A LOCAL history group is urging people to share their memories of working at a coalmine to the mark the 40th anniversary of its closure.
The last shift was worked at Eden Colliery, in Leadgate, on July 18, 1980, and on Saturday, Leadgate Community History Club will host an online event on Facebook.
People are being invited to share their memories of working at the pit and any pictures they may have.
Next year, if circumstances allow, there are plans to hold an exhibition with refreshments so former pitmen and their families can meet up.
Working underground at Eden Colliery
The mine was opened in 1844 by Edward Richardson and became part of the Derwent Iron Company and its successor, the Consett Iron Company.
The colliery worked the Busty, Hutton and Main coal seams producing coal used for coke, household heating and steam power.
At its height, in 1935, the colliery, including Castle Drift employed 929 people, 724 below ground and 165 above.
By the time of the closure in July 1980 that number had dwindled to 194; 169 below and 25 above.
Marching with the pit banner on Big Meeting day
History group spokesman Richard Judd said: “The colliery was a community not only of the miners, but also their family and community living around the pits
“We need to cherish the memories and make sure we have a record for future generations to enjoy and learn from.”
After the final shift had ended at Stoney Heap the staff got together in the lamp room to mark the occasion.
They sat down to drink some beer, which they had brought in themselves, so they could reminisce about colliery life.
When it came to leaving the site the men, led by Norman Henderson on his bagpipes, marched out from the lamp room and out of the colliery for the last time.
Norman Henderson play bagpipes for work mates to mark the last shift
Mr Henderson, who died earlier this year, worked at Eden until the Stoney Heap site closed.
He was one of the union reps, along with his friend, Dave Wray, who attended the “pitmans parliament” at Redhills in Durham.
Recently funds were raised and a memorial bench in his honour has been delivered to Leadgate Cricket Club, which was another his passions, but the unveiling has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Judd said: “The decline of coal mining in the UK by the late 1970s led to many collieries closing their doors.
“For the Eden, the last shift was on the 18th of July 1980, a sad day for many in Leadgate, not just the mine workers but for the local economy which was greatly affected by the loss of traditional working in the area.
“New initiatives and regeneration projects helped to sow the seeds of recovery but the way of life had changed forever.”
Thanks to Leadgate Community History Club for allowing the reproduction of these photographs.