Archive for January, 2009

Why Not Post An Article And Expand The Site?

January 28, 2009 3 comments

Fellow posters to this site have gone quiet since the first part of December. There must surely be sufficient people, motivated by an interest in social and economic history, to ensure a few more regular posts. I am not advocating that grannies and grandfathers are accosted in the street for fresh material but I live in hope that over a cup of drinking chocolate, or whisky, they can be persuaded to open up about earlier life in Ushaw Moor – and Sleetburn for that matter!


Looking around local sites I see that there is a splendid written and pictorial record of the Brandon and Langley Moor area. Bearpark also has a very good site. As for Paul’s highly commendable site it appears to be good at the outset yet if you were truly to delve into the memories section – stretching back about six years – you will be surprised at what turns up .Do you realise that Ushaw Moor’s full FA Cup history is on site? If not I will leave you to find it.  If you want to see and hear Sammy Crooks the site gives directions!


If the above does not grab you what about an upturned coffin positioned without human assistance? Some details of Vicar Welby’s family are there to see and at least one member of it reached dizzy heights. A lot of detail about the Ushaw Moor cricket team of the late 40s is recorded. There is a lovely picture of snowy Ushaw Moor, a tale of money lost and found, an account of a WW2 collision as well as Luftwaffe bombs. Business people are not neglected and many of them are named and located. At a wild guess I estimate there are more than 50,000 words on the memories site that covers many aspects of local life – but there is never enough! So get the drinking chocolate out, or the whisky bottle opened, so that we can open the mind to Ushaw Moor’s history, its trials, tribulations, images and a lot more.



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Ushaw Moor Lad and ‘Celebrities’ in the 70s

January 26, 2009 Leave a comment

While we are waiting for some fresh articles from Deerness Valley people I thought I would relate some encounters with some well known 70s people.

I came across Jimmy Ellis, the very talented actor and poet, in a pub near Chelsea in 1973. You may recall that he was a character in the television programme ‘Z Cars’ I was never one for interrupting people’s private life but did find myself asking him for the time – which he duly gave.

In the same year I met and conversed with Jack de Manio [Military Cross and Bar] in the ‘Water Rat’ pub situated in Chelsea. You may recall that he was a Radio 4 presenter known for giving the wrong time of day to millions of people getting ready for work. He seemed a very loud but charming character and we were always aware of his presence in the pub even if we were some distance from him.

If you are sports minded you will have heard of Jack Hampshire the Yorkshire and England cricketer – In the 70s I found myself ‘washing my hands’ next to him in South Moor Cricket Club. I let him wash his hands without idle chatter from me.

Finally I stumbled across Bruce Forsyth in the ‘Marquis of Granby’ in Hinchley Wood, not that far from London. Having just finished a company training course I was alone in the lounge and at the bar asking for a best bitter – in walked Bruce with another bloke. I heard him say to the other person ‘so you are in show business – tell me about it’. Again I let them get on with it while I enjoyed my pint; I did not own Bruce, even though he was a national treasure. I held the view that his private and business life was a private matter.

I am sure that some of you can do much better than that for celebrity spotting and if that is the case it would be interesting to read about it!

Best wishes Wilf B.

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Some Aspects Of Our Post War Educational System

January 21, 2009 Leave a comment

The school leaving age was raised to 15 in 1947, having been delayed for eight years because of WW2. After the war the Tripartite system was adopted in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and consisted of grammar schools, technical schools and secondary moderns. County schools were being replaced as fast as possible. Faith schools were still part of the educational landscape.

Although the eleven plus was used as the basis for allocating pupils to what was deemed to be their appropriate school within the new system, parents could opt to send their children elsewhere, for example to a private school, if they could afford it. I believe that the new Tripartite system was introduced for the best of reasons; the grammar schools gave more working class pupils a means to educational and social mobility and the less academic were said to receive an education to suit their needs. The motive for the new system remains debatable. Were secondary modern pupils fodder for the prevailing economy?

The system of selection was flawed to some extent – for one thing the availability of grammar schools was a bit of a lottery e.g. if you lived in Wales there was a much better chance of passing the eleven plus, simply because there were more grammar schools available in that area –  in Gateshead the opposite was true.

About 20% of pupils went to a grammar school and many of the remainder to a secondary modern. There were very few technical schools.  A typical secondary modern school pupil was felt to be one that copes more easily with concrete facts rather than abstract thought:

Read more…

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Hitler, Soccer Gleghorn and More

January 12, 2009 7 comments

Yesterday I heard someone describe Adolf Hitler as having been mentally ill owing to his intense self identification with Germany. That is an interesting statement but where does it leave Ushaw Moor’s local historians? They to tend to self identify with the locality in which they grew up, sometimes to an intense degree. I prefer to think that they, unlike Hitler, love their geographical and human roots in a sane way and appreciate that some future villagers will want to peer into the dusty highways that were trodden by Vicar Welby and thereby seek an understanding of the local people he met and conversed with.


