March 4, 2009

Bill Charlton: Bellingham memories. Football

Northumberland, history, humour, memories, 1940s

By Bill Charlton

Football at Brownrig
Before the 1939-1945 war, we Bellingham Laddies used to play football on most afternoon's after school on Brown Rig, but we played mostly on weekends with from 5 up to about14 laddies a side. Brown Rig was the fields opposite the Croft where the school was built (see photo below).

The goal posts were our pullovers, jackets or jerseys, and we played all day, having a sit down now and then to regain our wind. We didn’t have proper football boots and played in our heavy all-purpose hobnail boots which we used to wear to school. The ball was made up of a leather case, a rubber bladder inside and laced up with a thick lace which you really knew about when you headed it. When the ball got wet
it felt like you were kicking a lump of lead even if we had given it a good coating of dubbin bought from Willie Murray’s shoe shop in the village.

We Charlton lads lived at the Croft just across from Brown Rig, and my mother had to use a bell to call us for lunch, and would get annoyed if we didn’t respond to the bell.

Our football marathons used to be played before Brown Rig school was built by “The National Schools Co-operation” to house approximately 700 girl evacuee's from the cities of Northumberland and Durham.

So the area became quite a busy place and with their parents visiting at weekends, Bellingham became a popular visiting place on weekends. Also, in the village families took evacuees into their homes, but these were mostly boys as I remember. We had a cousin called Jimmy Simmonds from London who came to stay with us during the war years.

Dunterley fell

During our early years while at school, we often would go on to Dunterly fell up to the Target when not in use during weekdays. My brother Cliff and I would collect spent bullets from the backdrop behind the target area which we knew were quite harmless.

Once I remember, wandering off up the fell to the water tank which provided the Croft water supply where we found the railing fence around it broken, and the timber decking had caved in revealing a dead sheep in the tank which had drowned and had been their a few days.

We told our parents of our find and the situation was attended to as this was our water supply which we used for 6 months of the year. With the water being “hard” we used to get six months or a year from “the 9 well eyes” which was a series of springs between Hareshaw Head and the top of Hareshaw Lynn, as this water was soft and gave a better lather for washing. They built a new tank on Dunterly Fell to supply Brownrig when it was built.

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