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 Incl BTW *

Levertijd: 2-3 weken (onder voorbehoud). Het getoonde omslag kan afwijken.


Fragmenten uit het boek 'Chester-le-Street in old picture postcards volume 2'

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Volume 2 of 'Chester-le-Street in old picture postcards' leaves behind the 'little' Chester-Ie-Street of the town centre so weil explored by volume 1 and journeys out into 'greater' Chester-Ie-Street, the 60 square miles or so of old Urban and Rural County District that Chester-Ie-Street town lay at the he art of and gave its name to. Sa, who will take us on this journey through the Chester-Ie-Street countryside of more than half a century ago? What transport will they use? Which route will they go by? Picture if you will two pit 'marrers', workmates at the town's South Pelaw Colliery, crouching in a low coal seam a thousand feet below Chester-Ie-Street Market Place, resolving to make the most of their next Bank Holiday. They decide there and then to sally out on a grand day trip araund the District, and cram as much fresh air, sunshine and enjoyment as they possibly can into one summer's day. How to travel is the question and their putter lad's suggestion that they could rent his pony and tub for 5 bob praviding they could smuggle it out of the pit wasn't muchhelp.

Certainly Chester-Ie-Street District th en was dot-

ted with Iittle railway stations. Pass enger branch lines could get you within striking distance of most places and for a sm all fee a horse and trap would run you from the platform to your destination. However, in days when miners were long on stamina and short of 'brass' to spend on outings, 'Shanks's Pony' was the more popular option, but journeying right araund the District on foot was a 'canny hike' , to say the least. Daredevils could always hop a lift from one pit village to the next by jumping aboard the coal waggon trains that hurtled up and down the colliery minerallines. Hanging out the side of a coal truck for a rough and ready ride home from the pit at the end of your shift was o.k., when you were as black as a fire back and dressed in dirty pit eIothes, but eIimbing on and off coal waggons dressed in your Bank Holiday best was another matter. Gradually a plan began to form. Borrow two bicyeIes for the day, take the train from Chester' Station as far as Lamesley at the northem end of the District then pedal back over, ri ding full circle around the town, south by south-west, due south, east by north-east and home again. It would be a full day's

ride, beating the bounds of Chester-Ie-Street District by bicycle.

So if you feel inclined, why not join our two man clarion club for the day. Mind you, they'll be making an early start, so you'll have to set YOUf alarm clock and get up first thing. Bring your bike and meet them on the north-bound platform in plenty of time to catch the train.

Volume 2 of 'Chester-le-Street in old picture postcards' follows our intrepid day trippers on their journey. They won't be covering every square foot of the District, sa don't be toa disappointed if they don't go right past your great aunt Nellie's front door. Naturally the photographs weren't all taken one Bank Holiday time, they actually show a twenty to thirty year period from about 1900 on. They come from the postcard collection of George Nairn, who very kindly helped me bring the idea of the bicycle trip around the District to life. Without his assistance my two cyclists would have had to stay at home. The 75 postcards in the baak have taken George Nairn years to collect. At today's prices they would set you back f400 at least, sa being able

to buy them in volume 2 is a big saving of your time andmoney.

At George Nairn's suggestion I have tried to make something of the fact that these pictures are postcards and not just photographs. Same were bought and never posted, ot hers carry messages, stamps and postmarks that teil us much about the life and times of those who sent them, of old friendships long forgotten, of love, of business and of pleasure. Most of the material for the baak captions has been gleaned from living much of my life in Chester-IeStreet District, from knowing something of the countryside and having a long standing interest in the local people and their past.

It also helped to go and da the bicycle ride myself, one Bank Holiday Monday, to visit villages na langer part of Chester-Ie-Street District, to visît villages na langer anywhere to be seen, and to co me across places that have never changed at all.

I hope you enjoy yam day out as much as I did and that the weather stays fine for you toa.

