Home > Memories > Ushaw Moor in the Forties and Fifties

Ushaw Moor in the Forties and Fifties

Four years ago I wrote a couple of articles on life in Ushaw Moor in the Forties and Fifties. They were based mainly on the businesses in Ushaw Moor. However, there were some aspects of life which I did not cover. I recently read a crime novel where the main character starts reminiscing about his younger life with a list of one word references and I thought I might try the same although sometimes one word may not be enough.The list is not supposed to be exhaustive-just what comes to mind . It might inspire someone to expand on some of the words used. 

Street games

Football(house gates the goals in Hunter Avenue)), cricket(dustbin lid the wicket),”hot rice”, “cannon,” “alabalaboosha who’s got the ball?” marbles, alleys, penkers,chucks,cowboys and Indians, “booler” and hook,”mounty kitty”(often banned at school),” bulldog”,”knocky 9 doors” ,“block”,”(h)itchy bays”(hopscotch), “leapfrog” “,tiggy.”

Door to door businesses

Brough’s, Doggart’s club, Co-op, Fentiman’s ginger beer( stone jar used as hot water bottle . Late 50’s the ginger plant), Gray’s of Spennymoor “pop”,(ice cream soda, dandelion and burdock ,lemonade etc) Metcalfe’s bakery, hawkers, rag and bone man(whitening stone for steps),milkman, horse and carts, manure on street for gardens, “pikelet man,” King’s Cafe, Wall’s ice cream van( first to have melodic chimes),Joe Nicholl selling ice cream from bicycle and blowing whistle, bookies’ runners, Saturday evening football papers.Concessionary coal dumped outside recipients’ houses on the street-”roundies”,”slack”


Winter 1946 47 – the worst-drift above back door in Temperance Terrace

Summer 1959- the best- lasted until October.

Winter-sledging, snowballing, making snowmen, council workmen throwing grit from back of lorries on Whitehouse Lane to keep road clear.

Easter-dyed or decorated eggs- “jarping-”hot cross buns- new clothes.

Summer- club trips to seaside, holidays in Blackpool, the Beck, Broadgate.

Autumn-”tat(t)ie “picking, conkers

Halloween- “Black shine the muggy,”(as I chanted wrongly I think at the age of 7 in Temperance Terrace) or “Jack shine the Maggie” which I should have chanted, lamp made from a turnip.

Bonfire night- the Guy-”penny for the guy”- roasting potatoes in fire- bonfire raids- bangers- Catherine wheels- jumping crackers-rockets, sparklers, Roman candles. No adult supervision.

Christmas-carol singing, Salvation army band,, “Subbuteo”, “Newfooty”, torch, luminous watch, train set

New Year- first footing.


Sports coat and flannels-first pair of long trousers-short back and sides , crewcut, Teddy boys – jacket to knees, drainpipe trousers, luminous socks, bootlace tie, “brothel creepers”, “Squares”, a D.A, a “Tony Curtis”, Italian style suit, a “Perry Como”, brilliantine, Brylcreem ” a little dab will do ya”, RAF servicemen known as Brylcreem boys!National Service.

The pictures

Empire ,Club Hall, first and second houses, Eldorado ice cream, Kia-Ora,Dainty Dinahs, Beechnut(usually from slot machine outside Mrs. Smith’s grocery shop) Wrigley’s P.K, Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit, Spangles,Polos,smoking “tabs”, adverts, cartoons( Mighty Mouse, Popeye etc),Pathe news, (booing of Tories, cheering of Labour –information from older children), Bowery Boys, Dead End Kids, Three Stooges,Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, cliffhanger serials( Superman), Westerns( Randolph Scott, Rod Cameron,Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and Trigger,”I say what a figure—just like Trigger” Gene Autry,John Wayne ), Tarzan,Sabu.etc,Doris Day, Betty Grable( “I say what a smasher Betty Grable smoking a pasha”)

National Anthem.


