Misson Impossible? The Navvies and the Preachers- Railway Archives

part 6 of a series on Navvies

This is from the Railway Archive https://www.railwayarchive.org.uk/misson-impossible-the-navvies-an

At most of the villages and settlements in which navvies working on the London Extension lived, the Navvy Mission Society provided a mission room and a lay preacher for the benefit of the workmen and their families. The services and Sunday School were intended to provide the navvies and their children with an understanding of the bible and an enthusiasm for the message of the gospel, something of which navvies were thought to be largely ignorant.

Formed in 1877 following concerns for the men working at Lindley Wood Reservoir, the Navvy Mission Society was perhaps the greatest of the organisations tasked with the spiritual welfare of navvies. Ever since the beginning of the railway age in the 1830s, the moral and spiritual condition of navvies had been a cause for concern. In the mid-nineteenth century particularly, the men were seen as immoral, godless creatures with little or no knowledge of the bible, and whose daily life centred on depraved and debauched activities like drinking, gambling, fighting and womanising. However, some people also saw the navvy in a more romantic way. To many, they were primitive men possessed of unnatural strength and endurance – rugged men who were hard and resilient. Their lack of education, and the poor housing and working conditions which they were forced to endure, kept them from the civilising benefits of Victorian society, and deprived the navvies of the self worth and self respect that engenders good behaviour. Religion was seen as something that could help to tame the navvy, and as something that would eventually provide them with a more positive and acceptable role in society.

By the time the London Extension was being built in the 1890s, railway construction was no longer accompanied by large bands of navvies intent on riotous behaviour. Living and working conditions had improved dramatically, as had the moral conduct of the men themselves. Even so, navvies continued to participate in prize-fights and gambling, and the infamous navvy drinking sprees, or randies, had not yet become a thing of the past. And so despite their advances, Victorian moralists still considered the navvy to be ripe for conversion. To this end, the Navvy Mission Society maintained a significant presence throughout the Line’s construction.

The missions themselves were located either in modest, purpose built halls of wood and corrugated metal, or in existing structures such as barns and outbuildings. Inside, the halls were plain and functional. The furniture consisted of simple wooden benches and chairs, and besides a selection of pious extracts that were nailed to the walls, there was little attempt at decoration. This utilitarian approach was both a result of the way in which the Navvy Mission Society was organised, and also of their methods of religious instruction. Although a national institution, it was largely the responsibility of local committees to organise, and pay for, the mission hall in their area. Also, the emphasis centred solely on the attendance and participation of the flock. Therefore the conventions of appearance and formality that applied to buildings and parishioners elsewhere within the Church of England, were not only economically and physically unattainable, but were even undesirable.

As for the missionaries, these were laymen from the working classes, many of whom had been navvies themselves. Doubtless this helped in establishing a bond between the mission and the community, although some missionaries were still asked to give a short demonstration with pick and shovel before they could gain the respect of the navvies! Aside from regular services, readings and Sunday School, the missionaries went about the villages and settlements distributing bibles and copies of the Quarterly Letter to Navvies, the newsletter that expressed the Society’s purpose and opinions. They would visit the sick and injured, and help to organise activities which did not focus on gambling and drinking.

It is difficult to be precise about the impact which the Navvy Mission Society had on the families at work on the Last Main Line. Exactly what proportion of the navvy communities participated is unknown, but the halls and services appear to have been well attended, as were the Sunday School outings for the navvies’ children. The missionaries seem to have been well liked and respected, and many preachers must have succeeded in reducing the petty crime, drunkenness and bad language that had plagued the navvies’ reputation for so long.

Inside a navvy mission room at Staverton, Northamptonshire. Located within a disused outbuilding, these premises would have served those navvies at work on Contract No.4 (Rugby to Woodford). Note the biblical texts placed on the walls, and the simple pulpit from which the ‘message’ was preached
A remarkable photograph, taken around 1897, showing the members of Calvert Navvy Mission Sunday School on an outing in Buckinghamshire. With banners flying and a brass band doubtless striking up a stirring tune, this certainly looks to be a rousing occasion.
A view along the aisle towards an organist practising in the Navvy Mission room at Loughborough. Images depicting the life of Jesus Christ adorn the walls, and the Mission’s motto, ‘Thanks Be To God’ is painted on a wooden shield above the pulpit. These humble surroundings helped to promote the simple, uncompromising message with which the Society hoped to reach their flock.
A gang of navvies pose with a missionary (standing fifth right) during construction of the bowstring girder underbridge that carried the London Extension across Braunstone Gate, Leicester. Most of the missionaries were drawn from the working classes, and despite their much valued role within the Navvy Mission Society, these lay preachers were actively discouraged from seeking ordination

