Horden 1930s - a Memory of Horden.

I was born in 1928 at 20, Cotsford Crescent, the third son of a miner William Holmes. All his brothers were miners and myself and my brothers worked underground. I remember Lumleys shop as it was not far away and Mr. Lumley refused to sell me a penny box of matchs that my dad had sent me for as I was only six years old. It was about that time when a Scottish Regiment marched by to the sound of the bagpipes, they camped for the night at Blackhall. They were on the way to Hartlepool for sailing to India. I think it was 1933 when the airship R101 flew over Horden out to sea on its way to the Continent.
I went to the infant school along Sunderland Road, on the way I passed the garage, it sold Cleveland petrol at 11.5 pence (old money) a gallon. I can remember an uncle taking me along to the colliery one Friday to get his wages when a handcart went by, pushed by two lads with a man lying on it, he had been injured down the pit and they were taking him to the cottage hospital.
Another memory I have is of a German sailing ship loaded with wood props for the mines getting blown onto the rocks north of Horden Point, it was there quite some time before they managed to get it off. At that time Horden beach was quite an atractive place, clean with bushes and trees on the way down the road, we could lie on the banks and listen to to skylarks and other birds and bees.
After my mother died and Dad remarried we moved to 22 Old Sixth Street. The houses were full of cockroaches, the toilet, coal house and copper for boiling and washing clothes were at the far end of the yard, the water tap was also outside.
Four of the lads I knocked about with were buried and died while digging a cave in the side of the sand banks. They all lived in Old Sixth or Sevent Street. I can only remember one name, I think it was Gordon Purvis.
We moved from there to 56 Fourth Street. One of the former tenants had been killed down the pit. It was 1938 when my dad became a deputy at the pit and my brother Bill went down, aged 14. In 1940 Bill left and joind the army with a lot of his school mates, my other brother Ron went down the pit aged 14. I think it was that year a German plane dropped one bomb on the pit, killing one man.
On my 14th birthday I was about to go to school (22nd June) but after having a slice of bread and jam for breakfast, my dad who was on nightshift said "You are 14 today, get up to the pit and get a job". I was down the pit just after 6.00am the next morning. After being initiated by having my hair shorn with compressed air shears and my privates smothered in pony dung, I was given a pony called Popeye, he had lost one eye in an accident. We became good pals, pony and I. Four months later we left Horden and moved to Arley in Warwickshire. There were a lot of Horden men working at the pit.
I worked down Arley pit for 20 years, becoming a deputy then acting overman before leaving.

A memory shared by Albert Holmes on Jan 27th, 2011.
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