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Thornley memories

Here are memories of Thornley and the local area. You can start now: Add your own Memory of Thornley or a Thornley photo.

Illy Owley

My name is Andrew Tate, I was born in Thornlaw South at my grandparents house in 1944. I was a twin and my brother was called Alexander [Aleck]. I have quite a few memories of Thornley, I remember watching a cricket match in the Illey Owley. The players asked my father Billy, to be the umpire and during the game a dog ran onto the pitch and cocked it`s leg on the wicket and ran off, can`t remember the score. We used to try and catch Dragonflies on a pond. We used to pinch turnips out of a field at the top of the Illy Owley but one year they started to fill it in with colliery waste and all the turnips went brown. We used to slide down the pit heap on old shovels. My cousin was called Margaret Williams, her dad was run over by tubs at Kelloe pit, and later died. There was only one comunal tap in the street. We were in the picture house one... Read more

Pit Village in my Youth

My name is Ken Orton and I lived in Thornley from 1947 until 1974, the year I married. I was born in Shadforth but my parents moved from there to Thornley when I was about one month old. We lived at 72, Thornlaw North until 1967 and then moved to 2, St Cuthbert Road, where I lived until I met my wife and married.
My childhood in Thornley was a marvellous time and I would not have liked to have lived anywhere else than in a pit village when I was growing up. Although we didn't have much, because my dad was a pitman and there were six children in the family, everybody we knew was the same as us and so we never missed what we never had. We always had enough to eat and presents for birthdays and Christmas, although not as much as bairns nowadays. Even my bairns did better that I did but, since we didn't expect to have a great deal, we were never... Read more

Good Fun With Pal Danny

I used to visit my pal Danny Parker during the school holidays,his family moved to thornley from rossmere way .Hartlepool when we were in Rossmere junior school I recall the little house 8 Galt street with back yard and low walls.we used the fields near pit were the beck or stream ran through and we found old army hats around the area.I used to get the durham bus up that went through village and it cost 1 shilling and 8 old pennies,if you went to durham it was half a crown

Early Years in Thornley

I lived in Thornley, in East Lea, up to the age of 9 when we moved to Newton Aycliffe. I have a vague memory of some sort of annual carnival at which a man disguised as a black warrior terrified all the youngsters. Can anyone fill me in on what was happening? If anyone remembers me please get in touch!

My Youth in Thornley

I was born at 128 Thornlaw, North Thornley. I am one of 8 children. My perants where Mr & Mrs Coles, Mary Ellen & Eric. My brother's names, Eric, Charles, Lawrance and Joseph. Sisters are Margaret, Mary, Pauline and Sheila. My mam worked in the W.M.Club waiting on. My dad worked for Eden Buses. I went to St Godrics R.C school the teacher was called Mr Smith & the Priest was Father McNeil and I went to the R.C Church which was just outside my front door. I remember playing games i.e knocky nine doors, mables in the backyard and getting two used cans, putting string though them and walking on them like stilts. My two older sisters looked after us young ones. When our parents were at work, my two older sisters got the coal from the back and put it in a old slvercross pram to take it up the path to the coal bunker. We had... Read more

Thornley Village

My great grandparents were born and raised in Thornley Village, Tow Law. Geo E Lowson & Margaret Hunter. Their son, Thomas Lowson was killed in WWI & his name is inscribed on the war memorial. My mom is Margaret Britton. I visited Thornley Village with My gran, Isabella Lowson Britton in 1982. I believe they lived in the 'School House' built 1824. I have enjoyed reading your memories, and if anyone remembers the Hunters or Lowsons I would be happy to hear from you.

My Birth Place 1944

I was born in the spring of 1944 in my mother's parent's home, Thomas and Eveline Bowes who then lived in Thornlaw South. I visited them often, and loved to go for walks and going to the pitures at the bottom of Thornley with my grandfather. I remember the ice cream cart. Yes it was a yellow cart pulled by a horse. The ice cream was good, and the monkey's blood made it even better. I remember the pit heap and the gassy gutter, and catching tidlers as we called them. I will check my album for photographs to post.


