HUNDREDS of people gathered to mark the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the 1984 miners’ strike.
Easington Social Welfare Centre – formerly Easington Colliery Miners Welfare Institute – was packed as people gathered to commemorate the two-year strike, as well as the former mining community.
The Miners’ Hymns, a film and music which pays homage to the culture which characterised the lives of the pit communities, was shown at the centre on Friday, attended by 350 people.
Coun Dr David Boyes, chairman of Easington Social Welfare Centre committee, said: “It was phenomenal.
“There was a 10-minute standing ovation at the end of the night. People were crying when the film footage was shown and the music was playing.”
The Miners Hymns, first performed in Durham Cathedral three years ago, is a film of archive footage of miners by Bill Morrison, with music by Jóhann Jóhannsson, and produced by Forma.
David Metcalf, artistic director of Forma, is from Easington – which was the last pit to close in Durham in 1993 – and commissioned the project.
On Saturday, banners from 10 miners’ lodges hung around the Welfare Centre hall.
Beamish Museum was involved in the event, as well as the Easington Community, guest speakers, and artefacts from the time of the strike were on display.
Coun Boyes added: “As a county councillor I’m absolutely delighted by the reaction of people at these events.
“Fourteen thousand people lost their jobs in the area been 1985 to 1993, and it had a really, really big impact.
“It’s important that we keep telling the younger generations what we went through and what life was like when the pits were open.”
He added that he is “honoured” by the support of the Arts Council England – which supports The Miners’ Hymns – and Beamish Museum.
A number of readings and performances, including two by Murton Colliery Brass Band, were given during the celebration on Saturday.
Original member of Save Easington Area Mines (SEAM) Heather Wood also gave an on-stage interview.
She said: “I knew we had to fight for their jobs to keep our community going. We had to fight, and we’ve shown it now because our community was desolated.
“Coal now is astronomically priced because we have to bring it in from abroad, so we were justified in our fight. And when you look around at the people who are here today, and the banners, we are still here.”
“Mining is in our blood, mining is there forever.”