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Archive for September 23, 2009

Peter Clarke

September 23, 2009 2 comments

There were two very quick replies to my article on coal lying in the street. It was good to see that Peter Clark and Wilf Bell enjoyed the article. I haven’t seen Peter for well over 50 years. That sounds morbid but time flies by so rapidly.

Another vivid memory regarding coal was the never ending run of clapped out lorries carrying coal from opencast sites further up the valley to the washery and coal dump which were situated on the right hand side of the road about 300 yards from Relly Bridge. These wagons were mostly ex War Department vehicles even down to the bull bars fixed on the front of the radiators of the flat fronted lorries. I think they were Bedfords. You can see them in footage from the Second World War. Back to the coal. These lorries would not be allowed on our roads today as most were grossly overloaded with coal piled up behind the boards which had been fitted on to the original body work to give the lorry a greater carrying capacity.

There were no road markings at that time at the crossroads outside the Flass. The drivers would slow the lorries right down as they neared the junction from the direction of Esh Winning, then with a grinding of gears and the lorries swaying with the camber of the road and the bank they would crawl across the junction and into Durham Road. The crossroads were covered in coal and coal dust as the loose coal which fell from the lorries was ground into dust by the traffic using the crossroads. There was always an inch or two of fine coal and dust in the gutters at the sides of the road.

My first memory of open cast mining was on the farm of Mr. Stephenson on the right hand side of the road between Ushaw Moor and Broompark. That would be 1946 or 1947. Correct me please if I have the dates wrong. Happy carefree days before starting work and then conscription into the Armed Forces. One of the firms hauling the coal was Hunters Bros. from Tantobie. Can anyone remember the names of the other firms hauling the coal.

Brian Mc.

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Categories: Memories