A truck driver for 17 years, Barry recounts his fond memories of collecting goods from the warehouses and ships from Newcastle’s Quayside.
I worked as a lorry driver for the Co-op in Wallsend for seventeen years. I had various jobs driving and one was to visit Newcastle Quayside twice a week to collect goods from the warehouse and the ships.
There was a strange view from my cab window. As well as cars and trucks I now had to watch out for diesel engines and railway wagons. Goods were loaded and unloaded from them to the ships berthed alongside, from the Swing Bridge to Spillers Flour Mill. This called for patience from me and other truckers as we had to wait, sometimes for two hours before it was loaded. The big job was called the Co-op weekly supply of Danish butter and bacon from the Danish butter boat “Magnolia”.
At the weekends there was and still is a market with stalls selling everything from household goods like tea sets and bedding to novelties. It was like St. James's Park at Christmas as people swarmed to the Quayside for cheap Christmas presents.
Sometimes I had to go across the river for goods and if it was a time related collection, it was the dreaded three blasts on the Swing Bridge horn that spurred me and other truckers on as they meant that the bridge was opening. It takes about six minutes to open and close. This was usually for the colliers taking coal from the Dunston Staithes to the London power stations. The barges like Bessie Surtees and the Bobby Shaftoe were used to move the fly ash from Ryton Power Station to dumping grounds out at sea.
Sadly all this has gone, never to come back, but memories and photographs such as these will inform future generations about the Quayside.
Memory Box – My Newcastle
A variety of personal tales by people from Newcastle, from a Royal visit in 1961 to the arrival of the famous Millennium Bridge on the River Tyne.