Consett Heart
Consett Heart – Heritage & Arts Centre,
The Ambulance Hall,
John Street,
Consett, County Durham

A small number of talks are being arranged to see if there is local interest in forming a branch of the Society in Consett.

In the new year, the branch has changed day of the month, time of day and venue for their meetings.

Future meetings will be on the Fourth Wednesday of the month, starting at 1pm.

All visitors are welcome


Date Subject of Talk Speaker
24th July 2024 No Meeting
28th August 2024 No Meeting
25th September 2024 Resources available from the NDFHS Kevin Johnson
23rd October 2024 The Horsekeeper’s Daughter Jane Gulliford Lowes
27th November 2024 The Treasure of Memories Julian Harrup, Beamish Museum
25th December 2024 No Meeting

Reports of meetings

June 2024

Minutes of NDFHS, Consett Branch meeting 26th June 2024
Apologies: None
Meeting chaired by: Catherine Meades
Minutes of last meeting: Read and approved

Matters arising:
Committee membership: Robin Webb and Brian Harrison have volunteered to join the committee. We are still waiting for confirmation from the Society about the requirements of a forum for the committee.

Update on the preparations for the 50th Anniversary celebrations: Robin attended the meeting. The centre has now moved to its new premises where an entry code is required to get through the door. It is therefore best to ring in advance if anyone is wanting to visit to use the many resources available.

3 possible venues are being considered for the full day event which will take place on either the 7th or 14th June 2025.These are

● The Durham Miners Hall at Brunswick
● The Mining Institute in Newcastle
● Brunswick Chapel

Further updates will follow once prices, availability, catering and parking have been confirmed. It is thought that the cost to members will probably be £20 / £25 for the day.

It has been suggested by the Chairman of the Society that the speakers at the event focus on mining themes and that each branch produces a small display covering an aspect of the topic specific to their area, between 1800’s and 1975; the year that the Society was established.

A possible group visit to Beamish, at a discounted rate, was discussed, along with the suggestion that the new Society premises could be open for member visits on a Sunday during June 2025.

A further planning meeting will be held via Teams/Zoom once the venue information has been collated.

Programme for the remainder of 2024:
25. 09. 2024 Kevin Johnson “Resources available from NDFHS”
23. 10. 2024 Jane Gulliford Lowes “The Horse keeper’s Daughter” – a personal ancestry
27. 11. 2024 Julian Harrop “A Treasure of Memories” – Beamish Museum photos in newspaper archives


Correspondence: An email has been received from Joe Fletcher, a member of the society, who has written several articles for the NDFHS Journal. These refer mainly to Consett and District, and he wondered if our members may be interested in reading them. He is happy to list the articles if members are interested and refer them to which journal they were entered. He also gave the following information: I was born at No. 1 Windsor Gardens in 1938 and left the area when I was 10 years old.

The Story – Durham’s new record office: This has now opened, and a couple of members shared relevant information on their recent visits.
The parish records have not been uploaded yet to the system and it may be another couple of months before these are fully available.
There is plenty of parking available.
Jean requested that feedback is given to her regarding any access issues. The record office catalogue can be accessed via

Members Forum: Sharing your family history
Catherine started the discussion by sharing some examples of how she has recorded family history, along with a handout of useful weblinks.
There was then an interesting discussion as each member shared the different ways they have trialled sharing their personal family history, along with problems they have incurred.
Point for future discussion:how can we as a group collate useful links and resources in an easily accessible way for all group members?

April 2024

Attendees:12 + 2 Apologies

Meeting chaired by: Catherine Meades

Minutes of last meeting: approved.

Matters arising: Request for additional volunteers to form a committee were repeated. An AGM will need to be held in September and further committee members will be needed for this to take place.

Other business

● Catherine ran through the focus of the next two meetings. The group were asked if they wished the Consett Branch to continue holding meetings after this time.

○ The consensus of the group was that they would like the meetings to continue.

● It was further agreed that meetings would be paused for July and August to allow for holidays and possible grandparent childcare responsibilities.

● The 4th Wednesday in December will be Christmas Day so no meeting will be held. Catherine suggested that perhaps the group could meet for a Christmas lunch earlier in the month.

○ To be discussed after the summer break.

● The group then had a general discussion about suggestions for future talks. These included:

· John North – speaker

· Anthea Lang – speaker

· History of Stockton Railway

· Weardale museum

· History of Fenwick’s

· Alan Godfrey (based in Leadgate) – maps

· The use of tokens as coinage in the Northeast

o Brian has offered to give this talk next year

· The Story – the new record office for Co. Durham

● A further suggestion was made that members of the group could share links to different resources that they have found useful. A list of these could then be put together and made available to all members.

The meeting was then followed by a very interesting talk by Margaret Hedley on the Women of the Durham Coalfield in the 19th century.

March 2024

Attendees: 18 + 1 apology


John Heckels. Introduction to DNA for Family History and Some Personal Experiences

This was a highly entertaining presentation and positive feedback was received from all.

Suggestions for further information:
Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy. Blaine Bettinger
Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA. Graham S. Hotton
The International Society of Genetic Genealogy.

Minutes of Last Meeting: Approved

Other Business:

· A request for more volunteers was repeated – in particular a treasurer and a chair for meetings

· The meeting closed at ca. 14.30

Next Meeting:

24 April 2024. 1.00

Speaker: Margaret Hedley. Women of the Durham Coalfield in the 19th Century

February 2024

Meeting held on 28 February 2024. Attendees: 12 plus 1 Apology

Members were welcomed to our new venue at The Heart in Consett
Details of toilet facilities and emergency exits were given

Dave Dean gave a presentation entitled “The Hidden Northeast”.

