Chester-le-Street in old picture postcards volume 2

Chester-le-Street in old picture postcards volume 2

:   Gavin John Purdon
:   Durham
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5487-1
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Including VAT *

Delivery time: 2-3 weeks (subject too). The illustrated cover may differ.


Fragments from the book 'Chester-le-Street in old picture postcards volume 2'

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9. Kibblesworth Colliery early in the 20th century. This famous old pit was linked to the River Tyne by the Bowes Railway gravity line, an engineering marvel of its day, which made short work of getting Kibblesworth coal across the great ridge of millstone grit that barred the quiekest way to Tyne Doek. lts waggons were a sight to see and in days when coal came first, road traffie was brought to a halt so the red trucks full of best Bowes coal could be on their way. You can still experience a trip on the preserved Bowes Railway with special events held during the year.

10. It may seem odd that a smal! out-of-the-way pit village like Kibblesworth should have had its own military depot, but this building probably harks back to the last century, when France and then Russia were Britairi's sworn enemies. The fear of cossack cavalry or French cuirassiers landing on the Durham Coast and striking across country to plunder the riches of Chester-le-Street District was great enough for sober and money-minded coal owners to spare no personal expense in contributing to the defence of their precious col!ieries and wagon ways. In between times should they be confronted by striking miners as opposed to cossacks and cuirassiers then having a ready-made blockhouse to billet police or military reinforcements in was also a first-class insurance against the hazards of domestic conflict.

11. The name Boulevard Prince Leopold conjures up the image of a tree-Jined avenue in a smart Brussels suburb and not a dirt track running between prefabricated huts beside the Great North Road in Birtley. Had our cyclists passed by The 3 Tuns public house during the Great War, they could have looked across the road and straight down the Boulevard Prince Leopold th at ran through the temporary colony set up for Belgian refugees. The 3 Tuns is still there, but the buildings of the Elizabethville settlement are long gone. Only a handful of Belgian soldiers were left behind in Birtley. These 13 men had been very badly wounded. They survived the ordeal of the battlefield, the evacuation to England and the journey to Durham, but never recovered from their injuries. They were buried in a field beside the London-to-Edinburgh railway line. Today these military headstones are the very last signs of the Belgian encampment to be found in Birtley.

12. Off the way and the shift hardly started! Repairing a puneture at the end of Egton Terraee. We seem to have eaught Sepp and Jossy deep in eonversation. 'Ah teil yer what Sepp, heads ye gan and ask for a pail o'watter to dip this tube in and tails ah gan.' 'H's thy flat tyre Jossy thoo ean gan theeself!' 'Mind Sepp this wall's a canny bit o'brick work, Blythe's Best Birtley Bricks ah dare bet!' 'The could be gould bricks Jossy but at still wouldn't gan an ask for a pail o'water!'

13. Birtley war memorial with St. Joseph's Catholic Church and presbytery in the background. Note the distinctive aid Great North Road telegraph poles and the early wooden public phone box. Battle casualties were high in the Chester-Ie-Street District and the area has na shortage of monuments to its Great War dead. On the one hand their sheer weight of numbers plainly teils of the terrible loss of life endured by local families, yet on the other hand they became such a commonplace piece of street architecture th at the devastating blow to the community and tragic personal loss each one represents rarely come across.

14. Colonel Perkin's Statue on Birtley Green. In the last century coal owners and iron masters such as Edward Perkins as weil as being captains of industry were very of ten colonels of the militia and rifle volunteers. From the splendid warlike oil paintings they left behind, with heImets cast aside and sabres at the ready, you would be forgiven for presuming their campaigns were conducted much further afield than up and down the local pit heaps. Colonel Perkins went one better than most and left behind a white marbIe statue of himself as large as life and looking more like Garibaldi or Robert E. Lee than the supreme commander of the Pelaw Main Coal Company.

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15. Old Birtley Iron Works as it was early in the 20th century. This postcard is from the Auty Series and was posted on 16th July 1904. The buildings shown have long sin ce been demolished and apart from a nearby pub called the Moulder's Arms and a few well-worn manhole covers embossed with the Birtley Iron Works name, clues that iron founding was once a major industry in the town are thin on the ground. During the Second World War Birtley Ironworks switched from local peace time needs for pit tub rails and underground roof supports to making scout cars for the army and other kinds of military hardware. One man who returned to the factory in 1940 having just survived the Retreat in Dunkirk, swears that testing out experimental anti-aircraft weapons, being made at Birtley Iron Works, on a nearby pit heap was far more dangerous than anything he ever had to do as a soldieron active service.

16. What the wel!-dressed horse was wearing in Birtley during the 1900's, although Samson is shown here decked out more for a competition than for a hard day's work. There was fierce rivalry between local companies for horse show prizes in those days. One old carter remembers how the winning team used to cal! at the Wheatsheaf Inn at Barley Mow, where the two-handled silver cup would be filled with beer and taken outside for the horse to have a drink too. Many people lamented the replacement of these fine beasts by motor lorries, not the least of them being Birtley's rose growers, who we re ever ready with a bucket and shovel to nip out and collect the piles of 'hoss muck' left in the back lane by the likes of Samson.

17. 'The Store', Birtley. Quite of ten these shopping emporiums were the grandest buildings to be found on many a County Durham Front Street and in some cases they had so many different departments and premises th at they almost were the Front Street. 'The Store' could cater for all needs from weddings to funerals and provide for any wants you might have in between .

18. Number Nine Hundred. This little pit work horse hasn't even got a name by the looks of it, but I'rn sure the engineman standing on foot plate would have given it one, even if Pelaw Main Collieries didn't.

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