George Parkinson (1828 to 1913) Pitman, Methodist and a Canny Writer.
Photograph: George Parkinson.
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The stories of George as a Durham miner are taken from his book "The Stories of Durham Pit Life", third edition published in 1912. The publisher was Charles H Kelly of London and the book is now out of copyright.
Introduction By George Parkinson.
DURING the later years of a long and busy life I have been much pressed by a wide circle of friends to write its story, or at least to outline in personal reminiscences, its varied experiences. My only opportunity, however, for responding to this request now comes amid the growing infirmities of age, compelling my retirement from the work in which I have been happily engaged from ruddy youth to hoary age.
After seventy years of joyous toll amidst the community to which I belong, I sit down in the reflective light of eventide, while the undimmed eye of memory ranges over a landscape of over fourscore years.
These memories are written without pretension to literary finish, but not without hope that they may be what my friends desire, and that possibly they may be found helpful to others. They have been written with some feeling of certainty that they will at least be read with gratification in the home of many an old Durham miner, not only in this but in other lands, recalling cherished memories and the happy associations of former days.
The recollection of these days of auld lang syne may re-kindle
smouldering fires of remembrance, and even a longing for
The touch of a vanished hand
And the sound of a voice that is still.
The book contains intoductions from William H Stephenson, Lord mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne and from another Notary, Mr T.H.Bainbridge.
Introduction From Mr Stephenson.
I am very pleased to be assured that our valued friend, Mr. George Parkinson, has consented to the publication of his Reminiscences of Methodism. It would have been a great disappointment, and a loss to the Wesleyan community, if he had been permitted to pass away without his experience being put in a convenient and permanent form for the use and profit of those who may succeed him.
His long and strenuous life has been full of active and successful service for Christ and His Church, and the record of what he has been able to accomplish, especially among the young, will be an incentive to all to follow his example and to engage heartily in all that concerns and promotes the moral and spiritual uplifting of the community.
As a lover of the Sunday school, and one who for more than half-a-century has devoted his energies to that undertaking, it may be remarked that greatly exceeding a generation of children has passed through his hands, many of them to do well, and a large number of them to serve their day and generation and honour God by their consistent and useful lives. his hands, many of them to do well, and a large number of them to serve their day and generation and honour God by their consistent and useful lives. In fact, only eternity will reveal the gracious results which have accrued from the disinterested and se!f-sacrificing labours of Mr. Parkinson.
I much regret that the constant claims upon time, both for public and other matters, preclude a fuller statement. I may say that, notwithstanding our friend's advanced years, I still hope that in the evening of life he may yet have further opportunity of serving the Church he loves so well, and I may further add that he lives in the esteem and goodwill of all who have had the pleasure and honour of his acquaintance.
William H. Stephenson, Lord Mayor,
Lord Mayor's Chamber,
27th November, 1911.
Introduction From Mr Bainbridge.
For more than forty years I have been proud to number George Parkinson among my most valued friends, and now gladly accede to his request that I should write this brief Introduction.
I have long been of opinion that it is incumbent upon men who have had unique experiences in Christian work to leave some record behind them. For twenty years or more Mr. Parkinson was urged by his friends to commit to writing some of his more striking reminiscences and experiences. This book is the result, and I, for one, am devoutly thankful that such episodes as are here recorded have been saved from oblivion.
George Parkinson's life and labours present a fine example of what Methodism can make of a man born in very humble circumstances. He was gifted with superior natural endowments; and in spite of defective education, and the disadvantage of having to begin work in the pit at a tender age, he has been able, by dint of persistent industry, to accomplish a splendid work for God and humanity.
He has had a good innings, and we thank God for the work His servant has accomplished.
George Parkinson's life-work may be best chronicled under these six headings:
- His weekly Bible-class for young men. This was maintained for over sixty years. This class may he described as the passion of his life; it proved a veritable nursery of Christian workers, including local preachers, ministers, and at least one missionary. Eternity alone will reveal its far reaching results.
- His work as a lay preacher. Few of the local preachers of Methodism have had a career more fruitful in blessing. For fifty years his services were in constant demand for Sunday-school anniversaries. Throughout the county of Durham his addresses on such occasions are remembered and talked of to this day.
- As a Class-leader. His enthusiasm and success m this work were quite exceptional. He was in truth the lay pastor of Sherburn. His sympathy, tact, and common sense eminently fitted him for this important office.
- As a counsellor in the church courts. He took an active interest in the Quarterly Meetings, District Synods and Annual Conferences of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. In such meetings he was a wise and far-seeing adviser, his long experience in practical church work giving weight to his counsels.
- Miners' Permanent Relief Fund. He took a prominent part in the organization and extension of the Miners' Permanent Relief Fund, which has brought untold blessing to the victims of mining accidents and to their relatives.
- For a period of twenty years his services as arbitrator were frequently requisitioned in disputes between miners and their employers. In such disputes both sides confided their interests without reserve to his unbiassed arbitrament.
In sending forth this little volume I confidently anticipate that these true stories-full as they are of vivid descriptions of Durham pit-life, with its humorous and pathetic memories will find a grateful appreciation in many a miner's home.
Moreover,the style of writing so clear, easy and natural that I shall be surprised if the book does not also commend itself to a much wider circle of readers.
T. H. Bainbridge.
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Photograph: George Parkinson.
Brown tinted, head and shoulders, portrait of an elderly man facing forward. He has a round pleasant face, a bald head with grey hair at the sides and has a slight smile on his face. His dark suit has a waistcoat and he wears a white shirt and a dark bow tie. Around his neck is a white band details of which are not clear on the photograph; could be a very low white beard or a furry collar. The background is a plain light colour. TEXT.