This new part of my Old Thornley website will concentrate on the life and career of my grandfather Hubert Tunney, who was born in 1890 and who was initially employed at Kelloe Pit from the age of 13. In 1909 his family moved to 13 Third Street, ‘High Wheatley Hill’ and he started work at Thornley Colliery. He attended his first Thornley Miners’ Lodge Meeting in 1910 and this awakened a lifelong interest both in politics in general and in the many problems, both social and economic, of the mining industry.

He joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) shortly thereafter. He was elected as a Labour Member to the Easington Rural District Council in 1919. He was the Chairman of Thornley Miners’ Lodge from the early 1920s through to 1941. He was Chairman of Thornley Parish Council until 1937 and Chairman of the Rural District Council in 1930-31.

Self-educated, he read widely, taught himself the art of public speaking and was an enthusiastic campaigner for Sidney Webb, who became the first Labour MP for the then Seaham Division, in 1922. He also worked closely with Peter Lee and was instrumental in pushing forward both the 1920s Dunelm Road housing scheme and the 1931 ‘Greenwood Homes’ Aged Miners’ Homes project in Thornley.

He served on the Executive Committee of the Durham Miners’ Association during the General Strike of 1926. Throughout his union career, he pressed tirelessly for better wages, housing and social conditions for the miners of east Durham.

In 1941 he joined the Ministry of Labour and thence the Ministry Fuel and Power in Newcastle where he worked, as ‘Coalmining Labour Supply Officer’, on the wartime allocation of manpower in the Durham and Northumberland coalfields. At his retirement, in 1955, he was Deputy Director of Labour in the NCB’s Durham Division. He thus knew the coal industry literally from top to bottom both as a miner and as a manager.

Various unpublished manuscripts written by my grandfather in his retirement have survived within the larger family, plus many original documents, newspaper cuttings and correspondence. Special thanks to my cousin Lesley Rowley for loaning me these. I am currently in the process of editing and expanding this mass of material into a book project.

Many of the photographs, letters and documents I will be placing here are crying out for fuller captions, context and background detail. If you can place a face, or further explain a name, address or story in the selection of surviving documents posted here, please get in touch.

Click on the images at right for large format versions and captions.

This Index Page contains a listing of Hubert Tunney documents and photographs currently posted, more to follow.


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

Site first published 28th July 2012
Last Updated 25 December 2012

HUBERT TUNNEY, 1890-1974, AND THORNLEY COLLIERY