Light, Home,Three,” P.C 49”,”Dick Barton”,”Paul Temple,” “Journey into Space,””Family Favourites”,”Billy Cotton,””Educating Archie”, “Life with the Lyons,””Take it from Here”, “Have a Go” with Wilfred Pickles,“Ray’s a Laugh,” “Semprini,” “WorkersPlaytime”, Radio Doctor, “Mrs.Dale’s Diary”( “I am worried about Jim”), Raymond Glendenning, “Sports’ Report”, “Saturday Club”,etc.

Radio Luxembourg, 208, Ovaltineys,Dan Dare, Top 20,Horace Batchelor.

Big bands,skiffle,rock and roll.


BBC (one channel only), “Dixon of Dock Green,””Fabian of the Yard”, “This is your Life,” “The Grove Family”, “What’s my Line,” “Sportsview”, “Grandstand,” “6.5 Special”, “Wells Fargo”, Yana, Dave King, “Quatermass” etc, potter’s wheel interlude, national anthem.

Tyne Tees from 1959 – “Double your Money,” “Take your Pick”, “Maverick,” “Rawhide,” “Wagon Train”, “Cheyenne”, “Sunday Night at the London Palladium.” “77 Sunset Strip”.”Kent Walton-”Cool for Cats” and wrestling commentator.”Oh Boy”,The Viewer “TV magazine.

Reading material

Comics- “Dandy”(Desperate Dan), “Beano”(Dennis the Menace, Jimmy and his Magic Patch)“The Eagle”,(Dan Dare) “Adventure”, “The Wizard”(Wilson wonder athlete, Limp along Leslie),”The Rover”(Alf Tupper), “The Tiger”(Roy of the Rovers),”Charlie Buchan Football monthly,” “Soccer Star”, Biggles books and books from library in Durham(Claypath) and upstairs at Memorial Hall.


The “Rec”-football,cricket,playground.

Recreation ground-putting, tennis,bowls,Jackie Townes, Billy Ayre

football-”Soccer” Gleghorn,Billy Dawson.

cricket-Gordon Thompson,Frank Proctor

boxing-Jimmy Ford from New Brancepeth( saw him fight at New St. James Hall in Newcastle on same bill as Jake Tuli through clouds of smoke)

supporting Sunderland-Len Shackleton, Charlie Hurley(Alan Spence,a classmate at Durham Johnston , made 5 appearances for Sunderland in the first division at the ages of 17 to 18 but still forced to play for school on morning of playing for Sunderland in the afternoon. How times have changed!!!!)

supporting Newcastle-Jackie Milburn, George Eastham-interesting programme about Frank Brennan recently on BBC1 and that Len Shackleton organised a testimonial for Frank at Roker Park.

You could support both teams in those days and no segregation in grounds.

National sporting heroes-Stanley Matthews(football),Freddie Trueman(cricket),Mike Weston(rugby),Mike Sangster(tennis),Reg Harris(cycling),Stirling Moss(motor racing),Barry Briggs(speedway),Geoff Duke(motor cycling),Randolph Turpin(boxing),Roger Bannister(athletics)

Other activities

Methodist Youth club, Church Lads’ Brigade(Captain Ronald Allinson), Church choir(Vicar Welby), Memorial hall(billiards,snooker,table tennis, entertainment upstairs (Skipper Robinson), dances, Big Ed and his band (Edwin McGarr-died last year in Australia.)


Temperance Terrace- two bedrooms,one living room,pantry,backyard,outside toilet, coalhouse, air-raid shelter,kitchen range,tin bath, poss tub, poss stick, wringer,Oxydol,blue bag,furniture with utility label,proggy mats,lino,oilcloth,no hot water from tap.

Hunter Avenue- living room, kitchen,bathroom,three bedrooms,coalhouse,kitchen range,gardens front and rear, same washing utensils and furniture as in Temperance Terrace.

Oakridge Road(Fred Hedley), kitchen with Rayburn,living room with fireplace,cloakroom, two bedrooms, bathroom, utility room incorporating coalhouse,electric washing machine,gardens front and rear.


