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Haffy

What happened to the pit houses

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I come from a typical coal mining family – the men went down the pit and the girls went to the colliery offices. However I was the exception – in 1949 the King decided he needed my services and I was called up to do my National Service in the army. I never returned to Northumberland except for the occasional family visits,

I am now in my dotage and at such a time, one tends to reminisce and to look back at one's roots and where one came from. And there is one thing which has puzzled me for a long time and I haven't been able to find the answer. What happened to the pit houses when the NCB closed down?.

Some of the houses may have been destroyed but I know the vast majority weren't destroyed because they are still occupied and even for sale. I wonder if someone would kindly explain the history of what happened – an old man would be very grateful.

Haffy

 

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Hi Haffy!!!!!

Welcome to the best forums on the planet!

As a young miner with a family of one 2-year-old Son,back in 1970,and having lived in post-war newly -built houses both at home,and later with my Mother-in-law,in Bedlington,it came as a huge culture-shock to acquire my first property!

This was a three bedroom,[huge!] terraced house in Stakeford,on the main road,in a street called West Terrace, Bomarsund.

It had stood empty for over a year,was a filthy hovel of a place,totally neglected by the N.C.B.,who owned the property,and had to be stripped totally,to re-decorate,after repairing huge areas of [early 1900's] horse-hair and lime plaster,which dropped off each time you went to pull wallpaper off.[not to mention sliding sash draughty,rattly windows,and an antiquated ootside toilet..[[netty!]],which used ti freeze up in the bad winters we used to have back then!].

It had a huge "Triplex" range fireplace,[ coal oven..] and Adams cast iron fireplaces upstairs in the bedrooms.

I spent a lot of time replacing all the windows with modern ones which I made myself,at my own cost,and all the doors and frames also.[I had to work loads of weekend shifts to pay for this work]

Each time the Coal Board Plasterer's came to repair the walls,the boss wud come over with his little bit of chalk,and mark off a square yard,maybe even two,if you were lucky....talk about being tight!!

I had to learn to plaster and brickie,so I could do repairs to my own standards.[mind,I wasn't alone,several of my neighbours had to do the same thing,so we helped each other out where we could.]

I repeatedly wrote to the N.C.B Chairmen,in succession,and even Maggie Thatcher,requesting the right to buy the property,on the grounds that the N.C.B were neglecting the property,so if I could buy it,I would go ahead and modernise it.

I received nice replies from everybody,even 10 Downing Street!,saying that they were held by ancient long-standing agreements with the Unions,which dictated that the houses were to be kept for families of miners in the future.....[as I said before...nobody wanted them at the finish!...cos they were hovels!]

However,in 1984,Thatcher gave the N.C.B. orders to sell the properties it owned,not just houses,but farms and open land as well.

So I was the first to accept and buy my house,which,after 14 years of hard slog,working till the middle of the night,as well as a hard shift underground,I had turned into a very well-presented home,which I was proud of.[no thanks to the N.C.B.]

Some of  my neighbours thought I was crackers,saying they weren't worth buying,as they made their way across the road to go to the "Roughton" club,on a Saturday night!!

Once folk saw my house being modernised,they all,one by one,followed suit!!

My builder,a relative of my Wife's family,was in the street for over five years doing one house after the other,sometimes a few at a time!

SO,in a nutshell,the older pit houses,like those in Bedlington Doctor Pit,and Bedlington A pit [at the "Station"],were demolished,and those such as in Bomarsund,and many other pit villages,were bought by the tenants,where possible,and those that were not purchased outright, were taken over by trusts,formed from Union,and council members,to run and maintain,and also to take over the letting side of things.

This remains to this day.

Lang-winded reply,but nowt unusual coming from H.P.W.!! [a just like ti paint a clear picture of a situation wherever I can!!]

Cheers,Haffie,hope aav med ye happy!

