© Howden-le-Wear History Society 2015

101 Facts

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Howden-le-Wear History Society
51.   Steam power was widely used until the coming of electricity. 52. West Beechburn Colliery in Hargill Road was destroyed by a spectacular fire one Sunday afternoon. 53. There was nobody working in the pit at the time and there were no casualties. 54.   This pit never reopened and underground equipment it there to this day. 55. An incident at North Beechburn Colliery involved the death of all but one of the pit ponies when the roof fell in on to the underground stables. 56. It is recorded that on the 5th December 1864 James Bland, aged 12, a driver at Low Beechburn, died after being crushed by a tub. 57. The first railway branch from Bishop Auckland to Crook passed through Howden in a deep cutting. 58. Originally worked by the Stockton & Darlington Railway Company,  Howden station house was No. J2. 59. The station was named "Beechburn (for Howden-le-Wear)" to avoid confusion with other Howdens, such as those on Tyneside of Humberside. 60. A stationary steam engine as Thistleflat was at first used to assist, by means of a rope, the trains struggling to climb the steep 1 in 43 gradient from Howden to Crook. 61. On 8th March 1965, as a result of the Beeching cuts, all passenger trains ceased to run beyond Bishop Auckland. 62. Freight was withdrawn on 5th July 1965, and shortly afterwards the track was lifted between Wear Valley Junction and Crook. 63. Howden station bridge is at Beamish Open Air Museum, as part of the Rowley Station exhibit. 64. One of the first attempts at opencast mining took place during then 1950s at Hargill Hill Backwood.  The land was never properly reinstated. 65. During the process, one of the finest examples of an early "Bell Pit" was destroyed. 66. Land for s sports centre at Greehhead was donated by Mrs Carew-Shaw of Smelt House. 67. In 1938 the Duke of Kent visited Greehhead to open the new sports facilities. 68. The first day school was a charity run elementary school opened by the Non-Conformist Church. 69.   The Wesleyan Day School opened on 18th August 1856. 70. In 1877 the North Bedburn Board had Howden-le-Wear Board School built at a cost of £3,600.  This would equate to approximately £3,708,000 in today's terms. 71.   In 1932 Mr Joseph Ducker was appointed the first headteacher. 72.   Miss Christison was appointed headmistress of the infant department. 73.   In 1932 the infant and junior departments amalgamated. 74.   Mr Naylor was the headteacher then. 75.   Alterations and additions were made to the school building in 1935. 76. In 1979 a prefabricated building was erected in the school yard to accommodate two classes. 77. Councillor W. R. Nattrass opened a completely new school on 26th June 1974. 78. Land for St Mary's Church was bought from H. Chaytor of Witton Castle, and building began in 1868. 79.   The church was part of the parish of Fir Tree. 80.   Mrs Spencer of Helmington Hall set the foundation stone in 1869. 81.   The church cost £1,400 to build and could seat 260. 82. A man fell and was killed while moving the church belfry from the east to the west end of the church. 83.   The first vicar was the Reverend John Mason in 1869. 84.    In 1884 a church hall was built near the gateway. 85. There was an extensive fire in the church on the 18th/19th September 1965. 86. The church hall was demolished in 1994. 87. The Wesleyan Chapel in High Street was established in 1868, cost £533, and seated 250. 88. The original building opposite built in 1854 cost £132/7/6 and was retained as a school room. 89. People paid 6d (2½p) to rent a pew in 1856. 90. Severe damage was caused by fire in 1906 when the organ crashed into the main body of the church. 91. For 40 years Mr Matthew Thompson conducted Sunday School Anniversary services. 92. The chapel closed as a place of worship in 1974 and was taken over by an organ society to accommodate a restored Wurlitzer organ. 93. It is now the New Victoria Centre, hosting regular organ concerts. 94. The Primitive Methodist Church in Bridge Street was established in 1870, cost £560 and seated 400. 95. The present building was erected in 1903. 96. At one time a large tent was erected at the top of Church Street for a Sunday School Anniversary. 97. In 1975 the Methodist and Wesleyan Chapels joined and continue to worship at Bridge Street. 98. Gas was introduced to the village in 1993. 99. The Village Community Centre occupied the old school in Hargill Road from 1974 until its closure in 2015. 100. There were five public houses in the village, but now there is only one. 101. Howden-le-Wear Local History Society still meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7pm in the Village Hall.  Everyone is welcome.
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