Consett’s history was all too often unwritten, but some early twentieth-century memories have been captured in Edward ‘Ted’ Mullin’s autobiography, Memories of a Survivor: from Blackfyne (Consett) to the HMS Arethusa.

This book is not just a narrative; it’s a portal to a bygone era, a precious glimpse into the soul of Consett through the eyes of one of its own. In the first two chapters, Ted Mullin immerses us in life in 1920s and 1930s Blackfyne, a world apart, marked by its brutality, resilience and camaraderie.

Born and raised there, Ted paints a picture of a time when every street, every game, and every local event forged community spirit. ‘The Battles of Ypres, El Alamein, and Normandy were won’, writes Ted, ‘on the playing fields of Blackfyne.’

This line perfectly sets the tone for the narrative. Mullin’s description of the Blackfyners – from the bustling ‘Green’ that served as a communal playground (and stone-throwing arena) to their intense cricket matches – brings to life the essence of a community bound by more than just geography.

The memoir also delves into the nuances of everyday life, from the shared backyards and ‘netties’ to rats, music contests and ‘submarine’ marches. These anecdotes, filled with humor and warmth, recreate a close-knit parish, where every individual, every family had its place.

But Memories of a Survivor is more than just nostalgia, it’s a chronicle of a young boy’s journey into adulthood against the backdrop of World War II: Ted would be sunk in the Royal Navy on two different occasions. Join Ted Mullin in his journey down memory lane, and rediscover the soul of Consett in this remarkable book.

Note that Memories is available on Amazon at cost (£4.68) until the New Year, so do get your copy in 2023!

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