Schools & Education 1920 – 1940

6 January 1920

Mary A. French took up duties as the new Head Teacher of Bowburn Infant School.

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)


Bowburn School Football XI was first formed, with Mr. James Arthur Moody as sports master. The headmaster was G.G. Holmes.

There was a photo of the first team in the Durham Advertiser on 30 December 1949, p.4. The 1920 team comprised J. Findlay, W. Stones, J. Ramshaw, W. Bewick, R. Broughton, H. Latue, T. Swinbank, T. Moore, H. Applegarth, W. Harrison and G. Stephenson. The team won the Durham & District League, in its first year, without losing a match.

The team in 1923 included Stan Mould and Alderson. It won for seven successive years in 1926-33 and again for two years 1947-49.

(Sources: Dur. Co. Adv., 23 December 1949, p.5 + 30 December 1949, p.4; Photo of 1923 team, lent by Ron Mould.)


Ground has been given by the colliery for erection of a mission church.

Meanwhile services are held in the council school. See 1926

(Source: Kelly’s 1921.)


Bowburn School master in 1920 was George Frederick Holmes, who lived at 1, Durham Road West (formerly occupied by Jos. Pyke Wake, his predecessor).

The Infants’ mistress was Miss Annie Wilson.

Tursdale Schoolmaster was Thomas Robson (who was already the Tursdale headmaster at time of the 1901 Census).

(Source: Kelly’s 1921.)

31 March 1920

Bowburn Infant School log book recorded that 31 children were transferred to the Mixed Department.

It also reported that the general health of Section II was very poor. There was one case of rickets, one tubercular, one bronchitis, one mentally deficient, one anaemic, one nose and throat case, and the remainder of moderate physique whose attendance at school did not compare favourably with that of Section I .

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)

October 1921

Miss Annie Wilson, headmistress of the Infant Department at Cassop Council Schools since 1907, was presented with a silver mounted oak biscuit barrell. She had come from Liverpool 21 years ago.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 14 October 1921, p6.)

April 1922

The new Cassop-cum-Quarrington Parish Council consisted of Messrs. Barlow (Cassop), Bird (Tursdale), W. F. Gardner (cashier, Bowburn Colliery), J. Peat (Cassop), Pluck (Cassop), J. G. Ramsay (under-manager, Bowburn Colliery), Robson (Tursdale), J. Storey (Grocer, Bowburn) and E. S. Toulson (Wheatsheaf Inn, Bowburn).

Mr. Robson was probably Thomas Robson, the Tursdale schoolmaster.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 7 April 1922, p2.)

March 1923

Bowburn topped the Durham & District Schools Football League, having beaten both St. Oswald’s and Belmont 1-0. Their record was: Played 16, Won 14, Lost 2, Drawn 0, Goals For 69, Goals Against 10, Points 28.

(Source: Durham County Advertiser 23 March 1923, p7.)

26 April 1923

Bowburn School had a day’s holiday to celebrate the wedding of the Duke of York (the future George VI) and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.

(Source: School log book, via “Snippets”, a leaflet produced by Bowburn Infant School to mark its 75th anniversary in 1984.)

July 1923

Bowburn Mixed and Infant Schools were amalgamated. They had previously (since 1909) been separate.

The final entry in Infant School log book, date 2 July 1923, reported that a copy of a letter from the Board of Education had been received that morning from Mr. Raine [the District Clerk] saying:“With reference to Mr. Dawson’s letter of 14th April last, I am directed to state that the Board of Education will raise no objection to the proposed amalgamation of the Mixed and Infant departments of this school, on condition that a suitable woman teacher be given general charge of the Infants under the supervision of the Head Teacher [of the combined school]”.

The reason for the amalgamation was evidently what was considered to be a low roll, for the letter continued: “In the event of any substantial increase in the number of Children attending the school, the question of re-organisation will be further considered.” It ended: “H.M. Inspector will be asked to report on the working of the amalgamation.”.

(Source: Infant School final log book entry, 2 July 1923, p.121-2 (in DRO).)

