Home > Memories > Ushaw Moor in the 40’s and 50’s Part1

Ushaw Moor in the 40’s and 50’s Part1

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.

I was born in Temperance Terrace and  lived also in Hunter Avenue and OakridgeRoad.My first memories  in Temperance Terrace are to do with the war when I remember VE day and all the bunting in the street.There was a street party and races in the street for the kids.It did not seem to be fair to me as older children were running against us younger ones and we had no chance.My friend Bobby Harwood’s dad was in the RAF and he used to bring home a lorry which he parked at the back of Temperance Terrace  even though he lived in Cook’s Cottages and he used to let Bobby and me play inside.There was an air-raid shelter in the schoolyard but as the war was over  when I started school I never got to use it thank goodness.However,I did have a gas-mask !Mr. Bell ,who had a farm next to the Memorial Hall,supplied us with milk.He came around with a horse and cart and milk was ladled into jugs from the milk urns-sounds positively prehistoric!!

At the end of the street was a fishop which used to be owned by Mrs. Barkass and we used to call there after Boys’ Brigade,which I joined at about the age of 9 or 10, and was run by Ronald Allison in the Church Hall.We had a great time.The only problem was you had to be in the church choir and I could not sing-still can’t.I seem to remember Mrs. Barkass was a Geordie as she had a very strong tyneside accent.We people of Durham are,of course, not Geories although Newcastle and the national press always seem to want to claim us as one.

Then there was the Post Office,as now, which was run by Mr. Russell and his daughter Barbara and the postman was Harry Henderson who covered the whole village in all weathers.We did not have to wait for the post until the afternnon as we often do now.

Along to Ushaw Terrace was the shop of old Mr.Stuckey who  had the shop until Mr. Brewis took it over.There is a grave of a Mr.Stuckey in the cemetery which shows he died in 1948 Mr. Alderson ran his business as undertaker and joiner just where the business is now.I remember my parents had him make me a fort for christmas when I was 5or 6.He also made me a roadsweeper’s set -I did not have much ambition then!!!Then there was The Flass pub as it now.

In Durham Road there was the New Brancepeth Co-op which consisted of the greengrocer’s, then the butcher’s and finally the food department with an upstairs for hardware etc.Mr. Gibson , who was upstairs , was the overall manager and in the food department were Danny  Hume and Billy  Calvert with other staff, including I think Nancy Nicholl.I still remember our share number 1717.The co-op  or “the store” did great business and paid a good dividend,which people looked forward to with great anticipation every quarter.I seem to remember nothing pre-packed as everything was bought “loose”.We were environmenally friendly in those days without even realising it!!!!Later there was an offshoot of the co-op at the end of Oakridge Road which was called by us “the little store”.

Next to the co-op was a general dealer’s for a while and is now a bookmaker’s which belonged to Mrs. Smith and then a wool shop which belonged to a Mrs.Sayer.Her husband was a keen Middlesbrough fan and I can remember going with him  in 1955 to see Boro play Notts County which Boro lost 1-4 even though Charlie Wayman was playing at centre forward.Further along the road a hairdresser’s suddenly appeared as a rival to Jack Maltby who ran a hairdresser’s with his wife  down Station Road for years.The hairdresser’s is still there.Then there was the Methodist Church which ran a successful youth club for years attracting young people from Bearpark and New Brancepeth also.I spent many a happy Friday evening there. Across the road was the police station which was actually staffed..Perhaps the most famous bobby  was Jock who has been mentioned on this web-site before but I remember best Peter Bell who was the policeman’s son and was a good friend.He was the first person I knew who had “The Eagle” comic with stories of Dan Dare-I really envied him!!!Not long after Peter’s dad was posted elsewhere and I was sorry to see him go.

