History of the Chester-le-Street & District Primary Cross Country

Cross country running has been an annual activity organised for top year primary children for 30 years in the Chester-le-Street district. The district athletics had been well established when, at the annual meeting on 15th November, it was proposed that a cross country event be organised in the following academic year. Four schools, Bullion Lane, Newker, Pelton Roseberry and Sacriston were asked to host the events as the premises in the four schools would provide a 'good enclosed track with a variety of terrain'

The following rules were adopted:

  • Top class children only were allowed to run in accordance with the national cross country rules
  • Boys' and girls' team comprising six runners in each team
  • Length of course to be between a mile and a mile and a half
  • Schools staging the event to make the course as interesting as possible

Bullion Lane were unable to provide a suitable course so, for the first ever set of cross country meetings, the following schools volunteered:

  • Saturday 14th January 1978: Pelton Roseberry - 10.30 am
  • Saturday 11th February: Sacriston - 10.30 am
  • Tuesday 14th March: Barley Mow - 4.30 pm

Although the annual meeting in 1978 recorded that the cross countries had been a success, there was no way that they had gone smoothly. The second meeting at Sacriston was cancelled due to poor weather and, in March, industrial action by teachers prevented a full turn-out at Barley Mow for the final meeting.

The annual meeting in 1980 reported that 15 schools competed. The standard of the competition was high and well enjoyed by pupils, staff and parents. New venues were added, noticeably Langley Park, Newker, Cestria" and Esh Winning. These two schools provided excellent courses, particularly Esh Winning.

The composition of each team altered with a team of four with three counting towards the team score. The reason for this change was that small schools found difficulty finding six in a team from the top year. Many times over the years, the issue of inviting younger pupils to take part was discussed but the recommendation from the English School Cross Country Association that top class pupils only were capable of running the distances required was taken on board.

The association had been asked to provide a team to take part in a triangular meeting with Consett and Stanley and the secretary's report at the annual meeting in 1984 stated the following "I have said for many years that we in Chester-le-Street enjoy a very high standard of competition in our athletics and cross country events. It is often difficult to measure how good the competition is but we were given ample proof this year when we trounced Consett in a cross country meeting at Lamgley Park. It is always heartening to see the number of children who go on to compete in further athletics events. Every week in the local newspaper, there are lists of children who have at one time represented schools in our association and are now performing well for the local harriers"

No cross country races were held in 1986 due to industrial action taken by teachers

Trophies are awarded each year but that is not the most important feature of the cross country events. Children are encouraged to perform to the best of their ability and it is often the runners at the back of the field who receive the greatest accolades. Cross country running is desperately difficult for those who see the better runners disappearing out of sight! Small schools, with little chance of winning, continue to turn up each year. West Pelton is one of these schools but what a great year it was for them in 1987 when they actually won the boy's trophy. A letter written to the association by headteacher Morrison Milburn describes perfectly how they felt: "We're still flushed with success over the cross country result and I'm sure that winning will never become such a frequent occurence that we'll be blase about it. What was especially pleasing about it was the genuine pleasure we seemed to give to so many other schools taking part. It was certainly a case of a minnow behaving like a shark and I hope it gave encouragement to many small schools who, like ourselves, take part regularly in all kinds of sporting activities without much hope of winning. It must be of great satisfaction to you that all the work you put into the organisation of the events results in meetings in which everyone competes in the very best spirit" West Pelton have never won another trophy since but continue to enter a team - surely, that is what it is all about!

Annual meeting: 1989 - a trophy for small schools was introduced resulting in four trophies up for grabs

  • Overall Trophy for Boys
  • Overall Trophy for Girls
  • Small Schools' Trophy for Boys
  • Small Schools' Trophy for Girls

First winners of the Small Schools' Trophies were Witton Gilbert (Girls) Birtley St Joseph's (Boys)

Trophies for the best individual boy and girl runners were introduced. Recognising excellence is important and, over the years, we have seen wonderful individual performances. The winner of the boy's trophy in 1990 was a certain Alan Baker (Newker). Little did we think that the same Mr Baker would lead his Pelton Community team to success years later as teacher. The enthusiasm he gained from primary school sport played a big part in the enthusiasm he now engenders from his pupils, driving them on to success in a range of sporting activities.