United 44 and 43 buses, last bus from Durham bus station on Friday and Saturday nights, “Essoldo” (“Regal “to older people), “Globe”, “Palace” , “Palladium”, Vaudeville, Dimambro’s, Studio Two, “House of Andrews”,Parkin’s, Staddon’s, Archibald’s,Burton’s (made -to measure suits),indoor market, Doggart’s,Marks and Spencer’s, Woolworth’s, Cathedral, Castle,Elvet swimming baths, old Baths bridge, the Big Meeting, Durham Regatta, Brown’s boathouse,police box in Market place, television cameras, through -traffic up Silver Street ,Claypath and over Elvet bridge.,Ferens Park, Johnston school on South Street.


Rationing of food until 1953, only fast food was fish and chips, home -made food tended to be filling( roasts, vegetables, puddings, dumplings, broths, rice pudding, etc), home-made bread and cakes shortage of sweets so sugar or condensed milk or jam or treacle (golden syrup really) on bread, tea leaves, “Camp” coffee(chicory), Ovaltine, cocoa, Milo, Numol etc. little or no fruit.I remember after the war a consignment of eating apples arrived at school from Canada for us deprived children although we did not know we were deprived!!


Doctor’s surgery near the top of Arthur Street

Dr. Dickinson known as Dr. Dickie( able to put 5 stitches in my leg in 1948 but in 1995 no one at Ushaw Moor surgery was able to do stitches as they had not been trained so over 4 hours wait in A and E).

Dr. Millyard replaced Dr. Dickinson-a young doctor.

No appointment system.

Backpain,pneumoconiosis,silicosis,emphysema,(miners), whooping cough,measles,chicken pox,German measles,rickets,influenza,rheumatic fever,scarlet fever,diptheria(Brandon isolation hospital), T.B (Wolsingham sanatorium),polio( death of Jeff Hall, England footballer), gum disease, dental decay( many relatives who had few teeth left had remaining teeth removed to have false teeth for free when NHS was set up in 1948).

Some treatments

Sloan’s liniment, Fiery Jack, red flannel, castor oil(revolting taste), Fenning’s fever cure(revolting taste), Beecham’s powders, Aspro, poultices(Kaolin etc.),goose grease, T.C.P.,iodine, Andrew’s liver salts etc.


A lot has been written about Ushaw Moor school on “Memories” already but I would like to place on record my thanks to all the teachers there who taught me.

Miss Cole(headmistress of the Infants), Miss Soames, Miss Williams( taught us how to write with pen and ink), Miss Genner, Mrs. Clarke, Miss Bailes( taught the scholarship class) and Mr. Fawcett( headteacher of the Upper scool). Happy days!!

Categories: Memories
  1. October 6, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Great memories. Thank you for the list. I am from Durham so remember the Durham list well. I did not discover Ushaw Moor until 1959 due to making friends with Stephen Dent who lived at 22 Whitehouse Lane. Memories include Jack Railton at Ushaw Moor Station and Jack Hamill, signalman at New Brancepeth signal box. Also buying eggs from Vince Appleby at his allotment at the top of Whitehouse Lane.

    • ptg71
      October 8, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Thanks Stephen. I often went to Durham as a lad. Johnston school was in South Street until 1954. I used to go to the swimming baths usually by way of Moatside Lane to avoid the traffic going up and down Silver Street. I must do it again .Durham has changed greatly but not all of it for the better in my opinion. North Road is dire compared with what it was over 60 years ago.

      • ptg71
        October 8, 2014 at 8:12 am

        Beg your pardon Roy not Stephen.

      • ron nightingale
        October 8, 2014 at 10:23 am

        Ha, saw the mistake and thought -wordpress needs to give the option to edit.

      • October 8, 2014 at 11:08 am

        That is OK. Stephen Dent died several years ago. Like his Father before him, he spent his working life on British Railways. I last saw him in 1986 when he was a Shift Manager at Bristol.
        Moatside Land is still there though seldom used these days. North Road needs a facelift. But Durham Market Place is getting better. It now has 3 statues with the recent addition of A DLI soldier outside the Town Hall

  2. October 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I have a few words for this post: vivid, evocative, accurate, sad yet… cheering, excellent. Thanks.

    • ptg71
      October 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Thanks Wilf. I know you are a lot younger than me from your previous posts but is there anything from the 40’s and 50’s you can identify with?

