From a scruffy little town to ‘Millionaire’s View’

Posted on 18th October 2013 | in Community , Heritage & Tourism , What's On

Despite his experiences of far flung shores, Bart’s heart remains in Amble

Despite his experiences of far flung shores, Bart’s heart remains in Amble

It is just over 41 years since I left Amble to begin a career in teaching that would eventually take me to the other side of the world. How exciting you may say, but where has all this led me to? To Amble!

Yes, you could say that I have gone full circle, almost navigated the globe and then come home.

So why did I return? Why have I returned to a funny, little scruffy place that once exported coal, had collieries near at hand and bragged about golden beaches on its coastline?

Let me try and put it like this. I was born and bred in the town. Went to the Secondary Modern School and generally did all the things that youngsters did. It was fun. As I grew up I enjoyed an active social life working in St. Cuthbert’s Church – Sunday School teacher, choir master, and youth leader. I followed in my Mother’s footsteps.

I also worked at Charlton’s Dairy and eventually got to know where every bottle of milk was delivered to around Amble. I was even part of a local band. Our little outfit began its day as ‘Second Sequence’ (don’t follow us on Facebook – we’re not there!) Romance too was high on the agenda.

So why return this year? It all came about when I had the opportunity to take early-retirement after a career of 37 years. During part of those years, I was teaching in South Shields and always afforded the time to visit Amble and Warkworth, a place my wife adored, no matter the season or the weather. There is a certain magic about the area that is so attracting.

Plodging in the sea

This year, however, seems to have been something special. I returned to live on what I call ‘Millionaire’s View’; a small residence that overlooks the old river bed, Amble, the harbour, Coquet Island and uninterrupted views up the coastline towards Boulmer Haven. The weather was fine, but after my wife returned to Perth, Australia, to continue working, my stay became rather damp and cool.

Visiting the Development Trust, I was gently persuaded to help at the opening of the Puffin Festival. The opening had been devastated by continuous rain and therefore the event was delayed by 24 hours. Once the break in the weather came the following day, the Festival began in style. The spirit of the people warmed the occasion, watching the school children’s performances. After two weeks of successful events, the final day thrilled the locals when Amble’s singing talent adorned the stage and entertained a good responsive crowd climaxing in dancing and making merry at the final stages of the day down beside the Little Shore.

Eventually, the weather took a turn for the better and the sun tan level increased.

Everybody swarmed to the beaches, and anywhere else they could soak up the sun. I have never seen the ‘Little Shore’ so full of people, old and young, enjoying themselves playing games, building sand castles, plodging (a good Northern word) and swimming in the safe area of sea. A great number of anglers of all ages were jostling for positions along the pier to catch that fish for tea.

Trips out to sea were delightful as Davy Gray’s boat was to take us over today’s calm waters to the majestic Coquet Island. Here we could see those gorgeous little creatures, the Puffins. How stunning they look with their brightly coloured beaks, their cute shapes when taking flight. There were also terns, black headed gulls and the ever quizzical bobbing of the seals.

As the summer this year draws to a close,  the climax of summer activities continued around Amble. The Harbour Day, organised by the local RNLI team, took place with all sorts of events while the Newcastle All Stars entertained with their vibrant steel band and the Ashington Sea Cadets enchanting the visitors with their hornpipe dancing. But nothing is more spectacular than watching a demonstration by the R.A.F. helicopter and lifeboat crews.

Romance still in the old lad

So that brings me back to why come ‘home’ after 41 years when my life took me to Australia?

It could be said, ‘You can take the boy out of Amble but you can’t take Amble out of the boy’. But is this true?

Could it be walking down Queen Street meeting someone unexpectedly from years ago who is delighted to greet you and wish you well? Or seeing how that ‘scruffy little town’ has improved over time, such as the growth of housing in the Gloster Park area.

The ‘new’ town square has also given a lift to the area with a place to sit and even enjoy an ice cream from Spurreli’s. Sitting on my ‘Millionaire’s View’ (aka Coquet View Caravan Park) I can’t help admiring the unique view I have with Coquet Island gleaming brightly in the sun.

Not only do I have these views but the million memories of the days where I grew up, playing guitars, delivering milk, romance, watching the trains (yes, that book of mine, The Amble Branch) bringing coal to the harbour and the ships taking this cargo to many destinations around our coast and over the North Sea to Europe.

Romance? Yes, there is still romance in this old lad, I still love Amble and its surrounding area. Where better can you live where you can experience urban life styles, country lifestyles and seaside lifestyles all in one day?

That question still has to be answered, why did I return? Simple really, my heart is still in Amble.

Bartle Rippon

3 thoughts on "From a scruffy little town to ‘Millionaire’s View’"

  1. george hogg says:

    coming up to retirement I’m finding myself taking the opportunity to reminisce – hence finding your article. I’m remembering AYPA, coal steaths, dynamite Jackson, Hank Johnson

    hope all is well with you


  2. Angela Heggary says:

    Hello Bartle,
    How very comforting to read your article which brought back such good memories. Thank you.

  3. Angela Heggarty says:

    Name correction

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