Councillor Thomas Richardson

1868 to 1928

A Biography

W. P. Richardson

(his great nephew)

In 1888, when Thomas was 20, he married Mary Ellinor Purvis who also was 20. In the 1891
census they were recorded as living at number 43 Jubilee Terrace, Holywell in
Northumberland. Thomas was 22 and his occupation was listed as 'Coal Miner'.

By the time of the 1901 census they were living in Usworth at number 6 Cooperative Terrace.
Thomas was now 32 and he was a 'Coal-Checkweighman'. They had four children, Annie
aged 9, Margaret aged 8, Florence Maud aged 3 and John Morley aged just 4 months.

By 1908 Thomas Richardson was  Counsillor Thomas Richardson, and on 27th August 1908
he officially opened the Glebe School in Station Road, Washington Station (now Columbia),
County Durham. At that time he was forty years old.
The Glebe School in Station Road, Washington Station, County Durham, was officially
opened on 27th August 1908 by Councillor Thomas Richardson. The school had its
first intake of students the following week at the beginning of the new school year on
the 1st of September 1908.

Click here for more information
An early postcards showing the Glebe
School Seniors on Station Road.
Photographer unknown
A Biography of Thomas Richardson
Thomas Richardson was born on 6th June 1868, the first child of Robert Richardson, a
coal miner, and his wife Margaret (nee Pallister). He was named for his paternal
Grandfather who had died six months before Thomas was born.

He was baptised on 22nd June 1868 and the baptism was entered in the register for the
South Shields Primitive Methodist Circuit. The record shows that the family lived at
Usworth Colliery and Thomas' Dad was a miner.

At the time of the 1871 census the family were living at Middle Row in Usworth and
Thomas was recorded as aged 2 along with his father Robert (24), mother Margaret (22)
and his little sister Isabella who was 1.

By the time of the 1881 census they had moved to number 51 Railway Terrace in
Usworth and Thomas was 12. He was now working for his living down the pit as a
'Trapper', which meant he worked below ground and opened the traps or doors to let
the coal waggons pass, then closed them to maintain the ventilation in the mine. Apart
from when a waggon passed, he would have been alone and in total darkness all the
time he was at work.

In 1885 Thomas's father Robert Richardson was killed in the explosion in the Usworth
Pit. On the night of the disaster he was working on the coal face as a "shifter".

Forty-two men died in the explosion. Twenty-seven were buried at Usworth Cemetery
and fourteen were buried at the Catholic Cemetery at Washington Village.
Robert Richardson who was 39, left behind his widow Margaret, and seven children. The family
received financial support from the Miners' Permanent Relief Fund and despite the tragedy, all
of Robert's sons went to work down the pit.

The following photograph of Robert Richardson's family was taken after his death down the
Usworth Pit.

Thomas Richardson is the tall lad, second from the left. He would have been about seventeen
when his dad died in the explosion.
The memorial at Usworth Cemetery to
those killed in the Mining Disaster at
Usworth Colliery on 2nd of March 1885.
Photographer unknown
Photo courtesy of W. R. Richardson
The Richardson Family after the 1885 Disiaster
Thomas, along with his brother William P. Richardson, was very involved in politics and
fighting for improved conditions for miners. He stood for election as a Labour Party candidate
and was M.P. for Whitehaven in Cumbria from 1911 till 1918.

In the census of 1911, Thomas was not in the family home with his wife and six children. He
was in Barrow in Furness and was listed as a Member of Parliament (previously Coal Miners'
Agent). He was listed as a visitor in the house of Alice Shaw a 69 year old widow and her 3
grown up children.

The 1914 Kellys Directory of Durham listed Thomas as living at 38 Co-Operative Terrace
Washington. He was still an M.P. and was also listed as a County Councillor representing  
Washington Ward.

In 1919, he and the family went to Canada. he was the Labour Party candidate for a Federal by
Election in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1920.

Thomas returned to England and lived in London, he died on 22nd Oct 1928 at St Thomas's
Hospital in London. His son, Robert McDonald Richardson registered the death and the
address at the time of his death was given as 10, Denny Crescent, Kennington Cross and
Thomas's occupation was given as Political Agent.  Probates was granted to his widow, Mary
Ellener, on 15th November 1928, his effects amounted to £30:8s:7d.

His cremation took place at Golders Green Crematorium and his ashes were interred at
Streatham Cemetery, grave 8347, square 6 where his daughter Margaret had been buried.
Councillor Thomas Richardson
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Audrey Fletcher

January 2015