Where the Navvies Lived- Railway Archives

part 5 of series on Navvies

This from the Railway Archives

https://www.railwayarchive.org.uk/where-the-navvies-lived

The building of a railway required a huge amount of physical labour, and the thousands of men employed to construct the route had to live close to the line. Moving from place to place to work on the large number of public works undertaken in Victorian Britain, many navvies chose to lodge with people in nearby towns and villages. However, navvies had a reputation for being unreliable tenants, notorious for not paying rent and for thieving from their landlords. Also, there were simply never enough lodgings to support the large numbers of men at work in the area, especially when the railway was being built in remote locations where there was no sizeable population. Obtaining suitable housing for the navvies and their families therefore became a significant feature of railway construction. This page describes the development of navvy accommodation.

During the period of railway mania in the mid-nineteenth century, navvies lived in invariably poor conditions. Contractors were reluctant to accept the burden of housing their employees, and where navvies didn’t sleep either in lodgings or the open air, they inhabited squalid communal dwellings, or shanties, fashioned from a variety of materials quite often only metres from the line. These shanties were damp, unsanitary, overcrowded hovels with little or no ventilation. They were clearly unhealthy places in which to live, and it was not uncommon for a navvy community to be overtaken by cholera, dysentery or typhus. Following a wave of concern, these appalling conditions began to improve. It was thought that better housing would not only improve the life of the navvies themselves, but would also serve as a civilising influence that would curb their notoriously immoral behaviour. Employers gradually began to accept greater responsibility for the navvies’ wellbeing, and by the end of the nineteenth century contractors were obliged to provide their workers with adequate accommodation.

For the ten thousand navvies at work on the London Extension, contractors erected temporary hutted camps that consisted of a range of cabins made of wood and corrugated metal. The camps were built beside the contractor’s depots and at strategic locations along the route, such as Quainton Road, Charwelton, Helmdon and East Leake. Unmarried navvies lived in dormitories of perhaps fifteen men, whilst foremen and those with families were given a hut to themselves. Although simple by modern standards, these cabins were comparatively comfortable given the harsh conditions that navvies had previously endured. Many were decorated with pictures and ornaments, and most were kept with a diligent pride that observers forty years before would have considered unthinkable.

Although these camps were distinct communities in themselves, and many were even given land with which to grow their own food, most were not totally cut off from society. Local businesses were doubtless very grateful for the opportunity to sell their goods, and the camps were well served by bakers, travelling merchants, grocers and butchers. There are even cases of local people helping navvies with reading and letter writing.

Like the navvies themselves, these unique camps have become a largely forgotten episode in British history. Apart from the numerous myths and tales that continue to linger in the villages touched by these illustrious invaders, evidence of their communities has long since been swept from the landscape.

Any Navvy house remains in Consett Area??

Although navvies were no longer living in these primitive huts by the time the London Extension was built, this watchman’s cabin near Upper Shackborough nevertheless provides a good example of the crude dwellings that navvies were forced to inhabit during the mid-nineteenth century. Wood, corrugated metal, mud, stone and lengths of fabric have all been used to construct this temporary shelter
As many navvies had a nomadic lifestyle, their wives and families had to accompany them as they travelled across the country to work on various engineering projects. These four children are posing for the camera beside their hut at Newton Purcell, Oxfordshire.
By the end of the nineteenth century the navvies’ employers were far more willing to provide their workers with suitable accommodation. Photographed around 1897, these purpose built, temporary wooden huts formed part of the Barley Fields navvy settlement in Oxfordshire. On the right are the garden allotments in which the navvies could grow their own food
Photographed in July 1897, this small white cottage in Bulwell was given over to use as navvy lodgings. The sign on the wall reads ‘The Navvy Mission Good Samaritan Home. One Night’s Free Lodgings – Given Only To Navvies In Tramp’. Despite great improvements in navvy accommodation, some were clearly still enjoying a more nomadic existenc
This photograph, taken at a foreman’s hut near Calvert, illustrates the significant advances that had been made in navvy accommodation during the nineteenth century. Although comparatively primitive by today’s standards, this well kept timber cabin would have been superior to many other working class dwellings of the period.

Macabre Death on the Heaps by Brian Harrison

part 4 of a series on Navvies

Article by Brian Harrison in the Consett Magazine Aug 2015

https://consettmagazine.com/2015/08/03/macabre-death-on-the-heaps-consett-history-99264/

It was a dry spring Saturday evening in April 1863 when James Malone, better known to his friends as Dublin Jack, set out with his friend and landlord George Threw to have a night on the town. James had previously been working as navvy laying the new train line through the Consett Iron Company slag heaps. This work had dried up and he soon found himself employed in setting of the ponds. The work being almost complete he was one of the unfortunate ones and was paid off. However, with money in hand, he decided to make a night of it.

The two men soon found themselves drunk and full of merriment and started on their way back home. James was lodging with George at the Stamfordham, so the two start the journey together heading for a cut through the works. As they reached the end of front street they decided to call in for one last drink in the Stirling Castle. George having literally just the one more left James too it and headed home wishing his friend good night, unfortunately for one it would be his last.

James never reached the Stamfordham. Being the worse for drink he stumbled across the heaps, misplaced his footing and fell into the molten slag poured earlier that day. He was found at 3am by John Cole a Tipper working for the Company who had been drawn to the spot by a strange smell. On finding the charred remains all that was left of James was his legs from the mid-thigh down.

His remains were removed to the Mr Raw’s, Turf Hotel, Consett were they were placed in the cellar until identification could be made. Later on the Sunday James Evans a local Shoemaker made a positive identification and confirmed it was indeed the body of Mr Malone as he had sold him the shoes only 2 days earlier. George also identified him by his stockings and shoes.

An inquest was held and a verdict of “Found Dead” was recorded. An inspection of the place the body had been discovered turned up a shilling and a number of coppers which had obviously come from the unfortunate man’s pocket, ruling out any foul play.

Written by and credit to Brian Harrison Aug 2015

photo thanks to CDHI Archive and Consett Magazine

The Story of the Navvy- Railway Archives

part 3 of series on Navvies

A really good few pages on the Navvies on the Railway Archives website

https://www.railwayarchive.org.uk/navvies

A gang of navvies near Haddenham, Buckinghamshire taken by S.W.A. Newton, the young photographer from Leicester

Although the London Extension owed much of its construction to the use of steam powered machinery, building a railway during the 1890s remained a very labour intensive exercise. Digging cuttings and forming embankments, not to mention the construction of tunnels, bridges, viaducts, stations and goods yards, all required substantial numbers of men with a wide range of skills. Collectively, these men were known as navvies, and they moved with their families to work on engineering projects right across the country. During the height of railway construction in the mid-nineteenth century, more than 250,000 navvies were employed throughout Britain.
The legacy of these travelling communities is all around us: the building of our railways was undoubtedly one of Victorian Britain’s finest achievements. However, despite the navvies’ large contribution to our history, comparatively little is known about their daily lives and experiences. Just as it did when the railways were being constructed, their social isolation and their unsavoury reputation for being fierce, drunken, disruptive and ungodly creates an image of the navvy that is unhelpful when attempting to discover how these people really lived.

Thankfully, S.W.A. Newton, the young photographer from Leicester who captured so much of the Last Main Line’s construction, decided that navvies and their families should form a significant part of his unique photographic record. Using these images to illustrate their story, this section explores where they came from, where and how they lived, their religion and pastimes, and what happened to them after the London Extension was completed.

  • The term ‘navvy’ is now a rather derogatory expression, but from the time the word originated in the mid 1700s until the beginning of the twentieth century, it had a very precise meaning. The term came into existence because England’s commercial canals were known as navigations. When the canals were being built, there was no established corps of what we now know to be civil engineers, and consequently those labourers tasked with building them became known as navigators, or navvies, as they themselves had a greater role in plotting a route for these waterways. When canal construction began to decline, this body of professional excavators found similar work was to be had building the railways. The word navvy followed with them, and the term came to describe any labourer who worked on the many large-scale civil engineering projects undertaken in Victorian Britain.

All parts of the country produced navvies, and although many did travel either alone or with their employers to work on projects right across Britain, contractors also recruited men from the nearby towns and villages close to the construction site. Interestingly, it is often thought that the majority of navvies were Irish, but this is not the case. Large numbers of Irish men did travel to Britain and become navvies, as work was more plentiful and the jobs were invariably better paid, but these represent a minority of the hundreds of thousands of men required for the construction of the railways.

