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mickypotts

Miners Killed In Bedlington Pits

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A bit off topic, A few years ago while visiting Canberra I was lucky to visit the Australian War Memorial and saw the "Man with a Donkey†or "Simpson and a Donkey†statue, I hadn't heard of it before, but I was impressed. It was of John Simpson Kirkpatrick (from South Shields) leading a donkey with war injured men in Gallipoli in 1914. The sculptor had hoped that the donkey's nose would become shiny from children rubbing it, it did!

Yes a bit more ambitious than this project, but the idea that people are encouraged to touch and "connect†with it (I did!)

Yes it's still early days Malcolm but good for getting some ideas out there, I also like the"safety lamp" idea.

http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/ART40993/

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Here some interesting history for you all.

What do you think ?

The patron saint of miners is St Barbara. Her sainthood is due to her virginity and martyrdom but her patronage of miners owes more to her father by whom she was martyred for converting to Christianity. In retaliation for her murder, her father was struck dead by lightning. This act caused Barbara to be regarded by ordinary people as the patron saint in time of danger from thunder-storms and fire; thus later, by analogy, she became the protector of artillerymen and miners. However, Barbara is also an Arabic word which means to talk confusedly, in a strange tongue.

In folktales miners are often depicted as gnomes who possess infinite, but seldom lasting, riches. The association with gnomes is all pervasive and extends back to the earliest mythologies and religious beliefs. In Chinese mythology the creator is Pán G? who is often depicted in art as a horned gnome holding a hammer and chisel.

This first of all living things was undoubtedly a miner. He hewed the universe from blocks of granite. This task took him 18,000 years and then he died. His death was the final act of creation: all things which he had not hewn from granite were created from his bodily remains. The mythology is particularly explicit about minerals and geology: his blood became the rivers of the earth, his bone marrow became the gemstones, his bones and teeth became the metals and minerals, his flesh became the soil and his muscles became the earth's strata.

Gnomes and goblins are associated with mining in Britain from the earliest times and every mining district has its own named goblin spirits which both tormented and protected the miner. One such is Bellikan, the god of prospecting, the imp of good luck. Unlike the virginal Barbara, Bellikan is completely naked and shows every satisfaction with his state.

The mining historian, Thomas Rickard, described him as "having a knowing smile, as if the contentions of the experts were a joke to him and as if the trappings of technology were a costume out of date. He

himself wears nothing only the smile of happy days."

Blue-caps were mine spirits in the North of England. The following account appeared in The Colliery Guardian in May 1863:

The supernatural person in question was no other than a ghostly putter, and his name was Blue-cap. Sometimes the miners would perceive a light-blue flame flicker through the air and settle on a full coal-tub, which immediately moved towards the rolly-way as though impelled by the sturdiest sinews in the working. Industrious Blue-cap required, and rightly, to be paid for his services, which he moderately rated as those of an ordinary average putter, therefore once a fortnight Blue-cap's wages were left for him in a solitary corner of the mine. If they were a farthing below his due, the indignant Blue-cap would not pocket a stiver; if they were a farthing above his due, indignant Blue-cap left the surplus where he found it . Knockers were Cornish mine spirits who knocked to indicate where rich tin ore was to be found.

They were supposed to be the ghosts of Jews who worked the mines, and primitive smelting houses sometimes found in the mines were called 'Jew's houses'. Many Jews did join the Cornish mines in the 11th and 12th centuries, but tradition puts their working much earlier.

The mine goblins of England had names of their own, Coblynau, Cutty Soams, Dunters, Knockers and the like, but there was one kind that was imported into English literature in the 17th century, and was so often mentioned as to be almost proverbial - 'the goblins who laboured in the mines'.

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The Colliers Hymn

Each felling heart pray lend an ear

Unto this mournful tale;

To draw a tear of sympathy,

I'm sure it cannot fail.

A number of these poor Colliers,

I grieve to have to say.

By fire-damp in the mine

Were lately swept away.!

God of my life, now I descend

To labour underground.

While danger all my steps attend,

And darkness all around.!

The fiery damp thou can'st control,

And stop my fleeting breath.

And cause the heavy fall of coal,

To crush me soon to death.

To face these horrid dangers,

Some brave men did descend.

Unto their fellow creatures,

They did assistance lend.

