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The Wesleyan Methodists at Ushaw Colliery are first recorded as holding their meetings in 1894. Two leaders of the movement from New Brancepeth, Robert Bottoms and Isaac Wood are remembered as helping with the first services which were held in the colliery house of Mrs Metcalfe. Later the mine owners, Pease & Partners, allowed them to use 'the huts' , a row of 12 wooden houses which had been used to accommodate the first workmen. The last two of these miserable dwellings (they had earth floors and were dark and cold) had been united to form a single large room which later became the first miners institute. Two years later the Wesleyans were allowed the use of the colliery office which was situated in the centre of South Street. A request was made to the colliery owners for a site on which to build a permanent church. Pease & Partners presented them with land and bricks , a gift valued at £125. The new church was erected, and opened on the 1st September 1900 by Mrs Philipson, the total cost being £360, a debt which was cleared by 1912. As further consolidation it was included in the Crook Wesleyan Methodist Circuit. A harmonium was loaned by one of the members until 1903 when a larger American organ was purchased. In 1920 a small pipe organ was installed and dedicated to the memory of the men who died in the first world war. Ralph Wilson held the position of organist for 37 years The Chapel On The Hill as it became known locally or Esh Road Methodist Church which was its official name, held its last service on the 28th July 1954, after which the membership transferred to the Durham Road chapel in Ushaw moor.
Church Of England
The first Church of England services were held in the homes of miners at Ushaw Moor Colliery and, as membership grew, a corrugated structure was erected over the hill at Ushaw Moor. This new St. Luke's was part of the Esh parish and in 1911 the Rev. Davies, vicar in charge at Esh, complained in his magazine about the carelessness at St. Lukes. It appears that during a Sunday evening service one of the oil lamps suspended from the ceiling had fallen over and started a fire. Owing to the confusion which followed the offering had been forgotten and he chastised the officials for this neglect. He was in fact a caring minister and urged the other churches to contribute towards a new building at Ushaw Moor. Mr.Hodgson-Fowler the Durham architect, was commissioned to draw the plans for a new church which was originally designed to accommodate 302 worshippers but later altered to seat 256. St. Luke's opened in May 1918 under the new vicar the Rev. W. Brown who was succeeded in 1923 by the Rev. J.H.P.Welby,M.A., a remarkable man whose kindness was often abused by those he helped. I understand that the letter 'P' in his initials stood for Pugin and he is reputed to have been related to the architect mentioned in the section about Ushaw College. During his thirty- five years as vicar of St. Luke's his kindly and sometimes eccentric behaviour endeared him to his parishioners. One story tells how, during a winter morning service, he left a trail of water down the aisle of the church, leaking from a hot water bottle secured beneath his cassock for warmth.
John Welby died in 1958 and in his honour a new church hall was opened on the 7th September, a fitting tribute to a great man.
1913 until 1947 Ushaw Moor remained quite a small
Brancepeth was added in this year, but returned to
Brandon again in
1962 when Broompark was added from Bearpark.
Baptist Church at Ushaw Moor Colliery was formed in
1881. It's first
meetings were held in a hut which was loaned by the
This building which was poorly lit and badly ventilated,
one of the structures erected to house the first
workmen. It is
recorded that at that time preaching became dangerous
and, if one
remembers that this was the year the strike took place
at Ushaw Moor,
it can be realised that many of the community were in no
mood to accept
teachings of compassion and non-aggression. The little
together however, and particularly remembered was a
David Price, and his wife who stuck to their convictions
they were contrary to the spirit of the striking miners.
In 1894 Pease
& Partners, the new colliery owners, were approached
for help. They
granted land some distance from the mine, in the
expanding village of
Ushaw Moor, and in addition gave building materials. This church was
1897 at a cost of £700.
The Sunday School room was added in 1925 and dedicated
to the Esh
Winning pioneer, Mr. John Raw. Robert Dixon, who was
employed as a
winderman at Ushaw Colliery, is remembered as a Sunday
superintendent of many years standing, along with Mrs.
was it's secretary.
The first St.Joseph's Roman Catholic Church was established in Ushaw Moor and opened on December 19th 1909. It was a corrugated iron structure and cost £474. Father Beech and his curate, Michael Shelley, were the priests responsible, travelling from Newhouse on horseback or by train, for the first two years. The first baptism took place on January 16th 1910, the infant being named Thomas Nugent, and the first marriage took place on April 15th 1911 between Matthew Rutter and Edith Webster of New Brancepeth. Attendances at Mass were averaging 320 with 203 at Benediction. In December 1911 Father Shelley came to live in Durham Road where a house was built which accommodated the priest until 1931 when a new presbytery was erected with the new church. On May 23rd 1925 Ushaw Moor became an independent parish consisting of Ushaw Moor, Broompark and New Brancepeth. Bearpark came into the parish in 1935. On June 19th 193O Bishop Thorman laid the foundation stone for a new, church. Most of the ground clearing and digging of foundations was carried out by parishioners. The bell for the new building was given by the people of Ballingarry, County Tipperary. Almost a year later on April 21st 1931, the new St. Joseph's Church was opened by Bishop Joseph Thorman, with the first marriage ceremony taking place four days later between William Regan and Imelda Cairns and the first baptism being performed on Eileen Veronica Illand on April 26th.
After seven years the church was free of debt and on 17th May 1938 Bishop McCormack performed the ceremony of consecration.
The following year, as a result of war being declared, children from high risk areas were evacuated and St. Joseph's welcomed children from St. Wilfred's, Gateshead and St. Philip's, Dunston. At the evacuation of the troops from Dunkirk the school and hall were taken over to accommodate the soldiers.
On April 22nd 1946 Michael Shelley, the well-loved parish priest, died. A short while previously he had been created a canon of the diocese. His thirty-seven years of dedication having seen many changes in the mining community who were greatly influenced by his presence.
Father Whitaker succeeded Canon Shelley and under his guidance the Sanctuary was altered in 1955. Shortly after it's completion he died on April 7th, 1956. The third parish priest to be appointed was Father L.V. Thompson.
A new hall was built on the foundations of the old church and was opened on 21st July 1979.
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