November 1923

John Oddy, of Front Street, Cassop, a retired butcher and farmer, died, aged 80

JO had been a member of the old Durham & Chester-le-Street Highway Board and subsequently represented Cassop on Durham RDC and the Board of Guardians. He was Cassop’s overseer for 40 years and chairman of the Parish Council from its formation until quite recently. He was also chairman of Cassop School Board. He married four times, his last wife (née Magee) being from Castle Eden.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 9 November 1923, p.3.)


Bowburn Women’s Institute (W. I.) was formed.

Founding members included: Mrs. Jennie Ashett, of 3, The Leazes; Mrs. Elena Holmes (wife of George Frederick Holmes, headteacher of Bowburn Schools); Mrs. Lynn; Mrs. Gardner, and Mrs. Oxley.

(Sources: Durham Record Office (D/WI); Mrs. Eleanour Pragnell; M. Richardson “Around Durham”; Durham Co. Adv., 13 November 1964, p.15.)

April 1926

For the 3rd year running, all students in the Tursdale Ambulance Classes passed the exams, making 100 enrolled and passing in 3 years. Examiners were Drs. Aitken and Farmer (of Ferryhill) and Dr. Milne (of Evenwood).

A full list of those gaining certificates, vouchers, medallions and labels is given in 1925. The lecturer was Dr. Moffatt, of Coxhoe; instructors were Messrs. Alton and Johnson, assisted by Messrs. Loaton and Price. W. Bell was treasurer and Joseph S. Ruddick, of School House, Tursdale, was secretary.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 9 April 1926, p6 and 20 March 1925, p4.)


Bowburn School Football XI won the Durham & District Schools League 1925-26. The team went on to win for seven successive years, till 1933.

A report in May 1931 of their 6-nil win against Gilesgate Moor shows their position so far that season being: played 13 (with three matches to go), won 12, lost 0, drawn 1; goals for 71, against 3; points 25 (out of 26). The team included Dick Witham, who went on to play for Huddersfield Town and Blackpool, and R. Willey, H. Stevens, L. Jordan and W. Redfern. Staff members photographed with the team and its trophies were Mr. G. F. Holmes (headmaster) and Mr. J. A. Moody (sports master).

(Sources: “Down Memory Lane”, Durham Adv., 1970s?; Dur. Co. Adv., 23 December 1949, p.5 + 8 May 1931, p.10.)

3 September 1926

Joshua Ritson, MP for Durham, and James Gilliland, member of the Miners National Executive, addressed a meeting of Tursdale miners, held in the schools.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 3 September 1926.)

March 1930

Mr. R. Weldon, headmaster of Cassop Schools, presented a barometer to Thomas Peat. TP was leaving Cassop after 18 years, having been appointed assistant master at Cornforth Lane Council School, Coxhoe.

(Might Mr. Weldon have been the Robert Wheldon [sic] who, with his wife, Elsie May (née Plummer), lived at “Woodside”, Wylam Terrace – later the home of Dr. Petterson?)

(Sources: Dur. Co. Adv., 20 March 1930, p.4; Electoral register;

10 June 1932

About 418 senior scholars from West Cornforth, East Howle, Tursdale, Cornforth Lane, Kelloe, Cassop and Bowburn Council Schools, with 112 members of the schools’ staff and friends, made an educational trip, by special train, to Edinburgh.

(Source: Durham County Advertiser 17 June 1932, p4.)

10 September 1932

Sarah Elizabeth Smalley, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Smalley, of Wylam Street, Bowburn, married George Ward, son of Mr. & Mrs. John Ward, of Long Row, Coxhoe. The bride’s mother was well-known in the district as an enthusiast of home nursing and First Aid, being instructress for Coxhoe Centre Evening Classes.

Many of the classes organised through the Coxhoe Centre were at Cornforth Lane School. Some, however, were held in East Hetton, Cassop, Bowburn, Tursdale and West Cornforth. They included junior science and woodwork classes, technical and commercial classes, first aid, the study of internatioal relations, literature, drama, physical drill, folk dancing, household crafts, needlework and home nursing. At Bowburn, home crafts course and junior non-vocational courses were run. The organiser at this time was Mr. W.H. Smith, BSc.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 16 September 1932 pp.4 + 6.)


Jane Smith and Henry Dudden were awarded framed pictures for seven and five years, respectively, unbroken attendance at Cassop Council School.

