The Costello Family of Leadgate Part two

Part two of a series on the Costello Family of Leadgate with thanks to John Willis and family

The story now follows William and his family.

William married Margaret Bradley in 1892 and by 1901, employed as a miner, he was living at No. 65 Leadgate with his wife and 7 children, Kate aged 9, Mary 7, William, John 4, Daniel 3, James 2, and Thomas 6 months of age.

Leadgate Map from Alan Godfrey Maps who are based in Leadgate

The Godfrey Edition – Old Ordnance Survey Maps – Index (

By 1911 the family were living at 211, Green Street, Leadgate and Charles, Augustine, Joseph and Anne were then additions to the family which were living in a home with only three rooms.

William was still employed as a miner, while Kate was now a factory worker, son William, aged 16, was a colliery pony driver below ground and John aged 15 an apprentice carpenter.

Coal Magazine cover 1959

Voices in the Coalshed: Pony Drivers – National Coal Mining Museum (

The other children all attending school, with the exception of Anne being about 1 year old.

Like a lot of other local families the Costello’s were dependant largely on employment in the mining industry and must have been affected greatly by the General Strike of 1926, when it was estimated that between 200,000 and 250,000 were employed in pits in the Durham area.

from Britain’s General Strike, 1926: the revolution that might have been | Workers’ Liberty (

The General Strike 1926 – Historic UK (

Surviving the 1926 General Strike in a mining community – Portals (
Miners in particular remained on strike for many months and families suffered hardship as pit owners refused demands for better conditions and pay while demanding the opposite.

It was around that time that Augustine, then aged 20, decided to turn his back on mining and joined the
Metropolitan Police where he would rise to Inspector rank. Augustine married Sarah Godfrey and had a son Anthony.
Augustine died in 1967, having moved to Blackpool.

The Metropolitan Police: an introduction to records of service 1829-1958 | The National Archives

On 25 th February 1930, William, the eldest son was tragically killed in a fall of stone at Eden Colliery.

By 1939, several of the children had left the family home with the exception of John, Joseph, Kate and Daniel who were still living with parents now at 94, Front Street. Their father was now retired while the sons were all miners. William died in 1949 and his wife Margaret died the following year.

Both were buried at Our Blessed Lady and Saint Joseph Church at Brooms, near Leadgate where
several of their children were later to be buried.

Of their children, Mary had married Joseph White in 1915 and they had a daughter Winifred. Mary died in 1969.

Daniel had married Ann Robson in 1922 and had two sons, Daniel and Terrence, Daniel died in 1972.
Margaret had married John Finnegan in 1924, and together they eventually had 5 or 6 children, including
Kevin and William. Gerald and Joan. Margaret died in 1985.

James had married Margaret Gleadow in 1924 and subsequently had two children, Margaret and Peter.
James lived throughout in Leadgate and died in 1960. Thomas married Margaret Garland in 1924 and had a son Brian. Thomas remained in Leadgate and died in 1980.

Both James and Thomas were employed as labourers in the steel works.

Anne married James George in 1939 and was living in Stanley, and had a daughter, her husband James
George, who had worked as a miner but became a merchant seaman, died when the vessel he was on board, the SS LINWOOD, sank in November 1942.

He was listed as Missing in Action. She died in 2006.

During his life William Costello became well known in the area as an amateur photographer,becoming known as the Pitman Photographer.

Pitman Photographer | Home (

Using an early camera, he captured images of people, places and occurrences around the area, recording these onto glass plates.

Images such as The Netty steps, The Eden pit, Two of his children playing cricket and Durham being a few examples. (I believe that some of his work is held by Beamish Museum)

Kodak Brownie – Wikipedia
William also became knowledgeable about geology, interested in fossils, and as a member of the local Field
Society he developed contacts with academics in that field from Durham University.

He also regularly played football for The Exiles, one of the two Leadgate teams of the time, having a reputation as a hard working team player.

Leadgate Park and Exiles, Two Clubs One Village (

He is reputed to have made several predictions of future developments, such as hot water becoming available in homes, and men going to the moon. To which his wife would respond ” Don’t be daft”.

On his death, sons Joe and John tried to follow in their father’s footsteps as amateur photographers but did not have his abilities.

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