Remembering tragic Washington boy with special plaque

Dressed as chimney sweeps for the unveiling of the plaque at Washington Christmas Fair were Matthew Lilley, 8, and Bob Butler.
Dressed as chimney sweeps for the unveiling of the plaque at Washington Christmas Fair were Matthew Lilley, 8, and Bob Butler.
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A PLAQUE honouring a six-year-old chimney sweep who died almost 140 years ago has been unveiled.

Staff at the Cross Keys pub, in Washington Village, revealed the commemoration as part of a Christmas festival.

Reflections....the face of Matthew Lilley, 8, dressed as a young chimney sweep and the plaque to commemorate the death of Christopher Drummond who died climbing a chimney of Washington Hall in 1872..

Reflections....the face of Matthew Lilley, 8, dressed as a young chimney sweep and the plaque to commemorate the death of Christopher Drummond who died climbing a chimney of Washington Hall in 1872..

In 1872, Christopher Drummond was cleaning a chimney at Washington Hall when he became trapped and was left seriously injured.

He was carried down to the Cross Keys in the village and laid out on the bar. Although villagers tried to revive the youth, he died in the pub.

Alan Fletcher, heritage education officer for Tyne and Wear Business Link Organisation, was involved in finding sponsorship for the plaque.

Alan, 50, from Washington, said: “My main job is bringing heritage alive.

“The story of Christopher Drummond was a famous one when I was growing up in Washington.

“I wanted to bring this story back and keep it alive because it is part of this village’s heritage.”

Washington Engineering donated the metal for the plaque and High Tech Engineering engraved it making it ready for its unveiling by Councillor Dianne Snowdon.

Landlord of the Cross Keys, Peter Clark, said it is important to remember the town’s history.

Peter, 60, from Washington, said: “It’s part of the pub itself. Because we live in such a historic place, with George Washington’s birthplace just over the road, we need to keep up with our local history. I think that’s really important.”

The Christmas festival also saw a Santa’s Grotto, face painting and balloon modelling, as well as entertainment from Westoe Brass Band and Washington Dance School.

Community stalwart Eddy Palmer helped put the Christmas extravaganza together.

Eddy, a retired senior supervisor from Newcastle Central Station, said: “The idea started of just having a Christmas switch on and it just grew from there. I would love to think that it would be annual but funding isn’t easy to come by, so we’ll see.”

There was also an exhibition marquee with offerings including handmade jewellery and crafts, paintings and handmade bags.

Twitter: @sunechohannah