Continuing along from the church was Lawson’s the butcher.Colin, the son,went to Durham School and unfortunately lost a leg in a motoring accident, but I believe he took over the business.It is sad to see the shutters down now.Then there was Stan Watson’s who sold all sorts including petrol.His pumps were just outside the shop,not that he had much custom as very few had a car.Stan also ran a taxi service and in 1946 or 1947 we went to Blackpool for a week driven all the way there and back in his taxi.It sounds as if we were rich but my father was a miner at Ushaw Moor pit and I believe the money came from post-war credits -obviously there had been little enjoyment during the war and so first chance my father blew the lot.I din’t get another ride in a car until I was nearly 15.!!Stan also sold newspapers and Saturday evening involved waiting for the football papers.I always bought the Newcastle and Sunderland papers but Sunderland was my team.I was taken to my first match in 1947 and there has followed 62 years of  mixed emotions , usually disappointment at the regular promotions followed by the inevitable relegations. This year may be no different.Yet it wasn’t always like this as Sunderland never played outside the first division until 1958.The “Football Echo” changed it’s colour from pink to green that year in mourning.At one time we used to go in a special bus from Ushaw Moor.I particularly remember Billy Stannard and his dry wit.Someone said that a player had played badly and should be dropped and Billy said”They should send for Pierrepont and drop the lot”.I should explain tht Pierrepont was the hangman at the time!!!!

Next to Stan’s was Dent’s bakery which was owned by Mr.Tallentire Dent.He was one of the few people who had a car and I remember that if there was a funeral he used to stop his car and remove his trilby hat until the funeral cortege passed.He was very much a gentleman.Then the there was the Crook co-op and I can’t recall ever going in there.My family stayed loyal to the New Brancepeth store and I don’t know anyone who did shop there but someone must have. We are now entering Station Road and in the doorway just above Malone’s was Billy Dawson who has been mentioned on this site already.Billy usually wore a flat cap,a scarf ,tended to be scruffy and chain-smoked but he did a lot for Ushaw Moor Junior football club.Olive Malone ran the shop for years and sold sweets,newspapers etc.I often bought my Saturday evening football papers here instead of at Stan Watson’s and my” Charlie Buchan’s Football Monthly”.I am a little hazy about the shops immediately below Malone’s .There was Metcalfe’s bakery and a greengrocer’s/sweetshop  which was owned by the Surtees family which I think in the 1950’s became a. tv shop under the auspices of Mr. and Mrs.Lewis.Mr. Metcalfe also came around the streets with his van selling his wares.His son John went to Durham Johnston and Gwen, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis went to the Girls’ Grammar school.There was also a bakery belonging to Brown’s but I can’t place exactly where it was-I believe it was at the bottom of Station Road but did it end up at the Police Station?

Continuing down we come to the ice-cream parlour of Joe and Fred Lowery where we bought our ice-lollies or ice-cream or iced drinks when we could afford them.If the weather was fine it was usually down to “the Beck” for a plodge and a picnic consisting of a bottle of tapwater and jam sandwiches.In High View there was another fishop  which I don’t remember well.Below Lowery’s was Jack Maltby’s barber’s and Fred Parkinson the butcher.Then there was sweetshop belonging to a Mr. Thirkell,I think.Sweet rationing continued long after the war but I remember my mother sending  me to the shop if we could have a quarter of sweets out of the next month’s rationing.Even at the age of 9 or 10 I knew we were on a sticky wicket and sure enough was refused-those were the days!!!!!!-at least we had good teeth,although I suppose sugar or condensed milk on bread were poor substitutes.I seem to remember the chemist being here also before it moved to its present site.

Then there was the Club which I think flourished in the the 40’s and 50’s.The Club Hall was one of the 2 cinemas at the time, the Empire,recently demolished , being the other.I always thought the Club Hall was not as good as the Empire,being prone to frequent breakdowns in the film.It was run by Mr. Godfrey who had theatrical experience.When the film broke down the lights would come on and if it was only the sound  off we were allowed to move to the back where the posh seats were and the film would restart with us not having a clue what was going on-what a laugh!!If it broke down completely then we went home and got our money back-at least I hope so.!!!I think I probably went to the films 2or 3 times a week.The cheapest seats were only 6d if you were prepared to sit on a wooden seat and we were.It was not unknown to go to first house to one cinema and second house to the other at the weekend.We did not get a tv until 1955 and then there was only one channel until 1959 when Tyne Tees started.We liked the serials like” Superman,” “Range Rider”, “The Lone Ranger”, Hopalong Cassidy,Roy Rogers,Gene Autry-in fact any cowboy film.Television was not a threat then.

