Archive for February, 2011

Did Your Dad Do Any Chores In The House?

February 27, 2011 1 comment

Following on from my orange drizzle cake triumph I  find myself wondering whether the men did anything at all in the olden day house. It would have been especially helpful many decades ago, when domestic conveniences were either non existent or too costly.

I suppose any historical survey of men’s domesticity in Ushaw Moor can be split into three main categories: underground miners, colliery surface workers, and the rest.

Underground miners were thirsty and tired when they got home. After a wash in the bath tub and a meal, courtesy of his wife, the miner went to the ‘club’, or the pigeon loft, or any number of things, if the season and time of day allowed it. They socialized, wound down, or even fought men if their alcohol intake was excessive and a bee was in their bonnet. So the women of such men were neglected most of the time. Well that is how the story generally goes but is it true?

Surface workers may have got dirty but often their jobs were less tiring; what was their excuse for downing eight or so pints, or excessive whippet racing, if that is what they did? In what way, if at all, did their domestic performance differ from the underground miners?

Then there were the none mining workers. Did the male grocery assistant take delight in helping his wife vacuum or sweep the floors? What did pine scented liquid mean to him?

So was your dad a domestic slave or something else?


Categories: Memories

Domestic Science Would Have Made A Man Of Me Much Earlier

February 25, 2011 1 comment

Back in the late 50s and early sixties a large majority of children were fodder for essential but often dull and uninspiring employment.  Much potential was thwarted by misconceived education theory. Woodwork was all right if you were chipper and liked wood but gardening would do little for the  important university interview experienced by the few. Then there was domestic science.

Domestic science was never offered to any male pupil that I knew. In the culture of that time it might have had such a pansy image that any offer of that subject to boys could well have led to shame and a refusal to co-operate. But I would have co-operated;  I would have liked to have captained the school football team at the weekend and then produced an orange drizzle cake on school premises [and scones if there was time] on the following Monday.

As a matter of fact I produced a half decent orange drizzle cake not two hours ago. 51 years late. I greased, base-lined, creamed,  folded and turned like a man possessed of…… little confidence.

Confidence is a funny thing; armed with it the world is yours and mine but without it there are tears, self doubt and a broken promise. My cake looks good. Very good. A little saggy in the middle mind.

I reckon it needed another ten minutes.

If there is any man out there that needs to drizzle just drop a comment. We can grease and cream by gentle direct learning whilst our better half paints the ceiling.


Categories: Memories

The 1,000th house

February 23, 2011 10 comments

The 1,000th house to be completed at Ushaw Moor, July 10th 1953.

Think it is White House Court

Alan Burdess – i think it looks like oakridge road

Does anyone have any more info. on this photo.

Location: Ushaw Moor
County: Co Durham

From The Beamish Collection

Glittering Prize:Two Books And Two Pints

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment

It is being offered by WB  as a reward for the person writing the best  original article or short  essay entitled: My memories of the Deerness Valley.  The piece must be between four hundred and five hundred words long  and, for obvious reasons, entrants should be at least 18 years old.

Your entry must be published on this site on or by July 1st 2011. WB will enjoy reading and judging your efforts. Good luck.

Details of the choice of books available, and pub venue for pint quaffing, will be announced later.


Categories: Announcements, Memories

Overcrowded School Buildings In The 50s

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

This topic was raised in the House of Commons on 26/05/1960. The records show that Mr Blyton put it to the then minister, Sir David Eccles, that in light of the fact that his Department had cut the building programme for Durham County Council over the previous seven years he should therefore be decent and apologise to that council.

Sir David Eccles revealed that nine secondary Modern schools schools had been deleted from the 1956/7 building programme, namely: Hartlepool, Stockton, West Auckland, Egglescliff, Peterlee, Spennymoor, Durham, Ushaw Moor and Seaham Harbour.

In the event the Ushaw Moor building was started a little later and was up, ready and open in early April 1959. Harry Barlow had taken us to  have a look around it in about autumn 1958.


Categories: Memories, schools Tags:

Pit Ponies

February 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Many young people have no concept of what a pit pony was or how it lived &  worked.  Pitponyman has uploaded a few video shorts onto YouTube of 1990’s Pit Ponies in Wales.  Search you tube for pitponyman videos and enjoy.


Posted on behalf of Roy @

Categories: From the WEB, Memories, mining Tags:

Railway Photograph 62059 Ushaw Moor Station on eBay (end time 20-Feb-11 18:31:54 GMT)

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The Day Harry Waved To Dick

February 13, 2011 2 comments

In   about 1958 our extended family enjoyed a motoring holiday, of the camping kind, down to and around the south of England. My memory tells me that the midland town of Leicester was the tidiest town I had ever seen. I am not sure whether it is currently living up to that. I also recall the warm Kentish camping fields and balmy evenings.