Durham County Education Committee also awarded a second class certificate to the whole of the school’s mixed department for good attendace during the year.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. & Dur. Chron., 29 December 1933, p.9.)

January 1934

The whole of the boys employed at Bowburn Colliery examined in connection with the Safety First Class, organised by the Durham County Education Committee, held at the colliery, passed.

They were J. Thompson, T. Peat, T. Ugden, G. Elsbury, – Brownless, J. Robson, J. Longstaff, R. W. Freeman, R. Robinson, John Young, A. Wood and D. Jones. Mr. Harry Taylor was the instructor.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv. & Dur. Chron., 19 January 1934, p.4.)

January 1934

Dick Witham made his 1st Division debut as left back for Huddersfield Town against Portsmouth. The Terriers won 3-0.

DW was born in Bowburn on 4 May 1915. He played for Bowburn School and later for Durham City. He signed for Huddersfield in April 1930 and got his 1st Division chance at the age of 19. He played three more games but moved to Blackpool in February. He played 150 League and seven F. A. Cup games for Blackpool before joining the RAF in WWII. After the War, he played for Oldham Athletic in 1946/7. After retiring from the game, he ran a couple of fish & chip shops in Blackpool, where he died on 29 October 1999.

(Source: Football facts website found by Paul Dawe 16 August 01.)

26 January 1934

Staff of Cassop School organised a whist drive and dance at Kelloe Welfare Hall, for school funds.

Mr. R. Weldon [possibly Wheldon?], headmaster, was MC for the dance. Miss Bell (Tursdale) presented the prizes.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 2 February 1934, p.4.)

23 March 1934

Students attending Bowburn Colliery First Aid Class were presented with certificates by Mr. W. G. Grace, agent for Bowburn Colliery, in Bowburn Welfare Hall. His wife presented badges. They had been examined by Dr. Moffat the previous week. Dr. A. Harrison (Sherburn) was their lecturer and Mr. F. Cannon their instructor. Mr. Grace paid tribute to Mr. Baker, former ambulance man at the colliery but now retired, for services to the classes.After the presenations, Mr. W.F. Richardson, HM Inspector of Mines, said this was the first year training was being given to boys on how to avoid accidents in the mines. Support for the Mines Department in running these classes had been given by the Education Authorities.

1st year certificates were awarded to Alf. Harrison, Jn. T. Llewellyn, Sidney Elliott, Thos. Canavan, Martin Tunney, Jn. T. Curry, Peter S. Wilson, Jn. R. Wilson, Jn. Tipling, Wm. B. Sutherland, Jos. S. Smith, Wm. H. Haigh, Jos. D. Nicholson, Harold, P. Marr, Jas. Griffiths, Ralph Garner, Geo. Hepple and Young Cook.

Vouchers were received by Thos. Ross, Norman Melvar, Thos. H. Cookson, Robt. Wilkinson, Geo. W. Egglestone, Jn. G. Embleton, Arthur Miller, Robt. Moore and Gordon W. Robinson. Wm. Brown received a Medallion and A. Smith & J. Brown got Labels.

Badges were also presented, by Mrs. Grace, to boys employed at the colliery who had passed an examination in safety principles. They were W. Crosier, J. Stoddart, F. Davison, T. Peat, J. Young, C. Elsbury, J. Thompson, J. Robson, J. W. Longstaff, R. F. Robinson, R. W. Freeman, T. Ogden, D. Jones, N. Sharpe, A. Wood and H. Brownless.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 23 March 1934, p.13 30 March 1934, p.14.)

March 1937

Bowburn W. I.’s March meeting was given a display of folk dancing by pupils from Bowburn Council School, trained by Miss Parker.

There was “a large attendance”, including Mesdames Lynn, Broughton, Bell, Bamling, T. Brown, J. Brown, Barker and Nunn, with Mrs. G. G. Holmes presiding.

(Source: Co. Dur. Adv., 12 March 37, p. 5.)

November 1937

Bowburn Boys’ Club (later the D. J. Evans Youth Club) was founded by David John Evans, teacher (later headteacher) at Bowburn School.

