Archive for June, 2013

Finding X is Useful If You Are A Pirate

June 23, 2013 1 comment

That’s an old joke but it reminds me of a conversation I had in 2002 with Edith Smith [Ann Chamberlain], that bright and chatty former member of our 1959 Ushaw Moor form 4A.

She was asking me what the purpose of algebra was. Well it is useful for various professionals and technicians in their daily problem solving. No doubt NASA finds it very useful as well. I think it also helps in deciding whether to cross a bridge over a seething torrent of water and whether to risk sleeping in a bedroom surrounded by walls and a ceiling. 

Back in our day we were regarded as people with very few options if we did not have 4 GCE passes including English. Mathematics often helped to further increase the options. If you had those sort of qualifications the likes of the Midland Bank would invite you in for an interview. Working in a bank gave you some sense of status; arguably times have changed in that respect!

Without ‘O levels’ in 1960? No point trying to become a junior journalist with the Northern Echo. I can tell you. Mind you, eventually, in the end, I was better off in other directions and managed to get lots of paperwork certifying this and that; my wife thinks it could be used for toilet paper if we ever find ourselves short of it. She thinks there is no problem in certifying me even now.

Let me be clear: many people do not actually need to master advanced algebra to function well in the modern world but, and it is a big but, being good at it indicates significant intelligence; understandably employers like that.

Now where is that treasure.


Categories: Memories

A Match In The Dark

June 23, 2013 9 comments

Let’s start with Norman Pickles – since corrected – Nicholson not Pickles -. He married my great aunt Ada. He was her second husband  – her first – Harold Swift, fell down the pit shaft at New Brancepeth Colliery. Norman lived in Bearpark at one time. So does anyone know anything about Norman?

And what about a local professional boxer [1920s] called Rose? He lived in Ushaw Moor at one time. Good boxer? Big family? Small family?

Last call for the Ushaw Moor Modern 1959/60 football team photograph. To clarify – first team not intermediate side. Has anyone got a copy? This is the third request for that so perhaps it’s in the dustbin of history.


Categories: Memories

33 Whitehouse Lane

June 21, 2013 2 comments

Back in Edwardian times a coal mining family called Lowery lived at this address. There was George and Mary with their sons – Robert, Joseph, John and William. In addition there was daughter Frances and granddaughter Jane.

 George and Mary originated from Middle Rainton. 

Categories: Memories

Is it Any Wonder That We Pine For The Ushaw Moor That’s Linked With Brigadoon?

June 21, 2013 3 comments

After all the media is bombarding us with revelations that should shock us to the core. We cannot even trust NHS inspections and …… no I will not continue in that vein. But I could and it would take up scores of size A4 pages. The British Empire would take a verbal battering, I can tell you, and I will be telling Michael Gove the same thing.

So is it any wonder that we might wish to escape it all with a misty eyed walk down memory lane and with a familiar fondness for the old tramping grounds? As we begin to step out we have to be wary of a bit of false memory and a bit of exaggeration. Take the Ushaw Moor County School football team.

In its epic match against the present Spain side [I did not refer to Brigadoon for nothing]. the 1958/9 school football team performed with credit. But how much credit? That’s a rhetorical question and because I have done some sterling work on that I insist on revealing my findings to you without delay.

My calculations have taken into account several pieces of information, as follows: Spain beat Tahiti 10-0 yesterday, at home; Chelsea takes only six seconds to score from its own goal line; Ushaw Moor would play fairly openly, and finally the magnificent Spain team would be trying. Very trying. So let me reveal the score:

Ushaw Moor 1 Spain 38. So that was a very credible result for Ushaw Moor County. Ah, I know what you are wondering but I am not going to reveal that. Not just yet. If you think this little article is a little overblown, just take on board one fact: West Auckland was too good for Juventus. 


Categories: Memories

Very Sad News Puts a Damper On A Spoonful Of Privilege And A Dash Of Culture

June 6, 2013 8 comments

I was told today that Keith Wardman has died at the age of 68. It is very sad news and a reminder to us all to enjoy life while we have it. I have not seen Keith for years but that fact does not really dampen down the sadness very much; he often sat next to me at Ushaw Moor County School in the 50s and as an act of friendship we played table tennis at my parent’s place at 42 Whitehouse Court. I was reminded today that I had in the past likened Keith to a youngish version of comedian Bill Maynard and I stand by that, but only in terms of Bill’s gentle delivery and smile rather than his wit. Keith was a friendly, long standing, and hardworking official at Esh Winning Football Club. As I say, very sad news.

On Tuesday gone I paid a visit to Imperial College London, together with some special friends, to listen to a lecture by Professor Tejinder S Virdee, FRS, Professor of Physics at Imperial. He has a long standing involvement with supervision and research at the Large Hadron Collider. It was a privilege to be no further than twenty feet from a man that can be spoken about in the same breath  as Sir Isaac Newton.  Mr Fawcett my science teacher at Ushaw Moor would have been impressed with my enthusiasm. It is true that Mr Fawcett’s lesson was billed as science but I am not sure that it amounted to much of a science lesson; there again although little was learned there was much laughter during his session.

On the same day as the visit to Imperial we also visited the Globe Theatre in London to witness a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was such a professional performance and worth the entrance fee several times over. In our younger days we were not taught Shakespeare because one or more educational academics considered it too intellectual and academic for us; but that was tosh and playing with the value and potential of young lives. Many of us were underestimated! 


Categories: Memories

Brassy Sleetburn

June 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Back in the early part of the 20th century New Brancepeth Brass Band entertained far and wide and in the process picked up several plaudits. It was a very competitive band; take a look at a few of its successes, by means of googling:

Brass Bands New Brancepeth [and similar searches]

They won a competition at Mickley, County Durham on 07/09/1912. Its conductor was a F Smith. Throckley Working Men’s [club I assume] was second, Willington Silver Band was third and Mickley fourth.

New Brancepeth also won at Tow Law on 06/07/1912 with South Derwent and Willington Silver in its wake. In the same year it won very close to home – at Waterhouses.

There were several near misses, for example the band came second at Stanley, County Durham, on 17/07/1909. 


Categories: Memories