Sunday, January 10, 2010

More On Easington Colliery.

Via my comment box on this item I have been contacted by "Barbara1895" who is interested in finding details out about her grandparents who at one time lived in Easington Colliery. She now lives overseas in Canada. I am using this current item as a convenient way of reproducing a map of Easington which has no date on it, but is about a decade or more old.

Click onto the map itself and it will be significantly enlarged.

In section D2 of the map there is a 90 degree turn in the red road. The streets of terraced houses shown in this area were colliery houses occupied by coal miners and their families when the pit was in operation.

There is a block of 16 terraced houses to the north of the red road before it turns to the south. These were 16 streets which all began with the letter "A". The area is known locally as "North". Barbara believes that her grandparents lived in Allen Street, which is probably where her father was born in 1926. This is the third street along from the eastern end of this block of houses. The pit was closed in 1993, but it had been situated in what is shown as a blank space on the map directly to the east of these houses.

"North" is made extensive use of in the film "Billy Elliot". See for example 1 minute and 30 seconds into this extract, until 2 minutes 23 seconds when it makes use of colliery houses in a different area. That area is the block of houses shown on the map as being to the east of the red road as it moves to the south. Here the terraced streets all began with the letter "C" and are known as "East".

A third block of houses (and the first to be built) is situated to the west of the red road, but is known as "South" - as it is opposite "North". These steets all start with the letter "B". At one time I lived at 18 Baldwin Street,

There were extra streets of colliery houses in this area, including Station Road and Office Street. Making some 900 colliery houses in all. Since the closure of Easington's pit in 1993, numbers of these houses have been knocked down and the ground cleared. Others have been renovated or replaced.

Barbara states that her grandfather became unemployed in the 1930s and eventually moved to Warwickshire. This is likely to have been a result of the economic depression, which led to the main coal seam at Easington being closed in June 1933. It led to many families leaving the area.

This link to three poems provides information on developments in both Easington Village and Easington Colliery. The central poem is by Mary N Bell who has considerable expertise about the history of the area. I will pass the exchanges between Barbara and myself on to Mary who might have knowledge about some of the individuals to whom Barbara refers.

This is by Mary on the "Wartime in Easington". And now ( 5 years after years after this item first appeared) in reference to Mary's latest book on Easington Colliery entitled "A Chronicle of Easington Colliery"

Added 25 May 2015. The above item is over five years old and has had more visitors than any item I have published in almost the nine years of the operation of this blog. It is currently the most visited item also. I would love to know why this is the case. Is some search machine responsible and why?  


Barbara1895 said...

Hello Harry,
I am still trying to absorb all the information you have given me. The map is wonderful. The map has given me the visual of where the streets and houses are located. I knew what colliery houses looked like, because being brought up in the UK I had seen them many times.

The poems are wonderful, so typical of when people leave an area we always wonder if it is still the same.

Is Mary Bell writing a book? She had a wonderful way with words.

I was just looking at 2 cert. showing my grandmother's birth (1895) and marriage (1913). She was born at Wood Street, Thornley. No number of actual house was stated. When she married in 1913 her address was #8 First Street, Horden, she was a farm servant. My grandfather (Tommy) was not from Durham but moved there about 1911. His address in the wedding cert. was #5 First Street, Easington Colliery, he was a coal miner (Hewer). Maggie Bertram and Thomas Allison were witnesses. Grandmother Barbara talked often of her friend Maggie, she missed her a lot when she moved to Warwickshire. I think there was a Thomas Allison who died in the 1951 pit accident (I don't know if it is the same one).

My grandmother was the eldest of 8 and became the mother hen to all her brothers and sisters. I don't know when her mother died maybe in the mid-1930's I think Gr. Barbara's siblings all left Easington eventually probably because of work.
Sorry Harry at the moment so many memories and names are flooding I am sure it sounds very scattered.

Hope the weather improves soon, driving can be difficult when you are not prepared for weather like that.
Take care

Harry Barnes said...

