The Site of Theodore Cottage, Thornley, Co Durham, in 2005
The Site of Theodore Cottage, Thornley, 2005

Theodore Cottage was a large imposing Victorian house which stood on this site until 1966. My grandparents, Hubert and Ellen Tunney rented the building from 1942 until 1965. Next to it and part of the same building was a large shop with large raised steps to its entrance. This was a bakery at one time, but in the Fifties and Sixties it became a fish and chip shop. The sloping light coloured path at the middle of the picture, by the telegraph pole, follows the route of the old backroad which led down to Nelson Street and the Thornley Band practice room.

To the rear of Theodore Cottage were several tall mature trees and the large recreation ground, ‘the wreck’, which contained various swings and the legendary mountain glide. These, along with many garden allotments and Tommy Bradley’s back field, were needlessly cleared, demolished and literally reshaped to make way for the spectacularly ugly Coopers Close housing development, which was built around 1970. Most of this new housing was subsequently demolished in the years 1999-2000. Some of the few houses that remain can be seen in the background of the picture. The prefabs of Coopers Terrace, which were demolished in 1967, were to the left of the Gospel Hall which can be seen at the left of the picture. One street of Coopers Close housing stand now in the same spot, though their dilapidated condition suggests that their days are numbered, too.

[2023 update: the houses at the top, following the old route of Cooper’s Terrace, see the next photograph, were demolished. A few others at the very bottom of the old estate, still stand. The large swathe of land between, effectively the area of Tommy Bradley’s back field, is still wasted and unused.]

School Square, the Colliery Inn and the Pit, followed down the main road to the right. St Bartholomew’s Church is to the left, across the near side of the road.

NEXT PHOTO: Cooper’s Close 2005 OR Cooper’s Terrace, circa 1955.