Consett Population

I have been adding the population of Consett from the Census returns to this sites Timeline.

This had me returning to a graph taken from the vision of Britain Site.

The graph underlines the population explosion from the 1930s to 1960’s which correlates with a busy period at Consett Works.

Chronicle Photos of Old Consett

Someone said there were photos in the Chronicle of Consett. Here they are with a lovely snow-shot of the disused Blackhill Railway Station on 4th February 1955

DELVES COLLIERY: Centenary of Closure

Closed in September 1913


Within this township [Consett] there are two collieries, the Blackhill drift and the Delves pit. The former, situated midway between Consett and Blackhill, is at present working the Busty and Three Quarter seams, the Busty being 4 feet 6 inches thick including a stone band, and the Three Quarter varies from 1 foot 6 inches to 2 feet 6 inches. This drift yields an output of about 3300 tons per fortnight, and gives employment to 207 men and boys.

The Delves, a short distance west of the town, is worked by a shaft 130 feet deep, where the Busty seam is met, giving a thickness of 4 feet of good coal, divided by a band, which varies considerably. A good seam of fire clay is also worked in connection with this coal seam, from which are made large quantities of brick for the works. At the pit are employed 123 hands, the output being about 100 tons per day. There are 26 coke ovens, the waste heat from which is utilised in working the colliery.

Whellan’s 1894 Directory of County Durham

Taken from the Durham Mining Museum Site

Consett Shunter & More

I know rail and trains are very important to many people on this site, I have met two men recently who breathed railways.

I may have added the derbysulzer link before but I had not noticed that a Consett Works diesel locomotive was towed by a class 37 to end its days (in a sense) at the Monkwearmouth Museum; I have added a link to their site.

Here is wonderfully detailed piece giving more information: see the link below for more.

The Consett Ironworks yellow liveried diesel locomotives survived until the closure of the works, with most being scrapped locally. One of the shunters reached preservation; it was towed by a Class 37 from Consett to the Monkwearmouth museum at Sunderland. It was supposed to not exceed 10 mph on its journey due to its low bufferbeam, despite the precautions the next day the S&T department had to put the locking box covers back on & repair some pulleys. The locomotive was later moved to Middle Engine Lane near Backworth along with the Kitson steam engine it replaced.

In searching the world of industrial complexes there have been larger steelworks than those at Consett and larger port facilities than those at Tyne Dock. Similarly in the world of railways there are longer, more spectacular, more heavily graded lines worked by heavier freight trains than the Tyne Dock – Consett route, with many featuring more impressive railway structures and facilities en-route. Likewise the locomotives and wagons that worked the iron ore trains to Consett were impressive but were not world record breakers. But it would be difficult to find a route as compact, all-encompassing and as breathtaking as the Tyne Dock – Consett line, which contained all of the elements previously mentioned and much more besides.

Monkwearmouth Museum

And here is a book available on Amazon that may appeal
Consett to South Shields via Beamish
It is part of a Railway Routes Series

And here is a great photograph from the Beamish site of Consett Iron Works railway sidings with the works in the background, c1922. Showing East and West melting Shops, prior to their modernisation in 1924-5 when the OHSP was built.

Here is Tank Wagon 41 built in 1917 which you will now find at Beamish.
Consett Iron Company Limited: 41 Beamish Museum

Tin Mill Colliery

also known as Blackhill Colliery , Consett Colliery , Mount Pleasant Colliery

I saw a reference to the Tin Mill Colliery recently and the ever informative Durham Mining Museum Site gave me the answer.

The colliery closed in 1910.

Consett Memories

At the Lodge in Blackhill & Consett Park, after the MADE OF STEEL shows, Marie McNally gave me this reminiscence of her uncle Philip Reilly who was born in 1920.

In September 2003 I asked Uncle Philip (mam’s brother) if he could record any memories he had. Between then and his death in April 2004 he recorded a few memories. The tape is in my file. I have tried to write his words here.Marie McNally

Philip Reilly (1920-2004)

We lived in an upstairs flat in Dobson Street, two bedrooms, kitchen. Pantry, stairs down front and back. A cold water tap. Open hearth fire.