      • October 26, 2015 at 4:35 pm

        It is difficult to decide my approach to your question! During most of that period I lived, breathed and took in New Brancepeth and Ushaw Moor.I recall a large majority of those memories outlined by you. I am all the better for living in those communities. They were canny folk and worthy of much respect. They will not be forgotten by me.

        W Bell [not his daughter Georgie Corr]

  3. ron nightingale
    October 6, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    I remember a game called Conkers which i do not see mentioned. There was a big old tree along the path when we went down to stone bridge from Broompark and turned right it was a little park from memory and the conkers were quite a size.
    I also remember the dyed eggs. i can remember we were shown how to do them at school and told to go home and dye an egg at home and bring it in for an easter display.
    I remember wrapping the egg with a fine fern type plant and leaves with a handkerchief or bit of cloth and boiling it and when it was unwrapped the egg had the pattern of the leaves on the shell. I tried doing this again many years ago to show the kids and it didnt work.? maybe i missed something.?

    • ptg71
      October 7, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      Thanks Ron . I mentioned conkers under Autumn. Did you treat your conkers with anything like sticking them in the oven? Can you remember how we labelled a conker with the number of wins it had? Like a tenner with 10 wins for example?

      • ron nightingale
        October 7, 2014 at 11:14 pm

        I see the mention of conkers now. I think my dad boiled mine with a dash of vinegar and then dried them in the oven.? dont remember numbering them. I remember a game we played under the shelter that kate mentions, called pussy in the corner. if it is the same old school i am thinking of the outside lavs were right next to the shelters.

  4. ron nightingale
    October 6, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    The test email i recieved with this one only led to a blank page saying – page not found.

    • October 7, 2014 at 8:09 am

      Hi Ron,,, I did a test posting, checking the BLOG to Facebook/Twitter integration. It worked then I deleted it. Nothing to do with this post.

  5. October 7, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    What a lot a great memories! I was reminded of the more girlie activities, in the road at Temperance Terrace and in the school playground … Lots of skipping games with an old clothesline, two ‘turning’ another one or two jumping in and out to rhymes. Also lots of ‘two-baller’ games. Two balls against a wall, overs, unders and bouncers, under the knee, round the back. We girls had lots of dolls games, pushing ‘babies’ in a selection of prams, up and down the street. I also had a ‘swaps’ tin, buttons, ribbons, broken bits of jewellery, shiny things, to swop with friends on the doorstep. And, then there were the roller skates… Mine were all metal (steel?) much later I graduated to ones with rubber wheels!

    It cost 3d at the front downstairs at the Empire, 6d at the back. 9d in the posh seats upstairs for the courting couples! X-certificates occasionally so no kids under 18. Posters each week to say what was on each night.

    St. Luke’s … Sunday school at about 2pm having to wear a hat with elastic under my chin. Collecting ‘stamps’ for attendance. Later confirmation classes at Waterhouses. Having to run out with some money to put into the Salvation Army collection on a Sunday morning, after the band played, because my Gran said they all helped us in the war.

    The door to door sales – I had to be ready with my Grans insurance money (3d a week) when the man called from the Pru.

    Hearing about the wars… My Grandad Jimmy Culbert told me the Germans shot off his hair (he was bald!) He was such a nice man, worked 12 hour shifts down the pit with 2 sandwiches and 2 sweets in his bait tin. After WWII sweets and cigarettes were rationed until about 1953? After being demobbed my Uncle Arthur worked building the new houses at Ushaw Moor. My Uncle Albert wore his demob suit until about 1963 for weddings and funerals.

    Aldersons were the Undertakers in Ushaw Moor. Workshop behind the Flass. Coffins made on the premises. Funerals took place within about 3 days of the death then. Weddings didn’t seem to need so much planning either… Reception was often a sit down tea in the New Church Hall. The bride and groom use to throw coppers to the kids who shouted ‘shabby wedding’ outside the church.

