Northumberland Farming History - a village childhood remembered.
By Clive Dalton
Photo: courtesy of Google Maps, the village of Bellingham. The marker is on Noble Street. To the West you can see the modern Golf Course, just to the North of Noble Street is the Blue Heaps, and in the bottom left the North Tyne river.
Golf was a great option for us Noble Street kids as we set up a small course on the fell with a couple of holes behind the houses, and then two more away on another flat green area towards the back of the fell with a dogleg to get there. On this other green area there had been another row of houses for the iron workers in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Only the foundations could be seen covered in grass which the sheep clearly loved as it must have been sweetened from the lime from the ancient plaster that held the stones together.
What helped our golf greatly was our neighbour George Milburn who after being demobbed, he and Jenny came to live in Number 7, (next to us Daltons at No 6). George had played a lot of golf as a member of the Bellingham golf club. We kids were not allowed on the Bellingham course (founded in 1893!) and in any case our parents had no money to pay for membership or a round – even if we had been socially acceptable.
Obtaining golf clubs was not a problem thanks to Jack Fawkes. Jack was an old bachelor who used to live in a small corner cottage in the square down by the blacksmith’s shop and he was a regular fixture at all the May sales buying up anything he fancied. He was a man of wide choice! He had an enormous collection of clubs, which he’d part with for around two shillings apiece. Our meagre saving could manage this after a few weeks.
Fully equipped with our clubs, George Milburn then spent time “demonstrratin huw to addrrress the berl”. He was very thorough! We never had money to buy golf balls, but a quick sneak around the golf course could provide a supply.
A great spot for “baall spottin” was on the top of the blue shale ridge looking down on the second hole at the golf course beside the Low Dam on the Hareshaw Burn. You just sat there till some over zealous player whacked one into the burn and waited till he gave up the search, to plodge in and pick it up. When asked by the golfer if we’d seen where his ball went – well what could you say but “noah Mister, Aa saa nowt – Aa divn’t think it went in the wattor”.