Archive for June, 2014

A Short account of my memories of the Second World War

June 10, 2014 4 comments

I was seventeen months old when the war broke out. I lived at 29 Harvey Street at New Brancepeth with My Mam and Dad and three brothers and one sister. My Dad who had served in the First World War and had been badly wounded as a teenager in Northern Italy in 1917 was the Storeman at New Brancepeth Colliery. He served with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. Everything was rationed. The impact of the rationing meant zero obesity. It is only as an adult and reading about those times the the realisation dawned on me of the huge worry it must have been for my Mam to feed a family of seven. I remember going to New Brancepeth Co-op on Unthank Terrace with my Mam and her handing over the ration books and the man behind the counter cutting out the coupons and handing the rations books back to her. My Dad must have been quite a lad. My recollections of him are very faint as he passed away when I was nine years old. He had had one leg amputated above the knee due to a wound turning to gangrene whilst in the Army. However, he had a garden down the Garden Path and despite his handicap he tended the garden and raised vegetables and kept rabbits in a cree to supplement our diet. I well remember going down the garden on a Saturday night and him picking a rabbit up by the ears and killing it with one blow of his hand across its neck. Then taking it up home and skinning it and cleaning it ready for the oven. I know that this sounds barbaric today but we were lucky that we had the garden with the vegetables and the rabbits. There was no television in those days and my parents would listen nightly to the news on the wireless on how the War was going. It must have been a terrible time for parents with young families not knowing if the Germans would eventually invade this country. I can also remember the German propaganda on the wireless and the well known catch phrase the presenter William Joyce used to introduce the programme “Germany calling, Germany calling” Most people listened to his broadcasts throughout the War. My Dad also cobbled our shoes and I can still see him with a shoe or a boot on his last sitting at the back kitchen table using his skills as he repaired the sole or replaced a heel.

All children were issued with gas masks and these had to be carried to school every day and stacked handy in the classroom. We also carried Identity Cards. I cannot see the big fuss in todays world about carrying ID Cards. I can well remember sitting in class in St. Josephs at Ushaw Moor and the Air Raid Warning siren sounding. We were quickly lined up in Class, handed our gas mask carriers and marched into the school yard then across the Church Drive and into the Air Raid shelter by the side of the drive. The Teachers carried hurricane lamps and when we were all in seated on the wooden seating around the walls the bomb proof steel door was shut with a loud clang and we were sealed in until the All Clear siren sounded. It was wet and damp in the Shelter and very cold even in summer. The Teachers told us stories and we would say a prayer for our safety and I can still remember the lovely fresh air when we left the shelter.

There was a total blackout. No light could escape from any window at home. The Air Raid Wardens would patrol the streets nightly and if the smallest chink of light showed there would be a knock at the door and the householder would be told to make sure the windows
showed no light. There were no street lights so people carried on normal life in darkness.

I have many more memories so I will sign off now and see if there is any response to this post.

Brian Mc

Categories: businesses

Call Yersels Garderners? Esh and Waterhouses Cut Down By The Moor

June 4, 2014 2 comments

Back in the late summer of 1900 the three villages competed for five gardening prizes.


1] Ushaw Moor

2] Ushaw Moor

3]Ushaw Moor

4]Ushaw Moor

5] Ushaw Moor

It was all to to with best tree, shrub or plant, as well as best kept gardens.


Categories: Memories

You Could Not Make It Up

June 4, 2014 1 comment

Back in the autumn of 1900 it was alleged that the polling station at Ushaw Moor had opened at mid-day instead of 8 am. After investigation the allegation was found to be without foundation.

How the rumour started is a mystery to this day.

But I have my theories.


Categories: Memories

Peetleston? I Don’t Believe It!

June 4, 2014 1 comment

On October the first 1950 a male bus driver from Ushaw Moor, reportedly named  R Peetleston, experienced his double- decker negotiating a five foot high hedge and coming to rest with its front wheels in a field. It was on the Sunderland to Durham route.

No fatalities.

We all know, don’t we, that his name was very likely NOT Peetlestone.

