Archive for April, 2013

Two Local Football Players called Norman Wright Plus Local Railways

April 30, 2013 4 comments

Norman Wright number one  was born in Ushaw Moor in late December 1908 and played for Ushaw Moor Council School, Esh Winning Juniors, Grimsby Town, Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City, and Watford. At one time he was an amateur on the books of Newcastle United. He was a prolific goal scorer, especially for Crewe, Accrington Stanley and Watford. I wonder whether he played for the Ushaw Moor school team that won a trophy in the very early 1920s [I believe that team is pictured on this site] or whether he had already left school.

The second Norman Wright is mentioned by Elizabeth Emery. She informs us that he was a lorry driver [much of it for Deerness Railways] and at one time played for Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Elizabeth Emery gives an interesting account of the local railways during the period 1943 -1947. You can google it as follows:

Deerness Valley Railways Elizabeth Emery.


Categories: Memories

Colin Tonks

April 13, 2013 Leave a comment

I recall Mr Tonks teaching at Ushaw Moor Secondary Modern back in 1959. My memory indicates that he was a kind and very competent teacher. I believe that he later became a headmaster elsewhere.  

Recently, quite by accident, I came across him on the net. If you google:

Colin Tonks Northern Echo

you see a very clear picture of him taken recently. He is the bearded elderly chap in a dark pullover. You will find a report of his recent clash with bureaucracy. He won, I am pleased to say!




Categories: Memories

Sheep And Priests

April 13, 2013 1 comment

On Sundays my step-father frequently took me for a walk along the top road. It was an opportunity to find a good spot to fly my model aeroplane.  Eventually  the Ushaw Moor Catholic Seminary would come into view. I recall a scene dominated by sheep, golf players and the building itself. It was quite relaxing – being pastoral, peaceful and a preliminary ritual before a walk back to roast beef and Yorkshire pudding; no Spotted Dick though because in our family the great era of the Dick was over. And you can take that as you wish.

I believe that a local paper has reported vandalism to a now derelict seminary; if so I am sorry to hear that. Catholicism in Ushaw Moor stretches back a very long time and it must be very sad news for the faithful. The run down of the building has been put down to falling rolls and financial problems. I can understand the former but not the latter; the Catholic Church is one of the richest organisations in the whole world and therefore if it wanted to keep the building secure it could no doubt find the funds to arrange it. Without proper security vandalism of such a building is inevitable. 


Categories: Memories

Booking Office Drama

April 10, 2013 3 comments

The Shields Daily Gazette reported on Monday June 13th 1887 that on the previous Friday burglars had forced entry into the ticket office at Ushaw Moor railway station. The thieves got away with something like nine old pence. Most fresh faced individuals will know that is written as 9d.

There were 240 d’s in a pound so the thieves did not secure a change of life style. That said  the circa 9d belonged to  Mr Tuck, the station master, and do doubt he had a change of humour, if not a drastic change of life style.


Categories: Memories

A Sunlit Day In August 1900 and 2014 For That Matter

April 7, 2013 Leave a comment

A lovely day and a lot of people loving it. The Ushaw Moor Institute Gala and Sports Day took place in a field near the railway station, and as well as a variety of other activities, much pleasure was got from listening to the Durham County Industrial Schools Band.

Three known attendees from Ushaw Moor were a Mr Thomas Ferguson, a Mr R Hope, and a Mr T Robinson. Tommy Ferguson judged the one hundred and twenty yards foot race and witnessed R Hope finishing in third place[ for which he received a reward of one pound- a lot of money then].  The winner received twelve pounds; second place got three pounds; and for finishing fourth the reward was ten bob. As for T Robinson, he finished runner-up in a quoit handicap.

About a couple of years ago I suggested that the village have an almighty reunion but nothing has come of it YET. Are there a few people up there [up north as my son would say] willing to break sweat and organise it, for a hopefully sunlit day in August 2014?  


Categories: Memories

In 1929 Steep Came To The Aid Of Broompark

April 5, 2013 5 comments

Back in 1929 the Hampshire village of Steep adopted Broompark, which at that time had a population of about seven hundred people. As we know It was a grim period for many, what with  serious long term unemployment and poverty. 


Categories: Memories

Ninety pounds and seventy seven pence

April 5, 2013 Leave a comment

One day in the summer of 1915 the Brough store in Ushaw Moor donated one pound to the War Relief Fund. It does not sound much but in modern money that is worth in the region of ninety pounds and seventy seven pence; that is not a mean sum at all! It very probably donated on other occasions.

The Brough store at Chester-Le – Street raised a massive four hundred and ten pounds,  which equates to about 37,215 pounds and seventy pence now. Bigger place, more employees and surely large donations from wealthy individuals rather than just from shop assistant employees. I guess that is the top and bottom of it. 



Categories: Memories


April 4, 2013 7 comments

Decent media outlets are in short supply but they, more than any other, remind us that corruption is prevalent throughout the world. Don’t get me wrong, there are inspirational people about, it’s just that they are in short supply. That said, is it any wonder that from time to time we dip into the past? Such dipping has its limitations and arguably it is a form of respite little better than burying your head in the magnificent sands at Redcar.

