Monday, 18 May 2015

Bullets and Bairns

My Great Grandmother Minnie Metcalf Storey was born in 1893 at East Stanley, Co. Durham. Her father Joseph was a sinker in the pits, and his work took him to different collieries in both Co. Durham and Northumberland. The family eventually ended up in Morpeth, where Joseph was promoted to deputy, and later went on to run the Masons Arms public house. 


A young Minnie Metcalf

Growing up in the coal fields of Northumberland and Co. Durham, the Metcalf family spoke with the accent of the area - Geordie, with some hints of 'Pitmatic' in which sweets are known as 'bullets', and as in some parts of Scotland, children are referred to as 'bairns.' 

When Minnie married Robert Storey in 1919, she was thrown in the deep end as he longed to return to his beloved Australia which they did the following year. Minnie was not very keen on the weather in Australia, only ever being used to the wet and rain of her homeland. 

Although many coal miners from the North East emigrated to New South Wales, a lot didn't speak the dialect which Minnie was used to, which she found out when she had children of her own. 

The Storeys had moved to Weston, and on one occasion Minnie had went to the shop to buy some groceries, taking her children with her. As they were leaving, Minnie added that she would also like "some bullets for the bairns." The shopkeeper had no idea what she was talking about, and genuinely thought she was attempting to buy some bullets for her children.

Minnie and Robert returned to Northumberland in 1934, after receiving word that Minnie's mother was unwell.