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Er!,just to clarify,by "Modernising",that refers to knocking the old  ootside "Netty" [toilet!] and "Coal-hoose" doon,and extending the existing kitchen and bathroom

doon the yard to provide a nice bathroom suite,at last!!

A tuk photo's of the ootside netty,afore we pulled it doon,if a can find them,a shud post them up here!![complete wi the obligatory hurricane lamp ti help the pipes oot in the winter!]

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18 hours ago, Haffy said:

I am now in my dotage and at such a time, one tends to reminisce and to look back at one's roots and where one came from. And there is one thing which has puzzled me for a long time and I haven't been able to find the answer. What happened to the pit houses when the NCB closed down?.

..............................

Haffy

 

When you say pit houses are you saying :-

Dr. Pitt = Shiney Row - Dr. Terrace - New South Row - Cross Row & Telephone Row

'A' Pitt = South Row - North Row - & Shop Row

Barrington - Alexandra Row - Freehold Row - Victoria Row - Office Row - Double Row - Chapel Row - Middle Row - Blacksmiths Row - School Row - Stone Row & Railway Row.

Not that I lived in any of them but I do know about them.

What row(s) did you live in @Haffy ?

 

Edited by Eggy1948

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Hi HPW,

Wey aye man, ye sortinly made me happy with ya fascinatin story of aal the work ye had to dee to your hoose.   Ma pitmatic mebbe a bit rusty but Aa knaa it would quickly retorn if Aa ever came back hyem.

You certainly showed initiative and did a lot of hard work in renovating the house in West Terrace.   Horse hair and lime plaster - wow!   I bet that tested your diy skills.  I'm delighted that you made a success of the job and I hope that all your hard work turned your hovel into a happy home for your family.

Knowing what government departments are like, I expect they were not particularly generous when it came to assessing a price for the property.   I only hope that it has turned out to be a good investment over the years.

It must have been a terrible time for the mining families when they started to sell off and even demolish the pit houses.   All the worry - whether to buy - can we afford to buy - is there anywhere else available.   At least those problems are behind us now even if other problems are still coming,   Is the working man any better off today?

Many thanks for giving me your time.

All the best, mate.

Haffy  

PS I liked your comment about the netty and in particular the hurricane lamp.   I too had to endure that until the army took me away and introduced me to holes in the desert sand !

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Hi Eggy,

Thanks for the reply.   In fact I never actually lived in Bedlington - I lived in (dare I say it) Ashington.   But (as far as I know) Ashington doesn't have a forum so I thought I would trespass on the goodwill of Bedlington.   After all,  mining families were all in the same boat.

HPW has kindly told me what happened in your locality and I expect it was exactly the same in Ashington.

Haffy

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4 hours ago, Haffy said:

Hi Eggy,

Thanks for the reply.   In fact I never actually lived in Bedlington - I lived in (dare I say it) Ashington.   But (as far as I know) Ashington doesn't have a forum so I thought I would trespass on the goodwill of Bedlington.   After all,  mining families were all in the same boat.

HPW has kindly told me what happened in your locality and I expect it was exactly the same in Ashington.

Haffy

Champion.

 

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19 hours ago, Haffy said:

But (as far as I know) Ashington doesn't have a forum so I thought I would trespass on the goodwill of Bedlington.   After all,  mining families were all in the same boat.

Haffy - never seen an Ashington community forum - only the group they have on Facebook - 8,588 members. Never seen what photos etc. they have on the Facebook site as it's a 'Closed Group' and you have to join to view the Photos.

Project1.png

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Hi Haffy!

Ashington was a different kettle of fish!

Whereas Bedlington hooses were little hovels  med nice by proud miner's wives,in thi aad days,the raas and raas of hooses in Ashington were better built,and still stand yit as the high end of Ashington bears testament.

Portia,Katherine ,and aal thi rest of thi lasses nyems in one part,aal thi nyems of trees in another part,hundreds of hooses,still as gud as ever,cos they were built wi better bricks etc.Mostly aal private noo,and sum luvly hooses amang them,when yi gaan doon them streets.

