Bishop Helps Community Commemorate Mining Heritage
A North East community came together today, Sunday September 9th, to pay tribute to its proud mining heritage.
Bishop Mark, Bishop of Jarrow, blessed the Miner’s Statue which stands outside the Bus Station at Concord, Washington, Wearside, as well as seven banners made by children from local primary schools.
Several hundred people attended the open-air ceremony, which was organised by Les Simpson, Chair of the Washington Miners and Community Heritage Group, and Derek Sleightholme, the Secretary.
The audience included civic guests, members of the public and children from Wessington, Usworth Colliery, Albany, St Bede’s, Springwell, JFK and Usworth Grange primary schools, some of whom gave specially-prepared readings based on their research into mining in the area.
Bishop Mark took time to talk to the children then blessed their school banners and the statue, which was erected in March this year having been created by renowned sculptor Carl Payne.
The statue symbolises the Washington coal mining community. Pits at Springwell, Usworth, Washington, Washington Glebe, Harraton, Fatfield, North Biddick, Chaytor’s Haugh, Butney, as well as other shafts and workings, formed a vast underground web and every school in Washington is close to an old pit shaft.
Les Simpson said: “The event was very much about the children. You take a piece of coal into school and they do not know what it is. The event was about making sure that we do not forget the area’s mining heritage.”
Judith Monaghan, the Community Cohesion teacher at JFK Primary School, said: “The children have been fascinated during their research to learn about the pit shafts that are under the area’s schools. The work we have done on the readings and for the banner has been about raising their awareness of the area’s mining heritage.”
Bishop Mark said: “One of the things that struck me when I came back to the North East five years ago was that there was nothing to show that thousands of people had worked underground. The statue reminds people about something that was so important.
If you look at the commissions the artist has done, they tend to be footballers and celebrities. What is important about this sculpture is that it depicts ordinary people.”
Pictures By: Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates
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