Home > Memories > Sleetburn And Ushaw Moor Virtually Uncut

Sleetburn And Ushaw Moor Virtually Uncut

First of all I wish you all a happy New Year.

 So from three months old until almost 16 years old and all spent in the Valley.  How did it happen and what was it about? My mother’s  family were originally farmers but eventually pressing economic considerations almost inevitably led the later male line  into the coal mining industry. Just about all of them were in supervisory roles and they  made a good ‘fist’ of that responsibility.

My mother did not think too much about my natural father and as far as I can gather the main problem was his untidiness.

I spent my youth with a mother and step- father and was more or less none the worse for it. Several kids wondered why my surname was not the same as my half sister’s surname and that was wounding for a while.

I attended New Brancepeth Infants and its junior school. I do not have good memories of the junior school at all – apart from memories of marbles at break and impressive steam trains rushing along the line through Ushaw Moor. It all seems a bit sinister – foreboding at the time – clearly that school did not make me feel happy. Mind you a word of caution will not go amiss: the memory is very selective and unreliable at times. Afterall Wallace Hayton taught there and he was far from sinister – a gentleman infact. Mr Hill? Some liked him but I thought he was far too oppressive.

I have previously mentioned winter sledging down the Sleetburn bank [towards Ushaw Moor] and several other things so I am trying not to be too repetitive. I have another twenty minutes to spare – not much because I could probably write for hours.   

Ushaw Moor! If I brainstorm some words – ie just let them out – what would I come up with? Well let us see! Starting now:

 Harry Barlow, vicar Welby, 11 plus nerves – a mockery of a system but I recovered, Waterhouses Modern we beat them more than once, Watson’s, The Empire, the Modern school – Edith Smith , Pauline Newman – grand girls – Gillian Cruddace -the Pinkneys’ to the left and right of us at Whitehouse Court – Titchy Thompson – jelly and ice cream – bluebird toffee nearly choking my half brother – Peggy living in Whitehouse Court two doors up ie towards the main road -Mr Tonks good teacher eventually headmaster elsewhere – Newcastle 3 Manchester City 1 Crook 2 Derby County 2 – very clean living room at my grandmother’s house with polish and consequently a nice smell -potato picking in the field opposite Whitehouse Court – John Vasey delicate on the ball – number 7  shirt not a bad winger – smell of beer fumes at the bottom of Station Road – plush new seats at the Empire – sort of gold coloured they were c1957 – pit hooter – singing accents – Soccer Gleghorn let us all bow to him – etc etc. 

Did my childhood help me? Yes but only much much later. Five minutes left must press on.

Socrates – the moral philosopher – said that the unconsidered life is not worth living. Well I survived Sleetburn and Ushaw Moor and am in a fit state to consider it all – back -present and future. As I see it we must not be overly impressed by certain institutions – we must not bow and scrape at the alter of life or the alter at some church or other – rather we should observe the world as it is, consult the wise and think for ourselves – if we do not we are living the agenda of others and that would be so sad, so unnecessary and rather futile.

Time up – must dash.


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