Children dig into the past to explore Wearside’s coal mining heritage

Seven-year-old Ben and Nathan Sutcliffe (four) colour in tiles to add to a mosaic to create a picture of the 'F' Pit Museum with the help of artist Mike Clay and learning officer Jennie Beale.
Seven-year-old Ben and Nathan Sutcliffe (four) colour in tiles to add to a mosaic to create a picture of the 'F' Pit Museum with the help of artist Mike Clay and learning officer Jennie Beale.
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FAMILIES flocked to one of the jewels in the crown of the region’s mining heritage.

Washington F Pit, in Albany, threw open its doors for visitors as part of a family fun day.

The historic site is opening for a number of events over the summer, giving visitors the opportunity to experience this rare monument to Washington’s coal mining heritage.

They will be able to see the pit’s magnificent Victorian steam winding engine, engine house and headgear that dates back more than 250 years.

F Pit, opened in 1777, was one of the country’s oldest working pits.

It closed in 1968, six years before coalmining in Washington ceased completely. The impressive winding engine that once took pitmen to the coal face and brought coal to the surface can be seen working, now turned by an electric motor.

Jo Cunningham, manager of Sunderland Museums said: “Washington F Pit is a valuable monument representing the importance of the coal mining industry to the North East. It is a fantastic opportunity for visitors to get a taste of what life was like.”

By 1870, F Pit had become the largest coal-producing pit at the colliery. In 1947 it was taken over by the National Coal Board, but by the late 1960s, the colliery did not fit in with the National Coal Board’s vision of Super Pits.

The winding house and headgear were presented by the National Coal Board to the people of Washington and it remains today as a tribute to the miners and their work. Entry to the site is free.

Washington F Pit opening days:

Heritage Open Days: Saturday, September 10 (11am-1.30pm, 2-5pm); Sunday, September 11 (2-5pm)

Washington Festival: Saturday, September 17 (10am-4pm)