Service for 1916 Woodhorn disaster

The Woodhorn Colliery disaster centenary memorial included an address by Rev Peter Sinclair, Vicar of Woodhorn with Newbiggin.
The Woodhorn Colliery disaster centenary memorial included an address by Rev Peter Sinclair, Vicar of Woodhorn with Newbiggin.

A moving service was held last Saturday to mark the centenary of the Woodhorn Colliery disaster that claimed the lives of 13 men.

The gathering took place in the shadow of the pit wheels at the memorial statue to honour the victims. Descendants of those who died were in attendance.

Wreaths were laid during the memorial and 13 children each laid out a single yellow rose as a choir sang the traditional pit song ‘Fell ‘Em Doon’.

The recollections of then 10-year-old Nancy Walton, whose father Edward Walton was killed, were read by 11-year-old Eleanor Turner.

Extracts from newspaper reports on the tragedy were read out and there was an address by Rev Peter Sinclair, Vicar of Woodhorn with Newbiggin.

A minute’s silence was held before the Ashington Colliery Band played the miner’s hymn Gresford.

At about 6.45am on August 13, 1916, an explosion of the highly dangerous mine gas, firedamp, claimed the lives of the 13 miners as they worked to drive a small tunnel between two seams at Woodhorn Colliery.

They were working a ‘special shift’ on a Sunday as part of British efforts to increase coal production for the Great War.

The other men who died were as follows: David Armstrong, Thomas Armstrong, George Blair, Daniel Harrison, Joseph Harrogate, Robert Hindmarsh, Joseph Hodgson, Ralph Howard, George R. Hudson, Walter Hughes, George Marshall and George Patterson.

The memorial statue was originally erected in Hirst Park, Ashington. It was moved to Woodhorn, now a coal mining museum, in 1991 and restored in 2002.