1995 - number of cross country venues reduced to three

2004 - 22 schools took part in the cross country meetings. This was the most we have ever had.

2007 was a sad year in the history of the association. Woodlea headteacher, Mr Peter Robinson, lost his fight for life after a long illness. Peter was a great supporter of the athletics association and will be greatly missed. In honour of his memory, a trophy has been introduced for the overall winner when the boys' and girls' scores are added together. Mr Graham Robson, deputy headteacher at Newker and good friend of Peter's writes:

"Newker Primary school wins the Peter Robinson Memorial Trophy in the Chester-le-Street District Schools' Cross Country Competition. There could be no better way for me to remember a valued friend and colleague. Peter Robinson spent most of his teaching career working in schools in the Chester-le-Street district, as deputy headteacher at Ouston Junior School and then as headteacher at Woodlea Primary School. It is difficult to sum up in a few words the contribution he made to the pupils he was responsible for and the colleagues who worked with him. He was committed to the teaching profession and had an instant rapport with and earned respect of his pupils, their parents and colleagues. Peter enjoyed the company of people and his cheerful personality and positive outlook quickly became evident when you first met him. There was never a dull moment in his company. He possessed a natural charismatic personality. How many people can make setting up a cross country course on a bitterly cold morning at eight o'clock in the morning on a bitterly cold January morning something to look forward to? Peter Robinson could! He was a firm believer in the policy "Get involved!" and he took an active role in events organised in the Chester-le-Street district - setting up cross country courses and annual district sports, refereeing tag rugby and football matches to name but a few. If the children were provided with a positive and valuable experience, he was there. People like Peter Robinson, who impact greatly on the lives of others, will never be forgotten. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues"

Cross Country - Past Winners
Boys Girls
1979 Pelton Roseberry 1979 Pelton Roseberry
1980 Esh Winning 1980 Esh Winning
1981 Pelton Roseberry 1981 Newker
1982 Pelton Roseberry 1982 Newker
1983 Birtley East 1983 Newker
1984 Newker 1984 Birtley East
1985 Newker 1985 Sacriston
1986 - 1986 -
1987 West Pelton 1987 Cestria
1988 Newker 1988 C of E
1989 Birtley East 1989 Newker
1990 C of E 1990 C of E
1991 Ouston 1991 Cestria
1992 Ouston St Benets 1992 Birtley St Josephs
1993 Newker 1993 Newker
1994 Birtley East 1994 C of E/Cestria
1995 Cestria 1995 Stanley St Josephs
1996 Newker 1996 St Cuthberts
1997 St Cuthberts 1997 Birtley East
1998 Newker 1998 Birtley St Josephs
1999 C of E 1999 Birtley St Josephs
2000 Pelton Community 2000 Red Rose
2001 Newker 2001 Newker
2002 Cestria 2002 Pelton Community
2003 Ouston 2003 Ouston
2004 Birtley East 2004 Bullion Lane
2005 Pelton Community 2005 C of E
2006 Pelton Community 2006 Pelton Community
2007 C of E 2007 Birtley St Josephs
2008 Red Rose 2008 Birtley St Josephs
2009 Cestria 2009 Newker
2010 - 2010 -
2011 Cestria 2011 Cestria
2012 Newker 2012 St Margarets
2013 St Margarets 2013 St Margarets
2014 Newker 2014 Cestria
2015 St Margarets 2015 Newker
2016 St Margarets 2106 Newker
2017 Cestria 2017 Red Rose/St Marg.

Elliot Rimington (Red Rose School) displays the power on a cold, frosty morning at Ouston in 2008 which won him the top boy runners' trophy

Anna Fawcett (Newker) and Lydia Turner (Ouston) receive their top runners awards in 2008. The competition between the two over the three events was a feature and it was Anna who came out on top each time.


An all-action start to the girls' race at Newker School 2008

One of the smallest, yet most successful schools, is Birtley St Josephs. Encouraged by teacher, Mr McCormick, St Joseph's girls battle their way around Newker's course to win the girls' trophy in 2008

Cestria's successful girls' team in 1991

Alan Baker proudly displaying his winner's trophy - 1990

Peter Robinson

Cestria display the girls' winners trophy which they jointly won with C of E in 1994. This was the only time the trophy had been shared.

