Archive for June, 2009

Marie Stopes

June 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Yes I agree that this is not an undiluted memory of Ushaw Moor but in the absence of posts from others I thought you might be interested in the influence of Marie Stopes in the 1920s and well beyond. Afterall it reminds us of the mentality of the time. Our people of the 1920s – how was it for them?

 Although she was very actively interested in many things: writing poetry, the Women’s Freedom League, eugenics and much more, it is her work in the field of birth control and sexuality that is best remembered. She received the accolade “woman of the millennium” from the Guardian newspaper readers in 1999. In the early part of the 20th century, regardless of class, there was much inequality between sexes and also ignorance regarding how men and women should relate to each other. Learning from her own failed relationships Marie Stopes began to use her impressive intellect and available resources to quickly, and courageously, seize her opportunity to help makes women’s lives more bearable and less unequal in relation to men.

Birth control facilities would have developed and improved without her; Margaret Sanger, and others, were active in that field, but Marie Stopes got a timely grip on the issue. She did much to explain her point of view: often the atmosphere was electric with expectancy in the few moments prior to her speaking at meetings. She went on to expand facilities to such an extent that the movement that she created is now world wide.

What were some of the likely influences that led Marie Stopes to get involved in family planning and the writing of a book called Married Love? Well there were many:

[1] Women had shown their mettle during WW1 and were beginning to win the argument regarding their rights

[2] D H Lawrence was writing sex driven novels and Marie Stopes’  book [Married Love] had the merit of good timing. During the war women were were mixing more with men and obviously after the war there were more men in circulation in the UK than during it. Ignorance was prevalent in this melting pot.

[3]She was an educated middle class woman setting out women’s entitlement and opportunity for married fulfilment

[4] It was a time when some women thought that a kiss could cause pregnancy. There were many distressing family situations largely caused by a total lack of contraception

[5] Once she had married Humphrey Verdon Roe she had access to  the considerable financial backing that would finance her family planning clinics. He had seen the squalid conditions in the Manchester slums and had seen the great burden on women of having large families.

[6] Her mother, an impassioned feminist, and her father, a distinquished scientist, were highly intelligent and articulate; by being around them Marie had a head start in developing the ability to articulate her thoughts and wishes.

I am aware that we are before the ‘watershed’ so the article is restrained by that!   


Categories: Memories

Is There Anyone Out There?

June 25, 2009 Leave a comment

You can take that headline two ways; am I writing about the Universe or the memories section of the Ushaw Moor Community site?  Maybe I am writing about both.


Categories: Announcements

Durham Amateur Football Trust [DAFT] Update

June 24, 2009 Leave a comment

 It is holding an under 14’s football tournament at Crook Town’s football ground [Millfield] on July 18th and 19th. Four teams representing Bishop Auckland, Crook Town, Willington and West Auckland are playing over the two days for a cup and medals. Bringing the past to life!

Why not support the youngsters! Why not joint DAFT?

You can get to the DAFT site on Google by using the general search Daft Durham Football [or some such – it’s easy] Contact details are on that site.


Categories: Announcements, Memories

The Lights Went Out For An Ushaw Moor Lad

June 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Last year I debated Christianity with a Church of England  group and they acknowledged how brave I was to do that. A wonderful meal was provided, within a garden setting,  prior to the discussion. It all went fine until I found that it was so dark I could no longer read my notes. I suppose it could be said that the debate ended 2-2; I was satisfied with that because it was about five against one on away soil!  The Christians were courteous but not impressed with my view, as far as I could tell. I think it important to say at the outset that if anyone is offended by this post they should not be. It is still a free country with free speech. I have not been abusive nor have I shown any disrespect.   It is a genuine memory, and who knows, it might spark some life into the site.

The Notes 

I recently listened to Professor Richard Dawkins exploring religion with the Bishop of Oxford and it was such a friendly and intelligent meeting of minds. They clearly like and respect each other. That has inspired me to make a short personal statement regarding religion to friends that I equally like and respect!

