Weardale in the 1950s

Weardale in the 1950s

Stanhope Garden Fete 1955

I spent my childhood in the village of Stanhope which is located in Weardale in the North East of England. Distant memories now of a carefree time seventy years ago, when there were hardly any cars on the road. 

Life seemed a lot simpler in those days, children didn’t have mobile phones or computer games. Indeed, our telephone number was only three digits; 365, so easy to remember. How times have changed.

The videos on this page were taken by my father, Dr Donald Thomson, on his 8mm cine film camera. They have been converted to a video format in order to share them with a wider audience.

I can identify a lot of people in these videos and I recognise others whose names I have forgotten. If you recognise friends or family do please leave a message as I have enabled comments at the bottom of this page. For the eagle-eyed I make an appearance in the opening sequence of the video opposite, along with my sister and my mother. The only person you won’t see is my father, because he was always behind the camera.

Barrington School Sports Day

This is a rather repetitive video, but if you recognise the people involved or are one of the prizewinners or were present at the time, I’m sure it holds an interest all of it’s own. I was at the Barrington School, but I don’t see myself in this video. I recognise Willie Bainbridge and Miss Graham, my form teacher, but the quality in the video makes it difficult to spot others.

Again, do share in the comments below if you see someone you recognise.


Stanhope 1955

When I return to Stanhope, which I do from time to time, normally en route to Scotland, the main thing I notice is that the traffic on the main road has risen beyond all imagination. In my childhood, you could lie down in the middle of the road and wait for a vehicle to come along. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to cross the road, and equally difficult to park.

The other thing that strikes me is how little the buildings of the village have changed, except that they are all now occupied by people I don’t know and I realise I am a complete stranger in what used to be my home.

The real problem is that I have become a prisoner of my own memories. I am drawn to revisit my childhood home, like a moth to the light, but am invariably disappointed when I discover it has all changed. It won’t stop me returning from time to time as the memories are like an itch that needs to be scratched.

Frosterley 1950s

Apart from the types of vehicles, I am struck by how little Frosterley has changed over the years. I love the red truck collecting the rubbish. Just as I remember it.

My favourite part of this video is the ending where the sheepdog is desperately trying to round up the sheep that are running riot on the main road. Imagine that with today’s traffic.


County School Sports Day

This video was shot on the field that is now the location of the Barrington School. I understand that this was the Sports Day for the County School, and the County Schools from up the dale.

Stanhope – Winter 1956

I like this video. I recognise, but can’t name, many of the characters I remember from my childhood. 

There is something about the fact that is was filmed in black and white that gives it a timeless quality.