A woman who kept a town’s tills ringing has marked her 100th birthday.
Edith May Curtis, need Harnett, celebrated her milestone day with friends and family at Haven Court in Seaham’s East Shore Village.
Born in the middle of the First World War to housewife Adelaide and her husband William Henry, who went on to become the berthing master of her home town’s port, she left school and began working at Balies Pork Shop in Princess Road.
She soon moved on to work at the newly opened Woolworths store in Church Street in 1936.
The next year she married Ernest Edward Curtis, who was known as Ted, and before the Second World War had ended they had four children, Audrey, who has since died, William, Raymond and Nancy, with Edward born in 1953.
Ernest worked as a miner at the Vane Tempest colliery during the war.
I think my mother secretly hopes she can return the honour and send the Queen a card for her one hundredth birthday.Edward Curtis
Edward said: “I sometimes take my mother to the port at Seaham Harbour for a coffee at the recently developed marina which now occupies the once busy coal port where my grandfather worked and we look out to sea remembering the days when my father worked deep beneath it.
“It has always fascinated both me and my mother.
“So much has changed in the places near to where she lived and grew up; the ropery works and the bottleworks, once hugely important employers, closed so many years ago and the only trace of the miners’ legacy is a little coal dust that washes in from the sea on the south beach.”
Edith had watched on as the town had become a tourist destination in recent years with a busy cafe culture.
Edward added: “My mother has lived in many places over the years in Seaham and now lives, quite comfortably and somewhat ironically I think, at Harbour Lodge in East Shore Village.
“Harbour Lodge was built on the site where Ted, her husband, worked for the larger part of his life at the Vane Tempest, and if she looks out to the rear of the building she can see where the shaft has been closed over and ring fenced like a shrine to those who worked there.
“So much has changed in her life and she has taken it all in her stride.”
Edith, who was widowed in 2004, is a grandmother of nine and has 10 great-grandchilren.
Edward said: “In her family there are some fluent in Czech, Russian and Geordie, but mainly Geordie.
“Her birthday card from the Queen I know she will treasure, along with the card she received on her 65th wedding anniversary from the Queen in 2002.
“I think my mother secretly hopes she can return the honour and send the Queen a card for her one hundredth birthday.”