This map plots the settings and references in We Never Had It So Good
To start exploring, click a red pin
All of the stories are set in the mining village of Ashington, Northumberland in the North East of England in the late 1950s.
Ashington was then at the centre of the mining industry, and was known as 'the biggest pit village in the world.'
The image shown here is of Woodhorn Colliery, one of half a dozen collieries in and around Ashington at the time. Woodhorn Colliery is now a mining museum. The statue of the miner shown here was originally in Hirst Park, Ashington, and is referred to in the book as part of the story 'Old Man Tate'.
Doggarts, the department store in Ashington was based on the town's main street, Station Road. It was a branch of a family store headquartered in Bishop Auckland. Between 1895 and its liquidation in 1981 this local firm opened and closed a total of 17 shops around the North East.
Beatrice Street, a row of colliery houses in Ashington, was the childhood home of Jack and Bobby Charlton, and still the home of their parents at the time of this story. (In 1966, after England won the World Cup, Jack bought his mother a new house in Ashington which she called Jules Rimet after the World Cup trophy.) Beatrice Street was one of a number of rows named after Shakespearean heroines. It was flanked by Portia Street - where the author's mother lived out her final days - and Rosalind Street. Juliet Street was in the next block along. It seems the town planners' stock of Shakespeare's heroines soon ran out as the street beyond Portia is called Ariel Street, still in the Shakespearean mode but not female - Ariel is an androgynous spirit in The Tempest (whose heroine is Miranda; Miranda Street would have been more consistent). They did, however, show more imagination in this part of Ashington than in naming the first blocks of colliery rows in the town First Row, Second Row etc up to Eleventh Row.