Hetton could get lasting memorial to its mining past

A sketch of what the finished piece by Ray Lonsdale.
A sketch of what the finished piece by Ray Lonsdale.
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A town could get a lasting memorial to its mining past with its own £40,000 statue by Tommy’s creator Ray Lonsdale.

Ray, from South Hetton, has been commissioned by people in Hetton to create their own artwork following the success of his soldier piece in Seaham and after they missed out on Marra, which now stands in Horden.

Ray Lonsdale, who made the Tommy statue on Seaham seafront.

Ray Lonsdale, who made the Tommy statue on Seaham seafront.

The community is looking to raise the cash needed to buy the structure, which will stand at about 9ft tall, as Culture for Hetton team looks to educate future generations.

It will depict a father and son as the boy, aged about eight, is sent to the colliery for his first shift. The final location for the sculpture is still to be confirmed.

Lee Branney, 39, who works at Caterpillar in Peterlee, is one of eight members of the group, which is working on the plans with the town council and others.

He said: “It’s a father and his son and he’s comforting him, saying ‘It’s all right’ on his first day, and it goes back to the 1840s-style, when there was a lot of mining in this area of the North East.

The statue is intended to be a tribute to and reminder of the sacrifices made by the men and women who built the coal mining community and fought for many of the things we take for granted today.

Lee Branney

“I went to Horden to see Marra, I put it to the council and between us we got a meeting together with all the community and I went to the workshop, so it started from there.

“The statue is intended to be a tribute to and reminder of the sacrifices made by the men and women who built the coal mining community and fought for many of the things we take for granted today.”

Tiles, which will be put on show with the finished piece, are being sold at £25 as the fundraising begins.

More details can be found via the Culture for Hetton Facebook page or by emailing cultureforhetton@gmail.com