Byker Sculpture

Location: Cut Bank, City Road. This slim sculpture has the words “sisal”, “hemp”, “coir” and “jute” carved into it, recalling the days when this area supported a number of industries including rope-making. Also includes a very short excerpt for a longer poem by Geordie Willis’, ‘Under Byker Bridge’, A Lament for Byker gone.

Byker Sculpture Cut Bank
Byker Sculpture Cut Bank

A Lament for Byker gone.

Byker come alive again
Surely your suffering was not in vain? Though, like a snake of death
“The Wall” enfolds you, before you die, the world I will tell
Of this place called “Byker” which exists doon by the “Born”
And gave birth to self-made millionaires and folks who’ll never lorn.

It’s made of wartime widows
Who scrub young lasses floors
It’s made of folk like Kipper Shields
Who gave his limbs to war
Still, characters from old Byker live
Like Davy Martin and Miss Pigg

Down to Popperwells for sweets galore
Up to Selby Wilsons one man store
He sold sweets and also cut hair
And in his blindness made the stove a chair
Many a born upon wor arses
One of Bykers well known farces

Hannah Shippon the ribbon queen
Sold socks on Sundays
New and clean
Down to Mark Toneys for an ice
On a Sunday evening

“The Hoyin School” an evil thing
But every penny had its fling
On to Harry Potts to place your bets
Or pick up the winnings for Norma X
To Freddie Shepherds you took your rags
After tying them up in paper bags

“Brough Park” could claim a womans pay
“Barsanti’s Pawn-shop” could save the day
It was a second-hand shop that is true
Now they call them “nearly-new”
Aggie Marrison’s fruit and veg on tick
Charlie the woodman provided the stick

“Dyer Broon” kept his glasses clean
Marty, his wife, the hostess queen
Por Margaret Ann who lost her hair
Through losing her husband and only son
In a war, yet to be won

Young Jean who died of the dread T.B.
No chance to sit a bairn upon her knee
Poor Angie Cunningham too died of T.B.
But they’ll never be dead to you and me
Parrishes checks will never rattle
Under her pillow as part of her chattles

Old “Geordie Potts” as tall as a steeple
Head of his family,king of his people
“Benny Sharkey”, the boxing great
“Geordie Willis” his right-hand mate
“Dickie Potts” the big time bookie
Runaway Pete, the bookies rookie

Think again of the ginger pop
Bought at a house, not a shop
Pies and peas all steaming hot
>From the savoury smelling Albion Row shop
Annie Ellots for cinder taffee
Marth Lucas’s for “two things a hapney”
On Saturday morning just for kicks
To the “Minerva” to see Tom Mix

Moskies roar from the railings ramp
While Harriet, bundle on her head
Washes and cleans to bury her dead
Sally Bailes and her sister too
Had “earphone” hairstyles, all brand new

Pledgers for your fancy veil
Or mevvies Beavans’s,–if they had a sale!
There was a big “wesh-hoose”
That kept all Byker clean
And those what wanted beauty, went ower to Jesmond Dene

It was Bykers sons who made the ships
And many sailed the sea
Those untold heroes lived and died
Because of you and me
The sons and lovers had a dream
To keep their Byker free
Tis because of the lads under Byker Bridge
That the “Born” still flows to the sea.

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