22nd September 1928 – 16th January 2018
The ‘Atkinsons’ have been associated with the Drapers’ Company at least since the early 19th century and John’s Great Grandmother was a tailor in North Road.
John himself was born in Hallgarth Street, the son of the Winder-man in charge of the pit-head gear at Bowburn Colliery. He lived in Wylam Street and at 14 years old after leaving St Margaret’s school he became an apprentice joiner at Bowburn Colliery (then owned by Dorman Long) dealing with shovels, shafts, doors and windows. He was time-served by the age of 21 in 1949 and left the colliery in 1962.
Sheila, John’s first wife for 34 years died in 1988
He then worked for the pre-1974 Durham City Council and then in the construction industry dealing with the civil engineering of reservoirs, bridges and schools. He returned to the service of Durham City in 1972 and became a foreman for housing maintenance from 1986 until his retirement in 1992.
John, in keeping with his character, slipped away quietly to Gretna Green in 1992 to marry Annie Abernethy (Ann) in 1992. Sadly Ann died in 2005
John lived in the family house at Tenter Terrace where he continued to practise his craft of joinery, producing splendid garden furniture. Freemen will recognize his workmanship in the oak candlestick and plate, which usually feature at Guild Days.
John loved photography and has over the years generously provided super panoramic photos of the City to guests. Over the years he built up an invaluable archive of pictures and films of Freemen activities, further evincing his loyalty and enthusiastic care for the good estate of the Freemen of Durham which continued until his death.