Minutes of Last Meeting: Approved

New Business:
· Susan N. has volunteered to help with running the group.
· A request for more volunteers was repeated
· The new choice of venue and day/time was discussed and agreed to be acceptable. It was noted that the venue does not have its own parking which can be difficult for members with limited mobility.
· Brian Harrison of The Heart introduced himself and gave a brief overview of The Heart – its aims and the resources which it has for family historians.
· It was noted that the Durham Record Office (The Story) will reopen this summer
· A good discussion was held between the various members of the group. It is hoped that this will become a regular parts of meetings
· The meeting closed at ca. 15.00

December 2023

Branch Meeting 12 December 2023. Attendees: 5. Plus 3 apologies. No update was available regarding a change of date/time as it has not been possible to talk to Citizens House staff.

• The Acting Branch Secretary has stepped down as she is currently overseas and so not able to carry out this role. The meeting expressed its thanks for all her efforts in setting up the Consett Branch.

• The Acting Chairman said that she is unable to run the Branch without assistance and at least 2 volunteers are required to play an active role in running the branch

• As yet no programme has been arranged for 2024 and no meeting will take place in January. This was always the plan due to the Consett weather

• Those present were asked to consider whether or not they could get involved in running the branch

• The contact list is to be emailed for volunteers to come forward the Deadline being Friday 12 January 2024. If no volunteers are forthcoming, then the Branch will regretfully be terminated

The meeting consisted of a Members Forum when a good discussion was held regarding various aspects of family history, in particular the various ways to store and record/display the results of one’s family history research to share with family members. This was considered as a good subject for a future meeting with members sharing what they have done with their research. The history of local bus companies was discussed. A number of websites for future research were shared including:

• The possibility of alternative venues was discussed. These will be investigated. A Draft re the duties required for the role of Secretary has been prepared and sent to the NDFHS Secretary.

November 2023

Minutes of Last Meeting: Approved

No update was available regarding a change of date/time as it has not been possible to talk to Citizens House staff and no volunteers for tea/coffee duty or admin support. It was proposed the purchase of some vacuum jugs and tea and coffee supplies for use at meetings with funds being raised by holding a raffle and book sale at the December meeting. Attendees said that they were not interested in having drinks at the meetings.
Tony Patterson gave an excellent presentation on his Patterson ancestors and their pottery in the
Gateshead area. This included fascinating details of Tony’s quest to trace pieces of pottery made by his
family, a search which has taken him all over the country and includes global purchases. Tony brought
a number of pieces of his pottery for us to look at and copies of his book were on sale. Tony’s passion
for his subject was clearly evident in his presentation.

October 2023

Meeting held 12 October 2023 – Attendees: 12
The Acting Chairman mentioned that as from January 2024 the meeting day and time will change due to conflict with the trustees meeting. Catherine and Barbara had hoped to talk to venue staff to discuss available dates and times but unfortunately no one was available. It was also mentioned that a representative from Consett Branch needs to attend the trustees meeting and noted that the Acting Chairman would be happy to do so.

A volunteer was requested for tea and coffee duties for next month. A further request for volunteers for admin support was made, particularly in view of forthcoming holidays. No one present was able to volunteer so in the meantime Catherine and Barbara will explore ways of Barbara attending the meeting remotely.

The Presentation this month was by Catherine Meades on the topic of the “Hoppers of Iveston” She began with a short biography and explained her reasons for selecting this topic. The Hoppers were a Quaker Family, and the presentation gave historical insight into the origins of the Quaker Movement and the rate at which is expanded and spread across the England in the early to mid 1600’s. Although baptism, marriage and burial records were sparse for this time, information available together with a series of family wills enabled the family movements to be plotted and gave insight into the economic and social status of the family. Catherine provided several resource links throughout the presentation while explaining the value of each resource in family history research. The presentation was engaging, interactive and very well received

September 2023

Inaugural Meeting of the NDFHS Consett Branch.

The first meeting of the Consett Branch of the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society took place on Tuesday 14th September 2023 commencing at 1500 at Citizens House, Station Road Consett. After several days of increasing nervousness and anxiety on the part of Catherine Meades, the Acting Branch Chairperson, and Barbara Allison, the Acting Branch Secretary we are delighted to report that we got off to a resounding start. Apart from a few issues with audio visual equipment the session passed smoothly, and I think it’s safe to say all present had a superb time.

The session opened with a brief introduction from Catherine concerning the purpose of convening a Consett Branch and a brief introduction to the NDFHS itself. She explained why we are presenting ourselves as acting personnel and called upon any interested parties to volunteer to help us grow and develop. Society application forms were made available. After mentioning some administrative issues such as fire escapes and tea and coffee facilities she introduced our first ever speaker, Alan Swinburne who shared an excellent and well received presentation “Born in Blackhill, cast in the Steelworks”. The presentation was not only humorous but described many colourful characters he had encountered at the works over the years. His overarching theme was one of camaraderie, clearly describing how managers led by example while suffering no nonsense. The presentation resonated with several members of the audience who had actually worked at the Iron Works.

After an engaging, interactive questions and answer session we received our first volunteer who has offered to assume tea and coffee distribution at the next meeting. There being no other business we informed those present of the date and time of the next meeting and goodbyes ensued.

I think it’s safe to say a good time was had by all and lots of positive feedback was received.

Last updated 2nd July 2024