Tales of a mispent youth in Wheatley Hill


Gleanings from Allan Fulcher


Allan and I have been communicating for some time now and the following are copies from some of Allan's e-mails on his time at Wheatley Hill. I sent him a copy of this to ask permission to add it to the web page, he said yes and he also mentioned that he has more stories to add.


Why hi man. I do remember the boolas, we used to nick them from howa the tip. We sent them rolling down 7th street and with a bit of luck someone used to be passing at the bottom of the street, and it was on ya bike and off like hell!!!!

Can you remember the spinning tops that we used to colour with chalk and spin them by hitting them with a piece of string tied onto a stick.


The Boola's you mentioned made me think about other things I used to do as a kid. Each street in the Dardanelles had a gutter that ran from the top of the street to the bottom. The gutters were about 12"/14" wide and it's purpose was to take away any access rain water.  In the winter after rain or sleet the streets would freeze up making the gutters look like glass and an ideal place for sliding down especially with the boots we used to wear all studded with segs ( remember segs David ) My dad used to hammer them on to my boots using a shoe last.


I have a shoe last that was given to me years ago by a good friend, I must show it to you in February when you visit, but don't bring any boots with you as I have no segs.

I also used a shovel to sit on and then slide down the gutter, we had a hand shovel but the shovels with the long handle's were the best as you could put your feet on the handle and lay back.

With you living on the posh Council Housing Estate you would never have had the opportunity to experiance this exciting experience.


I love music across the board but especially music of the 50's and 60's.

Also classical music, Chopin is my favourite.

I play the piano to entertain myself and to try different combinations and cord structures.

I was playing in The Tavern at Wheatley Hill when I was 15.

My first piano job was at The Railway Tavern at Thornley when I was 14, good story behind this one if you are interested.

The other places I have played are Sherburn Village Club, Sherburn Hill Village Club, North Road Queens Pub Durham, Colliery Inn Thornley, Queens Head Thornley, The Throstles Nest at Shotton, The Queens Head at Ludworth, Queens Head at Wingate, The Labour Club at Sedgefield, The Bird in Hand at Trimdon.


I remember my mam cutting the newspapers into squares and putting string through them and hanging them behind the toilet door.

None of my friends toilets had this at the time, and I thought our family were posh.



The photo i sent you of St Andrews Church Ludworth, i remember laying down a floor cover as a favour to the church warden. I started on a Saturday afternoon at 2pm and completed the task at 2am on the Sunday morning. All of the pews had to be unscrewed from the floor and stacked against the walls, the steps to the alter had brass rods at the edges and all of these had to be taken off and then put back.

I must have cursed in that church from start to finish, i will tell you the rest of the story at some other time


I was telling him of my memories of the Regal Cinema and the films that i remember, ie Flash Gordon, i remember the rocket very well, it looked as if it was made from tin cans ( probably was ) but still we were glued to our seats and could'nt waite untill the next episode. Then there were the cowboy films with Roy Rodgers & Trigger, Gene Autry & his horse Champion ( yes his horse was called Champion ).

I would come out of the pictures after seeing a cowboy film and slap my bum, shouting to myself," gee up" "and giddy up" and running faster after each slap of the bum, ( stupid kid ) but i think we all did it, i hope so as i don't want to feel like the only stupid kid at the time living at W/ Hill.

Bat Man films were also great, i used to think that his cape enabled him to fly, so when i came out of the Regal i would pull my coat up from the back to cover my head in the hope of being able to fly ( how stupid can a kid get ) ?

The war films were great too, i must have shot at least a hundred and fifty people with my index finger before i arrived home, and then continued to shoot my two brothers and my parents. My dad would say to my mam "stupid kid" so i would continue to shoot him and shouting "bang bang" looking back now i am pleased i was a bad shot.


My mam used to take me to the Ritz Cinima at Thornley ever week to see a film. After  we came out of he Ritz we would go to Hutchinson's fish shop just above the Colliery Inn pub for our supper. I can remember a picture on the wall that read As a bird is known by it's notes, so shall every man known by his conversation, i remember asking my mam what it meant and she said, no swearing. It was years later when i finally understood.