It struck their hearts with terror,

And filled them with dismay.

To see so many lifeless,

In deaths cold arms that day.

Oh God! our lives are in thine hand,

To spare or take away.

And to thy care we'll recommend

Ourselves throughout this day.

From sudden death deliver us,

And let thy will be done.

I trust oh God! thou'l let us see

Once more the setting sun.

The cries and groans of those poor men

Would cause your hearts to ache.

And many shed sad tears that day,

For those poor Colliers sake.

Think of those poor mournful widows

Whose hearts did ache with pain,

To think that morn would prove the last

They ee'r would meet again.

Now their wives and helpless children,

In sorrow are left behind.

May the Lord be their protector,

And unto them be kind.

For grief is so distressing,

So piercing to our ear.

Each joy is fled, their fathers dead,

And those Children left to rear.

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John wrote: "Lets get some interested names for thew steering group on here and get it rolling."

Any local project to be successful needs committed folk to drive it forward and I would suggest that the core members of the Steering Group need to be based in Bedders and its immediate hinterland. The obvious reason for this is the probable need for arranging meetings. The other thing that successful Steering Groups have is a mix of talent/skills/experience/connections. Having been away from Bedders for 45 years I'm not familiar with the current dynamics of the place. Are there any, so-called, leading citizens who could be approached ... the boss Padre at St Cuthberts, the boss Peeler, the top beaks at the local schools, a local saw-bones, is there a Bedder's conservation group (these usually have a few worthies).

Notwithstanding what Mal said about local politicos being involved (funding dilemma) I think they should be involved ... they know their way around committees and they have contacts. That's why I'd nominate Mal and/or Adam; JohnD is another obvious choice.

I would loved to be involved but, like Micky, I don't live in Blighty either.

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Just to give an update:

Support for something along the lines of a memorial day (TUC) was mentioned at a council meeting last night. Both Adam and myself jumped in highlighting the fact that there is a suggestion and 'committed' support on this site for a memorial statue for miners who lost their lives while at work.

The upshot, the council will take part in some sort of community/steering group looking to get this off the ground although it can't lead on it.

So anyone up for putting together the necessary?

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I was looking at the pictures of Netherton posted by Carole and mentioned them to my Dad who told me that my Great Grandfather was actually killed in a mining accident at Netherton Colliery.

My Dad was born in 1928 so the accident would have been prior to that date. I'll see what information he has and post it on here. He told me that my Great Grandfather used to carry my Grandfather to the colliery when he was only 10 years old when they both worked there !

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In post #72 above I said, "I could promise here to create a 'holding' website but I don't really have enough time."

I had a couple of hours to spare on Sunday and have completed the homepage for it, however, the 'storyboard' I've done for the rest of the site requires photos of each of the pit heads (there'll be a page per pit) but I'm struggling to find images for all the pit in Bedders. I've searched quickly online and got:

Netherton Howard

Choppington A

Bedlington A & D

but need the rest ... any help to locate others would be appreciated. Clearly, any still in copyright then I'd attempt to get approval for their use.

Suggestions as to how far out from Bedders should the scope of the Memorial Site go would also be welcome.


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Choppington, Cambois, Blyth, Ashington, Woodhorn. Newbiggin, Ellington, Pegswood, Longhirst etc. are all spokes in the same wheel that has Bedlington as its Axle, Ashington was the largest colliery in the world at one time but Bedlington pits are much older,

anyone have thoughts on this??

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Micky Potts my friend. You are on the right lines with the collieiries mentioned.

With the memorial it would be nice to incluce them all as Bedlington has had the most Northumberland Miners Picnics held compared to anywhere else and of course on this Bedlington forum we are talking about the prospects of one for our area.

Its the forum members idea and its terrific to see the interest in this.

I will talk to some of the group members and maybe at our next meeting see if it can be put on the agenda for some iseas as to where funding can be found and see if we can invite members of the forum to have a chat at our meeting and maybe get some hands on board.

Sadly i can't be part of that at this time being due to illness but lets see where we can go from here and get things in motion.

What do you think ?

As for pictures of headgear of the pits we have a huge archive of them and many many more and huge archive material too. And, i mean huge.

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The coal seams!

How far do they go, could they be the link.

Literal and metaphorical.

I have been reading about them, in the report for the Turbine at Netherton.

