New Shildon, the 1820′s Boom Town – with railways and pits being the main employers, people flocked to Shildon from all over the country and from Ireland seeking employment, as word spread about the prospects open to those keen to work.Many sent for their families once they were established in lodgings with stable employment and regular wages. Many of those family names can be found in Shildon today, including those of my great grandfathers, both of whom moved to Shildon from Tebay and Orton in Westmorland.
Housing in New Shildon was poor, conditions cramped and the social problems associated with poverty and overcrowding soon emerged. Drunkenness, lawlessness and the occasional murder were common place amongst the working classes.
The social problems, exasperated by the many different creeds, religions and backgrounds living in such close proximity meant that simple disagreements could rapidly get out of hand and escalate into near riots.
Hackworth’s employees were expected to be of good character and relatively ‘clean living’, Hackworth himself being a staunch Methodist and a leading abstainer against the vices of alcohol and tobacco.
Peculiarly, all of the terraced streets in Eldon village are named ‘row’ for no known reason.
New row, Depot row, Pasture row, Office row, Front row, Double row, Hall’s row etc were all terraces of houses in Eldon.
We were recently given a copy of a journal detailing the life of a Shildon man, born in Station Street in 1883, who attended the British School and upon leaving entered into a lifetime at the Shildon Railway Works. William worked his way up through the accounts department to the position of Chief Clerk, and gives a detailed account of each works manager during his time at the works up until his retirement in 1948.
George Allan, another Shildon lad who in later life moved to Pears Terrace in New Shildon was a wagon painter by day, and a music composer, musician and conductor in his leisure time and even found time to compose many of the world famous brass band marches still played today including ‘Wizard’, ‘Phantom’, ‘On Parade’ and dozens of others. Born in 1864 in Albert Street, George was at last recognised for his musical genius in 2001 when five local bands got together and compiled a CDROM of his music.