Photographs, Negatives, Slides and Plates of County Durham


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Easington : The Colliery from First Street North [c.1913]

This photograph of Easington Colliery was probably captured from the junction of First Street North and Tower Street as the chimney stack can be seen to the right of the mine shafts with the railway behind. These streets are now known as Crawlaw Avenue. The sinking of the shafts to the east of the old village commenced in April 1899, though due to difficulties encountered in passing through water bearing strata, coal was not extracted until 1910. A new mining town quickly developed in subsequent years with rows of terraced houses and amenities being erected. There was a terrible disaster at the colliery in May 1951 when a spark from a cutting machine ignited a pocket of gas in one of the seams, causing an explosion that took the lives of 83 men, including two rescue workers. It was one of the worst mining accidents in the North East, resulting in the reconstruction of the colliery following recommendations from the Mines Inspectorate. It took several weeks to recover many of the victims who were buried in a communal grave within Easington Colliery Cemetery. Following a memorial fund a garden of remembrance with stone memorial screens was created from the designs of R. Wood, the architect of the Durham Division of the National Coal Board. The garden was officially inaugurated in May 1954, on the third anniversary of the disaster. Easington Colliery was eventually closed in 1993 and the pit shaft headgear demolished during the following year.

Jarrow : Palmer's Works and Shipyard [c.1913]

Taken around 1913, this photograph shows the shipyard of Palmer Brothers & Co. in Jarrow. This firm was established in 1852 by Charles Mark Palmer. By the time of this image, the firm occupied some 100 acres of land adjoining the River Tyne and employed around 10,000 people. The photograph was captured not long after Sir Charles Palmer's interest in the firm was acquired by Lord Furness who, as Chairman, expanded the business by acquiring a lease over a new graving dock at Hebburn from Robert Stephenson and Company. The Great Depression brought about the end of the business which collapsed in 1933. The Jarrow yard was subsequently sold to National Shipbuilders Securities Ltd., who closed it down, the mass unemployment causing the organised protest known as the Jarrow March.

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Hartlepool Lifeboat Crew at the Coventry Lifeboat Demonstration Saturday [1896]

Although the crew of the Hartlepool lifeboat are featured in this image, the photograph was taken in Coventry on Saturday October 24th 1896. The occasion was the first Lifeboat Demonstration Saturday held in the spiritual home of cycling. This event took place five years after the formation of the Lifeboat Saturday Movement in Manchester during 1891. The organising committee were hoping that the lifeboat named "Cyclist," a vessel presented to Hartlepool by Henry Sturmey, editor of The Cyclist journal, in December 1887, would be part of the procession. However, that lifeboat could not be brought south so it was substituted with the "Joseph Sykes," the lifeboat at Upgang, Whitby. The crew of the Hartlepool boat did however make the journey to Coventry on the day before the event. They were treated to dinner and an evening at the Opera House. On the Saturday morning they enjoyed a tour of the Singer Cycle Works. I believe that this photograph was taken in Coventry Barracks, a complex adjacent to the offices of The Cyclist Printing Works. The spire of St. Michael's Church can be seen in the background. The names of the crew members in this image are: Thomas Reed [Coxswain], Tom Hood, Nat Hastings, John Denton, H. Corner, James Webster [Bowman], S. Suthern [Assistant Cox], Will Pounder, George Suthern, James Cambridge, Will Horsley and John Horsley. The four men in front of the boat were Walter Mason [Local Secretary], "Rigger" Bowes [R.N.L.I. Inst. London], Alfred Bell [Honorary Sec. London] and A. J. Boyle [Organising Sec. London]. The lifeboat and crew formed part of an enormous procession through Coventry, including the military, cycling clubs, fire brigade and floats representing many local institutions.

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Seaton Carew : "John Lawson" Lifeboat and Lifeboat Station [c.1905]

An early Edwardian photograph of the Lifeboat Station at Seaton Carew with the "John Lawson" lifeboat and crew. Earlier lifeboats at Seaton Carew were named "Charlotte" before the introduction of the Limehouse-built "Job Hindley" boat in December 1873. That vessel served for fifteen years when it was replaced by the "John Lawson" in 1888. There was an interim boat named the "Mary Isabella" which was returned to London to be refitted for another station. The "John Lawson" boat arrived at Seaton Carew and was launched on Saturday May 12th 1888. There was plenty of pomp when the vessel was launched, flags and banners being waved whilst rockets were discharged. After the occasion, the crew were entertained by the committee at the Seven Stars Hotel. There was some confusion regarding the name of the boat. The daughter of the vicar, John Lawson, attended the launch and it was reported that it was named after this family. However, the vicar wrote into the newspaper and stated that this was not the case and it was named after a Manchester lady who gave the boat. The Lifeboat Station was located at South End and dated from 1875, though the R.N.L.I. had been in charge of the Seaton Carew boat since 1857. The closure of the station was reported in April 1922 when a motor lifeboat was introduced at Hartlepool.

Seaton Carew : Lifeboat Crew [c.1905]

Although this image was used on Edwardian postcards, the photograph may have been captured in earlier years, particularly as the lifeboat crew of Seaton Carew are sporting Billy Cock hats. Having said that, I don't think that Henry Hood is featured here. He retired as coxswain of the Seaton Carew lifeboat in 1898. Serving in this role for over thirty years, he had followed his father, William, and his brother, Robert, by becoming coxswain of the lifeboat stationed here. He was awarded for bravery many times, including the Albert Medal in 1883 for his role in saving the crew of the Norwegian schooner Atlas on Longscar Rocks. John and Matthew Franklin, members of the crew, were also awarded medals during this rescue. A fisherman by trade, John Franklin succeeded Henry Hood as coxswain of the Seaton Carew lifeboat. Serving on the lifeboat for 46 years, he was credited with saving the lives of 170 people. He retired in 1909 and died soon after.

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Wearhead : Woman on doorstep of Lobley House [c.1906]

This Edwardian photograph shows a woman stood on the doorstep of Lobley House at Wearhead. The building still stands on an elevated spot to the rear of the village hall. The property has since been divided and the doorway seen here now has two entrances. The Lobley House name endures for the right-hand side of the property, whilst the other half, slightly extended, is known as Hill House. There was once a Methodist Chapel next to the building but this has been demolished. The house was in a part of Wearhead known as High Green, a locale lodged between West Fall and Wear Head. The 1901 cenus records only two households at High Green, one of which was occupied by the draper and grocer John Watson and his wife Sarah. Perhaps this is one of their daughters stood outside the house. Annie and Nellie Watson were born in America so John Watson, although born locally, must have tried to make a new life across the Atlantic before returning to County Durham.

Ushaw Moor : The Board Inn near Esh [1961]

Overlooking the settlement of Langley Park and the Browney Valley , the Board Inn stands on Hill Top near Esh and Ushaw Moor. In the late 19th century the hostelry was kept by the Waugh family. Some records list this house at Ushaw Moor but it was part of Esh parish. Hilltop Quarry was located a little to the south behind the Board Inn. Prior to the Second World War the Board Inn was famous for holding an annual flower show.

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