4 February 2004

First Draft: South Shields. A Change of Address

Coming up the to the end of the first year I began to get the itch of change. I don't know if it was the regimentation of the hostel or the lack of my course companions... Jock had now finished his course and obtained his qualifications... or was it that everything was deck orientated at the hostel?

What brought it to a head was a conversation with another student on my course. He knew I was in the hostel and he asked me if I was interested in going boarding, the establishment where he boarded had a vacated bed. I thought it over and visited his boarding house. I liked what I saw and decided to ask my parents if I could move.

The Westmorland Education Department administered my scholarship and the decision to change was in the their hands. Mrs. Greenwell who ran the boarding house was registered with the South Shields Marine College as suitable and the boarding fees were ?4.00 per week, a little more than the hostel fees but were considered acceptable. I was free to change if I desired.

So after a year in the hostel and after the Easter break I moved down to Mrs. Greenwell's at 47, Lawe Road, a short walking distance from the College in Ocean Road. Lawe Road began at the bottom of Ocean Road and was on rising ground overlooking the park, the River Tyne harbour seawalls and out to sea. The terraced house was large and 3 storied with a semi basement level below. My room was large on the top floor and shared with 3 other students and our 2-dormer window looked out to sea, a terrific view. Even with 4 students and 5 beds and wardrobes the room still seemed large.

Of the other 4 occupants of the room I only remember 2 of them distinctly. One, Clive Jewel who was an Angelo-Indian, very quiet and polite. The other, I think his name was Ken was from Oxford, heavily built and dark tightly curly hair. His claim to fame was he always used to smell sweaty and his bed was next to mine. He was also very pushy and a bully if he was allowed.

Mrs. Greenwell in her early fifties was a pleasant lady and friendly, always willing to pass the time of day for a few moments in her busy day. She had a daughter of about 16-17 and a husband who appeared to be partly invalided and helped her to run the boarding house. They lived in the rear half of the ground floor and the basement below. Mrs. Greenwell ran a "tight ship" and was quick to point out any misdemeanour and that way we all lived in harmony.

Of the regular boarders, a mixed bunch, most were attending the Marine College. Some like me doing their initial courses and one of two upgrading qualifications. Then there was the floating ones, a chief engineer boarding while his ship was being overhauled, and a journalist who stayed occasionally. 3 seafarers from a Norwegian ship also in for overhaul, a failed ex student working temporarily in a warehouse. And more.

The permanent students numbered about 10 in number and today over fifty years later I only remember some of them now, the ones who caught my interest.

A large front room was set aside for the boarders? use and double up as the dining room at meal times. Mrs. Greenwell would come bustling in and shush out at meal times while she prepared the table and the seating. Sometimes if she had a full house with meals there would be 2 sittings.

It was here whilst at Lawe Rd at the age of 16 that I learnt to smoke? now to my disgust. Smoking certainly put pressure on my pocket money even though I only smoked a few at this time. I continued to smoke for the next 25 years until the mid-1970s when I saw the light and ceased, after watching a TV program showing the effects of smoking.

Yes, I enjoyed my time at Lawe Road with more to come.

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