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Archiver > ENG-DURHAM > 2005-04 > 1113088969


From: "Richard & Kay Merry" <>
Subject: History of Spennymoor - Recent History (67-73)
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 08:52:49 +0930


page 67

Tudhoe Colliery houses, built in 1868, were originally intended for the West
side of Darlington Road near Butcher Race Inn, but the present position was
cheaper and nearer the pit. Some think too near.

Page Bank (Bell Brothers) Colliery was commenced in the early fifties, and
there was a great fire in the shaft in 1858 (Sept. 30th) through which a
number of men lost their lives. This Colliery for many years found constant
employment for over 200 families in Spennymoor, as well as several hundreds
in Page Bank Village.

This Colliery was closed and dismantled at the end of 1931.

In the year 1870 there were two newspapers published in Spennymoor “The
Spennymoor Chronicle and Tudhoe News,” published in the Town Hall Buildings,
under the name of the Caxton Printing Co., and the other was by Joseph
Wetherell, Senr, entitled, “Spennymoor and Tudhoe Advertiser.” Later there
was a third one, known as the “Spennymoor Times.” The nearest newspaper
published in the district is the “North Eastern Daily Gazette” at Bishop
Auckland. The others are the “Durham Chronicle,” and “Auckland Chronicle.”


Very close to Spennymoor there are many places of interest. Brancepeth
Castle - about four miles away, was, until recently, the seat of Viscount
Boyne. The village of the name is pleasantly situated, and has a
picturesque appearance, and in the neighbourhood there is a Golf Course.
Croxdale Hall, the seat of the Salvin family, occupies an elevated place on
the banks of the Wear. The Butterby Woods are well known for their wealth
of beautiful scenery.

The ancient City of Durham with its Cathedral and Ecclesiastical
associations is only six miles from Spennymoor, while Bishop Auckland is at
a distance of four miles, and its ancient Castle is the residence of the
Bishop of Durham. During recent years there have been no less than three
Royal visits to Spennymoor. Queen Mary visited the Aged Miners’
Homes, Middlestone Moor, on Wednesday, November 26th, 1913. Her Royal
Highness was accompanied by the late John Wilson, M.P. for Mid-Durham. She
entered several of the Aged Miners' Cottages, and had a little chat with the
inmates, and took tea with the caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Allan Rutter.

page 68
The Prince of Wales in 1929, when on a tour through the County of Durham
visited several miners’ homes in Spennymoor in order to form some idea of
the conditions in which they live. He was accompanied by the Miners’
President, the late Mr. James Robson.

The Prince’s last visit was at noon on Thursday, December 6th, 1934, in
connection with, his intended schemes for the unemployed, in what were
termed ‘The Distressed Areas of County Durham.’ On arrival at Spennymoor for
his visit to the workmen's settlement in King Street, the Prince was given a
great ovation, and a strong force of policemen had the greatest difficulty
in controlling the crowd, who were eager to have a close look at the Royal
visitor. His Highness was met by the warden, Mr. W. G. Farrell, and amongst
those presented to him at this stage were Mrs. Farrell and Mr. J. Maddison,
the assistant wardens, Miss Ann Hodgson, chairman of the Members’
Association, Councillor A. Blenkin, chairman of the Spennymoor U.D.C., and
Mr. C. F. Meikle, Clerk to the Council. Round the walls of the common room
were hung water colours and oil paintings, the work of the members. Going
into the women’s workroom the Prince was confronted with an amazing display
of needlework of all descriptions, including cushions, examples of Durham
quilting, embroidery in silk cross-stitch on canvas, tapestry and knitting.
The Prince also visited the boot repairing and carpentry departments, where
work was in actual progress. As the Prince passed from one department to
another a Guard of Honour was formed by the Rover Scouts attached to the
Settlement. The Prince expressed his pleasure at having seen some of the
most interesting work carried out at any Social Centre in the North-East. As
he left en route for Hardwick Hall for lunch he was given a great send-off
by the people of Spennymoor. His Highness displayed particular interest in
the crowds of children who were standing out in the streets, and on one
occasion he expressed his deep concern for their future. He also remarked,
“There is nothing depressed about the gallant way in which these people of
Durham County are standing up to their task.”

