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Posts posted by Symptoms

  1. Stephen - you wrote: "... he was in the home guards during the second world war (don't know if he would still be working down the pit at that time)...".

    It's likely that he continued working down the pit at the same time as being in the Home Guard - my Maternal Grandfather was in a similar situation in County Durham.  One of the tasks the Home Guard had was 'guarding' their own pits and linked railway lines.  They would finish their shifts, home for a wash in the 'tin bath' and a bite to eat, then down to the local hall for parade and patrol/guard duty. 

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  2. Canny -

    I remain unconvinced that loads of women were able to benefit directly from the facilities offered in the Mechanics Institutes even where there was a half-price subscription.  I suspect that it was only those with some disposable income who could afford the subs;  I’m not sure that the  vast majority of ‘working poor’ women fell into this group.  I can accept that perhaps those women from the ‘trading classes’ – wives and daughters of the butchers, bakers and candle stick makers were the ones who had the time and resources to access these places. The Institutes in the big cities would have had much bigger populations to draw on so the proportion of women wishing, or able, to use the facilities would have been greater.  I can’t see many poor wives and mothers in places like Bedlington, enslaved to the tyranny of the poss tub having the time, energy or resources to join the Institutes.  Of course, there would have been exceptions but I can’t see it being widespread.  My own maternal Grandmother was an exceptional woman who led an incredible life – I’ve posted her story on the Facebook page of her Co.Durham home village … perhaps I might copy it here to illustrate that Victorian/Edwardian working class drive for self-improvement that we’ve been discussing.  What do you think?  

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  3. I hope that all that dust blowing around Cambois isn't contaminated with residue from decades of industrial use, eg. fly ash, heavy metals, asbestos.  Let's not forget the stuff that might have been spread over the site when the place was demolished.  That's why I'm suprised that dust monitors and bowsers are only now being deployed ... you'd have thought that a proper site survey would have been conducted BEFORE the ground works began to identify any problems and recommend systems to mitigate the spread of dust.

  4. Pity they weren't able (or willing) to use the existing railhead to load trains to cart the spoil away and bring materials in.  Could have spared the locals from all that disruption (and fumes) from the fleet of belching lorries.  Or even tipped the stuff into ships!

    Future 'clean' technology plant built on diesel ... not a good look!

  5. Karen - I went to Westridge School (1962 to 1967) with two Muldoons who were in the same year as me,  Barry and his cousin Margaret (known as Maggie) both approx 70 years old - I'm still in contact with Barry.  If Barry and Maggie appear on the family tree you're building I'd be quite happy to email Barry to see if he has any info.

  6. Canny - I waded through that weighty tome etheses.dur.ac.uk/5614 back in 2020;  see below:


    Posted by me August 25, 2020

    "I've been doing a bit of research on the Mechanics Institute and I'm currently reading a long dissertation some guy did for his Doctorate years ago on the history of Mech Insts.  Ours, the one next to the Sun Inn took over the old courthouse and klink there and it was sponsored by the Bedlington Iron Works.  I've got more details noted in my study but I ain't there at the moment so can't give dates.  I'll try to do a summary and post it so we have some facts listed.  The formation of Mech Insts was interesting national Victorian movement ... but more later."


    Posted by me August 26, 2020 (edited)

    "I read through that Doctoral Thesis (phew!) and found it very interesting but only a couple of mentions about our Mechanics Institute.  It was founded in 1848 and closed in 1906 when it had 200 members (the last year when member numbers exist);  most Mech Insts in the NE had closed by 1913.  It's economic base and benefactor was the Bedlington Iron Works.  You can read the Thesis here: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/5614/ but you'll need to download the .pdf document shown at the top of the page ... I can recommend the read as it opens the door for us into the Victorian drive for self-improvement for working men (and it was only for men);  all most women had to look forward to was a life of drudgery back then.

    It clearly continued as a social club but no longer followed the purpose of it's founders, namely the pursuit of technical education."

  7. We did have a bit of a discussion a while ago about 'The Mechanics Institute' in the thread about listing our pubs and clubs ... there may be some crumbs there that'll thicken the mix of this thread.  Look here:

    https://www.bedlington.co.uk/forums/topic/4448-list-of-pubs-and-clubs-bedlington-district/?page=5#:~:text=Clubs - Bedlington District-,List Of Pubs And Clubs - Bedlington District,-Rate this topic

    As promised in that earlier thread I continue to look for more info on Mechanics Institutes but documents are difficult to find online;  they will no doubt exist as ledgers archived somewhere on dusty shelves but haven't yet been digitized for all to see.


