“AN affray of a serious aspect took place at 10pm on Sunday at a lonely place known as Four Lane Ends between Durham and Flass Hall,” reported the D&S on January 14, 1871. The scene of the affray was a newly-built pub, called the Flass Inn, which we think still stands but is now in the middle of Ushaw Moor.

The landlord, William Dawson, was in the Flass with his friend, Robert Dixon Marshall, a well known rower who was also the landlord of the Griffin Inn in Durham Market Place. Drinking in the Flass were some Ushaw Moor miners, including John, Tim and Peter Connolly, who had a grudge against Mr Marshall.

To protect Mr Dawson’s new interior fittings, Mr Marshall took them outside for a fight, but he received a terrible mauling and his hands were slashed by a knife. He retreated inside, and Mr Dawson barricaded the door.

“Stones, lumps of ice and any missile the assailants could find were hurled with the greatest violence through the upstairs windows, causing Mr Dawson’s family to retreat downstairs where the screems of the women and children only seemed to excite the besiegers to fresh efforts,” said the paper.

“Mr Dawson got out his gun, which was loaded with powder and which he fired through a hole with the intention of frightening the men.

“The report of the gun, however, was received with a loud yell from the outsiders, who were heard to shout ‘it’s only loaded with powder!’ ‘let’s murder them’ and other threats. Following this, they renewed their charge on the front of the house.”

Urged on by his friends and family, Mr Dawson reloaded his gun, this time with shotcorns – pellets – and fired once more.

This time, “a cry accompanying the yelling showed that the shot had taken effect”.

The besiegers had to call off their attack and carried the injured Tim Connolly for surgical assistance. He had six shotcorns removed from his calf.

“At Mr Dawson’s house, matters were in a deplorable state,” said the D&S. “Nearly all the windows were broken and many of the articles in the upstairs room had also shared a similar fate. Mr Marshall’s face was greatly disfigured from the mauling he had received.”

The following week’s edition of the paper, printed on January 21, 1871, told how Peter Connolly appeared in court with fellow Ushaw miner Joseph Soulsby charged with assault and causing damage. Timothy Connolly was similarly charged, but couldn’t appear because of his medical condition – “his bloody and torn stocking was produced in court”, said the paper.

“A bag containing stones and bricks, some being of monster dimensions, were produced as having been plucked up in Mr Dawson’s house, two taken from the bed of Mr Dawson’s children who had been sleeping,” said the report.

All three men were fined £4 1s 2d for damaging the pub, and £2 6s 6d for assaulting on Mr Marshall. They paid their fines at once.