A smart looking Pelton Roseberry team, with a young-looking teacher Mr Tom Baker, won both trophies in 1979 - the first winners of the cross country competition


Peter Robinson Memorial Trophy

Overall Winners






This photograph shows Simon Miller (Roseberry) running in the 1977 cross country. Years later, his daughter ran for Red Rose in 2012 - a regular occurance in the long history of Chester-le-Street cross countries


History of Chester-le-Street & District Primary Athletics

The Chester-le-Street Athletics' Association was responsible for secondary school athletics, although primary teachers were involved in the organising of events, until a meeting on 12th May 1965. At this meeting, it was agreed to hold a primary schools' athletics meeting on Wednesday 7th July 1965. The age group concerned were 4th Year (Year 6) boys and girls and 3rd Year (year 5) boys and girls. Decided that the following events would be organised:


Year 6 Boys Year 6 Girls
60 yards 60 yards
100 yards 80 yards
Obstacle Skipping
Hurdles Hurdles
Relay Relay
High Jump High Jump
Long Jump Long Jump
Cricket Ball Rounders Ball
Year 5 Boys Year 5 Girls
60 yards 50 yards
80 yards 60 yards
Obstacle Skipping
Hurdles Hurdles
Relay Relay
High Jump High Jump
Long Jump Long Jump
Cricket Ball Rounders Ball

The events have changed little over the years apart from the high jump, which was deemed to be a health and safety hazard for the competitors

The first two meetings certainly had their problems. Atrocious weather affected the first meeting and, according to the annual meeting on 16th November 1966, the meeting was marred by rain once again which caused the meeting to be postponed until the following Monday. This was followed by a mix up with the public address system delivery which totally spoiled the meeting.

The first meeting to be held at Ouston Junior School was in 1968. The minutes of the meeting reported that all the arrangements were carried out by Ouston headteacher, Mr N Dickinson, ably supported by his staff. The secretary's report said

"I have pleasure in saying that these arrangements were excellent. The enthusiasm of the pupils and staff were sufficient to ensure success. An enormous amount of work had been put in by the staff of the school, work done in their own time, to make tiers in cement along the front of the track to ensure good seating positions. I am sure that, with the permission of Mr Dickinson, this will be the future venue of the primary schools' meeting"

In the 40 years since, Ouston Junior School has been the main venue for the meeting. For various reasons, Park View Community College, Roseberry Sports College and Esh Winning Primary School have been used as venues but there is no doubt that Ouston School is synonymous with the annual athletics' meeting.

The AGM of the full association on 22nd November 1973 decided that a Chester-le-Street Primary Schools Athletics Association be formed because the senior schools in the present association would soon be leaving to merge with surrounding larger associations. This was proposed by Mr Neal Dickinson and seconded by Mr J Meek

Officers of the First Primary Association
Chairman Mr R Everett
Vice Chairman Mr M Richardson
Secretary Mr N Wilson
Treasurer Mr J Thornback


District Athletics: Overall Winners

1965 Birtley Eliz 1989 Newker
1966 Red Rose 1990 Cestria
1967 Ouston 1991 Cestria
1968 Ouston 1992 Newker
1969 Ouston 1993 Newker
1970 Ouston 1994 Red Rose
1971 Ouston 1995 Newker
1972 Ouston 1996 Newker
1973 Ouston 1997 Cestria
1974 Ouston 1998 St Cuthberts
1975 Ouston 1999 C of E
1976 Roseberry 2000 Ouston
1977 Ouston 2001 Ouston
1978 Ouston 2002 Ouston
1979 Esh Winn. 2003 Ouston
1980 Ouston 2004 Ouston
1981 Red Rose 2005 Ouston
1982 Ouston 2006 Ouston
1983 Birtley East 2007 Ouston/Pelton
1984 Newker 2008 Pelton Co
1985 Ouston 2009 Pelton Co
1986 Ouston 2010 Newker
1987 Cestria 2011 St Margarets
1988 Newker 2012 Newker
2013 St Marg 2014 St Marg.
2015 St Marg 2016  


