Author Archive

Time and space – memories.

September 5, 2016 2 comments

I watched the TV programme presented by Professor Brian Cox in relation to Space/Time.  He pointed out that the Earth in its orbit around the Sun travels at appromately 66,000 miles per hour.  At the same time the Earth is spinning on its axis  at 1,000 miles per hour slowing gradually towards the Poles.  Any sense of motion yet?

Our Solar System takes 225 million years to complete an orbit of our Galaxy.  So it takes the Earth being held by the Suns gravity the same period of time to complete the orbit.  Mathematicians have worked it out that the Sun is travelling through space at an astonishing speed of 483 thousand miles per hour.  So we have three speeds to get our head around.

1. Earth/Sun orbit 66,000 miles per hour.

2. Earths spinning on its axis approximately 1,000 miles per hour.

3. Our Solar System orbit of our Galaxy 225 million years at speed of 483,000 miles per hour.  Confused yet.

So if we think of an event which happened two hours ago across the road we think we are still in the same place where it happened.  We are in one sense but in another we are not.  Still with me?  Since the event happened two hours ago  the Earth in its orbit around the Galaxy has travelled 483,000 x 2 equalling  960,000 miles.  So the memory happened almost 1 million miles away in the past.  Got your head around that?  Yet in another sense you are still sitting fifty yards away from where it actually happened.  Rather confusing.  So when I was eight years old and was standing underneath the wooden bridges which carried the railway across the New Brancepeth road terrified by the screaming of the timbers carrying the weight of the train and the thought of the bridge collapsing on my head that place minus the bridges is still there.  However the earth plus the bridge (still with me?) was the number of hours in seventy years times 483,000 miles  back in its orbit around the Galaxy so that particular event happened billions of miles away in space.

So memories are just not about time but also as Brian Con puts it they are also about Space   The earth stays on its annual orbit around the Sun but the Sun due to gravity is dragging the Earth along with it through its Galactic orbit so where we are now in Space where no one has been before.

Life is complcated.


Categories: housing, Memories

Number 13

September 5, 2016 1 comment

I have been on Facebook and reading an entry about Fir Park. One post asked why there was no number 13. Shortly after the Second World War the Government announced a building programme to build millions of Council houses now referred to as Social Housing. Brandon and the whole of the Deerness Valley Was in the area of the Brandon and Byshottles Urban District Council as the local Council was then known. The Council employed an Architect at that time named Fred Hedley. Mr Hedley designed most of the Council houses built in the area since the 2nd World War. The first house to miss the number was 13 Victoria Court. Mr and Mrs Gillon with Gordon, Dennis, Owen and Malcolm moved into number 12 and next door was Mr and Mrs Smaith and the twins Arthur and Albert and Ken at number 14. This omission was a source of local gossip and I remember the explanation for the omission was that Fred Hedley as he was referred to disliked number 13 hence the omission. Victoria Court was the first phase completed followed by Whitehouse Court then Bracken Court. After completion part of the wood was ripped out and the Oakridge Road area was then developed. Oakridge Road was beautiful when first built, open and a lot of grass. Now in this modern world the beauty of the area is spoiled by numerous parked vehicles, but that applies to most places now. Incidentally Fred Hedley won a National Award for the design of and old persons complex on the left of Newhouse Road in Esh Winning before Newhouse St. Mary’s Church. My family were amongst the first sixteen families to move into the new estate in January 1947. The last four houses and the first eight houses in Whitehouse Court and the last four houses in Victoria Court were the first houses lived in. We moved into 38 Victoria Court. Brian Mc.

Categories: housing, Memories

A Winters Sunday afternoon at John Bells Farm.

June 2, 2015 2 comments

Mick, one of my older brothers, worked for a time at John Bells farm on the Esh Winning road just beyond St. Luke’s Church.  My Dad had died a  few years earlier and Mam was left to bring five of us up. And she did an excellent job God Bless her.  Mick would go in for the milking on the Sunday afternoons for a few extra shillings.  (50p).  I used to go along with him to give him a hand.  Hard work as the Byre in Winter had to be cleaned out, fresh straw laid and the cows fed.  This particular afternoon it was freezing cold with a thick frost and threatening snow.  Just the weather to find that the turnip store was empty.  We hitched up a trailer to the little Ferguson tractor and drove to the field where the turnips were still rooted in the soil.  No gloves.   We had to pull them out by hand and then lop the roots off and the leaves with a huge machete  It was bloody freezing.  Dusk was falling very quickly and then light snow.  We both straighted our backs and watched a wall of snow coming down the valley from the direction of Esh Winning blotting everything out as it approached us on the hillside of the field just West of the farm.

