Sunderland expat remembers train spotting, Wearmouth Colliery and the Joplings fire

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A former Sunderland man shared memories of his childhood on Wearside - as he lapped the Australian sunshine.

Barry Clark, 70, was born in East Cross Street, Sunderland in 1947 “round the corner from Gibbons the butcher and Lot’s store on the corner.”

I can vividly remember Joplings burning down in the middle of the night in the 50’s because the store was just up the road from our house

Barry Clark

“I can vividly remember Joplings burning down in the middle of the night in the 50’s because the store was just up the road from our house,” he said. The former Hudson Road school pupil lived with his nana for a few years in Clementina Street.

He added: “A group of us boys used to train spot steam locos and travel to Newcastle station.

“We also used to walk across Wearmouth bridge to the football matches at Roker Park.”

Barry, a former Monkwearmouth Grammar school student, took an apprenticeship with NCB at Washington F colliery and was transferred to Wearmouth Colliery. “When I got married I got a job with Consolidated Gold Fields in 1971 and we emigrated to Australia as 10 pound poms,” he added.

He and his wife Sheila celebrate 50 years marriage this year. They have one son, one daughter and four grandchidren.

Barry also told us of a Wearside connection during his tour along the great ocean road through Victoria in Australia. He came across the Wear-built ship Lady Nelson. “We stayed at Warnambool for three nights. We visited the Flagstaff Hill Maritime village and we were surprised to come across a model of one of many ships that were built on the Wear.

“This ship mistook the Gap in atrocious weather as being the entrance through the Heads and crashed into the Gap cliff face with tremendous loss of life.”

We would love to hear from more people’s stories of their past - expats or otherwise.

Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk