In memory of (red) Ray Thompson

RAY THOMPSON20 December 1931 – 15 December 2021

Heather Thompson (daughter) has agreed for the following to be shared

Announce death of (red) Ray Thompson of Castleside.

He started at CIC as an apprentice electrician around 1946 when he was 14, working alongside many women who continued their wartime service at the works in the years immediately after the end of World War 2.

Apart from a period of broken service in the 1960s while he built his beloved house at Castleside, he worked at British Steel till the closure in 1979, serving as electricians’ convenor and Union rep for the EEPTU.

A staunch socialist, Ray could be uncompromising and sometimes did not see eye to eye even with other union men, especially if he felt their views were not aligned with the will of the people, from whence he derived his mandate.

Ray retained his socialist principles to the end, preferring to die at home rather than unnecessarily costing his beloved NHS the unnecessary expense of an ambulance.

Despite multiple serious illnesses, blindness and deafness he never once complained. And he fought bravely to the last.

He spent his last minutes with his daughters and grandchildren, finally at peace and pain free – a good death for a good man.

Image taken by Peter Brabban

Val Boyle wrote the following on the HCSW Facebook group and has agreed for it to be added to this post

What a wonderful man he was. I feel lucky to have met him and privileged to have worked with him on Tales of Derwentdale.

If it wasn’t for Ray, I’d never have found out about J.W.Fawcett, and his campaign to get a gravestone for one of his heroes was typical of this lovely, principled, clever, funny man.

Ray, you’re a hero of mine too.

on reply to me asking if ok to share

Yes, of course, thank-you Richard. It’s an honour to be associated with him at all.

Here’s another photo from the speech he gave at the launch of the book in the Lodge at Blackhill Park.

Val Boyle and Ray Thompson at a launch event for the revised Tales of Derwentdale by the publication group of Land of Oak & Iron Trust – https://loit.org.uk/publications-2/

Ray at a Book Launch- Here’s another photo from the speech he gave at the launch of the book in the Lodge at Blackhill Park. shared by agreement thanks to Val Boyle

11 thoughts on “In memory of (red) Ray Thompson”

  1. I worked with Ray at Hownsgill plate mill, he was a staunch unionist and stood by his principals, I recently corresponded with Rays daughter who informed me he was or had lost his eyesight. RIP. Old friend

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  2. A kinder, funnier, gentleman never existed. We loved him dearly and will remember him always.

    My whole family is heartbroken 💔

    Rest in peace, treasured friend. xx

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  3. Knew Ray and family well in my younger years just living a few doors up.
    He always had dry funny sense of humour to bring a smile .
    I always remember of a tale of a motorbike getting washed off a Ford.
    I just heard tonight of Rays passing from my mam.
    I would like to add my condolences to Margaret,Alison and Heather and family RIP Ray xx

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  4. I remember Ray from when he worked at the Old Derwentside College. We always used to stand and have a chat and a laugh. A lovely man. RIP Fly high Ray. Sending love to your lovely family x x x

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  5. I first came across Ray on the old Consett forum. He used to post under the pseudonym ‘Tommy Raw’, who was an early 18 century moss trooper who lived at Wharnley Burn Farm near Castleside and noted for raiding of farms and cattle stealing. Ray gradually revealed his real identity to me, and we met for a pint in the Fleece at Castleside – I remember he took mischievous pleasure in referring it to it as ‘Bella’s’ – Bella had been the landlady many years previously and the new owners used to rile at the fact that the locals were still calling their pub by that name. We spent a long time talking about the local historian, JW Fawcett of Satley, on whom Ray was a published authority, about the lead mines and about adders – he had a big set of photos of these beasts he’d taken on the moors near Waskerley, and he gave me a DVD copy of them. Of particular interest to Leadgate folk, he also had photos taken of national Labour politicians on the balcony of the ‘tute on one or more Durham Big Meeting days – Harold Wilson, Tony Benn and others. Ray’s reputation locally was, of course, mainly in respect of his socialist politics and trades union leadership at the steel works. I recall him mentioning that Margaret Thatcher had closed the works, to which I quipped back – ‘I thought you closed them, Ray’. In reply he said with a twinkle in his eye ‘With hindsight, I think we mebbies did go a bit far sometimes.’ I remember he was still riding his motor bike at 70, going up to Weatherspoons one morning a week for for a cooked breakfast with a group of other old stagers some of whom I’m sorry to say have also left us. He was extremely knowledgeable on a whole range of subjects and a very warm character. A sad loss.

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    1. Thank you Peter for this wonderful tribute. I hope you may consider making the Tute pictures available for all to access shame for them not be seen by all and also be great to share the Lead Mine pictures you mention as a lasting legacy to (Red) Ray. Hope you will consider the idea and be agreeable

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      1. Ray didn’t give me a copy of the Leadgate ‘tute pictures or any lead mine ones, only pictures of adders on the moors near Waskerley. I have them on a DVD somewhere and can find them and put them on here, if you think there would be interest.

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      2. Thanks for clarifying be great if those images of the Tute could be “found” and shared, If and when you do find the pictures of the adders some may find that of interest

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