ti try and catch water spiders at three and a half years aad,wi wor older brothers and sisters!!..[thi pipe is still there yet!!!..just a few yards down from the bridge]

This story brings back memiories I used to play on that very same black pipe maybe we played together HPW .

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I recall playing on the 'black bridge' as we called it, on the way there was a small wooden bridge where the stream led from under the embankment of the railway and further on from the black bridge was a bed in the stream which was deeper and good for paddling in! UP the bank was the pit yard where you could sneak in and build all sorts of dens from the props stored there.

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I forgot to add - I recall Dr HICKEY and Dr Ivory. There was mention on another thread about a pilot and I recall Dr Ivory had been a pilot in fighters. When he retired he moved to a bungalow in Cramlington, but haven't seen him for many years.

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3 hours ago, pilgrim said:

I forgot to add - I recall Dr HICKEY and Dr Ivory. There was mention on another thread about a pilot and I recall Dr Ivory had been a pilot in fighters. When he retired he moved to a bungalow in Cramlington, but haven't seen him for many years.

Hi Pil! I never knew that aboot Dr Ivory,being a pilot!

Dr's Hickey,Ivory,and Robertson,[a Clark Gable lookalike!],were wor Doctor's and Dr Hickey must have set the idea of having a drawer full of sweeties for all the kids who went ti see him.

They were thi days when they wud caal in ti see me Mutha in passing with a .."Hello Jean....everybody all right?"

That was a regular occurrence,they wud have a cup of tea and a natter,then continue on their roond!!

Mind,that was in the late 1940's-50's,when Bedlington was a relatively smaal toon,and aal the villages were pit ones....BUDC...Bedlington Urban District Council

covered aal the pit communities which were Bedlington A,[Auld Pit],D,[Doctor Pit],E,[Bomarsund Pit],F,[West Sleekburn..."The Winning pit"],Netherton pit,Choppington A,and B Pits,and Barmoor Pit  up beside Hepscott way.,oh!......and Cambois Pit.

In them days,the Police had a canny little job,not much ti dae except tek sumbody in for being drunk mebbe,or not having a bell on ya bike,or loitering........

.....proper "Heartbeat" days!

Whey wi aal thi pit folks being very close knit,they policed thasells,and ye got hammered if yi were reported by a neighbour ti ya Mutha for daeing owt wrang,so ye larn't not ti dae nowt wrang....simple!!

Margaret,it wud have been in 1947-8-ish,when we played on thi pipe,we were absoloutely terrified of aad Borkley's,cos they had the orchard owa thi totha side of the burn,and thi aader kids used ti gaan in ti raid it,and get chased,which made us younger kids run twice as fast up the street a back of Storey's Buildings!

Aav got a scar on me shin,which was caused by me climbing thi barbed-wire fence owa thi back lane,ti pat thi pit ponies.

One pony bit me on thi cheek,made me faal,and a ripped me leg on the barbs!

Did we ever dae owt reet here noo?,wat a load of tales aboot delinquents!!!!!!!

Naa!! just like Wor Wullie,laddie-like things was aal we had ti dae....didn't use wor thumbs like kids nooadays!!

It's great ti reminisce aboot them days!...life was slow and simple for us kids,but bliddy hard work for wa Mutha's!!

Here's me first school class photo taken at the Bedlington village infants school,next ti Saint Cuthberts Church,in 1950,when a was 6 years old.

The thumbnail has cropped thi pic sumhoo!!,and aam at thi extreme left,so aam cut off!

Let's try it oot after a post it and see if it comes up full size.[aam at thi back row on thi first left.]

Sadly,a lot of kids on this pic are no longer with us.

CLASS OF 1950 AT BEDLINGTON VILLAGE INFANTS SCHOOL [CROPPED ARTICLE] [SAVED 5-5-10].jpg

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Great! it worked!

Photo credit goes to my old pal,Jim Hardy,who is next to me at thi back row,second from the left.

42 Pupils in thi charge of one teacher!

.....and not a Nike,or an Umbro to be seen!!

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