Walk helps remember heritage

A town’s mining heritage has been remembered by a genealogy group who have called for a proper memorial.

A total of 17 members of Newbiggin Genealogy Project took to the woods last week to re-discover the town’s former colliery shafts while also remembering those who worked at the mines.

The walk was led by Bill Main, whose grandfather worked at the pit, and project mentor Joan Rose, who once worked in the wages office.

Members walked through dense woodland covering the former colliery yard to find the two capped mine shafts.

Project chairman Hilton Dawson, whose grandfather was colliery blacksmith for more than 30 years, said: “This was a splendid guided walk, packed with information and greeted enthusiastically by those who participated in it.

“We will be holding a future project workshop in a few months time to discuss the impact of the colliery on Newbiggin and its family history.

“Sadly there is very little left of the colliery now; it is a matter of serious concern that we don’t have a proper memorial to the pit on the ground.

“This is a critical part of Newbiggin’s history and it’s essential that the contribution of thousands to its economy and society is not lost.”

The colliery was the biggest influence on the growth and development of Newbiggin with the population trebling in 20 years as it changed from fishing village to mining town.

Up to 1,400 men worked at Newbiggin Pit at any one time between 1908 to 1967.

Tragically, at least 45 people were killed and many more seriously injured during its 59 year existence.