The trouble with the past is that we cannot completely recapture it; however we can get a handle on some of it with reasonable certainty; I have in mind some fundamental characteristics and motivations that make up the human experience in whatever period we examine.If we need guidance Shakespeare may be able to help, but only if we are in the mood for him.

Let us see if we can recapture a bit of the past without William. It can be less confusing that way. Failure, success, comedy, sadness, pain and tragedy have always been with us and it was no different for past residents of Ushaw Moor.

In 1891 Ushaw Moor Cricket Club lost its Durham County Challenge Cup-Final against Consett. Bearing in mind that seventy seven years later I was a member of the South Moor first team that lost an away league match at Consett I can grieve for Ushaw Moor with some realistic feeling.

I am amused and pleased to point out that back in 1900 a Tory candidate, having arranged to give a speech at Ushaw Moor, found that almost all of the residents had gone away on an excursion. He cancelled his speech and left the village. 

In 1911 the Ushaw Moor sub- postmaster, Robert Clemitson Russell, died at the age of sixty seven. The post office opened in 1904 and he had been there from the start.

In 1914 an eight year old boy from Ushaw Moor died, having fallen into one of the tanks near Ushaw Moor sewerage works.

In 1915 a married women from Ushaw Moor was found dead in a colliery reservoir at Esh Winning. In the same year soldier Jimmy Nutter, from Ushaw Moor, was injured fighting in WW1. The incidents are not connected.

Thanks to the Tory candidate’s experience we had a bit of cheer to contrast with the grim sadness and despair.




Categories: Memories

Drama At The Nicky Nack

April 2, 2013 10 comments

Back in 1894 it was not so easy to get around. Scouring the old papers I found that In late April of that year Sleetburn Cricket Club used a dog cart to fulfill a fixture at Spennymoor. On the return journey it suffered a most unfortunate accident  – being in collision with a horse drawn omnibus at Croxdale.  The horse was injured and soon died. John Maddox of Sleetburn, the owner of the dog cart, sustained serious injuries. He received treatment at the nearby Nicky Nack Bridge Hotel.

I believe that the Nicky Nack is now called the Daleside Arms but I stand to be corrected. 


Categories: Memories

From The Archive – Arthur Hodgson [Sadly Arthur Died Today]

April 2, 2013 1 comment

Back in 2009 I telephoned Arthur and part of the conversation was a little natter about Ushaw Moor and Bearpark Collieries. I started by asking him whether there had been any scope for miners to make their output seem better than it really was. Arthur pointed out that in the foreshift tubs were not weighed by the weighman, simply because he was not on duty then. Human nature sometimes took over and some coal tubs might have had stone at the bottom of the tub rather than coal! Another trick was to place good sized ’roundies’ in the corners of the tubs, thus causing a degree of empty space in the tubs – but nevertheless giving the impression of  full tubs. I queried whether management would have been aware of that sort of thing and Arthur pointed out that many of the staff – overman – manager etc. were at one time miners themselves, so would have known!  Arthur said that in later years cubic measurement was adopted; it took account of the length of the coalface, the advance made into that face, and the height of the coal –  thus those particular tricks were thwarted!   

Arthur confirmed that he had worked at Bearpark Colliery for about 15 years  – covering the period c 1967 to 1982 – and had therefore spent more time there that at Ushaw Moor! I asked him whether the culture at Bearpark was any different to that at Ushaw Moor and he said it was all the same – with the same words being used to describe things and situations. I asked him whether there were any characters at Bearpark that stood out for him. He recalled that one lad had selected the wrong type of pension arrangement supplied by the employer. He had selected one that provided a pension for himself rather than one that covered both himself and a wife/widow. Later on  miners had no option but to select one that provided for the wife as well as the miner. The state pension was in addition to all this of course.

Arthur recalled the Bearpark manager but his name escaped him. He said he was a tall man who had previously worked as a hewer at Bearpark and later returned as manager. Arthur said that although the manager was a very approachable man he always called him Mr ….. although many miners called him by his first name. Arthur held the view that if a man has worked hard and achieved the status of manager he was entitled to be called Mr. Arthur recalls that one day the manager asked him what size the coal was in a particular spot and Arthur sought the information by reference to hand measurement. The manager remarked ‘why use your hand? Go and get a tape measure’.

Arthur recalled another character called ‘Poucher Grey’. He never did learn his real name. ‘Poucher’ would never work on the actual face, rather he would do stonework. He was a sort of unofficial foreman and sent some of his ‘team’ to work the face. Arthur recalls that he was a physically big man.

I mentioned the name Jonty Burridge to Arthur and explained that I had played cricket with his son Ivor. I knew that Jonty had played cricket for Bearpark. Although Arthur could recall the name Jonty Burridge he could not place him too easily.


Arthur Hodgson, died today, 02/04/2013. RIP.

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Categories: Memories