Working mostly with pick and shovel, navvying demanded strength and great physical stamina. A lot of navvies had previously worked as agricultural labourers, and doubtless they were accustomed to hard, tiring work. Even so, it was said that it took up to a year to turn a common labourer into a navvy capable of excavating twenty tons of earth in a day. However, with children of less than ten years old often working as navvies with their fathers and older brothers, and with men navvying well into their sixties and seventies, lighter duties were routinely available.

Navvies working on a tip slope near Swithland, Leicestershire. The photograph is a fine illustration of the large numbers of men required for the Railway’s construction, despite the contractor’s use of steam powered machinery wherever possible. Note the tipping wagons on the right of the picture: it was said that a good navvy could fill eight of these in a single day.

Maintaining an even gradient that would allow the Great Central express trains to run quickly meant that the line could rarely follow the contours of Britain’s undulating landscape. Excavating cuttings and forming embankments were the principal means of overcoming these natural obstacles, and shifting millions of tons of rock and soil from one place to another required thousands of navvies working mainly with pick, shovel and wheelbarrow. By the 1890s, steam powered machinery was used extensively, but most of the work still had to be done by hand. The steam excavators usually made light work of gnawing out the rough shape of the cutting, but men had to follow close behind to shore up the steep and dangerous slopes created by the machines. Navvies would later ‘dress’ the sides of the cuttings and embankments to form even banks of earth.

Large numbers of men were also needed to construct the vast infrastructure of tunnels, bridges and viaducts that were built to negotiate hillsides, cities, roads, rivers and valleys. In common with the professional excavator, the men who built these feats of engineering would also have been considered navvies. It is easy to forget that these were skilled workmen: blacksmiths, steel erectors, brick layers, miners, engine drivers, carpenters and riveters were all essential parts of the workforce that built Britain’s railways. In addition, rock blasting, spoil tipping, ballasting and track laying were some of the routine tasks that might be part of a navvy’s typical day.

For all those employed on the London Extension, working conditions were a marked improvement on those endured by previous generations of navvies. The contractors were established firms who took greater responsibility for their employees’ welfare. Railway construction remained a dangerous business and accidents were an accepted risk of the job, especially when engaged in blasting or building tunnels. It was a long working day, often starting as early at 6.00am, with some men even being required to work during the night. However, the harsh exploitation that typified the railway-mania of the mid-nineteenth century was certainly a thing of the past. Then, the contractors cared little for the well being of the navvies. Men were poorly trained and inadequately supervised and speed, not safety, was the primary concern of their employers. It was said that a man working on the construction of Woodhead Tunnel during the 1840s was at greater risk of injury than a soldier in the field at the Battle of Waterloo!

Viaduct construction at Rugby

The Celtic roots that helped shape Durham by David Simpson- Northern Echo

2nd part on Irish Navvies in County Durham and Consett Area

This time a Northern Echio article by David Simpson- 25th April 2009

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/history/memories/durhammemories/4320084.The_Celtic_roots_that_helped_shape_Durham/?ref=rss

Extract from the article – full article on link above

Most Irish settlers arrived in Durham following the Irish Potato Famine of 1845.

Some came via Liverpool; others via Glasgow or the Cumberland ports. The 1840s, 50s and 60s were a period of rapid industrial development in England, and the failure of the staple Irish potato crop lured many Irish to English industrial regions, such as the North-East.

Only Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and London were more significant than our region in terms of their Irish populations.

Many Irishmen settled in the major towns of our region, finding menial jobs or living by their wits as hawkers.

Others were more fortunate, finding work in factories or shipyards.

Another common occupation was in railway construction.

Irish navigators, or navvies, on the railways were once a familiar sight.

Coal mining is said to have been a major attraction for the Irish in Durham but, in truth, Irishmen had little experience of this work in their homeland.

Early Irish settlers generally avoided pit work and were more likely to be found working in new ironworks at places such as Consett, Witton Park or Tow Law.

Such work was a more attractive proposition and, unlike coal mining, was not dominated by men who were precious of their line of work which often passed from father to son.

The HCSW project team would be delighted to hear from people with relatives you may have come across from Ireland and worked in the Steelworks or local area. Any pictures or stories would be great to see

Derwenthaugh Cokeworks

Derwenthaugh Cokeworks

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the site near Swalwell and Winlaton Mill had been that of Crowley’s Ironworks, which for a time was the largest ironworks in Europe.

The coke works opened on the site in 1928. They were owned and operated by the Consett Iron Company.

The works was situated by the dam marking the upper tidal limit of the river, where Swalwell Juniors F.C. now stands. The CPP which washed and blended the coal prior to the coking process stood at the north-eastern end of the site, along with large storage bunkers. A conveyor fed blended coal from these bunkers into another bunker on top of the ovens which in turn fed the charging car.