Mother baked teacakes-these were a treat for Fridays.

Dad was a watchmaker and repairer. His shop was the pantry. The passageway into the pantry had long shelves.
He mended an old wind up gramophone. Took the mainspring out using a screwdriver. It would shoot along the pantry floor. He’d examine it for any breaks, cut them out, put the spring back. Then it would not play as long as before as the spring was shorter.

My teenage years: I left St Mary’s and my first job was messenger and back boy at Walter Wilson’s, Blackhill. I weighed the flour and sugar, bagged it and put it on the shelves.

Had to load a hand-cart up- a big barrow-bigger than me. Take groceries to different parts of the district, as far as Shotley Bridge and up to Blackfyne.

After two weeks, I was fed up doing the job. One reason-other shops’ messenger boys had bicycles with carriers attached. Halfway through the second week I went to the manager and said, “Please supply a push bike for the deliveries.” The sarcastic reply was that they were too many banks. I replied, “The banks I’ve got to push up are the ones I’d have to ride down.” When he refused to get a bike I told him I was no longer staying at the shop and the best thing he could do was to get a Galloway (or pony) to fit in the shafts of the hand cart and do the work I was doing. With that I left the shop and went home.

The following Monday I started work at Lancaster’s paper shop (today this is the shop on the left before Bessemer Street, Blackhill). For 3 shillings a week, less than the Walter Wilson’s 8 shillings. Now 5 shillings (in today’s money) is worth five pence.

I started early. Go to Blackhill Station 5.30 to 6.00 am and collect papers from the train. (The station was at the bottom of Bessemer Street, now an open space). I’d take the papers to the shop and sort out the orders for each area. My district was Shotley Bridge. Finish at 9 o’clock. Then mother would give me a cup of tea and slice of bread and jam for breakfast. Then I’d go to the coal depot. The horses and carts were going in . The carts would be filled with coal. Me and me friend would follow them to where the coals was dumped. We’d knock on the door and ask if they wanted us to haul the coal in. If they said yes, we’d get 6 pence between us (worth two and a half pence today). We’d shovel all the coal into the bunk hole which went straight into the coal house. Sometimes 2 or 3 loads a day. After that I’d go home and get washed and have a quick drink of tea. Then back to the paper shop for the evening papers. I’d pick up the papers up and do the same round as I’d done in the morning. Then I’d return home and mam would give us tea or a bit dinner.

At the end of the week Mr Lancaster would give me the princely sum of 5 shillings. I’d go straight home and hand it over to me mother. She’d give me one shilling back. I kept it til Saturday and I’d go to Newcastle from Blackhill Station. It was 9 pence return (about 5 pence in today’s money). We’d go to St James Hall to see all the wrestling and then catch the train back to Blackhill.

I was on the papers for about 9 months. 3 days a week I’d go up to the ‘Works’ to see the gaffers (the bosses) and ask if there was any chance of making a start. In 1934, New Year’s Day (actually 1935) my dad died. He had written a letter, gave it to me in an envelope and told me to go and see Mr Hutchins, the manager in the Test House, which I did after he died. After about 2 months after, when I was standing at the Old gate, he came down and saw me with the papers. He stopped and said, “Start work in the morning at 7 o’clock.” I jumped for glee. I went back to the shop and told them I was leaving there and then. I went home and told my mother. She was over the moon. That was the start of my working life at Consett Iron Works. I worked 7.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. with a break of one hour for dinner. On Saturday I worked 8 a.m. to 12 noon.

I left the Test House when I was 16. From here I was transferred to the Plate Mill where I worked the shift system: 6 til 2, 2 til 10, ten til 6, 5 days a week. Employment was bad til 1937. Then worked picked up. In 1939 my largest wage was 30 shillings a week. (£1.50 in today’s money).

In 1939 I went in the Royal Navy. I’d only been there 6 months when World War 2 began. Our Instructor was looking after us and said, “Before Christmas some of you will be feeding the fish.” How right he was. Some of the lads I trained with were sent to a different ship. I go the right ship, they got the wrong one.