Barbara: The book of maps I hold also shows Thornley and Horden. There is now no Wood Street shown at Thornley, whilst First Street at Horden may have been demolished although most of the streets between Third Street and Twelfth Street are still shown. The Colliery streets at Easington were also initially numbered and 5 First Street is now probably 5 Byron Street. I used to have a girlfriend who lived at 11 Bryron Street.

Her father had been killed in the 1951 pit disaster. But there was no Thomas Allison amongst those killed. Nor do the combined records of deaths at the pit during its full lifetime as produced by Mary Bell (and her husband) plus those by the Durham Mining Museam, list an Allison out of a total of 194 deaths - some may not, however, have not been discovered even with the considerable amount of research which Mary et al have undertaken. Although the 1951 list of deaths is, however, a matter of official record. My own father was in the pit at the time, but in a different seam from the explosion.

As you grandparents once lived in the first steets of Miners Houses to be built at Horden and Easington (apart from the temporary Sinkers Huts which you will find a photo of on one my earlier blogs) they were amongst the pioneers for both areas. My Grandparents, John and "Polly" Barnes and their 7 children first arrived at Station Road in Easington in 1912.

I have emailed Mary to provide her with the links to our exchanges. I will let you know what information she comes up with and any corrections she makes in what I have said. She now lives at Horden. You will find material here on the pit disaster, click into "poems" at the left hand side to see Mary's contribution to the project -

Try to obtain the DVD of the film "Billy Elliot", it has numbers of dramatic outdoor scenes taken at Easington, especially at "North". At one point you can see the street name on the side of the house for what says Anthony Street and I judge that regular use is made of the road between it
and Argent Street. Mary will correct me if I am wrong. She will also know whether No.1 Allen Street was at the top or the bottom of the road.

Harry Barnes said...

Barbara: You have now raised an important question for me. As your Grandfather probably lost his job at Easington Pit in 1933, what happened to my own family when the main seam closed? My Grandfather John Barnes would be about 62. His six sons aged roughly between 22 and 38 were all Miners. Whilst the only daughter Ada at 26 was also married to a Miner. By this time my mother' family called Gray had moved the family base to Easington. In 1933 my Uncle Bill would be about 30 and worked at Easington pit. Uncle Robert (then 25 or so) initially worked in the pit, but then moved elsewhere for a change of job.

Did all these hold onto their jobs in 1933? Or was it the closing of the seam that pushed my Uncle Robert into looking elsewhere for work?

The youngest of the Barnes generation left the pit in 1937 to join the RAF, whilst Aunt Ada's husband became seriously ill from coal dust and could not then work. All the rest apart (I assume) from a retired Grandfather Barnes worked at Easington pit during the War and afterwards. But were any of them unemployed for what could have been a lengthy period after the seam closed in June 1933? My parents married in December 1933 and my father later had two years off work probably in the late 1930s, but this was due to kidney trouble. He then worked on bank and as a you child I remember the excitement at home when he got a job back on the coal face at a better wage.

The problem with reseaching the past, is that each problem you resolve raises host of new problems!

Barbara1895 said...

Hello Harry,
I have a correction, it was #14 Allen Street. My Dad (Albert Pearson), and his siblings were all born in Easington District so I am presuming Easington Colliery. His eldest sister Mary died at 16 riding a bicycle and was run over by a lorry. Another brother Jack died at aged 3.
My father remembered that when his father (Tommy) was out of work they would go to the beach daily and look for shellfish and coal on the shoreline to suppliment the household. Again I don't know what years these were but dad said he was about 13 yrs old when they left Easington Colliery and he was born in 1926.

As I said before I think several of my grandmother's siblings married in Easington but as their last name was Jones it is really hard to look them up to confirm the wife's names. I know Mark Jones married Elizabeth Etherington and one of their children was called Kenneth he was born around the 1930's they lived in Shotton at one time.

Going back through some census records that I have from 1841 - 1911. A grandfather called Robert Maddison born 1802 in Vigo, Co. Durham lived in Easington area and in the 1841 census stated his profession was Engineer. I think this was a fancy word for a miner at the time. His son Mark Maddison born 1847 was a miner as stated in his 1871. This coal mining heritage in Easington is long but your right once your start looking in the past more questions come up.

