Archive for October, 2010

Don Cockell v Rocky Marciano

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment

British boxer Don Cockell’s fight with world champion Rocky Marciano took place on the 16th of May 1955 and there was a lot of money riding on it: forget seamy gambling dens on both sides of the Atlantic and focus on the Ushaw Moor County School  playground a day or two before the fight. The author of this piece, bad boy Wilf, bet young and blond John Vasey sixpence that Marciano would retain his world title. He did and John paid up. Sixpence then is worth about 50 pence now and  would  enable me to buy the best part of a standard bar of Cadbury’s chocolate or twenty per cent of a pint of beer. Not life changing then, but fun.

From what I can gather Cockell won the first round and lost the subseqent eight. A technical knockout finished it. Cockell was a worthy fighter and this is confirmed by his record of 81 fights 66 wins [38 by knockout] 1 draw and 14 defeats.

Many youngsters were enthralled by the sports stars of those days; I for one can recall getting up at four in the morning to glue myself to the radio so as to listen to England’s test match progress in Australia. I can still recall the names of many of my cricketing heroes of those days, for example Peter May, Colin Cowdrey, Trevor Bailey and Frank Tyson. I cannot name many of the current team’s players, apart from Collingwood, Anderson and one or two others. Most of us were innocent then: we woke up feeling excited about the day and whether it was sunny, rainy, or a sea of snow, we were up for it. These days I sometimes [but not always] find it difficult to recapture that feeling of excitement, largely because the reality of this troubled world is not far from the forefront of my mind.

The reality is that there is much corruption and I suspect it might be many times  more in excess of what I currently imagine it to be. I am old enough to be aware that I am virtually powerless against the fundamental injustices of this planet but big enough to know that I must not capitultate without putting up a few chosen fights against injustice. These days it is not just a case of a silver sixpence on Rocky Marciano, rather a protest against the worst excesses of religion, politics and miscelleneous grubby and unsavoury groups and individuals.   So when I am invited to give a talk, on this or that, I will say my piece, hopefully with a measure of dignity and an absence of rant. The occasional letter to my MP will be fired off, if I am really livid; the last one, concerning an ambulance industrial dispute,  must have been twenty years ago so ‘obsessional’  is not the right word for my letter writing record to date!


Categories: Memories

Ship shape From The Northern Echo

October 10, 2010 Leave a comment

They’d lived for two years at Ushaw Moor while he trained for the ministry in Durham, are delighted to be back in the North-East and to have more chance of watching Newcastle United. “I sort of married into it,” said Richard.They’re interested in Celtic Christianity, in football, folk music, arts, theatre, bread baking, politics and folk music, though not necessarily in that order, hope to work collaboratively to bring “hope, love and healing”to their communities.“It’s a big job and we can’t do it on our own,” said Richard. “It’s about building teams, working with our partner churches, being patient.”

via Ship shape From The Northern Echo.

Dull, but never boring From The Northern Echo

October 8, 2010 1 comment

SIMILARLY aground,

John Robinson in Blackhall Rocks seeks help with a saying much used by his late mother, born and raised in Ushaw Moor.“If anything were untidy or a mish-mash,” recalls John, “she would say it was like Stage Bank Fair.”Mrs Robinson clearly had something in common with the column’s old mum – who’d have been 100 two weeks ago – except that in similar circumstances she preferred to liken the confusion to Staffordshire Bank Fair.Though there are other variations, the reference is undoubtedly to what was said to be England’s one-day fair, held biannually at Stagshaw Bank, four miles north-east of Hexham.There was a colliery there, too.Scale alone suggested chaos, the extent of ale swilling – “it was before the days of teetotalism,” explained an 1850 account – no doubt adding to the general pandemonium. “The fair and other clatter, often mingled with the roar of Wombwell’s lions, was almost a Babel,” said the 19th Century writer.

via Dull, but never boring From The Northern Echo.

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Sergeant W. Dennis “Geordie” Belshaw

October 2, 2010 Leave a comment

1808996 RAF – Flight Engineer

Dennis was born on October 8th, 1923, in Ladysmith Terrace, Ushaw Moor, Durham, the only son of Dorothy and Arthur Belshaw. He had an older sister, Dorothy, who sadly died at the age of eight, when Dennis was six, and a younger sister,Vera, who was born not long after Dorothy’s death. His father diedwhen he was eight years old, and the family moved to Bearpark.

He left school at 14 years of age and was a delivery boy for a local shop, until starting work in the store at 16, with a view to eventually training as a manager.

He joined the RAF in 1941 at the age of 18, and received his wings in 1943. He and the crew flew many sorties together, until that fateful day in June when they were shot down over Belgium. After initially receiving help from the resistance, Dennis was eventually was captured, and was a POW in Stalag Luft 3 until the end of the war.

On being demobbed, Dennis undertook a government training programme in place for returning men and women, and he chose to become a painter and decorator, eventually becoming a sales executive in later years. He married Lettie just after the war, and they had an only daughter, Anne. They also had two grandchildren, Richard and Elizabeth,to whom Dennis was to speak of his time in the war, the only time he did so in any detail. Dennis sadly died in his late sixties.

via Peter Knox in Belgium – Knox Family Chronicles Knoxetal.