Picket play revives pit-strike memories

(L-R) Dean Nolan and Lisa Howard in Sex & Docks & Rock 'n' Roll by Red Ladder Theatre Company directed by Rod Dixon. Photo by Tim Smith
(L-R) Dean Nolan and Lisa Howard in Sex & Docks & Rock 'n' Roll by Red Ladder Theatre Company directed by Rod Dixon. Photo by Tim Smith
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A PIT village club which became the focus for families during industrial action is to host a performance of a play about another historic strike.

Easington Colliery Club hosted a soup kitchen and helped distribute parcels of clothing sent by supporters in Russia to those in need during the 1985-86 miners’ dispute.

It also offered men free pints – 20,000 in total – on a Sunday night to keep the community together and boost their spirits.

Now the venue is to host a performance of a play written about one family’s trials and tribulations as a dock worker from Liverpool joins his colleagues in a walkout in 1960.

The script and music of Sex and Docks and Rock ‘n’ Roll has been written by Chumbawamba guitarist Boff Whalley with help from his former band mate Harry Hamer, who also stars as one of its characters.

The play will be performed at the Gala Theatre in Durham on Thursday, July 12, before it moves to the club the following evening – the day after the bar marks its 100th anniversary.

It is hoped the event will revive memories of past Friday nights in the village, which were always packed with entertainment and celebrations, and bring people back together to enjoy the show.

The production by radical theatre company Red Ladder is being staged with the backing of the Unite union, with pop-up gigs and shows to be held during the next two years.

Tom Fenwick, the colliery club’s vice-chairman and entertainments secretary worked in the building trade, but remembers the effects the strikes had on families and friends in the village.

The 58-year-old, who now lives in Peterlee, said: “I would like to think people will get in and take an interest with miners and their families.

“We’ve always supported them because they’re a big part of the community.

“It was a big pit community.

“Friday evening used to be a hive of activity. Now it’s just so sad to see what it is – it’s a ghost town.”

Tickets for the Easington performance, which starts at 8pm, are £4, with no concessions, and can be booked by calling 527 0219.

Those for the Gala, which will also hold the play at 8pm, are £12.50 and £10 for Unite membership concessions and can be booked by calling 332 4041 or via www.galatheatre.co.uk

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham