Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Young Pals Reunited after 45 Years

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Young Pals Reunited after 45 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Morton Nostalgia Editor

THE SHIP sailed long ago, the yard that built it is no more, and the terraced street has been demolished.

But now the children, playing in the shadow of the giant oil-tanker, have met as adults on the same spot for the first time, 45 years after our fantastic earlier picture was taken.

The street was Leslie Street, Wallsend, the shipyard was Swan Hunter, and the ship was the Esso Northumbria.

Today, they're all gone, but the four former playmates met at the Roman museum of Segedunum, on exactly the same spot they were photographed by a roving Chronicle photographer in April, 1969. The well-known picture has become an iconic image of lost Tyneside.

The main driving force in getting the four former playmates back together was Paul Muir. That's him on the left of the picture.

Now 48, and married with three stepchildren, he lives in Palmersville, North Tyneside, and works with physically handicapped adults at the Percy Hedley Foundation.

Paul said: "It was amazing getting back together after all these years.

"We were soon laughing and joking, and you'd have thought we'd all known each other for years."

He added: "The four of us are planning to keep in touch.

"But more than that, we're planning a reunion for all the folk who used to live in Leslie Street and the nearby streets that overlooked Swan's.

"It will be next May, on the 46th anniversary of the Esso Northumbria.

"We've been working with the Facebook page Wallsend Memories and Photographs who have been very helpful."

Second in the line, we meet Neil Stoker, 48, who lives in West Allotment, North Tyneside. He's married with two kids, and works as a kit man assistant at Newcastle United. Back in 1969, he was pictured wearing a snazzy woollen outfit.

He joked: "For years, people have pulled my leg about me being the 'first hoodie in Wallsend.'" ."

He went on: "It was a great place to live back then, and there was a real community spirit.

"We used to play in the street for hours - all the old games like British bulldog and kick the can. …

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