From being a child I loved going to Newcastle. Unfortunately I didn’t have the pleasure of travelling by train as Consett Station was closed to passengers in the late 1950’s. However the bus station was a hive of activity and used by everyone. I remember standing in the queue and thinking that the toilets must be super clean as you could smell the bleach and Izal toilet paper three stands down.

My first trip to town was with my mother. Alighting at Marlborough Crescent – which I thought sounded very grand – we called into St Mary’s Cathedral to light a candle, then walked to Binns, before winding our way to Northumberland Street. A fish and chip lunch at Bimbi’s was the order of the day before hitting C&A, and of course we always finished up at Fenwick’s. The city has always been vibrant and I loved exploring the streets even then, especially around the Bigg Market where there was a lovely little place called The Cloth Market Cafe, that boasted local specialities like Pan Haggerty as well as Afternoon Tea.

But my most exciting memories are from the early seventies when some of my favourite artistes played at the City Hall and my Saturday and holiday jobs helped pay for the tickets.

I remember loving the fact that there was often a ‘bus on’ from Consett. So many were organised by a competent, kind local lady from The Grove who had the reputation of arranging the best trips to almost anywhere. There was talk once that she’d scheduled a trip to Cape Canaveral and The Kennedy Space Centre but I’m sure it was just hearsay! Roxy Music were touring in 1974 and when Brian Ferry changed the lyrics in ‘Do the Strand’ to ‘Eskimos and Geordies’ at The City Hall, I promised myself a ticket for the 1975 gig the following October.

Three songs in, ‘Love is the Drug’ had everyone dancing and singing in the atmospheric hall and another great night came to an end too soon. Then, as luck would have it, a trip was arranged to see Queen, who burst onto the stage with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, again in The City Hall on 11th December. The place went wild and the concert was sensational. So much so we could hardly talk to each other on the bus on the way home, as we’d sang and screamed so much. With funds running low in the new year, it was an all out effort to get the money together to see Leo Sayer in April.

Unfortunately there was no ‘bus on’ so we made an early start, catching the Venture just in time and sitting back in the prickly seats for the over an hour journey to town. Laughing and chatting we stood in the queue clutching on to our tickets. Soon we were treated to ‘Giving it all Away’, ‘One Man Band’ and ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing’ which we did in abundance!

High as kites, we caught the last bus home, buzzing with adrenaline and excitement.
Loving our lives, knowing at that moment, if we’d had the opportunity to trade it all in for a trip to Cape Canaveral, the answer would have been a definite,
‘Nee chance!’

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