Wearside mining tragedy remembered - 60 years on

Eppleton Pit

Eppleton Pit

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A COMMUNITY will gather to remember those who died in a mining catastrophe on Wearside 60 years ago.

The Eppleton Colliery disaster happened on the morning of Wednesday, July 6, 1951, when seven men were killed in an explosion and two were left badly burned and were carried out on stretchers.

Roland Boyes MP for Houghton and Washington leads the Eppleton miners contingent in yesterdays parade  old ref number 51827''Sunderland Echo  Monday April 29  1985 ''Sunderland Echo Monday April 29  1885

Roland Boyes MP for Houghton and Washington leads the Eppleton miners contingent in yesterdays parade old ref number 51827''Sunderland Echo Monday April 29 1985 ''Sunderland Echo Monday April 29 1885

Four men managed to make their way to safety through the wreckage.

Now, Hetton Town Council is asking people in the area to help with plans to mark the anniversary of the tragedy.

Just five weeks before the disaster, 83 miners lost their lives at nearby Easington Colliery.

Eppleton, which was among the oldest pits in the country with its first shaft being sunk in 1828, was regularly beating its production target of 12,000 tons per week.

The Busty Seam, 1,300ft below the surface, was where the incident took place, with about 500 pitmen working at that time.

There were 13 men working in the section of the seam where the explosion occurred and only four werer able to make their own way out.

Eppleton Colliery’s ambulance team had one of the finest records in the Durham Coalfield and had been placed second in the recent National Coal Board first aid championships at the time of the disaster.

They had been among the first on the scene at Easington Colliery after the tragedy there weeks before.

Hetton Town Council is calling on groups in the area to attend a meeting of councillors and heritage groups to decide how best to mark the anniversary.

Representatives from schools and the British Legion are also expected to be present.

The meeting will be held in the council chambers at the Hetton Centre, in Welfare Road, on Tuesday, March 15, starting at 3pm.