HCSW supporting WEA with Routes of Social Change Project


Article published in the Newcastle Chronicle June 2022

WEA North East have created an innovative History Walks project called the Routes of Social Change. A set of modular, mapped walking trails through the rich social History of the North East of England.

Having been awarded funding by the Lipman-Miliband Trust and WEA’s own Volunteer Innovation Fund to develop the project to pilot innovative app-guided “audio-visual walks” across the Region.

https://wea-historywalks.org.uk/ link to Routes of Social Change website and more about the walks

The History of Consett Steelworks project team are delighted to be supporting the WEA North East team on this project

We hope many people will explore the walks and be great to see your comments/feedback in due course


Picture Shared

HCSW project team were delighted to see this posted on our Facebook page by Lynn Breen

My sister Sandra Hunter posted this photograph on another page, and I thought this group may be interested. My brother-in-law was Eddie Hunter.

“Photo of Douglas Vernon (centre front) and I think his management team of Consett Iron company. Date approximately 1967/8. My husband was one of the first group of personel to form the Work Study Dept in Consett Iron Company. He’s not on this photo but for some reason I have this photo. My husband really idolized Mr Veron, as he was a great boss. I can’t ask my husband about this as he passed away 3 years ago, but knew he so respected this opportunity and start in management”

posted by Lynn Breen on https://www.facebook.com/History-of-Consett-Steelworks-100863484611153

Can you add any names or have any memories of working with or for Douglas Vernon

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.

Learning your Trade- Apprenticeships

The learning of a trade through apprenticeship, in which a young person was placed with and formally bound to a master, has roots way back in medieval times. By the 16th century it was generally accepted as a means of providing technical training to boys and a very few girls in a wide range of occupations.

Before the introduction of this legislation, apprenticeships were regulated by the guilds of trades and craftsmen.

An apprentice, often starting as young as 10 or 12, would learn his trade over a period of years — often seven, but it could be longer or shorter than this — with his master being responsible for his board, lodging and clothing as well as teaching.

The 1563 Act was abolished in 1814, as the popularity of apprenticeships waned “due to conditions in factories and exploitation of young apprentices”, according to a House of Commons research paper from 2009.

Apprenticeships in certain trades, particularly those which required practical skills, remained popular in subsequent decades.

There were around 340,000 apprentices per year in the early twentieth century, according to an Institute of Directors (IoD) policy paper from 2003.

By the mid-1960s — “the high water mark for apprenticeship in Britain” according to the IoD — roughly 35 per cent of male school leavers aged 15 to 17 went on to do an apprenticeship.

Source https://feweek.co.uk/history-of-apprenticeships/

Did you or family do an apprenticeship at the Consett Steelworks?

Did you teach the apprentices?

The History of the Consett Steelworks project team would be delighted to learn about your experiences, hear your stories and see your pictures

please comment or email historyofconsettsteelworks@gmail.com

Steelworks Apprentices 1964
Newspaper article on the opening of Consett Technical College funded by CIC

School Steelworks Walk offer

Pictures of School Steelworks Walk guided by Rob Moran in this case for a class from Lanchester EP School

The History of Consett Steelworks (HCSW) project team would like to extend an invite to all local schools to get in touch to discuss arranging a School Steelworks Walk

Rob Moran from our project team has now guided two walks for classes from Lanchester EP and is ready to guide more children to give them a tour of Steelworks site

The walks are FREE and are part of the ethos of the project to pass on the memories and history to the next generation, who hopefully be the next custodians and volunteers

Either comment, pass on to contacts or email juddrichard1976@gmail.com