View from the west (Ludworth) this is the site where the old colliery houses were. One of the streets was Edward Street were Raymond Briggs once lived and he describes the properties to me in a letter ( all the photo's are from Raymond ). None of the properties had electricity or running water , if they needed water they had to go outside a tap was situated in the middle of the street that was used by all of the residents. The toilets ( netty's ) were in the middle of the street and were used by all of the people living in those streets. These netty's were cleaned out every week by men who were called The Scavengers, they wore wellington boots and oil skins and gauntlets and used a long shovel to clean out the netty's which was then shovelled into large metal containers and pulled by horses. No toilet paper in those day's instead they used sheets of Northern Echo newspaper that was cut into squares and hung on a nail behind the netty door. When the Scavengers came to clean out the netty's peices of The Northern Echo could be seen blowing around the village.


I was the firstfoot. New year is not what it used to be, people used to go around neighbours homes and were invited in for a drink and a little supper I used to go first footing from the age of about 8, my new year saying to them would be, I wish you health, wealth and prosperity and I hope the mouse always comes out of your pantry with it's belly full.


We were talking a few days ago about Saturday matinees at the Reagal and of the flms we liked to see such as Flash Gordon etc.

I remember getting ready to go with my best friend Richard Robinson on this particular Saturday when my mam said she did not have any money to give me to enable me to go. I remember feeling so devastated and I cried so much thinking what will happen to flash Gordon, and that I must know what happens to him in the next episode. My mam must have felt my tears as she said, take this shopping bag to Tommy Herron ( the shop just above the old co-op opposite 1st street ) and get 6 bottles of pop on the bill. I remember Richard and me holding a handle each bringing the pop back home. When we got home my mam poured the pop into the old ginger beer stone wear containers. She then put the empty bottles back into he shopping bag and told us to take the empties back and collect the deposits on the bottles.

The deposite for each bottle was three pence so I got one shilling and sixpence. My mam gave me a shilling that paid for  my entrance fee and

the rest was for sweets for me and Richard.


 Great e-mail. I used to call the batter from Jordison's scrapings, I used to stick my head around the door and ask "Have you any chips left Mrs Jordison " ? and she would reply " Yes pet " then I would reply " that's your fault for making too many" she would then say "You cheeky little bugger ".

They were great fish & chips as I remember and saved many a houswife having to cook a meal. I remember reading somewhere that said it was fish & chips that got this counttry through the second world war.


My uncle Harry used to say; In Church or in Chapel let the bugger rattle, he also said that it is a poor arse that cannot speak for itself



I remember back in the 80s I was working for myself under license as a Private Investigator, I did a lot of work for some of our well known Banks and Commercial businesses including Solicitors.

The work was mainly at weekends or evening. I was doing well but felt I needed to do something during the day so applied for a job at Mono Containers in Durham ( they made plastic cups ) I got a job as a Laborer ( the factory only had one )  and the responsibilities were many for which I was paid well; I was surprised when I received my first pay cheque, bonus for this, bonus for that and a bonus for shift allowance.

I used to get up at 5am to start my shift at 6am, my shift ended at 2pm. I would then go home and have a meal and a kip and then go and do my own work until about 9/10pm. Most of the work included Debt Collections and repossessions of items mainly electrical. I also did a lot of trace work for Banks, surveillance was a popular one, mainly for divorce evidence required by a solicitor.

I have so many experiences while doing this work I should really write a book about it.

I remember coming home one night about 10pm and saying to Jennifer "I am convinced that I had no father" Jennifer said "why" I replied, " because nearly every bloody call I have made today I have been called a Bastard"


The Royalty or the Regal, if you did not have much money you paid to get into the dog end ( Front Seats ) and you came out with a painful neck.


He remembers getting free bags of chips from the fish shop when he took a bundle of old newspapers.