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The worst smells in the bedlington area while growing up

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I remember when I was a youngster the worse smell for me was the extraction plant at Glaxo Cambois,it was a horrible smell quite sickly. I remember my first job was there when I left school my clothes used to reak of the place I think it was an amine but on a windy day it could be smelt over Bedlington. Don't know if health & safety would allow it now after leaving there went to the navy,but will never forget the smell ugh ..


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When one is the youngest of three lads, sharing a bedroom in the early 50's, one was often forced by the other two under the bed covers and subjected to many foul smells:thumbsdown: 

Edited by Alan Edgar (Eggy1948)

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The pit heaps at Netherton always had a horrible smell when it rained - a sulphurish sort of smell. I've no doubt there's some scientific explanation - HPW?

I never liked the smell of a wet, pure wool cardigan either but I doubt if that was particular to the area.

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Hi canny lads never been on website for a while I live in Budapest now but it's a good place to be x

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Hi Folks! Tony,welcome back,Noo!..as a bairn,growing up at Hollymount Square,from 1947-ish,it depended which way the wind blew!

If ye had a North-easterly,ye had aal thi Sulphur and other combinations of chemical smells from the Aad pit heap,which burned ferociously in a strong wind,also the same from the Doctor pit heaps.

If it was Westerly, ye had the stink from the Slaughterhouse across the road from us,Pigs being shot with a humane .23 Cal. bullet,by the dozen,on a peaceful Sunday Morning...it's just dawned on me this minute......THAT'S why the Salvation army used to stand reet ootside my bedroom windae,between us and the Slaughterhouse,and blast oot wi tha brass band!![ reminds me of the Clint Eastwood movie scene where the band and choir sing ti drooned oot the soond of the guys getting beaten ti hell in a shed!]

In the beginning of the spring gardening season,ye were poisoned by a multitude of aal the nybors borning aal tha garden rubbish...and mind....tha used ti be fires in ivry garden practically!...tha was aalwis aal the hoose rubbish if the bin was full,Domestos bottles being the most toxic..even ti this day!

When we moved ti Stakeford ,in 1970,[Me Wife,Me and wa young 2 yr aad  Son],it was like Tony sed,Glaxo being the most obnoxious reek,24hrs a day.[..it was bad enough for me breathing Oxides of Nitrogen and Sulphrous fumes aal shift ,working undergrund..ti be subjected ti Glaxo wen a came yem at lowse!!]

Alan,when one was a wee bairn,sharing a bed wi a Brother three years aader,and very devilish...who used ti frighten oneself by saying there's a burglar at the windae trying ti get in...blankets owa heeds,stop breathing till ya lungs were bursting,cos the man wud heor us,then when one had ti suck a desperate breath in...foul smells emanated from ones Brother....!!..[mind the three year' s made a difference in intelligence and wit,when one was aanly fowa yeors aad ,and he was sivin yeors aad!]

Canny lass,the pit heaps contained thousands of tons of coal,which was thrown off the screens,by the screen belt pickers,which was the method of cleaning the coal,by throwing all the stones off the conveyor screen belts,into a chute which sent it into the hopper,that you would have seen being pulled up the heap on a railed buggy,by a hauler rope.

The coal thrown off would have been full of stone "Bands",where the lump might have been mostly stone with a few thin bands of coal which wud be inseperable from the stone.

NOO,at Choppington High pit,the Beaumont seam went from less than two feet high to ten feet high on the same coalface,and was full of stone bands the whole height,atrociously bad quality coal,and which also contained a lot of what the miners termed "Brass",and which used to spit and spark out of the fire and burn wee holes in the Clippy mat in front of the fire..!

It wasn't Brass,it was Iron Pyrites,which,when tipped up on the pit heaps,and which was subjected to Acid rain,over the hundred -odd years,produced H2S [Hydrogen Sulphide]...rotten egg smell...highly lethal in confined spaces underground,cos it quickly kills the sense of smell,giving a false sense of security..but can poison one to death in minutes,if gud fresh air supply cannot be gotten quickly. In the case of the heaps,it wasn't so deadly because it was quickly dispersed in the wind,not before we all got a gud whiff or two.....for years ...and yeors!!!

