Archive for April, 2009

Ushaw Moor in the 40’s and 50’s Part1

April 26, 2009 15 comments

There is so much to write about the 40’s and the 50’s  I thought I would write about my memories of Ushaw Moor using the businesses which existed  then as a framework.The main business of course was the pit.I know Wilf placed the wives of pitmen as among the top 7 heroes of Ushaw Moor but to me the pitmen should also figure.44 fatalities by the time the pit closed but others’ lives wrecked by their work. Pneumoconiosis, silicosis,broken or lost limbs are a testimony to this.They used to hew coal in low seams-my father(Buller Graham) had a” party piece “to show how low these seams were by crawling under a stick chair and demonstrate how he worked with a pick.I remember miners walking back fron the pit  to the village all black in their full pit gear until baths were installed presumably after nationalisation-until then it was out with the bath tin unless they were lucky and had a proper bath.When I got older I remember I would be sent to collect my father’s pay from the colliery.Can you imagine doing that now?People were mainly honest then.You could leave your door open without fear.We used to have a key hanging down just inside the letter box to let ourselves into the house.I was also given the job to pay the union dues in a room at the top of the stairs in the Memorial Hall.It was often a long and frustrating wait so sometimes I would go to the house of Mr. George Connor who was the secretary to pay.He lived in Flass Avenue overlooking the green and next to the cut down to the back of Durham Road.However, we were grateful for the allowance of coal which was dumped outside the house and we would set to,picking out the roundies first  and then shovelling the rest into buckets and  throwing it into the coalhouse. Mining was a terrible job but it was the only job miners knew so when the local mines closed off they went to work in Nottinghamshire and other coalfields.
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Categories: Memories Tags: , ,

1998 And All That

April 20, 2009 Leave a comment

It all began in 1998, or perhaps a little earlier. I stopped a man in the street and asked the whereabouts of Mr Vasey’s home. “You mean John’s place?” he said and I nodded. Directions given I knocked on the door with great expectancy;  the door opened to reveal a man that I could clearly identify as being John Vasey and no other. “Are you the lad that ran down Ushaw Moor County’s right wing?”  Of course it was and I have kept in touch with him  ever since. John took me around the village to several ex miners’ homes for a chat. My hope was that some of them might remember my grandfather Dickie Hope. Of course they did. How could you forget one of your overmen? There was a hint from one of them that the colliery manager was rather taken with my grandmother Ethel. Actually it was more than a hint. Although I am certain  there was no affair admiration was clearly not in short supply. 

I indicated to John and the miners that I wished to publish something about Ushaw Moor. Is it fair to say that I have now accomplished that? The work is not a conventional book; it is rather more akin to a modern device which youngsters might call an electronic book.  Either way I am referring to the many posts/articles that I have published on Paul’s site. 

At my age I feel that I probably understand Ushaw Moor and its history. I also feel that I understand just a bit about how  the world ticks. Not enough mind you! As I see it the world at large is generally ruled by heavy hitters that create smoke and mirrors; in contrast the inhabitants of  an ex mining village rarely generate smoke or bring out mirrors because, apart from anything else, they are too busy striving to earn a living, feed their children and live an honourable life. No doubt a few people will have an affair and perhaps  the annual leek show requires close scrutiny, but I bet that there are no bankers living in Ushaw Moor to create exotic and dodgy financial instruments on a scale that leads to financial misery for millions of people. Hitters versus the rest has no doubt gone on right back into ancient times and I do not think that will ever change much. Perhaps an honourable dictator is not such a bad thing, but the risk that we end up with a less than bright Adolf, or an almighty poser like Mussolini, is perhaps a risk too far for us. Looking further a field others are of course living through that kind of misery right now.

I have a list of things to do that must be done. They really must be done. They are vitally important! I will be back briefly in November with an article that hopefully you will like. Meanwhile enjoy the warmer months and take care. 


Categories: Memories

Memories Of The Police

April 19, 2009 Leave a comment

We can start with Jock the policeman. He rebuked my bicycle riding uncle  for colliding with his police motor bike outside Broughs – even though it was during  a very murky dark evening back in WW2.

Then there was the 1980s miners’ strike. One newspaper reported an allegation that police officers taunted striking, and unpaid, miners by fingering and/ or flashing five pound notes within sight of the miners. If true that was a touch provocative.

Then there was a contact of mine, going about their lawful business, who told me that  their car had been accidentally damaged by the police during their chase of some suspicious person. My contact allegedly had a bit of difficulty getting compensation out of the police for the damage to the car.

1987 Reading v Derby. I was walking to the railway station after the game and heard a policeman say something very similiar to ‘look at those Derby fans coming out of the stadium , they are animals’ I told him they were well behaved and that he was mistaken. His reply was ‘I suggest you move on sir’ That was a very cerebral reply, don’t you think?

