Peterlee, County Durham is the only UK town named after a trade unionist – PETER LEE, the celebrated Durham Miners’ leader during the 1926 General Strike. Built as a new town after the Second World War, Peterlee was seen as antidote to the squalor of some of the local mining villages. New housing was to be accompanied by new industrial estates. The closure of all local mines means the latter are even more important today with the likes of Caterpillar and Walkers Crisps (*) providing employment opportunities.
Peter Lee (1864 -1935) was born in nearby Trimdon Grange and began colliery work at aged ten. Ten years later he returned to the classroom and learnt to read properly before heading for the US where he worked underground for two years. On his return he became Wingate miners pit delegate before again setting off on his travels this time to South Africa and from which he returned as a committed Christian. He was elected as a local parish and County Council member and after returning to work at Wheatley Hill Colliery he became an agent for Durham Miners’ Association and President of the Miner’s Federation of Great Britain.
* Where I worked and was a shop steward and safety rep in the 1970s and 1980s when it was Tudor Crisps.