Might it have been Beetlestone? That’s an Ushaw Moor name from the 1950s. 


Categories: Memories

A 1934 – 1951 Half-Day Coach Tour With The Union Jack Flying

June 3, 2014 2 comments

Back in time that is. So have you got your brightly coloured buckets and spades? Perhaps you are looking forward to fish and chips at Whitby.

1934   S Gibson, R Hume, G HIll, J Ardman, W Ayre [scored ten runs] and R Brown were in the New Brancepeth Junior cricket team. As were A Marchant, S Mawston, L Milburn, R Ayre [scored one run not out] and W Dodds [out for two runs]. The team score reached 81. I wonder whether that was Wilfred Dodds a relative of mine and sometime of Newcastle University [and collector of two or three university degrees].

1935 Ushaw Moor cricket team second eleven to play Chilton Moor at Ushaw Moor: A Turnbull, J Thompson, A Thompson, J Wilkinson, J Rodgers, R Pearson, H Hume, N Wood, E Robson, W Cruddace and R Stobart. Reserve J Emery.

1936 but jumping ahead Football –  Londonderry Cup – 4th round Ushaw Moor Boys 2 [Hamilton, Whitfield penalty] Crook Boys 0. 

Back to 1935 – cricket -The first team playing the same day at Chilton Moor: J Spikings, R Wilson, R W Hope [my grandfather], N Selkirk, F Hildrey, W Seed, A Price, J Hardman, W Ross, S Pearson and J Oliver. Reserve H Lovejoy.

1937  77 years old Fred Newstead was knocked down by a motor car at the entrance to Durham County Hospital and as a result died a few days later at the home of his sister, Rosalind Vickers. She lived in Ladysmith Terrace Ushaw Moor. He was up north visiting her.

1946 Ushaw Moor Colliery was in trouble, that is to say it was on ‘probation’.  Management had been told by the Ministry of Fuel and Power that it must increase output and reduce absenteeism. In September of that year it was able to hoist the Union Jack over the headgear to indicate that the ‘Shinwell’ target had been met for the first time since December 1945. That would be a reference to minister Manny Shinwell [he went on to almost reach a hundred years old].

1950 Frances Clare Hannon, a school teacher at Ushaw Moor school, married William Coady.

1951 [Christmas Day] Syd Waterson, recently signed from Ushaw Moor, made his first appearance for Durham City – against Ushaw Moor! At two pm on the same day Sunderland entertained Newcastle United.

It’s nice to get a few names out there. Some of them are well known to some of us but let’s hope we get some gem responses about less familiar ones.




Categories: Memories

Having Been Born In About 1939 What Happened To These Bright Young Things?

June 2, 2014 5 comments

Browsing through the old papers I came across the names of twelve local children that won a grammar school place in 1950:

[List 1] D Barkes, J A Craggs, M C Gray, M J Stoddart, I Watson and J Whittaker, All of these won a place at the Johnston Grammar.

With the exception of J A Craggs [New Brancepeth County Mixed] the rest had attended Ushaw Moor County Mixed.

[List 2] J R Colwell [New Brancepeth], E Hope[ Ushaw Moor], A Kavanagh [Ushaw Moor], A McPherson [Ushaw Moor], R Syson [New Brancepeth], and E Aberdeen [probably New Brancepeth]. They all won a place at Durham Girl’s Grammar.

Most, if not all, would have taken their General Certificate Of Education in circa 1955. Having said that quite a few pupils nationwide left grammar school at 15, some for economic reasons.l It was not an easy examination for sixteen year old pupils, especially when you consider it was designed for about the top 20 per cent of school children.

M Gray is probably the lad that wrote a play about the Norse gods. It was performed in the Durham Johnston school hall . He may well be the Rev. Melvyn Gray, sometime of the Department of Theology Durham University. Went to school with John Graham?  

Noodles reported in January that a Kavanagh family lived in Hall Avenue near the Seed family.

Peter Clarke reported in July 2011 that a McPherson family lived in Victoria Court and that they were all tall and with blonde hair. Same family as our named pupil and with a  John and Derek within the family?





Categories: Memories