This is not a rant at the police merely an article stimulated by the latest reports in the media concerning the recent G20 demonstration in London. I find it worrying. Police are our servants not masters. A newspaper  took that last phrase right out of my mouth.

Actually the great majority of police staff are doing highly commendable work. They are prepared to do tasks that a lot of people would not contemplate; tasks that require various qualities such as  sensitivity,  intelligence, courage, patience and a lot more. So whilst I can dredge up a few alleged aspects of unsatisfactory  police behaviour we could not do without them. We should be thankful for the great number of commendable deeds  they perform – day in day out.


Categories: Memories

Road To Durham

April 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Radio 4 – 2.30pm TODAY- The Saturday Play:

The Radio Times tells us that the Bevin Boys were a largely ignored group of 18 year olds when their names were picked out of a hat towards the end of the Second World War.They were sent down the mines instead of joining the forces. See page 121 of the current Radio Times – sounds like it will be an interesting play. Some of the action takes place at the Durham Miners’ Gala.

So – get your ‘wireless’ sorted – forget ‘Journey Into Space’ and hopefully have a profitable hour listening in to Road to Durham.


Categories: Memories

Looking Foward to 2089

April 17, 2009 Leave a comment

This post is an experiment and experiments with chemistry can be dangerous. My vision of 2089 created by the brainstorming method is:

Flying people become common place by means of computerised machines. Collisions are almost impossible.

Every town and village has nominated farms producing wholesome food. The number of farms is dependent upon the size of each place.

Local professional football leagues are back thus reducing  travel miles. Sixteen in all. The champions of each of those leagues then meet in a knock out competition called the FA Cup.

All exotic financial instruments banned/criminalized by the Streamlined Financial Simplicity Board [SFSB]

Stylish beards are now the norm

Stats are produced and fully publized that show the details of ‘charity giving’ by all people earning the new maximum annual salary of 300k [2009 equivalent 100k]

All religious denominations to meet under one  roof. Each religion is provided with a room of their own within that building. Not unlike Woolworth’s pick and mix

All night shift work banned on health grounds. The CBI do not like this latest move

All awards other than the VC  and GC are banned thus causing uproar

Political Correctness revised and diluted

Supermarkets nationalized but profits down

Drug companies cannot refuse to produce a drug if the Liberal Goverment insist upon its production

Astrologers pilloried in the stocks

Vince Cable awarded the VCGC – a cross between the VC and the GC

West Auckland win the World Cup for the THIRD time – beating West Germany 4-2

Eastenders replaced by a new soap called “Laughter Makes You Live Longer’


Categories: Memories

They Moved About

April 17, 2009 Leave a comment

In 1901 Matthew Gibson was a 63 year old retired miner living in South View, Ushaw Moor, with his wife Louisa. Louisa was a year younger than her husband. Matthew was born in South Shields whereas Louisa was born in a more exotic place – Prussia – if I read it correctly!

Their son Richard was born in Ryhope. Another son, Joseph, was born in East Castle, Durham, further son Matthew was born in Greencroft [Stanley/South Moor?]. The youngest child, a daughter, Alloysess [?] was born in Quebec [not Canadian version].

Meanwhile in George Street we had George Appleby and his wife Thomason. He was born in Brandon and she was born in Hetton Le Hole. Their family:

Richard born Langley Moor

Elizabeth born Langley Moor

William born Sacriston

Catherine born Langley Moor

George born Broompark

Do these names mean anything to anyone?


Categories: Memories

A Certain Image

April 16, 2009 Leave a comment

I imagine that memories section bloggers have a certain image. Maybe some people think that we look back because there is little to look forward to. Expletive. We look back, live for now, and anticipate the future. But what sort of future? I love that last sentence. I went years making sure that I never started a sentence with And or But. But I no longer worry about it. Finer writers than me are at it all the time. Rebels together!


If I am lucky enough to be in an old peoples’ home in 2032, with marbles in place, I will ensure that the place is not boring. I will need help of course but I will no doubt get that from a friend that I have yet to meet.  



Categories: Memories

Let’s Get Physical

April 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Much of the information within this article is already spread around the site so it is just a case of pulling these experiences of mine together. They do not reflect particularly well on me but I do not mind playing the clown for a while in the hope that another author turns up on site:


C1952  New Brancepeth Primary School 50 yard dash – winning at the 40 yard post but thinking that was the finishing line – I finished unplaced.


1958 In dreadful pain on the hallowed [!] Bracken Court turf attempting a run against a Stoddart/Ferguson team I stumbled and somehow my bat dug into my knee. A nice couple on the corner of the semi circle – if you like coming from the Whitehouse Court area – heard my scream and patched me up. I still have the scar. Semi circle? Is it a semi circle?


