Remembering days of the Marsh and Quay
Last updated at 20:37, Thursday, 05 July 2012
“This was our playground”, says 90-year-old Annie Riley, the oldest person alive who was brought up on the Marsh and Quay, in Workington.
“The community spirit was so strong.
“When we were kids we were always out on the quay on a little fishing boat and going off on adventures.”
Annie’s memories will be shared by many others, as plans are made for a reunion of former Marsh and Quay residents.
It will be held at the Senhouse Street Working Men’s Club on Saturday, September 1, at 7pm.
Entry is 50p and all proceeds will go to Hospice at Home West Cumbria.
Annie, of Senhouse Street, and her husband Sam were one of many families who watched their homes torn down on the Marsh and Quay during the 1970s.
As a young girl she lived on Marsh Street and moved to Lawson Street on the Quay after she married her husband, who was a fisherman.
She recalls: “There was always so much to do as a kid. We used to swim in the quay, and there were many times we would go out on the boat and the tide would come in and we’d get stranded and have to be rescued.
“It was one of a kind the way the community was there for each other. I’ve never experienced that since I moved away.”
The Quay, made up of 300 houses, was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1927.
It had nine pubs – the Queen’s Head, Stewart’s Club, Steam Packet, Jonty Bell’s, Maggie Wilson’s, Jubilee Ship Launch, Torley’s Ship Inn, the Prince of Wales and the George IV.
There was also Ned’s Barber Shop, on Solway Street, Sissy Brags and Eddie Robinson’s fish and chip shops and the popular Connie’s corner shop.
Today, only Stanley Street remains after residents fought to save their properties in 1987.
Pat Mifsud, 60, of Calder Drive, lived on Lawson Street on the Quay with her father and mother Edwin and Mary Talbot and her brother and sisters.
She moved to Firth View Walk when she was 17.
“The port was thriving because of the steelworks and all of the ships coming in. There was never a quiet moment on the quay because it was always bustling with activity,” she says.
“We used to love going and playing on la’al shore on the basin part of the dock, which is now the marina.
“I always loved going out for walks along the quay and it didn’t matter whether it was raining or freezing cold. I would come back and jump in the old tin bath by the fire. We didn’t have proper baths in those days.”
Residents also have fond childhood memories of spending their mornings picking clay which they dried out to make jacks for games and buying strings of fresh plaice for six bob.
There were adventures to Bill Bumley House, which still stands today, and taking part in the annual carnival which ran from 1934 to 1969.
Then there was the time that the jetty collapsed on Kevin Lawson and Reece Owen in the late 60s – luckily both boys survived the ordeal.
For Nellie Smith, 86, who lived with her sister Betty on Mitchell Avenue on the Quay for 50 years, it was spending quality time with neighbours that mattered most.
Nellie, who now lives in Stilecroft Residential Home, said: “Everybody was so neighbourly and we always spent so much time with each other.
“You didn’t have to lock your front doors in those days like you do today because everyone knew each other and trusted each other.”
The Marsh, which was made up of 216 homes and was behind the old steelworks, was described by former residents as being the more “upmarket” of the two areas.
It boasted a shop, post office, the Wheatsheaf pub, the Marsh Boys Club, Lawrence Street School and a community centre.
Today Morrisons supermarket and Curry’s stand in its place.
Dot Pickering, 70, lived on Stanley Street on the Marsh until 1978 before she was moved to Douglas Road.
“We were definitely the more upmarket of the two areas because we had bathrooms fitted; the Quay folk all had tin baths,” she says.
“It was a real community down here. Nothing was ever too much trouble for anyone and everyone looked out for one another.”
John Bechelli, 84, who lived on Lawrence Street on the Marsh with his wife Greta, said: “You would go out of a night and always end up around one of the neighbours’ with everyone else. Everyone made the effort to socialise with each other.
“Since we left I don’t think any of us have ever experienced that strong spirit that was among the community down here. It was a community you would never find anywhere else.”
The reunion is being organised by Janice Bond, Denise Bow, Pat Mifsud, Margaret Bethwaite, Linda Irving, Pauline Bechelli and Bob Scott.
First published at 19:20, Thursday, 05 July 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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