Low Main Seam

Main Seam

Plessey Seam

Harvey Seam

And Top Busty / can that really be the name!

These are all at Netherton, so I do not know how far they go underground.

I think people have talked about a Howard Seam.

That was at the Doctor Pit and the Opencast.

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Maggie many seams were throughout the district .

Say Bedlington Dr Pit, Bedlington D Pit.

12 seams were worked

Busty

Harvey

High Main

Yard

Maudlin H1

Maudlin H2

Main Coal F1

Main Coal F2

Low Main

Hutton

Brass Thill

Tilly P

They were also refered too as other names

an example here is

Mudlin H1 was Upper Bensham

Maudlin H2 was Bensham

Tilly P was Denton Low Main

Busty Q was Upper Busty 1

Thats how it was underground at the Doctory Pit.

I have a list of all seams from all the collieries somewhere inb my archives Maggie

Edited by johndawsonjune1955

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My question about "Suggestions as to how far out from Bedders should the scope of the Memorial Site go would also be welcome." is views on which pits to include. Should we restrict it to Bedders pits A, D, E, F or cast the net a little wider but the problem is where should the boundary be? Should Blyth (Bates) for example be included and others a little further out? The original idea was for a Bedlington Memorial, not a Northumberland one.

John I'll check your site for images of pit heads ... I only did a quick look elsewhere on the web on Sunday.

Edited by Symptoms

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I have raised this with the town council and the town council is to be asked at the next full meeting if it supports the idea of a miners memorial.

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I have raised this with the town council and the town council is to be asked at the next full meeting if it supports the idea of a miners memorial.

Great move Adam. Nice to know and hopefully it can materialise.

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Good job Adam,

My post with the other pits was in reponse to the how far out query, and not a suggestion they be included, but they were all Miners together, linked by their search for the black seam and joined together in death.

Bedlington should definately be the site of the memorial, we hosted the greatest picnics for the lads and they came from everywhere and were all very proud to fly their own Pit Banners in the air down Front St. and Bedlington was the place to be......

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I think if you look at the old Miner's Picnics and you'd see that the mining community was a very close family that moved freely around the area, just look at the different pits that HPW worked in! and the names from all over the area that had Bedlington connections. I'm sure if there was an death underground you would find a Bedlington miner in the rescue or recovery team!

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we hosted the greatest picnics for the lads and they came from everywhere and were all very proud to fly their own Pit Banners in the air down Front St. and Bedlington was the place to be......

Well said mickypotts!

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I would say every area should have a memorial to miners who worked and died down the pits not just places in South East Northumberland but those in Yorkshire, Scotland, Wales, etc. As coal miners deserve the same recognition and thanks as members of the armed forces get every year on the 11th November, because if it had not been thanks to coal miners we would never have had the industrial revolution we would have also lost either or both World War's as they provided the fuel for the county in it times of need.

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Adam wrote: " ... every area should have a memorial to miners who worked and died down the pits not just places in South East Northumberland but those in Yorkshire, Scotland, Wales, etc.".

When doing my Sunday trawl (see above) for images of colliery pit heads I was suprised at how many mining memorials there are in the different regions; these range from the obvious tubs through to beautiful bronze sculptures ... many funded by the local communities. Many of these memorials are dedicated to those who died in specific pit disasters/accidents rather than 'areas'.

Woodhorn would appear the have tons of resources but little of it seems to be available online ... it's 'hiding' behind a £4.25 'paywall' for EACH image. Yep, I appreciate they have to generate dosh to run the place but ....

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As Adam says "I would say every area should have a memorial to miners who worked and died down the pits not just places in South East Northumberland but those in Yorkshire, Scotland, Wales, etc. As coal miners deserve the same recognition and thanks as members of the armed forces get every year on the 11th November, because if it had not been thanks to coal miners we would never have had the industrial revolution we would have also lost either or both World War's as they provided the fuel for the county in it times of need."

He hits the nail on the head here and its a fact that other areas should have one.

However, let us concentrate on Bedlington's and make it a landmark event, and other areas may begin to follow suit.

Its true as Adam says about the miners and the wars, and mind you the miners made a good job tunnelling towards the enemy too. I just wonder how many Bedlington miners were involved in the tunnelling ?

It would be nice to record that for the future.

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