    In the infants school we had a little ‘slate’ to write on with chalk, before advancing to a paper and pencil. In the Junior school I remember having to knit a dishcloth on big wooden needles, the girls also had sewing and embroidery lessons. Rote learning was the way forward, learning tables, reading round the room. Games lessons on the gravel playground. Or in the hall, listening to the music on the BBC school programme. Under the shelter at playtime when it rained and the outside lavs.

    So much more to remember…. Another day

    • ptg71
      October 7, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      Thanks Kate. You have complemented my memories with the feminine experience.I did have a pair of roller skates but they did not last long.They were metal like your first ones but the wheels jammed and I did not bother after that.Just stuck with my bike and booler and hook for transport.

  6. October 7, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Lot of input which I enjoyed reading. I have a programme somewhere of Sunderland v Juventus December 1957. Playing in the match John Charles, Charlie Hurley and Alan Spence. I remember loosing my school cap at the match , brand new, but thankfully never replaced.

    • ptg71
      October 7, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      I knew Alan played against the great John Charles before his 18th birthday. Alan was a terrific footballer.He was capped for England Grammar schools and England youth. He qualified as a teacher when he left school in 1958. He never reached the peaks of 1957 to 1958 but scored a lot of goals for Southport in the old Fourth division.

      • Fred Hume
        November 5, 2019 at 10:47 am

        Alan is my brother in law and now lives near Southport as an ex Ushaw Moor lad it’s nice to remember old times

      • ptg71
        November 5, 2019 at 2:53 pm

        Thanks Fred. Glad you enjoyed the article and I am so pleased to hear Alan is okay. He was a very fit lad and a great sportsman.

  7. ron nightingale
    October 7, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    What was – booler and hook.? i remember the name – thinking is it the top and whip.? Also forgotten how bulldog was played but thinking it was quite rough so me being quite a small kid i probably avoided it. – Mount kitty.???

  8. October 8, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Lots of memories here I think pooler and hoop refers to a metal hoop which was rolled down the road and was controlled with a metal stick curved at the end into a hook.
    I lived at Pringle Place new Brancepeth then and we walked on the road as kids because the traffic consisted of Dr O’Flaherty’s car, reg. GUP 6 and not much else except horse and carts e.g.
    the store butcher and greengrocer remember this was early fifties!

  9. ron nightingale
    October 8, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Ah, so the top and the whip is overlooked.? It was popular around 59-60 and was a barrel shaped piece of wood with one end cut off flush and about 1 1/2 inches in diameter with the other end being tapered to a point. You had a whip which was just a piece of string attached to a stick and you wrapped the string around the top and quickly threw it toward the ground and at the same time wrenching on the whip to send it spinning on the ground. After that it was an art to keep whipping the top to keep it spinning.

  10. ron nightingale
    October 8, 2014 at 10:36 am

  11. ron nightingale
    October 8, 2014 at 10:46 am

    But this clip really shows the example of the girls skipping and an example of the little rhymes. wonder if anyone could give the lyrics to the one in the Harrys Half crown clip.?

  12. Alf Rothwell
    October 9, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Great read. I used to go to see Jimmy Ford box at St James hall with the bus trip frm New Brancepeth. His real name was Jimmy Towns. I am trying to figure out who you are!!

    • ptg71
      October 9, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      I am your cousin John ,Alf.I bet you were on the same bus trip as me. Yes Jimmy Ford was related to Jackie. Towns , groundsman at the Recreation field. Hope you and Irene are well.

  13. Sheila Hall
    October 9, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    I have just watched the film, it was fantastic to see what Ushaw Moor used to be like, I really enjoyed it. So many buildings now gone but memories remain.

  14. Michael Billing
    April 6, 2015 at 3:44 am

    Thanks for the Memories

  15. Denise
    October 26, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Fantastic piece and great comments. I really enjoyed it. Thank you.

  16. October 30, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Hi I’m lookin for a man named Gordon Elliot wondering if anyone knows him or heard of him he lived in ushaw moor

  17. Peter Clarke
    October 31, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Great memories – it being halloween tonight I brought up this post with a search ” Jack shine the muggy.” Thats’ what we always said, with hollowed out turnip in hand, but have no idea why.

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