I too remember the days when when I and my friends would get the bus to Wheatley Hill and go to the Embassy Ball Room looking for romance. Of course we would also go to other nieghbouring villages but the Hill was always my favourite, the girls were much prettier and friendlier and besides it was the shortest walk. Ralph Hughes.

Thornley in my Youth

Further to my memories I spoke of before, I can remember games we used to play like split the kipper, tally ho, blonk, and a lot more. The summer months were great, we would go over the moors and spend all day over there, if we were hungry we would take a turnip from a field and eat it. There was a place called the plantation where we had a swing, I remember one day the rope snapped when a lad called Lloyd was on it, he broke his arm. The farmer took him home on his tracter and he went to hospital where they put a pot on. Of course we treated him like a hero and we all signed his pot which his mother scrubbed clean and gave him a ear-full. It was shortly afterwards that we were playing split the kipper, a game were you had to throw a knife between some body's legs and stick it in the ground. To our dismay someone missed and hit... Read more

Memories of Thornley

I was born in Thornley in 1949 and attended St Godric's until I was 15. I remember Thornley as a community that went through good times and bad. When the pit closed it affected everybody, shops closed and young people moved to Peter Lee. Reading Ken Orton's memories brought a lot back to me, I knew Ken and Tom as a youth, among a lot of others. When I was 21 I married a local girl, Doreen Bell, who sadly died Feb 2011. I Now live in Peter Lee but still have family in Thornley. The only sad thing I remember is slagheaps that seemed to surround Thornley and were a scar on the surrounding countryside. Can anybody remember the Hilly Owly?

Childhood in The 1950s

Hi, My family the Burgins lived in Thornley when I was younger and a lot of them still live there now. We lived in Hartlepool Street in an old public house. We used to go down to Fleming's shop for the penny lollies. Our house backed onto the old pit and we used to walk along the lines with my grandad Charlie. My nanna and granda lived in Galt Street and I was always down there playing in Garden Terrace with my friend Tanya. We played all of the usual games, muggles and kick the can, knocky nine doors. We used to go to the Girls Brigade which was run by Mrs Griffiths, although boys and girls used to go. It was just a bunch of kids going nuts literally, lol, poor Mrs Griffiths. There was the community centre where there was discos, the one for young kids was on a Monday. We seemed to always have something to do, and if you didn't, your mam would certainly find something. ... Read more

Gilling Family

Hi, can anyone remember my grandad and his family? His name was Andrew Gilling, I think was a pit caller.

Faint Remembered Memories

I was born in 70 Thornlaw North in 1945, my parents were Herbert and Josephine Mary Cumming and my sister was Joan. I believe that the people next door were the Dunnets (Salvation Army). I used to play with Eileen Toy who must have lived close by ! Up the street lived the Crisp family. Mr Crisp had a ride-on steam-engined railway track, great fun. The milk was delivered by horse and cart and ladled into your own containers. If lucky enough to get an ice cream I always had "monkeys blood" on mine. We moved away to Washington when I was 5 and I have only visited a few times and not for a long time in the intervening 60 years. I left the North East at 16, to see the world via the RAF, but eventually married a girl from Jesmond. All families long time gone.


My mother has many memories of Thornley as a pupil at Thornley Colliery Primary School, and other village life, her name was OLIVE STANLEY. She lived at Colinwood Street, No1, with her mother Ethel Tonkin and step father Eligha Tonkin and step brother and sisters. She is 88 years old. Her memory of being a pupil at school was winning a district award for penmanship (copperplate writing). Her writing today is still of a high standard. Edward Stanley

Memories of Thornley

Having read Kenneth Ortons' memories, it brought back visions in my mind of the good times growing up in the loveliest little village I know. When I was born in 1947 my mam and dad lived with my grandma at 60 Thornlaw North so there is a chance that me and Ken may have grown up playing football and cricket in the street together. I do remember the mountain glide to this day I have never seen one as high as the one in Thornley, I wonder if it is still there, or have the Health and Safety idiots taken it down! We lived with my nan for about two years I think, then we moved into one of the new steel house that had just been built in Hillside Crescent, we moved into number 19 and it's garden backed onto my nan's old house. All the kids used to roam the fields, nobody would chase you off because you never damaged anything, we all respected property when we were... Read more

Growing up in Thornley

I was born in Durham in 1969 and grew up in Thornley until I left in 1985 and moved to South Africa. I have been back a few times over the years and have seen many changes my father still lives in Thornley and will never leave the place now.
I still have great memories of the place and a lot of my school friends still live there.

