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Oral History Recording of Mr. J B Spearman (9th August 1978)


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Transcription of an interview with Mr. J B Spearman recorded on the 9th August 1978.

Mr. Spearman was born at Eachwick in 1892. His father was a country joiner and builder. In 1905 he started work at Callerton colliery, however he left after only working there for eight weeks to become a mason's labourer. In 1909 he commenced work as a boy hand at Eachwick House Farm. In 1916 he took over the tenancy of a farm in the Wark on Tyne district. Finally in 1924 he took over Heddon Steads Farm. During the full interview Mr. Spearman recalls his varied employment as well as stock and dairy farming in general.

During this extract Mr. Spearman talks about his time at Capheaton White House farm and the struggle they faced during an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in 1912.


I went to Hexham and got hired, May 1912. Fourteen pound, Gilbert Thompson hired me.

And I went to Capheaton White House and it was all grass. And we had the Foot and Mouth disease that summer; everything was killed off the farm. You couldn't see a sheep or beast for miles, right down to Kirkheaton and Great law, and round to Kirkharle, no there wasn't a sheep or beast everything was slaughtered.

And I was leading sides of beef and carcasses onto the forth goods station, Newcastle with a two horse wagon, and all the riff raff from the market, the market was stopped you know, riff raff was supposed to be slaughtermen, oh it was desperate.

And I used to fetch them greyhen of whiskey, you know what a greyhen of whiskey is? You didn't know. Well a greyhen of whiskey is about a gallon or two-gallon jar of whiskey in a basket, you know a stone jar covered by basketwork. I used to fetch them back they used to have such doos. They used to cut, you see the heads and the feet of the beast had to be burnt straight away, well they used to cut the tongues out the heads these fellas you see, and cook them, they had a cook and they lived on tongue, they lived high I can tell you that, and they had a tent they lived in.


This tape recording comes from the large collection of oral history recordings held by the Northumberland Archive Service. Interviews were conducted by Record Office staff from the early 1970's right through until the mid 1980's. The purpose of the recordings was to capture the essence of life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many different subjects were covered, including coalmining, farming, fishing, domestic life, World Wars and entertainment. Over 350 recordings have been collected comprising approximately 700 hours of recollections.