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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Tony Blair a 'red plaque' trail
Richard Moss
Richard Moss
Politics Show North East and Cumbria

Young Tony Blair
A young Blair - just like any other kid at school

Whatever your opinion of Tony Blair may be, there is no doubting the fact that he has left an indelible mark on British and international politics. Richard Moss goes on the Blair trail around his home patch and constituency to see the landmarks that formed his platform for his political career.

Our first stop is to Durham Chorister School which was Tony Blair's initial place of learning from 1961 to 1966.

Choristers hosted several other notable students, including Rowan (Mr Bean) Atkinson, The Rt Hon Lord Justice Laws, Paddy MacDee and Sir Peter Vardy.

Chorister School sign
He was in good company in the Chorister School

Tony Blair was a dayboy, as was his elder brother, William. And it was here, in a school "mock election", that he had his first brush with politics... but it was as a Conservative!

He has taken a keen interest in the school - returning on a number of occasions.

Home at 28

And it was from his childhood home, at 28 Hill Meadows in High Shincliffe that, as a day boy at Choristers, he would wend his way to school.

Tony Blair's childhood home in Shincliffe
A childhood home with happy and sad memories

But there would be mixed emotions at number 28 as his father, Leo, had a massive stroke at the age of 40, which cut his career in politics (he was Chairman of the local Conservative Association) short.

In 1966, Tony won himself a scholarship to Fettes, the Edinburgh Public School.

It is said, he drove his teachers to distraction, constantly questioning their authority.

Although he came back during the holidays, our Blair trail doesn¿t resume for a number of years.

Political reality

In 1981, through his father-in-law, the actor and left wing campaigner Tony Booth, Blair contacted Labour MP Tom Pendry to ask for help in becoming an MP.

Trimdon Labour Club
Trimdon Labour Club was a baptism of fire

But time was running out until, he found a vacant seat, in the newly-created constituency of Sedgefield, near where he grew up in County Durham.

So the next part of this heritage trail brings us to County Durham.

On 12 May 1983, Tony Blair arrived at a house in Trimdon to kick start what was an ailing political career.

It was his future agent, John Burton¿s home. He had to wait for Aberdeen to win the Cup Winners Cup on TV before he got his chance to convince local party members he could be their next MP.

The rest is history and there has been plenty made in Trimdon Labour Club too.

There have been many scenes of celebration there through Tony Blair's career, none bigger than when he was made Prime Minister.

And as with many such clubs around the country there have been many a pint sunk and many a cigarette puffed... will they be so enamoured when the smoking ban comes in?

Presidential pub

But there are a number of other locations throughout the Sedgefield constituency that have been focal to Tony Blair's tenure as MP and PM.

The Dun Cow pub
An unlikely meeting place for world leaders

The Dun Cow Inn, which was a gastropub way before the term became fashionable, sits on the corner of the village green at Sedgefield.

Tony and Cherie like it, and visit regularly, so it has been a natural place to entertain their visitors. French and American Presidents have sampled the fish and chips over a pint there too.

But for that quieter dining experience, the Blairs frequent Ministers, not far away from the Dun Cow.

Minister's restaurant sign
The quiet of a small restaurant brings a certain solace

It is here that portraits of departed Prime Ministers adorn the walls, reminding all who eat there that PMs do not last for ever.

The Blair's religious beliefs have been central to their lives. Although not often talking about his faith in public he is generally acknowledged as an Anglo-Catholic.

So our legacy tour next takes us to his place of private reflection and prayer - St John's in Sedgefield which is where all his children were Christened.

Myrobella

But Myrobella, Trimdon Station is Tony Blair's home and has been since 1983.

Myrobella
The family home in Myrobella is a non political sanctuary

It is half home, half office, tucked behind a row of old miners' cottages.

Bought for £30,000, it is a far cry from the splendour of 10 Downing Street or Chequers, but Myrobella is his political home.

This Blair heritage trail ends here. The next owner of the family home will not be so loved or loathed at one time.

And it is certain that County Durham is likely to remember this Blair family long after they have gone.

That is all on the Politics Show on Sunday 13 May 2007 at 12:00 BST - with Richard Moss...


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