You were right about Thomas Allison the one I saw was on a list of cemetary records for Easington, many others on that list were from the disaster but not him.

After looking at the 1911 census for my grandmother, it appears her father moved around the country a little. You can tell by where there children were born. Two were born in Thornley, 1 Shotton, 1 Hartwell, 1 Horden, 1 Chirk, Wales and 1 Pendlebury, Lancs. A few more were born after 1911.

I did see the Billy Elliot movie but now I will be trying to buy a copy. I didn't realize it was made in Easington.

I don't know if I have any more information. As I said before I have lots of documents but no photographs of any of that side of the family.

Hope the weather is getting better. There are concerns that we may not have enough natural snow for the 2010 winter games in Vancouver. It has been warmer than usual here.


Harry Barnes said...

Barbara : I have received an email reply from Mary Bell, but I am now checking with her to see if she is happy about me putting what she says onto this blog for public consumption (even if my hits are modest).

As you appreciate, Allen Street would be the one at Easington Colliery. There is no other Allen Street in the Easington District according to the modern brochure of maps which I hold. The Street was also just a short distance from the coast line. So it was easy for children to get away from the grime of the pit area. According to Mary, No.1 Allen Street was at its southern end. So No. 14 would be half way or higher up the street.

My wife originates from Shotton Colliery and tells me that there was a man called Etherington who worked in the local Co-op store when she was a child in the early 1950s.

The information about your Great Grandfather's movements (from the birth places of his children) as shown in the 1911 Census are valuable as an example of what was often occuring. Can you let me know his full name and where he lived in 1911? My own Grandfather (John Barnes) moved into Easington Colliery in 1912 with his wife and their 7 children. All the children seem to have been born in different houses, for the 1911 Census gives details of 6 of them and I know something about my Uncle Arthur's subsequent birth. These places were all in the local
coalfield at South Shields, Felling, Haswell, Shotton and 3 births in Sunderland. But from what my late father told me, all three were born in different houses in Sunderland. I assume that my Grandfather worked at Wearmouth pit at the time, for his own father died from an accident at that pit in 1907.

The snow scene is still similar to those pictures I posted, although it is not as deep as it was, the temperature has risen slightly and most of the snow has gone from the roof os the Baptist Chapel. But there are worse walking conditions. Some rain and a further rise in the temperature would help.

Harry Barnes said...

Barbara : See paragraph 5 of this item about a Mr. Maddison of Easington Colliery in World War 2.

Barbara1895 said...

Hello Harry,

My Gr. Grandfather was called John Edward Jones born abt.1873 Wales. He married Elizabeth Maddison in 1893 in Wingate. My grandmother Barbara was their first child.
In 1911 census he and his wife and family lived at #8 First Street, Horden. His occupuation in 1911 census was Stone Man in Coal Mine.
It appears all the miners moved around that area many times. Probably because of the size of the house and who they worked for.

The link information I was unable to connect to. What category in the war stories is it in.

If you would like to send Mary's information via my personal email that would be fine. Just let me know.
Have a good day

Harry Barnes said...

Barbara : This is the quote I was attempting to link you to -
"A friend of the family Mr Maddison told the tale of when he went to get some beer from the local club as he had heard they had some and you had to get in quick before they sold out. Usually a delivery of beer as it was so small compared to demand, only lasted a couple of hours before it ran dry. Mr Maddison approached ‘Toeplate’ Harrison who asked for his ID — Mr Maddison had forgotten it but as ‘Toeplate’ was one of his neighbours and knew him well he thought he could get away without his ID and actually pleaded so that he could get to the club before the beer ran out. ‘Toeplate’, playing by the rules, refused and Mr Maddison had to trail back home. When he finally made it back with his ID and then got to the club — guess what — the beer had all gone. He was not too happy with his neighbour ‘Toeplate’."

It is from an Easington story. The rest is probably more telling! If you can make it into the following, then add the name Len O'Donnell to "Search the archive" and the full article might emerge -

I am going to a meeting and will return to other matters tomorrow.

Harry Barnes said...

Barbara : I have drawn the following information from Mary's email.

(1) A family called Maddison lived at 15 Boston Street at one time. (Which is also a street where Mary once lived, almost opposite my parents. See D2 of the map - HB).
(2) Mary also went to school with Joan Maddison who lived in an area called "Wembley" (It is the area to the west of cemetery at C1 on the map - HB).
(3) The first family to move into Wembley at John Steet was that of Mary's husband Jim. That was in 1924 when he was 9 months old.
(4) Raymond Maddison died a few years ago. He had quite a few children. His widow still lives in Easington. (This could be the Raymond Maddison whom I once lived next door to - HB).
(5) An Allison family lived in Station Road. The father was called Joe and was an overman. The son was called Raymond. (Station Road is the red road on the map at D2 as it immediately turns south. It is lined with terraced colliery houses on each side. The Allison's house would be on the west side of the road, in the block of housing known as "South", as it is south of Seaside Lane - HB).
(6) Lots of people who were related to each other must have moved into Easington together in the early nineteen hundreds. Mary's father and two brothers came. As did her mother's sister and family.
(7) Her husband's grandparents were one of the first to move into the Colliery houses at Abbot Street, which then had ash tiolets. Ashton Street the next street along was known as "Honeymoon Street".
(8) Mary's father moved to Easington in 1928. Although he was never out of work, he used to listen for the buzzer blowing to indicate whether or not he went to work.
(9) Mary has written a book on Easington and the lives of the families she and her husband came from. She just needs to edit it. (This is great news HB).

P.S. If you wish Mary and myself to communicate with you by email, then would you be willimg to post your email address via this comment box? If you sent it as a separate item I would delete it as soon as I read it, as I would not wish to leave it open in case it attracts spam fro you. But in the meantime, the system I operate immediately publishs any comments posted by those with a blog facility. But I can delete whatever I wish.

Jenhardy said...

Hello all,
what a wonderful site, ive just followed a link here. Im wondering if there is any mention of my Great grandparents amongst the easington lot?
Arthur(1895 to 1965)and Jane(1889 to 1986) Hardy lived firstly in Thornley then Wheatley hill. He was a hewer then local ambulance driver recieving commendations (which I do not have)for help in various disasters particularly the easington one.He died at 44 Bevan crescent. Id love it if they were mentioned somewhere.
Keep up the good work...

Teresa Henslee-Downer Armstrong said...

Hi Harry,

What a wonderful find. I too had grandparents that worked at Easington Colliery. In fact, my gggrandfather James Taylor was in the newspaper (The (Illustrated Chronicle) talking about the 63 years he worked in the mines. I am desperately trying to locate burial records of this family. He died in 1933 in Easington Colliery. I'm not sure if he is buried in Easington Village Cemetery or Easington Colliery Cemetery. Any thoughts on my next steps?

Thanks so much in advance and thanks for the great site..

Teresa Henslee-Downer

Harry Barnes said...

Jenhardy: I'm sorry that it has taken me 7 months to come across your comment. The only Bevan Crescent I know of in the area is at Wheatley Hill. In the 1951 Easington Pit Disaster a Hugh Bell Surtees of 4 Bevan Avenue was killed. There were two Hardy's killed at Easington Pit. William Hardy a 55 year old Hewer on 14 December 1914 and Miles Hardy a 56 year old Stoneman on 30 April 1933. The Easington Colliery electoral register for 1918 shows John and Jane Hardy at 13 Seaside Lane and William and Sarah Hardy at what was then called 12 Tenth Street North.

Harry Barnes said...

Teresa: I have just seen your comments. My records are only bits and pieces. A James and Mary Taylor appear on the Easington Colliery Electoral Register for 1918 as living at 18 Eighth Street - it was later renamed Blake Street. Do you have the date of publication of the article on your grandfather, he might say things that interest me about Easington Pit? Look up the web-site of the Durham County Record Office to see what material they had on death certificates and burial records.

Harry Barnes said...

Barbara1895 : I don't know if you will ever see this, but Mary Bell finally had her book on Easington Colliery published. I covered its publication here -

Harry Barnes said...

