Pit wheel to return to Silksworth from Washington after Sunderland City Council funding approved

Plans to move a pit wheel back to its home in Silksworth from its current site in Washington have been backed by Sunderland City Council.

By Tony Gillan
Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 7:00 am

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A council meeting approved £17,500 towards the cost of relocating the wheel, which currently stands in the centre of Albany.

An engraving on the hub of the wheel states that it was used at Silksworth Colliery between 1868 and 1971, which is confirmed by the pit wheel’s serial number.

Plans to move a pit wheel back to its home in Silksworth from its current site in Washington have been backed by Sunderland City Council.

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It will stand outside the Miners’ Hall in Blind Lane, although a timescale and total cost have yet to be announced.

Like Silksworth, Albany has rich in mining heritage and a replacement wheel will be put on the same spot, donated from the nearby ‘F’ Pit Museum.

Councillors for Washington West, which includes Albany, say they are satisfied with the arrangement as long as there is a suitable replacement.

A leading campaigner for the move has been Cllr Philip Tye who represents the Silksworth ward. His late father George Tye worked at the colliery.

The historic pit wheel is to be moved from Albany, back to Silksworth.

Cllr Tye said: “This is fantastic news. It was vitally important that the Silksworth community got back this piece of our heritage.

“We need to remember all the people who worked in the pit, especially the ones who died there. Further down the line we’re going to take the story of the colliery into schools.

“It could be argued that Silksworth Ski Slope is a kind of monument to the pit. But the wheel was actually part of it. At first we didn’t even know it was in Albany.”

Both sides of the pit wheel's hub tell some of its story.

Silksworth Colliery closed on November 6, 1971 after more than a century of production. The Silksworth Sports Centre & Ski Slope now stands on the site.

The mine would claim the lives of 126 men and boys in its time. At least 27 were teenagers or younger, two of whom were just 12 years old. They were George Hodgson and Philip Towns, both in 1897 in separate incidents.

The last recorded fatality was that of Percy Matthewson in 1955, who died of asphyxia.

The pit was originally owned by the infamous Lord Londonderry, who in 1891 had miners forcibly evicted from their homes during a dispute over union membership.

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