The Old Routine

‘We got 18 weeks leave. Me and Jimmy Shaw. Oh, he just died a couple of years ago. He was a POW as well. He was in the Artillery, he was taken in the desert.’

You'd get back with your uniform on?

‘Oh aye, we just had it on. Sometimes we used to put it on and sometimes we didn't. We had the Africa Star up, see? The Ribbon.’

And that proved you weren't a rookie?

‘That's it. You used to go into the town and you'd see these young sergeants and corporals, but there was no ribbon up. We had the ribbon up and they used to look at you. Not wary, exactly, but they used to give you a look. When I went on a course down Warminister all the instructors were Sergeants and that. Why, I was a Lance Corporal. But I had the ribbon up and a lot of them, they didn't liked it.’

Had Thornley changed since you'd been away?

'Why nor! It was just the same. All the High Street. Pitt Street, Dyke Street. All the streets down the bottom end, they were all still there.’

So there was no readjusting to do?

‘No. Within a week we were back in the old routine! Aye, me and Jimmy! We used to meet on a morning: "Where we gannin?" "Ah, let's have a run down Middlesborough. We'd jump on the bus and away. Sunderland. Stockton. Darlington. Durham. Newcastle. Gateshead. Any bloody where! Not every day, but maybe every two or three days, we'd bugger off.

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School Square and the Colliery Inn
School Square and Colliery Inn, Thornley

This is a classic photograph to anyone who remembers Thornley the way it used to be before everything was knocked down in the early Seventies. School Square, with the police station at the bottom, is the row of houses on the right. My father’s family lived on this front row until 1942, at number 43 and my mother’s family, the Longstaffs, at number 41, until 1954. The Colliery Inn, with its distinctive crooked chimney can just be seen at bottom left. The whitewashed buildings at centre bottom are part of the colliery, with the huge pit heap at the rear. Theodore Cottage was about 50 yards further up from where the picture was taken, on the left. Photograph courtesy of Fred Bromilow. For a photograph of the same view in 2005 click here.