As anyone in Newcastle surely knows, today is the 150th anniversary of the Blaydon Races:
Aw went to Blaydon Races, ’twas on the ninth of Joon,
Eiteen hundred an’ sixty-two, on a summer’s afternoon;
Aw tyuk the ‘bus frae Balmbra’s, an’ she wis heavy laden,
Away we went alang Collingwood Street, that’s on the road to Blaydon.
The ninth of June 2012 has hardly seen the summeriest of afternoons – it’s been pin-wheeling for most of it! Blaydon Races mentions a number of local landmarks, most of which would be fairly familiar to 21st century Geordies. But this reference had me a bit stumped:
Noo when we gat to Paradise thor wes bonny gam begun;
Thor was fower-an-twenty on the ‘bus, man, hoo they danced an’ sung;
They called on me to sing a sang, aw sung them “Paddy Fagan”,
Aw danced a jig an’ swung my twig that day aw went to Blaydon.
Where the heck is Paradise? You could say that, for me, it was a case of Paradise lost… but today, I’ve relocated it. It looks like this:
It turns out that it’s a little bit of what’s usually considered to be Benwell, one of the more deprived areas of the city. It was perhaps best known for being the home of the Paradise Colliery, which sounds like something of an oxymoron. There is, in fact, even a road called “Paradise”, but it’s such an unexciting entrance to an industrial estate that I didn’t even bother taking a picture.
At the end of the row of houses you can see in this picture used to stand Paradise Church, which, in a bizarre change of usage, later became a QuaserLaser. It’s now been knocked down, leaving nothing but the long grass you can just about see poking through.
So, that was my trip to Paradise!