MEMORY LANE: Tour of Durham Cathedral with the original Peter Lee

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HIS first ever trip to Durham Cathedral was quite an occasion for John Joseph Harrison.

Of course, there was the beauty and majesty of the impressive building.

But John Joseph also had an impressive guide to show him round the place. The man leading this 14-year-old round the cathedral was Peter Lee, the influential miner’s leader and county councillor.

But John Joseph was later to make his own mark on the world and the Northern Daily Mail caught up with him in 1957.

He became the warden at Peterlee Community Centre and even held a fellowship for East Durham people in his home for a while for ten years until it grew so large, it had to be transferred to a methodist church.

John Joseph had clearly been inspired by the man who led him round Durham’s iconic and religious landmark that day.

He said, during an interview with the Northern Daily Mail in 1957: “He would have been proud of the new town that has been named after him.”

Mr Harrison himself started work at an early age. He was 14 when he began as a screen boy at Wheatley Hill pit.

He was then moved to the truck weigh office before becoming a truck weighman at Bearpark Colliery. He worked there for six years before he was made redundant.

He was out of work for 18 months before he went back to Wheatley Hill as the pit heap weighman.

But it was outside of his job that he made just as much of a mark.

He began showing an interest in youth work and started a young people’s fellowship in his home. It became so well known that famous people started to attend including Isobel Bailliee, a well-known soprano of the time.

Mr Harrison rose in the ranks and became a magistrate on the Castle Eden bench and chairman of the Hartlepools Hospital.