Miner statue to show how closures ‘ripped hearts out of villages’

Ray Lonsdale sculpture.
Ray Lonsdale sculpture.
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A MINER sculpture with its heart ripped out has been bought by an East Durham village.

Created by Ray Lonsdale, I Ain’t Gonna Work On Maggies Farm No More is going on display in Horden, after being bought for £19,000.

Ray Lonsdale sculpture.

Ray Lonsdale sculpture.

The six feet tall miner, with a gap where his heart should be, represents how mining closures “ripped the hearts out of villages and towns”.

Ray, who lives and works in South Hetton, said: “I grew up and started working in an era when the pits were closed and the ship yards went and it felt, and it still feels like, the country has been holed out of all the skills that made it great.”

The idea came to the sculptor a number of years ago when discussions were in force about erecting a statue of Margaret Thatcher for “all the good she had done in the country”, he said.

He was then inspired to do a “north east” version to illustrate the impact Thatcher’s decisions had on the region.

They had their pride and that’s been taken away.

Ray Lonsdale

Ray continued: “If they decided to re-open mines and ship yards it’s going to be very difficult because once the skills are gone you can never get them back.

“They gave jobs to every level, from the people who sweep the floors up to the engineers – and a lot of those people are now left claiming benefits and people are moaning about them claiming benefits.

“They had their pride and that’s been taken away.”

Pits and yards, including Horden Colliery, closed in the 1980s, devastating families who relied on the trade. When Ray first posted about the miner on his Facebook page, it started a debate over where the sculpture should go.A number of villages were in the running, but Hetton and Horden were the frontrunners.

Money for the sculpture was contributed by county councillors June Clark and Paul Stradling from their neighbourhood budgets

Horden Parish Council has also become involved in the venture, to deal with maintenance and deciding on a permanent home.

A location has not yet been confirmed, but the village’s Welfare Parkhas been mentioned as a possibility.

Cllr Clark said: “It’s a very successful joint venture and all really to keep this sort of thing in one of our colliery villages.”

Ray is currently putting the finishing touches to the miner, and it is hoped it will be installed next month.

I Ain’t Gonna Work On Maggies Farm No More is going to the first in a series of miner sculptures by the artist, which will deliver a similar message.

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