All my teenage years were war years. The war started when I was 13 years old. We had air raid shelters built at school. I was in charge of the first aid box and my friend was in charge of the drinking water bottle. Cups were kept in the shelters. We all had gas masks and identity cards which we had to carry at all times.

Every window in the village had to have heavy black out curtains or shutters that could be put up at night and taken down at morning. The upstairs windows had black out curtains.

Because we had pigs and hens we did not need to get bacon or eggs. Our ration went on meal and corn for the animals. Again we did not go short of rations as we had friends with a grocery shop. At the end of the month any surplus of sugar, butter, lard, cheese or cigarettes we bought or swapped for ham, bacon and eggs.

Life was hard in the 20's - 30's but because I was a child I never found out. I always had plenty to eat and I was very well cared for by my parents, grand-parents and relations. I was taught to knit, darn and sew. We had good neigh-bours, too, as everyone helped each other.

People from Coffee Pot started to move to Fishburn when new houses were built there. Their homes were not re-let but squatters came to live in them. Squatters were young married couples who couldn't find a place to live. They were very nice people too, young miners and their wives.

Laurel Crescent at Trimdon Colliery was next to be built and that took people out of Pit Street and Tank Street. More squatters moved in.


We were still at war and having to queue for things as they came into the shops. Fruit was scare., especially bananas. We used to queue for an hour or sometimes more and we didn't always get what we wanted. I remember the first peach I ever had. I didn't care for the fur like skin it had but I didn't want to peel it as I thought it would be wasted. Dad took the skin off and I didn't like it at all.

Grandad would pick mushrooms early in the morning and we would have them with our breakfast. He would also pick cress from the beck and we had that in sandwiches.

Life on the whole was very different from today. Pits were the only means of work. Fathers followed by sons - it was a tradition. Shops, of course, had to have workers and there was plenty of competition in that line of business.

In the home, life was different too. When the pit workers came home they were filthy. They had a bath in a tin bath in front of the fire. A clothes horse with an old sheet draped over it made it private. In fact, everyone got bathed like that.

By Iris Johnson