Tag Archives: Dawdon

Where Grandad Lost His Leg

low winter sun

So we were walking up The Line. It’s the name we’ve always used for the waggonway, the steep incline that used to haul coal skips from the Rainton pits to the docks. And she said:

“this is where my Grandad lost his leg. And his arm.”

Someone’s phone was ringing and it was urgent so we stopped, breathing hard in the thin frosty air, and as we stood in the blinding low sunlight, considered whether the tale of Grandad’s horrible injury needed a phonecall-free space to be properly told.

“He was wheeling his bike up from The Blast all laden with coal, and the wires, the heavy cables of the waggon pulleys twanged and caught him down one side, slicing off one arm and one leg like a cheese wire. It’s not clear quite how this happened because he’d made this trip up from the shore many, many times and knew it in the dark. It took him the whole afternoon and evening to crawl up to the Dawdon Hotel, shouting all the way. Nobody on Cottages Row heard him until he was just outside the hotel bar.”

He was in hospital for months, but he did survive.

Some events remain embedded in the place as memories, but maybe also of imprints, of blood soaked grass, of living dna smeared all along the path. He’s still here somewhere.

It Snowed

snowy yards

“It’s always nice to have snow before Christmas.”


“Allus nice te hev snaar afore San’a comes.”

Take your pick as to the spelling, but we talk, tak, speak, spak different here.

Geraniums are still in flower in the sheds and polytunnels down the Fishbone, and none of the brussels have frosted. The bulbs we all planted last year down around Dalton play park are coming up, sightless and spindly wet.

There’s not enough snaar te mak a snaarman and it aal melted off by the neet, but it’s the start of winter proper, mid January.

She thought about putting out the washing this af’noon, the sun was awa bleendin’, but stepping out over the slippery back step to a puddle of ice, thowt better on it.


Twelfth Night


She put up her decorations on 1st December, Christmas tree dragged raggedly out of the cupboard under the stairs, brisked up in that sprightly way she has, all spic and span and polished in a whisker and all of a sudden it was here, in our few streets: Christmas.

And like the inevitable flick-trip of a line of dominoes, one by one our windows began to twinkle with rock and roll Santas and nodding snowmen, strings of coloured lights raced across the sills, floofy white ’snow’ etched out the double glazing and Stop Here reminder signs at three or four doors, just in case Rudolph passed us by, out there on his way over to Murton.

Then just as suddenly, on Boxing Day, we’re back. Winter,  bleak and crisp and even, twinkles no more. There’s the occasional lazy days dozer-in, or she who loves it all so, so much, the bling and sparkle and pzazz, that here and there those bright strings and salutations twinkle away through those rambling days when nobody can actually remember what day it is, or whether it’s noon or night, and then, suddenly, it’s the New Year.

Twelfth Night is either the 5th or the 6th this year, depending on how we count. Dawn is breaking almost imperceptibly earlier and it’s still just about light at 4pm. No snow, not yet, although it’s forecast for next week, and down the Harbour the roads out and away are all flooding from the heavy rain. Caterpillar wood is on fire but it’s just the remains of the sunset, no-one is there.

One last stray firework fizzes a long whooshy pink out over the dene. It’s 2016.