The Gypsies visit Blyth
Pat Powell's memories
By R.W. Pat Powell
In Blyth there is a street, running from the west end of Westmoreland Street to the county road at the south end of the village. It is known as Gypsy Lane.
When I lived in Blyth up to 1935, the south end of this street was seldom used and there were no houses on it south of the fairgrounds.
There was a band of gypsies which came through Blyth from the north every year. We do not know where they originated, but they were in all respects true gypsies, dark in skin colour. The women were dressed in bright colours and were the palm readers, card fortune tellers, etc.
The group camped at the south end of Gypsy Lane for a day or two each year. The gypsies travelled in buggies or in van-type wagons, and they usually had eight to 12 extra horses tied behind their wagons as their business was trading horses.
We were usually warned of the gypsies coming by telephone from the last village they had been in. When we knew they were in town we closed the store door, pulled the blinds and waited for them to go again. The reason for this was if you let them in, about 15 or so would enter at once and as you could not watch them all, they would steal everything they could hide in and under the shirts, etc.
They seemed to have pockets especially suited for the job. Thus the only thing to do was to lock them out.
It may sound romantic to have gypsies camping in your town and the glow of open campfires was nice to see. But the reality of dealing with the gypsies was an entirely different matter.