Article submitted courtesy of Christopher Jameson, July 2022
During my life achievements have been very few. However, I discovered an ancestor, my great grandfather
Willam Rogers, via my relatives Alma Reeve and Win Surtees both of which originated from Weardale Dale
Street, Spennymoor. Great Grandfather William has a fascinating but brief history. The family affectionately know
him as, 'The Fighting Lay Preacher of Spennymoor'.
William worked as a collier at the local pit hewing the black gold, and a lay preacher covering the Dene Parish. At
the outbreak of World War 1 he answered his country's call for help and joined the British Army. Upon completing
his basic training he served on the Western Front where he was gassed. William returned to Spennymoor to
spend many months to recover from the affects of his gassing. However, he never recovered sufficiently enough
to be able to work as a collier. All he could was continue with his lay preaching.
In 1930, William took pen to parchment writing poetry including a poem about Spring the rebirth from Winter.
HOW THE GIFT WAS PASSED TO HIS GREAT GRANDSON
I have been residing in the town of Willenhall, The Land of the Lock Makers, located in the industrial corridor between the City of Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton, an area famously known as the Black Country, for forty-six-years. Alma kindly sent me copies of his poems in January 2021. Being fascinated with the history of the Palatine of County Durham I studied his poetry in depth. Such was my fascination that I decided to to publish them on Facebook. During this process a thought sprung to me saying to myself, "have a go at it yourself, you have nothing to loose".
The result is that I started to write poetry. After a few failed attempts I decided to write a poem that paid tribute to all miners who served and died in the Durham coalfields, and The Miners' Prayer was written. Poem after poem flowed from my quill on numerous topics. To date I written several poems with Alma and Win cheering me on from 180 miles away.
Beautiful spring, beautiful spring
What is the joy the sunshine doeth bring.
Larks in the sky their song full of cheer
Gladness around makes our hearts merrily ring
Of all that is beautiful, beautiful is spring.
Beautiful morning, gladsome and bright
Glorious sunbeams with radient gleams
Spring from the happiness of beautiful spring.
Flowers of the woods, the glen of the dales
Lambs of the field in their frolicsome play'
Speak of the promises of hope to be revealed'
With spring beautiful, beautiful spring.
Youth in its vigour, ever does strive,
To attain all that is noble whatever betide.
Life with its pleasures, its joys ever seek,
Nothing too high, nor effort deride,
To filled to the full of beautiful spring.
The Fighting Lay Preacher of Spennymoor