Memorials show village remembers its pit roots half a century on from closure

Members of the Ryhope community gather under the colliery's banner and beside the new bench.
Members of the Ryhope community gather under the colliery's banner and beside the new bench.
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Villagers have marked the day 50 years on from the closure of its pits to show they have not forgotten the dedication and services of its colliery community.

The anniversary of Ryhope mine’s last day has been marked with a series of events as its families ensure the legacy of the area’s heritage is kept alive.

It’s just something lasting for our miners.

Cris Watson Hope

Ryhope Community Spirit, which unveiled a new bench dedicated to Acting Sergeant John Amer, who died in Afghanistan in 2009, on Armistice Day, has now pledged another in memory of all those who worked at the pit.

The bench has been placed on the main road through the village and outside the aged miners’ cottages as a memorial.

A ceremony was held to mark the occasion, with the bench blessed by Reverend David Chadwick of St Paul’s Church.

Cris Watson Hope, of Ryhope Community Spirit, said: “It’s absolutely amazing to see, because there’s a small stone commemorating the mine, but it’s hidden away. People don’t see it and we want our miners to be remembered, this is right on the main road.

“It’s just something lasting for our miners.” The community has also been holding an exhibition, bringing together local schools and featuring a display of mining memorabilia, with items also on show from Beamish Museum, Ryhope Heritage Society and Silksworth Banner Society.

Hosted at Ryhope Community Association, it will continue tomorrow and will run from 10am to 2pm, with a procession to be held at 3pm.

The march will leave the hall and include a performance by a brass band and banner displays, followed by a multi-faith service at St Paul’s.

A mosaic has also been put in place at the community association base, with Councillor Alan Emerson, mayor of the city, unveiling the piece.

It has been designed to represent the rich cultural history of the area, with Ryhope Infants Academy involved in the project.

l Ryhope’s Christmas lights switch on will be held on Thursday, December 1, from 5.30pm.

Councillor Alan Emerson will lead the launch, with Santa expected to make a visit on his sleigh.

It will also feature stalls, hot and cold food, a show of classic cars and 4x4s, a tombola and live music performed by Miss Lola Dee.

It will be followed by entertainment in the Farmer’s club, next to the village green, by the Days of Speed.Entry is a free event.