Archive for March, 2010

Shut That Door

March 31, 2010 1 comment

Although  I sometimes come up with real and relevant material about Ushaw Moor too often I offer little more than a chat. I wonder why that is? Well I cannot always come up with ‘the goods’, that is to say the fascinating little anecdotes about village life:  it must be because they are hidden in your cupboard, along with the toy soldiers and Christmas tinsel. My cupboard is becoming bare whereas I hazard a guess that yours cannot even be closed properly – because of  the sheer number of memories crammed into it. Why not release a few to this site and shut that door properly?

I suspect that the Facebook facility and the Memories Section need each other. Certainly there has been much transfer from Memories to Facebook  but, and it is just my opinion, we need to release the creative force that is within some of the Facebook fans; in so doing it will uplift and energise the Memories section and show you that you can write and entertain us on rainy days!


Categories: Memories

Have We Lost A Mile Somewhere?

March 30, 2010 2 comments

Right through the 50s I was brought up to believe that Ushaw Moor was four miles from Durham City. I was convinced that I was being told the truth but now many people, for example estate agents, are telling us that we have, in effect, lost a mile. Where did we lose that mile? Does it matter?

I suppose it does matter if you have missed a bus and have decided to walk to Durham thinking it will take about 53 minutes to get there but find that it takes 72 minutes and consequently you miss your appointment. It does matter if you are trying to cut down petrol costs.

Is this posting the start of a great debate [akin to the Larkrise to Candleford controversy] or a whimper of an article that is  misunderstood and  destined for the scrapheap – where all dull subjects end their days?


Categories: Memories

Wilf Bell Has 0 [Correction] 3 Friends!

March 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I am new to this Facebook thing and I nearly died laughing a few days ago when I saw  in print, with all the public humiliation that goes with it, that I had no [let me be clear] 0 friends. It is not that I have a lot of friends – rather it was the assumption, by the mighty Facebook, that I had none -it hurt beneath my laughter I can tell you. It may be that when that person in the Facebook office saw this new member – Wilf Bell – it was inevitable, as night follows day, that a Facebook representative would come up with an educated guess – Wilf Bell = none/nil/0 friends.

What is a friend? We all have a view on that. Well whatever a friend is I now have three of them and they are all wholesome people. I can picture them now – all optimistic and colourful characters – willing me on to be  a man deserving of them.  Who knows, one day I might have 300 friends and how will I manage my diary with that number?


Categories: Announcements

A Couple Of Memorable School Books

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

 I can recall two memorable books from school [apart from set books for examinations] namely: The Water Babies and Hereward The Wake. The former would have been told to us wide eyed kids at New Brancepeth primary or junior school, and the latter at Ushaw Moor County.

Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies was very popular in Victorian times and I hazard a guess that it was read to us because it taught aspects of morality when we were at a very impressionable age. I guess most of you will be familiar with the story: young Tom was a chimney sweep employed by Mr Grimes a horrible bully. Tom falls down a chimney, is chased out of the house  and finds himself falling into a river. It is at that point that the imagination can expand; he becomes a water baby in a magical river underworld. I recall being entranced when it was read out.

The big thing I recall about Hereward the Wake is that I was told that this Anglo Saxon leader never fell asleep in his quest to get one over on the Normans, hence the Wake part of his name. I now understand that it is much more likely that he was given the name Wake by the Norman land owning Wake family in order to legitimise their claim on his land! I suppose I must have been about nine when I first heard this tale  [possibly from one of our teaches – Mr Spence is in the frame].        


Categories: Memories

At Least Ushaw Moor Is Built Upon Sweat And Good Character

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

More or less from the second half of the 19th century, until 1960, Ushaw Moor’s economy relied almost entirely on King Coal, the muscle and brawn of its miners, and its  women. The men worked hard in conditions of great danger and dirt whilst the women looked after the children, the cleaning and  the cooking etc. There was a lot of etc. because although a woman’s tasks were many she had little in the way of modern conveniences [until the 50s] to ease her day.

During the 50s and 60s mining suffered from competition from oil, as well as the threat from natural gas and nuclear power, and consequently there were many mine closures .Some villages were devastated while others, including Ushaw Moor, turned out rather better despite pit closure. 

For many  generations the people of this unpretentious village have done their best – but when you look further a field there is a darkside; the reputation of many of those representing us in Parliament is in virtual tatters; the Catholic Church’s authority is in tatters, and the politics of food labelling look unsavoury. Much worse than all of that is the opposition to climate change science; the great denial by some that might mean the premature end for our great [?]  grandchildren.

 Looking to the USA for inspiritation can disappoint. A potentially great president is being harried by  Republican opposition that sometimes has the appearance of insanity, when at its worst, and an opposition that lacks vision at its best. Please do not mention hockey sticks and lipstick in my earshot.  

As individuals I suppose  all we can do is to continue to live our lives with integrity, love our family, respect our neighbours, sharpen our minds to injustice, use our democratic muscle, however flabby, and try and ensure that our children reach their educational potential – in the hope that the good that is in the world wins out against the darkside.


