Streets central area.....Select a picture to enlarge

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North John Street Independant Methodist Chapel, the Oddfellows Hall, (plaque on wall), No. 16. Photograph 1934. Demolished soon after. The Oddfellows Hall would have been a public hall providing a meeting place for the villagers. The Oddfellows Society dates back as far as 1730, but it was actually an illegal organisation during much of the 18th Century. At a time when there was no welfare state, no NHS and no trade unions, the society was established to look after its members as and when they needed help, but it was viewed by government and politicians as a potential hotbed of revolt. It is thought that the term ‘Oddfellows’ evolved from a description of members of a guild from a variety of trades. The Oddfellows were legalised in 1850, and are still going strong today.

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Back North Tce, there were 2 pubs in this Street, The Highlander (1851) and The Shipwright's Arms( 1855), neither appear in earlier records but were probably beer houses from being built in the 1830s. Under an 1830 Act (designed to combat the gin houses of the day) any householder who paid rates could apply, with a one-off payment of two guineas, to sell beer or cider in his home (usually the front parlour) and even brew his own on his premises. The permission did not extend to the sale of spirits and fortified wines and any beer house discovered selling those items were closed down and the owner heavily fined. Beer houses were not permitted to open on Sundays. The beer was usually served from jugs or dispensed direct from tapped wooden barrels lying on a table in the corner of the room. This law changed in 1869. This law coincided with the birth of Seaham, consequently there were dozens of beer houses in the town.

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Looking up Little John Street from th junction with Back North Terrace, the houses visible at the top of the street are North John St (John St). Photograph c1934

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Nos 14 and 15 Little John Street c1934

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14 and 15 Back North Railway Street, c 1930.

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