Archive for December, 2010

They Sought Refuge In Ushaw Moor

December 31, 2010 18 comments

St Wilfrid’s school is situated in the Gateshead area and its log book entry for 01.09.1939 states:

All children assembled in departments as instructed. Infant party numbered 24 children and 5 voluntary helpers under my supervision. We joined Juniors and Seniors in Junior playground and after prayers and hymns for God’s protection on all, we set out for Gateshead Station at 12.30pm, our destination Ushaw Moor.

The source of this information is the ‘Tomorrow’s History Made In The North East site’.

Do any of our elders recall an intake from Gateshead?


Categories: Memories

Up For The Cup

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Local school teams have had some significant success over the years, much of it noted by the Durham County Schools’ Football Association.

The County Cup competition began in the 1908/09 season and was clearly very popular; it is reported that about 10,000 people attended the first final. A year later New Brancepeth School reached the final only to fall to Crook. A few seasons later New Brancepeth again got to the final but  lost to Ryhope, however they made no mistake in the final of 19i6/17 when beating a school called Colliery from Sunderland.

Bearpark School featured in two County Cup finals: 1926/27, losing to Eppleton, and 1929/30, losing to Chopwell.

The Londonderry Cup is the most prestigious local cup competition and Waterhouses won it in 1918/19. Twenty years later Ushaw Moor School very nearly emulated them but lost in the final to Hookergate.  There is no mention of ‘RC’ so it was probably the Council School rather than Roman Catholic team.

It is important that local football continues to receive support. Why not follow one or more of your local school, village and town teams? You might decide to continue following Newcastle or Sunderland but think what you could do with the money not spent on financially fattening up fit  professional footballers; you could buy a new carpet or car or visit Australia. Or eat marshmallows in a bath at a Hilton hotel. 


Categories: Memories

Normal Service Resumes!

December 29, 2010 Leave a comment

I telephoned my half-sister Sheila Albone [as it was] today in order to catch up with family news. It turned out to be a fun call and full of information and good humour. Obviously most of it was not about Ushaw Moor of old but some of it was!

Sheila lived in Ushaw Moor during the period 1954 to 1960. She recalled some of her school friends of that time with great affection; Brenda Benson, Ann Stoddart and Cynthia. She got stuck on Cynthia’s surname so my brain delved into the memory bank and within two seconds up popped Beetlestone. Sure it might be Beatlestone, or a similiar spelling, but boy was Sheila impressed with my brain feat. Sheila explained that Cynthia spent some holidays with our family in a village called…something or other. Was it Newbiggin Sheila? ‘Yes it was’ said Sheila ‘how clever of you’.

In passing Sheila talked about her brother, my half-brother, Colin Albone [b Ushaw Moor1954 died Stanley, Co. Durham 2002] and how he had coached the young Paul Collingwood at Shotley Bridge Cricket Club. Colin was the club’s professional at the time. Now I had not known that he had coached our great battler Collingwood – he of Ashes fame!

So Cynthia Beetlestone: where are you now? For that matter where is Ann Stoddart and Brenda Benson?


Categories: Memories

Being Gentle With Yourself

December 29, 2010 5 comments

The mental reliving of the past requires as much honesty as we can muster but we will surely embellish our modest triumphs and distort and rationalise our disgraces. That is what we do and some of us are more adept at it than others; for some a  past batting cameo becomes a match saving performance   and for others the act of hanging out clothing on a windy day, in an efficient and technically correct manner, is given internal plaudits way beyond what can be reasonably justified.

I imagine that there are many long standing marriages that survive only because a partner’s flirting with someone else failed to take off.  I also imagine that railway ticket cheats went on to greater things by holding their nerve under the scrutiny of the unexpected ticket inspector. Oh and what about the undiscovered drivers that got away with  driving  fifty yards  down the dual carriage way, the wrong way, in order to rectify a missed turning?    

We must be gentle with ourselves and chart a way forward that protects our self esteem and moral fibre. In so doing we must not be afraid of failure; an intelligent response to that is to welcome the learning experience and push on until the ceiling hurts the head.


Categories: Memories

I am Sure That Santa Claus Does Exist

December 25, 2010 1 comment

I have believed in his existence for years but I sometimes experienced a wave of doubt. Afterall, I asked myself, how can he visit so many houses in one night? That has never been answered to my satisfaction, but what do I know?

This Christmas I got crafty: I placed some cotton thread across the inside of the lounge door [we do not have a chimney] and waited to see what happened.  The Christmas Tree is in the lounge and presents are often placed around it. Would the thread be broken and presents be placed by the tree? If I found broken thread would it be Santa’s doing?

Well I have to announce that I found it broken as early as 6.10 am this morning. My son could not possibly have broken it because 6.10 am is an absolute impossibility for him. My mother in law is in her 90th year and is far too clever and mature to think about distorting the truth. My wife never left my bed; I know that because  I was awake listening to the World Service on the wireless. The conclusion is obvious and life affirming: it was Santa Claus.

Yes I know that Santa has his rivals e.g. parents are known to buy for children, but they merely supplement Santa. Silly of you not to realise that.


Categories: Announcements, Memories

Reminisce, Reflect And Rant?

December 21, 2010 2 comments

We are within touching distance of Christmas Day. Although it is a time when friends and family get together to drink and be merry dwindling numbers go to church to worship and there are too many people out on the streets begging, some of them mournfully and some apathetically – thankfully however there are a few with their spirit just about intact. 

