PART SIX

ENTERTAINMENT AND LEISURE

 

During the 1926 strike, Thorne Hall opened the park, which was then part of their grounds, for open air dancing to music by the Temperance and Thorne Town Bands.  This raised funds for a soup kitchen which supplied those who were entitled, with good nourishing soup.  Bands have played there regularly since that time.

The Moorends Welfare Ground was initially named the Welfare Park, known for many years by the locals as the 'rec'.  It was provided by the owners of the pit for recreation for the miners and their families.

The first photograph of the Welfare Park in the 1920s

There was a cricket field, tennis courts, a bowling green and a football pitch, where later, a spectators stand was erected.  Serious football took place here, the legendary, Ted Sagar, started his football career in Moorends.

A 'Free Library' was set up in the buildings next to what was then Bennet's Cycle shop, now the newsagents, in the Bullring (The Circle) in 1937.  Mr and Mrs Barker were the librarian and caretaker until 1953.  John and Linda Pickering took over from them, undertaking the same duties.

This picture was taken in the early 2000s, just a few years before this the library looked quite modern and smart. The large, boarded up sectioned window that can be seen above the entrance doors glittered with pretty glass, the light from this shone down on to a mural in the reception area.  The main part of the library was also very light and bright, with a parquet high gloss wooden floor with under floor heating.  Outside, there was a large car park with lawns and shrubberies also small, walled rose gardens by the side and to the front of the entrance.

Linda Pickering working at the shelves

After the new library and caretakers bungalow was built and opened in the Bullring (The Circle) in 1965, the old library rooms became known as The Labour Rooms until the early 2000s. 

Linda and John Pickering moved into the caretaker's bungalow and Linda became the first assistant in charge/caretaker in the new library which was a part time branch.  This library closed in late April 2005,  moving the location to The Hedgerows Children's Centre ( Sure Start) on Marshland Road and opening on the 5th May 2005.

 

THE BIG SCREEN COMES TO THE VILLAGE

 

           

These pictures show the digging of the first turfs to mark the place where the new cinema was to be built.  The man in the flat cap, second from the left is Ralph Aitchison, owner and manager of the cinema and great grandfather to Malcolm Smith of Moorends and Peter Morris of Thorne.

Outside and inside of the Empire Cinema in all it's glory in the 1930s

The building of the new 'talkie theatre' was started in 1930, by 1931 the Cinema was completed, in all it's finery and ready to open for the public.  A local newspaper stated :-

 

A fine new super cinema constructed particularly with all the latest improvements for the  presentation of 'talkies'.  The building is of lofty character with a fine frontage to the main road of the township and has accommodation for 100 people.

The stage measures 25ft by 50ft.  A special feature is that all the seating is of the tip-up style with special 'spring' chairs.  During the interval the auditioriam will be well illuminated on the latest 'floodlight' design and those present will have the opportunity to admire the remarkable novel scenic designs which have been done by the noted artist, Mr Leach of Queens Road in Doncaster.

Two scenes depict in realistic style on each wall.  Great galleons of other days anchored in harbour and afloat near the shore and are crowned with a castle and embattlements and peaceful sylvan scenery.

The WRCC have tested the safety first principles to their satisfaction.  An excellent feature is the ventilation, which includes a 6ft fan.  With regards to the heating system, there hot water radiators at suitable points.

The 'talkies' programmes will commence on the 26th May 1931; it will be on the Western Electric Sound System.

The land was purchased by Mr Ralph Aitchison, he employed Messrs W Lazenby and Co., Ferryhill, who was the main building contractor.  The architect was Mr W R Kellett of York.  The owner and manager of the cinema is Mr R Aitchison, late of the group of Consett Theatres Ltd.

 

Unfortunately, the cinema was badly damaged by fire on the 27th February 1952 and was never re-opened as a cinema again.

The Catholic Church purchased the land and remains; St Joseph's Hall rose from the ashes!  The building was then renovated and had very stylish and magnificent features.  It was used as a dance hall, for all types of dancing, accommodating young and old.

The Friday night dances were very popular, held between 9pm and 1am weekly also 12 midnight while 4am on a monthly basis, the local popular pop group, The Daybreakers, would entertain all night through.  On Sunday afternoons, the 2 while 5pm dances for the younger teenagers were led by another popular pop group of the times, The Wanderers.

Occasionally, celebrities such as Chris Braber's Jazz Band, Freddie and the Dreamers, Dave Berry and many more up and coming stars would play at especially arranged dances. Bingo sessions also took place at certain regular times.

The hall was finally closed down in the early 1980s, as the profits had started to decline.  The building was demolished and the land sold for a nominal fee.

The Blue Bell was the first and only public house in Moorends in the late 1800s.  According to maps dated around 1840;  it was situated very near, if not, on the site of the railway crossing, to the right side of the railway crossing, to the right side of Marshland Road, travelling north, when Moorends was just a small farming village. 

The first club to be built in the village was the Miner's Welfare in the late 1920s, the colliery's NUM banner was stored under the stage here.  The club was demolished in 2004 to make way for the new Hedgerows Children's Centre (Sure Start). 

The Miner's Welfare Club or 'Pit Club' 

The first public house of the new colliery era was the Moorends Hotel, built in early 1926.  Later in 1926 it had to be closed due to a fire; it re-opened in 1927. 

 

 

Arthur Wilson was the proprietor and was affectionally known as 'Uncle Arthur'; he won this title by running a food kitchen and becoming an unofficial pawn broker, during the general strike of 1926.  

There was a gym at the rear of Uncle Arthur's which was very popular with the 'would be' athletes in Moorends. 

In the late 1950s through to the 1960s, Uncle Arthurs was very popular for its famous celebrities.  The place would be packed out most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, people would come from far and wide.  The Baron Knights, Shane Fenton and the Fentones, Alvin Stardust and Dave Berry were just some of the entertainers who attracted attention.

The Buffalo Club was built on the land that accommodated the previous RAOB lodges.  It was opened in 1931 by Lord Gainford. They too had a concert room, where 'turns' entertained the public, bingo sessions were also held here, during the 1960s and onwards. A room was provided for committee meetings.

The British Legion - now known as The Comrades Club, developed from the local billiard hall, it was officially opened in early 1931 by Lord Harewood after an extension was built, bringing the club building nearer to Marshland Road, it has been more extensively extended since then.  A bungalow was built in the late 1950s where the Steward and Stewardess lived.  Here the concert room at the rear of the building also had entertainers and held bingo sessions and committee meetings.

 The Social Club, also extensively extended since opening in the early 1930s, held committee meetings for various organisations, entertainment and bingo sessions were also held there.

All the clubs would join together at various times of the year for social functions, such as sport events, galas when the Queen of the May was chosen and crowned.  Most of these took place at the 'rec'.

The children were given Christmas party's and outings in the summer, usually either to Bridlington or Cleethorpes.  Marshland and Alexander Road would be lined by twentyfive to thirty buses.  Some of these supplied by Cyril Cadman's bus company of Moorends.  A few of the buses were reserved especially for children.  Any children whose father's didn't contribute by paying subs to the clubs, for one reason or another, were on standby in case there were any spare seats.  They were all usually accommodated somehow.

Most of Moorends' children were able to say that they had seen the sea.  A good day was had by all and it was rounded off by making a stop about half way home for a fish and chip supper.

The Winning Post was built and opened in 1931.  There were dances in the concert room, every weekend and on bank holidays.  People could find entertainment here most nights of the week.  There were several rooms that were used for paying guests and during the war, soldiers were often allowed to convalesce here, being a safe and peaceful location. 

Photograph of the Winning Post taken by Darley's Brewery in 1932, below, a photograph of the concert room,

note the secenery painted on the wall panels.

 

 The famous Thorne Colliery Silver Prize Brass Band and the Moorlands Male Voice Choir that was set up in 1928, first practised in the Miners Welfare Club.  Later, there was a special 'band room' set up adjoining the barnes on Grange Road.

Thorne Colliery's very own Silver Prize Brass Band

Colliery and NUM marches were organised.  Whole families were transported to various Yorkshire towns and cities in order to join other collieries.  They proudly marched in the parades behind Thorne Colliery's banner, led by the Colliery's Silver Prize Brass Band.

 Marsh Lane was a wide lane with hedges along each side in days gone by.  Children would play here except when the Romany travellers came to stay.  They drove their wagons, pulled by horses into the lane and would set up a camp a little further up the lane from the Winning Post or on North Common Road, around the time when the travelling fair was in the area.

Every year, with the exception of the war years,in June or July, the travelling fun fair came to the village and set up behind the first stretch of shops, off the left side of Marshland Road, travelling north, to an extensive 'ash and cinder' area, this area is now a private dwelling estate, named Moorside Court.

It was a very popular venue, with it's bright lights and loud music and brought lots of extra trade to local businesses.

Before radio and TV most of the miner's families would get together, especially on summer evenings, in their homes and gardens.  Apparently, they would sit outside long after dark, talking and singing - and getting a little drunk - even the children would join in or play their games.

The radio became popular in the mid to late 1930s, television in the early 1950s.                                                      

                                             

                                       Typical TV of the early 1950s                                                      Typical Wireless of the 1930s

The Radio Rental Company, the corner building at the junction of Marshland, Coulman and King Edward Roads, known locally as Relay Corner, supplied and charged accumulators for radios and later rented televisions.

Most of these proud owners would allow children to go into their homes and watch their televisions; some would charge the children a penny for the pleasure.

In 1953, just previous to the Queen's Coronation , Radio Rentals had so many requests for televisions that they had to order more sets in to satisfy demand.  The day was declared a public holiday and there were lots of celebrations and parties in the village.  The weather forecast for the 2nd June was overcast, with the threat of rain.  Celebrations were held under cover, in some cases under canvas.  In a radio broadcast to the nation, the Queen declared, "Throughout all my life and with all my heart, I shall strive to be worthy of your trust".

Grange Square Coronation Celebrations

Micklethwaite Road Coronation Celebration in the Winning Post

In the mid 1950s, the Old Folk's Centre was built, known today as the Miners' Welfare, next to St Wilfrith's Church.  The miners' paid for most of the building by means of agreeing to the price of one brick per week to be deducted from their wages. First and foremost this building was used for the recreation of the more mature members of the community.

Sewing and knitting circles were held here; Speakers came to give interesting talks from all walks of life.  Old time dancing, bingo and whistdrives also took place here. It has been one of the most useful public buildings in Moorends.

Old Folks Bungalow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

        

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