Go-to Grace was the Wearside woman for all occasions - and now her granddaughter wants to know more
Brenda Graham is no stranger to research. Just last year, she compiled a display for the Houghton and District Local History Group which was all about the Home Front.
It covered everything from the Women’s Land Army to the Mutionettes who worked at the Birtley Munitions Factory, and the WAACs (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps).
She was also part of the group’s involvement in the recent Houghton Feast.
But now Brenda is turning her attentions to a project which is much closer to home.
She wants to find out more about her grandmother Grace Brown who played a big part in local life back in the 1940s.
It was all unbeknown to Brenda while she was growing up. Now that she is actively involved in research, she thinks it is time to find out more.
But Brenda does have some information to go on.
She said: “I had no knowledge of my grandmother’s involvement as I grew up. She was widowed in March 1942 and was identified as the local lady in the community to call on after a death or at confinements.”
She did know that her grandmother had lived as a widow for a long time as Brenda’s grandfather died when she was just nine-months-old.
“I didn’t know that she was involved in the Labour party,” said Brenda.
But since her grandmother’s background started to come to light, Brenda has done a lot more of her own research.
She knows that in the early 1950s, there were 16 sections of the Durham Division of the Labour Women organisation and that included sections in Hetton-le-Hole, easington Lane, Belmont and Framwellgate Moor.
The Houghton division was doing just as well and included 100 members in Tunstall, 80 in Penshaw and 39 in Houghton.
It has prompted a great interest in the local Labour history by Grace.
“I have accessed some general information about how the groups were established. Hetton-le-Hole was part of the Durham Division of the Durham Labour Women’s Advisory Council.
“In 1952 the Hetton section had the greatest number of members.
“From the Houghton minutes I gleaned the section’s activities. Apart from an interest in labour party politics the focus seems to have been on education.”
There were day schools, weekend schools and area schools.
“Essay competitions were encouraged after discussions on various topics within the sections,” said Brenda. “There was also a social calendar: visits and a trip to Gretna Green.”
It was all enjoyed by Grace and Brenda also pointed out other great Labour events such as the annual Durham Women’s Gala which was held usually in June in Wharton Park in Durham City.
Brenda added: “It was stated at the 1951 Durham Miners Gala that ‘The Women’s Organisation plays a large part in the strength of the Labour Movement in Durham’.”
As to other details, Brenda said: “I visited the People’s History Museum Archive in Manchester where many records are held.”
She has made enquiries with local authority officials and others, but admitted; “Nothing has transpired. I do know that the group met in Hetton Miners Hall, Richard Street which was demolished early in 1960.”
And that’s where we are hoping Echo readers can step in.
Who can tell us more about the Women’s Labour movement in the region - or perhaps they also have Grace Brown in their family history.
Or perhaps there is another aspect of Wearside history you would like us to take a look at.
It could be anything from your favourite school to a pub, club or restaurant you would like to reminisce on.
Whatever the reason for getting in touch, email [email protected] and share those wonderful memories.