I was usually sent to bed early, a little later than the children but once all my jobs were done they didn’t want me hanging around the Night of the Stormbar. The men had lots of things to talk about that were not for my ears. Anyway I was glad to be away from the pungent smell of smoke and the stale stench of beer on the cloths behind the wooden bar.

As I climbed the rickety stairs the howling of the wind shook the rafters and I could hear the children stir in their sleep. Closing the curtains over the rattling windows I slipped under the covers desperate to keep warm and sleep for I knew I would have to rise at 5am to start the breakfasts and prepare the coal fires in the bar and snug.

They had taken me on 2 weeks ago as business was picking up and I was happy for the money as my Mother needed it. There were seven of us and I was the oldest and needed to work to help put food on the table.

I was used to keeping house and I could bake and scrub like the best of them so I didn’t mind it too much and the children were no bother.

I listened to their shallow breathing for what seemed like hours as I couldn’t sleep for the noise of the wind. The ale house was right on the corner and seemed to be bearing the brunt of the storm.

Rain lashed at the windows and I prayed for morning and calm.

In between awake and asleep I jumped as a rumble changed to a crash and I felt dust in my mouth. I jumped up to save the children and pushed them in to the corner of the room just as the chimney pot came crashing into the room. I shouted to them to run downstairs and get help as I was trapped, my legs were under a large pile of rubble. Then I knew no more as the larger bricks began to fall. It was 5am on Wednesday 3rd October 1860.

I still wander around the staircases and watch as they drink at the bar. There are no coal fires to light and there is no one for breakfast but I don’t mind I have all the time in the world.

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Lorraine Weightman
Lorraine Weightman who regularly writes a monthly memoir telling of her days growing up in Consett has just published 2 books in conjunction with Firefly New Media Uk, which share 24 stories that were originally seen in Consett Magazine over the past few years. https://www.facebook.com/consettstories/


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