November 16, 2008

Bellingham's Noble Street Kids: Rolling wor Girds

Northumberland farming history. A village childhood remembered.

By Clive Dalton

Some of us Noble Street kids were wealthy enough to own a hoop or 'gird' - pronounce 'gurd'. They came with a thick wire hook to direct it.

They must have been made by Burnie the blacksmith. There wasn't a great knowhow needed to get them going. A push off with your left hand got them rotating, and then you used the wire hook on one side to keep pushing it along.

The back lane at Noble Street was rough, so steering your gird along avoiding the protruding stones could be tricky. Once you got down the hill though and on to the tar seal of the road, you could really motor.

The fun came from the metallic scraping noise it made as you went along, and as you increased speed and raced the other lads along the back lane, the noise increased so everybody knew when you were about to break the sound barrier - and fall over and skin your knees.

Before you started it was important to tell you mates 'where ye wor ganin'. You could be on your imaginary way to Hexham, Newcassel or even ower the Border on to 'the Scotch side'.

To stop, all you had to do was remove your hook from the pushing position, and use it to lift the hoop of the road.

But oh what a revolution it was to progress from iron to rubber - when you got your hands on an old motor bike tyre from Edgar Thompsons or the Northern! There were not a lot aboot, especially in wartime. You really were somebody then! All you needed was a short piece of stick to keep the tyre rotating. The speed you could get to was staggering compared to the gird.

And if you let your tyre away doon the bank, it would cross the Woodburn Road like a rocket, hit the coping stones on the top of Geordie Breckons's dyke, and boonce into orbit in his hayfield! By man if there had been a car ganin up or doon the road it could have hit them. Little chance of that happening in those days.

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