Archive for May, 2016

Laker And Lock

May 31, 2016 Leave a comment

I recall a lovely family holiday by the seaside in Redcar back in the 1950s. Then the minute we arrived back in Ushaw Moor on went the television so that I could witness the destruction of the Australian cricket team by all spinning all confusing Jim Laker. His spinning partner Tony Lock turned the page for him and even took the other wicket; 19 to Jim and one to Tony.

The point is, I am slowly going senile. I can recall top spinners of the time: Laker, Lock, Wardle and those brief fireflies Ramadhin and Valentine yet I cannot name one current England spinner, even though I am still very interested in the English cricket team.

For that matter I cannot name one current Australian cricket player, yet I admire them. Frightening! Except that it is not frightening because my defence mechanism tells me that life is utterly ridiculous and therefore I should stop worrying about key words missing from my vocabulary, such as bucket and spade, and get on and enjoy the seaside.

Back in the 1950s umpires at the Ushaw Moor ground would wear  very long white coats that were more suited to selling ice creams, especially so on hot days when the sun blazed down on to the pitch. Did the area of the pitch at the Station Road end slope down towards the wickets then? It certainly did a few seasons ago and it provided some problems for the young Langley Park opening bowler.

My grandmother [the one that would not have been impressed by Gene Kelly] was one of the tea ladies at the club for many years. Ham sandwiches, salmon sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, buttered scones with lashings of jam to spare and all provided for MEN. No women cricketers, and why? No doubt because of a total lack of imagination by a collection of people that included teachers, league officials and well….girls.

When my grandparents celebrated 50 years of marriage the local paper took the opportunity to give them a write up: about 250 words devoted to dear grandfather yet Mrs Hope…..made the teas at Ushaw Moor Cricket Club.




Categories: Memories

Dr D M O’Flaherty

May 31, 2016 3 comments

There must be many stories to relate about a doctor that was much respected in Sleetburn and Ushaw Moor. I am not your man for relating them because I was a child of the valley, not an adult, during what must have been his later years in the villages.

What can you tell us? What did your mother and  father tell you about him? I am starting you off with D and M; it might have been Dennis or perhaps David, surely not Denzil; and Michael is my best shot at his second forename with Martin on the sub’s bench.

I do know that he was my mother’s doctor and he helped her through the trauma of the menopause, a term used to describe the time in a female’s life when psychological and physical changes occur owing to reduced production of oestrogen hormones.

I also know that he lived in West View New Brancepeth, at least for sometime. He was an associate member of the Burns Federation [i.e. relating to the poet not the beloved American comedian] and the source for that is  the Burns Chronicle, 1965 edition. I believe he also had an administrative connection to the New Brancepeth Infant/ Primary school but I might be wrong about that.

So not much to start you off but at least it’s a start. Let’s have a ‘let us hear it month’ for the doctor. Was he a whisky drinking [off duty] doctor that gave you safe passage to the valley? What did he look like? Did he have any resemblance to the TV Doctor Cameron of circa the late 1950s?


Categories: Memories

Arthur Gill And Thomas Marne Have Moved Me

May 29, 2016 6 comments

TWO MEN KILLED IN DURHAM PIT EXPLOSION ran the front page headline in the Sunderland Echo published on Monday, November the 14th 1932.

There were several heroes involved but above all it was the actions of Mr Gill and  Mr Thomas Marne that have especially impressed and moved me.

Arthur Gill was 22 or 23 years old and had married just a month earlier. There were two explosions and although the first one almost knocked Mr Gill out cold he was able to shout to  John Thomas Nattress to telephone for help. He also told him that he was going to look for his mate William Timmins and try and get him away from danger.

William Timmins [of 5 East Terrace] was in his early thirties and married with three children. He had only just returned to the pit after a month of sickness. Tragically he was killed in the second explosion as was Arthur Gill.

Thomas Marne, a deputy overman, had been the first to arrive. He took his muffler from his neck, soaked it in water from a bottle and placed it over his mouth and nose. After tremendous efforts he brought Arthur Gill out and tried artificial respiration on him but Gill was dead. He then tried to reach Timmins but was driven back by gas on several occasions.

Other colliery personnel involved in the rescue attempt included:

Brooke Hurst, a hewer of Esh Winning;  Charles Seed, deputy overman of  Ushaw Terrace; Frederick Hutchinson, hewer of Ushaw Terrace; Christopher Parks, stoneman of Dale Terrace; and Richard Francis, putter, of South View, Ushaw Moor. The spellings of names on this list are taken on trust.

