25 years since the end of an East Durham mining era

An estimated 1,500 miners marched through Seaham to oppose the Government's closure plans for 31 British pits.
An estimated 1,500 miners marched through Seaham to oppose the Government's closure plans for 31 British pits.

Twenty-five years ago this month there were tears and sadness but a whole lot of pride in a community which was witnessing the end of an era.

Seaham’s last pit closed in June 1993. There were bands, banners and lots of emotion for the final shift at Vane Tempest.

Vane Tempest's last shift.

Vane Tempest's last shift.

Our reporter said: “As the marchers arrived at the pit gates there was sadness at the end of Seaham’s century-old tradition of mining.

“There was also pride at the long struggle against the rundown of the industry which was pledged to continue even after today.”

David Guy, North East NUM president in 1992, appealed at the time for those who leave the industry to continue the fight against Government policies. Durham’s Euro MP in 1992 was Stephen Hughes. He said history would prove those right who had challenged the Government programme.

There were voices of support for the miners from the Women Against Pit Closures group. Women had mounted a protest vigil at the pit gates for six months.

Many were too upset to talk, others expressed anger and despair as they hung up their lamps and clocked off for good. Some clutched at souvenir coal - a legacy to hand on to their sons and grandchildren who they had hoped would some day work at the pit

Sunderland Echo reporter, 1993

But it all came at a time when heartache and sadness had been a too regular feeling for East Durham and its collieries.

Dawdon and Murton had shut more than a year earlier and the Echo reported how 116 people were chasing every job vacancy in Seaham.

The last daytime shift at Vane Tempest took place in October 1992 and our reporter on the scene said: “Many were too upset to talk, others expressed anger and despair as they hung up their lamps and clocked off for good.

“Some clutched at souvenir coal – a legacy to hand on to their sons and grandchildren who they had hoped would some day work at the pit.”

The Vane Tempest lodge banner.

The Vane Tempest lodge banner.

Did you work in the East Durham collieries and what do you remember of those times, and the people you worked with?

Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk and tell us more.

Miners leaving Vane Tempest Colliery.

Miners leaving Vane Tempest Colliery.