District Athletics: Year 5 Girls' Winners

1968 Ouston 1992 Cestria
1969 Roseberry 1993 St Cuths
1970 Ouston 1994 Cestria
1971 Bullion Lane 1995 Ouston
1972 Ouston 1996 Red Rose
1973 Ouston 1997 Red Rose
1974 Ouston 1998 St Cuths
1975 Ouston 1999 C of E
1976 Langley Park 2000 Red Rose
1977 Ouston 2001 Ouston
1978 Ouston 2002 Ouston
1979 Esh Winning 2003 Ouston
1980 Newker 2004 Ouston
1981 Red Rose 2005 Ouston
1982 Ouston 2006 Ouston
1983 Red Rose 2007 Ouston
1984 Newker/Ouston 2008 Pelton Co
1985 Newker 2009 Pelton Co
1986 Ouston 2010 St Marg.
1987 Birtley St Jos 2011 St Marg.
1988 Newker 2012 St Marg
1989 Cestria 2013 St Marg.
1990 Cestria 2014 Cestria
1991 Newker    


District Athletics: Year 5 Boys' Winners

1968 Kibblesworth 1992 Newker
1969 Red Rose 1993 Roseberry
1970 Sacriston 1994 Newker
1971 Sacriston 1995 Newker
1972 Barley Mow 1996 Bullion La
1973 Kibblesworth 1997 C of E
1974 Ouston 1998 St Cuths
1975 Pelton Roseberry 1999 C of E
1976 Ouston 2000 Ouston
1977 Ouston 2001 Cestria
1978 Pelton Roseberry 2002 Ouston
1979 Pelton Roseberry 2003 Ouston
1980 Ouston 2004 C of E
1981 Ouston 2005 Red Rose
1982 Ouston 2006 Pelton Co
1983 Ouston 2007 Newker
1984 Newker 2008 Newker
1985 Ouston 2009 Newker
1986 Ouston 2010 Newker
1987 Newker 2011 Newker
1988 Barley M/R Rose 2012 Newker
1989 Pelton Roseberry 2013 Cestria
1990 Ouston 2014 New/St Mar
1991 Ouston/Roseberry    


District Athletics: Year 5 Aggregate Winners

1968 Red Rose 1992 Newker
1969 Ouston 1993 St Cuthberts
1970 Ouston 1994 Newker
1971 Birtley East 1995 Ouston
1972 Barley Mow 1996 Red Rose
1973 Ouston 1997 Red Rose
1974 Ouston 1998 St Cuthberts
1975 Ouston 1999 C of E
1976 Roseberry 2000 C of E
1977 Ouston 2001 Ouston
1978 Ouston 2002 Ouston
1979 Ouston 2003 Ouston
1980 Ouston 2004 Ouston
1981 Red Rose 2005 Red Rose
1982 Ouston 2006 Ouston
1983 Birtley East 2007 Ouston
1984 Newker 2008 Pelton Co
1985 Ouston 2009 Newker
1986 Ouston 2010 St Margarets
1987 Newker 2011 St Margarets
1988 Newker 2012 Newker
1989 Newker 2013 Cestria
1990 Cestria 2014 Newker
1991 Red Rose    


District Athletics: Year 6 Girls' Winners

2001 C of E 2008 Ouston
2002 Ouston 2009 Cestria
2003 Sacriston 2010 Newker
2004 Ouston 2011 Cestria
2005 Ouston 2012 Cestria
2006 Ouston 2013 St Margarets
2007 St Cuths 2014 St Margarets


District Athletics: Year 6 Boys' Winners

2002 Ouston 2009 Pelton Co
2003 Red Rose 2010 Newker
2004 Cestria 2011 Newker
2005 St Benets 2012 Newker
2006 Red Rose 2013 St Marg.
2007 Pelton Co 2013 St Marg.
2008 Newker 2014 St Marg.


District Athletics: Year 6 Aggregate Winners

1968 Ouston 1992 Roseberry
1969 Ouston 1993 Newker
1970 Ouston 1994 Red Rose
1971 Red Rose 1995 Stan St Jos
1972 Sacriston 1996 St Cuthberts
1973 Ouston 1997 Red Rose
1974 Ouston 1998 Stan St Jos
1975 Ouston 1999 Pelton Co
1976 Ouston 2000 Ouston
1977 Ouston 2001 Red Rose
1978 Ouston 2002 Ouston
1979 Esh Winning 2003 St Benets
1980 Esh Winning 2004 Ouston
1981 Roseberry 2005 Ouston
1982 Ouston 2006 Red Rose
1983 Newker 2007 St Cuthberts
1984 Newker 2008 Newker
1985 Newker 2009 Pelton Co
1986 Newker 2010 Newker
1987 Ouston 2011 Newker
1988 Newker 2012 Newker
1989 Newker 2013 Newker
1990 Roseberry 2014 St Marg.
1991 Cestria