Categories: Memories, mining

426 Not Out And A Grand Reunion?

March 25, 2010 4 comments

I am of course  referring to the current number of Ushaw Moor Memories Facebook fans. I cannot help but think there is an opportunity to be grasped. Let me make myself clear: there is a posting on site regarding the success that Witton Park village had in organising a village reunion. In that posting I expressed the view that if they could do it  – then so could Ushaw Moor. Imagine it: a lovely warm day in the summer with chilled beer and wines for the adults and ice creams for the kids; Soccer Gleghorn chatting to an old Spennymoor United mate; Pigeon fanciers going over  old times; Geoff Bowery chatting away twelve to the dozen with old mates and Paul Clough enjoying a fine cigar – as he views the scene.  There could well be a clown or two to entertain  the kids- maybe even Mr Gerrard our old goalkeeper, a performer more like Bert Williams than Coco, could bring out his act for the day. We could even have a stall for exhibiting old Ushaw Moor and Sleetburn photographs – all freshly removed from attics, garages, tallboys and safes! Perhaps those very photos could be photocopied on a local copier  [home or shop] for putting on the Memories site!

As I say – let us see the Facebook traffic hum with chatter and enthusiam for THE GRAND REUNION! Of course it needs the will, the desire and effort enabled by organisational ability. So is the power of Facebook a myth? Can Facebook be the means to achieving  ‘the grand reunion?’ We will see during the next week or so by means of monitoring Facebook chatter!

Oh and by the way if Paul does not smoke cigars there is no compulsion for him to start.


Categories: Announcements, Memories

Meet Ethel – she’s Durham’s No1 citizen (From The Northern Echo)

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Meet Ethel – she’s Durham’s No1 citizen

A GRANDMOTHER who has done voluntary work in her village for more than 40 years is the second winner of Durham’s annual Community Citizen Award.

Ethel Cummings, 74, of Ushaw Moor, has been involved with the local jazz band, bingo club, youth club, and fun days in the village and community groups including the Bearpark Quadrilateral Division of St John Ambulance, The 12 Villages Network, the area’s Community Safety Compact, residents group umbrella organisation FORGE, SRB6 and Ushaw Moor Residents Group.


Archive – Thursday, 8 November 2007

via Meet Ethel – she’s Durham’s No1 citizen (From The Northern Echo).

Keeping the wolf from the door in Ushaw Moor (From The Northern Echo)

March 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Keeping the wolf from the door in Ushaw Moor

PLACENAMES do have this extraordinarily irritating habit of not quite being what they seem.

Take Ushaw Moor in County Durham, just outside Durham itself. That initial U is, in fact, of all things, a shortened version of the Anglo-Saxon wulf ,or ‘wolf’ as we would say. And shaw, another Dark Age word, gives us the Wood of the Wolf – a wolf lair once carefully avoided by locals.

Not that we should be surprised at this confusion.

Across 30 generations Wulfsceaga (as it originally was) was easily bent out of shape by careless and sometimes foreign mouths, the missing ‘W’, for example, was the fault of the Vikings.

And placenames referring to wolves are relatively common in Britain – they occur almost 40 times in England, mainly with reference to fields or forested areas. But how late did this particular lair survive?

Well, our last records of wolves in England come from the 14th century – though in the environs of mighty Durham, it is likely that the last wolf head had been stuck on a village gate in the 13th century. By that date, several other British dodos had also bit the dust including boars, bears and beavers, wolves being only the last to be wiped out by man.

Today, wolves are the playthings of TV wildlife programmes.

But back in Ushaw, circa 700, when the name was given, they were a peril to livestock and life.

Indeed, one can almost smell the fear as a group of armed men approach the copse at twilight and watch the snarling beasts defending their glades.

No quarter would have been asked and none given.

via Keeping the wolf from the door in Ushaw Moor (From The Northern Echo).

Evening Extra – New Site Verdict!

March 23, 2010 2 comments

The headline was meant to be in the style of a noisy newspaper seller – I hope you got that and were therefore not baffled by it! My impression is that the site looks professional and  yes…..sophisticated! I like it. Congratulations yet again Paul.

Now just a quick point: as well as clicking on the likes of Soccer Gleghorn etc. it might be useful to try the search box with a name. I can tell you that even if what you want does not come up your person might still be there somewhere on site. Just imagine Gloria Race putting her name into the search box and clicking: she might get the surprise of her life!


Categories: Memories

“Further memories take me back to the chestnut shop”

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Further memories take me back to the chestnut shop on Oakridge Road owned by the hugely popular Cathy Donaldson who used to be the beneficiary of many a deerness schoolboys dinner money.

It is worth noting that in the late 80’s early 90’s the five a day theory was not yet in force so a bag of  ‘kopp kopps’, some ‘choc …lick’ and ice pops/jubilees were generally acknowlegded as part of the staple diet for the ushaw lad of the time.

It’s little wonder not many of us went on to play for England or become international athletes given such a diet ! That said we used to love setting the football up on the green near Lilac Park using 2 coats and would entertain ourselves for hours on end, the biggest danger on the pitch being dog poo,  some of which was white and is now strangely extinct !

via Facebook | Ushaw Moor Memories.

Geoff Bowery