Gavin John Purdon

1. Ready for the off! Sepp and Jossy, our two Bank Holiday cyclists. In the mining communities of Chester-le-Street District pedal cycle ownership and use was very common, even though the hilly nature of the countryside was not ideal for cycling. It did, however, breed a hardy and daring strain of cyclists who thought nothing of ascending Pelaw Bank without the aid of gears, or deseending it with both feet firmly planted on the ground as extra brakes. Times change and the once widespread local art of balancing six sacks of coal or four miners on one bicycle has sadly been lost. In those by-gone days the bravado of Chester-Ie-St reet cyclists knew no bounds. At the start of the Great War they clubbed together to form a volunteer military Cycle Corps that would keep watch on the Durham Coast at weekends for the coming of the German Grand High Seas Fleet, armed with a single-shot carbine, a bugleand a bicycle pump.

Station Approach, Chester-te-Street.

2. A turn of the century view from the entrance to Chester-Ie-Street Station yard. In those days this approach road was a trade and travel route vital to the town's economy and its social life. Up that !ittle hili came newly sold cattIe by the herd, droves of sheep and Homer's toffee in horse-drawn cart loads. Down it, regular as clock work, tramped the tewn's own part-time pitman soldiers, marching back from week-end camp with rifles slung, their collier pale complexions giving way to sunburned red. This particular card was posted from Berwick on 3rd J une 1909.

3. Here we are on the south-bound platform at Chester-le-Street. Victorian main line stations of the North Eastern Railway Company tended to be built in much the same austere barrack-like fashion. Wh at gave each one its own individual personality was the anarchistic hotch potch of bonny coloured advertising signs that smothered walls and fences, and the more orderly home grown arrays of floral borders, shrubs and flower baskets. Notice the station greenhouse just to the right of the platform trolley. For station staff punching tickets went hand in hand with pruning tea roses.

4. Our two Bank Holiday cyclists would have got their tickets and crossed the bridge to catch the north-bound train. It was a 'tuppence haypenny' single each and a penny a bike from Chester-IeStreet to Lamesley during the 1900's. In the age of steam, lingering on this foot bridge was a daring delight for generations of Chester-Ie-Street children, waiting for some roaring express to thunder through the station and engulfyou in a cloud ofbelching smoke and einders.







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5. An artist's impression of the Stag Confectionary Works Chester-Ie-Street as seen from the railway line just north of the station. The view of the Stag Works appears on a colourful!ittle calling card left at sweet shops by Homer's travelling salesmen. This one was posted on 12th May 1918. In the 1900's the factory was producing jam in heavy stoneware pots and thick glass jars. Local cyclists had to wait until just before the Great War to pack Horner's tasty !ittle caramels into their saddlebags, light-weight goodies that were ideal to take with you on a long bike ride.

6. In the earth-bound feet-on-the-ground world of the 1900's whizzing over Chester-Ie-Street viaduct in a steam train must have been quite a thrill and the nearest thing to flying most people would ever come to. Suddenlyon either side the landscape feil away beneath the train, leaving startled passengers with a bird's-eye view of the 'bottorn end of Chester', the blue slate spires of the Brewery Maltings, the iron-clad 'decks' of the town gasometer and the red pantile roofs of old Canada whipped by, then the ground flew up again and overhead as the train sped into the depths of Pelaw Cut. That experience alone was weil worth the price of a 'tuppence haypenny' ticket.

7. Lamesley Station was just inside the northern boundary of Chester-Ie-Street District in the 1900's. Nowadays Lamesley is part of Gateshead Borough and the site of the old station has disappeared under the modern marshalJing yards. But in August 1911 it was a busy main line pass enger facility. Thomas Blyth, the rich and eccentric local brickyard owner, used to take the train too. Given that he thought his daughters' education should include standing on cliff tops in a thunderstorm and trying to control a galloping horse, it's smalJ wonder when a young porter was helpful to hirn on the way to Newcastle that Wilf Blyth should go straight to the Northern Goldsmiths and buy the best pocket watch they had, got it engraved on the spot 'For civility' and thrust it into the porte r's hand without explanation on his return horne that same day.

8. And they're off! Sepp and Jossy pedalling south through Lamesley Village. Compared to the rough and ready colliery rows of the district, the latticed windows, dressed stone walls and almshouse architecture of Lamesley were definitely a bit posh. Either Lord Ravensworth, whose castle stood nearby, was a man of strong social conscience to build so weil for his workers, or else he was not inclined to have his own journey to and from the railway station spoiled by the sight of some 'mucky pitraa'.

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