1967 – A back lane in High West Jesmond

Work in progress, a back lane in High West Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1967

A heritage posting from Chris Morgan

Cones had still to be discovered. Red oil lamps were almost as common.

At this time many houses still had coal fires and most had two trap doors penetrating the brickwork into the lane. One was a small wooden door, higher than those shown here.

The coal men would unload hundredweight (about 50 kilos) bags of coal through the doors into the coal shed behind. The coal men carried the bags on their backs with ease.

By the time of this picture most of the trap doors had been bricked up and the coalmen would walk into the yard before tipping the sacks into the shed.

Nothing would be delivered on a Monday as that was washing day with all the family washing hung on lines criss-crossing the lanes.

The two openings showing here were large metal bins that tilted outwards. They were an innovation from the time the houses were built in the 1905-10 period and were designed to empty into a refuse cart in the lane. I never saw them used like that in my time, from 40 years later.

Originally the waste was mostly ash from the coal fires. Shopping came wrapped in paper bags or cardboard that went on the fire. There’d be a few tins, but most bottles had a returnable deposit paid at the shop that sold them.

Then we had dustbins that made good big wickets when we played back lane cricket – over the wall is 6 and out!

Last time I looked down the lanes I noted there were still a very few of these little doors that hadn’t been bricked up.