As I pointed out almost a month ago, this blog item is over five years old and has had more visitors than any item I have ever published in almost the nine years of the operation of "Three Score Years and Ten". It is also currently the most recently visited item. I would love to know why this is the case. Is some search machine responsible and why? If it is a human being (or beings) that is responsible, then could they let me know the ins and outs of why they are doing this - via this comment box? Thank you if you do.

Harry Barnes said...

Currently, this item has been linked into (1) more today, (2) more in the past week and (3) more over the past five years than amy other item on this blog. In fact, over the past five years it has been accessed two and a half times more than any other item. Why?

papabarnes said...

Harry, been reading through this and can't help but be curious in whether or not we may be related due to the mention of Station Road in Easington and a large Barnes family group. I am the son of Alan Barnes, and Grandson of Arthur Barnes (commonly known as 'Snaffer'). Is this the same lineage? Or am I linked to a different Barnes clan?

Harry Barnes said...

Hello papabarnes. I had just prepared you a long reply, but messed up in attaching it here. I will get back to things later. In the meantime, my own Uncle Arthur appears in two photos in the following link. In the first photo he is in the back row on the viewers right hand side. In the second photo he is at the front. Is he anything like your relative ? See -

Harry Barnes said...

Hi parabarnes. My Uncle Arthur settled initally at 52 Station Road, Easington Colliery as a very young child in 1912 or 1913. The family later moved to Boston Street. He served in the RAF from around 1937 to 1948 and evenually settled in Bournemouth. He visited Easington a number of times, staying with my Aunt Ada. On occasions he brought his wife and daughter with him. But I never came across a son, such as Allan your father. Although it is a possibility. Arthur would be in his late 30s and early 40s when I met him the most.

I hold various early census material on Easington Colliery and Electoral Registration records. The latter up to 1931. Whilst ours is the first Barnes family that I have traced, others then start to emerge. Do you have any idea when 'Snaffer' and others moved to Easington Colliery (or even the Village) ? And have you any idea of where they initially lived. It will enable me to search through my material. But I hold little after 1931.

The records I hold were to enable me to write three articles about Easington Colliery from the initial sinking of its eventual pit in 1899 until just before my birth in 1936. These appeared in "North East Labour History" the journal of the North East Labour History Society in its 2011, 2012 and 2013 editions. As the research involved regular visits to the County Offices in Durham from my home in Derbyshire (and I don't have a car) I packed matters in when I virtually reached up to when I was born.

In the ten years that I have been running this blog, the above item on Easington Colliery has been the one examined by easily the most people. I often wonder why this is so. Can you let me know how you came across it ? Were you just googling for say "Easington Colliery" or "Barnes" ?

Unknown said...

Hello my name is aiden voss. My grandfather is Len O'donnell and we've been recently taking pleasure in digging up as much info as possible about the history of the pits and the great disaster of 51'. After sifting through the internet looking here and there i have came across this blog to find mention of my grandfathers stories and would love to possibly find more information in regards to life back then. Anything will truly help and i know this blog may be out of use today but hopefully someone will see this that will be able to help us with our research. This has been a great bonding experience for me and my grandad and i wish to continue in hopes that enough info can be gathered to possibly write a book of our own.

Much appreciated if anyone manages to read this.

Harry Barnes said...

Hello "Unknown/Aiden Voss". I am still running this blog. I lived at Easington Colliery from my birth in 1936 until 1963 - and have had various links since, especially until the death of the last of my parents in 1999. I am now 81 years old and was 14 (approaching 15) at the time of the Easington Colliery pit disaster. The thread "Easington" on this site carries numbers of bits and pieces which may be of interest to you and your grandfather. Did he have connections with Easington Colliery or does his (and your) interest arise from other matters ? Unfortuneately, I have only written blog pieces (and comments on other people's sites) which relate to the Easington Colliery pit disaster. For the journal of the North East Labour History Society I started a series of articles on the history of Easington Colliery from the first effective sinking of the pit in 1899. But as many of my major sources for material came from the Durham University Records Office and I had growing mobility problems, I only produced articles for their 2011, 2012 and 2013 annual publications. This only took me up to 1935, the year before I was born. I have a further piece due for publication in this year's edition, covering my own years at Easington. But its references to the 1951 disaster are brief. Let me know of any specific matters which interest you. I will seek to provide such information or provide you with references to relevant material by others. There is a limited amount of published material which I am aware of.

papabarnes said...

