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Loads of Coal

A sight which has long since disappeared from the streets of Ushaw Moor is that of loads of coal lying on the road waiting to be carried in and hoyed into the coal house. Men employed at the pit received a quantity of coal free for domestic use. My first memories of coal being tipped was when our family lived at 29 Harvey Street at New Brancepeth.

Across the back steet was a home made wooden coal house next to the gable end of the netty. On arriving at Ushaw Moor in January 1947 the coal house was situated next to the outhouse. If it rained when the coal was lying on the road waiting to be “put in” to the coal house it was very heavy to carry and the coal acted as a dam and the water built up behind the coal. New Brancepeth Colliery coal was delivered by lorry, Tot Sheivels was the driver.

I can remember that coals was from Ushaw Colliery at one time was delivered by horse and a two wheeled cart. The coalman lived in Durham Road. All heating at this time was coal fired. This was long before central heating and the (recent?) arrival of natural gas into the valley I cannot recall the weight of free coal alloted to each worker and I would also query my use of the word free as colliery owners were not renowned for their generosity to their workmen.

In the summer months the coal house was always full but in the winter months the coal house could be half empty. The coal was usally carried off the street and into the coalhouse in buckets. Wooden boards were placed across the front of the coalhouse so the coal could build up behind the boards and there was a gap at the bottom of the boards to push the shovel in to this gap and retrieve the coal and put it into a bucket. On winter evenings two buckets of coal were filled before darkness fell and were ready for use during the evening. Toast never tasted so good as when it was toasted on the toasting fork in front of the coal fire. I can still taste it. Coal was also supplied by coalmen to homes where no one was employed at the Colliery. Rowlands Bros. whose garage was situted at the top of Unthank Terrace at New Brancepeth was one and another coalman was Mr. Grady from Cornsay Colliery. Brian Mc.

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  1. Peter Clarke
    September 22, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Exactly what I recall about my infancy/early youth-so natural at the time yet seems so alien now. About the coal- comments would be ” There’s some good roundies in that ” or ” what a load of muck, that must be from Bearpark.” Anyway Brian I still remember you taking me down the beck when I visited my Nan and Granda at No 37, Regards Peter Clarke

  2. wilfb
    September 23, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Brian I can taste the toast and the warmth from the coal right now – thank you. As a youngster one could imagine all sorts of images in the coal flames. I also chuckled at Peter’s gentle put down of Bearpark coal.

  3. August 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    I grew up in the 80’s, so long after the collieries had closed, but i still remember Roland Bros delivering our Coal. (We lived in Arthur Street then) Some neighbours had Coke…i remember finding it very strange..Coke??!!!
    One thing i remember is…when i was very little..maybe ..3? The wind blew the door shut and my mam got locked in the coalhouse, the latch locked. I heard her shouting and I had to get a set of steps and reach up to let her out, fun times!
    Eventually we knocked down the coalhouse as my stepdad wanted a workshop, so we had a bunker instead. A lot of the houses in Arthur St (the other terraces) still have their coalhouses/outhouses with the little wooden doors still visible.

  4. August 26, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I went for a drive one evening a couple of weeks ago and passed through New Brancepeth and there was Rowlands Garage standing derelict at the top of the Store Bank or to put it in the correct situ at the top of the long demolished Unthank Terrace. When I was a little lad living at New Brancepeth this garage was always a hive of activity and now it is standing there roofless and windowless. A sorry sight to see. Time moves on and the world changes an I am reluctantly dragged along with it. One must look to the future

    As a little lad some words baffled me, in fact some still do. One word that did was painted on the side of Rowlands lorries “Rowlands Bros”. I could not get my head around this word “Bros” until an adult explained the word was short for “Brothers”. Another word was “Ltd” until again someone explained the true meaning of the word “Limited.” Happy days.

  5. August 28, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Haha, yes, i used to wonder about that too as a kid. Bros the band were out then too so i thought Rowland Bros had something to do with them too…it’s the only other reference i had seen!

  6. August 30, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Matt,

    That entry is fabulous. Keep your entries coming.

    Brian Mc

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