Archive for January, 2014

A Brave Lad From A Big Family

January 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Back in 1911 Joe Towns was a pit deputy at Ushaw Moor and twenty years into a marriage to Leadgate born Gertrude. They were living at 5 West Terrace, Ushaw Moor, with their nine children, namely:

Thomas Matthew [aged 19], Mary Agnes [18], Joseph Richard [16], Louisa [14], Aloysius [15], Robert Gerard [9], Annie [8], Lily Monica [6], and John [2].

By autumn 1915 Joseph Richard Towns was a Petty Officer and won the Distinguish Service Medal for gallantry and courageous conduct at Cape Helles, together with Petty Officer M Convery of Sherburn Colliery.

At midnight they crept to within 15 -20 yards of enemy trenches, which were filled with dead bodies but had  been evacuated by Turks. Towns and Convery removed the bodies and built a barricade of sandbags, despite heavy enemy firing. 

It seems to me that the two Petty Officers did not know what the situation was when they started on their way and were certainly very, very, brave in their determination to find out and do something about it!

A relative of mine, Joseph Hope of Ushaw Moor, was killed by machine gun fire at that time, and not far from that action, but was not involved in this particular incident.



Categories: Memories

Passing of the Reverend Terence Towers

January 27, 2014 5 comments

Passing of the Reverend Terence Towers

Published in the The Northern Echo on 23 January 14

TOWERS On January 20, peacefully in hospital, of Langley Park, Reverend Terence, aged 80 years, (former vicar of St. Lukes, Ushaw Moor, 1967 – 1993). Dearly beloved husband of Brenda, father of Amanda and Anthony. Friends please meet for service in All Saints Parish Church, Lanch-ester, on Thursday, January 30, at 11.15am., interment to follow in Langley Park Cemetery. Family flowers only please, donations in lieu if desired to The British Heart Foun-dation.

Them Days In The Wild West

January 27, 2014 8 comments

It all started so innocently in August 1869. Farmer Tommy Dawson applied to the Durham Sessions for permission to keep a ‘house’ situated at the ‘four lane ends’, near Ushaw College, to be called the Flass Inn. At about the same time George Scrafton applied in the same manner with regards to the New Brancepeth Hotel.

Let’s move on to late October 1872. Tommy got his permission to be the inn- keeper at the Flass and we find him in that role complying with recently made legislation that required an earlier closing time.

 We can imagine the atmosphere in the pub that evening. Uninhibited miners would have been downing pints under candlelight. Tommy’s wife Ann would have been helping her husband in a weary clock watching manner, with the hope that their several children had achieved sleep despite the ever increasing noise level in the pub.

At the appointed hour Tommy called time and the response was not good. Not good at all. A man called Wilson began to use violent language at being refused a drink and it escalated into threats. Understandably Tommy Dawson, having become alarmed at the prospect of a riot, took action.  Looking at it in 2014 his actions seems to have been a bit drastic. He fired a gun above the heads of full blown rioters but their response was to laugh and begin demolishing the pub. In the end two of the rioters were shot and others were hit as well. Many people simply ran away.

As for the Flass Inn it became a temporary wreck.


Categories: Memories

The Very Same Politically Brave Gilbert Ayre?

January 22, 2014 5 comments

Back in 1911 Gilbert and Elizabeth Ayre lived at 32 Jubilee Street, Sleetburn. With them were six little Ayres, namely: John [aged 10], Elsie [8], William [6], Robert [4], Elizabeth Ann [2] and Irene [1].

So, was the above Gilbert our hero? In early March 1914 summonses were taken out against 219 workers employed at Sleetburn pit. They were charged with having left their place of work on January 30th 1914. The men went to the court together singing:

‘Every bodies doing it’

It caused quite a stir and many interested onlookers took notice of them. Damages to the amount of five shillings were claimed against each man and Gilbert Ayre was taken as the test case.

The prosecutor set out details of a fatal accident which had occurred in number three pit at Sleetburn; it was the men in number two pit that responded by walking out of the pit. The colliery owners alleged that they had no right to walk out.The defending solicitor called witnesses to show that there had been ten fatal accidents during the previous twenty five years and the pit had always lay idle after each incident. 

Eventually the magistrates decided in favour of  the men. Test case Gilbert had won.

Now I know that there is a very good article deep in the site about Gilbert Ayre and it has an accompanying photograph showing him as a cricket batsman. It seems to me that the article already on site is probably about a younger Gilbert Ayre but even if that is the case I imagine that both Gilberts are part of the same family.

I imagine that Cloughy and his family might have an interest in this post. 


Categories: Memories

Sleetburn Gave Bearpark Some Grief

January 21, 2014 Leave a comment

In the autumn of 1903 we find Bearpark United football team protesting against Sleetburn Athletic. The reason for the protest is not known but in any case because Bearpark had lodged its complaint beyond the time limit it had to pay Sleetburn Athletic two shillings and sixpence!


Categories: Memories

Ushaw Moor And Its Housing In 1922 Plus Rev Welby Again

January 21, 2014 Leave a comment

In 1922 A Durham And District Council report stated that the overcrowding was awful. New houses were urgently needed. One idea was for larger families to exchange housing with smaller ones.

Nearly eleven years later the village turned out before dawn for the wedding of Rev. J. H. Welby and Miss Jennie Brown. Jennie was the daughter of Mr and Mrs Thomas Brown of Rock Terrace, New Brancepeth.

Because there was so much interest in the wedding Vicar Welby placed an advert in a local paper advising that those that wished to attend would need to obtain permits from the church warden.

St. Luke’s Church was already lit up at 5.30 a.m. and some villagers were already at the church…..


Categories: Memories

Baby Baby

January 15, 2014 1 comment

The Ushaw Moor Carnival held in July 1934 had a lot going for it and much fun was had, not least by the proud parents of the following  prize winning kiddies:

                                                 First                  Second              Third   

Category 1 to 6 months           Thomas Crooks Dennis Coates  Edward Jackson

                6 to 12 months         Joshua Briggs    Daniel Kenny    Jack Hill

                12 to 18 months       Francis Hird       Lily Tomlinson   Sheila Parkin

                18  to 24 months       Gordon Mason  William Bailey    Ethel Carse


                                                       First                                     Second                                       Third

             Twins up to two years    Fred and Audrey Eden      George and Edward Rochford    Jean and Kenneth Seed

              Finally, probably not children

              A mile bicycle race       J Robinson                         A Faces [?]               G Laverick

Sheila Parkin has been mentioned on this site already.





The word ‘third’ – which refers to the twins competition – is in the wrong place but it relates to Jean and Kenneth Seed. You probably worked that out. I wonder, has this little edit worked? Lists are frequently a problem.

Categories: Memories