A murmur had gone around the crowd outside Buckingham Palace; cars were being positioned by the palace door, one of them dressed with the royal standard. There was a  gentle ripple of animated excitement. The Queen and Prince Philip were then driven out the gate barely ten feet from where we stood. What a surprise.

A day later Dickie Hope the Ushaw Moor overman, my grandfather, was walking along Downing Street at a time when such a thing was possible;  out popped a man from number ten called Harold Macmillan – prime minister no less – Dickie waved and Harold waved back; it was two Tories in brief communication. I am 95%  sure that Dickie was a Tory  so let us go with that. Harry was!

Harry and Dick led two very different lives; both experienced privilege  and power but only one walked the international stage; the other observed, arbitrated, and instructed dirty dust covered men hundreds of feet below Durham’s earth.

Harry had eight years start on Dick but it was not a real race because one was destined for Eton and Oxford,  just as the other was destined for  an an elementary school in Sleetburn.  As Ridley pointed out in 1999,

‘Mother Nature has plainly not entrusted the determination of our intellectual capacities to the blind fate of a gene or genes; she gave us parents, learning, language, culture and education to program  ourselves with’.

That being the case  Dick was not even in the stalls at Epsom but he was a lovely and honourable person, just like his parents and siblings.


Categories: Memories

Mary Knox in Ushaw Moor 1924-1926

February 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Here is another little gem from the internet. It relates to an extract from the memoirs of Mary Knox nee Hoban and you can access the full memoir by putting – Mary Knox nee Hoban Ushaw Moor – into google [UK version]. It’s currently second on the google page.

Check OUT Mary’s memoirs <<<HERE>>>

1924 – 26 was a time of depression, in fact the miners strike was the summer I came home to a time of great want. It was a wonderful summer & the young miners who had spent most of their lives in the bowels of the earth, took tents & crowded to the beaches. They lived on chips & corned beef pies – then finally returned to conditions worse than when the strike began. When I finished at college I was lucky to get a job at Ushaw Moor, many didn’t get work. I worked that last week in August & got £3, the first money in the house for mother, other than that father had earned helping farmers. My brother dug for coal in the old heaps beside the pit & sold it to help. The live stock we had and the gardens helped to feed the bairns & grandma was always there with a helping hand. Aunt Lizzie was teaching, they were in the money. People had much more respect for teachers in those days.


Categories: Memories

Happy Days For Most Of Us

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I have seen several postings on the site that finish with the phrase ‘happy days’. Well they were happy times and especially so for young people with few worries. With  justification we can trot out blackberry pies, the beck, little silvery fish, and custard tarts. Not forgetting ginger beer and its sister,wine. Note the emphasis on food and drink.  We can move on to tinsel, pit socks and then ease into Christmas Day. I know that Margaret, Paul’s mother, has always liked Christmas and has taken that feeling right into the 21st century.

Happy days can be dangerous though: I recall climbing the local quarry and very nearly falling down it at the age of ten. I can  also recall my back pass – under pressure – to our keeper David Gerrard in the school cup final of April 1959; it could easily have gone past him for an own goal, but it didn’t! It might have let Waterhouses Modern back into the game although I think we would still have won.

Adults were not always so carefree and words that come to mind are: tiredness, hire purchase, injury, death  and a potential pit disaster. There are other words that jump out e.g. depression, mental health and hopelessness. The mining village was supportive of its own – in terms of kind words, supplying material goods and even money, but often there was little understanding of  severe depression and other mental problems. If one was acutely depressed, and somewhat withdrawn, very likely you would find yourself as a day patient or inmate of Winterton Hospital. Some people associated mental afflictions with the word Sedgefield.

‘You ought to be in Sedgefield’

You will put me in Sedgefield if you do not shut up’  or some variant.

The hospital in question was Winterton. It does not exist now but I recall it because my mum – she was severely depressed for a time  but not in anyway mental- was a patient there for two spells.

If my memory serves me right the hospital had several problems: depressed patients mixed with mental patients  and there was little chance for the depressed to attend social events; the upshot for some of them was that they got more depressed. Pills and electric shock treatment were only short term fixes. Electric shock treatment invariably led to memory loss and that took a lot of time to sort out; along the way it brought more stress and unhappiness – for friends and family as well as the patient.

For goodness sake let’s end on a happy note. Yes indeed, I will happily proclaim that in the early 50s I got two train sets on the same Christmas day owing to a parental mix up. Oh you say, I have mentioned that before. Sorry. Well what about my love for, and delight in, steamed spotted dick. Surely I have not mentioned that in the past???. Tongue. Cheek.


Categories: Memories