WHEEL: A fitting feature
The siting of a pit wheel in Alexandra Park, Cramlington, by the town council is a most welcome recognition of the importance of coal mining in the area.
I was able to source the wheel, together with my friend Dennis Green, who many will remember as a local judo coach for many years.
Dennis sadly died in September 2018, aged 89, and was consequently unable to see the results of our efforts.
We found the winding wheel in a rather poor condition and the restoration work commissioned by the council has been done to a very high standard.
Dennis was born in the village of West Cramlington, which housed the majority of pitmen at the Wrightson Colliery and their families. The pit took up the site now occupied by the skate park and recreation area, and was in operation from 1838 to 1938.
Housing was arranged in three streets. Lane Row ran roughly along the line of the Dudley Lane footpath to the west of the former pit heap and housed sinkers, managers and engineers.
Running in an east/west direction along the wooded area to the south of Alexandra Park was Cross Row, and it was in number one that Dennis lived.
The third street was Bluebell Row, which ran from where the tennis courts are now to the pavilion. At the north end was the Bluebell Inn or Box Eggs pub, with a fish and chip shop opposite.
Miners from West Cramlington hit the national headlines during the 1926 General Strike when a group removed rail on the East Coast Main Line near to where Cramlington Learning Village is sited.
Their action caused the derailment of A3 Pacific locomotive the Merry Hampton and coaches forming the morning Flying Scotsman service, which resulted in eight men serving a period of penal servitude.
Looking at the area now, it is hard to visualise that several hundred people lived in West Cramlington, with a large colliery in operation there for 100 years. Other than part of one of the spoil heaps, nothing remains of this once thriving community.