Do we now need a local historian, or historians, to help future generations to understand miners and their families? Possibly not, bearing in mind that there is already much published literature that sets out the economic and social history of the many mining communities. However we must understand that history is under constant revision; generally at a macro level. Was Lord Londonderry fundamentally unpleasant or did he have more sides to him? Was Soccer Gleghorn really that good on the right wing?


There is the rub – there may, in the future, be several macro revisions concerning coal magnates and coal counties but at the micro level, such as Ushaw Moor, social and economic details can disappear into the fog of history and never get the airing that delights both local historians and family historians. We may secure a better understanding of big pictures but will we ever know just how good Soccer Gleghorn was?


You might wonder why I dwell on Soccer Gleghorn. I will tell you. He was the salt of the earth – he was the man that cleaned the windows – he was the man who presided over the right wing during that short period when the Ushaw Moor Football team punched well above its weight [to mix metaphors].In short Mr Gleghorn is a colourful character. Please let the future historians know just how good Soccer was on the football pitch by posting your verbal evidence onto this site.


Micro questions


There are lots of micro questions that historians will pose e.g. why did the Ushaw Moor Women’s Institute close down? I know that some of its records are at County Hall, so one day an enquiring mind may well be satisfied!


There is no doubt that several of the following people would have been aware of Vicar Welby in the 1920s – but what was their destiny? Did they all marry? Did they have their fair share of happiness? Tell us all about it if you can. Here are their names:

Bertha Chilton, Jane Stobart, George Chapman, John Dolphin, Jane Carling, Edward Payne, Susan Metcalfe, James Jennings, Margaret Stephenson, Joseph Tomlinson and Robert Elliot.


Back in the mid 1930s a very senior church official from Durham City gave a talk in the Ushaw Moor Memorial Hall. During his talk he expressed how impressed he was with Adolf Hitler. To be fair there were quite a few people in England who found Hitler impressive at this time; was it his drive to improve the German economy that impressed them? More to the point what did the Memorial Hall audience think of the speaker’s view of Hitler? I know that Mr Fawcett, then headmaster of Ushaw Moor County School, attended and his view would have been interesting. I remember him from the 50s, largely because I was asked to take one of my ‘compositions’ to him. I was a bit of a scribbler even then.


Wilf Bell

Categories: Memories Tags:

Pre-War Cricket and Football

January 9, 2009 Leave a comment

There  are various references to local cricket on Paul’s two ‘memories’ facilities but none of them, as far as I am aware, have mentioned Broompark Cricket Club; lets’s give it a mention! In late June 1935 Broompark entertained Oakenshaw. The available scorecard details were as follows:

Broompark Innings – G Glasgow 17 R Stewart 8 G Brown 23 J McGovern ?  R Moses 16 J Mawson 0  W Moore ? J Burn 28 Joe Storey 4 E Thompson 0  John Storey not out 5   Extras 6 Total 129.

It follows from the above part details that J McGovern and W Moore must have scored 28 between them.

Could Oakenshaw make a fight of it? The answer is no. They were all out for 39. McGovern took five of their wickets – including that of opener Danby [who scored four]. Moore destroyed the middle order and in doing so took four wickets. The remaining wicket was taken by Moses who dismissed Oakenshaw opener J Lomax.

Switching from cricket to football, and going seven or so years further back in the process, we had the almighty ‘Crook Affair’ of 1927/8. Mike Amos has written a very detailed and well researched article about it – it was supplied to me by Keith Belton of the Durham Amateur Football Trust. There is also some reference to the affair  on the Crook Town Internet site if you are interested.

Sticking with football and the 1920s it is interesting to see that in season 1926/7 Newcastle United won the First Division [now called The Premiership] and Middlesborough won the Second Division [now called The Championship]. Sunderland finished third in the First Division so it was a highly successful season for big North Eastern clubs. Darlington finished second off bottom in the Second Division and Durham City finished third off bottom in the Third Division North.

John Vasey mentioned to me recently that Soccer Gleghorn might have played for York City. Having done some research I can confirm that he did not play for York’s first team within the Football League. Perhaps he played for their reserves. Can anyone help with this point?

Church Ladies Enthralled By Coal Miners

January 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday I had the privilege of giving a presentation to twenty two ladies of a local church concerning  some economic and social aspects of coal mining. This was my third such talk; the previous ones had been at Surrey University and the University of the Third Age.

I emphasised the importance of coal to the Industrial Revolution and contrasted the advantages of coal over wind power and water. Wind power was spasmodic and unreliable; water storage was expensive and businessmen had the problem of having to locate to fast flowing streams that were often in remote locations. I put the view that railways created a double demand for coal. It was needed for smelting the iron used in railway construction and for the running of locomotives. Industry demanded more and more coal as steam power  and mechanization become more general between 1830 -1850. There was also increasing domestic consumption. Demand was met by working existing mines more deeply and extensively. In addition new mines were created and some abandoned ones were reactivated. The coal industry demanded and got more labour and capital.

Coal Production in Great Britain – expressed in millions of tons:

1700   2.50

1800  10.00

1830  23.00

1856   65.00

1913  285.00

Read more…

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