Wherever we find ourselves it is a time to look back. Mining families are good at it. The memory of the orange in the pit sock comes tumbling out with no prompting at all. The box of multi coloured crayons also springs to mind as does, for some, the winter of 1947. That winter  is capable of winding Brian M [the mining village poet] up like a clockwork train or soldier, or both; it is a pleasure to read the contributions of that man.

I could go on to describe many a fond memory of the past, that is for ever associated with Christmas, but I have already done so in earlier contributions and will not risk boring anyone too much. I can however touch on the idea of reflection. To remember without trying to make sense of it can be self limiting; when nothing is learnt it leaves us in danger of overblown sentimentality. A well respected friend of mine reminded me that lessons can be learnt from reflection, however old one is, and it can lead to better and perhaps less selfish experiences.   

I could easily descend into rant mode. I don’t need to be on a bar stool after five pints of beer to do that. No, I will not rant, I will  be concise; our government brings me despair as well as  financial loss despite already being a poor man in relative terms. The Tories are objectionable; too many of them laugh on the back benches at inappropriate times and it reveals an uncaring and unintellectual approach to the electorate as a whole. As for the front bench there really are too many full blown Tories of the worst kind. Chaos is a topical word at the moment so let us hope that when the majority of us experience it we then reminisce, reflect and vote accordingly.

Merry Christmas.


Categories: Memories

Ushaw Moor Junior School Football Team 1981

December 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Back Row
Stephen Guy. Adrian Traylen. Nathan Brown. Wayne Kilbourne.

…Second Row
Philip Jackson. Kevin Stangroom. Stewart Anderson. Neil Watson. Neil Miley.

Front Row
Gary Toase. Richard Whittaker. Paul Robson. Glynne Hall. Stephen Scott.

Jim Whittaker






Enough To Make You Spit?

December 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Punching and kicking can hurt but what is the problem with being on the  receiving end of  a stream of phlegm? Full on, right in the face. Well for a start it’s a health hazard. TB is making a comeback and when that fact is allied to an increase in spitting it becomes an even bigger concern.

 I was a victim of unprovoked spitting back in the middle 50s; I must have been about five foot five inches tall and seemingly easy pickings for a much taller bully. The perpetrator  was about three years older than me and at the time seemed to be about six feet tall. His name was Waugh and I thought better of retaliation; after all I was at the entrance to the cinema in Station Road and looking forward to the show; for another thing 5’5′ v 6 feet is a bit like New Brancepth FC v Newcastle United FC Ltd. No chance. No way.

What was going through his geographically large but strangely tiny brain? Was he envious about my shorts or the shilling in my pocket courtesy of my grand-dad Dicky Hope? It could not be the latter because the shilling was not on show. Was this Waugh a victim of some disease  known only to sociology, or some other ology?

I certainly made amends even though I had not sought to do so. He cornered me not far from Temperance Terrace, sometime after the original incident, and my response was to kick him in the leg and run. He hopped about in pain as well as surprise and never bothered me again. 

Were you ever bullied at school? Perhaps you were a bully but reformed in adulthood. Perhaps you were able to go through school without any such trouble. I do know that at least one member of 4a was unhappy at school because of bullying but the details will remain confidential forever. 

Dennis the Menace never went to our school. I cannot recall a red and black striped jumper and sticky up black hair. I can recall the late Titchy Thompson as being a fly in the hair but he was no bully to speak of.


Categories: Memories

The Pint And Kettle

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Tea has been a social lubricator across the classes for a very long time and people in mining communities were no different. The tea cups came out at times of  sadness, tragedy, exhaustion, boredom and gossip.

I am told that a very young brother of my natural father was knocked down and killed by a hearse in Langley Moor. He ran into the road without warning. No doubt not all  the mourners restricted themselves to tea in the aftermath.

My great aunt’s first husband fell down a pit shaft during the early part of WW2. I imagine that family discussions in the following weeks were laced with tea, alcohol and sometimes both.

During periods of recreation some married  miners were  drawn to the alcohol driven working men’s club rather than taking the opportunity to spend time with a better half. A great- grandmother  of mine had a drink problem and the conclusion drawn by this family historian is that she was neglected and  somewhat socially adrift.

Bored and neglected women could resort to female gossip. I don’t think my great-grandmother did much of that but many women did. What were they gossiping about? Was it about the teenage girl that had just married a forty year old man? Was it about the girl that had all the appearance of being pregnant? What about the unpolished step at 27?  Or was it about the latest price hike at Broughs? 

Of course tea and beer had  competitors. Dandelion and Burdock, lemonade and gingerbeer spring to mind. Especially gingerbeer; my grandmother had a big brown bottle or two of it delivered every week and I can recall the pleasure of being offered a glass of it.

During the current troubled times the pint, and alcohol in general, have more serious overtones. Cheap beer and spirits are fuelling disorder in our towns and villages yet our government seems to have settled for supermarkets and others doing the right thing rather than legislating against heavily discounted prices. Please correct me about that if appropriate.

 To kettle or ‘kettling’ is very topical. It’s a police tactic of containing protesters in a particular area. It is not unlike the ‘corralling’ of cattle. I am confident that the vast majority of students wish to demonstrate in a peaceful manner but that some have behaved very badly. Likewise I am sure that the vast majority of policemen are well motivated to do the right thing but it is likely that the remainder are inadequate in such  traumatic and testing situations. Of course the best way to establish the truth is to observe a student protest. Would it be helpful to kettle the police in order to give them a better understanding of what it’s like to be caught short, hungry and without that cup of tea or pint?  Perhaps not.   


Categories: Memories

Ushaw Moor Memories 2011 Calendar

December 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Ushaw Moor 2011 Calendar now online.

In PDF Format to print out.

Ushaw Moor Memories 2011 Calendar

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