Me Mutha was born in Pont street,[thi Ferguson family,Billy thi buck,George,John,Matt,Lily,Nancy,and Jean,who was me Mutha,a think Granda Ferguson was also John senior,but not too sure aboot that.]

There was also a young Alfie who died aboot 18 months old,and he wud have been the last in this large family,in the old days....me Mutha was 95 when she died a few  years ago.Matt was also 95 when he passed on,so aam wondering if yi knew any of the family.

A knaa at one time,there were 5000 miners in Ashington village,cos thi pit was five pits in one.

Me Grandma McDonald,passed on many years ago,was working in one of the shafts when the shaft was being sunk.

Coal-owner-days when bairns,including lassies were employed in inhuman conditions for up to 18-hour shifts...as young as six years old..underground.

Me Grandma told me that after the sinkers had drilled and fired the sinking shots,the lassies used ti hae ti load the "Kibble" [ a basket],wi aal the loosened stones,and clean the ground for the next drilling operations.

The men would have ti rest,cos tha was nae powered drillers in them days,it was aal brute force hand drilling...very slow hard work,but they did it.

Me Mutha used ti tell me stories aboot hoo there were tub rails doon every street,and the miner wud lead he's pony doon the street fetching pit tubs wi thi miners'

hoose coal.he used ti tip thi tubs oot on their side ti empty thi tub next ti each hoose,and me Mutha had ti use a big pan shuul ti hoy thi coal oot thi tubs,and help the guy ti put thi tubs back on thi way..[thi rails],ready ti gaan back ti be loaded up for the next run.

She was only 14 years aad,then she went into"Service",looking after rich peoples hooses and mekking meals and deaing hoosewark.and god knaas wat else,when yi trace history back aboot wat happened in them days ti young lassies![mostly Jewish folks in them days,at tynemooth,Then doon ti London.]

Can ye add ti any of this history,Haffy,a mean on a porsinal level,or even substantiate any of me comments,cos it's mostly wat a was telt by the aad folk when a was a bairn.[ me Grandma was aroond in thi late 1800's,so nowt unusual aboot her daeing pitwark.]

Me Mutha,as well as loads of aad miners,used ti tell in detail,who the midnight shuveller used ti cum doon thi streets wi his horse and cart,ti clean oot aal thi aad netties,["ashpits" they caaled thim!!]....wat a job!

Eeh,a cud gaan on and on![heh heh!.... a dae!]

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A forgot ti taak aboot the blacklocks and their eggs which a found in different places when a pulled aad door frames oot,and especially the triplex range,coal oven......it was a breeding haven for the little buggers!

Too late noo,aam jiggered,need ti gaa ti kip...leave it for anotha neet,unless anybody can also relate stories aboot them!

Bob Bethwaite Jr comes ti mind at thi Bedltn Aad pit,in the mid -1960's]

[That's me reminder for next time!]

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On 12/02/2017 at 00:05, HIGH PIT WILMA said:

Me Mutha used ti tell me stories aboot hoo there were tub rails doon every street,and the miner wud lead he's pony doon the street fetching pit tubs wi thi miners'

These two old maps show the railway line between the rows.

IMG_1448.PNG

IMG_1449.PNG

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HPW. It's funny how my simple question has brought a flood of such interesting memories back to you.   Unfortunately, I can add only a little to your stories - I was still a lad when I left Ashington so I've never had  the experience of living as a 'grownup' in the town and having to endure the fortunes or misfortunes of having a pit house for myself.   As a child, all I knew was that the pit provided the house, the pit provided the coal to keep it warm and every few years, my mother would repaper everything.!   Life as a child seemed simple.

My family lived in 5th Row and then the11th so I didn't know anybody who lived at the Hirst.

