CONVERSATION WITH MISS ISABEL SNOWDON IN FEBRUARY, 2001
from an article by Pat Farnaby
Isabel Snowdon's parents were Isabel Ellen and John Place Snowdon (Place was a family name). They came to Heddon in August, 1927, moving into No. 2 Station Road. The house was originally to be a wooden bungalow, but Isabel's Grandfather was persuaded to build a brick house, unfortunately, he did not have the money for a brick house and Isabel's father took on the project.
Isabel's mother pointed out that it would be very difficult to continue paying the rent of 16/- a week on their flat in North Benwell, buy the house at Heddon and send Billy to Dame Allen's School where he had won a scholarship but for tuition only. Everything else had to be paid for. The only solution was for the family to live in the house at Heddon which they reluctantly did in August, 1927.
Isabel went to school at Heddon after going to Wingrove School. Isabel's Great Grandparents were John Snowdon and Isabella Snowdon (nee Curly). Isabel left school at 14 years of age and served an apprenticeship with dressmaker, Miss Hood in Ridley Place, Newcastle. She worked from 9am to 6pm, catching the 8.20am bus from Heddon. Apprentices weren't allowed to speak to each other during working hours. Her first job was 'fetching and carrying' for the older girls. She had a magnet and had to pick up all the pins from the floor. Each pin had to be cleaned on a velvet pad and then put into the girls pin boxes. Miss Hood was a hard task-master but all apprentices got a very good training. Scissors had to be on a string around the waist - if scissors were lost it was considered time wasting looking for them. The training lasted 7 years. For the first 4 years Isabel got 5/6d a week, then 11/- a week. When the apprenticeship was finished and as she was to start on the top wage of 25/- a week war broke out and she was called up for the Forces. So she never ever got 25/- a week!
She joined the WRAF and was sent to Morecambe Bay then to London for two years. In London she took advantage of the free tickets for shows, went to the Queensbury Club and danced to Geraldo's and Ted Heath's Bands.
While Isabel was in the Forces in London neighbours came to tell her parents that she was on the Movi Tone News showing at the Lyric cinema, Throckley. Family and neighbours went to see film of Isabel marching from Lime House to Regents Park with the WRAF during War Weapons Week.
She then went to an RAF Radio School in Hereford. The station was in the grounds of Bulmer's Cider orchards.
Billy Snowdon, Isabel's brother, failed his call-up for the Second World War because of ear problems but did war work for the Ministry of Works and Buildings. He was qualified as an Architect, ARIBA. Isabel's father died from meningitis in 1945. Bill was married by this time so when Isabel returned from the Forces she and her Mother continued to live in the family house.Isabel's mother had been a school teacher and got work first as a supply teacher then she got a permanent teaching post at Ovingham where she taught for 9 years before she retired at the age of 70.
Heddon was a very friendly village, there was always someone to help out when needed, cutting the hedge, etc. The shops in Heddon were the Post Office at Waugh's General Dealers shop and the Co-op.
The tradesmen who came to Heddon were:
- Every Tuesday - a fishmonger A greengrocer with horse and cart came to the village. There was a flaggon of vinegar under the cart. The man was nick-named Vinegar
- Every Thursday a man came from Newburn selling muffins and crumpets his mother had made.
- The Fish van came from North Shields
- A butcher came on a Tuesday and Saturday.
When the family first moved to Heddon they had to go to Newburn for their shopping. In the Summer they walked through the Fields to Newburn where there was a Walter Wilsons shop. They came home by tramcar to Throckley then by bus to Heddon. Later they used the small Co-operative Store adjoining the Three Tuns Inn.
Isabel went to the Methodist Chapel Sunday School where she took part in the Sunday School Anniversary and said her Piece. She was also a Girl Guide which, although open to all girls was connected to the Church.
Every year Major Bewick at Close House arranged tea and games for the children of Heddon. All the children marched from Heddon to Close House where tea, a bag of goodies - cake, biscuits and buns, were provided. There were sports and games. Major Bewick's two daughters were there and every child got a 6d, as they were leaving for home.
Lady Knott's hobby was dressing dolls and when she died her collection of dolls was sent up to the school. A competition was held for the best dressed doll - organised by the church and the winner was chosen at the Church Garden Fete. Isabel dressed her doll as Dainty Dinah. It was chosen as the winner, however, as she was being taken to get her prize of a string of beads, someone told the Vicar's wife - "she's a Chapler" - so instead of getting the beads, Isabel was taken to choose something from the Jumble Stall. She chose a picture, which was used at home as a fire screen. Her father and mother were both very annoyed but Church and Chapel were much more'separate' in those days.
Behind the Three Tuns there were three cottages, officially called Three Tuns Yard, but nicknamed Haddocks Hole. Where Tulips live now was called The Hemels. Opposite (now called Four Winds) was the original Town Farm and a family called Charlton lived there