New DVD looks at life in colliery villages + SLIDESHOW

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HISTORIANS have dug into their archives to offer another insight into life in colliery villages.

Scenes from East Durham’s pit communities feature in the latest DVD in the series, offering a look at the industrial days and activities which brought together families and workers.

PRIZE PONY: A winner at Dawdon Colliery Show in 1947.

PRIZE PONY: A winner at Dawdon Colliery Show in 1947.

Images from Murton include a snap taken of a group heading out on a day trip in 1920, coronation celebrations in Bevan Square in 1953, a gathering of St John Ambulance cadets in 1963 and a road safety presentation in 1974, Dawdon Colliery Show in 1947, Shotton Colliery Women’s Institute in 1961 and its carnival in 1970.

Vesting days, including one at Wheatley Hill in 1947, are also included.

The footage has been put together by the Six Townships group, which has decided to focus its latest project on County Durham, after others which featured Northumberland mines.

The group has also hopes to find a way to give its support to the Durham Gala.

Its organisers, Durham Miners’ Association, appealed for help to keep it going after it was hit with a £1.4million legal costs when it lost its fight to win payouts for members suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee.

John Dawson, who worked on the new DVD, said: “People from the collieries absolutely love their heritage. We’ve never seen a response like it. It’s fantastic.

“We’re very disappointed to hear about the Gala and we will be in touch to see if we can do something about it.

“Everyone from the area joins in. Hopefully Durham keep it alive, as it should be. It’s such an important event.”

The archivists are also working on transferring footage from past Big Meetings and onto DVD, with plans to publish for all to enjoy.

John, who was a pitman, said the latest film looked set to be as popular as before.

He added: “From industrial to social life in Durham villages, it’s a fascinating glimpse into how it really was in these villages. We have events, street scenes, fashion, entertainment, schools, transport, housing conditions, leek growing, rapper sword dancers, women’s football, vesting Day, when the mines were finally nationalised, pit ponies, poverty, the strikes and the soup kitchens, digging for coal to keep the home warm during the 1926 strike and much more.

“Times may be hard today, but back then it was as hard as you got.You won’t forget what your ancestors went through when you view this film and you never know, those old enough may recall some of these memories.”

The DVD is £5.99, but free to schools, and is available from

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham