Archive for January 2, 2011

Lilian Albone [1924- 1984]

January 2, 2011 Leave a comment

My mother was born in New Brancepeth in the summer of 1924. Her parents were Dickie Hope [1901 – 1983] and Ethel Hope [nee Dodds – 1903- 1978]. Dickie worked at Sleetburn pit at the time but transferred to Ushaw Moor pit not long afterwards. Lilian’s sister Ethel was born in 1926. It is understood that  Lilian went to stay with her grandmother in Sleetburn when Dick and Ethel had twins in 1931 [Doreen and Norman]; she never returned home except for visiting. No doubt having a miner, as well as newly born twins, and daughters of 7 and 5, meant something had to give for Lilian’s mother and ‘the give’ was Lilian to her grandmother. 

Lilian enjoyed school at New Brancepeth and reminiscenced several times over the years about how the teacher said ‘Lilian you have a wonderful  head of hair’. The teacher was right about that; it was gingery golden. I cannot make a judgement about her school work other than it would have been of an elementary nature in those days. Looking at her adult letters I see that her grammar and spelling were not at all bad and therefore it is reasonable to surmise that she had not been a  bad scholar.

As she got older she became very much a domestic help to her rapidly ageing grandmother. Apart from that there were three uncles to attend to; Tommy Jimmy and Wilfrid. She kept the front door step polished to a high standard which is just as well because some people were very judgemental about steps in those days. Not polished, bright and white, equalled not worthy! 

Mum was one of the Newton Aycliffe angels during World War Two; that is to say she worked at the munitions factory. For light relief she sometimes attended army dances at Brancepeth camp, along with several friends. More than one person has remarked ‘ah, camp follower’ but that is so judgemental! What was a young teenager to do in 1940 in a place like New Brancepeth? She had spirit and a love of life at that time; church just would not pass muster!

She married my hard working father Matt, but it was to give me a ‘name’ as much as anything else. I can speak freely about it now because times have moved on and the moral landscape has changed, largely for the better.   She had a very tense and earnest conversation with vicar Welby on the morning of her marriage and decided to go ahead with it, even though he is reported as saying ‘Lilian you do not have to get married you know’. That was the measure of the great man; in his conversation with Lilian he did not blind  himself, and her, with Christian dogma and condemnation.       

The marriage did not last and she eventually married Don Albone. He is featured elsewhere on site. They lived at 20 Unthank Terrace New Brancepth for several years which involved renting from her grandmother. I have good memories of Unthank Terrace but they are all elsewhere on site so I will not dwell upon them. In late 1953 we moved to 42 Whitehouse Court, Ushaw Moor   and my half brother Colin was born in March 1954; he was the second child of the marriage – Sheila having been born in 1947.

In early 1961 we moved to Workington. These were bad years for my mother. In fact 1956 to the year she died were not very nice for her. There were interludes of civilised fun but she had much unhappiness. She suffered badly from ‘the change of life’ and depression. She had at least two stays in Winterton Hospital and during her time there had several sessions of dubious electric shock treatment. It was all very sad but as I say there were interludes of decent life.

In 1984 she died from heart failure. Being significantly overweight would not have helped her. I travelled up from London to say goodbye to her. She was the first dead person that I had seen. On arrival my step-father told be very gently that she was in the living room. I remember putting my hand to her brow and ‘saying’ to her ‘dear mum’. Even though I knew she had gone I was still a little startled when feeling  her so cold brow. 


Categories: Memories

Herbs And Proverbs

January 2, 2011 Leave a comment

The proverb heading Ushaw Moor Facebook today is open to scrutiny and argument.  It goes ”The palest ink is better that the best memory”. It is a Chinese proverb, and for some that gives it added credence, but should it? What does this proverb mean? Does it mean that written evidence is better than the best memory? What do you think? I am interested to hear your viewpoint. To me the reference to ink being pale probably suggests that we are meant to think that contemporaneous evidence is more reliable than the sharp memory that brings forth comment and  judgement well after an event.

The main problem with pale ink papers is that we are at the mercy of the writer, both in terms of motive and intellect. That can also apply to oral memory but a proverb that seems to, at all times, compare a good memory unfavourably with old written evidence can be misleading. It can be wrong.

 Chinese herbs are sometimes sold as medicine but not all of them have been subjected to scientific scrutiny. No doubt some have value  but do all of them have the value attributed to them? In short be wary of proverbs and be sure of your herbs.

There is a an undiluted Valley memory coming up so do be gentle with me; I am still recovering from the bruises. I liked the red roses though. 


Categories: Memories

2010 in review

January 2, 2011 Leave a comment

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 122 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 315 posts. There were 17 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 18mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was February 3rd with 169 views. The most popular post that day was Old Store Ushaw Moor.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for ushaw moor memories, ushaw moor, les ker football, durham palladium, and http://www.ushawmoormemories.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Old Store Ushaw Moor January 2010


Durham Boys v Crook – Ferrens Park circa 1959 January 2010


Facebook | Ushaw Moor Memories January 2010


Family History – School Street ? September 2010


St Joseph’s RC Communion Event September 2010

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