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Victoria Court

My family moved from 29 Harvey Street, New Brancepeth to 38 Victoria Court in January, 1947, a couple of weeks before the massive snowstorms which started in late January, 1947, and I have it on good authority from Michael Malley who is an old friend of mine in Hebburn that the thaw started on March 17th, of that year.

We were in the first 16 familes to be moved on to the new estate. The first houses let were the last four numbered houses and the first eight numbered houses in Whitehouse Court and the last four numbered houses in Victoria Court ie 36 – 39 Victoria Court. I hope that makes sense.

The surrounding area was a building site for a long time and the foremans hut and the large store hut were situated on the ground on the opposite side of the road from Tom Dickinsons home at 12 Whitehouse Court. The site foreman was a man named Edgar Simpson who lived at New Brancepeth and the Clerk of the Works was Mr. Carse who with his family resided at 6 Victoria Court for a couple of years after the estate was opened. The estate was designed by Mr Fred Hedley who was the architect for Brandon and Byshottles Urban District Council. I think that Fred was responsible for the design of all council housing in the Brandon and Byshottles area. The watchmen on the site were a Mr Hutchinson, who I believe lost an arm in the First War and who lived at Pringle Place at New Brancepeth and also a man whose name I never knew who lived in the bottom house in Whitehouse Lane. When the the two gentlemen in question sent you on your way you moved as quickly as possible. There was no back chat or cheek or the local policeman was liable to visit your home with a telling off.

I cannot remember exactly in which order the houses were built but I think that Bracken Court was the last built before the road was pushed through the wood to begin building Oakridge Road. There was very little road traffic in those days so the road was our playing area, football, cricket, kick the tin on winter nights and there was even a little ungrassed area where we played allees or marbles as the game is better known. Chucks was also a popular game played on the pavement.

There were many different moves in the game of chucks. We walked a lot around the local area and many happy hours were spent down the beck, fishing and birdnesting in the spring. It is always sunny in those far off days when I look back but there must have been some bad weather around. Our sledging bank was the area in front of the first four numbered houses in Bracken Court and for a number of years we used the road in front of these four houses before it was opened for through traffic. It was never gritted so we spent many happy hours in that area in the snow of the winters past.

We never wanted anything as consumer goods at that time were unknown. We provided our own entertainment and we learned as young people to use our imagination. I might be wrong but in the world of today young people are deprived of using their own initiative and imagination in their mass produced entertainment.

One source of entertainment was our visits to the “pictures” at the Empire and the Club Hall. That meant that you had the choice of eight “big” and eight “little” films a week to watch if you were so inclined. There was always a cartoon and the newsreels every night also. It is quarter to six and I am due at the Iona Club at seven o clock, being on the Club committee takes up a lot of time. Our world was small and secure up to a point and the influences on our lives were Church or Chapel, school and your parents. No outside influences like young people are under today. Life I think was easier to understand when I was young.

Brian Mc Loughlin

  1. frank clarke
    January 3, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    brian is it not possible to join a few of your stories together and compile a novel as i am sure you would have a hit onyour hands I can smell, taste and feel ushaw moor in the 1950s through your words it was ajoy to read i hope you can find the time and memories for more cheers frank clarke

  2. noodles29
    January 26, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks for the comment Frank. I have been away from Ushaw Moor for 53 years but it still has a special place in my heart.

    • Clare Burn
      February 25, 2010 at 11:49 pm

      It’s funny that you mentioned 6 Victoria Court in your blog! My mam and dad have lived their for 30 years – my dad originally coming from Braken Court when the houses where first built!

      • noodles29
        February 26, 2010 at 8:23 pm

        Clare, Good to hear from you. We were the second tenants in that house. Happy memories flood back. The first tenants were a Mr & Mrs Carse who had two sons, Derek and John and a younger sister. Mr Carse was the Clerk of the Works on the building site that eventually became Victoria, Whitehouse and Bracken Courts.. I understand that a family named Harrison who lived at 4 Victoria Court moved into the house after we moved out in August 1957. There was a Rayburn stove in the kitchen and it was great on a winters day after a day spent on a building site to open the back door and feel the lovely warmth of the heat from the Rayburn. It was as good as an Aga.

        Best Regards from Brian Mc.

  3. noodles29
    February 26, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I feel rather chuffed at your comment above. I just put down what comes into my head. I don’t think I have the talent to string memories together. They would need to be in chronological order I think that is above my head. Thanks Frank.

  4. Clare Burn
    March 1, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    I used to visit Mr Harrison as a young kid when we lived at 8 Victoria Court. I remember a crab apple tree and lots of rhubarb!!!

  5. Jon Chadwick
    August 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Mr Hutchinson from Pringle place was my grandfather . He lost his arm when he was run over by some coal trucks as a child and he was never able to fight in WW1. His father, my great grandfather, was the under manager at new brancepeth colliery when the accident occurred . My mother, esme Hutchinson says she was in school with a Mc Loughlin but can’t remember his first name Jon chadwick

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