You mentioned the tub rails and that has brought back what must be my earliest possible memory because I can remember those rails.   And I seem to recall the time when they concreted the roads which must have been when they were removing the rails.   That would have been when I lived in the Fifth Row so it must have been around 1932 - 34.   I can't recall any 'earth' lavatories so maybe the flush ones were installed at the same time as the roads were concreted.

Newbedders.   Thanks for putting on that map of old Ashington which brought back a few memories.   I think I spent half my childhood in that Recreation Ground !

 

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Hi Newbedders!

Many thanks for your mail,and for posting these interesting maps,it proves my Mutha did still "have all her marbles" [quote: her last remarks before she passed away,at 95 yrs old!]

She was born and brought up in Pont Street,which I cannot see on these maps,so I think there must be other sections available in the archives,showing the rest of the colliery village...VILLAGE!!!!.....Ashington was the biggest mining town in the world in the early days...5 pits in one,with over 5000 miners employed there!

Hi Haffy!

Just ti clear up any unintended confusion,when I moved into West Terrace,Stakeford,in 1970,it had ootside aad-fashioned flush toilets,across the yard,wi a high wall aal aroond,but the floor of the building was the original old Netty ,and shaped with a curved sill at the entrance doorway,the purpose of which was to prevent the contents of the netty being pushed into the yard,when the midnight shuveller used to push he's shuvell into the little ground-level access hole which was in the main ootside terraced wall!

One little hole ootside every hoose in the street of 100 hooses![mind,when ye luk at these maps,it must hae been a neetmare for the  coal-leaders,and the netty-cleaners!!]

So a divven't knaa when thi aad netties were done away wi,at Bomarsund,Stakeford....[cos wor hooses were built for thi Bomar pit lads originally.]

Thi mind boggles if ye start thinking aboot hoo they managed aal this,and where the tubloads of netty slag went and wat they did wi it!

We'll leave it at that eh?!

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Heh heh! Nice one marra,thanks a lot Bedders!Aav been doon aal thi Ashington streets owa thi years,but nivvor knew where Pont Street was,musta aalwis escaped me!

It's great seeing the street plan wi thi tubway in ivry raa!

Me Mutha used ti tell us kids hoo she used ti dreg the set up,Lowse the powny off thi set by tekking thi sheckle pin oot,waak thi powny aroond ti thi other end of the set,hing thi powny back on by putting thi sheckle pin inti the sheckle on thi limma's ,once the sheckle was lined up owa the middle cock-hole on thi tub.Tek thi dregs oot,and away the Set-lad wud gaan,wi he's chum-set,and back ti thi pit for anutha full set,ti dae thi next raa!

Noo,as a 14 year owld Lassie,wi a gud memory till she passed on at 95,she cudn't mek a story like that, up, as colourfull as she used ti tell us,when we were bairns!!

She used ti help the set-lad ti hoy thi coal oot thi tubs once they were cowwped owa onto the roadside!

But then,as she was the youngest in a mining family wi her Dad and brothers aal pitmen,[not forgettin the lads were in thi pit at fowteen years aad],her tasks were ti

clean oot and refill,then polish,aal the carbine lamps,sharpen the drills wi a rasp,[nae Tungsten Carbide tips in them days!],put baits up,and clean and polish the pit byeuts for thi next shift!!...[a knaa..!..."carbine"....just a pitmatic slang word for the stuff!!]

Her Mother left her family when she was only six years old,and buggad off.They later traced her in Doncaster bigamously married again doon there.Nowt sed aboot that,they were only happy to be re-united again.....by then aa was aboot 12 years owld,and loved me new Grandma ti bits,cos even though a knew the story from me Mutha telling us,a was still too young ti understand much aboot the carry-on.

The owlda generations had that much ti say aboot the 1960's generation....sex....drugs....rock and roll....free love...aal that.......!!....thi buggas were worse in the generations before us!!!!

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Often HPW , the stories that are hidden and not talked about are what make our ancestors come alive.

