I remembered that somewhere in the OH's old photo backup disks were pictures we had taken way back in 2003 on a long weekend holiday to Durham. That was also the year we went to Beamish - and we are planning a return visit there later this year. I was surprised to find so few photos of that holiday - I don't think we had mentally converted from film to digital at that point, so instead of snapping everything, like we do now, we appear to have been more selective. I had wanted to go to Crook and Witton le Wear, places my ancestors had lived.
|The route - follow red stars from Helmington Row to Witton le Wear |
and green stars back to Crook (map from Bing Maps)
The first stop was Helmington Row, a small hamlet up the hill from Crook. The bus comes from the east on the A690 from Durham. This was where my grandfather William Satchel Hutton (the mariner's grandson) was born in 1905 - but we couldn't find "Church Hill, Helmington Row" as noted on his birth certificate - there isn't even a church, although there is a Church Street. Further investigation today on Digimaps and in the 1911 census summary books on Ancestry has shown where I went wrong. Helmington Row is the name of the district, which spreads west almost into the centre of Crook itself. Church Hill is actually where the church with a tower symbol is just above my last green star in the centre of Crook.
|Church Hill, Helmington Row, Crook in the 1890s (from Digimaps)|
|Extract from the 1911 census summary books (from Ancestry)|
Although my great grandfather, Joseph Bormond Hutton, is listed as a Coal Miner on the 1911 census in the 1901 census he is a Grocer's shopman in Crook and family stories say he was the manager of the Co-op there eventually. As he was born in Sunderland he must have been sent to Crook or taken a job in Crook to further his progress in the Co-op, it follows on as we know he was a Grocer's Apprentice in Sunderland in 1891. He and Sarah Ellen Nutley married in Hendon, Sunderland in 1900 suggesting that she was living there at that time - did she go to Sunderland to go into service? Is that how they met? Did he take the job in Crook so she would be nearer to her family? They had six children, all born in Crook between 1901 and 1918, four girls and two boys, my grandfather being the older of the two boys.
Back in 2003 - we walked down some footpaths towards the next port of call, Constantine Farm - heading towards a Good Beer Guide pub, the Red Lion at North Bitchburn. Checking in the current Guide I see the pub is still listed with guest beers from smaller North Eastern breweries and a reputation for good food.
|My family tree showing the parents and grandparents of my maternal grandfather's mother, Sarah Eleanor Nutley|
|A map snip showing the bank below Constantine (Farm) 1890s - Howden Colliery (from Digimaps)|
|Railway Street, Howden le Wear (from Google Maps)|
On Digimaps (which I can access as an Open University student) I can jump back and forth by decades to compare maps. Jumping back to the 1882 map Howden le Wear and the main bits of the colliery disappear! There's just a bit of mine where it says Old Drift on the map above at the top centre. Jumping forwards by the 1920s all there is left are the marks of the railway tracks on the hillside and a row of cottages at the foot of the hill called Howden Colliery - that didn't last long did it? The Durham Mining Museum website says that Howden Colliery was mainly worked between the 1880s and its closure in 1907. North Beechburn (or Bitchburn) Colliery just to the south appears to have had a longer life span - 1845 to 1967, possibly the men moved to there - they appear to be owned by the same overall company.
There's a pub called the Green Tree in the Good Beer Guide for Howden le Wear now, it wasn't in the book for 2003, so there's one to aim for on a future visit. I may not be actually rewalking this journey today, but I'm tired and I think it's time to stop. More tomorrow maybe.