Memories of County Durham

Where I Lived

Front Street c1951, Wheatley Hill
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Hi, my name is Howard David Williams. I used to go to Wheatley Hill School. I used to live at 4, the Avenue, lived there since 1966 when I was born.

Wheatley Hill

Hi, my name is Shirley Cross, my name was Shirley Stokoe and I lived in Thornley. My dad's nme was Robert Stokoe, he has now passed away. My memories of Wheatley Hill are nice. I remember spending a lot of time there growing up. I used to go to Wheatley Hill School up on the hill, you could see it from Thornley, and I used to love the school, and the school in the front street of Wheatley Hill. I remember we had to have different lessons each day so we used to have to leave one school and walk to the other school, it was fun. Also I remember the pyjama factory that I used to work at just over the road from school. My best friend was Barbara Vest, now known as Barbara Lard. I love her lots in friendship. Wheatley Hill to me is just one of my favorite memories, I love it there xxx. Thanks to all of my lovely friends wherever they are xxx. Shirley... Read more

Not A Care in The World.

If anyone were to ask me when I was most happy, I would have to go back some considerable time to those years spent in Wheatley Hill, more especially the late 1940s all of the 1950s and early 1960s. Truly magical times, as I'm sure a lot of those my age will agree. It always seemed to snow at Christmas time and the 6-week summer school holidays were always fine and sunny, at least I think they were! Not for us, the now compulsory TV, games console or I Pod, no sir. Pit heaps, quarries, home made sledges or go-karts were far more exciting and healthier too! Short excursions to exotic places like Crimdon, Seaburn or Seaton Carew seemed far more appealing than Benidorm or Orlando, but even better had to be a weekend to far-away Blackpool for the Illuminations! What fun, a very long journey on a Friday night, first to spot the Tower won half-a-crown. Two nights in a boarding house, a show or two, maybe a trip... Read more

My Dad Ronald Peel, Born 1932, Still With us

My dad Ronald Peel was born in 1932 in Wheatley Hill. He lived in Burns Street and he had a brother Tom and two sisters, Florence and Mary. My dad stayed in Wheatley Hill till about 1954, he married Jean Blenkinsop of Cassop. I loved visiting my grandma Peel, called Frances, and my granda called Thomas, who died about 1964. I visited the heritage centre 6 months ago and I am now trying to trace the Peel side but I cannot find any info, my great-granda Tom Peel lived in the railway coaches, even my own father cannot remember his wife's name, terrible eh. My grandma Frances Peel lived her last years in Johnson Street in a bungalow and died 1978. My aunt Mary lived her whole life in Wheatley Hill and married a Leslie Smith, she had one adopted son called Jerald who is now deceased as well as Mary and Les. Florence is still alive and lives in Bishop Auckland. If anyone has any memories of the Peels... Read more

Happy Holidays

Although I was born in Coventry in 1953 my mum and her family were from Wheatley Hill and I spent many happy holidays there visiting my grandparents, aunts, uncles and many cousins. My grandparents were Joseph and Mary Parker who lived at 5, 5th Street. They had 9 children who were Elsie, Annie (my mum) who was known as Nancy, Bob, Bill, twins Joe and Elaine (she died as a toddler), twins Jack and Thomas (Thomas died age 16) and Newrick. My stepfather's parents (surname Oswald) lived at 1, Wheatley Terrace and his sister Anne was married to Albert Baldasera who owned the ice cream parlour at the top of Front Street. I have great memories of times spent with my many cousins (some of who still live in Thornley), and how I used to cry when it was time to return home to Coventry! I remember walking between the two villages regularly,going down to the bottom shop for bubble gum and the shows on the fields just behind that shop. Also Uncle Jack... Read more

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