Book on Easington’s history ‘a mine of information’

Mary Bell with her book 'A Chronicle of Easington Colliery'.
Mary Bell with her book 'A Chronicle of Easington Colliery'.
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A NEW book is “a mine of information” on all there is to know about a former colliery community.

Author Mary Bell’s book, called A Chronicle of Easington Colliery, charts the history of the local pit and surrounding housing.

It features key events, and is also meant to be a memorial to the 193 men who lost their lives at the pit, from the first drawing of coal in 1910 to the colliery closing in 1993.

The book was being launched today at Easington Social Welfare Centre, the former miners’ hall, in Seaside Lane.

Easington MP Grahame Morris and Durham County Councillor for the area, Coun Dr David Boyes, were due to speak at the event, which runs from 2pm-4pm.

Mining union leaders were also expected to attend the launch, and members of the public are welcome.

Coun Boyes writes in the foreword of the book: “We must not forget the poets and novelists, such as Mary Bell, who attempt to explore the human relationships at the heart of the mining communities, for their contributions will go a long way to unearthing the essence of life in East Durham when coal was more than just a commodity to be dug up.”

The book is not just about Mary and her family, but a rich social history of the birth and life of Easington colliery.

The book lists the names of the men killed during the running of the pit.

It also describes the history of the colliery, including the first sod being cut in 1899, the discovery in 1909 of the frozen body of Robert Atkinson, four years after being lowered down the shaft to help sink the mine, a 13-week strike in 1921, a 30-week strike in 1926, the welfare hall opening in 1936, as well as the 1951 disaster which killed 83 people, through to the 1984-1985 strike, and the closure in 1993.

It took Mary, 83, who is a member of the Easington Writers’ Group, 13 years to research and write the book.

Mary, who is Easington born-and-bred but has lived in Horden for the past decade, has previously written a poetry book and had work published in anthologies.

But the mum-of-three said: “This is the book I am most proud of.

“I had to go to Durham and get the list of the men who had died. My father, Albert Duff, who worked at the pit for 60 years, used to tell me about the frozen miner and I didn’t believe it.”

The book, which costs £5.99, is available from the social welfare centre or on the Amazon website.