The ovens themselves were parallel to the A694, which passes the site, and stood on the area of land now occupied by the two football pitches. There were several railway sidings for both coal and coke between the ovens and the road.

The pusher was on the opposite side of the ovens, and the coke was shoved out on the side nearest the road. The quenching tower was at the north-eastern end of the battery of ovens, near the CPP, and the chimney was at the opposite end. Between the ovens and the river were the power plant with its associated boilers and chimneys, as well as the by-products plant. The latter “scrubbed” the gas produced in the ovens, extracting chemicals such as tar and ammonia, which were piped into storage tanks. The gas was then stored in a tall gas holder to the south-east of the site, near the river.


There was a motive power depot nearby to house the locomotives which shunted the extensive network of NCB sidings and lines which served the works and the lower part of the Derwent valley. In the last few years of the works’ existence, these were all diesel locomotives, but prior to this there were a large number of steam locomotives stabled here.

One of them, No. 41, was the oldest working NCB locomotive in the country, having been built for the Consett Iron Co. in 1883, by Kitson and Co. in Leeds, works No. 2509. It was of the Stephenson Long Boiler design, and unlike the ubiquitous 0-4-0 and 0-6-0 side tanks and saddle tanks which served most of the industrial railways of the north-east, it was a pannier tank, (a layout common on the Great Western Railway, but rarely seen elsewhere). Prior to the demise of its fleet of steam locomotives, Derwenthaugh began to receive locomotives from other NCB sheds, either because they had closed, or the locomotive had become surplus to requirements. Nos. 7 and 59 were two such locomotives, easily identifiable as former NCB Lambton system residents from Philadelphia shed by their narrow curved cabs which allowed them to negotiate a tunnel with very limited clearances on the line to the docks at Sunderland.

Over the years the plant took coal from Chopwell Colliery, and in NCB days, from Marley Hill Colliery, via the nearby Clockburn Drift, as well as the opencast mines which operated in the area via the opencast disposal point at Swalwell. The last local deep-mined coal used at the plant came from the Victoria Seam at Sacriston Colliery near Durham. The coke produced was either sent directly to customers by rail, or shipped from a staithe on the River Tyne, which also had facilities for the storage and shipping of liquid tar and creosote produced at the works. When built, the works were fitted with turbo-alternators. Surplus electricity from the coke works was sent to Chopwell Colliery’s power station.Excess gas from the works was sold to the Newcastle and Gateshead Gas Company. Initially the alternators’ associated boilers were fired by waste gasses from the coking process, but in 1931 the boilers were converted to fire coal because of an increase in demand for the gas from the Newcastle and Gateshead Gas Company

The works were closed in 1986 and the site was gradually cleared and de-contaminated. In addition to the football and tennis clubs on the site of the works itself, the surrounding land (which had been covered in spoil from the Clockburn Drift and waste from the coal-washing process) was cleaned up and landscaped, and is now the site of Derwenthaugh Park.

Source and thanks to Winlaton and District Local History Society

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WinlatonLHS/

New website http://www.winlatonlocalhistorysociety.org.uk/index.asp?fbclid=IwAR0NDQNYO2TjrR643fclJgCU3V9XUiQAQTm5zo0I7serrXJsLdcI0N1bIzE

Also see a lovely post from Alfred the Dog and Rob Moran https://www.facebook.com/groups/294426718178876/permalink/824626315158911/

Alan Godfrey Maps

Alan Godfrey Maps based in Leadgate on the old English Martyrs School Site

These maps are invaluable for historians and genealogists. More than 3,000 titles have been issued in this major series of reprints of Old Ordnance Survey Maps of towns throughout Britain and Ireland.

Most of the maps are highly detailed, taken from the 1/2500 plans and reprinted at about 14 inches to the mile.

They cover towns in great detail, showing individual houses, railway tracks, factories, churches, mills, canals, tramways and even minutiae such as dockside cranes, fountains, signal posts, pathways, sheds, wells, etc.. Each map includes historical notes on the area concerned.