 There might or might not be a Christian God, however there remains so much that science needs to investigate regarding our world and it is quite likely that humanity will never fully understand the origin of our planet. Having said all that, I put my money on there being no Christian God.

  If there is a Christian God she/he/it must be hugely more intelligent than us and if that is the case – who made God and who made the God that made God? The more I think about that the more I find it difficult to have faith. Maybe there was a Christian God – but he is now dead.

 The evidence for a God that frequently responds to Christian prayer is thin. The Christian Church seems to acknowledge that problem by saying something like ‘the response might be later, when you least expect it’ I find that vague, unsatisfactory and mainly untested.

 The world is in an almighty mess – the majority of people, including children, are in dire poverty – much of it life threatening and much of it not their fault. The Christian God’s silence regarding his creation is woeful. A recent retort to that amounted to ‘concentrate on our country when analyzing God’s creation!’ I will not do that because it would distort an accurate world view.

 If God created the world it took him ages to arrange for human existence to begin; before that, for millions and millions of years, it was blood, tooth and claw for animals – what a wretched  and terrifying situation for them! In fact for most creatures on the planet that remains the same. Some Christians explain the delay in introducing humans by saying that it was a requirement to enable humanity to get started. I think it relegates the importance of humans, just a bit. We are new kids on a block that was built ages ago.  

 Why does the Christian God put so much emphasis on faith? We have discussed this [I said] several times but it is so important to me. I believe that faith is urged despite a dearth of tested and reliable evidence. Some Christians seem to think that having strong faith is a wonderful virtue in itself;  it isn’t if it is achieved by creating lots of backburners for so many awkward questions that threaten their beliefs.  

 I get the impression that some Christians simply cannot understand when people, who have made a lot of effort, cannot accept Christianity. I find that lack of understanding remarkable.

  Much of my professional experience has required reading around a subject or problem, testing the evidence, analyzing, making a decision and having my findings examined by peer groups – yet with the Christian religion we are actively encouraged to stick to the bible, sermons, and guidance from Lay Readers. With the greatest of respect that is not fully reading around the subject.

 I could continue but suffice to say there are far too many Christian back burners that dump rigorous intelligent enquiry.


Categories: Memories

Memories Of My Waist? Plus Joseph Brough

June 21, 2009 Leave a comment

There is a thought provoking paragaph in today’s ‘The Independent’ newspaper written by Janet Street-Porter. It refers to waists. To paraphrase: she feels that a lot of rubbish is written about women on diets and considers it an  issue hijacked by women. She points out that it is difficut for middle-aged men to regain their youthful waists to the point that they are embarrassed to seek assistance. She applauds Stephen Fry for cutting out bread, potatoes etc. and feels that more men should start walking. 

I agree with the writer. Incidentally the Independent is my favourite newspaper and am glad to be reminded of my need to make healthy moves to get some weight off. To those already slim and sexy men – congratulations!

Recently I referred to the Brough’s store that operated in Station Road. You will probably be aware of the picture of the store on site, taken in 1914, and the fact that I was not sure whether the owner  was called Brough or Broughs. I always felt that it was probably Brough and I am right. The influence of Joseph Brough is still felt today! There is a Joseph Brough Charitable Trust Fund [unless it has very recently disbanded] and is administered through the Community Foundation – serving Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. The fund was established in 1940 and helps projects in Northumberland and Durham, with a special interest in Methodist causes. So it is reasonable to assume that he was a Methodist. Seemingly he was a man keen to help those in need as far as he could. Does anyone know more about him, or have memories of the store to add to those already on site?


Some Early Edwardians In East Street

June 19, 2009 Leave a comment


George Metcalf

William Henderson

Francis Proctor

William Payne

William Dent

Joseph Steel

Do you recognise any of them?


Categories: Memories

Sums It Up

June 19, 2009 Leave a comment

My memory’s not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory is not as sharp as it used to be.


WB [supplied by a friend]

Categories: Memories