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  8. Eggs and Canny - that arched doorway looks about in the right position for access to the Priest's home;  I do recall it being almost opposite to the Police Station 'backyard' entrance.  As I said earlier my Dad was friends with the boss Monk and had rented some land from the Church at the end of Catholic Row to erect a garage, this would have been the late 1950s to early 1960s.  The bit of land was beyond all the buildings (there appears to be a car park there now according to Google Street View) and was bounded by Catholic Row on one side and a very high sandstone wall at the back … the famous orchard was on the other side of this wall. This garage was a sectional/modular steel frame/asbestos sheet construction that I helped my Dad to erect on the site – asbestos!!!;  he bought it via an advert in Exchange and Mart*.  Anyway, we would often walk along Catholic Row to the garage to get the car out and would meet the boss Monk;  on a couple of occasions I accompanied my ‘old man’ into the Manse when they’d have a dram and I’d be offered a dandelion and burdock drink, so I have a clear memory of this local geography (in addition to orchard commando raids).  The Manse was a building behind that one with the door and access was through that building (it was a large hall);  I recall the Priest’s house was quite a large, red brick building – quite grand really!  Anyway,  my clear recollection of Catholic Row was of a  dark and gloomy road with the church buildings forming an unbroken row of dirty cement rendered buildings – there was no gap (where the present church is) as this is the place where the ‘old’ church was.  I’ve attached a very grainy snip of an aerial photo which, if you squint, you can make out the boss Monk’s house, etc.  Obviously, all that original cement render must have been replaced with the pebbledash when the new church was built and the other church buildings renovated.

    * for our younger viewers the Exchange and Mart was a weekly national for sale listing publication ... a bit like Amazon but with grubby newsprint.


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  9. Back in 2013 I posted this in "The Games We Played in the Past":

    "We were 'top-end' lads so our favourite orchards to go on raiding parties to were Jimmy Millne's (behind his house on Front Street) and the Priest's one behind the Rectory (in Catholic Row). Jimmy had a large Alsatian dog which used to chase us around the orchard and we often had to leap over the stone wall to escape its nashers - this orchard only had apples. The boss Priest was a guy in a brown habit (he may have been a monk of some sort) and his orchard had apples, plums, pears and gooseberries. My Dad was friendly with this Priest and would often have a drink with him, either in the Red Lion or a snifter of Drambuie in the Rectory. I've been onto Google Street View/Maps but can't locate the orchard in Catholic Row but reckon it's where that new church is. Also the Priest's front door is blocked-up and pebble-dashed."

    and in a later post on the same thread:

    "Friar Tuck was the fat monk in the brown habit. That boss Catholic Priest I mentioned earlier had the same type of habit as Tuck. Maybe some 'left-footer' (apologies for using this term but we're operating in 60s mode with our memories ... anyway, is it considered to be inappopriate today?) here might be able to shed some light on what order the boss Priest & Tuck belonged to."

    Not much help to the AllanUK but maybe adds a little bit of an early to mid60s backstory.


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  10. The Guardian newspaper ran an article this morning about Historic England making aerial photos of Blighty available online, the story is here: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2022/mar/22/historic-england-puts-aerial-photos-of-nations-past-online

    Historic England's aerial photo page is here: https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/archive/collections/aerial-photos/

    There's half a dozen wartime(?) RAF photos of the Bedders area and more of the coast;  there are a few more recent ones as well.  Just keep clicking on the map to get to the area of interest

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  11. I just caught a bit of Michael Portillo's BBC2 Great Coastal Railway programme tonight which featured the plans for the re-introduction of passenger services through Bedlington Station.  Nice footage of Front Street and the station buildings with a couple of talking heads outlining the plans.  Further footage of track/train up to Lynemouth power station.  I'll try to get the whole show on the BBC IPlayer to watch the whole thing ... maybe the Bedlington dispora may also want to do the same to view Bedders.

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  12. I wrote above: "Just imagine staiths on the Blyth, rail trucks full of lithium being tipped into ships, which puff down the North Sea to London ... remind you of anything?  Yes, I know it won't be same!"

    For our younger viewers this is what it looked like:

    Blyth Staithes1.jpg

    Blyth Staithes2.jpg

    On to Blyth Staithes.JPG

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  13. More news in The Guardian newspaper this morning.  Britishvolt and Glencore to build a factory capable of recycling lithium-ion batteries;  it'll be built on the bank of the Thames.  They reckon the Blyth scrap will be sent by ship down there.  Just imagine staiths on the Blyth, rail trucks full of lithium being tipped into ships, which puff down the North Sea to London ... remind you of anything?  Yes, I know it won't be same!

    Anyway, for those interested in The Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/feb/03/britishvolt-and-glencore-to-build-plant-capable-of-recycling-lithium-ion-batteries 

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  14. Eggy - Me and Spuggy were best mates throughout our schooldays;  our paths separated when he took 'the Queens Shilling' and I went off to college in London.  Nobody had phones, rented digs short-lived, my parents moved from Bedders in '69 so me and Spuggy lost touch until recently reunited through this Forum.  We chat via email now so review what's going on in the World there.

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