Archive for April, 2013


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

Postcards from France

April 1, 2013 1 comment

The  attached photograph was sent to my great grandparents in Ushaw Moor by my grandad who was stationed in France during World War One. He was part of the pioneer corps attached to the Durham Light Infantry. I never really knew my grandad as he died when I was just seven. Apparently he spent the whole war collecting dead bodies as he was deemed unfit to go to the front because of his profound deafness. I was told by my father that he never ever talked about his experiences, but it affected him all of his life.


IMAGE 10035 IMAGE 10037

Categories: Memories

Wedding 1950 – St. Lukes Church

April 1, 2013 1 comment

I decided to publish this for Brian Mc. If you are the same Brian, you lived near me when I was a kid growing up in Dale Street. My father was Dennis Dickinson and his family all lived in Whitehouse Court. I found this old photograph of My Uncle Sid’s wedding at St Luke’s in the last 50’s. My aunt Betty and Uncle Tom are still alive. My uncle Tom still lives in the village.

Hope you enjoy the photo.IMAGE 10047

Categories: Memories