We also publish a series of smaller scale Inch to the Mile maps

Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/alangodfreymaps/?ref=page_internal

Link to their website https://www.alangodfreymaps.co.uk/

Link of the “story” of Alan Godfrey Maps https://www.alangodfreymaps.co.uk/history-timeline.htm

Local County Durham Maps including Consett can be found on this link

https://www.alangodfreymaps.co.uk/durham.htm

Video of a conversation with Alan thanks to Gateshead Libraries

John Verker: Free Talk by Dave Griffiths= Mon 24th May 2021 6pm start

Free Zoom Talk by Dave Griffiths on John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort VC

Monday 24th May 6pm start

All welcome hosted by Leadgate Community History Club

Zoom Link below

Topic: John Verker: local? hero? Talk by Dave GriffithsJoin Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82009956122…Meeting ID: 820 0995 6122
Passcode: 330670

For more information on this interesting character see Facebook event for some interesting content

https://www.facebook.com/events/488742152506393/?active_tab=discussion

Leadgate Community History Club website http://leadgatecommunityhistoryclub.co.uk/

My next part of my training by Alan Swinburne

Following my “interesting” training at Templetown Brickworks Lab my next placement was in the General Lab in the Technical Research Department.The TRD was situated at the top of the Canyon Road and in addition to the General Lab it housed The Metallurgical,Water and Refractory Labs,Chief Metallurgists and Chief Chemists Office,Library ,Workshop,Sample Preparation Room and Section Managers Offices.


          It was a completely different working enviroment from Templetown but I still met a number of characters and was given a very good training carrying out chemical anaylsis mainly of steel using “wet” analysis methods.

It was a fairly strict regime compared to Templetown ,you had to ready to start at 9.00am prompt and were not allowed to leave after work until the Lab was tidy and all the valuable items such as Platinum Crucibles were accounted for and locked away in the safe.

I remember on one occasion a crucible was unaccounted for and we were kept in the Lab for about 15 minutes until the crucible was found – in a Senior Chemists laboratory coat pocket!! 

Although the Lab was open plan (see photographs) it was divided into two areas,one area where all the technicians and trainees worked the other where all the Senior Chemists worked,as one the very Senior Chemists was known as Mexican Ed because of his moustash,that area was known as Mexico and very rarely did we cross the ” border “!


Every  day you were given several samples of steel drillings and had to analysis them for a certain chemical element- Carbon,Sulphur,Phosphorous,Manganese or Silicon.Analysis of elements such as Vandium,Copper,Nickel etc were carried out by the Senior Chemists.


In addition to the analysis of steel products the analysis of Blast Furnace Gases was also carried out.


Although we worked Day Shift in the General Lab  we provided cover for the shift Chemists in the Steelplant Lab and there was always an almighty scramble when the Cover Rota went up as not only did you get Shift Allowance but some was classed as overtime,a welcome addition  to our pay packets.


As I’ve said it was a more sedate enviroment than Templetown,but we still had many social and sporting events,it seemed every couple of weeks there was a reason for a social night out mostly in the Stirling Castle for a Stag Night,Leaving Presentation etc.

Also we were always having in house and Inter Department sporting competitions.It was a time when you made great friends,people who I am still in touch with now

We went on holidays together and one work colleague was my Best Man,worked as my Manager when I was in business after the closure and are still good friends 55 years later.

Also several married couples met in the TRD .It was also customary,as it was in all departments, to have a collection and presentation on the occasion of someone getting married or leaving.The third photo shows such a presentation, and the next photograph shows the successful TRD football team which won the inter department football knockout,a very hotly contested competition .

There was very good footballers who worked in the TRD at that time,one of which was Malcom Young who played scrum half for England Rugby team.(bottom left) 

There were several characters in the TRD,but one who was known to everybody was “Wor” Jacky Herdman. As well as being a Chemist Jacky was a farmer and because of my background he always looked out for me.

I spent many hours with Jacky delivering eggs around the works,and the odd turkey or two at Christmas.!.

Jacky also kept a small flock of sheep near the Raven Pub and when they were ready for market he would “recruit” a couple of us,hide us in the back of his van and set off on the pretence of collecting water  samples at the Fell Coke Works.

After rounding up the sheep our reward was a pint shandy in the Raven.

Happy days!!!. 

Jacky farmed at Esp Green and during a particulary bad winter had difficulty getting to work in his van so he came to work on a horse which he “stabled”in the Generator House.

This made the local Press ,see photograph

He liked the odd pint and I was told that on at least on occasion the horse arrived home before Jacky who had an unfortunate dismount after leaving the pub.


It may appear it was all play but no work but I can assure everyone, that the training and responsibily to get things right were very important,and in between the fun times we worked very hard and also still attended day and night classes at  the Technical College, but there was great comradeship through the whole department , a very enjoyable place to work.

The HCSW project team would like to thank Alan for this latest chapter about his working life at the Consett Steelworks