Additional notes:

Despite several sources indicating that the spelling Timmons is appropriate I tend to think that the spelling Timmins is probably correct because the 1911 census has a William Timmins, aged about 10, living at 34 Hepworth Street New Brancepeth in the houshold of father James [born Cornsay] and Margaret Timmins  [born Stanley Co. Durham]. It further states that there were nine children but very sadly four were lost before they got started; such deaths were far from uncommon at that time.

In the case of Mr Gill it looks like he was living with his family in Esh Winning at the time of the 1911 census. As an aside his father was born in Stanley and his mother in Cornsay thus a family origin  opposite to that of Mr Timmins parents.

Needless to say corrections are most welcome.








Categories: Memories

Harsh Voice Down The Decades

May 28, 2016 Leave a comment

Back in about 1960 my grandmother Hope made a comment that I can more or less still recall: the gist of it seems  unremarkable now. She was looking out of the living room window at 11 George Street, Esh Winning, at the time of her inexplicably memorable comment, and said:

‘Oh that girl call over there is showing some life now that she has a boyfriend. She was always dozy before he came along’.

How unkind was that? Perhaps the girl had suffered a bout of depression. Or maybe she was in mourning. No doubt you can offer further reasons for appearing dozy.

Anyway, it seems to me that my grandmother would not have been moved by Gene Kelly’s excitement as he sang in the rain during what was a glorious feeling of being in love.

I have two further points to make; although Esh Winning is not Ushaw Moor, and therefore might excite members of the Cluff police station, my grandmother did spend  most of her life in the Sleetburn and  Ushaw Moor villages and therefore ought to have been influenced to the good by that; secondly I wonder about the identity of the girl. Perhaps you can all walk up to 11 George Street and narrow down the likely dwelling that housed the girl in love and take it from there.



Categories: Memories

The Carse Lads And Their Beloved Sunderland

May 15, 2016 1 comment

Coal miner Tommy Carse was my wiry and hardworking uncle. He smiled a lot, loved his family and had twinkling eyes that did him no harm at all. My mother loved his humour and warmth. I saw him through the eyes of a child but I was old enough to form the opinion that he was a good man and I was right about that.

So it gives me great pleasure to know that his sons Ian and Malcolm are currently in a good mood about football. Sunderland AFC has survived. The team is still a Premier League outfit. That pleases me because it pleases them.

Which brings me on to Newcastle United. Vibes all wrong. Milburn betrayed by the semi permanent farce that is Newcastle United. It is a misery that has unfolded for decade after decade.Fans betrayed big time.I have seen Newcastle play Derby County twice, both times at Newcastle. 1-0 and 2-0 wins for Derby. Much personal joy but I was sad for Newcastle’s brilliant supporters. They were, and always will be, brilliant until the sun explodes; they deserve much more, as do Derby County fans.




Categories: Memories

Your Advice To School Leavers?

May 14, 2016 Leave a comment

We all need advice from time to time but youngsters surely have a special need to know what it is like out there. Teachers have the intellect to help with that task but not all of them necessarily have the time or experience to do so. I also doubt that they  have the professional authority to tell it how it really is.

We have some splendid amateur writers and commentators on this site and armed with our rich and varied memories we bleat with a warm and sentimental glow that can be very enjoyable. But surely all those memories and reflections need a positive conclusion and outlet that can be helpful to the youngsters.

When I was a child growing up in Ushaw Moor I had a healthy respect for authority but by its nature  it was not a thoughtful process. You did what you were told because otherwise you were a trouble maker. We know that our country is significantly corrupt and that comes at a time when our Prime Minister dares to comment on countries even more corrupt.

As a kid I thought that most of the adults I met were self confident in every way. But they seldom were in reality. The world really is a stage and there is a lot of acting going on. There is a lot of b… s….. going on as well and I will leave you to list the bull’s activity.

So, we loved sledging down the bank; we loved playing football  and knocky nine doors; we loved conkers; we loved fireworks and Denis the Menace etc etc.

Let us now carefully and lovingly work out what to tell our youngsters. Then tell it.Do not restrict it to ‘work hard play hard.’ Although that would be a handy start.






Categories: Memories

No Hiding Place For Angelic Grannies

May 9, 2016 Leave a comment

If you are not up to speed on this one just google Aycliffe Angels and away you go.

Most of us are now aware of them and how heroic they were. Commendable efforts were made to give them the recognition  they fully deserve but there is always more to be done.

I can only estimate that there are about two or three valley angels alive and residing in the locality. Why not seek them out? Look in the bathroom, but knock first. What about the garden?  Seek information about them from your mates and neighbours. Above all find them.

Then laud, feed and clap them. Not in the Royal County Hotel [which is grand] but in the locality of the village in which they walked and talked.

Keep me in the loop and I might even attend the event.

Oh, and by the way, they probably like chocolate cake.



Categories: Memories