The date of foundation was given by the Durham Co. Advertiser in 1967 as 1935. However an article in the Durham Co. Advertiser on 1 April 38 said that the Boys’ Club at Bowburn had been established in November 1937. This is probably more reliable. Early activities included boxing and 1st Aid. Football started just before World War II. During the War, the club became the 14th Cadet Bn., D. L. I.. The club mainly used the Miners’ Institute/Welfare Hall. But it also used, at different times, Crowtrees W. M. Club, the room above Mrs. Storey’s shop in Durham Road West, and Bowburn School – until purpose built premises were opened in 1963.

(Sources: Dur. Co. Adv., 10 March 67; Mrs. Eleanour Pragnell; Dur. Co. Adv., 1 April 38, p.5.)

29 March 1938

Bowburn Boys’ Club presented an evening of physical training, boxing and plays, in the Welfare Hall.

The president was Mr. Strong, the colliery agent; vice-president, who was M. C. for the evening, was Mr. Chapman (presumably the new under-manager, George Price Chapman); Mr. Holmes (headmaster) was treasurer; Mr. Oxley was secretary, and Mr. Evans (teacher) was the leader. Also present were Mr. Reay, an instructor from the Community Service Council, and Mr. C. O’Brien Donaghey, organising secretary of the Durham County Association of Boys’ Clubs. The boxing judges were Mr. Waites of Crook and Mr. N. Oxley of Bowburn; referee was Northern Bantam Weight Boxer Bobby Bates [i.e. Bill Bateson], of Coxhoe; timekeeper was Mr. W. N. Clowes. Members taking part included Ronald Smalley (accordian solo), essay competition winners W. Jones and H. Johnson, and boxers G. Travers (14), W. Patterson (14), H. Johnson (17), R. Etherington and W. Young (17). [Was this Willie Young, who was killed in action, aged 22, in 1943?].

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 1 April 38, p.5 + photo on, p.16.)

9 January 1939

On a motion by Ald. Wm. Kelly, of Bowburn, Durham RDC unanimously agreed that junior clerks’ posts should not, in future, require a school-leaving certificate.

Ald. Kelly had complained that this discrimiated against boys from elementary schools. (There was apparently no mention of girls!).

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 13 January 1939, p.8.)

February 1939

Cassop-cum-Quarrington Womens’ Institute was founded, at a meeting in the schoolroom, Quarrington Hill, presided over by Mrs. Adamson, of East Howle W. I.

Minutes of the C-c-Q W. I. from 1979–85 are in the Durham Record Office. The following were elected:Officers: Mrs. Wheldon (president), Mrs. Forrester (secretary) & Miss Kirkpatrick (treasurer). Other committee members: Mesdames Adamson, Lightgood, Ratel, Walton & Wharton and Misses Clark & Foord.

The Cassop W. I.’s 4th birthday party was reported in the Durham Advertiser on 5 March 1943, presided over by Mrs. Wheldon. Other members mentioned included Mesdames Aitken, Barker, Black, Hayton, W. Hayton, Hodgson, Johnson, Spinks, Spragon, J. Taylor, T. Taylor, Thubron & Wyatt and Miss Clark.

(Was Mrs. Wheldon the wife of Cassop School’s headmaster?)

(Sources: Dur. Co. Adv., 24 February 1939, p.5; Dur. Co. Adv., 5 March 1943, p.8.)

About 1940

Air Raid shelters were built in grounds of West Hetton Lodge, Bowburn School and at 1, Lansdowne Crescent.NB: this date is a guess. A verbal report gives the date of the Lansdowne Crescent one as 1940. A record of the school ones on 26 February 1951 (q.v.) does not show when they were built.

The one at West Hetton Lodge was presumably built for Alwyn Howarth (or Howard) Thwaite. It is still there in 2013.

The shelters at the school were next to the playground, on the Crowtrees Lane side. They may still be there but covered up, constituting a visible mound.

The one at 1, Lansdowne Crescent was presumably built for George & Margaret Johnson, who lived there after William Forster (the builder of this estate, who occupied it till he moved back to Houghton-le-Spring in July 1940). (George Johnson was a chef at Winterton Hospital. After his marriage he and his wife Margaret ran the village grocery shop at 13, Durham Road West for some years.) This shelter was removed by D. A. Clapton in 1999.

(Sources: Robin Walton’s History of Coxhoe; Electoral Register & Kelly’s Directory 1939 & 1938; Hilda English (née Forster).)