It was nature in he raw.  Back to the farm and the welcome warmth and aromatic smell of the Byre.  Chop the turnips in a machine and the feed them to the cows.  There must have been sixteen cows to be hand milked.  Then sterilise all the milking equipment.  Tired but happy at a job well done and home to a Sunday tea with meat pies and an apple tart with jelly and Carnation milk.  Happy memories.  All that work for 50 pence.  My Mam was a great lass for grubbing the five of us.  We never ent short in that Department.   Brian mc.

Categories: Memories

Old sayings disappearing

April 13, 2015 2 comments

I have noticed that over the years our use of local sayings are disappearing and words used on popular TV shows are moving into everyday speech. Uni (university) for example, r (Are), c (see) u (you) 4 (for). Get the gist.

‘Haad thee pipe’ was in common use meaning wait, for example meaning you wanted to catch someone up when walking or running. ‘Three sheets in the wind’ meaning a person had too much to drink (alcohol). ‘Daft as a brush’. I think that explains itself. ‘Hang on man’ again meaning wait. ‘Blatherskite’ meaning a person who talked too much. ‘Gallower’ for horse. I think this would come from the Galloway breed of pony used down the pit. The old word ‘thou’ was still in use ie ‘Thou said that a few minutes ago’.

The word ‘class’ meaning clothes ie ‘His pit claes’ the clothes he wore down the pit. Pit clothes were clattered against an outside wall to get the muck and dust out of the. This action was described as ‘dadding’ the clothes. Where this was done on a regular basis against a wall there was a darkened area. Can anyone add to this. Brian mc.

Categories: Memories

Has anyone an answer?

July 20, 2014 4 comments

I hope that someone can solve my problem. I know everyone takes it for granted but who or when were the woodlands planted in the Ushaw Moor area?

The woods I refer to are the areas that run at right angles to each other from Durham Road in Ushaw Moor to the Club in Bearpark. I say Durham Road as I think the woods would have run down to that road before the first St. Josephs Catholic Church was built on the site in 1911 where the Catholic Club now stands. The first stretch stands from the Catholic cemetery upto Victoria Court. Then at a right angles down to Oakridge Road, then up to the Deerness School, then again at right angles up the side of the playing fields and at right angles again upto Bearpark Club. I don’t know if upto is correct grammar.

I am reading a book on the history of Ushaw College and in the early years of the College it states that new woodlands were planted and that if Ushaw College owned this land at the time did the College authorities lay down this new woodland? The very geometrical shape of the woods point to the them being planned and planted by man and not by nature.

I spent many happy hours as a little lad playing in the woods and especially the area where New Acres now stand. I remember the work that went on to open the woods to gain access to the fields where Oakridge Road now stands. No modern plant on site in those days and the trees were felled and the roots dug out by hand. A six foot wire link fence ran from the cut onto Hall Avenue (known as Radstocks cut after the family that lived in the first house through the cut in Hall Avenue) down to the bottom of Bracken Court, then up the side of Bracken Court and then upto the top of Whitehouse Court where it joins the Bearpark Road.

The woods are shown on an Ordnance Survey map I have seen on the site dated 1911 so they have been there for well over 100 years.

Categories: Memories

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

Aircraft on Low Loader

March 21, 2013 9 comments

When I started school my family lived at 29 Harvey Street, New Brancepeth, and this meant a daily walk to St. Josephs School at Ushaw Moor. On the way we parted company with my Dad as he took the road leading to the Pit Yard at New Brancepeth Colliery on his way to work. We walked down the Big Bank as it was then known and then over the road bridge over the beck as we called it or, to give it its correct title, the River Deerness. On under the two wooden railway bridges and once under the bridges we turned sharp right, through a gate and then up a path by the side of the railway embankment arriving at Ushaw Moor Railway Station. Emerging from the path you could see the whole of the field which was then known as the Show Field as this was the area where the Shows came annually for a week.

One morning I can vividly remember an RAF low loader wagon carrying the fuselage of a crashed aircraft standing parked on the field guarded by an armed member of the RAF. We stood looking at the scene for a couple of minutes and then resumed our journey up the back of Station Road to school. Our teachers in those days would have frowned on us for being late for any reason.

I am hoping that John Mc Garr, who I know reads this site can come up with an answer for me. Can he remember this incident or can he remember his Mam or Dad speaking of this incident. If my memory serves me right John lived in the gable end house nearest the Show Field in what I thiink was Middlefield Terrace which I think was demolished years ago. My query is was the aircraft German or an RAF plane. So please John can you put me right. I think it was German and must have been shot down. If so how did it arrive at the bottom of Ushaw Moor. Perhaps the driver of the lorry was an Ushaw Moor lad who called at home unofficially to see his family.

If you do read this John just to let you know that the Bushing Company on South Drive is no more. It has been demolished over the past month and there is only a large empty area where the factory stood for eighty years. I never knew you worked there until my next door neighbour, Michael George,mentioned your name a few years ago by which time you had left.

Brian Mc

Categories: Memories