Monday, 10 December 2012

Closure of Wearmouth Colliery, Sunderland (1993)

After 800 years of Durham coal-mining, the Wearmouth Colliery closed on 10 December 1993 - the last in the historic county.

Coal-mining is a dangerous industry - even now, but particularly a century and more ago. There were the perils of suffocation, explosion, equipment failure, accidents and of course roof-falls.

An old Durham miner I knew, one who remembered pit ponies, told me about the life of those who went below-ground. He said they were gentle, respectable men when up in the daylight - never swore - but cursed relentlessly when underground. We can romanticise their close-knit communities, their commitment to the friends and neighbours and lifestyles,  the piety of many of them - good Methodists, often -  but the virtues came at a great cost in shortened lives and hardship. So often the good things of humanity come from hard times.


  1. My great-grandad was a pitman in Consett, Co. Durham. If you're ever in Durham Cathedral, pause by the memorial with its miner's lamp. Very moving.

    love Mags B x

  2. Aye lass. I'm the first generation of my family since the 1800s not to be a pitman. My great-great Grandad, died in the Seaham Colliery explosion of 1880 and my dad worked across the Durham coalfield (including time at Wearmouth). Never mind, though pet, we've got a nice shiny footy stadium in place of the pit. Nee jobs, but we've got a footy pitch. Panem et circenses as they used to say out bye after a lang day's hewin'.

  3. I, too, grew up in a rolled-up newspaper in the middle of the road.


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