Consett Town

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Accession No: TWCMS : 2009.381
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Sheila talks about Consett and how it has changed since the 1960s.

By Sheila reed

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At the start of 1960 I had been married for two years and lived with my husband and son in our first two bedroomed terraced house in Consett. My husband was an insurance agent and I was a full time mother/housewife which was usual at that time. My sisters were in the same position as I was so we spent most of our time visiting each other and our children learned many social skills alongside their cousins. This was our social life because we rarely sought outside entertainment apart from the occasional visit to the cinema.

Consettt was always a close knit family orientated town and we were very lucky to have two lovely parks which were very well used. These parks were provided by our main employer, Consett Iron Company, where most of our men and boys were employed. Most young men left school and gained apprenticeships in all trades at the company so there was very little unemployment. We also had local pits and a general hospital which incidentally pioneered major heart surgery in this part of England.

Being a housewife wasn’t as easy as it is nowadays. We had no bathroom, we had a coal fire, no central heating, no electric washing machine just a hand operated washer with a separate mangle. We had a weekly baking day and all our meals were home cooked. Shopping was done daily as all through the 60s I had an infant in a pram, which was very useful to carry the shopping. I lived in a street where we helped our neighbours and when the children went to bed on summer nights we used to sit outside our houses enjoying each others’ company. We are also a very Christian town and my family are Catholic so we are still very involved in our church community. We were able to open a new church at the beginning of the 60s which stands in the centre of the town. Our children received an excellent education and four of them were able to continue to graduate from university and all have professional jobs.

I suppose in the 60s we did have our downsides and in Consett I think out worst hazard was the red smoke and grime form the Iron Company and the air was always polluted. But we were so used to dirty windows, spoilt laundry and smutty children after playing in the polluted grass but no one complained as most families depended on employment at the company. We also lived with very heavy traffic from the company carrying the steel billets to the shipyards. The vibrations felt made our windows shake and wakened our sleeping children. I can’t remember anything else that had any adverse effect on my family. In fact I consider that the 1960s were probably the happiest days of my life in Consett.  

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