John Graham

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  1. Alf Rothwell
    April 26, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Hi John, What a memory you have!! great reading brought back a lot of memories. Cheers, Alf R

  2. frank clarke
    April 27, 2009 at 7:29 am

    I agree with alf. it is one of the best articles written on the subject I have the very same memories and reading this took me straight back to the 1950s

  3. wilfb
    April 27, 2009 at 8:15 am

    I have been waiting for such a detailed and well written account of Ushaw Moor for ages. Well I got it! It is easy to read and full of interesting facts. It has not escaped me that it is labelled part one – so there is more to look forward to. Thank you John.

  4. J B
    April 30, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    A very good account John.
    Are you the John Graham that moved to Mansfield all those years back?.

  5. john graham
    May 17, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Hi JB I did move to Mansfield back in 1963-just been on holiday and hope to continue with further memories sometime soon.

  6. J Burke
    May 17, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Hi John I thought it was you,I spoke to Robert Clarkson the other day,first time in about Seven Years I said I had read your artical and thought it was you.
    I have been back in Sutton In Ashfield for about Seven years,after living and working in the Durham area for about 12 years .
    Hope to hear from you again.

    • john graham
      May 18, 2009 at 9:39 am

      Hi John-good to hear from you.Trust you and your family are well.I like to go on this site as there are some interesting articles but it has gone quiet!

  7. Susanne Glynn
    October 27, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Just read the Ushaw Moor memories. I am Colin Lawson’s sister Susanne, and sad to say that my big brother died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday 23rd six months to the day that he married his long time partner Joan. He moved to Yorkshire five years ago due to ill health. I too remember the fish shop and especially the fish patties at 4d each! Lovely to share your memmories.

  8. Karyn
    January 27, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Hi, I’ve just read your post and I’m really interested to know more about Temperance Terrace. I’ve just moved there and I can’t work out the house numbers at all! I feel as thought the house I’m in has been converted/extended but I can’t work out how. The numbers seem to jump, for example, 19, 21, 24. Any help would be appreciated to satisfiy my ever groeing curiosity! Thanks Karyn

    • Audrey McIntyre
      January 27, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      Hello Karyn, as far as I know the houses in Temperence Terrace used to be back to back houses so each house that is there now used to be two houses hence the numbering! My friend lives in that street so I will ask her!

  9. January 27, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    Hi Karen. You are totally correct about conversion/extension of houses. I was born in number 21 and I note it has obviously been extended by knocking through to the adjoining property. It is not surprising that this has been done as the hoses were very small. I remember one room downstairs which served as lounge/kitchen and a passage leading to a pantry at the rear with a tap for water supply. Outside was the toilet . There was no bathroom. Baths were taken in a bath tin in front of the fire in the lounge . Water for the bath was heated on the fire. There were 2 bedrooms upstairs. All the properties in Temperance Terrace were as small as this so as time went on people extended when they had the opportunity.

  10. Alison gott nee walton
    January 27, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    Hi Karen my cousin lived in temperance terrace years back and they knocked two houses into one I think they lived in house numbers in the twentys can,t remember exactly tho sorry I can,t be more help

  11. Debbie Pascoe
    January 27, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Karen I live in number 16 but it used to be 15 & 16 – back to back houses, From what I have been told there was one room downstairs for each house, one a the front and one at the back then there were two rooms upstairs, again two at the front and two at the back, A builder had the houses before us and knocked through so when we bought it there was a sitting room, dining room and two kitchens downstairs and three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, We have since knocked the two kitchens down and built one. I believe it was the same for numbers 17 and 18 which is now number 17

  12. Graeme Walker
    July 13, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Hi John , I remember sitting with you guys in Ushaw Moor when your father died and you told me many stories about what Ushaw Moor was like and what your father was like . I stumbled across this doing a family tree from over that area and my wife’s family. It’s great to read the account of the “old” days

    • ptg71
      July 14, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Hi Graeme. Nice to hear from you again. I remember well the occasion you refer to. My cousin Jackie Richards had some great stories to tell and even though it was a sad occasion he had us in stitches most of the time.It is hard to believe now but it was over 28 years ago.Time flies. Thanks for your commenting on the article Graeme and good luck with your research.

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