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A Chill Wind off the Tyne

Tales of Old South Shields


Book Series Tales of Old South Shields
Genres Historical Fiction
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A Chill Wind off the Tyne first takes you back to the early 1900s in the Tyneside town of South Shields (Sooth Sheels to the locals). Amin and Ali, Yemeni seamen, arrive on the quayside and feel the bite of the north-east wind. The influx of the Arabs has begun. Their story is one of many that takes you from bare foot street urchins, fish and vegetable hawkers, young lads working in the shipyards and pits, to the years of the great depression after the Great War: the pit lockouts of 1921 and 1926; the race riots of 1919 and 1930 when Arab and white sailors fought in the streets. Seen through the eyes of characters who some readers may have met in the Five Stone Steps (the memoirs of Station Sergeant Thomas ‘Jock’ Gordon), the tales of life and love, of boozas, and pitch and toss schools, of bare knuckle fights in the back lanes, of tripe, brawn and cow heel pie (‘well, when you were hungry you’d eat owt’), recreate the lives of ordinary working folk, when people survived hardship by sticking together. Old photos are used as illustrations so that you can see ‘auld Sooth Sheels’ for yourselves.

“Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction but in Chill Wind off the Tyne John Orton manages to mix them in ways that dramatise working-class lives during the 1930s. He is the Catherine Cookson for our times – and far better on the social history.”

Robert Colls – Professor of Cultural History, De Montfort University, Author of ‘George Orwell: English Rebel’

“In this third volume in John Orton’s brilliantly fictionalised account of life in the early twentieth century North East, he presents the struggles and triumphs of working people in the eventful years of war and Depression between 1900 and 1940. This is forgotten social history retold with gripping authenticity.”

John Gray, Author of ‘Straw Dogs: thoughts on humans and other animals’”

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