After a colliery strike in 1892 Peter Lee was made checkweighman and so held his first public office.
Many of the old customs are now dying out, although some still persist. These are the giving of the “three things” to a new-born baby when entering another house for the first time. They are usually salt, matches and money to ensure the luck of the baby through life.
On the way to the church for baptism a parcel containing money and cake is given to the first person of the opposite sex of the baby who should be met in the street.
The old funeral customs are no longer practised.
There were the “bidders” who went from door to door inviting all to the funeral. The coffin was placed outside the front door of the house and mourners gathered for a short service. If the funeral was that of a baby the cortege was headed by two young girls wearing black sashes. A lavish tea was provided after the burial, and it was the bidders’ duty to invite all back to the house.
The processions were discouraged and discontinued during the second vwar.
At Christmas time the boys from down the pit went around the houses with a rectangular box called the “tuup,” collecting donations for their personal use.
This box was lined with coloured paper, lit by a candle, and contained a doll, apple and orange.
The old custom of distributing palm crosses at Church on Palm Sunday has been revived, but gone is the custom of “Jarping” eggs on Easter Monday. This practice involved a duel of hard-boiled hens eggs, often brightly coloured, in which one young owner held up his/her egg, point foremost, and an equally young contender attempted to break the shell with the point of his/her own egg. The custom is said to signify the breaking of the tomb on the first Easter Monday.
As to transport,the village is adequately served by buses connecting with the neighbouring towns of Sunderland and West Hartlepool and Durham City. The two railway stations are now closed to all excepting parcel traffic. When the stations were in use (before the introduction of buses) passengers were met at Wellfield Junction by Mr. Tom Humphries and his wagonette “the Fairy Queen.” This conveyance was originally an open vehicle. Trade was brisk and a charge of threepence was made f’rom the station to the village. Later Mr. Humphries had a rival in a Mr. Storey, but progress overtoolc their rivalry and neither trains nor wagonettes were needed.
As to sport in Wingate, the gable of the ironmonger’s shop owned by the Tonks Brothers was once used as a Ball Alley where champions played. The champion cyclist of the day was one Lord Bentley of Wingate, whose Christian name deceived many thousands of people. In addition the village could boast the sprint champion of Northumberland and Durham in 1918. His name was Mr. Plant.
As with other similar villages, the miners spent many hours playing the game of quoits on greens and open spaces.
In the years preceeding the Great War Wingate had one of the finest football clubs in the country.
The village now has a Miners’ Welfare Scheme of two acres, comprising six bowling greens, two tennis courts and children’s playground.
In 1913 the first Wingate Boy Scout Troop was formed and is still active. The leaders today are Mr. Jack North, Mr. Harry Clogg, Mr. Harry Drysdale and Mr.
Two school teachers, Victoria Buck and Adelaide Sample, had charge of the Girl Guides for many years and gave up much of their free time to this movement. The troop still functions under the leadership of Miss Clarke.