District Athletics: Small Schools' Year 5 Winners

1987 Red Rose 2001 Roseberry
1988 Red Rose 2002 St Benets
1989 Red Rose 2003 Red Rose
1990 Birt St Jos 2004 Belmont
1991 Birt St Jos 2005 Red Rose
1992 Red Rose 2006 St Benets
1993 St Cuths 2007 Birt St Jos
1994 Red Rose 2008 Birt St Jos
1995 St Cuths 2009 Birt St Jos
1996 Red Rose 2010 Witt Gilbert
1997 Stan St Jos 2011 Stan St Jos
1998 Red Rose 2012 Witt Gilbert
1999 St Benets 2013 Birt St Jos
2000 St Benets 2014 St Jos/Simon.


District Athletics: Small Schools' Year 6 Winners

1987 St Cuths 2001 Red Rose
1988 Red Rose 2002 Roseberry
1989 Red Rose 2003 St Benets
1990 St Cuths 2004 St Benets
1991 Red Rose 2005 St Benets
1992 Red Rose 2006 Witt Gilbert
1993 Red Rose 2007 Birt St Jos
1994 Red Rose 2008 Barley Mow
1995 Stan St Jos 2009 Birt St Jos
1996 St Cuths 2010 Birt St Jos
1997 Gilesgate 2011 Roseberry
1998 Stan St Jos 2012 Simonside
1999 Red Rose 2013 Barley Mow
2000 Barley Mow 2014 Simonside


District Athletics: Small Schools' Aggregate Winners

1979 St Benets 1998 Red Rose
1980 Nettlesworth 1999 Red Rose
1981 Bournmoor 2000 Red Rose
1982 Bournmoor 2001 Red Rose
1983 Birt St Jos 2002 St Cuths
1984 Birt St Jos 2003 St Benets
1985 Bournmoor 2004 Belmont
1986 Birt St Jos 2005 Red Rose
1987 St Cuthberts 2006 Witt Gilbert
1988 Red Rose 2007 Birt St Jos
1989 Red Rose 2008 Birt St Jos
1990 Red Rose 2009 Birt St Jos
1991 Red Rose 2010 Birt St Jos
1992 Red Rose 2011 St Benets
1993 Red Rose 2012 Witt Gilbert
1994 Red Rose 2013 Birt St Jos
1995 Red Rose 2014 Simonside
1996 St Cuthberts    
1997 Stan St Jos    


After so many years at Ouston, the new venue in 2013 was the Riverside

Hard at work checking the points

Baton change in the relay - an important part of the race

Boys' obstacle race - always exciting

Girls' Hurdles Raced: 2013

St Margaret's - District Champions 2013

Super landing in the long jump

Skipping race at Chester-le-Street Riverside



60 metre Sprint



80 Metre Sprint






Straining Every Muscle



12th May 1965

Athletics Meeting Held at Chester-le-Street Grammar School

The winning team in the first primary athletics meeting will be presented    with the Stan Seymour Trohy




24th November 1965

AGM Minutes

The secretary thanked both competitors and officials who carried on and completed the first primary schools   athletics' meeting in spite of the most atrocious weather conditions ever experienced




Athletics' Meeting 1966 held at Birtley South Modern School

Red Rose won the Stan Seymour Trophy as overall winners of the primary  schools athletics' meeting.

No team carried off two trophies -    other   winners were Roseberry, Ouston, and Elizabethville but it was Red Rose who won the overall trophy by half a point from Ouston




Athletics' Meeting 1968 held, for the first time, at Ouston Junior School

Ouston won the Stan Seymour overall trophy and the Roma Trophy but were beaten by one point by Red Rose in the Dairy Council Trophy




The 1977 annual meeting announced the retirement of Mr Bob Everett from the association and from teaching. Bob had given many years of service to both football and athletics in the Chester-le-Street area and the meeting wished him well in his retirement