Home > Memories > Your past will catch you up.

Your past will catch you up.

This is a tale that shows that your past will catch up with you from the most unexpected sources.

When I was about 14/15 years old I purchased a Diana air rifle for use mostly down the beck.  Much against my Mothers wishes God Bless her.

Let me emphasise that neither I nor my pals ever used the rifle to kill birds or any other living creature.  We used it for target practice using bottles from the Refuse tip which was situated on the other side of the beck from the pump house.   The pump house was situated on the New Brancepeth side of the beck and two cast iron pipes left the back of the building and went up the hill and into the ground at the top of the hill.  Outside the Pump House jutting out from the bank of the beck were two concrete channels which led into a round brick chamber which was always full of beck water.  I can never remember any water being pumped up the hill or the sound of any pumping machinery inside the building.  I can only think that this unit was built at the same time as the New Brancepeth Coke ovens at the end of the 19th or the early years of the 20th. century and water at that time was pumped from the beck to cool the coke as the ram pushed the white coke from the oven on to the tram which carried the it  up a slight incline where the it was loaded on to railway trucks for onward movement.  The Coke Ovens incidentally were built by German engineers and the the first manager was named Schwarz.  Am I disgressing a little from my tale.

Anyway we lined bottles up on the two pipes and and lay on the grass at the top of the bank and fired at the bottles and that was the main use of the air  rifle.

Even all those years ago you were not allowed to carry the air rifle in public.  To get over the problem of carrying the air rifle from No. 6 Victoria Court down throught the village I used the ingenious method of breaking the rifle (not literally) and sliding it barrel first down through the waistband of my trousers and into my turned down wellies which was the usual footwear for the beck.  In my infinite wisdom I thought that no one could see it hidden as it was.  I was so wrong.

In June 1965 as a member of the Durham County Police I was posted up to Jarrow.  I had previously served 5 years in the Regular Army.  Like the Army,  Police Officers were posted to different Police Stations throughout the County.  One officer was posted in from Barnard Castle and I thought I knew his face.  A few weeks later I was working with him and on learning my name he asked if I came from Ushaw Moor.  On learning that I had lived at Ushaw Moor he then asked me “Have you still got the air rifle which you used to take down the beck hidden down  the side of your right leg?”

So you see people know your secrets and some day they will catch you up.  That is a little industrial history and a little incident in my life.

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Categories: Memories
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