Schoolchildren remember miners killed in colliery

Blackhall Rocks resident Reg Smith finds the name of his late father John, who died on August 8 1949 aged 38, on the plaque in Blackhall Community Centre.
Blackhall Rocks resident Reg Smith finds the name of his late father John, who died on August 8 1949 aged 38, on the plaque in Blackhall Community Centre.

Schoolchildren paid tribute to the miners who lost their lives in a former pit as a commemorative plaque was unveiled.

The brass plaque, which is engraved with the names of the 69 who died at Blackhall Colliery, is based at Blackhall Community Centre, in Hesleden Road.

Emma Corbett-Skedd, from St Joseph's Primary, and Harvey Jolly, from Blackhall Primary School, who unveiled the plaque in Blackhall Community Centre.

Emma Corbett-Skedd, from St Joseph's Primary, and Harvey Jolly, from Blackhall Primary School, who unveiled the plaque in Blackhall Community Centre.

Around 100 people attended a service, while pupils from Blackhall Colliery Primary School, St Joseph’s RC Primary School and Hesledon Primary School were also there.

A different child read out the name of all 69 miners, while there was also an exhibition of mining memorabilia from the Durham Mining Museum, in Spennymoor, and Beamish Museum.

The plaque was commissioned by the Blackhall Colliery Local History Group.

Its treasurer, Stan Gray, said: “We had a good turn-out from the general public, and some people were related to some of those who were killed there.

It was a bit emotional, especially when the children were reading the names out.

Stan Gray, treasurer of Blackhall Colliery Local History Group

“It was a bit emotional, especially when the children were reading the names out.

“It’s important we remember those who lost their lives, and that’s why we got the children from the schools involved.

“Part of their curriculum is mining history, and the 1950s and 1960s, so it was advantageous for them to get involved and learn more in this way.

“The plaque ensures those who died will always be remembered, and hopefully it is a fitting tribute.”

The plaque in Blackhall Community Centre.

The plaque in Blackhall Community Centre.

County councillors Rob Crute and Lynn Pounder pushed for the plaque to be made, while research was made to replace the former, paper memorial, which featured 57 names.

A donation was made to cover the costs of the plaque engraving in memory of those who died in the colliery, which opened in 1909 and closed in 1981.

Mr Gray added: “The original list only had 57 names on it, but it was said that some names were missing.

“I did some research with a friend of mine, Barry Chambers, who is the former secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, and we found another 12 names to add to it.

Durham County Councillor Lynn Pounder, who laid a wreath at the plaque in Blackhall Community Centre.

Durham County Councillor Lynn Pounder, who laid a wreath at the plaque in Blackhall Community Centre.

“Originally, we were going to pay for the plaque ourselves, but we were contacted by the North East Area Miners’ Social Welfare Trust Fund, who donated the £280 we needed.”

Schoolchildren from Hesleden Primary, St Joseph's Primary and Blackhall Primary Schools saying prayers during the plaque unveiling held in Blackhall Community Centre.

Schoolchildren from Hesleden Primary, St Joseph's Primary and Blackhall Primary Schools saying prayers during the plaque unveiling held in Blackhall Community Centre.

Schoolchildren from Hesleden Primary, St Joseph's Primary and Blackhall Primary Schools saying prayers during the plaque unveiling held in Blackhall Community Centre.

Schoolchildren from Hesleden Primary, St Joseph's Primary and Blackhall Primary Schools saying prayers during the plaque unveiling held in Blackhall Community Centre.

Members of the public at the plaque unveiling held in Blackhall Community Centre.

Members of the public at the plaque unveiling held in Blackhall Community Centre.