Our life and times are full of the same dilemmas and drama.

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".......EVERY GENERATION....BLAMES THE ONE BEFORE......."....[SUNG WITH FEELING!!] ...Mike and the Mechanics track....lovely story lyrics...echoes real life

situations in families!

So true what you say Maggie!

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Agreed HPW.

Sometimes it is only with age that we understand the dilemmas of the past generations.

History helps us understand our lives and those of our children and grandchildren.

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Aye Maggie,with wonderful hindsight,a wish aad found out more about my descendants when a was young!

 

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On 09/02/2017 at 21:26, HIGH PIT WILMA said:

Hi Haffy!!!!!

Welcome to the best forums on the planet!

As a young miner with a family of one 2-year-old Son,back in 1970,and having lived in post-war newly -built houses both at home,and later with my Mother-in-law,in Bedlington,it came as a huge culture-shock to acquire my first property!

This was a three bedroom,[huge!] terraced house in Stakeford,on the main road,in a street called West Terrace, Bomarsund.

It had stood empty for over a year,was a filthy hovel of a place,totally neglected by the N.C.B.,who owned the property,and had to be stripped totally,to re-decorate,after repairing huge areas of [early 1900's] horse-hair and lime plaster,which dropped off each time you went to pull wallpaper off.[not to mention sliding sash draughty,rattly windows,and an antiquated ootside toilet..[[netty!]],which used ti freeze up in the bad winters we used to have back then!].

It had a huge "Triplex" range fireplace,[ coal oven..] and Adams cast iron fireplaces upstairs in the bedrooms.

I spent a lot of time replacing all the windows with modern ones which I made myself,at my own cost,and all the doors and frames also.[I had to work loads of weekend shifts to pay for this work]

Each time the Coal Board Plasterer's came to repair the walls,the boss wud come over with his little bit of chalk,and mark off a square yard,maybe even two,if you were lucky....talk about being tight!!

I had to learn to plaster and brickie,so I could do repairs to my own standards.[mind,I wasn't alone,several of my neighbours had to do the same thing,so we helped each other out where we could.]

I repeatedly wrote to the N.C.B Chairmen,in succession,and even Maggie Thatcher,requesting the right to buy the property,on the grounds that the N.C.B were neglecting the property,so if I could buy it,I would go ahead and modernise it.

I received nice replies from everybody,even 10 Downing Street!,saying that they were held by ancient long-standing agreements with the Unions,which dictated that the houses were to be kept for families of miners in the future.....[as I said before...nobody wanted them at the finish!...cos they were hovels!]

However,in 1984,Thatcher gave the N.C.B. orders to sell the properties it owned,not just houses,but farms and open land as well.

So I was the first to accept and buy my house,which,after 14 years of hard slog,working till the middle of the night,as well as a hard shift underground,I had turned into a very well-presented home,which I was proud of.[no thanks to the N.C.B.]

Some of  my neighbours thought I was crackers,saying they weren't worth buying,as they made their way across the road to go to the "Roughton" club,on a Saturday night!!

Once folk saw my house being modernised,they all,one by one,followed suit!!

My builder,a relative of my Wife's family,was in the street for over five years doing one house after the other,sometimes a few at a time!

SO,in a nutshell,the older pit houses,like those in Bedlington Doctor Pit,and Bedlington A pit [at the "Station"],were demolished,and those such as in Bomarsund,and many other pit villages,were bought by the tenants,where possible,and those that were not purchased outright, were taken over by trusts,formed from Union,and council members,to run and maintain,and also to take over the letting side of things.

This remains to this day.

Lang-winded reply,but nowt unusual coming from H.P.W.!! [a just like ti paint a clear picture of a situation wherever I can!!]

Cheers,Haffie,hope aav med ye happy!

he ganns on a bit, but i've papped in that ootside netty and he is right it was bloody cauld in the winter 

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