The first ship I was on was ‘The Revenge’ battleship. We escorted merchant shipping from Canada to Britain. This lasted from 1939 to February 1941. We were granted 2 weeks leave. I came home and there was a blackout throughout the country. After two weeks I returned to the Barracks and was drafted to ‘HMS Berwick’. We picked up in Scotland and sailed on Russian convoys up to the Artic. Dropped anchor at Sadie’s Fjord. There for 5 months escorting merchant ships to Russia, alternating between Mansk and Archangel. These duties spread over 2 years 5 months. Never allowed off the ship. Then got off at Sadies Fjord which was high bleak cliffs. There was a large hut put out to cater for our couple of hours ashore. We’d got a couple of bottles of beer. They were so cold no-one could drink it until the bottles were placed on top of the combustion stove and defrosted them. Then we’d enjoy ourselves.

After 2 years 5 months we returned to barracks and I made an application for promotion. When I completed my course, I then went to an aircraft carrier.

In April 1944, sailed to the Middle East. After a couple of days at sea, the weather was very rough. The ship was badly buckled by the heavy seas crashing down. The flight deck was crumpled back like corrugated sheet. There was so much damage, we altered course and set sail for America and we arrived at Newport Virginia.

End of tape.

What a story! Well done to Marie for recording only part of Philip Reilly’s life that would have been lost. You just want to hear more.
If there are any mistakes. My re-typing of Marie’s work is to blame.

The Battleship ‘Revenge’ WW2

HMS Berwick

The story is particulary apt:

The Consett Giants

At one of the MADE OF STEEL events this week Marie McNally gave me an article on the Consett Giants taken from ‘Folk Tales of the North Country’ which is available from Amazon. The link is below.

You will also find a reference to the Giants on this site under ‘Legend’ which is an abridged version of the ‘Giants’ tale taken from the Consett Methodist site.

Incidentally the book was published in 1944 and costs £6.32
This is what Amazon say about the book.

This is a great little book of some 150 pages which has 44 short but very interesting folk tales from the Northumberland and Durham areas of Great Britain. The magic tales of dragons, witches, fairies, ghosts and goblins add an extra dimension to the places named in the book.

Thank you Marie: much appreciated.

Sophie Dixon

Sophie Dixon has produced a ten-minute documentary film on Consett.

It focusses, in the main, on creative and caring women including Consett singer/songwriter Karen Harding and their efforts to fulfil themselves.

The film provides an insightful look at Consett today, a town that for some has been forgotten. The film is well worth ten minutes of anyone’s time: Recommend.

Sophie says,
“I have recently produced a mini feature on Consett and here is some info on the feature.
Everyone knows that the recession has had a lasting impact on every household. None more so than the many towns across the country that have struggled to regenerate from the first. Sophie Dixon went to one of the worst effected districts in the country to find the story of the people living there now, to find out how life goes on in one of Britain’s forgotten towns.”

And here is a link to her film on You Tube

Made of Steel: Celebration

The two MADE OF STEEL shows today (TUESDAY 30/4), went really well. Next Consett Juniors on June 5th.
A big thank you to all that turned up and were so positive.

Another thanks to the Northern Echo for giving us a mention: thanks.

Tuesday 30/4 : Off soon for two more shows at Consett: stories: songs & the documentary film, MADE OF STEEL
I’m looking forward to them.

Our first show today (Monday 29th April) went very very well. We are all so pleased.

Just back from a run-through (Friday April 26) of the show…songs, stories, film and archival material on Consett: all good!

I am really looking forward to Monday and Tuesday performances.

And yes excited ahead of film and performance celebrations Monday and Tuesday.

Final few seats left …get in touch to come or to buy a DVD (£ 5 per copy to cover duplication and print.)
Call 01207 218 852 (9am – 5pm) for a seat or DVD.

Taken from our Facebook page Consett Steel Works- Made of Steel!/permalink.php?story_fbid=604825712879685&id=527319113963679

Incidentally the Made of Steel film which runs for fifty minutes is complete and looks very good.

On Monday & Tuesday there will be the premier of the MADE OF STEEL film, archival material displayed, songs and stories.

And we will be staging the MADE OF STEEL show including our film at Consett Juniors on Wednesday June 5th