1958 During a game of rounders I ran down the hillock at Ushaw Moor Sec Mod, like a pill…. and dived full length to catch the ball. Not really knowing the rules of rounders the brilliant catch – for that is what it was – meant nothing. I felt like, and was, an idiot.


1968 Hit in the testi…., whilst playing at second slip in a Tyneside Senior League cricket match. I nevertheless held on to the ball and called for a handkerchief to wipe my eyes as well as a drink of water. The batsman was given out caught while I lay there feeling quite ill.


1969 Two events that year. I smashed my head against a bath tap when attempting to get out of the bath – very lucky actually – some people die in such instances. In the same year, outside a pub whilst talking to a friend, I suffered an unprovoked attack by a coward.He had hit me on the head from behind. I spun round to challenge what was probably a drunken idiot but my friend, and opening bowler, pointed out that it was, I think, five to two against. I went and bought some fish and chips.


C1998 While on holiday my young son accidentally hit me on the head with a golf club. I was taken to hospital by ambulance and it seems that I again got away with it.







Categories: Memories

Education Education Education?

April 16, 2009 Leave a comment

I get the distinct impression that for many decades after the beginning of the 20th century employers were almost invariably disorganized and dim in their approach to motivating employees. Take the National Coal Board’s wages department in Workington as an example. When I joined it in 1961 there was no induction worth talking about. There was no encouragement to improve my education. There were no performance reviews. Training was no more than a smattering of the ‘hands on’ variety. I suppose management theory was in its infancy. The National Examinations Board for Supervisory Studies [Nebss] came in as late as c1964 and was perhaps recognition of the need to treat workers in a more professional manner. It seemed to dawn on many employers that if they treated staff properly they could improve output and hopefully profits.


Whilst Nebss was a promising innovation further education seemed very poor in the 60s. They were not the days of lifelong learning. GCE teaching of ‘second chancers’ in local colleges was often second rate; it was unnecessarily dull.


Going further back – our English teacher at Ushaw Moor could have, and ought to have, lit up ‘Lord of the Flies’. He had an opportunity to catch our imagination. After all there were a lot of bright pupils in our class but they were somewhat short changed. Harry Barlow was an exceptionally good teacher but even so it seems we were not trusted to learn mathematics, other than its arithmetical content.


But where is this article leading us? I am so positive about the provision for youngsters these days. The facilities for advancement are plentiful but sadly not all are grasping the available opportunities. I imagine that the current crop of Deerness Valley youngsters is a very mixed bunch. Some will be literate and confident whilst others might be struggling to form many coherent sentences. I am not an educationalist but could it be that some parents have low aspirations for their children? Does Ushaw Moor need a Mr/Mrs Motivator in order to maximize the potential of ALL of its children? David Beckham and Co have their place but so does a well chosen book that is read with insight and enthusiasm.  Good Book 2 Beckham 1.



Categories: Memories

That’s Easter Over

April 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Well that’s Easter over. I imagine that most people have a need for spirituality but I will probably only get it by virtue of the Rambling Association. Listening to the Chief Rabbi, Catholic Archbishop, and the Archbishop of Canterbury fills me with despair. Canterbury has the cheek to tell me that there is a current fascination with the lives of monks and nuns that may draw me into their way of living. There is no chance of that happening Archbishop.


My main memory of last week was my internal rehearsing of a speech that is likely to be needed in the not too distant future. Such contemplation needs to be done in tranquil surroundings, like a canal towpath, and that is exactly where it was done. The start sounds promising:

“Hello and welcome to……

There are two schools of thought about my speech making. The first school thinks I am witty, informative and entertaining. The second school winces and puts fingers in ears. Well today I am going to take the middle ground…..”


Yes that ought to make them sit up.


It is Alf that should post an article about pigeons. He is an authority. From what I recall there is a very prominent Belgian pigeon fancier, cum breeder, that he can write about. What about WW1? Is it the case that pigeons were used as a means of communication during that war?


I am truly astonished that someone as bright and well educated as Tony Blair can hold such bizarre views of the next world. And this is despite the benefit of a comparatively recent Oxford University education. It would not ordinarily annoy me were it not for the fact that he has so many people wishing to listen to him. It does reinforce what I already know – that we should not be overawed by the Establishment but should think for ourselves. 


I am pleased with the sum total of this site. It gives some coherent history of the village rather than just bits and pieces. Although my article today is chatty I really do need to introduce further history and memories of the village. I am not a paid journalist although sometimes I probably have the appearance of a provincial hack. I need to get my house in order to please the likes of Alf. Now Alf about those pigeons….




Categories: Memories