Hi Harry, hoping you are well. Apologies for my very tardy reply. I can confirm that 'Snaffer' lived with his wife at 6 Station Road. He had 2 sons, my dad Alan, and his brother Derek along with a daughter Susan. He ended up as a deputy at the pit but not sure when, and don't think he would be old enough to match the Arthur you are thinking of in the RAF although I could be wrong, and my dad was born in 1954. Hope this helps understand who they are and if there is any relation.

Harry Barnes said...

Hello papabarnes. My apologies for the long delay in replying, but I have just come across your above comment. At the age of 82 and born in 1936 I rather lack internet skills. In the year your father was born in 1954, I started my National Service on 8 November ending up in Iraq after my period of basic training. I had five uncles on the Barnes side, three of whom had numbers of sons. To the best of my knowledge none of these were called Arthur and all of them would have been born well before 1954. So yours seems to be a different Barnes family - unless one of my cousins on the Barnes side of the family also had a son named Arthur, after my uncle's name. After spending much of 1955 and 1956 in Iraq, then with periods away from home as a full-time adult student between 1960 and 1963 I married and Ann and I moved our home to Hull, then Worksop, then Sheffield and finally to Dronfield in north Derbyshire - where we have been for 49 years. My wife came from Shotton Colliery, so whilst our parents were alive we visited the Easington area regularly. But after my mother (as the final surviving parent) died in 1999 our visits have been irregular. I was, for instance, an only child; so I have no immediated family links in the area. Our own chidren draw us to London and Bournemouth - although our grandson follows a sixth generation Barnes family tradition and is a Sunderland supporter. Although he gets some light relief by watching Brentford and had a year as ball-boy for them - even at a Brentford v Sunderland game last season.

John Barnes said...

Hi Harry
I have been looking for information on my family tree and came across this great blog.
My name is John Harold Barnes and my father who sadly passed last year was also called John Harold Barnes. From what my dad told me it was common practice in the family to name the first son born John Harold Barnes hence my name. From my own research i believe you could be my uncle's son. My dad did mention you to me a few times over the years.

My dad came to London in the sixties after he served in the Royal Navy and was involved in the Suez canal conflict before moving to London in the mid sixties where he met my mum who was an Italian Migrant and i was born in 1969.

My dad took me to stay in Peterlee for a few months in the early 80s and showed me around Easington where he was brought up and took me to a wall where he had written his name in green paint that you could still make out.He also used to tell me stories of the war and how his mum used to hide him under the stairs when the air raid sirens used to sound.
My dad said that most of the Barnes family used to work down Easington or Horden colliery and he himself worked down the pit from a very young age.My grandmothers side of the family were known as the Cassons and my dad used to tell me how hard they used to work hard and would walk about in wooden clogs while doing various jobs to earn a living.

I believe my dad (i believe) married in County Durham and had 2 daughters (They maybe called Linda and Carole not 100 percent on these names) who should be in their late 50s by now but my dad was always a bit cagey about this so i am not sure on that side of his life.If you have any contact details on my dads daughters i would be very grateful as i would love to get in touch.

I have a great photo of my grandad in his army uniform which i am happy to send you which may verify my link to yourself and our family.

I am very interested in learning everything i can on the Barnes Family even more so since my dad passed.

You can contact me at if you have any information or can send me any links on our family history.

Thanks for reading.

John Barnes

John Barnes said...

Hi Harry

Just a little update.

My Grandad John Harold Barnes married a Lilly Casson in 1929.


Harry Barnes said...

Hello John,
I have just picked up your comments and I will email you. I am now 83 years old and believe that your grandfather was my Uncle John.
Best wishes,
Harry (called Harold when I lived at Easington).

Harry Barnes said...

Hello John,
See for 30 Easington items. The first one is new. Have you received my email?