NEW POLICE STATION.
The present Police Station was opened November 20th, 1906, when William
Richardson, of no fixed abode, was the

page 69
first prisoner, and was charged with being drunk and disorderly, and also
breaking lodging house windows. Mr. J. Reavley, Chairman of the Urban
District Council, dealt with the case, and would have dismissed it as it was
the first case, but owing to the fact that prisoner was the last person to
be dealt with at the old Police Station, this leniency could not be
exercised. The prisoner was fined 7/6 for drunkenness and 9/- damages.
Prisoner said he would rather go to prison than pay the fine. This request
was not granted as he had in his possession a sovereign. Inspector E. S.
James, who prosecuted, gave prisoner 3/6 change out of the pound, and
prisoner instead of being thankful declared, “I will not come back to
Spennymoor any more.”

One hundred-and-eighty cases were dealt with by that Chairman in his year of
office; 64 in the old building in Oxford Street and 116 in the new building.
Spennymoor was granted a fortnightly Court in 1920, and a weekly Court in
1924.

The following is a list of Police Inspectors stationed at Spennymoor since
it became an Urban District :- Inspectors Fleming, Harrison, Elliott, E. S.
James, Scott, Saville, Scotland, Brown, Cook and Huitson.

CLOSING OF TUDHOE IRONWORKS.
Under the General Management of Mr. H. W. Hollis in 1892 great improvements
were made in Tudhoe Ironworks as much of the machinery was fast becoming out
of date. The great cogging mill was laid down that year, and other improved
machinery was introduced for the manufacture of steel plates 13 ft. wide.
These works had a most prosperous period up to the end of last century, but
in the early days of the present century, the Company changed hands and
closed down in November, 1901, having been in existence since 1853, and
providing employment for thousands of men and boys, also wages for thousands
of families in the district.

The closing of these works came as a great shock, and tradesmen and others
had a very lean time for a number of years. However, the opening out of
Dean and Chapter Colliery found work for many of those who had been
dispensed with by the sudden closing of the ironworks, and thus a little
more prosperity came to the town and district.

page 70
TECHNICAL INSTRUCTION.
For many years the young people of Spennymoor, who wanted technical
instruction, were dependent upon private persons who conducted private
classes, which were often most expensive, or they had to journey to Durham
or Newcastle to obtain it.

In 1895 the Durham County Education Committee offered to place at the
disposal of the Spennymoor Urban District Council a sum of money sufficient
to enable them to bring the best possible teachers to the town in all
technical subjects of greatest local value, but the Council rejected the
offer. Several members of the Council, Dr. Anderson, Messrs. Uriah
Berriman, G. Byers and J. J. Dodd, and the Rev. S. M. Thompson, who were
joined from outside by Messrs. G. Rhymer, J. Rivers and the Rev. W. Keir,
took advantage of the offer and formed the first Technical Education
Committee. The classes were taken over by the Council at a later date, when
the new Education Act of 1902 placed the control of Technical Education in
the hands of the County Council administered by a local Committee.

LITERARY ACTIVITIES.
Spennymoor has always had its small bodies of enquiring citizens’ meetings
in small rooms and hearing their members discourse on subjects of public
interest and endeavouring to carry their investigations above the mere
partisan level to the calmer and loftier plane of pure reason. There have
been Literary Societies, Lecture Organisations, and Dramatic Guilds.
On Monday, 29th September, 1913, in the Templar Hall, an inaugural meeting
of the “Spennymoor and District Literary and Debating Society” took place.
The officers elected included Councillor G. Rhymer (President), Miss J. C.
Robertson, Rev. Dr. Short and Ald. Wraith (Vice-Presidents), Mr. J. I.
Leckie (Secretary), Mr. Jos. White (Treasurer), with eleven members of
Committee.

During the first Session papers on the following subjects were given :-
Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” (Dr.. Short).
“Parliamentary Election Reform” (Coun. J. Reavley).
“Scott” (Miss J. C. Ronald.)
“Meredith” (Miss J. C. Robertson).
“Surnames” (Rev. J. Geeson).

page 71
“Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans” (Rev. W. MacNicol).
“Ibsen's Brand” (Mr. R. Peberdy).
“The Land Question” (Mr. F. R. Proctor).
“The Great Illusion” (Mr. G. H. Smith).
“Thomas Carlyle” (Coun. G. Rhymer).
The membership of this Society was 46, 29 men and 17 women. Before the
second Session began the European crisis has resulted in war, and interest
declined, but the Society maintained its existence until March, 1916, when
it succumbed to circumstances. The residium of its funds were handed over
some years later to the Spennymoor Lecture Society, which ran for several
seasons, when special lecturers from all parts of the country contributed to
the monthly programme throughout the winter session in the new Town Hall.
Another side of the intellectual life of Spennymoor is shown in the
production from time to time of plays of merit, plays which are more than
merely shows. There have been various small groups which have produced the
works of Galsworthy, Shaw, Sheridan, Goldsmith and Shakespeare.

MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS.
It was a very short-sighted policy of the Spennymoor Local Board to take
such a short lease of the building site on which the High Street covered
Market was erected. The lease, which was only for 50 years expired in 1912,
when the Council borrowed £3,900 to purchase the site freehold, and the
foundation stone of the new building was laid on Wednesday, 11th December,
1913. Coun. J. Reavley, J.P., Chairman of the Market Committee presided, and
the foundation stone was laid by the Chairman of the Council, Coun. G.
Rhymer, J.P. Mr. Welburn (Middlesbrough) was the Architect, and the
contract was let to Mr. J. L. Millar, of North Shields. The construction of
the new Council Buildings had not proceeded far until the commencement of
the Great War, and this somewhat retarded progress and increased the cost.
The work was completed in the early part of the year 1916. The site cost
£4,000, and the contract price for building was £11,000, but altogether,
including extras and furnishings, brought the total to £18,000.

page 72
The new edifice took the place of the old Market Shops, which did good
service to the town for 50 years, and, as the lease had expired, it was
deemed necessary to purchase the freehold and erect something more up to
date and in keeping with the industrial progress of the neighbourhood,
because Spennymoor had become the Market Town and Shopping Centre for a
population of 40,000 people, although the Urban District population is a
little under 20,000.

For many years before the old Town Hall was erected, the old Harmonic
Society existed and gave Concerts in the Wesleyan School, under the
conductorship of Mr. Scholz, with Mrs. Cowx (mother of the late Lady
Armstrong) at the piano. The Concerts of the Harmonic Society were
“red-letter” days in the life of the town. Then came the Spennymoor Musical
Society, under the leadership of Mr. F. S. Burnip. This work was continued
by Canon Firth and Canon Hughes. Later, Mr. Alex. Bertram commenced the
Spennymoor Amateur Operatic Society, which has given many successful
performances of classical works. This Society continues now under the
leadership of Mr. T. C. Sutton, with Mr. Fred Collinson as Secretary.
The new Town Hall was opened on the 16th February, 1916, by Councillor John
Bland, J.P., and the Market Hall was opened on Saturday, 19th February,
1916. The first public function in the new Town Hall was a Meeting of the
British Women’s Temperance Association, for which they were charged 25/-, on
Wednesday, 23rd February, 1916. The first Ball was held by the local
Ambulance Association. The first Concert was given on 17th March 1916, by
the children of St. Charles’ R.C. School. The first religious service in
the Hall was conducted by Mrs. Booth on the 26th April 1916.

SEWAGE DISPOSAL WORKS.
Up to 1920 Spennymoor had only one scheme of sewage disposal situated at Ox
Close Farm, which cost over £7,000, but the Local Government pressed the
Council to have one complete system of sewage disposal, which cost £32,000,
and was opened in 1923.

page 73
Just about this time the loans granted to the Council for various purposes
amounted to a little over £40,000, just about the total net rateable value
of the Urban District. Spennymoor Urban Council have carried out many
improvements during the past few years, and other schemes are under
consideration for increasing its amenities, while close attention is being
paid to the Housing question. It is hoped that the scheme of slum clearance
will be carried through, and that in the very near future, the people will
be housed in better conditions on the outskirts of the town.

KING GEORGE’S SILVER JUBILEE.
On May 6th, 1935, Spennymoor was en fete for the Jubilee celebrations.
Large crowds lined the decorated streets to watch the civic procession leave
the Town Hall for the Central Methodist Church, headed by the local
Salvation Army Band, followed by the Whitworth and Spennymoor Silver Band.
The service was conducted by the local Clergy and Methodist Ministers.
The procession included members of the Spennymoor Urban Council, the Police,
British Legion, the Ambulance Brigade, Freemasons, Girl Guides, Brownies and
Women’s Institute. A detachment of the Spennymoor Territorials, under Capt.
Rod dam, paraded in the Jubilee Park. In the afternoon the formal opening of
the amusement equipment for the children in the Park was opened by the
Chairman of the Council (Coun. G. Crane), and the re-opening of the Bowling
Green by the Vice-Chairman of the Council (Coun. W. T. Marley), after which
a match was played by the members of the Spennymoor Bowls’ Club and Members
of the Council. Children in the district were provided with tea at the
various Schools, and each received a bag of cakes and Jubilee Mug. An
interesting item of the programme was the unveiling of a large photo of the
King and Queen by Mrs. J. H. B. Forster in the Town Hall before a crowded
and enthusiastic audience. Late in the evening a huge bonfire was lit on
the old Whitworth pit heap, and the day ended with a Jubilee Dance in the
Town Hall.


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