Archive for February, 2009

An End Of An Era For Wilf Bell

February 27, 2009 1 comment

I began posting articles on to the Ushaw Moor site back in April 2006. Since then I suppose that I have written something like 28,000 words about my beloved Deerness Valley and have enjoyed doing so. Ofcourse all good things have to come to an end and that is what is about to happen – just a few more words to go. I know from feedback that at least a handful of you have enjoyed the articles and that makes me feel good. Although we all have to live in the present and plan for the future – it can be fun looking back – can it not?! Thank you all. I will now hand back to Paul Clough; I owe a debt of gratitude to him for making his wonderful site so readily available.

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Alexander Basil Donald Albone

February 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Don Albone was born in Mapperley in the county of Derbyshire on the third of October 1914. He was admitted to Arlesey School on 26/02/1924 and later won a scholarship to Hitchin Grammar School; in the autumn of 1928 he finished fourth in a form of twenty six at that school.


His grandfather had been a signalman on the railway and I believe his father did the same. Don himself spent sometime working in a railway station ticket office. Later he became a cartographer and was in that occupation when the Second World War started. It was a job that exempted him from joining the forces but to his credit he joined the Durham Light Infantry, as a volunteer on 24/07/1940.


He never forgot how he got his first stripe – it was awarded for a piece of very fine and methodical washing up! He soon became a rifle instructor; in his declining years he sometimes looked sad as he remembered that many of the young lads that he trained never came back from the war.


At one point during WW2 he was in Folkstone and very near to going into the European theatre of war with his DLI colleagues. At almost the last minute he was recalled because of the urgent need to train up soldiers. He was transferred to Brancepeth Camp and it was from that situation that he met my mother, Lilian Bell [maiden name Hope]. They met purely by chance, as was often the case with romance and affairs during wartime! What happened was that my mother was due to report for work at a munitions factory which involved a railway journey from Ushaw Moor to somewhere not far beyond Langley Moor. Her work colleague, who was travelling with her, suggested that for once they get off at Langley Moor and visit a pub instead of reporting for work. As a one off it was just about forgivable, even in wartime. It was that evening that she met Don.


With the war over Don was discharged from the DLI on 06/04/1946. He travelled north soon afterwards to make a life with my mother – in that well remembered and very cold winter. He recalled his journey as being very difficult, owing to the snow, and it was especially bad from Newcastle to Durham City.


Their first home was at 20 Unthank Terrace, New Brancepeth. It was rented from my mother’s grandmother. We had the bottom floor and another family occupied the upstairs rooms. It was primitive by modern day standards; cockroaches used to scurry about when we switched the light on after returning from visiting friends or family. I recall that one night a child from the family who shared our premises, she must have been about five years old, was rushed to hospital in Durham. She died and if I recall correctly she suffered a burst appendix. 


Don worked at New Brancepeth pit as a loco engine driver. He had been trained by John Johnson who lived at 93 Brauncepeth Estate, New Brancepeth; I  imagine that he was known as Jack Johnson and there must be a good chance that some of his relatives still live in the area. Don often worked double shifts to provide as best he could for his family – which by then included his newly born daughter Sheila. He was in no way a regular drinker but on those occasions when he used the workingmen’s club – located a few yards down from our home – he always returned home happy and good natured. Sometimes he would throw silver and copper coins from his pocked onto the living room floor for one or more of us to pick up!


Don recalled that on one occasion, because he was so incensed with the pit management’s treatment of an injured mate, he nearly persuaded the whole pit to come out on strike. Can anyone shed some light on that?


In 1954 we moved to 42 Whitehouse Court, Ushaw Moor. Don had a new job as a Cooperative Insurance Society agent. His son Colin was born in March 1954. Don did very well in his work and as a result he was transferred to the Workington branch on promotion. Despite further good work he was just passed over for the branch manager’s job at Workington. Bad health meant a transfer back to County Durham as an agent – which he loved anyway. In 1999 he died and was buried in Stanley Cemetery. I delivered the eulogy at his funeral. I knew full well what I wished to say but shortly before hand we sang Abide With Me, which is of course so intense and difficult to follow. Afterwards my brother in law said that it took me about twenty seconds to gain control before speaking and during that period many people  wished me on to achieve it. These days I do not care much for Abide With Me – I believe it to be no more than wishful thinking – but then that is only my opinion.

Wilf B




Now That’s Cool?

February 26, 2009 4 comments

As things are a bit quiet on here at the moment I though I would brainstorm ‘cool’ and not quite so cool people based on my memories or understanding of the past. We can all do such lists and I would be interested in yours. It is a bit like the Room 101 programme with Paul Merton except that I would not want to actually throw anyone out because it might hurt!

Here we go:

COOL [GREAT] PEOPLE – In no particular order

Jack Benny, Denis Compton, Sir Donald Bradman, Vicar Welby, Professor Richard Dawkins, Bill Bailey,Victor Borge, Raich Carter, Soccer Gleghorn, Eric Sykes,Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Tom Finney, President Obama, Ricky McSeveney and the whole cast of Larkrise to Candleford.

NOT QUITE SO COOL PEOPLE – In no particular order

Carol Vorderman, Charles the First, People who say ‘because you are worth it’ in make up adverts, Nicholas Soames, Roy Keane, Harry Redknapp, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jeremy Clarkson.

There are plenty of people that could be added to the above lists but I have avoided awful people like Hitler and Attila the Hun – I need to research Attila a bit more!

Don’t worry my next article will be more orthodox!

Wilf B.

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New Memories Chat Room

February 21, 2009 Leave a comment

New Ushaw Moor Memories Chat Room up and running, use this to discuss content pertaining to Ushaw Moor and Deerness Valley.

Click HERE for Chat Room, link also on BLOGROLL.

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Without Doubt Tommy Was Popular

February 16, 2009 1 comment

Tommy was a very popular name in Ushaw Moor ten or so decades ago. Can you add details for some of the following thirteen men with the forename Thomas?

Thomas Bell, Morris, Wilson, Cassidy, Moses, Kell, Russell, Hunter, Walker, Robinson, Blenkinsopp, Carling and Dolphin.


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Having A Chat

February 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Although this particular post is unplanned I am reasonably confident that some of you will find bits of it interesting. I have only had one glass of wine so some inhibitors are surely in place to prevent me being over the top and simply silly. I certainly do not wish to come across as pompous as I have nothing to be pompous about.

During my working life I have had the good fortune to interview many interesting people, for example: a Church of England bishop, a coal magnate and a lady that fell asleep during the interview. I wish to add that those interviewees were not seen together. Strangely I also had my photograph on the front page of the Morning Star – a national paper with very left leanings. They simply took a photo of me and two others entering a building for a union meeting!

Read more…

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BFI Distribution Catalogue 1969 – ‘Amateur Cine World’ – British Film and cinema forum

February 12, 2009 16 comments


Britain 1963. Made by pupils of Ushaw Moor Secondary Modern School, Co. Durham. An intriguing tale of an unusual economy, well made on location.

16 1 Sd 12 mins ABCD

via BFI Distribution Catalogue 1969 – ‘Amateur Cine World’ – British Film and cinema forum.


Anyone have any memory of this Film, made in 1963, would be very interesting to see it…?

Some of the cast of ‘Harry’s Half Crown’, the film made by our class..

Linda Jones