Community to remember those lost in Easington Colliery Disaster on its 70th anniversary

A community is to gather and remember the 83 lives lost in a colliery disaster, 70 years on from the tragedy.

Easington Colliery Disaster happened on May 29, 1951, claiming the lives of 81 miners and two rescue workers when an explosion was sparked from a cutting machine, igniting a pocket of gas in one of the seams.

It is regarded as one of the worse mining accidents in the North East and triggered safety recommendations from the mines Inspectorate and the reconstruction of the pit

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Councillor Angela Surtees, who represents Easington on Durham County Council, pictured at the Easington Colliery Disaster just before the 60th anniversary of the tragedy.

In the weeks following the incident, the bodies of the victims were recovered and 72 men were laid to rest in a communal grave at Easington Colliery Cemetery.

A memorial fund was opened and a garden of remembrance incorporating the communal grave was created using the designs of the architect of the Durham Division of the National Coal Board (NCB).

The garden was inaugurated on the third anniversary of the disaster thanks to the £3,000 raised.

The annual memorial event will take place tomorrow (Saturday, May 29), with residents welcome to gather at the community park, opposite the Easington Colliery Brass Band hut on Crawlaw Road, at 10.45am.

The band will play a piece of music, followed by speeches by Alan Cummings, the former secretary of Durham Miners’ Association and NUM Lodge secretary, and Grahame Morris, Easington’s Labour MP.

The unveiling of new commemorative benches will be performed by residents with a personal connection to miners who died in the disaster and blessed by a vicar.

Following the dedication of the benches, people will be invited to march behind the band and the miners’ banner to the cemetery, where wreaths will be laid at the mass grave.

Prayers will be said and the band will finish the event by playing Gresford.

Under Covid rules, organisers say they are only allowed to march if 30 or fewer people are following behind the banner.

A pit was first sunk at Easington in 1899 and the first coals were drawn in 1910, with the colliery closed in 1993 and the pit shaft headgear demolished the following year.

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