Looking back at the fabulous 50s

Morpeth Carnival Float from the 1950's from the MAS Museum Collection.Morpeth Carnival Float from the 1950's from the MAS Museum Collection.
Morpeth Carnival Float from the 1950's from the MAS Museum Collection.
Antiquarian Society

Meet The Members night on January 25 consisted of talks by Pat Baker, Don Cassells, Pamela Cassells, Roger Hawkins and Charlotte Houlton on the 1950s.

It was received with enthusiasm from the large audience, some of whom had brought 50’s memorabilia, including an embroidered table cloth, clutch bag, photograph of workers at Swinney’s Ironworks and a photograph of a 50’s wedding.

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The evening was co-ordinated by Pamela Cassells, who shared reminiscences of residents. These included a schoolgirl travelling daily from Morpeth to Newcastle, paying ten pence half penny in ‘old money’ return, less than 5p a day.

Near Newminster Abbey another child recalled asking why there were penguins in the grounds. These turned out to be nuns on a bus trip.

Charlotte Houlton’s memories of school, student life and excursions abroad saw her describe what we were wearing, what we were listening to and leisure.

Houses lit by gas, without indoor toilets or running water were common in the 50’s, but Pamela concentrated on the new ‘Palaces for the People’, known as ‘prefabs’.

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Factories were turned over to mass production of parts that could be made into a house in a day. With fitted kitchens, indoor bathrooms, fireplaces heating a back boiler, fridges and fitted cupboards, the rent for ten years was ten shillings a week.

Roger Hawkins recalled his school days with the system of ‘Standards’. Not realising he had a problem with his sight, Roger described incidents with teachers and NHS opticians. He had a photograph of a bespectacled young Roger in short trousers. Roger was wearing his old boy’s tie and produced his school blazer.

Born within the sound of the “Gallowgate Roar”, Don Cassells was brought up in a family of Newcastle United supporters. Newcastle won the cup beating Blackpool in ‘51, Arsenal in ‘52 and Manchester City in ‘55. This was watched with friends on the family’s new black and white TV, the licence for which was £3.

Pat Baker‘s mother was a member of the Mother’s Union and received a ticket to the Coronation in 1953. Pat described the miserable weather, but there had been amusing incidents, including Royal Navy Admirals losing control of horses.

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Pat took Morpeth Guides to the Coronation Camp at Hulne Park in Alnwick.

Pamela concluded with adverts for Morpeth shops taken from the 1958 Morpeth Borough Council Guide, which is in the Museum Group collection.

Kim Bibby Wilson thanked members for their talks.

There was a pooled supper and toys, books, clothes, photographs and music from the MAS Museum Group.

Morpeth Business and Professional Women was formed in 1959 and the family of the late Evelyn Hudson loaned one of her photo albums.

The next meeting is tomorrow (Friday), at 7.15pm, in St James’s Centre. Chris Bostock will reflect on Northumbrian Folk Tales. Visitors welcome.

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