Houghton-le-Spring at War

Wartime Memories from Elizabeth Stevens nee Richardson
Edited by Paul Lanagan, 2009
Memories from 1939

Staying Safe with Mum

Today I had a walk along Newbottle Street... oh, it has so changed from the days that I remember! The Broadway is broader, but the park is still there. The premises that Mr Crosthwaite had his dental surgery in is still there, but probably unoccupied. There are so many changes in the shops that I can't begin to tell you, however the Post Office is still in the place where it was moved to, the old telephone exchange. The cinemas are all shops now. Copyright © Books of the North 2009.

I was 4 years old when the War started and was living in number 2, Stocksfield Terrace, behind the Black Lion pub on Sunderland Street. There were three cottages in total and we lived in the middle one [see other memories].

Stocksfield Terrace was just off Sunderland Street, Houghton-le-Spring

I can remember Mum sitting in the living room listening to the radio and hearing the news that we were at war with Germany. It didn't mean much to my sister and myself at the time, except that our Mum was afraid for her four brothers, all of whom were called up before the war was finally over. Copyright © Books of the North 2009.

My older two uncles went away immediately and Mum wrote them letters every week and sent them parcels whenever she could. One was in Dunkirk and the other was in both Burma and the desert at different times.

At home when they first sounded the 'siren', it frightened us because it was so close - just at the side of the 'Lake' grounds. Dad had to erect the air raid shelter in the front garden. He covered it with soil and grew flowers on it; well it might have been weeds! Although he was a miner, Dad was called up and spent some time in Somerset and Wales. We liked it when he came home on leave because he usually brought us a small present back. Presents were few and far between in those days of little money.

The air raid shelter was always filling up with water when it rained, so whenever there was an air raid (it always seem to happen through the night, didn't it?) Mum would get us up, wrap us up in blankets, sit us under the stairwell, make us a cup of cocoa each and tell us stories in the candle light.

We were all very relieved when the 'all clear' went. Copyright © Books of the North 2009. Copyright © Books of the North 2009.

Elizabeth Stevens nee Richardson, 2009


Collected & Edited by Paul Lanagan, local historian
September 2009


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The Gilpin Crest as found engraved on Bernard Gilpin's tomb

PAGE UPDATED: 06/09/2009

sergeant frank stamp and houghton-le-spring 1941 Hurrican fighter plan crashed in Houghton-le-Spring.
A tank parked outside of Robinson's Brewery on Durham Road, Houghton-le-Spring, during the First World War.
Frederick Denby of Houghton, joined the Durham Light Infantry, was a prisoner of war for four years and returned home at Christmas 1918.
Soldiers marched along Church Street, Houghton-le-Spring, 1940.
Bombing raids in World War 2 in Houghton-le-Spring, included four high explosive bombs being dropped onto Houghton Cut in July 1940, and an incendiary bomb being dropped between Houghton and Seaham in March 1943.
Houghton-le-Spring's adopted warship is HMS Welland, which was adopted during Warship Week in December 1941.
George Fenton of Houghton served with 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, and was a Prisoner of War in Stalag 8B.
During the Second World War, in 1941,a Hurricane fighter tried to make an emergency landing on Houghon Golf Course. The pilot Sergeant Frank Stamp of the Royal Canadian Air Force sadly lost his life.
Captain William Brown, a Territorial Officer, was a solicitor in the Sunderland Street firm of Legge & Miller.