The Modern way of Life

It comes as no surprise to most, that there are some very old buildings in Consett’s town centre. The Grey Horse for example has a date of 1848 on it’s front door.

The Grey horse dates back to 1848

There are other buildings, that also have dates on the front of them, or where known to be some of the first buildings built in the town.

Take for example, this one:

Barclays was one of (if not the first) commercial bank to come to Consett.

When it was quickly realized that Consett as an industrial town was growing fast, that naturally attracted the banks.

Barclays, Lloyds and the Co-Operative society where the first 3 to have purpose built buildings, buildings which from old dated photos, we can trace back over 100 years!

Barclays for example, we have photos going back to the 1820’s, 1890’s and as close to home as the 1970’s and 1980’s when the skyline that Barclays was always part of, was still dominated by our Steel works.

Barclays has seen the steelworks come, and go. (Photo used with permission from Paul Matthews)

So what have old banks, got to do with the title of this post?

Well like most things, nothing lasts forever, it’s just been announced today (17th June 2022) that Barclays will close this branch in September 2022. A building that has been featured in so many of Consett’s historic photos for well over a century will finally cease to be there any longer.

I know, progress has to march on, and I doubt for one minute that the building will get demolished. It’s an old building, with Consett’s spirit firmly embedded into it, and it’s foundations.

The ONLY actual bank that will now be left in town, in it’s original building, will be LLoyds:

Lloyds as seen on Google Earth (August 2018)

How long that will remain with us, is anyone’s guess.

The Co-Op bank, ceased to be a bank many, many years ago

Co-Op bank building on Newmarket street (Google Earth August 2018)

We have a number of photographs from inside the Co-Op building, when it was in the process of being renovated, I may do a follow up post on that at some point in the future.

The premise however, is the same, bit by bit, our history get’s eroded, the “Digital Future” and a generation that is now used to everything being done online, means that we are likely to see more and more losses like this.

We might be allowed to take some photographs of the building before it closes, and we will attempt to contact the relevant people to see if we can make this happen.

As we prepare however, to say goodbye to another bit of Consett’s history, let us remember that like many of our older institution’s, Barclays has seen this town through some of it’s lowest points, and grimmest of times, and celebrated with this town as we came out of the other-side of those times, and continued to grow and flourish as a community.

To those who remained as faithful customers, and continued to use their branch in-person, I’m sure the staff of Barclays, Consett will say a big warm thank-you.

Our town may change, but it’s spirit will not. I hope that the building get’s new owners, who will look after and cherish it, and who continue to put it to good use, time will tell, as the progress of the modern way of life, marches on.

The Kids of the Heaps

No1 plant being pulled down (With thanks to the Tommy Moore collection/Billy Ellwood)

I’m just old enough that I remember the works in operation, seeing them every day from my bedroom window at Delves Terrace, but young enough that the picture above (and many other like it) where my playground as a youngster.

Big metal structures that where like huge monkey frames to climb on, old tires which we gleefully rolled down the sides of the slag heaps, holes and tunnels in the ground to climb into and explore.

From dawn until dusk we’d find somewhere to get up to mischief, and if it wasn’t on the steelworks site(s) then it was definitely the many railways lines, yards and buildings that where still scattered around waiting for their final demise.

We broke windows in the signal boxes, pulled cables out the ground and made bike ramps using the concrete slabs and bit’s of wood a plenty that we found lying around, it really was the best playground in the world, even if we didn’t really realise then what all the fuss about this place closing was.

We’d heard our parents and grandparents going on about where the kids would work in years to come, but we didn’t really care it was just too much fun getting chased by security guards back then, and yes… we did get chased by them, not like today where they just shout at you and then call the police. Back then we proper got chased, and if they caught you (which they sometimes did) you got taken home and your parents disciplined you!!

It didn’t stop us though, the next day we’d be roaming around again, to be fair how we didn’t damage ourselves (well seriously anyway) or ever worse kill ourselves is anyone’s guess, when you have a 10ft girder with a crane hook on a pully attached to it that slides along the girder, it makes for a brilliant tarzie swing.

I look back on those days quite often now and wish that the technology I have today in the form of my camera phone, I had back then, because the amount of photos and video I would have taken would have been unreal, some of it might have been taken for sensible reasons, but a lot of it would have been taken to show some of the utterly stupid stunts we got up to.

I do feel sad that I didn’t think to find ways to record what I saw for future prosperity, but thankfully others did, we found ways to make use of our towns heart in other more creative ways, ways that I’ll never forget and times that I’ll always cherish as the fun times I had with my friends before we grew into young adults and realized the gravity of our situation and the bleakness of our future.