Exhibition aims to revive interest in Silksworth heritage

Blind Lane in the 1800s.
Blind Lane in the 1800s.
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An open evening will look at the history of a part of Sunderland with a strong colliery past.

New Silksworth is the centre of attention this week and, unbeknown to the majority of local people, it has a fascinating past.

New Silksworth School in 1920.

New Silksworth School in 1920.

In the first of a three-part series, Ann Arkley - a committee member on the Silksworth Heritage Group - explains more.

From the sinking of the first colliery shaft in August 1869 to the closure of the pit in 1971 - the people of New Silksworth enjoyed a vibrant social life and a degree of camaraderie not seen since those days.

And yet, almost all of them worked in tough grimy conditions and they did it underground, After the closure of the colliery in 1971, the very face of Silksworth rapidly changed.

In 1987, a group of local people decided it would be regrettable to allow the rich social and economic history of the village to be forgotten and so Silksworth Heritage Group was formed in 1987.

From the sinking of the first colliery shaft in 1869 to the closure of the pit in 1971 the people of New Silksworth, most of whom worked in grimy conditions underground, enjoyed a vibrant social life and a degree of camaraderie not seen since those days

Sandra Arkley

Numbers quickly grew and at one time meetings were attended by upwards of 50 people. But because of aging and declining health we have seen membership fall steadily over the past few years.

In an attempt to revive interest in the group and hopefully increase membership we are holding an exhibition in Silksworth Comrades club on Friday, September 9, from 7pm to 10pm.

We hold a vast archive of photographs going back to the 1800s. That includes documents and memorabilia which will all be on display.

Our meetings are held on the third Monday of each month at 2pm in Beckwith Mews.

Some of the early miners.

Some of the early miners.

We have regular speakers, film shows, or sometimes one of our older members will regale us with their memories of Silksworth long past, which often leads to a lively discussion.

Watch out for more tomorrow.

Silksworth Terrace around 1930.

Silksworth Terrace around 1930.