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Ushaw Moor in the Forties and Fifties

October 6, 2014 32 comments

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