Added to this was the sulphur content of the coal,which appeared as a yellowish soft substance in the cleat of the coal,so when the heaps had lain for a few decades,the middle of the heap is like a giant compost heap,it heats up to the point where spontaneous combustion occurs,and all them nice tasy odours are released! ....mind aal the pits,not just Choppington,and Netherton,or Bedlington,wud have worked these inferior quality seams,during the Industrial revolution,and during the two world wars,the need for coal was so great,aal thi pits  wud have had to extract as much as possible,being less selective,like last few decades where clean coal was required for Power sations...which was the reason for coal blending plants such as was at Lynemouth/Ellington complex,and Bates pit,to blend low Sulphur,sweet coal with the higher Sulphur,sour coal,to make it just right,cos Bates,for instance,coal was so high in Sulphur,that it was burning the Power Station boiler grids out too fast.So blending with Ellington coal solved the problem,to a certain extent.

Noo in this day and age,the smells we are subjected to are mainly from foul-smelling fertiliser being spread by the farmers,Cow slurry usually,bad enough,but a few yeors back,my Wife and me had been ti Blyth on a luvly sunny day,and when we got yem,and aa oppened the car door ti get oot,and inti thi hoose,aa wuz neaorly owacum by the most obnoxious toxic odour,so strong it was catching me throat,mekkin breathin difficult..actually choking us.

Thi wind had got up strong Easterly,and it started to rain torrentially.

Aa phoned the police,telling them a suspected a chemical leak from the factories at Cambois...a polis came stryght doon,and as he got oot he's car HE was choking,and he hurried inti wor hoose.

After a short natter,he said he was away ti Cammis ti investigate...he was back in a haaf hoor,and telt us it was coming from the farm at the Havelock.

The farmer had gotten loads of HUMAN waste from the sewage plant,which was entirely legal..[whey aal thi Bates lads used ti get it from the plant where Aldi is noo..in the 1970's],and he had just sprayed all he's land,when the rain came,which prevented him from ploughing it into the land.

The polis said that the condition of spraying human waste was that it had to be ploughed in within 24 hours of being applied,or the farmer could be prosecuted..but in this case it was an impossibilty for the farmer,due to the atrocious weather....so we had to endure the reek for weeks until the land dried oot for him ti plough it in..mebbe sumbody else can mind that incident?

Cheers folks!


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remember when we were youngsters looking out of our house the pit heap at the bottom of wadeys fields looked like a mountain when we were young we used to go down it with plastic bags by the way a new your niece Liz Bell from school she was in my year say hi to her from me cheers pal

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Aye Tony,  we were the same..a mean,Hollymoont Square is a mile and a haaf from the Station,and me and me owlda Brother,[by three years..born on the same day ...three yeors apart!..gud shooting!],used to luv watching the flames and acres of red and white hot cinders flying off the heap in a gale force wind,on a winter's dark neet..for aal we were so far away,it was so high that it loomed owa the toon!!

It was the oldest and biggest pit heap in the country,in the sixties,afore they lowered it by nearly 200 feet,a think that figure was aboot reet.

Wor Liz is still gorgeous..a great personality,we are at the ages where we only meet at family funerals noo..did ye knaa her younger Brother Ray,he passed away last year aged 56.

Next time we meet aal pass on your regards Tony.



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Canny Lass,a just remembered,when Ashington Pit closed,in 1987,a year or two went by,then they started to reclaim coal which had been tipped along with all the stones from the screening plant...which all pits had,ancient methods..young laddies from school started on the screens usually,before going underground to work.It toughened up even the smallest and weakest of kids,cos you stood there from clocking on,till you clocked off,legs ,arms,and back feeling like they were breaking.It really was slave labour for a 14 year old,like my Father,and 15 yrs old for my generation.

So, they used modern technology to sift through the pit heap,[or "Spoil" heap..if ya posh!],using big machines,bulldozers,etc,and if my memory serves me correctly,they reclaimed over 20,000 tons of coal ,which had lain there for over one hundred years!

So  it shows you what was lost at all the other pit heaps around the country!!...well,not exactly LOST,cos the heaps are still there..only they made country parks out of them,forested and nice grassy places for picnics etc.

Let's say,when all the available power generators run out of fuel..theres a hell of an asset above ground in those heaps,as well as what millions of tons was left underground...but that's been covered by me in the past!!

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