Hopes to restore village heritage

Alan Liversidge
Alan Liversidge

PLANS are underway to finally give a former pit village a new mining banner.

The original Haswell banner, unfurled in 1893, two years before the local pit closed, is thought to be the oldest on public display.

It was handed to Durham Cathedral to go on permanent display in 1989 and has remained there ever since.

As a result, there has been no banner for the people of Haswell to take to the annual Durham Miners’ Gala (Big Meet) for the last 24 years.

But this could all be set to change if a bid to raise £9,000 for a new banner and display case are successful.

Haswell Parish Council, Haswell Regeneration Partnership and Haswell History Group have mounted a bid to secure the funding.

Despite having a bid for finance from the County Durham Foundation rejected, village officials are preparing to re-apply.

They also hope to receive part-funding from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

The move is part of an attempt to reinvigorate the village – and comes alongside Haswell’s hopes of installing a memorial to world-class cyclist Tommy Simpson, who grew up in the village.

Parish council and regeneration partnership chairman, Alan Liversidge, also a committee member with the history group, said: “It would cost £2,000 alone just to take down the banner in the cathedral.

“The original banner is also a lot bigger than the standard size, so the slightest gust and we would probably take off

“So we want to get a replica.”

Mr Liversidge said it was unlikely that the money would come in time for this year’s Big Meet.

But it was hoped that next year Haswell residents could once again proudly show off their heritage by parading with their banner.

“To have our own banner is better than showing young people a photograph of it,” added Mr Liversidge.

“Because we have been a deprived village in many ways, I think people will be pleased about it.”

And he described the village as being “on the up”, with the thriving Hazlewell Community Centre, where the banner would be displayed, and other local areas “improving bit by bit”.

Haswell pit opened in 1835 and was the first deep mine in the country to take miners down to the coalface via a cage.

In 1844 a massive explosion saw 95 people killed.

The original banner shows Tommy Ramsey, an early Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) character, Alex MacDonald, national president and William Crawford, Secretary of the DMA.