This site is an informal collection of photographs, memories and documents relating to Thornley Colliery in County Durham during the inter-war, World War Two and postwar periods through to the closure of the pit in 1970. The site isn’t intended to be a comprehensive history. Instead it’s more of an online scrapbook of pictures and impressions, mostly drawn from my late father Tom Tunney’s collection of photographs, memorabilia and taped memories. Around these I have attempted to build up detailed and illustrated 1939-45 Rolls of Honour and Prisoner of War listings for Thornley and also for the neighbouring villages of Wheatley Hill and Ludworth. The site is a companion for my other website at

which covers both his wartime experiences and the history of his old World War Two unit, the 16th Battalion Durham Light Infantry in great detail.

My father was born in 1920 in High St, Thornley, attended St Godric’s RC Catholic School and after leaving at 14, served his apprenticeship as a bricklayer with local builder Jack Walton. Called up into the Army in December 1941, he served in the 16th DLI through to being captured during the Battle of Sedjenane in Tunisia on March 2nd 1943. Held as a Prisoner of War in Italy and Germany, (Camps 66 and 53, Stalags 4B and 4D), October 1943 saw him working in a brickyard in Bad Schmiedeberg, Germany, where he was liberated by Russian and US troops on April 30th 1945. Demobbed in 1946, he returned to his job as bricklayer and lived in the village for the rest of his life. A keen brass bandsman, he had his photograph taken innumerable times and at innumerable ‘Durham Big Meetings’ during a 50-odd year career as a trombone player with Thornley, Blackhall and Horden Colliery Bands. Many of those photographs will also eventually feature on this site.

His memories represent a village that now hardly exists. Most of the buildings of those times have been knocked down, there’s hardly a trace of the old mine and Thornley is just a battered, half-empty shell of what it once was. Still, memories and old photographs are wonderful things and deserve to be preserved. And that, above all, is what this site is all about.

Thornley Before 1939

This section is organised around my father’s memories of growing up in the village in the 1920s and 1930s

Hubert Tunney 1890-1974

This new section is devoted to my grandfather Hubert Tunney’s political and union activities while Chairman of Thornley Miners’ Lodge.

Called Up and In the Colliery Inn

This is the main wartime section of the website which contains my father’s memories of being called up to Brancepeth Camp in December 1941. Here there are also 1939-45 Rolls of Honour for Thornley Colliery, Wheatley Hill and Ludworth POW listings for the three villages and details of other notable local servicemen

Thornley 1945-70
Photographs, memories and documents relating to the village through to the closure of the pit will be placed here.


There will be photographs within all three main sections of the site. This is a convenient listing of direct links to those already posted.


Click Here for a Thornley Colliery Links; my related site on the 16th Battalion Durham Light Infantry is at For more on DLI POWs see my POW site at

Site written designed and copyright,
Tom Tunney, 37 St Andrews Mews, London, N16 5 HR

First published 30th December 2004
Last Updated 21st November 2023
Thornley St Godric's Football Team 1931-32
Thornley Colliery

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