Sunderland and Durham pits to feature in new film on collieries

HARD GRAFT: A pitman hanging a haulage rope on to a tub underground.
HARD GRAFT: A pitman hanging a haulage rope on to a tub underground.
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AN INSIGHT in to life at the coal face is to hit the screen in a new film about the region’s collieries.

Pits including Eppleton, Dawdon, Seaham and Lambton feature in the footage from below ground and on the surface of the sites.

MAKING PREPARATIONS: A miner stems a stick of dynamite.

MAKING PREPARATIONS: A miner stems a stick of dynamite.

It includes a look at their haulage systems, the different tasks miners took up, pit ponies and their retirement, blasting and cutting.

Collieries of Northumberland and Durham is a 45 minute DVD, which has been put together by the Six Townships Community History Group, which pools the expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm for the area’s heritage.

Its secretary John Dawson, who worked at Whittle Colliery near Alnwick, remembers travelling to Seaham’s pit for his medical examination.

He said: “We got lots of film, 8mm, 16mm and 19.5mm, which we transfer for people who get in touch with us.

COLLIERY DAYS: Miners wait for shot.

COLLIERY DAYS: Miners wait for shot.

“We had a load from a big collector of National Coal Board stuff, which we were transferring and all different footage as well, which we enhanced through computers.

“We also had some from several other collectors and two or three of us were talking and said we should do something with it as we were recollecting ourselves.

“What people will enjoy about it is the sounds, the machines, you can just hear the men over the noise at some points, and then there’s the dust you see.

“I think it’ll really taken people back.”

SEEING SEAMS: Ploughing the coal face at Eppleton Colliery.

SEEING SEAMS: Ploughing the coal face at Eppleton Colliery.

In addition to putting together footage, they also go in to schools and homes to pass on stories of the North East’s past.

The Bedlingtonshire-based group runs a website, www.sixtownships.co.uk which features an archive of images, including old postcards of Sunderland and information about towns and villages in the region.

The DVD costs £5.99 through the site and is available to schools for free.

Twitter: @echoeastdurham