Ex-Sergeant Jack Ford returns home to Gallowshields on Tyneside after the end of World War One. it is a time of economic depression and Jack finds his home town gripped by decline and unemployment. Jack soon falls in with the Seaton family and is determined to make his mark on the world. When the strike at an end the miners are back, however, an accident leaves Bill with a broken back. Jessie receives a marriage proposal whilst Jack receives some surprising news. With Bill injured, Bella opens a shop in order to help make ends meet. Meanwhile Jack and Dolly get married. Jack meets up with an old army colleague who has a vested interest in recruiting Jack back into the army. Bill is feeling increasingly neglected. When Bella's Uncle dies and she has to get a job to pay for the funeral costs it makes matters worse.